Hola, I’m Lisa Valencia!
In 2007 I left life in the USA for the dream of a new life in Costa Rica. The desire to share my dream led to the discovery of my passion for writing. This website is the result. In the menu above you’ll find out what it’s like LIVING THE NEW ADVENTURE with my personal accounts of the funny, crazy, scary and serene. From my VOICE OF EXPERIENCE I share what I’ve learned living ten years in Costa Rica. So you know what you’re in for if you want to do it, too. You’ll learn of the enchanting beauty of COSTA RICA’S CARIBBEAN SIDE with it’s unique culture and the surprising delights of nature all around. Here you have a window through which you can imagine your own life in Costa Rica. And of course you are invited to come see for yourself! I’ll be waiting for you at YOUR JUNGLE HIDE-AWAY ready to help make your Costa Rica dreams come true. NOTE: I AM IN THE PROCESS OF UPDATING THIS SITE. THERE IS MORE TO COME. SOON TO BE PUBLISHED.
Costa Rica Travel Journals – Same Website, New Look!
I began publishing this website in 2008, with stories of my new life in Costa Rica. I wrote about what it was like to leave everything I’d ever known, jump into a new world, adapt and enjoy. When I expressed my inner hopes and fears my reader’s response amazed me. They were thinking and feeling the same as I! Now, nine years later I’m still writing, sharing my world and delighting in my reader’s reaction. If you’ve been following along, don’t dismay! This is the same website as before, just with a bright new look to convey my bright and enthusiastic love for this life. NOTE: I’M STILL IN THE PROCESS OF UPDATING. THERE ARE MANY MORE ARTICLES TO COME.
New Home Page Article – January 14, 2017
THERE IS ANOTHER WAY
Ten years ago years ago I left the United States and moved to Costa Rica. For the last six I have owned and run a guest house. I live with tourists who come from all over the world. And I hear their thoughts and concerns about the state of the environment and “the powers that be.” Many come seeking refuge from the stressful demands of their daily lives. Costa Rica is no longer simply a tropical dream vacation. Costa Rica represents an escape! And many are using their time in Costa Rica to consider and explore another way to live.
When I left the USA my life was not so bad. I left a nice life in the Rocky Mountains to enjoy something new by the ocean. I wanted to learn a new language and experience a new culture. There were concerns about the government but rampant consumerism was my main complaint. My values were not in agreement with those around me.
In recent years there’s been a decline in the quality of life in North America. This affects me deeply. I feel relieved to be here in Costa Rica, out of the crossfire of prejudice, intolerance and fear. Yet I love my country. I was raised to have pride in our founding fathers who fought so bravely to achieve and preserve our human rights. I was taught:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
And as a child, it touched my heart so, that I never forgot the words on the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Today I feel grateful for the generosity of Costa Rica, allowing me to live and enjoy my freedom here. I appreciate the beauty of nature and the relaxed lifestyle. Yet this morning the inner sadness I carry surprised me. I was talking with a couple from Denmark. Their productive, healthy lifestyle, and the prosperity and benevolence of their government was impressive. As I commented on how proud they must be to live in such a country, I felt a sudden surge of sorrow and humiliation. I was embarrassed to even mention my own country. And right in the middle of that conversation I almost cried. What has become of the land of the free and the home of the brave?
In the United States of American we were raised to hold our hands over our hearts while we pledged allegiance to our country—“the greatest country in the world.” Yet we are at the onset of a political administration that is at best, an embarrassment and at worst—it would scare me to say. North Americans work too hard and live stressful, fear driven lives. We do what we are told and none of it gives benefit.
We were taught to put our health in the hands of insurance companies and our medical system. Yet health has become a consumer commodity and the system has become something between a disappointment and a death sentence, depending on personal experience.
We put our moral and ethical choices in the hands of politicians. We put our soul and spirit in the hands of church authorities. And our brains, our intellect—surrendered to television.
What are we? Are we frightened children, shaking in our boots for fear of terrorism? Are we mindless masses anesthetized by—take your pick: drugs, alcohol, food, sex, sports, television—anything to allay the fear? Or perhaps we are simply lemmings, furiously, unknowingly, running to meet our end.
There is another way. I know there is another way because I am living it. And so are many others. And so can you. Believe me, so can you. Only you can create and craft your life. I can’t tell you how. There are as many different ways as there are different people. But I can tell you what I‘ve done with mine. Moving to Costa Rica was part of it. I hope, as you read on, you’ll be inspired. And you will come to believe as I do, that we all can find a better way to live.
I’ve always felt different than my peers, never really fitting in. I grew up in suburban neighborhoods where everyone lived in “little boxes on a hillside, all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same.” Men worked “nine to five” and wanted to “climb the ladder of success.” Women stayed home and helped. At a very young age I knew this life was not for me. But don’t think knowledge simply propelled me into a different lifestyle. I ended up a struggling single mother of two, living in the East Coast megalopolis. Having children forced me to find another way. Our city neighborhood was too dangerous for my son to walk to kindergarten.
Humans need clean air and some space to move around. We are animals. We need to live in nature. I chose Montana. This was not an easy thing for a young mother with very little resources and two children under five. But they made me do it! Yes, my first big life change was forced upon me by two unknowing and innocent little creatures. I thought about them and I knew I could not live with regret. If I did not make a change someday my children would realize there was a better way to live but their mother did not have the courage to pursue it.
And indeed, Montana offered a much better lifestyle than where we’d come from. My kids grew up in a hippie Mayberry. We all had gardens. Many were living off the land. Children were an integral part of everything. This included our parties, which ended with them asleep on the laps of parents making music around the bonfire. In town my kids could walk to school and run around without concern for kidnapping and crime. I never had to lock our door.
But things change. After 20 years the world had gotten wind of Whitefish. Yuppies moved in. Movie stars built mansions on mountaintops and disrupted the character of our little town. Around that time I did some traveling. I had the opportunity to visit Tibet, Nepal and China. Then I spent some time in Mexico. And I began to view the world from a different perspective, culminating in my trip to Costa Rica.
With no intention of moving there, I enjoyed my month long stay. It wasn’t until I boarded the plane and waited during layovers that I peered with new eyes at the world I’d been living in all my life. It wasn’t until then that something began niggling at me. “I don’t want to be here.” Fancy shops in the airport flaunt the life of luxury. All around was branding; signs, posters, billboard saying buy me, buy me, be me. And nowhere to be seen were examples of individuality or integrity—only consumerism. My sweet little town of Whitefish was the worst, with residents who could afford anything, living lifestyles of the rich and famous. “I don’t want to be here.”
Seven months later I began my second big life change in Costa Rica. To say the least it’s been a challenge but well worth it. I’ve never regretted this decision, not for one minute. Both times I made a big move, people said I was brave. I certainly didn’t feel that way. “You do what you have to do” is always my answer. When you view your life as the valuable gift which it is, your conscience (nor your children) will not let you waste it.
My life here in Costa Rica is far from perfect. But it is my own. It is a work in progress. And just so you know: I came here with no special advantages. I had enough money to buy a car and get started. The rest of the money dwindled away fast. I had to figure out how to get by. During the process, while living hand to mouth, it was only my determination that sustained me. These days I feel great satisfaction knowing how far I’ve come. I still work hard. And it is still well worth it.
So as you can see, you don’t have to be brave, you don’t have to be rich, you don’t even have to know exactly what you’re going to do with your new life. But to find another way to live you have to be honest. Take an honest look at yourself and decide where you need to change your perspective.
A family member said something very hurtful to me. That night I tossed and turned and woke up with a sore stiff neck. It was extremely painful to simply turn my head. But I had a tour planned for one of my guests. Melita, from Germany, was a lovely woman who really liked our area. I didn’t want to disappoint her.
Here in Puerto Viejo we have beautiful beaches but we also have rivers and mountains with gorgeous views. I love living here and sharing the special reasons why. We crossed the river in a hand cut canoe. We drove up into the mountains. And we stopped for a great meal in an indigenous pueblo. At the restaurant, I stepped out for a moment and when I came back Melita was gone. Half an hour later she returned with sweet stories from the elementary school across the street. She’d been taking pictures of historical murals painted on the walls. The teachers and students were so delighted to meet her and so full of questions they could hardly let her go.
To see someone with such enthusiasm and joy for our day together was a gratifying experience for me. And guess what? At the end of the day, on the way home I remembered the pain in my neck. But it was gone! It completely disappeared that day while I was caught in the moment. I changed my perspective without even trying. I went from being a sad and hurt victim to a passionate tour guide and like magic, the pain went away.
Diana was a guest in my little casita. She is now back at home in Florida. In our recent phone conversation I was given a grim status report of my country. Diana was not happy and really wanted to come back to Costa Rica. As we talked further and I sympathized with her plight I felt my neck and shoulders begin to tense. “This is no good,” I thought. “This conversation is doing no good for either of us.” Diana agreed. Together we changed our focus from discouraging words to the beauty of nature here in the jungle. As I described the Blue Morpho butterfly flying by and the intensity of the greenery in the afternoon sunlight we both felt relief.
I must always remember to be aware of my perspective. It’s easy to feel like a victim. And that’s painful for everyone around me. Still I know how powerful my positive energy can be. When I’m feeling strong and thinking positive the energy is contagious, nothing can stop me and everybody around me feels good.
What’s your perspective? Look honestly at how you view the world and see if your viewpoint is serving you well. Think positive! There may be many things you cannot do but I bet there is one thing you can. Focus on that.
Here’s a thought: “I can make a decision. I can change my life. I have decided to change my life.” That’s the perfect beginning and it’s all you need to do. Believe in yourself, stay positive and the rest will come.
It helps to believe in something bigger than you, as well. I believe in miracles. I believe in walking, talking miracles. Did you know we have 60,000 miles of blood vessels running through our body? That’s enough to circle the world three times. That in itself is a miracle. You, my friend, are a miracle. And miracles lead to more miracles. Imagine a world with no traffic jams. Wouldn’t that be a miracle? Our miraculous circulatory system has given one engineer new ideas on how to manage traffic and transportation systems. (I learned this in a TED Talk.)
We are the scientists, inventors and creators of our lives. We have the power. And when we fully realize this, making miracles will be an every day thing.
Now is the time for you to stop doing what you are told and take responsibility for your life. You can’t expect to resolve your own life’s problems by changing the government. Governments are corrupt. You’ve got to change only one thing—your life. There is no secret system. Your way is different than mine. But we’re all here to help each other. Once you know this, once you see the miracles around you and know that you are one of those miracles, then you’re on your way. You’ve taken the first step. To believe in yourself and know you can do it: that’s what sets the energy in motion. A boring frustrating insipid old life is a thing of the past. Let’s get onto an exciting new adventure!
Note: I invite your comments on this article through personal email. Contact me with the link below. Thank you.