Who Is This Guy?

I was born and raised in the Amazon jungle of southern Peru. My earliest years with the Matsigenka Indians gave me a lasting love for rainforests, tropical weather, people who speak different languages, and different ways of looking at the world. My own list of adventures includes a 3-day hike and 6-week stay in the middle of nowhere to help the villagers of Kompiroshiato build an airstrip. I was 13, and that was immediately followed by a 2-week trip with a 14-year-old friend down the Urubamba and Ucayali rivers with no outside contact the whole time. At 17 I became the first known adult male to survive contact with the ferocious Matses Indians in northern Peru, an experience that the Matses celebrate annually with a Ron Snell look-alike that looks nothing like Ron Snell.


After graduating with degrees in linguistics and anthropology, I directed a training center for teams going to work with minority language groups in some of the remotest places on earth. I taught them rural living skills and how to learn a language, and they taught me how to be a better teacher. I followed that with an MBA at the University of Texas before directing a cooperative program with a university in Indonesia for six years.


Returning to the United States, I switched gears again and worked my way up to a real estate broker’s license while doing purchase/rehab/resell, building a couple of houses from the ground up with my own hands, being the general contractor for a couple more homes, teaching courses in cross-cultural communications at the World Trade Center in Dallas, leading tours to Peru, and writing three books that have sold over 100,000 copies.


Then, after 12 years running a homeless shelter in Nebraska, my wife Tammy and I moved to Costa Rica because when you are ready to make a big move, Costa Rica has big appeal. I immediately returned to real estate upon arrival and was asked by my bosses to specialize in land sales, which was an economic death sentence in 2013. It was nevertheless a fast way to get to know the area, to understand the worth of different properties, and to learn the ins and outs of real estate in Costa Rica.


Tammy and I came to build an ecolodge and went through the whole process of getting permissions for everything before deciding to change course. I learned tons of stuff the hard way; stuff that can help my clients assess properties and avoid pitfalls. My philosophy is simple: “6 years’ worth of my real estate experience in Costa Rica is only valuable if it gives you a better experience, so let's focus on that. And the reality is that having 5 or 10 or 20 years' worth of experience here really boils down to the last year because things have changed a lot. The best agents are those that make every effort to keep up with the changes today so their clients don’t get nasty surprises tomorrow.”


I like it that three words clients use to describe me over and over are “knowledgeable, honest, and fun.” My goal is to make sure neither I nor my clients have any regrets about the decisions they make here.


In and around my real estate work, I was on the founding Board of KABE International Academy, I served for almost 4 years on the road committee in my neighborhood, and I teach weekly Spanish classes as a community service.