We've been here three months now, to the day, and it's funny...it's taken the full three months for clarity to set in about what we have to offer AND what we need for our own happiness, privacy and comfort. Anyone living in the faster paced, go-getter world is saying, "Three months?? That's nothing." Well, three months in Costa Rica is like nine months in California. Things slow down here. You truly enjoy each day. Each sunrise and sunset. Each pitfall and major win. I can't tell you the amount of satisfaction we had when we finally opened a bank account. Why was it so satisfying? Because nothing is easy here but when you accomplish something you appreciate it!
The previous caretaker lived in the rustic cabin at the front of the property that is tucked into the jungle. We personally want the view. I love sitting out here, working on our marketing or messaging guests while the suns rays come up over the jungle highlighting every shade of green in the spectrum. Bruno and I LOVE our evening ritual of happy hour sunset on our balcony, getting wowed time and time again. It's for this reason we live in room 1. Yup, we live in one of the guest rooms. When I set up our website from California, I naturally put up rooms 2, 3 and 4. The jungle cabin we weren't sure what we'd do with. Would it be storage? Would it be an inexpensive long-term rental? Would it sit empty??? We had no idea.
When we got down here rentals started slow. Only one rental for two nights the entire month of November. Then December came and, just like Tahoe, by Christmas we were fully booked. Rooms 2, 3 and 4. Then Bruno had the amazing idea of offering the jungle cabin as a budget room. At the time, the room only had a twin bed and our first guests, who booked 4 nights over the holidays, brought their own mattress in a box truck. They loved it and we loved that they loved it. We then switched our own lingo from "the caretaker house" to "the backpacker's den".
The budget-friendly Backpacker's Den has become one of our best-sellers. Guests love the price and feel at home in the large outdoor kitchen. So now we have four guest rooms going. Great! Only one problem...one of those rooms (room 2) is attached to room 1. Shared balcony, shared walls and I use that room as my workshop when guests aren't there so it literally felt like guests were staying IN our house. We would be in countdown mode until guest departure...not the vibe we are going for at Soul Fire Casitas. We started interviewing builders thinking, "We've gotta move out of this guest room."
I had this rushed sensation that we need to get this building built...and put in a fire pit area for guests and rip out the old BBQ to make room for the wood-burning pizza oven and on...and on...and on. For this slow-paced life, this rushed sensation was making me uncomfortable.
Our first prospective builder drew up rough plans for us, gave us a vague estimate and then fell off the map. His words of advice when hiring anyone for any jobs around the property, "You have to make sure they won't rob you." Said in Spanish, of course. That might seem like a random comment but it all ties in. The second prospective builder, a Canadian guy, said, "Oh yeah, I know that property. Great property. It's beautiful and quiet and the only thing you really have to worry about is someone cutting through the jungle on the other side to rob you." Bruno and I talked about it that night and concluded nobody is coming through that thick ass jungle. Third prospective builder referred to us by the building materials vendor (we don't know the vendor, it was our first time in that store just browsing to see what materials are readily available close to us) comes to the property and proclaims (in Spanish), "I never knew this property was up here!!" With each interviewed builder more anxiety set in...are we going to overpay? Are we going to get what we want? Are we jumping in too soon? How will we know when we have the right person for the job? How will we even afford this build??
A week or two later I'm sitting on the balcony at sunset waiting for guests to arrive for check-in when I hear a strange sound. We can generally hear our guests coming up the road but this wasn't a car. So I walk to the front driveway to see if maybe they are coming on foot and quickly rule that out. This is a different sound. Is it the monkeys in the trees...I don't see any monkeys or rustling of the leaves. Schoooway, schooway...schoooway, schooway. I follow the sound. It takes me up the easement road toward the back of the property. Schooway, schooway and it stops. I hear a different type of rustling. What it is? I stand peering into the jungle. Then I see I kid in a futbol jersey running away from me as if following his leader. He was definitely tico. It was at dusk and they ran. This didn't sit well with me.
For the next few days I'm ruminating about why they came through the jungle with a machete?? Why did they come at dusk? Why did they run? Why did they bring a child? I feel less secure. I wonder, are they going to come back? Are they going to send other people? Are others going to see their cut trail? Is it safe to leave the property unattended? Is there coincidence of tied to any of the builders? What if I wasn't here to hear that strange schoooway, schooway sound of the machete?
I wake one morning early and begin reading a book I started over 3 years ago on a trip to Costa Rica. I'd have finished it forever ago except it's on my kindle and I know now, I much prefer hard copy books. But nonetheless the book is rad. It's called, "The Universe Has Your Back" by Gabrielle Bernstein. In the book she poses this great question, "How are you controlling your experiences and misaligning with the flow of the universe?" I knew all this ruminating about what bad things might happen will only attract bad things to happen. I wanted to align with love and not fear but how? She then asks you to write down all your "shoulds", what "shoulds" are you telling yourself??
I grabbed a pencil and they started flowing out:
- We should move out of room 1.
- We should build a new house.
- We should make this property better.
- We should have a common area for guests.
- We should be getting more done.
She then gives a prayer followed by a meditation and WOW. Just the realization of all I was trying to control was enough for me to realize...our property is enough. It's amazing. People come to stay and don't want to leave. Is there potential for growth? Yes. Does it need to be forced? No! Do we need to go with a builder we don't trust just to get it done? Hell the capital F no!!
The prayer, "Thank you, Universe, for helping me see your obstacle as an opportunity. I will step back and let you lead the way." The Universe was not letting us find the perfect builder because the timing wasn't right. And when I wasn't seeing the "obstacle" as an opportunity the Universe took stronger measures to get my attention. The lesson, "Don't invite strangers up your property and give them a reason to get curious." Trust your divine guidance...when it's time to build it will happen AND it won't feel like swimming upstream. It won't be accompanied by an uneasiness. It will feel right. In the meantime, how can you make what's already here on the property work better for you right now??
A lot of revelations came to me. First, we are working our butts off to run this mini-hotel. We don't have a cleaning lady so we are the housekeeping staff. We don't have a maintenance worker so we fix latches and plunge toilets and remove jungle nests. Getting all our listings up on all the different booking channels and managing reservations is A LOT of work. Do we really FIVE guest rooms to manage? Please no. Why are we rushing? We have enough. We are making enough money. We have enough bookings. I'm learning enough. We have enough on our plate. Holy crap lady and you wanted to put a construction build on your plate too??! What the heck is wrong with you? Thank you Universe for helping us out on that one.
New game plan. No more room 2. I repeat no more room 2. Not even as a back-up for double-bookings. That was the lie we were telling ourselves. We are using a channel manager so double-bookings are a thing of the past. Room 2 was a way we could oversell the property. Like I said, guests come and don't want to leave so they often want to extend their stay. We were saying yes even when rooms were booked and then ending up with roommates. No more. At this stage of our lives we do not want roommates. It's hard enough to live with your spouse day in and day out. Do we really need strangers habits annoying us too? No. So I did some rearranging yesterday...
Rooms 1 and 2 are now our house. We now have a one bedroom, two bathroom amazing space with living area that can also serve as reception and because we don't need the entire giant balcony for the two of us...I now have a dedicated spa area on the opposing deck. Why didn't we think of this earlier??! I removed the double bed so hosting couples next door just isn't an option and turned a twin bed into a day bed sofa for Netflix lounging. The double bed went into our biggest guest space upping the occupancy for that room, brilliant!
I'm tempted to further mark our territory by removing the numbers from the doors but until we have something to put up in its place, I'll be patient. Having our own space is 'enough' right now. ;)
Edited: And after I posted this, look who came making the swhooshing noises...I see it as a sign from my angels that I don't need to worry. They know I got the message. Aren't cows a sign of wealth?? Haha, thank you angels.