A Familiar Place

“Familiar Place” is a mobile app designed to share “off the beaten path” places. The goal is to provide visitors of a new place with a unique experience, different from the ordinary touristic routes, and touristic activities. To see places one would otherwise miss, through the ones who know it best, and to interact with different people, culture and cuisine. Very important as well is to empower locals by making money on their own schedule, and/or promote their own local business and their community.

How it Works

It works as a tool mainly written by locals of any specific place in the world, to share places, activities and events that aren’t targeted to tourists, but can also be interesting and lots of fun. It connects visitors with locals, through paid service meetings and/or hosted meals. Scheduling with a “Local Guide” or a “Local Host” are features offered by the app, as well as a safe payment platform, and a chat for Locals and Visitors to exchange information. There is a user review feature, to ensure safety, where visitors and locals can report any incidents, and/or scams. For safety reasons, every interaction is recommended to be done within the app through the offered scheduling, payment and chat features, as that is the only way “Familiar Place” as a facilitator can intervene. Users are also encouraged to share their experiences and add information about the places they have visited to create an even stronger and safer tool.


The goal was to create a user friendly, easy to understand platform, which is simple and straight to the point. The piece is a semi-functional prototype of how “Familiar Place” could look like, and a simulation of how it would be interacted with, from the perspective of the traveler, as well as the locals’.


Design exists to facilitate people’s wishes and needs, and to create a fun and safe environment for human interaction. During my stay in Quepos – Costa Rica, and my visits to El Cocal, something that really captivated me was how unique that place was, and how not many people outside of the community in El Cocal ever get to see it. I connected it back to my own home town in Portugal and all of the places, activities and events there is that only I and the locals there know of. During many interviews conducted through the course requirements to the locals, consistently the desire to share El Cocal with visitors was expressed strongly. I can think of many places in Portugal that have become touristic hotspots and how they have started to mold to the way of life of the visitors, and I was able to catch that in some of the places I visited in Costa Rica as well. Something that influenced this piece was the moments spent eating good food at Aneyda’s house (a local host that partnered with GVI), getting to know her grandkids, experiencing a local event, the Kite festival, and of course the breath taking beach which is always a few steps away. This is a piece that wishes to share the authenticity of places, and share honest experiences of living.

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Cook your own breakfast day

Today was an early day. At seven we were all leaving for our manglar expedition. We got on a little boat and drove through the river framed by manglares on both sides. Little Marcel paid us a short visit, and even jumped on board for a while before we departed ways. It was really nice to meet him, and even though he got a little upset with us at one point but I think we left each other on a good note.


The manglar was really beautiful and relaxing, but at some point the boat started to get stuck and we had to do a grand escape through a nearby short cut. A little house by the river welcomed us, and I can’t say I was disappointed. A cow almost ate my hair, and some cool safari trucks picked us up and drove us through the beach.img_0733 img_7006

Our driver was a really nice guy, and jumped in on a picture with me just because he can, what else.


He drove us through the beach and to the “Nacho House”. We spent some time at the beach before walking to the house, and some of us did some beach clean-up.It was overwhelming the amount of garbage we collected in such a small area in such a short amount of time, noting that this is an isolated beach no one really goes to, and all of that garbage was just washed up.


After our little clean up, some relaxing beach walks and some coconut cutting and drinking, we walked to the house to have lunch. The place was really cute and welcoming, there was a pool which of course we took advantage of for some refreshment from the heat. There were cute dogs everywhere and I had a special moment with a butterfly sitting on my finger, which I will bless you with in the following picture.


You are welcome.

Later we split up. A few of us went to El Cocal for some fun with the kids, and the rest of us went back. That night we had “the best Tacos in the whole country”, for which I don’t have a picture of because we ate all of the Tacos; sorry not sorry.

Tercero Día en Quepos

Today we woke up to a sunny Quepos, with another set of interviews ahead. This time we were allowed more freedom with the questions and after a group discussion on what the goals for the day were, what information we wanted to gain from the people in Quepos, and their views towards El Cocal, we got assigned our interviewees and went our separate ways. After the first set of interviews and some failed attempts to contact the assigned interviewees, we all got together for lunch and even had some time for a dive in the pool and do some sun bathing. We ordered lunch at the hostel and in all honesty I don’t remember the last time I ate such a delicious fish plate. Ten out of ten recommend. If you haven’t, you should try that option on the menu. We then went back to the interviews and at the municipal waste headquarters, some of us had the chance to visit Quepos’ Recycling Waste Holding Facility. Our experience was one of welcomeness and willingness to collaborate and even gain some additional information from the people we interviewed at the Municipality. All the groups got together to reflect on their interviews and share their experiences and what they had learnt from it. I personally had some time for an amazing nap between that reflection and an activity GVI prepared for the group which was not only fun it was also highly informative. I would say however to be careful on the naps, because Nash might come to aggressively wake you up, and you run the chance to give him a killer look unintentionally.

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