“Home” 40 years later
September 10, 2016
A new Hewlett Packard laptop now lives in our house. It has more innovative features than a 1956 Edsel. Trouble is, it went ker plunk. I'm writing this on a yellow legal pad.
Good things seem to happen with unrelenting regularity to Steve Singer. He's unflappable in the face of adversity. What's his secret? I think I just may have found the answer.
Steve recently returned from Costa Rica. "I had an unused airline ticket, and decided to go back to Cahuita (kah-who-eeta), a fishing village on the Caribbean, and see if my old friend was still there." Steve lived there, for three years beginning in 1972.
At the time, Cahuita was only accessible by a narrow gauge railroad, crammed full of chickens, goats, pigs and crying children. At the Penshurst River, a strapping black man in a loin cloth, poled him across in a dugout canoe. From there it was catch as catch can.
Steve was one the first Americans to settle in Cahuita. It wasn't until the 60s that, a couple of American Peace Corp volunteers spent time there.
"The predominately black community, had been there since the turn of the 20th Century, raising tropical fruits, cocoa and fishing on the then thriving coral reef. There were no telephones or electricity, and a room at the hotel cost $1 a night. I quickly settled on 10 acres of beach front. I think I paid $10-$15 a month rent. I learned to fast, live healthily, and prosper, or at least survive," he says.
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Think about it; living in a rainforest, among people whose parents came there to work for the United Fruit Company. "An American soon arrived, and we became close friends," he tells me.
Not long afterwards, Steve's "upward mobility" genes kicked in, and he bought 10 acres of land, with a tin shack on it, and plenty of fruit trees. He paid $200 for the land, and when he left three years later, he sold it for $2,000. "Today there's a lovely lodge on the land, and it's probably worth something in the neighborhood of $200K," he says. "There was plenty of native foods, and fruits, and fish, so with the exception of dangerous insects and plants, and snakes, and hundreds of inches of rain a year, it was easy."
Hating to ask, but I do anyway, "What is Cahuita like today?" "There's a road to Cahuita with lots of cars, and residents from Germany, Switzerland, and the beach south of the village is a national park, and to my great and unexpected delight, my friend from 40 years ago is still there. He welcomed me with open arms. He has done righteous work, reforesting lands and created habitat for native species," Steve tells me.
"Are you and Wynne (wife) planning to go back?" I ask, and his answer is of course "yes." What husband could resist the opportunity to return to the battlefields of yesteryear, and retell the tale of the slaying of the dragon to his adoring wife?
Ron Walker can be contacted at email@example.com.