Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Costa Rica Innsitting

Innkeepers at Villa Decary, Costa Rica
Lake Arenal Costa Rica  Villa Decary  Tucan  Orchad  Villa Decary Bed and Breakfast  

Let me address an incorrect assumption a reasonable person might make about this exotic adventure of ours.  One might assume we had some qualifications that made us suitable candidates for the job, but we didn’t.  

Jim and I had no experience as innkeepers.  We didn’t speak the language.  We weren’t familiar with the country. 

I simply asked the right question at the right time.  We went to Costa Rica for the first time in April 2001.  We stayed at the Villa Decary (, a beautiful bed and breakfast owned by two Americans.  The first morning at breakfast I asked them if they ever get away for vacation since I’d always thought owning a B&B was like wearing a ball and chain.

 “Oh sure, we take three or four months a year,” Bill said.

“What do you do with your inn while you’re gone?” I asked.

“We get friends or former guests to run the place,” Bill replied.

“And we’re still looking for someone for the fall,” Jeff added.

That’s about all it took to convince Jim and me to come back.  We got to find out what it was like to run a bed and breakfast with five employees who spoke little to no English.  Since we were just five months into our Spanish lessons, we were never far from our dictionary.  With our meager vocabulary, simple hand signals, and sincere smiles, we managed to befriend the staff.  Mainor and Manuel invited Jim to their soccer games, and Nuria taught me to cook many delicious Costa Rican recipes.

It was like paradise, except for the scorpions.  The creatures of the rainforest were a constant source of enchantment, amusement, and sometimes terror. We admired the brilliantly colored parrots and toucans, and envied the graceful and silent flight of buzzards.  I stood my ground between an uninvited coatimundi, a furry little four-legged beggar who came for breakfast, and the guests eager to feed him.   Jim joined forces with the inn employees and a nearby farmer to capture a runaway cow.  When I first encountered a scorpion, I screamed loud enough to frighten the howler monkeys.  Find out what happened when the seventh one showed up and stung me.  


"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
Helen Keller