Looking for a good read ...
- Hi all,
I have just joined the list and not sure what the etiquette is by
way of introducing oneself, but here goes ... I am an Australian,
currently living in London but moving to Costa Rica in September to
work on a volunteer programme (that also covers Nicaragua) for a few
months before wandering joyously aimlessly about the area for
another few months. So stay tuned for a few thousand questions!
So, my first one ... I am getting quite excited about the move and
wondering if anyone could recommend any Costa Rican literature to
get me in the mindset. Am really interested in anything set in
Costa Rica (preferably by locals, but Western authors OK) and prefer
either fiction or modern day biographies. Unfortunately my Spanish
isn't quite there yet, so would also need to have an English
Any thoughts, comments suggestions more than welcome ...
- Monkeys are Made of Chocolate by Jack Ewing
The Ticos - (forgot or can't spell the authors)
The Travel book by Harry Paiser is pretty interesting read in parts -
and may give you some clues on different parts of the country.
Martin Rice's book "At Home in Costa Rica" (I think I got the title right)
I have some others but they are in Spanish - and very interesting.
Before asking the thousands of questions - make sure to search the
archives or an irritable moderator will get you. ;-) You will get much
more complete answers by checking the archives and the bulletin board.
When people repeat themselves, they tend to be terse, and sometimes a
- One book I like to recomend apart from "The Ticos" and "the Costa
Ricans" which I feel are mandatory for anyone considering living here...
There is a book called "The Laughing Falcon" written by William
Devereaux or Deverell, I never can remember, it is a fiction based on a
real story that took place in Costa Rica many years ago, takes place in
and around Quepos, San Ysidro and the Savegre River. Has some great sub-
plots and I highly recomend it for anyone who comes here and goes
rafting on the Savegre.
I think it is now out in paperback. The author lives in Quepos part of
the year and knows the territory. It is kinda long, but a great read.
Also, and this has nothing to do with Costa Rica, I just read a book
called "Killing Pablo" about Pablo Escobar, the famous Columbian Drug
Cartel guy. Gave me a whole new perspective on Columbia. The book is
pretty old, but I enjoyed it.
Right now, trying to improve my written Spanish I am reading 7th and
8th grade high school textbooks! Not so interesting, although one is
about poetry and has translations of a bunch of stuff from Edgar Allen
Poe. Weird to read it in Spanish!
- Another great true storey is The Gringos Hawk. Cant recall the author but
its about a yuppie from the 70's who moved to the jungle south of Dominical.
I believe the author still lives there.
No worries about etiquette here - it is hard to keep your feet clean
in the rainy season so how do you exercise the finer points of
social order with muddy feet anyway?
On the subject of books with the word Costa Rica in them written or
translated into English wrtitten by people who really enjoy the
country or who have somehow contributed to the country it is an
arduous search with meagre results.
Those results can however be true jewels. The first that comes to
mind is the Quetzal and the Macaw - the story of the work of Boza
and Ugalde's efforts to establish and build the national park
system. I think this is a must read for anyone really interested in
the country. It highlights some true genius and shows the will of
the people in a way that helps make sense of some of the things that
Costa Ricans are famous for. It also contradicts some so called
truisms about Costa Rica (such as "you can't change anything").
A good introduction to some Costa Rican writing in the gringo
language is "Costa Rica, A travellers Literary Companion" - a bunch
of short stories including a beautiful tale concerning the old
Alajuela hospital and one written by the current Pres, Pacheco. I
wish there were more of this book or such short stories in English -
anyone know of some?
I liked "The Earth Dwellers" a book written from the perspective of
ants and set in La Selva - you have gotta have an admiration for all
things ant in this country which is officially run by ants not by
the government at all.
Recently I found "The Sparrow and the Hawk" which tells the tale of
the balance of pwer between the US and Costa Rica and particularly
focuses on the work of Figueres in setting up the current way of
things in Costa Rica (papa not baby now sipping Perrier in
Lucerne). A worthy read to understand how some things evolved from
the early 1900's to today.
I just found something called "A Cultural History of Latin America"
but havent read it. There are lots of plant and animal books in
english. Am looking for more?
Some books are out of print - I can recommend:
Bethel Bilezikian Charkoudian
Bethel Charkoudian Books
18 Maple Avenue
Newton, MA 02458-1910
- she can find almost any book!
- I have an (outdated) list of Costa Rican books at:
I would also recommend two out of print books: Tropical Nature by
Adrian Forsyth and The Armies of the Ant by Charles L. Hogue.
- Tropical Nature is a very interesting book - and it is available. Just
search for it at Amazon. I was able to pick it up at Barnes and Noble
about a year ago.
- --- In CostaRicaLiving@yahoogroups.com, "jacqu1wh1te"
> recommend any Costa Rican literatureSuggest you might try and locate a copy of a DVD - "The Blue
Butterfly", a true story filmed in the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
area. It shows the interaction of white and indigenous culture, and
the adventures of a young boy with an inoperable brain tumor who
comes to the jungle to realize his dream of finding a blue morphous
butterfly before he dies. He ends up being cured by a shaman.
Along the way, you get to see jungle, rivers, a Bribri village, many
critters, including some downright spectacular bugs, flowers... and
hear the jungle sounds, including a great sequence of a troop of
howler monkeys really howling.
We deal with Bribri Indians every day. I wanted to see how authentic
this movie was, so we showed it to a lunchtime crowd of about 60 of
them at lunch one Saturday. They said it was very authentic - only
pointed out the music as being a bit overdone, but with authentic
Some of those who saw the movie pointed out that the shaman himself
was in it, and that they knew him personally.
My wife and I operate El Puente - The Bridge, a non-profit that
provides educational assistance, food assistance, and microloans to
indigenous people in the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca area, You can see
what we're up to by visiting http://www.elpuente-thebridge.org