I remember sitting on my sister’s couch back in 2009 having reached a point of disillusionment with the life I saw playing out into the next decade and beyond. I felt like I wasn’t really doing anything to make a difference in the world, and that bothered me. So, I decided to take a leap and join the U.S. Peace Corps. By January 2010, I was in Guatemala and getting trained as a volunteer in sustainable community tourism.
Through my work in the Peace Corps I visited some amazing communities, hiked to hidden waterfalls, and explored almost untouched beaches. When my friends and family came to visit, I took them out to these gems that I had stumbled upon and they were blown away. They all said the same thing: “We wouldn’t have known this even existed without you.” As my two-year service was ending, the wheels were turning in my head. I didn’t want to go back to pick up where I had left off in the U.S. I knew I wanted to try something new; and remembering the great time my visitors had, I decided to start my own company in Guatemala and show others these amazing places.
I believe travel has an extremely positive impact on people. It encourages conversation and entices a new way of looking at the world. It can spark creativity and motivate a change in behavior. Of course, I’m in this business because I thrive on adrenaline, so I tend to lead tours based around my personal hobbies and that makes these tours extremely enjoyable for me. It’s a pretty good life to be able to raft down a world-class whitewater river, or surf some amazing waves while getting paid to do it.
In 2015, I made the move to Costa Rica, where I can run my business online from my home on the South Pacific side of the country. In Costa Rica, I can live out my dream of owning my own business and being close to the waves, while still having the conveniences of fast internet, banks, and supermarkets close at hand.
The tour season is cyclical and so it’s easy to achieve a nice work/life balance. I can run most of my business with a computer and internet connection, so I’m extremely mobile. Plus, when I don’t have a group on site, I can schedule my day as I see fit. And since I’m a surfer, my day is typically scheduled around the tides. In the tour business, there is always something to do and even when it is the slow season and I’m not out guiding groups, I’m working on the computer between surf sessions to plan the trips. I’m emailing hotels, calling up drivers, and working with clients on itinerary design, and scheduling deposits. Life in the tour and hospitality industry is never dull, and I enjoy switching up the work as the seasons change.
One week, I might wake up early to crank out some work on the computer and then, a few hours before high tide, change into my bikini, grab my board and walk to the beach to enjoy a nice session with my local surfing buddies. Then I’ll come back to the house and grab a fresh coconut off my tree and use my machete skills to crack it open, for the potassium-rich coconut water that I love post-surf. It is nature’s Gatorade after all. Then I’ll get back to work online and perhaps when I’ve had enough screen time, I’ll ride my bike over to a yoga class to end the day.
Even when I am working, so much of my life is outside, and I just thrive in this type of environment. I love Costa Rica so much that I hardly ever travel back to the States, perhaps only a week or so a year to see family. It’s hard to leave the paradise of palm trees, warm water, and waves to return to the hustle and bustle of the States. It’s the pura vida for me, and from where I sit writing, I can hear the waves this instant. In fact, high tide is calling…
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