Campo Alegre : the story

My first visit to Costa Rica was in 1998.  I came to visit for a one-month vacation mostly centered around bird watching and national parks.  I had been living in Europe and the Middle East for 15 years without a home base and I was considering making a change to a more permanent home.  I fell in love with Costa Rica – the natural beauty, the slower pace, and the people won me over.  

I returned to Egypt but began making plans to live in Costa Rica.  First priority was learning the language so I began to take Spanish classes from a Columbian woman that was also living in Ma’adi, Cairo.

In March 2000 I had the opportunity to return to Costa Rica for a 6-week intensive Spanish Course.  I chose Nicoya for the course mostly because they said they offered horseback riding as an extra activity.  This appealed to me because I was going to have to give up my Arabian stallion if I left Egypt.   Turns out the Spanish Course was phenomenal but they didn’t actually offer horseback riding.  So, that’s how I found Nosara.  I began asking around where was the best place to ride and Nosara kept coming up.

I spent every weekend in a little palm covered hut on a property in Nosara that rented horses.  I decided Nosara was for me!  At that time there were no long term rental to be had.  There were a few hotels and a very few vacation rentals.  I was certain I wanted to rent for at least a year before taking the step of buying a place.

After, weeks of looking I finally found my dream property – it was for sale. not for rent, but I talked the owner into renting to me with the understanding that I was very interested in ultimately buying.   So I moved in and after one year made the deal to buy the property.  The property was, and is, called Campo Alegre (Happy Place).  It was originally part of a very large ranch that was purchased by some North American developers and then subdivided into parcels.  The prior owner, a cruise director, was one of the original purchasers of 2 of the subdivided parcels that he combined and named Campo Alegre.   

When he owned the property it was party central.  There was a tennis court and a pool hall and he bused in women from San Jose to entertain his guests.  He was only in Costa Rica a few weeks of the year and didn’t waste time with the niceties of maintenance. There was one main house – with four broken down refrigerators, store rooms full of rusted, broken, useless stuff, old furniture and stopped up drains.  Then there was a guard house – barely standing.  A pool hall – that basically had a large bar, a huge pool table and a tiny bedroom and disgusting bathroom.  And there was a tennis court with huge holes in it.   But when I saw the property I had a vision of what it could be and I guess I let that sweep me away.

For the next 15 years, after purchasing the property, I put everything I had into the property to make it a viable enterprise.  I started with making the existing building rentable – just.  And then everything I earned I put back into the property.  Eventually, I decided I would have to sell part of the land in order to survive.   So, in 2005 I sold the upper and lower corners and kept the remainder intact.  With that money I was able to put in a pool and a horse stable with an apartment over the stalls and completely remodel the 3 existing houses.   For several years I ran Campo Alegre as a small resort and eventually moved to renting the units long term.

I consider myself extremely lucky that I found Campo Alegre and have been able to live in Costa Rica all these years.  I didn’t know anything about what section was what, I don’t surf or do yoga so those things had no impact on my decision to live here.    I just followed my dream and somehow made it happen.