Off The Beaten Path Interviews

An inside look at Earth’s explorers

Though Sammantha is from Washington State, USA and Yeison is from Costa Rica is hasn’t stopped their Central American adventure. After Sammi first visited in 2010 and met Yeison, their desire to explore Costa Rica full time became apparent. She made the move in 2012 and they’ve been peeking under the surface of the country ever since, looking to provide more accurate and in-depth information on all Costa Rica has to offer.

Sammi & Yeison of My Tan Feet - caught in the rain

Staying happy when being caught in the rain.

Meet Sammi and Yeison

Travel is an amazing way to connect with new people, especially from other cultures be they locals or other travelers. How did travel bring the two of you together?

Samantha: I went to Central America for a volunteer veterinary organization in Nicaragua and Honduras. Yeison was working for this organization that travels throughout Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama so we met because we both wanted and loved to travel and were able to incorporate that into our job and studies.

To most people, travel implies going somewhere foreign, but we often forget that we can travel and explore right where we are. Sammi, what was it like coming to Costa Rica? And Yeison, what was it like to discover your own country from a traveler’s point of view?

Samantha: It was a whole new experience for me. I was in a country that I never thought I would visit and exploring new things that I never imagined I would be doing.

It was essentially like going into a completely different world than my own. I came with an open mind and heart so I was so excited to learn and experience a new culture, a new language, a new everything.

It’s been an amazing experience so far and I have been so blessed with the opportunity to travel and live in Costa Rica.

Yeison: It’s a very interesting experience because I didn’t know that we had so many things to do in Costa Rica. Also, most Costa Ricans don’t explore their own country because they prefer to see different places.

The variety of places, things to do and see is huge here and it completely changed my perspective about my country. I have a greater appreciation for the way Costa Rica views natural resources and pollution and am very proud of how eco-friendly and nature friendly my country is.

Sammi & Yeison of My Tan Feet - Panama Canal

Visiting the Panama Canal

Culture shock is a common term in the world of travel. I think of it as a moment in which we find ourselves through the lens of another. How would you describe your experiences with culture shock?

Samantha: My experience with culture shock was all about being exposed to new things. Life in Costa Rica is incredibly, drastically different than life in the states and there were many things that I was exposed to that I never was before but I saw it as an opportunity to learn.

It’s different when you’re just traveling and living but when you move and live in a completely different country, the culture shock is a bit more intense since you are exposed to it 24/7.

I had to see it as more of a cultural opportunity than a culture shock and changed my perspective to really embrace the chance to explore this new culture and new people.

Traveling with someone is a challenge, but you also learn a lot about yourself in the process. What experiences have you learned from together and what tips do you have to share with our readers?

One tip that we always tell travelers is to be flexible. Throughout our travels, we have learned that you can plan everything to the last minute but some things are out of our control and don’t go according to plan.

You don’t always need to have a plan b, c, and d, but just be ready for situations that may arise out of your hands and know how to deal with them.

Some examples are missing the bus, lost luggage, getting lost, etc. The rest of your trip will depend on your reaction and on how you solve the problem and if you don’t learn to be flexible, it can ruin a trip and can make you miss out on other things.

Traveling as a couple is one of the biggest joys in life for us and you learn so much about yourself and about the other person. The key is communication – express what you like, what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.

The next important key is compromise. Learn how to compromise and sacrifice so both parties get to do what they want and are happy. Talk about things and don’t have expectations that your partner automatically knows and understands how you feel and what you want.

Sammi & Yeison of My Tan Feet - awesome central american waterfall

Awesome central american waterfall

For most serious travelers, the experience is more than just showing up, seeing a few tourist favorites and going home. Some may relish in the outdoors, study something, or find a way to interact with the local community. What do you love to do when you travel? How do you dig in deeper to the place you’re traveling?

We both love to eat, so usually one of the first things we do in a new place is ask the locals where the best place to eat good local food is. Yeison loves to ask the taxi drivers and they have pointed us to the little hole in the walls with awesome home cooked food.

We love to talk to locals, on the bus, walking down the street, at the Laundromat, anywhere. We don’t mind doing touristy activities but we want to make friends with locals, pick their brain and understand the country more through them. Who better to learn about a new country than the ones who have lived there all their lives?

Cultural and historical sites are always a must-see whenever we travel. Every place has a rich history and it’s important to learn more about the world and how the world came about.

Some places have a tragic history, some have a triumphant history and to learn about it gives you a deeper appreciation and more insight into humanity and the world.

So, what’s next on the travel agenda?

We’re planning on traveling more in Costa Rica, so we can provide more information about the country. At the end of the year, we are planning on traveling to other countries in Central America, specifically Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize (the 3 we haven’t been to).

Eventually we hope to make it to Europe since neither of us has ever been and on the list of countries we want to go to so far are Poland, Italy, Estonia, Switzerland, France and Spain.

What’s your travel philosophy and how do you implement it when you travel?

Our travel philosophy is to try to live like a local. Try to learn as much as you can from other people so you can get a real perspective and see things in a different way.

Always be grateful and appreciative and never think of yourself above anyone else because they have a different lifestyle than you do. If you travel to different countries thinking that it’s not as good as wherever you are from, you will come off (and are) the unfriendly, rude tourist and you won’t appreciate the true value of travel.

Thanks so much for sharing all your travel inspiration, Sammi and Yeison! We look forward to hearing about all your upcoming adventures as you continue to spread your love of the world with others! Want more? You can follow along too by checking out their travel blog My Tan Feet.

Have you ever traveled as a couple? What were some obstacles you had to overcome? What were some of the advantages? Please feel free to share your feedback and stories in the comment section below!