Group Tours, the Zoo and You

Lisa at the Cacao House

 I’ve never liked going to the zoo: being on the outside looking in at the animals in cages. I always wanted to get in there with them and play! I don’t like group tours, either. It makes me feel like an alien, an outsider. And Ok, maybe I am an outsider but in contrast to group tours, when you deal personally with the locals, a great big smile and a sincere attempt to speak their language goes a long way. Soon you get invited into all kinds of interesting experiences you would never even know about on a tour group. That is why mine is a unique type of Costa Rica guide service, catering and customized to the individual. When I first visited Costa Rica this type of service was not available. I had to figure it all out on my own – which part to visit, where to stay what to do. The same was true for my move here three years ago. I ran into obstacles left and right and had to learn the hard way. No one should have to do that. That is where I can help you.

I seem to be good at meeting people, I don’t know why. When I was a kid, shy and afraid to do something new, my dad gave me advice I have never forgotten. “Don’t worry about what people think of you,” he said, “they are more concerned about themselves. All you have to do is be interested in them and they will like you.” Simple but true – this advice has carried me through all kinds of situations: from awkward to strange to downright scary. But it has to be sincere. You can’t fake interest in anybody, most people see right through it and they lose respect for you. (And you lose respect for your self.) A genuine interest in others is no problem for me because I love people: I enjoy their stories; I am fascinated by what motivates them; I try to benefit from their knowledge; and I thrive on sharing common experience.

My friend, Gina is the same way. She is one of the first people I met when I came here. Born and raised in California, Gina moved to San Jose, Costa Rica with her parents at age 16. She married and raised a family of her own here in the Caribbean. Living here for forty years, she has become part of the culture. Her knowledge of the area and it’s people has been invaluable to me. But even more than that, her love for people is what makes her so special. Everybody knows and loves Gina and being her friend is like having a “club card” to get in anywhere. She has introduced me to many of her friends and I am meeting more every day.

Knowing people and networking is crucial for a successful stay in Costa Rica. The most critical information is transferred by word of mouth. I’ve avoided five hour traffic back-ups by talking to someone who knew that the highway over the mountains had just been closed due to a landslide. I’ve learned where to go to get the best prices on what I am shopping for. I found a tower in the jungle where you can see millions of migrating birds. And I just found the perfect (unadvertised) rental home for a client, by asking a friend. I use the knowledge and experience I have gained by living here for ten years and the information I glean from the locals to help my clients accomplish their personal goals for their visit to Costa Rica.

I love to investigate. Ask me something I don’t already have the answer to and I’ll make it into a project. Here are some of the things I have already learned about in response to clients questions:

  • I’ve advised young parents on schools available here and what it is like to raise kids in this area.
  • I’ve saved clients money by steering them away from a rental I knew they wouldn’t like and finding them one best suited for their needs.
  • I’ve set a client up with a good location for his new business.
  • I’ve found a horse trainer, horse supplies and a veterinarian for a client.
  • I’ve helped with wedding plans.

Whether your goals for a trip to Costa Rica are serious business or absolute relaxation and pleasure, if you want individual attention and experienced help. I am the one to call for custom Costa Rica guide service.