Rome ‘95 and Terranella Open Resort in Costa Rica

Rome ‘95 and Terranella Open Resort in Costa Rica

April 17, 2017 – Canuche Terranella (SAAS faculty alum 2000-2007) and wife, Mercy Rome ’95, recently sent us this information about their newly opened resort, Villas Espavel, in Costa Rica.

Our days start like most parents; hurry-hurry, get the kids up and into uniforms, feed the dogs, stir the oatmeal, don’t dawdle kids. Then woosh-crack and a small body falls through the branches. Breakfast is forgotten as we all tumble out onto the patio to see the invasion. Small black forms are dropping from the towering espavel tree into the papaturro tree. The tree writhes as though alive as we stare, mesmerized, at the troop of howler monkeys feasting on pink strands of beach grapes dangling in the dense green foliage. There are seven in total, one with a tiny baby clinging to its back. The hurry is forgotten. Our daughter’s school braid hangs half-finished down her back.

The fruiting of the Papaturro and its accompanying fauna have given me pause to appreciate the depth of our changed life. This week we sit at our desks working and instead of lifting our gaze to the rush of traffic on the highway, we see the bright yellow breasts of Trogons and the improbable tail feathers of the Turquoise-browed Motmot as they flit in for grapes.

At our wedding we read the poem by Edward Abbey: “Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”

Our crooked trail took us on a four-month sabbatical to Playa Sámara, Costa Rica, where we fell in love with the slower pace of life, the novelty around every corner, the hammock time with our two kids and the adventurous play in Sámara Bay. Our desire for Spanish fluency, to integrate into an international community and share beauty with others led us to settle here in Playa Sámara and create Villas Espavel. Opened in December 2016, Villas Espavel is a collection of six small villas clustered on a seasonal river fronting a hillside of verdant jungle. The five guest villas and our home share a tree-top yoga space and glorious pool. Villas Espavel is a magical place, when you are here you feel wrapped in nature but when you step outside our gate you are a 2-minute bike ride from town and the beach.

We love giving guests the opportunity to shed the tension of city-life, dig their toes into the soft warm sand, and dive down into the turquoise waters. Our daily work is the creation of beautiful and tranquil spaces so that guests from all over the world can share this paradise with us. Since we opened we have been overjoyed to share Sámara and Villas Espavel with six present and past SAAS faculty members. Peter Clark, Heidi Neff, Melinda Mueller, Gayle Pearl, April Ferry, and Nick Lew have come to relish the beauty of Samara. I hope your own crooked trail will lead you here, staring mouth agape at the howler monkeys dangling by their tails as I stand alongside hair brush in hand, school braid forgotten, in the rapture of the monkey’s howl.

Learn more about Mercy and Canuche’s new life and adventures through their website and blog at