Have you ever wanted to visit Costa Rica? For this installment of our “Love of Travel” series, we were able to catch up with Yeison and Samantha – the resident experts on Costa Rica! These two have done an awesome job at compiling their expertise about Costa Rica on their blog, My Tan Feet. One of our favorite sections on their site are the City Guides, because they are concise and contain all the little details you need to plan your visit. So without further ado, meet Yeison and Samantha!
You two have an awesome story about how you met, and video that explains your story is great! Can you tell us a bit more about how this stroke of destiny happened and when the two of your decided to start your travel blog My Tan Feet?
We met 4 years ago in Nicaragua. I had decided to go to Central America to volunteer for a veterinary and medical non profit organization and Yeison was actually one of my trip leaders! The very first time I met Yeison was while I was standing in line to check into my hotel in Managua. I was grumpy because the airline had lost our luggage and he tapped me on my shoulder asking me if I was Rachel, our university trip leader. We joke a lot about how the very first time we talked was him mistaking me for another girl! After that 10 second conversation, we were inseparable. We decided to start Mytanfeet as a way to document Samantha’s new life in Costa Rica. We didn’t start it until about 9 months after she moved but we found out that we really loved it and it was pretty fun! After we discovered all the benefits of running a successful travel blog, we both decided to dive right in with plans to build it up so it would support our travels.
This question is for Samantha. When you settled in Costa Rica you said you experienced a bit of culture shock living as a full time resident in a foreign country. What advice would you give to someone who is planning to leave their home country behind to find a new home base for a while? What do you know now that you wish you knew then? Would you do it again?
My best advice is to go in with an open mind. If you don’t have the expectation that your new life is going to be paradise and everything will be a piece of cake, you’ll be able to face the challenges with more confidence because trust me, there will be challenges. Know that you will feel awkward and out of place sometimes and that it is perfectly normal! Explore your new hometown as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to go and talk to people. But the very best advice? If you don’t speak the local language, start taking classes and learn as much as you can before you go. It’ll help so much to make the transition smoother and you won’t feel so lost. Even if you go in with just the basics, you’re already one step ahead! I really wish that I had done more research on the town we moved to but we unexpectedly moved two weeks after I came to Costa Rica. I wasn’t able to prepare myself for a small beach town life. Also I really wish I knew how to drive a manual. In the US everyone mostly drives automatic and the rest of the world doesn’t. It would have helped a lot! Yes, I would absolutely do it again. Even though there were some very tough times and several challenges, I wouldn’t take it back at all. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’ve gone through a great deal of personal growth. I have a different perspective on life and learned a lot about myself.
You two are based in Costa Rica right now. What is one thing that you love about Costa Rica that other people around the world may not know about and what’s one MUST do while visiting?
Oh that’s hard! There are so many great things about Costa Rica. It’s well known for the wildlife, nature and landscapes but what I found out that I love the most is the way Costa Ricans celebrate. There are actually quite a few holidays during the year and Costa Ricans love to celebrate even for the littlest thing! Give them any reason to have a good time and they’ll do it, and they do it well. I’m not talking about just wild and crazy parties on the beach but also carnivals, fairs and the bull riding rodeos. All their parties are family friendly and it’s a great way to experience their culture. Also since Costa Ricans are really friendly and personal, it’s easy to make new friends at one of the events and create lasting friendships! One must do thing in Costa Rica… hmm it would definitely have to be watch the sunset on the beach. I’ve never seen such spectacular sunsets before and they are even more stunning on the beach!
We hear that you are planning a trip to Taiwan soon. What are you two looking forward to the most while visiting?
The food! Yeison has never had authentic Asian food (the Chinese food in Costa Rica is a bit questionable like Americanized Chinese food). I’m so excited to see him try all the weird stuff I love to eat like chicken feet, pig feet and sea cucumber. Of course we’re also excited about exploring a new country but we are very excited to eat since we’re both huge foodies.
You have some amazing resources about the business of blogging. How did you gain your knowledge and experience in this area, did you have any mentors? Also, what has been your biggest surprise (good and bad)?
Most of it we learned on our own. When we started, we knew nothing about web design, SEO, blogging or anything so we would spend all day everyday reading, researching and learning. We joke that we went to Youtube University after watching all the Youtube videos on web design and blogging. It took us several months before we actually felt like we knew what we’re doing but we are still learning every day. We have a couple of friends who had blogged before and they helped us tremendously to take our blogging to another level. Other than that, everything else was all on us! Our biggest surprise? Probably how competitive travel blogging is. It feels like there are a hundred new travel blogs popping up everyday! It’s a very saturated niche but luckily, most of the travel bloggers we have had contact with have been so friendly and helpful. We all have one interest in common and it’s been great making friends and meeting people from all over the world through it.
What can we look forward to from My Tan Feet in the coming months.
We’re going to produce as much content on Costa Rica as we can since we won’t be there for awhile and we want to expand our blog to have loads of information on the other countries we travel to as well. We’re also planning on growing the “dot com lifestyle” idea that you can have a great life working online and we want to show people that it’s completely possible! We are also planning on expanding our “Travel in paradise” section as we really want to work on that more to show people the negative impacts of tourism.
We would like to thank Samantha and Yeison from My Tan Feet for sharing their Love of Travel with all of us. Be sure to check out their website, especially if you are planning to head to Costa Rica! We wish them the best with their business and with all their upcoming travels. We also hope to be able to catch up with them in Asia later this year.