I arrive at Honolulu airport and, on my way to the luggage carousel, I spot a gentleman in a chauffeur's suit holding a sign with my name on it. He greets me in traditional island aloha style and places a lei of fragrant tuberose and orchids over my head. He tells me he's there to take me to my hotel, and leads me out through the VIP route to a big black limo, where he holds the door open for me.
Joseph Mucaria fell in love with Costa Rica on a short visit. "I was only supposed to come for three months and then return to the States, but I fell in love with the culture and the environment, plus I always wanted to learn another language," he says. That was 12 years ago. Now, he lives in an ocean-view condo just 45 minutes away from the city of Liberia.
When I made the decision I was going to retire in Latin America, I decided to learn the language. A brief stint living in Mexico in my early 30s with zero Spanish skills made me realize I was missing out on the full experience…and I didn't want a repeat. After three years and four scouting trips to Latin American, I am thankful I took the time to learn.
Daily life on the beach...a breathtaking view of the bay...and live music at sunset...that's the routine for Tari and Peter Bowman. Little did they know in 1981 when they took a trip to Puerto Vallarta that their lives would be changed forever.
Puerto Vallarta (often referred to as Vallarta or just PV) is known for its friendly atmosphere, so it's not surprising that it attracts a lot of tourists. Many of the expats you'll meet here started out as tourists. The ones I spoke to told me they came here on vacation but realized pretty soon that they didn't want to leave. As soon as they went home, they changed their lives to move here. You can't get a better stamp of approval than that.
According to the "critical period hypothesis," it's easier to learn a language before the age of 13. That theory says that's when you have a better chance of achieving fluency and being accent-free. When I started studying Spanish two-and-a-half years ago, I was already 40 years past that window, so I wasn't sure how my attempts to learn Spanish would play out.
Some people go on vacation to a new country and fall in love with the place, then go home, quit their jobs and pack up all their worldly belongings to move there.