Lush green jungle, white sandy beaches, roaring waterfalls – they are sights many people can only dream about. But they’re about to become home for Ron and Tammy Snell.
The Snells packed up their personal possessions on Monday – including their car – and shipped them to Costa Rica, where they plan to start a resort. It’s a venture that’s been a year in the making.
“We had been telling people for months, ‘We have this impossible dream,'” Ron said. “Then we said, ‘We have this dream.’ Now we say, ‘Wow. This dream came true.'”
Ron first visited Costa Rica in 1998 when he took his son there for a post-high school graduation trip.
“That began the dream,” Ron said. “Last year Tammy and I went back for a three-week vacation, and she fell in love with the country, too. The first place out of three that we stayed was for sale, and we thought, ‘This could be really fun.'”
On Thursday, the idea came to fruition when the Snells closed on a 12-acre parcel of jungle overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The closest town is Dominical, which is about 10 minutes away.
“At our location, there’s no indication of other habitation,” Ron said. “But, within a 15-minute drive, there are beautiful, uncrowded tropical beaches with an ocean warm enough to swim in and surf in without a wet or dry suit. Our site is also close to activities like zip-lining and waterfall rappelling.”
An engineer is drafting plans for 10-15 cabins. The Snells will stay in a rental house while the buildings are constructed.
“We want to create a gathering place for active, inquisitive, adventuresome travelers who like being around kindred spirits,” Ron said. “The clientele we’re focusing on are lively, engaging people who want comfort and class at night, but during the day, seek a large variety of things to do.”
At the Snells’ resort, visitors will be able to walk jungle paths, stretch on yoga mats in a secluded, natural world and dine alfresco, surrounded by monkeys, toucans and other exotic species. The couple’s long-range goal is to construct a pool big enough for scuba diving, water polo and kayaking. They will also add an event hall for weddings and other social gatherings.
“We would like to have several cabins ready by the end of 2013, and over the next three years, develop the rest,” Ron said.
But for the Snells, who depart on Jan. 10, leaving North Platte will be hard. The couple has a lot of ties to the community. Ron was the director of the homeless shelter for 12 years, and both he and Tammy were instrumental in raising money and awareness for a new shelter building. Tammy has also been serving as the patient and family services coordinator at Great Plains Regional Medical Center.
“We haven’t started saying goodbyes,” Ron said. “But we’re hoping there won’t have to be any. We’re hoping people will come down and visit us.”
Ron said he’s never lived in another place where he’s felt so attached to the people and contacts he’s made. Yet, he’s looking forward to the opportunities to serve and the people he and Tammy will get to know and enjoy in Costa Rica.
“That’s what’s waiting to be discovered,” Ron said. “It’s part of the adventure. I guess that’s my message to North Platte. Don’t be limited by what you can see, because when you commit to something new, what you haven’t seen can be amazing.”