Why we chose Puerto Viejo
In June of 2013 my husband and I sold our house and most of our belongings and within 24 hours were on a plane headed to the Pacific side of Panama to stay on a privately owned 400 acre island. In the back of our minds we knew that the search for a new place to live was beginning.
I still remember that first night being awakened by what seemed like a pack of unruly wolves outside our door only to find out that it was just only a family of petite monkeys in the trees near by. The thought, “what have I gotten myself into?” went through my head. It would only be the first of hundreds of times this question would pose itself to me.
After three nights on the island we became official backpackers, only instead of being carefree and simply enjoying the experience I was analyzing every place I saw trying to imagine and absorb what everyday life would be like living there.
We stayed in hostels with warm, exciting "cool" young folks who helped to guide us to all the places we needed to "check out". And, in a two year span we explored all the way from Guatemala to Southern Mexico. It was exhilarating and exhausting.
We looked at land in Mexico near Puerto Escondido. We spent a lot of time in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. We seriously entertained the gorgeous fertile land near Boqueta, Panama. All of these places had wonderful things about them but they didn’t turn out to be "the one".
We narrowed it down to 3 places and went back for a final look at each trying to have open hearts and somewhat critical eyes. And we ended up choosing Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. For three reasons.
Water, community and like minded people.
Water - Now, let me take a minute to tell you what was important to us. We are into being as sustainable as we possibly can. We desire to grow as much of our own food as we can- that's where the importance of WATER comes in. The Caribbean side of Costa Rica doesn’t have a distinct dry season like the pacific side and there is generally rain all year round. We currently run our farm off of rainwater catchment system with a shallow well as a backup.
Community - We also knew we didn't want to be isolated, that we wanted a town with a real community especially in a physical, proximity sort of way. Let's face it, a community that relies heavily on bikes as their daily transportation sounds like a lot of fun! And that's what Puerto is like. All the small beach towns are off one main road running out of Puerto Viejo down 8 kilometers to Manzanio, and it's a simple, pedestrian filled road. At times a crazy pedestrian filled road. This road hugs the beautiful beach most of the way and I can't drive into town on it without seeing people I know either on foot riding their bikes.
And finally like minded people. By this I mean others who are interested in sustainable simple living. Because we know that there is no way we can grow and manage everything we would like to have, and that to be sustainable all on your own is a very difficult reality, we wanted to live near other people doing similar things.
But like minded people needs to have a second paragraph Plus it's just so much more fun to live like we want to live alongside interesting cool people.
There are other minor things that came into play like, beauty and safety and a cool vibe. You just can't beat the beauty here, I've never felt unsafe and there is an amazing energy here that I can feel in the air most days.
I feel like Puerto Viejo is a well kept secret and I have mixed emotions about watching it grow, all I can say is I am happy with our choice. I can't tell you how many days I drive down to the bottom of my hill to hit the main road into town and I am stunned with the beauty that greets me. My eyes behold the jungle as it meet the crisp water and I just feel so lucky.