Eleven Months Ago…
Eleven months ago, when we arrived in Costa Rica we did not ‘know exactly’ what we were going to find in this small Central American country. We had never been to Costa Rica before the day of our arrival—July 11, 2013. What we had learned from this country before our arrival was mainly from the Internet, but somehow we knew more than the stuff we read or saw in YouTube videos. In our hearts, we had already experienced the dream we were pursuing. We felt the certain sensation that our destiny was approaching as we were heading out of the airport to catch a taxi. It was a déjà vu; the déjà vu that makes you feel happy because of the certainty of a wonderful premonition.
Everything started six or seven months before our arrival. I saw one of these flyers that landed in our mailbox announcing another sold home by another famous realtor with a nice tie and big smile. I checked out the amount of the sale. Hmm, not bad. Then I turned to my computer and for some reason I don’t remember now, I ended up checking properties in Panamá. One of them was on an island; a nice land, pristine jungle, with monkeys included, at a nice price. I went back to the realtor’s flyer again. ‘Let me see. With the money I get from the sale of this house, I can buy this land, with the monkeys included, and more.’ I was imagining myself trading a house made of drywall and treated wood in this neighborhood of Irvine, California, for a piece of jungle next to a tropical ocean with monkeys and other wild creatures included. At that precise time in my life, the choice was a no-brainer. I felt that the monkeys deserved a chance, so I decided to meet them (perhaps few months before, I wouldn’t have relinquished my precious house as I used to be so attached to it).
I told the news to my wife, Ngoc, while she was on the bed recovering from mumps. When she captured the magnitude of the news, she opened her eyes as if saying “finally what I was waiting for, now we can move on” and an immediate synchronization between us happened. I think the news was so good to her that the mumps went away and from that moment, we started working together and somehow we knew that our dream was already there in time and space. We realized that Panamá was not really the place, but Costa Rica was, for many reasons. One of them: Costa Rica has no army. That tells so much of a country (see Why Are We Moving to Costa Rica to learn about the other reasons). Anyways, we arranged everything to sell the house as soon as possible. Ngoc focus on selling or donating everything—well, almost everything, I barely could keep some stuff, you know, men are so attached to certain things. We emptied and fixed our house on time for the sale. We sold our house in record time and at the asking price, and moved to a little apartment in Tustin. There we had some troubles with cockroaches (previous tenants of the apartment) that didn’t want to leave, and decided that we better move to another apartment. We found another small apartment in Tustin where we stayed until the day of our departure, and the day before we had shipped our car and household goods (the ones we decided to keep) to Costa Rica. I remember now how intense our packing was and how everything was so tightly timed, but in the end, everything went so smoothly.
Once in Costa Rica, the Luzardo Family started to explore. The Great Adventure began with our headquarters located first in San José. From the airport, we went to a vacation rental apartment close-by that I reserved while in Tustin. It took me a week to find a cheaper apartment in Santa Ana—San José of course, not California. From there we moved to the beach, Playa Bejuco, Puntarenas, to an even cheaper house where we spent about seven months enjoying the beach, including beach yoga and sunset gazing.
I miss the Feria Verde, an all-organic farmer’s market (the largest all-organic farmer’s market in Costa Rica) where I used to go every Saturday for grocery shopping in San José. Believe it or not, it’s hard to find certified organic food in Costa Rica, a country so rich in fertile soil that makes the use of chemicals and petroleum-based fertilizers completely unnecessary. There is a lack of knowledge in this sense among the Costa Rican farmers (campesinos) and general public; reason for which, we feel compelled to bring a different message to them. I don’t miss San José’s traffic chaos (la presa), asphalt and concrete. I have had so much of those in my life already. It’s incredible but you hardly see a tree in the streets of downtown San José, while the rest of the country is full of them. From Playa Bejuco, of course, I miss the beach, Pepper, and Penguin. Pepper and Penguin were the cats that lived around the house we rented in Playa Bejuco when we got there. Pepper was nursing Penguin when we came to the house. She raised Penguin very well and we witnessed how Penguin grew up from a defenseless kitten to a skillful hunter. We befriended them and they accepted us. They were so happy there. Even though we fed them, they always came with more food they hunted from the surroundings, especially lizards, a bountiful species in the area. The house and their surroundings were their territory; we were part of their territory (see We Have Found Our Motherland to see photos of them and the many lessons they taught us). Conversely, I do not miss the heat in Playa Bejuco during the dry season.
Since our arrival, I started to work on the paperwork for Costa Rican immigration. This process takes a while. I also worked on the process to clear our van and household goods from customs once they arrived. Now we use the appliances and other stuff we brought from the U.S., and our Odyssey mini-van has been a loyal family car. We have traveled more than 13,000 miles in our van. Thirteen thousand miles of Costa Rican roads, which are not necessarily the best in the world, from Nicoya to Golfito and Osa, from Limón to Jacó to Quepos, from Puriscal to Pérez Zeledón. In our quest for land, we have seen so much and learned so much from this country and its wonderful people. Every single seller we met became a friend, their hospitality was wonderful and there was always room for negotiation. The reasons for which we were buying a land also helped. When they knew we intended to create a holistic healing center in tandem with nature, they showed curiosity and interest.
I have to admit that the fact I speak Spanish fluently was an asset. It eased our communication and negotiation process. I realized that the real estate market in Costa Rica is two-fold: one for gringos and one for locals. I learned the hard way that we should pursue the one for locals. Let me see how I can explain. After my mother died here in Costa Rica (she came to visit us perhaps to be together for the last time), I didn’t feel in the mood to keep on looking for more properties. I settled for the one that seemed to have all what we needed in a relatively remote area near Golfito. Its owner was a woman from Florida who purchased the land several years ago, left the country and never took care of the land. She wanted to come for just one day, sign and leave immediately after with the money deposited in her account. I felt uncomfortable because the purchase of this land was being carried out in such an impersonal way. Everything was through lawyers and ‘realtors’ and that really didn’t suit me. I had to tell them that if I don’t speak to the owner of the land, there wouldn’t be a purchase. Finally, I could email her and arrange a phone conversation. After this conversation, I felt better about purchasing the property.
I put the word realtors in quotations above because in Costa Rica anyone can be a ‘realtor.’ You don’t need a license to show a property to prospective buyers. If you find a buyer, then you get the previously agreed commission from the owner. Therefore, I dealt mainly with a local with whom I became friends with and he told me that he was not compensated for some labor that was beyond his duties as ‘realtor.’ He cleared the limits of the property so a surveyor could hike all over the property boundaries to verify the limits and the area of the property. I think this was unfair to him but he seemed not to mind much as the prospect of receiving the commission was getting closer.
A survey of the property you want to buy in Costa Rica is necessary and you should do it no matter what. Rumors say that if all the properties that are recorded in the Registro Nacional of Costa Rica are added up, there will be more land than the entire country. This could be an exaggeration but it’s indicative of potential problems you could encounter later on. So I paid for a survey of the property and sure enough they found some problems with its limits. There was more land than the one officially surveyed and recorded in the Registro Nacional. Few more hectares in a remote part of the property had to be added to the property. This required a new plano (plane or map) to be recorded in the Registro Nacional. Now, these new hectares did not add any value to us as they were in an area very remote and the recorded land was already too large. However, the owner wanted to charge more and we were not going to pay more. The deal fell apart. How lucky we were!!
Since that moment, I made the commitment not to deal with people outside the country and focus on land offered by Ticos (Costa Ricans) only. It wasn’t long until we found the land that became our Motherland. A kind Tico, a man of humble origins who became an entrepreneur, was selling this land with rivers, waterfalls, hills and enough flat area for development. He owns a family-owned business with his three oldest sons. They provide employment to several workers in their business of making roads and removing soil and rocks with heavy machinery. The price per hectare was more expensive than the one in Golfito mainly because this land was more centric—not too close to and not too far from an urban center (see We Have Found Our Motherland for more details about the land and more photos). However, the total cost turned out to be less than the cost of the land in Golfito because of its smaller size. The previous owner invested the proceeds from the property sale on his business assuring continued employment for his workers. In other words, my investment stayed in Costa Rica helping the local economy and strengthening a family-owned business, and we found the exact land we were looking for. Wouldn’t you call that perfect synchronicity? A perfect win-win situation!
And yes, the survey for the land we purchased also showed discrepancies. First, the area turned out to be one hectare less than the recorded one, and second, there was an area of approximately one hectare that belonged to the property but was not recorded in the Registro Nacional. As you can see, a survey is always necessary.
We are extremely happy with the acquisition of our Motherland, as Ngoc calls it (see We Have Found Our Motherland to learn the significance of this term). We made a new friend and neighbor (the previous owner of the property). He continues to help us settle in our new home by connecting us with the people we need to help us construct and develop our land. He also is motivated to do yoga and start a healthy lifestyle after we shared with him what we do. He asked me several times when our center would be ready. I answered him as soon as we can. I hope sooner than that.
Please follow us on Facebook or put yourself on our mailing list (if you have not done it already) as we will be posting our progress. We sincerely wish that one day you can visit us to spend a rejuvenating and peaceful time with us. By the way, if you have not yet read my book Spirituality: The Awareness of Reality – How to ‘See’ the Unseen and Break Free From the Suffering Caused By a Narrow Perception of Reality, it’s time for you to do so, :-).
For a more updated and complete photo album of the Ardent Light Motherland, see the Ardent Light Motherland Facebook album. For a more recent and complete video playlist of the Ardent Light Motherland, see the Ardent Light Motherland YouTube playlist.