Great Review of Free to Bloom by Dorothy MacKinnon of the Tico Times

Adventures of an independent woman in Costa Rica

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 – By Dorothy MacKinnon
OPEN BOOK: Southern Zone resident Jill Green relates her experiences living as a foreign woman alone in Costa Rica in her book, “Free to Bloom.”

What is it about Costa Rica that attracts so many accomplished, independent women to start new lives here? In her first book, “Free to Bloom,” California-born, Florida-reared Jill Green tells a personal story about starting a post-divorce, new life as a pioneering homesteader in a remote area of the Southern Zone. Although thinly disguised, these are autobiographical stories told with heart and humor, leavened with soulful introspection.

From the trials and tribulations of building an off-the-grid house to romantic encounters and harrowing adventures in the wild – including an intimate relationship with a botfly – Green’s tales will resonate especially with like-minded women already living here, and with anyone contemplating the leap into life in Costa Rica.

Green is an excellent storyteller, weaving flowing conversational prose with lyrical passages that capture her love affair with the “stark, shocking beauty” of the southern Pacific coast where she has chosen to live. Along with evocative descriptions, she segues seamlessly into perceptive philosophical musings about the simpler, but never boring, life in Costa Rica. She learns to appreciate, too, the slower pace of life here, accepting the Tico approach to time: “… time isn’t something to beat, it’s a continuum of life from morning to night.”

Green’s book grew out of her personal blog, which she posts to keep friends and family apprised of her adventures. Many women will find her personal aperçus concise and compelling, too. After 25 years of a rocky marriage, Green finally sees her way through to breaking free: “I don’t need to be afraid with him any more. I’m no longer afraid without him.”

Living alone in a foreign country can be challenging for anybody. But in light of some recent horrific attacks on extranjera women living in remote parts of the Southern Zone, does Green have any new concerns about single life on her mountaintop?

“When I look at what’s happening worldwide with the bad economy and the poor getting poorer and hungrier, I don’t think things are much different in other locations,” Green answers. “… On my mountaintop near Uvita, I have lots of big barking dogs and a wonderful caretaker and his family nearby. My daughter and her family living in the area also helps. I don’t have second thoughts of living alone here any more than in the U.S.”

“Costa Rica is the place where I became an independent woman,” Green adds. So the title, “Free to Bloom,” is apropos. And although her author’s note states, “This is a work of fiction,” many local readers, from Dominical down to Uvita, are enjoying some entertaining gossip, trying to work out just who is who in the book – especially a mysterious “caveman” who provides a very steamy interlude in Green’s personal growth.

“Free to Bloom,” published by A Cappella Publishing in Sarasota, Florida, is available as an e-book ($2.99) from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or as a real book ($14.99 plus shipping). for ordering details and access to Green’s blog.

There’s nothing like a great review. Thank you so much Dorothy. For those who have asked. My soft cover edition is available in these locations in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica.

  1. Green Leaf Art Gallery in Ojochal.
  2. Rincon de Uvita Farmer’s Market at Diana’s Made by Scratch booth and at the DAWG Library every Saturday from 8 am – 12pm.
  3. Call me at 8892 8135 or email me at and I will arrange a delivery.
  4. will be publishing the soft cover edition by the end of November. It already carries the ebook.

In (Free To) Bloom on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Free To Bloom

Let me toot my horn. My ebook Free To Bloom is finally published on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for an initial price of only $2.99. Thought I’d give you some background to get you interested in buying it and reading it. The print edition will be published in days. Here’s a description:

Through eleven partially linked chronological stories we follow Danielle as she splits from a long-term marriage to find her way as a single woman living alone in a foreign country. Her search for both physical and emotional contentment and independence leads her to take risks in life and love from jumping off waterfalls, to discovering a gorgeous young caveman, and learning the art of marijuana growing and harvesting. Follow her journey as she intertwines intimate personal insights with wild adventures.

Of Time and the Mountain

The first story Of Time and the Mountain reveals that beginning a new life and building a house in an isolated part of a foreign country, Costa Rica, is rampant with challenges: physical, emotional and personal. The frayed threads of a long term marriage begin to unravel one by one.

Learning a new language, meeting new people, living in a strange culture, subsisting in a primitive environment without basic necessities bring a need for a little respite wherever it can be found. And find it Danielle does, whether it’s going to local festivals in the mountain villages, finding archeological artifacts, or getting to know both locals and expats.

Alligator Dreams

Danielle travels back and forth between the U.S. and Costa Rica finding adventure wherever she is. New relationships blossom, grow strong, wilt, revive or die, but all are worthwhile experiences. With Danielle’s newborn independence, taking risks in both love and life becomes necessity. A U.S. doctor is shocked by her little parasite in My Friend George. A scary alligator plies Florida waters in Alligator Dreams.

God's Caveman

A Costa Rican cave dweller falls in love with her in God’s Caveman.She is horrified by the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world in Puppy Love. At turns she is terrified and exhilarated by conquering the waterfall in Fear of Falling.

Fear of Falling



Getting to Know You -Humboldt County

Getting to know Adrian in California includes experiencing his illegal lifestyle and feeling his paranoia when the cops appear at the pot growing fields in Getting To Know You – Humboldt County.

Join Danielle as she deals with both the highs and lows of her adventurous life; how she deals with conflict, has fun, learns patience and gains contentment as her life blooms into full flower.

Author Biography

Though born in California, and living in France as a child, Jill Green’s formative years were spent on Florida’s Gulf Coast. After college at the Univ of Florida, marriage, two children – one deaf, she started teaching, helped run two businesses and after 30 years, got divorced.

What a turn life took! Now living in two countries, Sarasota, FL and Costa Rica. she forgot her French, but learned Spanish. Living alone took many adjustments, eventually she has become a self-sufficient, adventuresome individual, traveling the world, volunteering with many organizations, climbing mountains, surfing the seas and teaching ESL in Costa Rica and Florida.

The Author

After many years working and bringing up a family she has finally become a published writer with her book of short stories Free to Bloom about life in Costa Rica and the United States, hopefully the first of many. Although she has written stories and essays for small magazines, her next big project is auto-biographical: the trials, tribulations, joys and sorrows of living with and educating a deaf child who after the fact designed and now runs a successful website, one of the top U. of Florida Gator football websites.

Visit Jill’s personal blog at and her Free to Bloom blog at, where you can buy the book in either format.


Finca Bellavista-Getting There-Part 2


It’s my birthday and we’re on our way to the Treehouse with our Finca Bellavista pointer sheet in hand. Lots of instructions, directions and rules. Too many to remember. It begins:

You won’t find billboards or roadside signs that lead you to Finca Bellavista. We are not a full-service spa or a fancy hotel. You won’t find TVs in our cabinas, or electricity. What you will find is a rustic, yet comfortable retreat from the outside world to explore and enjoy on your own. We are in our infancy as a project. Though we keep our location somewhat of a secret from the outside world, we are more than happy to open our doors to you since you found us!

As per directions, we follow the coastal highway south from Dominical to the remote pueblo of Piedras Blancas and turn left at the only restaurant in town, Rancho Guiri Guiri. According to the pointer sheet, it serves the best fried chicken in the southern zone of Costa Rica, and since it’s lunchtime we decide to stop. I take the safe route and order fried chicken. B. checks out the ‘specials’ and takes a chance. “I’d like to try the tepezquintle.” This rodent-like animal has been the hunters’ favorite since homesteading days and here it is on the menu, probably illegally.

“Your horoscope this month must be telling you to take chances.” I laugh.

B. knows he’s made a mistake as soon as the cook serves us, “Whew, that smells really gamy.” And it taste that way too. He takes his medicine like a man and eats most of it. I try one bite and we chalk it up to experience.

Finca Bella Vista base camp

Back in the car we finally see the obscure sign for Finca Bellavista, follow the dirt road a few miles to the ‘base camp’ and pull into the only car parking area. There’s a community center with bathhouse, kitchen, dining area and game room surrounded by well-kept gardens and trails. We meet Erica, she shows us around and we gather our belongings for the long trek to our treehouse. Thank goodness we’re in good physical health. The trail is steep, wet, and treacherous, but the destination is worth every step. A handmade sign “Mis Ojos Treehouse”, points to a two-story wooden structure set high up among four giant rainforest trees, with just one more steep ladder-like staircase to heaven.


After showing us around and giving last minute instructions, Erica leaves us with, “dinner is served at seven back at base camp.”

She’s gone before I realize. “Oh shit. We’re gonna have to walk all the way back there.”

“And in the pitch dark!”

We’ve signed up for meals instead of cooking in the treehouse. A big mistake?


We don’t want to think about it right now. We sit on the balcony and soak in the exciting new adventure of being an integral part of the majestic jungle hundreds of feet below and above us. “We’re so lucky – or rather you are. You win stuff all the time.”

“You’re right, my son used to be the lucky one. He won almost every time he entered a contest, from dinners for two to Caribbean cruises. Guess it runs in the family.”

But luck isn’t all of it. Whether you believe in horoscopes or not, taking risks and making changes is what makes our lives rich and exciting. Last week we took surfing lessons, my low bid at a silent auction for a dog adoption group. And now here we are at Finca Bella Vista in the treetops of the Costa Rican jungle drinking coffee. In our faces, the insistent sound and sight of the waterfall intertwines with sweet and raucous birdsongs, and fluttering blue iridescent flashes of Morpho butterflies.

Up in a Tree House-Finca Bellavista-Part 1

It’s 2010. Twenty-Ten – don’t you like the sound of that? In honor of the new decade I’m putting out of my mind that it’s been a month since posting a blog. Let’s start anew without resolutions. They just cause stress. And thus begins my recollection of a first in a lifetime experience, up in a tree house.


You’d think that the rainy season would be the perfect season for the Rain Forest Aid concert on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, but hardly anyone came and most of those have gone home – the ones who could slip and slide their cars out of the parking lot. At the finale, the rain pours down on the soccer field splashing mud up to our asses. Barely audible through the pounding rain I hear, “And now, the big raffle prize! The ultimate tree house experience, a weekend stay at Finca Bellavista goes to …… Jill Green.”

“Wow! I did it.” My persistence has paid off. This obscure concert, its meager attendance dwindled by constant rain, has raised my chances of winning the big prize by a huge percentage. First I had to find the booth with the raffle box in which to stuff my ticket stub. Even the concert (dis)organizers sent me on a wet and wild goose chase. “Bellavista? Never heard of them. Try the bar tent; they oughta know.”

Pushing through the only dry crowd, I ask the bartender.

“Never heard of Bellavista, but try the booths out on the edge of what’s left of the soccer field.”

Finally I hit paydirt – a small box plastered with a Bellavista pamphlet, a smiling young couple behind it. “This must be the place offering the tree house adventure?”


“I had a hard time finding you guys. Even the organizer, who lives in a tree house, didn’t know there was a tree house vacation raffle.”

“Yea. Pretty unorganized,” the guy introduces himself, “Hi, I’m Matt. You’ve got a good chance of winning.”

“And I’m Erica. Hardly anybody’s found the way over here to stuff their stubs.”

My  on-again-beau is by my side when I  deliver from the heart, “It’s for two. You wanna go with me?”

“Of course.” His grin becomes a kiss.

“How about when we both return to Costa Rica in the fall?”

“What a perfect place for a rendezvous after an extended separation,” he twinkles.

Tune in next time for the encounter.

Rain Forest Aid 2009 Concert – Costa Rica

rainforest-aid-fbooksm-2004576I’m returning to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica for the Rain Forest Aid 2009 concert June 19 – 21. The festival aims to raise $2 million for rain forest awareness, protection and regeneration and potentially fund a sustainable landfill for the Osa Peninsula in the next five years. That’s a massive goal, but whatever they reach will help save one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, which includes Corcovado National Park. For more information go to the website

Ten years ago two friends and I traveled down to the Osa for one of the most disastrous vacations I’ve ever had. For the ten year anniversary I have edited an almost memoir, The Last Resort, I wrote to commemorate that event and am posting it here. I will also be blogging about the concert. Check in. Send me information you’d like to share. Have fun! Dance. Listen. Learn from the indigenous people. Buy handcrafted items. Help save our environment.

Slice of Life – Costa Rica

Everyone’s eventual question concerning my life in Cost Rica is “What do you do all day?”  They assume that life in an exotic tropical paradise must be different than theirs. A fairy tale? One without stress? Well it’s not. But it is different. Here’s a little slice of it.

  • At dawn the howler monkeys do their alpha male “Don’t try to join my band and eat our breakfast. Go find your own.” aggressive give and take hooting. No more sleeping for me. 
  • I get up and feed our two new mostly Lab puppies, grind some  fresh organic Costa Rican coffee beans, their rich aroma blending with the heavy loveliness of the ylang ylang drifting over the balcony.
  • Drinking my coffee on my balcony aerie overlooking the Pacific Ocean’s Whale’s Tail (see my blog photo) is the perfect and only start to my every day. 
  • Within minutes the sunrise-washed blue sky turns gray with rushing clouds. Rumbling thunder shakes a huge rain down in front of me. The rainy season is upon us.
  • Will I make it down the mountain road to yoga class before  it turns into a gooey clay mess that turns the tires into slick glazed doughnuts? Nope. My heart pounds as I take my foot off the brake, go with the slide, and miss falling in the ditch by inches. Can’t go back up until things dry out.
  • One must always keep a backpack in the car filled with necessities in case you can’t get home (whether bad roads or broken down car) – towel, toothbrush, sunscreen, hat, bathing suit, book . Add a hammock and surf board and you’re covered for awhile.
  • It’s still wet after yoga. With time to kill I stop at the bomba (gas station) to fill up, but the gas tanker has been delayed too. Maybe manana. This Central American country is a drastic mix of Third World and modern. In the tropical heat everyone is at least two hours late. Ah, except the buses. They’re always on time. Don’t ask why. 

Well, that’s the morning. Can you tell that patience is truly a virtue to cultivate if you’re not a native. Ticos have it naturally.

Dear Regina Perry or My Historical Fiction

Having returned to the back jungles of Costa Rica, I’ve had to deal with no and slow technology, and other losses in my life slowing me down. I’m clawing my way out. Just got hooked to internet at my house – a feat of unusual difficulty. Yippy. I’m ready to roll on, though not speed. 

I open my computer to  a writer friend’s announcement of a blog posting.  She’s been out of commission for awhile too.  she explained her reasons for having the blog and all it entailed, from why she started writing to how she got published. We’re members of the same excellent writing group. I loved the story, especially since she’s a good writer and friend. Check it out at

So I’m reading along and nodding my head, oh yes, oh yes. I’ve gone through the same evolution or mutation. Started writing memoirs. They are so cathartic and freeing, but not for publication. The truth can be insulting, incriminating, hurtful, embarrassing. First I tried just changing the names to protect the innocent. Hah, that doesn’t work. Then I changed the places. Not enough. Now the characters. I now call my writing historical fiction. I can add, pad and subtract from the truth, but it’s still based on it. I’ve got a good group of Costa Rican stories finished or almost. But patience. I’ll soon be ready to try for that publication, too. 

And thanks Regina Perry for getting my ball rolling again.