Director of Experiences (El Jefe)
Tico, born and raised. Go Tico! was born out of a love for my community, my country and a dream to share what an amazing place Costa Rica is with anyone, young and old, who is interested in visiting!
I work to find authentic, immersive opportunities for our groups to experience. When planning trips, I look for places that are truly Costa Rican in their beauty & uniqueness and communities that are welcoming and eager to share their culture. My hope is every traveler we take to Costa Rica experiences true Tico hospitality and leaves feeling like they were part of a Tico community.
Creator of Opportunities (La Jefa)
Midwestern, born and raised. Having lived in rural Costa Rica, immersing myself in both the communities and language, I know what a life-changing experience immersion travel can be. Go Tico! is our way of bringing that experience to groups of travelers of all ages.
I love to bring all pieces of a trip together: logistics, service, safety, and community & group compatibility. Working on brainstorming what service experience will fit a particular group of travelers, rallying support for student fundraisers, and preparing groups to live and maximize their time in their Tico community is part of the role I play. My hope is that travelers complete their trip feeling like they truly lived Tico in all forms: community, language, nature, food, and culture.
A BIT ABOUT US
We are very proud parents of three amazing, adventurous kiddos (and one awesome puppy named Pipa) who love meeting with any visitors we bring to Costa Rica.
Johel grew up in La Flor, Costa Rica before moving to the U.S. and living 20 years in Madison, Wisconsin. From his childhood, he has loved nature, exploring flora and fauna and now, guiding. His most memorable hiking experience was the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire - let's just say it wasn't the funnest, but definitely the most memorable:)
Sara knew from high school she wanted to work in tourism and lived abroad in several different countries, including Costa Rica. She also works at the University of Wisconsin-Madison coordinating short-term international student programs. Her most memorable hiking experience was the Dolomites in Italy (or the time her and Johel hiked in Glacier National Park and got caught in a snowstorm in their shorts and T-shirts.)
We ran our first Go Tico! youth trip in 2018 with 7th, 8th, and 9th graders from a school in Madison, Wisconsin. We loved it so much that we kept running trips summer after summer. We've also coordinated itineraries for families traveling alone to Costa Rica.
On all of our trips and itineraries, we want to provide the most genuine travel experience possible and have the trip meet the goals of the travelers. Our most memorable travel experiences as a couple and family were when we weren't in the tourist center, but instead being among the people of the community or country we're visiting. We truly believe that intercultural experiences, friendships and sharing language, culture and food is a way to make the world a better place. Each of our trips strives to incorporate elements of that belief.
We both love Costa Rica, so much so we moved with our family in 2020 to our host community, La Flor, to explore more of this amazing country and culture.
We recently undertook a project to restore an abandoned pineapple field in our community. The "vuelta del mundo" ("trip around the world", as the local kids call it) is a patch of land with a small forest in the center. Our family has been creating an organic fruit orchard with over 90 trees!, garden, farm-to-table cafe, and two small casitas on the property to provide a peaceful retreat for guests to La Flor and the region. It is a major labor of love!
Our travel style is authentic - both in how we travel with our own family and how we coordinate our trips. We love to eat at roadside stands, head down bumpy roads to less-traveled and incredibly majestic sites, and stay in places that feel cozy but not fancy and serve amazing food:)
When we aren't hiking, gardening, teaching, exploring, or hosting travelers, we love cooking (and eating!) good food, having family get-togethers, and having intense board game competitions (Azul and Pandemic are definitely favorites!)