What Ryan Found in the Hills of Costa Rica

Ryan Bickle, 33, was exploring the hills around the town of Montezuma in Costa Rica 10 years ago…and it changed the direction of his life.

Montezuma is a fishing village turned bohemian hangout on the tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, which juts out into the Pacific in the north of the country.

There is no large-scale development, no big hotels, no chain restaurants. It’s a simple place, quiet, with a laidback lifestyle that attracts expats seeking a home without resorts or the crowds that come with that level of development.

The Saturday morning organic produce and craft market is a favorite expat hang out—that should give you an idea of the nature of the area and the people.

“I like the location, with the beaches, surfing, and fishing,” explains Ryan. “I pretty much traveled the entire country before settling down in Montezuma. I liked the vibe I got from the town.”

What helped him settle down was what he discovered that day in the hills. He had fallen in love with the area and was looking for an investment that could keep him there. He came across a property, just up the road from the well-known waterfalls just to the north of the center of town.

It was a house that was never completed, just a shell. Ryan bought it and transformed it into a four-room B&B and butterfly sanctuary called Mariposario Montezuma Gardens.

Soon after starting the renovation effort, Ryan was joined by his brother Josh, 40, who had been working in the assisted living industry back in the U.S. He only came down for a visit…but Montezuma exerted its pull on Josh, too.

“I was supposed to be here just to help him turn it into a B&B. But I never went back,” says Josh. “I really liked the small town feel.”

Josh too has felt healthier after settling in Montezuma. The clean air and water contrasted greatly with the industrial pollution found in the U.S.

“We like this area because it’s rural, like where we grew up,” says Ryan, (the brothers are from Washington State).

Ryan hadn’t previously worked with butterflies before this project. But he wanted something to set his place apart from the other hotels and hostels in town. The butterfly enclosure is on-site with the B&B and offers tours to anyone visiting town—although the B&B brings in the vast majority of their revenue. They also have a breeding center.

They have eight to 12 species in the garden at any one time, which is fully enclosed so no butterflies escape.

Ryan and Josh keep an eye on the butterflies and help their guests. But it’s overall a laidback life. Ryan spends a lot of time with his young family and brews beer, too, in small batches for friends and his guests.

Two full-time employees handle a lot of the day-to-day work, with the brothers managing. And they also have a program in which hospitality students from North America, Europe, Costa Rica, and other Latin American countries can do internships/work exchanges for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to gain experience in the industry.

The hotel is a project that has provided an income and the ideal way of life. And the brothers couldn’t be happier.

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