We’ve read other lists about how to make friends abroad if you’re of this age group or that. Well, we’re here to tell you that age is just a number, baby. Our Costa Ballena expat communities are as diverse in age as they are in background. People visit here from all over the world and at all different stages of their lives, falling in love with the atmosphere that is the magical South Pacific coast, where the mountains meet the sea and people are happy and helpful.
Most expats here can describe a party they attended in which the guests included some kind of mix like a family with pre-teen kids from Calgary, a couple in their 70s from Ft. Lauderdale, a Swiss man in his 50s with a young Tica wife and kids, the Costa Rican neighbors and friends, and a whole lot of couples from Europe and North America between ages 35 and 70 who are either young and adventurous or on their second or third marriage and wanting to try a whole new way to live.
And so, in the spirit of what we see as a motley crew of intrepid, nature-loving expats, here is a mixed bag of ways in which to find your social feet in the land of pura vida.
Typical ‘make friends like this’ lists will tell you to join a gym or a health club. Well… we don’t really have a whole lot of large scale facilities in this less-than commercially developed region. People who need their daily weight training regimen at the gym may be a bit disappointed but if you are ready to exercise with a more natural flow, a few of the most popular activities include:
Yoga – you will find classes in someone’s home pavilion overlooking the jungle or ocean in every small community in this region, and likely a good mix of locals and expats getting together a few times a week to practice asanas.
Surfing – Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast has some of the most consistent swells in the world. They may not be the biggest, but they are strong and fun, with waves for all level of rider on our amazing Costa Ballena beaches. Get out every day and you are likely to bond with like-minded wave riders who get out consistently.
Walking – A more rigorous activity than the traditional stroll along the sidewalk, especially around the steep mountain roads of many Costa Ballena localities. Take your dogs and get out before the heat rises with the sun and you will see the same faces out there with you every day. Don’t forget to say hello!
Team sports – Our Costa Ballena communities are full of groups who self-organize into teams for a wide range of sports, including: softball, volleyball (beach and pool), soccer/futbol, frisbee, golf, and more.
Schools usually have a committee or school board that parents can join, which will give parents the opportunity to get involved with other expat and local families. Have a say in the running of your children’s school and you will have a chance to practice your language skills, too. Some schools organize and host social and networking events, ranging from cocktail parties and quiz nights to karaoke or kids’ and parents’ painting classes. New mommies groups can be found through social media and playgroups are organized online also.
Try: Fun Family Activities And Education Costa Ballena Facebook page
Houses of Worship and Faith Clubs
You will find churches and various other religious establishments all over the world. These offer a place to meet other like-minded people in your community, who will be a mixture of expats and locals.
Social Media And Websites
Don’t overlook the power of social media! You can join Facebook groups for expats or one of the groups established to connect locals and expats in your new neighborhood. See people exchange all manner of ideas, suggestions, services and things! Seek help you with queries and connect with the author of posts you like. Reach out and you will likely open a lot of doors.
Try: the Costa Ballena Bulletin Board Facebook page to start in this region
Love to play poker? Like to debate politics or discuss your favorite books? Ask around on your community pages or talk to your neighbors to find out where you can find your tribe. Chances are, your interests are already represented in this culturally diverse international hub.
Try signing up for language classes for the country you are living in. Even if you consider yourself fairly proficient en espanol, you may find that the local dialect gives you a hard time in terms of your language comprehension. A few classes with a native speaker certainly wouldn’t hurt, and group classes will give you the opportunity to meet other people in your area who are in the same boat.
Hobby Classes And Workshops
If you are confident with your language abilities, then perhaps try finding some local hobby classes or workshops such as art and crafts or writing and poetry. These will give you a chance to hone your language skills whilst meeting people with similar interests. Ask in your local cafés, community centers, or corner shops, and check notice boards to see if anything interesting is taking place in your area.
Local cafes/community hubs with billboards: Sibu Cafe in Uvita, Cafe Mono Congo in Dominical and Pancito Cafe in Ojochal
Try: Local art club, Art Classes in Ojochal
Special Interest Events
Various local businesses and organizations offer special interest events or seminars. Whether your passion is reptiles, herbs, salsa dancing or amateur permaculture construction, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find a special interest group.
Try: Eden Community Center – The ECC for parents with kids
Abundant Eden Nursery in Tinamastes for hands-on permaculture garden training workshops
Reserva Playa Tortuga in Ojochal for the occassional snakes and reptiles info sessions.
Getting involved in the local community by volunteering is not only for a worthy cause, but can also open up some opportunities for socializing. You will be working closely with other people on a common goal, which can create a close knit group of people. Additionally, you are likely to meet a variety of people, including expats and local people who want to help their community.
Try: Getting amongst the dogs at the Domestic Animal Welfare Group (DAWG).\
A potential path to integrating and meeting both expats and locals is to look into teaching. Is there a demand for English classes in your new home town? Perhaps ask around some of the local schools and community centres to see whether this is something people would be interested in.
Be a regular
Become a regular at local cafés or bars. Get to know other regulars, staff and customers. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone sitting at the opposite table from you or at the bar. Other people sitting by themselves are much more likely to be receptive than trying to break the ice with a group or a couple.
Lunch clubs are a popular option for retirees in some countries; they are usually held in local places that are easy to pop into, and generally meet once or twice a month. For a reasonable set price, you can get a meal and a cup of tea or coffee, and meet people to chat with.
Try: The Costa Ballena Ladies Lunch group (meet every second Wednesday at different locations).