My Christmas Eve in Paradise

I am house-sitting where you belong. This place belongs to you, dear Reader.

Do you understand? I’m merely the gatekeeper, the house-sitter of YOUR paradise and I’m in bliss.

Again, I repeat. It is Christmas Eve in Costa Rica and I’m in bliss. And this experience, belongs to you.

Made some lemon ice tea last night. It’s some of the best I’ve ever had and I’m originally from Florida so I know my lemon Ezekiel Tyrus poolice tea.

It’s sunny. I’m hanging by the swimming pool, got the house open, the windows, the doors, and have the TV on the classic MTV channel playing music from the 1980s, my generation. the good songs and the bad, which are good now, too, if only for nostalgia’s sake.

It’s hot, very hot and the sun is baking but I’m wearing suntan lotion and there’s a breeze coming through the trees from over the mountains. Whenever I get too sweaty, I jump into the pool, always the right amount of chill, refreshing, invigorating.

I’m reading Hemingway’s A Movable Feast, though I’ve read it before, I often reread books I love to rediscover certain gems you may have missed the first time:

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be the happiest.”12391113_969324436481157_5712329312238870911_n

-Great line, Hemingway and though I know you were writing about Paris in the 1920s, the same is true about Costa Rica today.

You may want to read another book or listen to another music channel but this experience belongs to you, you deserve i
t, let’s make it happen.

I’m happy here and this morning I had a moment walking into the sunny, spacious backyard where I had to stop, stretch my arms towards the sky and shout, “I’M IN COSTA RICA!!”

Come to Villas de San Buenas de Osa. This place is beautiful and magical. The land gets inside your soul and changes you in a positive way.

With all this beauty and happiness happening in the daytime, I don’t know how I will contain myself at 4:30 when the sun sets turning the earth and the sky into pink and gold, my favorite time of day in San Buenas.

Regardless how giddy or silly I’ll be, surely you’ll see me back in the same spacious backyard taking pictures of the sunset like I have every evening since coming down to Costa Rica a little over a month ago.  10295816_969309709815963_5834358375575404862_n 1463252_969324479814486_1778100848631566433_n

Donation to Reserva Playa Tortuga

Las Villas de San Buenas proudly donated over 10 headlamps to Reserva Playa sand turtle playa tortugaTortuga (RPT) recently. RPT is located approximately 10 minutes from Las Villas de San Buenas and they provide our residents and visitors an amazing opportunity to help protect Costa Rica’s Osa wildlife.

Tortuga is Spanish for turtle, and they focus a lot of their time, energy and financial resources on protecting migrating turtles. However, they also study a variety of wildlife in the area.

Las Villas de San Buenas is looking to increase its support of Reserva Playa Tortuga turtle nests ojochal tortugaand preliminary discussions have started to finalize a program that benefits both organizations.

To donate please purchase these headlamps on Amazon, and ship to:

Nick HalversonTortugaHeadlamp
1759 Valerie Lane
New Brighton, MN 55112

Be sure to include your name in the order and/or send us an email to notify us that they are on the way and we can send you a thank-you card.

Reserva playa tortuga donation

Las Villas de San Buenas (LVSB) recently donated headlamps to RPT Juan Manuel Salazar (RPT),  Nick Halverson (LVSB), Melissa Jimenez Kardentey (RPT).

Mr. Juan Salazar, from RPT, said that “these headlamps will help our volunteers work throughout the night in protecting the mothers who are laying their eggs, and for the hatchlings to successfully make it to the ocean.”

headlamps

Some of the donated headlamps from Las Villas de San Buenas to Reserva Playa Tortuga

Please contact us if you’d like to make a financial or product donation to Reserva Playa Tortuga.

From RPT’s website, their objectives are:

  • To develop positive communication with populations and communities associated with study areas focusing on protection of coastal marine resources and the development of responsible ecological tourism.
  • To establish strategic alliances with governmental and non-governmental entities working towards conservation and management of natural resources at local, national and international levels.
  • To educate and enable local population, via programs and opportunities, to live in environmentally sustainable ways.
  • To identify populations of coastal animals in danger of local, regional, or global extinction.
  • To maintain and rehabilitate the land in order to create/re-create an intact coastal zone that protects the Osa’s incredible wealth of biodiversity while supporting and facilitating sustainable development and living for the immediate coastal populations from Cortés to Dominical.
  • To provide opportunities to the scientists and researchers from Costa Rica to work with senior researchers and faculty members of US and other international universities and research facilities in order to further develop their research skills in the scientific fields related to Conservation Ecology and Biogeochemistry of Tropical Coastal Marine Systems.
  • To facilitate scientists and researchers to use the equipment and facility of Playa Tortuga Marine Conservation and Research Center for their own research activities involving biological investigation of tropical marine environments in regions where such research has not been carried out in recent times.

Turtle Logo

United Airlines adds Seasonal Flights to Costa Rica

United Airlines Adds Two Nonstop Flights to Costa Rica

Source: The Tico Times

The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) in July reported that U.S. carrier United Airlines will open two seasonal flights between Denver and Costa Rica from December to April.

One of the flights will arrive at Juan Santamaría International Airport, outside San José, and the other will fly to the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste.

United Airlines Costa Rica

The new seasonal trips from Denver will operate Fridays and Saturdays from December 18 and April 30. (Courtesy of United Airlines)

The route between Denver International Airport and San José will operate once a week from Dec. 18 to April 30, 2016. The flight will depart from Denver at 10:59 p.m. on Fridays and will arrive at Juan Santamaría on Saturdays at 5:24 a.m. From San José, the flight will depart Saturdays at 7:19 a.m. and will arrive in Denver at noon.

The route to Daniel Oduber also will operate on Saturdays from Dec. 19 to April 30.

Flights will leave from Denver at 9:55 a.m. and arrive in Liberia at 4:15 p.m. Departures from Liberia will be at 12:30 p.m. and will arrive in Denver at 5:05 p.m., the ICT reported.

Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura said the news from United is important for the country: “These new flights will boost the tourism sector throughout the country, but they also will expand opportunities for Costa Ricans to fly to this major U.S. destination.”

The U.S. is Costa Rica’s main source of travelers. In 2014, the country registered a total of 936,929 arrivals from that country, a 7.6 percent increase from 2013.

 

Meet our Customers

Las Villas de San Buenas has a diverse set of owners from around the world (eight countries and counting). Come join us in paradise!! More information here

Customers San Buenas

Our customers come from around the world and have a variety of backgrounds.

Lapa Photographed at Casa Lapa

The photograph below was taken by Nick Halverson in May 2015 from the backyard of Casa Lapa using a Nikon D5000 with a Nikkor 18-140 mm lens. It is of a scarlet macaw (or a lapa as they are known in Costa Rica).

There were four lapas eating the ripening almonds from the almond tree in the early morning. If you look closely at the photo you can see that this one has the almond between its beak. We planted those trees approximately three years ago and we now regularly have lapas flying in and eating.

Costa Rica lapa san buenas

Lapa (scarlet macaw) enjoying an almond behind Casa Lapas, Las Villas de San Buenas. (c) Nick Halverson

Wildlife Author Carrol L Henderson meets with Nick Halverson

Earlier this week, Las Villas de San Buenas CEO, Nick Halverson, met with Carrol L Henderson, to exchange

Carrol Henderson Nick Halverson

Nick Halverson (L) and Carrol L Henderson enjoyed meeting and discussing Costa Rica earlier this week.

their experiences and stories about Costa Rica. Mr. Henderson is a wildlife biologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and has written four books about Costa Rica’s mammals, birds and wildlife.

During the 75 minute meeting, Carrol shared many stories of his travels around the world and his success in raising awareness of wildlife in Costa Rica. In fact, Carrol was instrumental in getting the Ballena National Park designated as a national park by using photographs he took of migrating whales, and having those compared to photos on file at the Cousteau Institute.

Prolific Writing

Carrol’s four books about Costa Rica are: Costa Rica Wildlife, Mammals, Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica, Butterflies, Moths, and Other Invertebrates of Costa Rica, Birds of Costa Rica

Carrol has spent a lifetime studying wildlife in both Costa Rica and in Minnesota, USA. He made his first visit to Costa Rica in the late 1960’s, where he met and married his wife of 40 years+. Over the past 45 years, Carrol has documented every trip and every animal sighting he’s had in Costa Rica. Armed with this data, he went on to write his books about wildlife in Costa Rica. He is constantly looking for updates and photographic proof of sightings so each new edition of his books is kept up-to-date. In fact, after the meeting Mr. Halverson sent Mr. Henderson some photos so that Carrol could identify the bird species in the photos.

Las Villas de San Buenas is committed to protecting the environment and due to this commitment, birds that were not seen 10 years ago in San Buenaventura are now common. Through working with professional horticultures, local experts and actively searching out other professionals (such as Carrol Henderson), Las Villas de San Buenas is continuing to improve the environmental diversity of Osa.

Small Town, Common Roots

It turns out that Carrol and the Chairman of the Board of Las Villas de San Buenas, Duane Halverson, both were born in Iowa and both were students at Iowa State University at the same time in the late 1960’s.

Nick Halverson was also born in Iowa, and interestingly, both Nick and Carrol have a strong belief that to truly appreciate and enjoy Costa Rica, one must immerse oneself into the local culture and customs.

Costa Rica Birding Tours

Since 1987, Mr. Henderson has lead private birding tours for small groups of people. Every trip is unique and different from any other previous trips. If anyone is interested in learning more about his past trips, or the January 2016 trip, please send us a note.

NOTE: All of Carrol’s books are available at national book sellers and Amazon.

Donation to LILA Non-Profit Organization

LILA Lakes International Language AcademyDonation to LILA Non-profit

For the 5th year in a row, Las Villas de San Buenas donated a week of Casa Lapas to Lakes International Language Academy (LILA) foundation. Casa Lapas generated over $2,500 for the non-profit organization with 100% of the funds going directly to LILA.

LILA Parents Jeanine Halverson and Annie Moorman enjoying the evening.

LILA Parents Jeanine Halverson and Annie Moorman enjoying the evening.

Mr. Chuck Phillips from Forest Lake, Minnesota, had the winning bid. Mr. Phillips owns a karate dojo and is looking forward to visiting Las Villas de San Buenas with his family later in 2015.

The funds will be used to further educate a classroom for an entire year with a licensed teacher from outside the USA who will bring their own experience, and language skills, into the classroom.

LILA 2015

Over 150 people attended the fund raiser.

Las Villas de San Buenas CEO Nick Halverson said, “We are proud to continue our commitment to helping LILA, and their International Baccalaureate program, which not only educates students in immersion learning (Spanish and Mandarin Chinese at LILA) but also provides students learning from a global perspective.”

The LILA fund raiser had over 150 in attendance, including Miguel Ramos, from

LILA Miguel Ramos Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins’ Miguel Ramos donating a banner for LILA

Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Minnesota Twins’ front office who donated a banner to be hung in LILA’s office and also facilitate several game-ticket packages that were used for a silent auction. The function was attended primarily by parents of students at LILA and several local business owners.

Las Villas de San Buenas is proud to have customers from eight countries (and counting) who speak at least six languages, and continues to attract customers from around the world.

Mr. Halverson stated at the event, “Costa Rica and in particular, Las Villas de San IMG_7536Buenas, appeals to people from around the world due to its amazing wildlife, the spectacular views throughout the property and its diverse customer base. Add to that the world-class amenities nearby and it’s understandable why we continue to attract customers from around the globe.”

 

Our Beautiful New Rancho

We’ve been busy the last month here in Las Villas de San Buenas. We’ve added some new roads, fixed up some of the old ones, added a few more ocean view lots (more on that later) and built a beautiful new rancho.

Costa Rica Rancho

First, a little background information. A rancho, or ranchito, is an outdoor structure used for gatherings, picnics and/or relaxing. The designs and quality vary greatly throughout Costa Rica, but the one key component of all of them is that there are no walls. This design feature ensures constant fresh air is flowing through at all times.

Our most recent rancho is our third one in Las Villas de San Buenas. We previously built one on a private lot and another one just past our bridge near the driving range of San Buenas Golf Resort.

Rancho Herradura is the largest one yet. The dimensions are 4 meters by 4 meters (16 square meters), which equates to 172 square feet! We used the same roofing material TejaReal and added designed a vent at the top which allows all of the hot air (from the air and cooking – not the fish tales being shared!) to easily leave.

Hand made table by a local carpenter in San Buenaventura.

Hand made table by a local carpenter in San Buenaventura.

One of the design elements that our clients love is how we took leaves from native trees, all of which are found in the development, and pressed them into the floor while the cements was still wet. This left a permanent imprint on the floor.

Rancho Costa Rica Floor

Unlike our other ranchos, Rancho Herradura has electricity with lights, allowing for all day and evening use. Additionally, there are two electrical outlets, internet service, a full grill and a sink.

Costa Rica rancho

 

 

 

 

BBQ costa Rica

Costa Rica is the Happiest Country in the World…again

Costa Rica is the Happiest Country in the World

Costa Rica has once again been judged to be the “Happiest Country in the World” by the Happy Planet Index. The rankings are based on the following three components, and each is given a traffic-light score

based on thresholds for good (green), middling (amber) and bad (red) performance. – See more

1) Life expectancy

female surfer playa dominical smile

Costa Rica once again is named the Happiest Country in the World. 

2) Experienced well-being

3) Ecological Footprint

These scores are combined to an expanded six-colour traffic light for the overall HPI score, where, to achieve bright green – the best of the six colours, a country would have to perform well on all three individual components.

The Top 10 Happiest Countries are:

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Vietnam
  3. Columbia
  4. Belize
  5. El Salvador

As one can see, interestingly, four of the top five happiest places are in Central or South America. By way of comparison, the USA ranked 105th, Canada ranked 65th and France 50th.

For more information, and a full ranking of 151 countries, please visit their website here.

Everyone here at Las Villas de San Buenas, and the town of San Buenaventura, understands the happiness lifestyle. People of Costa Rica tend to be more relaxed and proud of what they have – not envious and jealous of others who have “more”. Although many Costa Ricans may not have a lot of “stuff”, what many Costa Ricans do have more of than other countries is a commitment to family and friendship.

This focus and commitment to family and friends is why Costa Rica continues to be a destination for people from around the world (and why we have had customers from eight countries!).

Costa Rica Most Popular National Parks

Costa Rica Most Popular National Parks

There are currently 50 national parks in Costa Rica, spread across the country, on both coasts and are varying in type as in the number of national parks. Some have volcanoes, others mountain peaks,  while many are located on the coasts housing amazing wildlife, marine life and plants.  For owners (and visitors) of Las Villas de San Buenas, the great news is that two of the six most popular national parks are quite close. In fact, Ballena National Marine Park is only 20 minutes away! According to an article by The Tico Times, Costa Rica most popular National Parks based on number of visitors provided by the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT), are as follows:

1. Poas Volcano National Park

Poas volcano costa rica

The crater at Poas volcano, in Poas National Park, is eerily colored due to the sulfur in the water.

Poas National Park is located near Cartago, one of the largest cities in Costa Rica, and now an extension of the San Jose metropolitan area. The volcano is still active and has an elevation of nearly 9,000 feet. It is easy to see the large, deep crater, and is a great place for photographers. They recently have added a visitors center, complete with a cafe.

2. Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park, is an easy 60 minute drive from Las Villas de San Buenas. Simply head north onto the Costanera Highway (Hwy 34) and in about one hour the turn off for Quepos/Manuel Antonio National Park will be on your left.

manuel antonio national park mono

Manuel Antonio is a popular destination for both visitors as well as Costa Ricans. It is one of the largest and most beautiful beaches in all of Costa Rica. With the Caldera Highway opening up in 2008, a trip from San Jose to Manuel Antonio is only 2.5 hours,.

Manuel Antonio National park was established in 1972 and is approximately 4,900 acres (1,984 hectares) in size.  It is one of the jewels of Costa Rica’s eco-tourism. The best way to see and experience the park is to hire a trained guide at the park’s entrance, and they’ll try and find sloths, monkeys and dozens of birds to show you.

From The Tico Times:

Foreigners flock here for a chance to live a day in a postcard-like setting. Manuel Antonio National Park’s beaches are the epitome of tropical perfection, the kind of place where the only distractions from the crashing surf come from monkeys swinging in the palm trees.

Morning is the best time, for sunny skies and to avoid crowds (only 600 people are admitted during weekdays; 800 on weekends). Hike to the third beach within the park; it may be the most spectacular beach in Costa Rica, with verdant, coconut palm-lined white-sand shores. Check out the tombolo, which is a deposit of sand built up by millenniums of crashing waves, connecting an island with the mainland. A trail will take you to the top of Cathedral Point, offering spectacular vistas of surrounding beaches and cliffs. The trail is steep and muddy; take care and go with a partner.

Snorkeling is excellent, as is observation of sea life. Sponges, corals, various crustaceans, algae and fish all share the coast. Dolphins and whales sometimes frolic off the islands, and at low tide you can see ancient turtle traps set by the local indigenous population over a thousand years ago.

3. Irazu Volcano National Park

Irazu is an active volcano located near San Jose (15 miles east) and during the 1960’s erupted for four years straight. There are plenty of tour operators that offer day trips to the volcano, although if you have a rental car, it is much more affordable to drive yourself. Be sure to wear warm clothes as Irazu is above the frost line and temperatures hover around freezing. Additionally, constant cold winds and saturating humidity, typically make this visit a short one (unless you’re used to the cold and have packed for it).

4. Tortuguero National Park

Located on Costa Rica’s Northern Caribbean coast, Tortuguero National Park, is best seen by boat. There are plenty of locations to rent canoes and kayaks so most and areas to hire local guides. tortuguero national park turtleThe name ‘tortuguero’ means ‘turtle catcher’ in Spanish. As you would imagine, based on the name, turtles are the main attraction here. Numerous species of turtles including green sea, leatherback and Hawksbill nest each year on the beaches here. If you are planning a trip to the Caribbean coast you could visit both Tortuguero and Cahuita in a couple of days.

There is an extensive network of freshwater creeks and lagoons where endangered West Indian Manatees can sometimes be seen.

5. Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park is located on Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean coast. It is best known for the coral reefs near the shore. During the dry season some of the world’s best beach snorkeling will provide views of light yellow brain, elkhorn and blue staghorn corals, sea fans and gorgonians, in addition to more than 500 species of fish.

Off the shore approximately 300 meters is a living underwater habitat that is home to over 100 species of fish and 35 species of coral.

6. Ballena National Marine Park

Ballena National Park is close to Las Villas de San Buenas. The main entrance point is in Uvita, although there are other access points north of the Uvita entrance that also are available. Regardless of which entrance point used, the park is beautiful!

Ballena National Park uvita Whales Tail

 

This beautiful landmark, best seen from the air while flying to Palmar Sur regional airport, encompasses miles of protected beaches. During the while watching season migrating whales can be seen from the beach, or if you’d like, hire a local company to take you out on a boat to get closer.