By Ellen Zoe Golden Photo courtesy: Javier Castañeda, Courtney Gaw Borquet, Genna Marie/Tamarindo Family Photos, Carla Rowlings, Mandala Photography
Courtney Gaw Borquet had no idea that when she arrived on vacation in Tamarindo 18 years ago, that her entire life would change. On that trip, she was offered a very good position at Reserva Conchal, and also met her future husband, Cairo. All these years later, Borquet is the mother of two sons, Kalani, and Angelo—the youngest with Down’s Syndrome, which certainly motivates her advocacy of local programs to assist the disabled. She’s President of CEPIA, organizer of programs for Tico amputees who are fit with prosthetic limbs, and the co-owner of Tamarindo’s Re/Max Ocean Surf and its Flamingo real estate offices. Along the way she’s also indulged her passions, which include surfing, areal silk dancing, and the martial arts
THE Tamarindo News grabbed a conversation with Borquet during her busy schedule.
THE Tamarindo News: The first thing we need to know is how you do it all?
Courtney Gaw Borquet: Family, work, volunteering, martial arts, areal silk and surfing are all things I enjoy, so I try as best as I can to balance things. I do things I love that makes it easier.
TNN: How did you arrive at this point?
CGB: I’m from Southern Shores of the Outerbanks, North Carolina. I received my undergrad at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and studied International Business. After college, I was working in a company that was importing from China, and I studied Asian cultures. The company closed the branch in North Carolina , and I planned to go to Hong Kong. I came here to Tamarindo for vacation. A friend needed help with a golf tournament in Reserva Conchal. Turns out, Conchal offered me a great job, and residency. They made me Sales and Manager, with a one-year contract and I didn’t even speak Spanish. I kept extending the contract until I was there four years. At the same time, I got my masters online in Business Administration with an International focus.
TNN: What did you do after you finished at Conchal?
CGB: When I came to Tamarindo, I met my husband through mutual friends. After finishing my contract at Conchal I took a year off work to travel Africa and Europe, and I got married in North Carolina.
TNN: Why do you like to travel?
CGB: I enjoy seeing new things, experiencing other cultures, meeting people and seeing the world’s beauty and different aspects.
TNN: Why then settle in Costa Rica?
CGB: I really love Costa Rican people, the weather, and the laidback small beach town feeling. We have in Tamarindo a great sense of community and international diversity. I feel comfortable, it feels like home. After Conchal, the previous owner of Re/Max told me that there would be a job for me when I got back. I went to work doing Sales and Management. I like helping people find the perfect spot to live and helping them orchestrate their move to this beautiful place that I love. The company became available in 2014, so I purchased it with Isabel Emond. We also own the franchise in Flamingo, therefore we cover the area from Playa Dante to Marbella overseeing 11 people.
TNN: You also do a lot of volunteer work.
CGB: I’ve been volunteering at CEPIA for 10 years, then I was asked to be on their board, and I’ve been their President for two years. In 2014, I met Bart Van Vooren, who started the program Walk With a Tico with his friend Jan Ruysschaert, the owner of Vigo Prosthetics in Wettern, Belgium. The program seeks out Costa Rican amputees who have been waiting a long time for prosthetics from this country’s medical system. I was asked to help and through a series of recommendations, for a couple years we took them to Belgium for their new prosthetics and now they are fitted locally.
TNN: How does being the parent of a Down Syndrome child motivate you?
CGB: Through CEPIA I started their program for children with disabilities and helped initiated therapies there. These are physical, tactile and sensual activities. We also offer now counseling for mothers who need help to try and manage their disabled children. Every month, CEPIA works with local hotels and condos to open their facilities for events for these kids. Remember a lot of these people are in poverty, so they might not have the financial means to do these kinds of things. With Angelo, we are lucky that we can afford a specialty assistant who goes to school with him at Educarte. The kids there are fantastic, and he gets excited about going to school. His brother Kalani looks after him when not at school, and protects him. You can see he really loves Angelo. Sometimes people are mean, and we just move on and try to educate them about Down Syndrome. Fortunately, most people are very nice, and he feels that, and is always ready to give you a hug. We’re working to teach him boundaries.
TNN: What do you think Tamarindo needs?
CGB: I would like to see more programs available for adults with disabilities including work programs and day activities. A handicapped beach access and access to free beach wheel chairs would be fantastic. On a personal note, I would love to see more women in town learning basic self-defense. I study with Karim, from Elite Close Protection and he teaches an urban self-defense system that he created that is very practical and effective combining different martial art techniques. It is a wonderful, unique system to learn how to defend yourself from real world attacks. I recently also started to practice jujitsu with Hero Academy, that has adult classes and nice programs for local children.