I heard the crack of my front tooth as it broke before I felt the hole it made in my face. I had just hopped off my surfboard at the end of a sunset session in Costa Rica and I stumbled slightly as I did it—just a small step forward to catch my balance, but enough that when a wash of heavy white water sent my board up and out of the waves, my face was there to catch it.
Sitting on a patch of white sand on a nearly deserted beach, steps away from a dense jungle, we were mesmerized by the thundering waves and transfixed by a family of howler monkeys, leaping from tree to tree. My 3-year-old son, James, ambled by and threatened to drop a pair of heavy coconuts right on our heads. But I was lost in a reverie, listening to the surprisingly deep, guttural calls of the monkeys.
Once a sleepy fishing village, Santa Teresa is now an increasingly luxurious surfer’s paradise filled with people who have made this particular fantasy their reality — and the occasional detox-seeking celebrity who likes living it for a week at a time. In addition to native Costa Ricans, or “Ticos,” there are American chefs (if you rent a villa, request James Kelly, who serves delicate, artful compositions of unusual local ingredients), Australian surf instructors, French cafe owners and Argentine hoteliers.
I want to be part of a Blue Zone. What is a “Blue Zone,” you ask? It is a place where people live happily and healthily for a very long time. The term was popularized by author-educator-explorer Dan Buettner in his2008 book, “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from People Who’ve Lived the Longest.”