Memoirs of a MasseurTodd Pequeen

The Past Is Present

It is August of 2000 and after traveling up and down the coasts of Costa Rica for two months my destiny brought me to Quepos. I had been in Jaco and paid a taxi driver/friend $20 to drop me off on the beach here in Manuel Antonio. I remember giving someone $5 for an obscure location to set my tent up and had usage of a revolting shower and a toilet. I didn’t care. I was 28 and had been on the road for over 2 months and somehow, I had arranged a “job interview” with the owner of Hotel California, Robbie Felix (who still lives here today). My funds were dwindling as I started my journey with $3,000 and I had no ticket home. My mindset had always been to go big, to absorb the stress and pressures and only to succeed. Having lived in South Korea as well as Japan for a year each, and months of vacation travels in Africa and Bali, I was street smart and an experienced back packer. My main focus was to become a surfer, I had never focused on saving money in my life other than for travel, isn’t it how it should be in your 20s? Interesting now that I have much more security, I can see how making the most out of each and every day was all I had…and all I needed. It fueled my passion for who I wanted to become. I needed to figure out a way to earn money, unravel my dream, and to prove to the community that I was here to stay. Carpe Diem goes a long way when one is young…. however, food, rent, and how to live the permanent vacation that I had envisioned was a long, long way from attainment.

Back at the turn of last century Costa Rica had no marina and just a hand full of rental homes. Massages or even a spa concept was a very foreign to Central America. I’m proud that the beauty of body work is much more commonplace now and the therapeutic value of massage is widely accepted rightfully so. I had zero Spanish because I studied French both in high school and at George Mason University. After several years in Asia, I had become fluent at getting everything I needed without language. Where there’s a will there’s a way. I began walking the entire Manuel Antonio road on a daily basis in order to learn where the hotels and restaurants were. Do you ever wonder how we did anything without the cell phone? I had energy boiling over as finally I had arrived at a location that was the most beautiful I had ever seen. Warm water, tons of wildlife, limited Gringo’s, and dogs and cats everywhere. There wasn’t much road traffic back then besides the 30-minute public bus that still exists today. The main business staples that were here then, and still are now were the Mariposa Hotel, Cafe Milagro, and the famous Barba Roja watering hole. The continued growth and taxing of our resources are alarming, and the chain sawing of this environment/habitat is mind boggling, but even now in 2022 Manuel Antonio remains my favorite place on planet earth to live and to flourish. Development is a relative concept and like most things these days…. everyone has an opinion. I enjoy when I learn more facts and have a change of opinion, it doesn’t threaten me. I see more divide now in 2022 than I did in those early days of 2000, it’s a shame and makes me sad.

Let’s now get into the present, this January of 2022. While massaging at sunset on an astonishing ocean view balcony this evening, I witnessed a 30-something not look up from his cell phone for over 30 minutes. His adult sister was mesmerized by the white face troop of monkeys that came by and decided their natural habitat didn’t provide enough food thus proceeded to feed them bananas much to my dismay. Their priority then switched to ordering a pizza as twilights glory was simmering away. I was drooling in awe at the colors in the sky, the soothing sound of the ocean, and the energy, all while working on my client and observing the happenings on the balcony below me. I drove home in the dark and picked up my beautiful wife and we headed out for a rare date night. We were on our first highball and watching the crowd as we always do. It is a small town and we have daily clients and MA is never boring if you are ready for some fun. Next a 2-family group entered and sat their pre-teen kids at a separate table. All the kids pulled out their devices and had zero interplay in their new incredible vacation location. The adults started drinking and could seemingly care less about their kids. Why aren’t the kids at the adult table interacting and why aren’t devices prohibited during dinner hours? My wife and I returned home and had an amazing sleep and walked the beach at sunrise. I went to my 9:00 am massage and it was at a hotel that is known to have more monkeys than people. The iconic Costa Verde Hotel. My client chose to have ear buds in and missed two different troops and species of monkey’s come by, the calls of scarlet macaws, and the haunting cry of a laughing falcon. Who am I to distract her from her podcast or music? Has anything changed in my 22 years in Manuel Antonio? I then I saw two sloths mating but that is a different article all together.

Massage Todd can be reached at (506) 8830-7727, [email protected], or check out his website at He just built a brand new tree top home studio in the center of MA and it is an experience that should not be missed. By appointment only. Please please please do not feed any wild animal anywhere.