New book delves into the local culture and the Tamarindo drug trade

Thousands of people come to Costa Rica every year for reasons that range from partying and beach life to volunteering for projects and a quest for a new life.

Writer, speaker and activist Norm Shriever saw his escape to the country as a way to break away from the traditional lifestyle and rekindle his passion of writing.

Before the move, Shriever was living in California.

“I had the big house, nice cars, the business.“ he said.  “It just wasn’t fulfilling.  I wasn’t happy.”

In 2011, the former businessman donated all his possessions and moved to the northern Pacific coast to Playa Tamarindo in Guanacaste province.  His mission was to write his first novel about the year he spent backpacking around the world in 1999.

During his time in Tamarindo, Shriever not only finished his book, “Pushups in the Prayer Room,” but found inspiration for his next book,  “South of Normal,” which will be released in three weeks.

“South of Normal” chronicles what the author calls his “year in paradise.”  His book describes the true Costa Rica from the point of view of a Gringo who doesn’t come to party but to assimilate into the culture, he said.

The book is one of a natural and a spiritual journey, he said.  It tells of Shriever’s personal struggles of trying to fit into the cultures.

He jokes about his attempts to learn Spanish as well as pachuco, or slang.

“I make fun of others, but I make fun of myself a lot too,” he said.  “It is a comedy of errors.”

However, through his quest of knowledge of local customs he also unearths the hidden lifestyles of locals in the area.  With this revelation, he unveils some of the stories of those who must survive in a world that revolves around tourism and the drug trade.

“It’s definitely not PG13,” said Shriever.  “It’s real life.” Although the book takes place in Costa Rica, the story is one of people and existence.  It is designed to make the readers think and feel something, he said.

In terms of Shreiver’s own life, the experience was one that changed him completely.

“I don’t even know who that person who first came down there is anymore,” he described.

This is something he won’t forget.  Even though the author is no longer drinking Baileys in his morning coffee at the beach, he says he still carries a piece of the Pura Vida he found in Costa Rica with him.

Persons who wish to read more about Shriever’s year in paradise can order a presale copy of “South of Normal” on his Web site

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