PUNTA UVA, Costa Rica — One day in February 2002 Manuel Pinto and his real estate agent were hacking through the jungle here in southeast Costa Rica, near the surf town of Puerto Viejo
At one point the agent suggested they give up, but Mr. Pinto pressed on and finally, an hour later, they found the nine-acre plot. Substantially overgrown, they recognized it by some concrete steps and a shack that the previous owner had left behind.
But looking around him, Mr. Pinto envisioned much more. At the time, he had been looking for a tract to build a vacation home for his family, then based in Miami. When he saw the dramatic ocean view, fly-by toucans and dozens of upside-down basket-like Montezuma Oropendola bird nests hanging from enormous trees, he decided on the spot that he wanted to move to Costa Rica for good.
From the moment the couple found and bought (for $72,000) the land, things moved relatively quickly. The family sold their house in Miami in June 2002, moved into a nearby rental house in Cocles Beach in Costa Rica and started building two months later.
“We had to build a road first,” Mr. Pinto said. “It should have taken two weeks but it took three months because of the rains.”