Finding Our Way to Sámara and Villas Espavel

“The kids could learn Spanish while they’ve got spongy brains!” “We’ll Kitesurf and play on the beach and run our little business from hammocks in the shade.” We were all in on the idea of making mango lemonade out of the lemon of a company reorg that took my job away. We were eager to have a little runway to get our family into the next lift-off and, most importantly, a little time to step off the hamster wheel of our busy Seattle lives.

For our 3-month “sabbatical” we narrowed our location selection priorities to 3: 

  1. Spanish speaking 

  2. Montessori school (kids age 4 and 6 at the time)

  3. Nature Play, no-car needed, safe exploration for the kids 

After deep dives into our friends’ favorite spots, lots of time on Trip Advisor and we narrowed it down to a place in Colombia, Oaxaca, Mexico or Sámara, Costa Rica. Getting onto a Facetime call with Ms Kimberly at Sámara Pacific School closed the deal for us. We gave up on the Montessori dream, but jumped whole-heartedly for the bilingual experience of Sámara Pacific School.

Two weeks into our stay in Sámara we realized that we needed more than 3 months in Sámara to get anywhere on our Spanish language journey and to fully sink into the culture of the community. 

A month into our stay our apartment flooded, and we realized we needed a different housing solution. In three hours of property touring we learned two things: 

  1.  Everything is for sale all the time in Sámara, 

  2. There were $$$$ elegant places, a few $ not so great places but no good rental options in our price range.

After a couple weeks we uncovered the solution in our backyard. Our neighbor was interested in selling her casitas. Although the property was bigger than we’d been looking for it was a fantastic location. Nestled into the jungle along a river, close to town but buffered by the jungle river. The wheels started turning for me. 

I envisioned a place where families like us could meet and live together while their kids played in nature's playground. A place that felt welcoming, provided all the things you need to feed your family and the advice you want to enjoy Sámara like a local. I felt like the setting and culture of Sámara was perfect for a family vacay-venture. Sámara is a little town that is bikeable and friendly. There are once-in-a-lifetime adventures you can pay for (ziplining and dolphin tours) but the magic of the town for me is that the beach provides so much free adventure that you don’t have to pay for a tour everyday of your trip to have an amazing adventure. 

I was excited to create a vacation destination and share all of this intel with other travelers so they could have amazing unplugged vacay-ventures with their families and friends. I was eager to stretch my design muscles, create a perfect jungle living experience and see what sustainability features we could incorporate in a vacation destination. Mercy and I come from construction backgrounds and the idea of doing a project in Latin America, in the Spanish language that we both love, felt exciting. What could we create?

November 2015, Canuche


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