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Does paradise exist? As a traveler, can you visit a place, find that it has everything you could want and need, and decide to move there? These are questions that every wanderer probably asks themselves from time to time. We love our nomad lifestyle.
But, sometimes we wonder if we might come to a place that will arrest our wandering, a place that we consider paradise. We both truly love the beach. We like to be able to watch the ocean in all it’s changing moods. We also want warm water (Neil likes it a bit warmer than Laurie) that we can swim in.
Sparkling clear blue water and soft sand makes us smile and relax. We enjoy splashing in the small waves and gazing down a beach empty of everything but shore birds.
We also adore snorkeling. Entering the underwater world with its endless colorful marine life, darting fish, brightly colored coral, majestic rays, sea turtles – there is no activity we like better and we have traveled far and wide to enjoy it.
So, when we were offered a house sit in a home right on the beach in Playa Zanduco, Costa Rica, we were very excited. And we knew the beach would be practically empty of people, because this area in Costa Rica is quite remote.
In fact the trip there took two days. We needed to fly to San Jose, Costa Rica, then, the next day, take a tiny 12-seat plane to Golfito and finally a 45 minute ride in a small boat to a dock that was a five minute drive to the home we would be care taking.
The home was really comfortable with amenities few Tico (Costa Rican) houses have – a full-sized refrigerator with freezer and ice maker, a dishwasher, a gas stove with oven, and air conditioning. The house was just 100 yards from a beautiful deserted beach with soft sand and gentle waves.
The ocean stretched before us in all it’s glory, ever changing. During the daytime, the sun glinted on the waves as all manner of shorebirds darted in and out of them. At dusk, the sunsets colored the water in reds, yellows and orange hues. Always, we could hear the gentle roar of the ocean. It lulled us to sleep at night.
So, were we in paradise? Did we find the one place that we never wanted to leave? Not this time. The comfortable home, the deserted beach, the glorious ocean were wonderful. But there were trade-offs. Trade-offs that in the end, made us realize that Playa Zancudo was not a place we could live long term.
We met many lovely people who call this place home and many of them didn’t want to live anywhere else. But we also found that they had some of their own complaints. It may have been paradise enough for them to live there for many years, but over time, for some of the residents, some of the challenges became too much and they wanted to leave.
Why house sitting in Playa Zancudo was Paradise
- a variety of brightly colored iguanas roaming the park like property
- the friendly produce guys who brought fruits and veggies to our door and taught us Spanish
- fresh and free coconut water we got straight off the trees
- a welcoming and colorful expat community
- a gorgeous beach with soft sand and warm water
- exciting tropical rain storms with thunder and lightning
- daily sunshine and warm weather
- clear, brilliant starry skies at night
- delicious food at a few local restaurants
Why house sitting in Playa Zancudo was not Paradise
- clouds of mosquitoes
- tick infestations
- trash that washed up on the beach and in the yard at high tides
- power failures and internet problems
- air conditioning that broke down and couldn’t be repaired
- unrelenting hot, humid weather
- a few tiny grocery stores with little variety and high prices
- delicious food at a few local restaurants at US prices
- the one road in town required a 4-wheel drive vehicle
- no shore snorkeling
We believe that there is a way to be happy, most of the time, no matter where we are. It is something that is simple to explain but takes years of practice to perfect. It comes from spending most of our time focusing on and thinking about what we like, and almost no time focusing on what we don’t. We have found that by using this method, we continually find more things to like and the stuff that we don’t begins to fade more and more into the background.
This simple technique works really well for us and we can be happy almost anywhere that we find ourselves. But, we don’t give up on our preferences, nor do we stop conjuring up ideas about places that we might like a little better than where we are. In fact, we intentionally use our imaginations to expand our thoughts to refining our idea of paradise more and more from each place we visit.
For us, right now, I don’t think paradise exists. Because, we would find paradise boring. Any place, when it can no longer surprise and delight us, would start us thinking about another place where all is new and interesting, things we haven’t seen before and experiences we haven’t had yet.
Maybe paradise isn’t a particular place, but rather, the joy of being able to roam from place to place, savoring the things we love and laughing off the temporary difficulties. And so, we will keep wandering, at least for now. Each new place opens up new possibilities, new opportunities for fun and adventure.
It would be great to meet up with you guys, somewhere along the road. We will actually be near Boston (in Newburyport) during the month of September, so maybe it’ll work out sooner than we think? :-)Have you ever been there? It is a lovely town.
Hi Laurie and Neil! It is so nice to meet you guys, fellow house sitters. I like the way you put together a whole separate website about that service, by the way. So much work, but very informative and extensive.
You expressed the “paradise thing” really well. My husband and I have traveled for over a decade now, wondering whether we would find a perfect place along the way. We did visit many exclusive and remote places (all on a budget as well), especially when we sailed in the Caribbean and South Pacific, but, just like you, we don’t think paradise exists. Maybe for a short vacation, when you don’t have any worries or practical needs or work obligations and where they spray for mosquitoes, but other than that, I agree with you guys: when you are a full-time wanderer, you are always excited to leave after a while and start a new adventure somewhere else. 🙂 This house and pet sitting lifestyle is perfect for us in every way, and when we manage to make some more money, we would love to combine it with international travel, just like you guys. Unless, we find a used camper that fits our needs first…
Thanks so much for your comment Liesbet. We find traveling and exploring so much fun that we can’t imagine stopping. As you said, there is always another adventure waiting somewhere else. House sitting has certainly opened up our options. We have also found places to visit where the cost of living is so much lower than in the U.S. that the longer we stay, the more money we can save. Have fun. Perhaps we can meet up with you and Mark somewhere down the road.
I loved this article because it holds implications that go beyond finding a place to be. My favorite words were:
We believe that there is a way to be happy, most of the time, no matter where we are. It is something that is simple to explain but takes years of practice to perfect. It comes from spending most of our time focusing on and thinking about what we like, and almost no time focusing on what we don’t. We have found that by using this method, we continually find more things to like and the stuff that we don’t begins to fade more and more into the background. This simple technique works really well for us and we can be happy almost anywhere that we find ourselves.
Thanks Pam. That’s our favorite part too. 😉
I am really enjoying your posts. Finally had a few minutes today (a.k.a “distracted procrastination”) to look at your website which looks fantastic. What a wonderful and inspiring adventure!
Thanks Tama. We are having a blast and very much want to be inspiring!
Thanks! I appreciate hearing the real deal!
Thanks for your comment Helena. We will do our best to provide you with information you can use. Have fun!