Building and Living the Dream from Italy to Costa Rica
First, you should know this is no ordinary opportunity for anyone looking to buy a property in Costa Rica. To understand and appreciate just how special it is, even sight unseen, is to know the story I’m about to tell. It’s about a dream that came true for one remarkable couple, and could come true again for someone else.
In the early ‘90s, Graziella Martini and her husband, Angelo, left the canals of Venice, Italy and moved to the rivers and estuaries of Costa Rica. Tamarindo was different back then. There was only one pay phone in town. Often people relied on a single water truck for fresh water. Services were scarce and electricity was bare, but those who came, came for a reason: to escape. A real escape.
Many who ventured along the gravel roads that kicked up dust clouds during the dry season — and washed out by thunderclouds during the rainy season — found their own version of paradise at the end of their journey. It’s around the same time Howler Magazine was created as a two-page community newsletter.
I met Graziella Martini and Angelo almost 10 years ago, shortly after the main roads that led to Tamarindo were finally paved. It was two years after an almost 15-year stay in Italy and I was delighted to finally speak Italian again.
And this was my introduction to the dream that Graziella and Angelo had built and were living — Girasol Boutique Hotel Tamarindo, about 10 minutes from downtown Tamarindo. I could finally eat well again, as guests were invited on occasion to a full-blown Italian lunch at the main house where the couple lived. Graziella was a natural culinary artist while Angelo was a boisterous entertainer.
I stayed in room number 3 from the nine rooms offered. I had everything I needed. It was a piece of Italy in the jungle, and the business was run that way. Angelo and I became friends and would show photos and tell stories in an Italian/Spanish mix all his own. Graziella would laugh, and the banter back and forth showed close to 40 years of marriage and a sincere love for one another.
Our friendship blossomed into a deep friendship, like a family. Over the 10-year period that I would stay at their hotel, I could always count on Angelo and Graziella. I had my first wedding there, my divorce papers were delivered there, and my son was conceived there. I also wrote my second book there.
When I found out why they wanted to sell their business, the answer was simple: After more than 20 years they wanted to retire and buy a condo. Graziella in particular wanted a yellow Camaro.
If I had the $650k, I would have bought the hotel right away. But my life is different now. It’s for someone else looking to invest in a functional business near the beach with an opportunity to build up or bulldoze everything and start over. It makes no difference to them.
Recently, when I found out that Angelo died, my heart fell out of my chest. Gone was his laughter, Marlboro Lights, cans of Pilsen and his gentle loving demeanor. He was like a godfather to me.
Now it’s time for the next generation to carry on and build their own dream on top of the foundation of an Italian dream and decades of marriage.
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