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Why Costa Rica?

By Dave Matluck

(12-28-10) -- Dave Matluck is the chief executive officer of Pegasus Star Limitada, the developers of Hacienda Matapalo, a same-sex friendly gated community on Costa Rica's South Pacific Coast. In addition to recently transitioning from pre-construction to construction, the 665-acre most sought after development in Costa Rica recently launched a gay friendly Web site, http://hmcrpride.com

"Pura Vida," (the Pure Life), is how people greet each other in Costa Rica. Besides being one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Costa Rica is best known for the lifestyle, the mindset of its people, known as Ticos.

An entire generation of Costa Ricans has lived without any army and with all financial reserves going to education and health care. No wonder that the "Pure Life" includes an attitude that welcomes people of all types and from all places.

When asked about the time I spend in Costa Rica and why I plan to move there, the first words that come to mind are "I have never seen a place where people treat each other with as much mutual respect." I always return to the States knowing there is a better way to live.

My sister, Karen, is a practicing doctor here in South Florida and she and her partner have been going to Costa Rica annually for a decade. As a lesbian couple it is interesting to hear what attracts them to Costa Rica and why their plans are to move there permanently in the near future.

"My partner and I are drawn to Costa Rica most of all by the wildlife and the natural wonder that surrounds us wherever we go in this Paradise. We have vacationed in Costa Rica many, many times over the past 10 years. We are always outside exploring the rainforest and waterways in a country where everything is about the environment. Our activities in nature keep us in touch with what is most important in life rather than the materialistic life we left behind. We return home refreshed, renewed with spirit and optimism.

For all of these reasons the people of Costa Rica are completely aware of how fortunate they are to be living in such a place and they celebrate life together in a real sense of community as the center of life, something we have lost almost completely. We appreciate the value system that permeates life in Cost Rica and have become so aware that we no longer want to live in a place that so completely lacks such an attitude and way of life. You need to visit Cost Rica to see for yourself how transformative it is. The South Pacific is the 'jewel' of Costa Rica as it is the place where the rainforest meets the ocean and it is extraordinary. Here the wildlife is most abundant and the landscape is breathtaking. Hacienda Matapalo is located in the heart of this 'jewel.' We hate to leave when we are there and anxiously wait for the time to be there permanently when Hacienda Matapalo is complete."

One of the very first owners at Hacienda Matapalo when we first offered homesites was Diann Feleppa. She called me as soon as she heard what we were doing and said "I'm in! Put me down for a homesite!" I have known Diann for years as a local entrepreneur and real estate investor, but had no idea that she had an interest in Costa Rica. She told me that she had planned to move there in the future and now she had a way to do it. I was surprised to discover that she had never been to Costa Rica. She told me that some friends of hers had been going to Quepos/Manuel Antonio for years and she was trying to find the time to join them on one of their trips.

Well, Diann finally made it to Costa Rica three years ago when we bought the land for Hacienda Matapalo and now after six trips to Costa Rica is taking steps to arrange her business in the United States so she can move to Costa Rica permanently with her partner, Cindy, who has also fallen in love with Costa Rica. Diann will be owning and operating a restaurant, bar and general store in the regional shopping and commercial center that we will be building directly in front of Hacienda Matapalo. Why is Diann so excited to be moving to Costa Rica?

"Elizabeth Barrett Browning's line from her famous poem How do I love thee? Let me count the ways is a line that best expresses the reason for me. I cannot count all the things I love about Costa Rica as they are limitless.

Every trip down we experience more of the Tico life and how warm and friendly they are. My partner Cynthia and I are very excited about moving to Cost Rica and starting a new chapter in life's book. We have met and made a number of new gay friends who live in the area and we have gotten to see and experience things we would probably never get to do without the help of a Tico to guide us."

Keith Blackburn was the office manager of our real estate company here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When we began our project in Costa Rica his dream was to one day be able to live and work in Costa Rica. I surprised him one day with an offer to move to Costa Rica and manage our customer relations; meeting, greeting and touring our clients who travel to Quepos/Manuel Antonio to see Hacienda Matapalo. I asked Keith what he would like to say to the gay community when asking about life in Costa Rica.

"I've come to love the 'off the beaten path' lifestyle found in Costa Rica as it's a country where nature's diversity is celebrated and a tolerant live and let live attitude is extended to neighbors.

You'll find there's a certain vibrancy to daily life here, which takes in some of the best aspects of Latin, European and North American cultures, and no doubt part of this comes from members of the worldwide gay community that have moved here.

Among the most popular destinations along the Central Pacific Coast is the village of Manuel Antonio, which has been a long time favorite with gay men and women. Blessed with beautiful beaches, warm tropical waters and rainforest covered mountains, Manuel Antonio has numerous hotels and restaurants that are gay owned and operated, plus plenty of local nightspots and opportunities to meet new friends.

Every weekend you can count on finding a crowd of fresh faces visiting from San Josť, which always keeps the nightlife lively and the beaches filled with enough eye candy for everyone. Club Liquid is the popular spot on Thursdays and Saturdays, Sunday Tea Dance is hosted by Bar Barba Roja, and several restaurants hold 'Gay Dinner' nights throughout the week.

You can also find other activities being offered by exclusively gay and gay friendly tour companies, such as white water rafting, sunset sailing, canopy 'zipline' safaris, hiking, cycling tours and more.

Also worth visiting is the capital of San Jose, which is something of a smorgasbord, with enough clubs and other activities to keep you busy. Jaco, also along the Pacific Coast, is a full-on party town with masses of surfers and college kids from C.R and abroad. After a few days in both places, you'll start to appreciate the low-key ambiance of Manuel Antonio.

Simply put: Costa Rica is an amazing place. People here have cultivated a particular joy for living and it can be witnessed daily through their appreciation and protection of the country's environment, their willingness to celebrate the company of good friends and family (they seem to have a lot of holidays here). Then again, there is always the incredible physical beauty of the country itself with its untouched beaches, primal rainforests teaming with life, cloud shrouded mountains and volcanoes, natural hot springs and tens of thousands of acres set aside in nature preserves and national parks.

In the two years that I've been living in Costa Rica (after 25-plus years in Broward County, Florida), I've come to appreciate the welcoming attitude and friendly smiles of the Costa Rican people.

While having a quieter pace than South Florida, life in Costa Rica offers the intangible benefits that come from being immersed in a totally new culture. I've found myself willing to get out of my old comfort zone by learning the language (and increasing the possibility of meeting new friends), exploring the rest of the country and occasionally hopping on a bus bound for Nicaragua or Panama; I've also picked up a new style of cooking and found that I can actually saddle a horse and head up a mountain. Overall, the greatest reward is the sense of freedom that came from obtaining legal residency in Costa Rica and knowing that I've opened another door.

Perhaps when it comes right down to it, the real reason so many gay and lesbian singles and couples are moving to Costa Rica is not all that different than the reason I will be moving there - paradise does not judge any lifestyle choices.

You may contact Keith at keith@costaricaforme.com or Diann at diann@costaricaforme.com.



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