Before she moved to Costa Rica, Kristen Brown was a very dedicated athlete on the basketball court. Kristen is a strong, talented girl who actually received a full basketball scholarship to Providence College, then transferred to Emory University after two years to focus on her business degree and play basketball there as well. After playing ball and whizzing her way through college, she moved to New York City and was offered a job with Citibank on the 25th floor. She did it … how cool!

Then one day in February, when it was freezing cold in New York City, Kristen and some friends decided to come down to Tamarindo and stay at Witch’s Rock surf camp. She re-visited a few times after that and we eventually became close friends.

When I headed back to the United States a few months after Kristen’s first visit, I invited her to fly down and meet me on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where I was doing an event. A huge surf shop down there, Real Water Sports, runs an annual Memorial Weekend festival where I show up and we have an “Endless Summer”-themed weekend. A full-size movie screen is set up outside and we show the film while I narrate. A question-and-answer session follows. It’s an amazing event at a truly beautiful location.

Kristen was so impressed that she proposed the idea of quitting her Citibank job and moving to Costa Rica full time. Here, she could help with my social media and website and continuing to build my business.

So I said, “Sure!” Kristen had a genuine spirit and lots of motivation, so I gave it a shot. She moved into my house in Tamarindo, where my daughter and I had lots of space to share with an extra person. Plus, Kristen became a big sister to Christine, coaching her school basketball team, helping her with academic work, and surfing with her early every morning before school.

I have nicknames for everybody, but only after really getting to know Kristen, I nicknamed her Waimea after the famous surf spot in Hawaii. For those who don’t know, Waimea is a big-wave spot with very tall, very beautiful waves.

And that’s how Kristen Brown took an adventurous leap from the concrete jungle and moved down to Tamarindo. After being down here for about five years now, she’s become a really good surfer! Kristen is also an entrepreneur with her own company, Samba to the Sea, using her passion for photography to capture incredible moments around Tamarindo, from sunsets and family sessions to destination weddings. She has taken some of the most stunning Tamarindo sunset pictures I’ve ever seen.

So every once and awhile, I like to go up to the macho surf instructors, point to my friend Kristen and ask, “Do you think you’re man enough to handle Waimea?”