6 Highlights from 6 Weeks in Costa Rica with Wifi Tribe
As a lot of you know, I have spent the last 6 weeks in a little beach town called Playa Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. How'd I get here??
In college, my favorite memories were made studying abroad. I did an intersession course in Florence and then a whole semester in Rome, Italy. Florence was a group of 90 from my university whereas Rome was only 8 and I loved the small group setting. The travel bug bit and bit hard. I knew I wanted to do more travel because I have a super flexible and location independent job. I looked into Remote Year, a digital nomad program where 75 people travel all over the world together for a whole year. Somehow this didn't feel so right. First off, 75 people is a HUGE group and it reminded me too much of the 90 people in Florence. Also a whole year?! I love traveling but I don't think that even I could do an entire year nonstop. Thanks to good Facebook advertising, I saw a link for Wifi Tribe. And thanks goodness I did.
Earlier this year, I made a long awaited second trip across the pond to visit a friend in London. We spent 18 days hopping around Europe and I came home on a total high. Right when I got back though, my family dog had to be put down and I totaled my car. Talk about a tough month. I had already interviewed and been accepted to Wifi Tribe so when that all happened, I booked my flight to Costa Rica, packed up my apartment in Solana Beach and was off to my next adventure.
I got to spend 6 wonderful weeks in Playa Santa Teresa (near Mal Pais and Montezuma) on the Nicoya Peninsula. I was totally hooked on the lifestyle and the working-but-also-exploring mindset that Wifi Tribe had to offer, so much so that I actually got my act together enough to blog about the whole damn thing!
Here are my 6 highlights from my 6 weeks (in no particular order)!
1. renting atvs
I feel the need, the need for speed! Not having a car for a while made me excited to hop on these four wheelin' bad boys, plus, the roads are such a mess of potholes, that this becomes the only practical way to get around Santa Teresa. You can rent an ATV for roughly $50 for 24 hours. The first weekend there, we rented them and headed out to Montezuma for a waterfall hike and fresh fish at Hotel Montezuma on the beach. Little did we know that the sky would open up to torrential rain, thunder and lightning on our ride home. Let's just say practically kissed the ground when I got back. The second time, we got to take them on the beach, which was an absolute blast and a half. We found that it's much more fun to share.
2. snorkeling at isla tortuga
Once the whole tribe got to town, we booked a weekend snorkel trip with Zuma Tours out to Isla Tortuga. We got to see dolphins, turtles and a momma and baby whale on our way out. Then saw countless fish, octopi, and other sea life before heading ashore for lunch. This little island had tons of water activities. I bought m'self a coconut (because duh) and for a few extra bucks they added rum to it. Even better.
3. weekend at a banana plantation in arenal
Our group of 15 was the best blessing for booking an incredible estate outside of Arenal (where the volcanoes are). The home is now a full time Airbnb with its own instagram account. We had the most amazing grilled dinner and tour of the grounds from the staff on site. Something about being in a big family made me feel right at home. We swam, we drank, we taught our euro friends how to play beer pong... all was well.
We also made it over to the hot springs! Arenal's natural hot springs are a result of the water being heated by the volcanic lava. Not kidding when they say hottt. Once you could carefully wedge yourself into a makeshift recliner out of rocks and gravel, it was actually quite relaxing. We went to the free ones next to Tabacon Resort because we cheap like that.
Lastly, a few of us extended our trip onto Tamarindo. It was really interesting so see another city in Costa Rica that had a more commercial/tourism type feel. We loved the beach and the restaurants and how walkable everything was, but it definitely felt less safe than our own little town. We were happy to be back in Santa Teresa by the end of it.
4. embracing my inner yogi/foodie
Being in Santa Teresa was kind of like being in Encinitas except the roads weren't paved. There was no shortage of yoga, surf or good cafes and restaurants. I immediately bought a class pack at a yoga studio (Nautilus Boutique Hotel) near where we stayed that had the most amazing space. If you go, take Jessica's vinyasa class! Hands down one of the best yoga instructors ever!
5. ALLLL the water activities
Surfing, Snorkeling, Skinny dipping, Paddle boarding and Waterfalls - I am a water lover for sure. I don't think I would be able to live anywhere for an extended amount of time if it weren't near an ocean, lake or river. Needless to say, Costa Rica had all those bases covered. We rented surfboards for about $2/day and tried our best to make it a regular occurrence. There's something so satisfying about spending the day in or near the water.
6. having an authentically good time
One of my favorite memories from this trip I actually didn't get to document in photo or video form. Santa Teresa is a small town. So small in fact that everyone kind of ends up all at the same place on the same night. We headed out to one of the arguably more commercial spots, Banana Beach one night for drinks and dancing. If you really know me, you know I LOVE dancing, especially to latin and reggaeton music. Again, at the flip of a switch, Costa Rica opened the sky and DUMPED rain on the outdoor makeshift sand dance floor. Everyone was soaked to the bone but no one seemed to care. It felt like a straight-out-of-the-movies moment. No one cared what they looked like, no one cared that we were absolutely drenched. We just laughed, and danced and laughed and danced some more.
One day towards the beginning of the trip, I stopped at a cafe to get breakfast. I had just gone surfing and scarfed down a breakfast scramble when I made conversation with an older american man at the cafe. We got to talking and he told me he reads people's energies. I am not really a woo-woo person in this way, but what he said stuck with me. He said my aura was yellow. I asked him what that meant and he said it means that I am truly happy and am being my true self. This little nugget, as silly as it might have seemed at the time, felt like an affirmation that I was on the right path for me. I was comfortably outside of my comfort zone in a new place with new people and new experiences and it was turning out quite alright.
This whole trip was an experiment for me and I am so happy with the way things turned out. I have to credit a lot of that success to the group I came with, Wifi Tribe.
Over the next 5 years, I'll bet that there are going to be a TON more of these kinds of digital nomad groups. As more jobs become remote, more employers realize that a traditional office is becoming less necessary, I have no doubt that Wifi Tribe competitors will pop-up. However, I think Wifi Tribe's here to stay, guys. Here's what Wifi Tribe does that's different than any of the other travel groups I've seen:
- the application process is thorough on purpose - there's an application and also a skype interview. After talking with Diego, one of the cofounders, this is totally by design and helps to ensure that everyone shares the same core values and beliefs.
- everyone's got a location independent job - aka my very first coworkers! It was super motivating to be around people who wanted to work hard, play hard. For the most part, almost everyone was grindin' from 9 to 5. When you work at home or work by yourself, it's sometimes hard to get in the groove of consistently working and clocking in those hours and this trip probably helped me do that more.
- adventure is on the agenda, but it's up to you to plan - One of the things I disliked about study abroad during university was that the 'cultural experiences' were scheduled and mandatory. This is the opposite. Wifi Tribe takes a completely hands-off approach as far as extra curricular's. Naturally though, our group did almost everything together.
- genuine friendships with people across the globe - as corny as it is to say, I feel like I made some lifetime friends this past six weeks. Post-grad, it is particularly tough meeting new people and this was something I kind of struggled with before I left San Diego. BUT, from the first week in a new location with Wifi Tribe, you're all at kind of starting at square one. Everyone wants to explore, try new restaurant and experiences and that was one of my favorite things about it. Not only that, but when you are working across from someone, or walking back from a cafe, you inevitably get to talking about what they do and how they do it. As a self-proclaimed networking fiend, I loved learning about everyone and their goals and aspirations in life and in business. Then, after office hours, we got to get to know each other on a personal level, be silly with each other and start inside jokes. Mems guys, mems.
Long, long, long story short, I can't even put into words how awesome the last 6 weeks were. Got q's about Wifi Tribe? call me, beep me (...if you want to reach me). I've got South Africa on the brain for 2018...