A visitor

Casa Kadam

Hammock on the porch of Casa del Mundo

Papo & Sana's Story
THE JOURNEY- Adventures of Sana & Papo- leading to their Puerto Rico Rainforest Retreat
Monday, 21 September 2009 14:37

Yatabayears before eco-tourism was a word, Papo & I began our journey in 1975. We had our first real taste of Latin American culture in 1975.  A Puerto Rican friend. Marino Rivera, invited us to his finca in Barrio Macaná de Peñuelas.  We both felt an instantaneous connection with the people, the language, the music  & the land. We immediately began our journey of learning Spanish by attempting to communicate with the neighbors, keeping notebooks to enter new words and phrases,and listening to the rich, traditional music of Puerto Rico.  After months of living on Marino's finca, we decided that we wanted to make it our goal to travel to other parts of Latin America.We spent 6 months in Woodstock New York at the Creative Music Foundation, then to Boulder, Colorado  where Papo worked for the US Forest Service and where i taught jazz improvisation & ear training. By the time we had $3,000 in savings we decided to begin the journey.

In 1979 we journeyed in a pick-up truck, laden with Papo's farming tools, instruments & camp equipment, with our dear friend, Lloyd Williams, south through Mexico, Guatemala, where we stayed in a village on Lake Atitlan, then to El Salvador, witnessing the sorrowful effects of the civil war.  In the sweltering heat of La Unión, El Salvador (120 degrees Fahrenheit), we stayed as the only guests  at a small, family run "hospedaje".  We were there for weeks awaiting a ferry to take us around the raging war of Nicaragua to the safety of Costa Rica.  We bonded with the owners and their children during our extended stay there,getting a true taste of Latin American warmth and hospitality.

Finally an old, Staten Island ferry arrived at the port,  piloted by an elderly, retired, British sea captain.  About one hundred of us, of all ages, boarded the boat. The ride was supposed to last 24 hours to safely ferry us around the raging war of Nicaragua.  After only 6 hours at sea, the engines failed and we were set adrift, on shark infested waters, the currents nudging us closer & closer to the coastal war zone.  The dictator, Samosa, had sent PT boats to pillage & plunder stray vessels like our own.  By the 2nd day we had run out of water, by the 3rd day, by the 3rd day there was no food.

To be continued!

Latin American Journey, continued...
Monday, 12 July 2010 11:49

By the third day, there was no food.  Because there was no electricity the refrigerators were not functioning and whatever food remained went bad in the 120 degree heat. The  plumbing was also dysfunctional and because so many had gotten sea sick the bathrooms had become hell realms.


By the fourth day, even the babies had stopped crying.  We began to lose hope.  When the sun set on that fourth, sweltering, day, the sky lit up in violet, orange, gold, red rainbows of light.Then, far off at sea, from every direction, there appeared water creatures leaping towards the boat.  Getting close and closer we saw they were dolphins.  At the moment they arrived at our ferry, the engines miraculously started up again for the first time in four days, the dolphins leaped and dove in the waves carved by the boat, and we made our way safely to the shores of Costa Rica.


We had heard of the famous Quaker community located high up on the divide, in Monteverde.  We embarked on the arduous journey up the mountains to be greeted by a small, humble community of English speaking settlers who welcomed us with open arms.


Cool, wet and windy, high up on the divide, this is a place of rainbows. After staying a week with Marvin & Flori at their humble little B & B (“The Mar-Flor”), filled with many, sweet, adopted children, we were offered a small, vacant cabin in a forest, on a cliff edge to settle into. Although, the old timers were strict quakers, raised to shun music & dancing, we were invited to offer workshops in world rhythms that a few of the elders participated in.


In 1979, before Monteverde and the Cloud Forest Reserve had become the hot eco-tourist spot that it now is, little did we know that our journey was gradually leading us to our own sustainable eco-tourism business. We were enchanted with Monteverde  and decided that this would be where we would marry. We befriended John & Sue Trostle,  who took us under their wing, They offered their, “Sunset House”, a large geometric structure built on a hill, with many of the various tropical hardwoods John was cultivating on his expansive property, for our wedding ceremony.


In the meantime, Papo’s sister, Sarah, her Ecuadorian husband, Fausto, and their one year old son, Fidel had come to join us in Costa Rica.  Sarah & Fausto made all the extensive preparations for the marriage.

Luna de Miel in Nicoya, Costa Rica
Friday, 11 May 2012 05:55

The silvery light of the moon bathed us as we danced in the waves of the sea. Following the buzz of the wedding celebration, the dream-like space in time, just the two of us, on the coast, was a welcomed retreat.

One morning while wandering through a mango grove, some territorial monkeys who felt threatened by our presence proceeded to throw rotten mangos and pee on us!

After spending several days in Nicoya, feeling renewed and rested, we made our way up, up, up the divide, back to Monteverde. One of our fondest memories of Monteverde is of our deep friendship with the renowned Monteverdian painter, Sarah Dowell. and Sue & John Trostle. At that time Sarah was immersed in her paintings while caring for her beautiful pre-teen daughter, Amy and her baby, Singer. The wish to establish ourselves in Monteverde continued for quite a while until we realized that the English speaking North American culture, established there was not nurturing our deep connection with Latin American culture. Also, the climate of very windy, wet and chilly rains was not suited to us. Too many cows!

In the meantime, Papo's sister Sarah, her husband Fausto, and their little son, Fidel, had continued their journey southward to Fausto's homeland, Ecuador.

We had heard about the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and that there was a hotel at Puerto Limon, The Park Hotel, where we might be able to get a gig. We journeyed there and I was able to convince the owner to a barter whereby we would perform in exchange for a room at the hotel. The room given us had a window that was directly connected to the old elevator that was horrendously loud and clunky. Performing in an extremely smokey and noisy restaurant for tipsy guests with no amplification was far from the romantic Caribbean experience we had hoped for!

Puerto Limon was consisted of a largely black population. And the language, that we could hardly understand was a pigeon English! There in the plaza we met a very tall, silver haired Canadian, Don Vincent, who invited us to his little hut on the beach that he shared with a young North American fruitarian school teacher, Izzy, and his 4 happy dogs. The relationship between Izzy and Don Vincent was interesting. He was obviously deeply in love with her but she made it crystal clear that it was merely a platonic relationship. My impression is that Don Vincent worshipped her and that she had him wrapped around her little finger. After teaching her English classes at a local school in Puerto Limon, Izzy would return home to smoke her weed and proceed to eat an entire pot of "pejivalles", a delicious, potatoe-like palm fruit that she boiled. I remember how whatever Papo said made her burst out in laughter. Our camping in the little tent we had was short-lived with the monsoons flooding us out several times. One night, when Papo attempted to block the torrential rains from soaking the tent, he ventured out into the storm and stepped on a 3 inch long, rusted nail that penetrated all the way into his foot.




From Costa Rica to Ecuador
Sunday, 13 May 2012 07:32

In the darkness and turbulence of the stormy night, I ventured out, jogging 3 miles along the main road to the home of wealthy, gringo business owner, leaving Papo writhing in pain inside the flooded tent with his bleeding foot. The neighbor had created a business of saran-wrapped coconuts that were partially perforated to make it easy to open up whole, coconuts, called "Coco Loco". He had hired a young English woman who was traveling around Central America with her Spanish friend and whom had struck up a friendship on the beach a few weeks prior to the rusty nail incident to do secretarial work for him.

Awakening and alarming them all with my sudden appearance in the storm, the gringo generously jumped in his pick-up to fetch and deliver Papo to the emergency ward for a shot of tetanus vaccine......

Except for the laughter Izzy enjoyed as she listened to Papo talking, she was not happy about having 2 new roommates in her tiny one-room hut. The place was filthy, with dirt and mold and lots of junk piled high on shelves above the crude kitchen area. I thought I could help out by surprising Izzy and doing a massive clean-out of the hut. So I toiled for hours on end, precariously balancing on a broken chair to remove all the junky items, caked with mold and grit from the shelves, and cleaning everything immaculately. I joyfully awaited Izzy's return from school that day, and to my dismay, she resented all the work I had done. I had disrupted the environment that she was comfortable in; to her it was an intrusion, an uninvited action on my part.

Papo's and I were increasingly aware that neither Monteverde nor Puerto Limon, Costa Rica were panning out to be the places where we would sink our roots to create a land cooperative. We had received word that Sarah, Fausto and Fidel had completed their journey from Costa Rica to Ecuador and were enjoying the magic of the high Andes, living in the tiny village of "La Esperannza".Ecuador. We yearned to see the Andes, and since Fausto's family and roots were there we thought that Ecuador might very well be the place for us. With the $500 wedding gift we had received from Papo's dad for our wedding, we were able to purchase one-way tickets from San Jose to Quito, and off we flew to the high Andes of Ecuador...........

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