Category Archives: Life

Costa Rica, Day 6: Tamarindo and Hanging out with Happier Than A Billionaire

View from a rooftop restaurant in Tamarindo

View from a rooftop restaurant in Tamarindo

Today’s goal was to wake up when I was ready to wake up and to spend as much time out of the sun as possible. I spent the better part of today hanging out and keeping up with friends back home. There have been a lot of people following my adventures, which I appreciate more than you know, so today was me responding to comments on the blog and on Facebook, and seeing what everyone else is up to. I’m not that self-involved, I hope, that I would make it all about me and my adventures, and ignore what’s happening with other people.

Hung out at the hostel most of the day to stay out of the sun. Got a little too much a few days ago

Hung out at the hostel most of the day to stay out of the sun. Got a little too much a few days ago

That said, I spent a lot of time at Hostel Pura Vida, where I’m staying for two nights. The place is run by a nice guy from Slovakia named Thomas, who has a pretty thick accent, but speaks (besides his native language) fluent English and Spanish. I’m pretty sure I caught him speaking a little French with some of the visitors from France as well.

Standing at about 5’8″ with light eyes (green? blue? Can’t seem to tell exactly) and medium brown hair, cut short on the top and sides, with a handful of messy dreads sticking out the back, each about 6 inches long or so. Hostel Pura Vida, which Thomas owns and operates, is known for its chill beach vibe, a butt-kicking sound system and some of the best and most interesting playlists around. During my stay in Tamarindo at this hostel, I discovered some really cool new music, thanks mostly to Thomas.

As the day approached mid-afternoon, I decided to go and grab a meal and get ready for the evening. I had plans to meet up with Rob and Nadine Pisani, former chiropractors who moved to Costa Rica from New Jersey a few years ago to escape their stressful lives and failing health.

I chatted with Nadine via Facebook Messenger while out for my late lunch and we determined that she and Rob would pick me up at the hostel around 5:30pm, since I had no wheels in Costa Rica. After Nadine and I signed off, I quickly paid my bill and started back toward Hostel Pura Vida. Upon arriving back at the hostel, Thomas was, as usual, playing some awesome music. I jumped into the shower and got dressed, then began waiting for the Pisanis. I was worried I’d be running late, but as it turns out, they were running a few minutes behind as well, so it worked out for both of us.

Nadine and Rob rolled up around 5:45pm, and, while I’ve seen pics of them on Facebook and watched videos of them, I’d never met them in person. Rob was the one who got out of the car to greet me at the door.

Rob Pisani is a boisterous and commanding presence. When he enters a room, people take notice. His positivity, friendliness, and optimism come off him in waves. He offered his hand.


“Yeah, cool to meet you, Rob!” I said, shaking his hand as he gave me a bro hug with the other hand.

“Nadine stayed in the car,” he said.

As I stepped out the front gate of the hostel, I saw their red, several-years-old SUV awaiting me, with Nadine stepping out. She had a wide smile and an almost melodic voice.

“Hi Donovan!” she half-sang, extending her arms and offering a warm hug.

“Hey, Nadine! Nice to finally meet you in person!”

“You get right in front there,” she said, offering me her spot riding shotgun.

“Yeah, up front!” Rob chimed in.

The Pisanis, you see, are huggers. They are warm, friendly, and – dare I say – happy?

Appropriate, I suppose, since Nadine wrote a book chronicling their adventures (and in many cases, misadventures) in selling everything, quitting their jobs, and moving to Costa Rica. The book is called Happier Than A Billionaire, and I can’t recommend it enough. Especially if you have any interest in moving to, or even visiting, Costa Rica.

Nadine writes of all of the beautiful experiences as well as the hilarious fumbles involved in making the move from being stressed out New Jersey chiropractors to relaxed Costa Rican residents living the good life on a budget of $1200 per month.

Hanging out with Happier Than A Billionaire author, Nadine Hays Pisani (Photo by Rob Pisani)

Hanging out with Happier Than A Billionaire author, Nadine Hays Pisani (Photo by Rob Pisani)

We all jumped into the SUV and headed toward the Mar Vista development near Brasilito, just north of Tamarindo. Rob and Nadine are in the process of looking to purchase property in the development to build a home. After seven years of renting in Costa Rica, with no plans to ever leave, they decided to put down some roots.

The view from the property the Pisanis are considering buying - stunning

The view from the property the Pisanis are considering buying – stunning

As we headed north out of Tamarindo, I talked with the Pisanis about attitude. Some people are relentlessly negative, which they’ve experienced from friends and even family when deciding to make the move to this beautiful country. We all agreed that what you put out into the world, you tend to get back. If you’re constantly putting out negativity, then negativity is what comes back to you. But on the flipside, the good news (at least for the three of us) is that the positivity we put out into the world creates a positive experience for us.

“Yes!! That’s exactly right!” Rob enthused. “What you put into the world is what comes back to you!”

Rob’s optimism and good-natured personality are infectious. While Nadine tends to exercise a bit more caution and skepticism, they compliment each other perfectly. Despite those minor differences, both of the Pisanis are warm, beautiful, hospitable, and kindhearted people.

Just after sunset at the Mar Vista development, the potential new home for Rob and Nadine

Just after sunset at the Mar Vista development, the potential new home for Rob and Nadine

When we arrived at the Mar Vista development, Rob drove into the property they’re looking at potentially purchasing to build a home and parked the SUV. They sun had just set, and the sky was various shades of pink and blue (see photo above). Rob and I got out and took a look around the property, while Nadine stayed in the car. After snapping a few pics of the waning daylight and looking at the property, we jumped back into the car and drove up the hill.

About a minute later, we pulled into The Club at Mar Vista, a nice, comparatively large open air restaurant and lounge filled with a ratio of about 1:1 expats to Ticos. The Pisanis introduced me to a few of their friends. Some names I recognized from Facebook, but some were new. Everyone seemed to want to chat with them.

We found a table, sat down, and within a short time, a young Tico gentlemen strode up to the table to take our drink order. Water for me (I rarely drink anything but water), iced tea for Nadine, and a Cuba Libre for Rob. We chatted as we waited for our server to return with the drinks.

“Order anything you want. It’s on us!” said Rob with his signature enthusiasm.

We decided on some nachos con pollo (with chicken), Teriyaki chicken wings and Buffalo wings and discussed the possibility of singing with the band. They often invited others to join, either to sing or play an instrument.

While munching, the Pisanis chatted with friends and a few readers that happened to be in the area. I was introduced to a dizzying variety of people, most of whose names I remembered, though not all. I’m pretty good with names, but I can’t remember them all, unfortunately.

When we finished eating and Rob paid the tab, we moved to a table closer to the front, directly in front of the band. It was time to get serious. Rob and I agreed we’d request to sing The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” as the band did one classic rock cover after another. José, the lead singer, it turns out, does a mean Axl Rose and totally rocked “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”

Suddenly, we heard the unmistakable opening of “Hotel California.” Rob and I made our way to the front. We didn’t make it before the vocals arrived, so José got it started and backed off when Rob grabbed the mic and took over.

Rob wails on the first verse of "Hotel California"

Rob wails on the first verse of “Hotel California”

Rob, José, and I all came in for the chorus.

Then, the second verse was all me. I took the mic and gave it the most impassioned Don Henley I could muster.

I tell Rob I should move to Costa Rica so we could start a band called Dos Pelones (Two Bald Guys)

I tell Rob I should move to Costa Rica so we could start a band called Dos Pelones (Two Bald Guys)

After our big Costa Rica debut, Rob was running on pure adrenaline. The band went into a blues-rock jam. Rob went back up, grabbed a mic and started to freestyle singing the blues – with surprising and hilarious results.

“My neighbor is a monkey,” Rob sang. “And I don’t mean, he’s a bad guy…
Yeah my neighbor is a monkey, I’m talkin’ ’bout, the howling kind.”

We all had a hearty laugh about it.

I’m not sure if it’s a Costa Rica thing or not, but the place seemed to shut down at 8pm. The band stopped playing and people started to file out. Very different than going to a show in the U.S. where it’s not unusual for the band to play until 1:30 or 2am.

As we pulled out of the club parking lot, we spotted something on the road in front of us. I pointed and asked, “What’s that? A coati?”

Rob spotted it next, then Nadine. Upon a closer look, I thought maybe a house cat. But we followed it as it ran into a driveway on the right side of the road. Rob pointed the SUV into the driveway toward the critter. He asked Nadine to give him the camera. He would try to snap a pic of it.

Survey says...some kind of fox, perhaps?

Survey says…some kind of fox, perhaps?

Rob got a handful of pics of the critter, but only one turned out (pictured above). It appears to be some kind of fox. I was satisfied. I had wanted to see some monkeys or sloths on my trip, but saw not one of either. At least I saw some wildlife.

I had an absolute blast with these two, and I can’t wait to read more of Nadine’s writing. They’ve done some interviews for web shows such as The Reserve Channel‘s show Ex-Pats. See Rob and Nadine’s Happier Than A Billionaire episode below.

The couple also has a cooking show in the works.

There is so much happening for these two, who are fast becoming some of my very favorite people. I’m happy for all of their success. Nadine’s writing is taking off, the cooking show is happening, and they’ve done some interviews and full episodes of web shows like the one below.

If you were to meet them, I think you’d agree with me. Rob and Nadine deserve every bit of success that comes their way.

Follow along with the fun.

Like Happier Than A Billionaire on Facebook.
Subscribe to their YouTube channel at Happier Than A Billionaire.
Follow Nadine’s Happier Than A Billionaire Pinterest page.
Visit their blog and website at

Happier Than Billionaires in Costa Rica – Ex-Pats, Episode 12

Wet Paint

Why is it that if you tell someone there are 400 billion stars in the known universe, they’ll believe you. But if you hang a sign that says “wet paint,” they’ll have to touch it to see for themselves?

Is it part of the human condition to feel the need to investigate everything, even when it seems such a simple, mundane thing? Or do we investigate the commonplace out of laziness, rather than contemplating the deeper things in life?

This has become a metaphor for my life.

I’m learning that there are some things I’ll just have to take on faith. I’m not there yet, but I’m working my way toward wrapping my head around this and understanding it.

“You have much to learn, young grasshopper.”

The Fear Myth

Fear is nothing but anticipation of failure. It isn’t real. It’s something that our minds conjure up to prevent us from taking action toward our goals.

Fear means looking into the future to some imagined catastrophe that may or may not (and probably won’t) happen.

Fear can be overcome by action. Action breeds confidence, and the more we act, the less real our fears become.

Action allows us to see our fears for what they really are: figments of our imagination. We need to wake up and realize this to have mastery over that which we fear so we can truly be happy, as happiness is directly correlated to achieving goals.

Create your own environment instead of being a product of it, because, in the end, it’s all about taking our collective talents and resources, pooling them together and creating massive value for this world. And leaving our legacy on this planet.

Where do you wannna be in 10 years? The time is gonna pass anyway. Might as well take the next 10 years to become who you wanna be, to realize your time is limited, and to act accordingly.

Where do you wannna be in 10 years? The time is gonna pass anyway. Might as well take the next 10 years to become who you wanna be, to realize your time is limited, and to act accordingly.

The New Year Replaces the Old

As I look back and reflect on the year just passed, I realize that 2013 taught me a lot.

I’ve learned that people will often surprise you in the best possible ways.
That wonderful people will show up just when the timing is right.
That love and compassion are paramount.
That problems will arise and how we deal with them is the most important thing.
That no matter what happens, always move forward, and when you fall, fall forward.
That change is good, but transformation is better.

For the coming year, I will strive, not for mere change but for transformation.
To become the best version of myself.
To embrace challenges.
To let moments of frustration be transformed by love into opportunities for compassion.

I will strive to use my body more, both for work and for helping others find healing through loving connections, for my body is the best instrument I have for these purposes.
I will strive to practice moment-to-moment being.
To invite consistency.
And, most importantly, to embrace with gratitude each day I’m blessed to live.

There is so much negativity assailing us from every direction at all times, so I want to be a force opposing that negativity with as much love, joy, peace, compassion, and positivity as I can muster.

These are the things I desire for 2014, and I want them so much for you as well.

One day goodness will engulf us and we will be bathed in light.

Peace, joy, and prosperity to you and yours this new year.


Unemployment, the job market, and random acts of design

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Honestly, my life has been fairly uneventful in the wake of my amazing experience helping flood relief efforts in Fargo, ND in March.

I’m still unemployed. It’s a rough time to be looking for work in a field that you have no experience with. I graduated last spring with a degree in Visual Communication from Brown College and have been looking for work ever since then. Each passing month following my graduation, the job market has steadily declined and the unemployment rate has kept climbing. We’re now 4+ months into Obama’s presidency and last I heard, the unemployment rate was up another 2.x% since Bush left office. So much for economic stimulus improving the job market.

I have decided to use my unbelievable amounts of free time to improve my skills and stay active in online social media, blogging (I’m trying to be better, honest), and most importantly, to keep learning new technologies, stay abreast of emerging tech news, and practice web design and programming skills. I’ve been setting aside a bit of time each day to study and practice JavaScript & AJAX development, ActionScript 3.0 and user experience, as well as keeping up on basic HTML/CSS. I’ve also been digging into Photoshop and Illustrator a little more and keeping busy with projects so my skills don’t entropy.

On that note, there is some news. I am currently in the process of redesigning my website, If you’ll notice, it is currently not much to look at, but is just a functional iframe version of my multimedia portfolio. I hope to make it into a personal website which will include other aspects of my life, including my portfolio. And not just the multimedia stuff. I hope to incorporate my print work into the site as well. And while I’m at it, if I can make it into an engaging user experience, well, that’ll be all gravy.

I’m also designing some CD art for my brother, Tim. He’s recorded a CD of his poetry set to music in spoken word form. The CD is called “A Place in Dreams.” Check out the title track, “They Don’t Know,” and “Bollywood Diva” at his myspace page.

I’m going home on Wednesday, June 17th to visit and hang out with my parents for a while. I don’t have any idea how long I’ll stay. It’s kind of liberating to say that, but it also freaks me out a little, I’m not gonna lie. I figured as long as my job search is turning up exactly zero, I’ll just keep working on and adding to my portfolio. I can do that from anywhere, so why not at home? I’ll keep looking for work, of course, and if I land an interview, I’ll come back and prepare for it. If not, well, I guess I’ll just hang out for a while and enjoy being with my family. Those are the moments I’m more likely to remember on my deathbed anyway.