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.

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.