15 Servicemen Honored in Costa Rica
There is a paradisiacal destination on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica known as Los Sueños Resort and Marina. Los Sueños is translated “The Dreams,” and it is a fitting description. This oceanfront resort looks out over a marine-blue bay and lush green mountains, and boasts the slogan, “A Vision Beyond Compare…”
The resort is also called “home” by several ungrudging Americans, who have united with Freedom Alliance to make a difference. This we do by bestowing a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Costa Rica for military service members, who have sacrificed to defend our freedom.
Gerald and Virginia Lindholm, Los Sueños condo owners, first made contact with Freedom Alliance with the desire to share this slice of heaven. With their initiation, followed by arrangements the Lindholms made with other donors in their community, possibilities kept opening up, turning Los Sueños into a dream-come-true for a band of servicemen.
Fifteen men, hailing from cities across America, arrived at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in Costa Rica’s capital. Marines and security officers from the American embassy offered to drive the fifteen guests from the airport to Los Sueños, where a Freedom Alliance team member helped get everyone situated in their residences.
The resort allowed us the use of their spacious corporate condominium, and four other selfless owners donated luxury condos for the trip. The Durman Golf company contributed five golf carts so the troops could cruise around the resort with ease. The founder of Seattle’s Best Coffee even gave his own private coffee blend for our guests to sip during the beautiful Costa Rican mornings.
The Lindholms hosted a welcome dinner of shrimp and ribs at the pool near their condominium, which overlooks all of the resort. This was a chance for key people to stop by and introduce themselves, but it was also the first opportunity for the men to get to know one another.
The next day commenced with a gift from Jose Eduardo: complementary tickets for Jose’s Crocodile River Tour. The troops all piled into his flat-bottom boat and embarked down the Tarcoles River, where we saw massive crocodiles and exotic wildlife. Jose’s sidekick Jimmy got out of the boat to hand-feed and even kiss the crocs while the passengers watched—equal parts horrified and thrilled!
That afternoon, they joined the Lindholms on their yacht for a shoreline cruise. The whole group fit comfortably on board the 55-foot Viking, taking in the sights while delighting in each other’s company.
Dinner that evening was by way of the resort and their first-class chefs—an Italian meal and cocktails at the Terrace Lounge in the marina village.
The third day began with a zip line canopy tour by Vista Los Sueños. Fitted with helmets and harnesses, the men trucked up the mountain to be secured to the treetop zip line. Remarkably, it took one and a half hours to complete the course through the rainforest canopy, sometimes upside down, where they experienced staggering views.
PGA director Jose Quesada then donated an excellent two-and-a-half-hour golf clinic at the resort’s La Iguana Golf Course. It was extraordinary to see how the Los Sueños resort and community all wanted to give something to show support for American troops. One service member remarked that everybody in Costa Rico was happy to see them.
Resort residents Bob and Judy Yanover hosted a dinner party for the men, serving fresh mahimahi and steaks. Five boat owners had donated their yachts and crews for two full days of fishing, and it was at this poolside soiree that the captains and deck hands came by to meet the gentlemen who would be boarding their boats in the morning.
Then it was early to the docks the next day where the troops joined the boats and crew members. The captain of the “High Hook” provided breakfast for everyone from the little bistro his wife owns. Then it was a one-hour voyage out of the bay to where the sailfish are biting.
In the last year, Los Sueños has become renowned in the fishing universe, as world records were broken in January’s Triple Crown Tournament. This phenomenon repeated for Freedom Alliance’s guests as each boat reeled in prize catches of sailfish and mahimahi. During the first day, the lowest number was 12 and the highest was 39! Most of these fellows had never been sail-fishing, and certainly none had experienced anything like this. The next day was more of the same.
Freedom Alliance teamed up with Tunaskin Aquatic Apparel to outfit our troops and supporters in the finest performance fishing shirts, complete with original artwork donated by Dennis Friel Art Studios of Coral Springs, Florida.
The Terrace Lounge took us in again, courtesy of the resort, for a farewell dinner on the final evening. This was the last opportunity to thank our awe-inspiring guests and most magnanimous hosts.
Transancho donated bus transportation to the airport in the morning (as well as our off-site excursions, such as the river tour and zip line adventure). Again, we could not believe the willingness and support we received from the Costa Ricans, who wanted to give their time and resources to provide for U.S. military through Freedom Alliance.
And enough cannot be said about the generosity of the Los Sueños folks. Not only did they reach out to Freedom Alliance, but they also personally extended their care, attention, and admiration for the troops, and especial gratitude for their service to our country.
Marine Bret wrote about the trip later. “Five days with Freedom Alliance and our supporters living the Pura Vida (“pure life,” Costa Rica’s catchphrase) tops my all-time vacation charts… Island tours, deep sea fishing, excellent cuisine, laughs … smiles all around. Freedom Alliance comes through for its troops.”
Sergeant First Class Jeffrey told us about developing relationships with the other vets, and how much that meant to him.
“It was really good for me to do something like this with other veterans there, who are dealing with the same stuff. It was a vacation, but it was more than a vacation—it was group therapy, without us realizing it. I’ve been out of the military two years now, and I learned stuff from them that I never got from the VA.”
Jeff was struck by one of his last sights of Costa Rica, and that was the finback whales coming along the coast on the morning of departure. He had never seen whales before, and he described the spectacle in one word: “breathtaking.”
He continued, “I’m getting tingles just thinking about the trip again, that’s how good it was… I can die happy now.”