Deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments. — The Talmud

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. — Buddha


One of the original expats here, Jim is sort of a tribal elder in this jungle village. He is a surf pioneer, a merchant, a crime fighter, a traveler’s guidebook, a real-estate guru, and a spiritual leader. He is a true guardian of this precious place. And he is a good man.

Jim moved here 20 years ago, when there really was hardly anything out here – just raw jungle. “Sometimes, we would have to wait five days just to get a ride to the nearest town,” he says. And, “we really were some of the only people out here, and I would be begging for someone to surf with.”

Originally from Arkansas and resident of numerous other states and countries, and a real adventure traveler, he’s seen his fair share of experiences: Having a pistol held to his head by Mexican banditos; trying (and failing) to turn a tugboat into a business; running a successful beverage-vending service at festivals like the Vans Warped Tour; and too many more to mention.

My first week here, a friend and I rented one of Jim’s vacation cabins, at Cabinas Ola Mar. When he asked how long I was planning to stay or what my plans were, I simply told him, “I don’t really know.” And, contrary to the reaction of many to my lack of a thought-out plan, instead of displaying surprise or incredulity, Jim got a knowing glimmer in his eyes. Not surprised at all. Like he could totally relate, “Of course, man, I get it.” Or like a wise sage patiently listening to a pilgrim.

Then he offered for me to stay in what basically is his family’s personal spare cabin, for a longer term, for a generous rate. He has shared his home with me. He’s let me use his kitchen. He’s let me borrow one of his surfboards; introduced me to some of the local crew; recommended me as a house-sitter; gave me advice and told me stories. And he introduced me to his wise wife, Tricia, and his children.

He and Tricia and I have shared in deep philosophical conversations and shallow story swaps. We’ve rambled on everything from travel and religion to drugs and “specialty” farming to surfing and government conspiracies and everything in between. We’ve surfed together and he’s called me into waves like a good coach. And we helped save the life of a rip-current victim the other day.

Jim and Tricia have shared stories of tough times and related to mine. And in all of it, they’ve always been true to themselves and have spoken and acted with integrity. And they are kind.

They have been kind and gently guiding to this wandering pilgrim.

I’m grateful for all the Jims and Tricias in my life (past, present, and future). And I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your Jims or Tricias, and also take time to be a Jim or Tricia to someone today or tomorrow. You never know what challenge someone may be facing, and everyone can always use some simple kindness. It makes the world good.

(And if you’re ever considering a visit to Costa Rica’s secluded Osa peninsula and looking for a place to stay, be sure to look Jim up under Cabinas Ola Mar either on TripAdvisor, Air B&B or directly at www.OlaMarCR.com, (or email info@olamarcr.com), and I’m sure Jim will also be kind to you. Unless you’re an asshole. Or surf media. Or a government agent. Then he’ll kindly encourage you to visit San Jose or a Mexican border town.)

Jim on Wave

^ Jim tucking into a barrel at the local spot

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