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THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF THOMAS J. BROWER

The First Gringo in Dominical

by Jack Ewing

Thomas beside old tractor

My swamper, cat & I on the road to Dominical

When Thomas J. Brower first came to Costa Rica World War II was raging, and the US was worried about the Panama Canal. If it were to fall into enemy hands allied naval capacity would be severely crippled, and in the late 1930’s a land route, imperative for the defense of the canal, did not exist. Building one became top priority, and the Pan-American highway was the result. The US government contracted with the Charles E. Mills Construction Company to build the 300 km stretch of road from Cartago to the Panamanian border.

Tommy Brower landed in Dominicalito with the construction company in 1940. A crude dock was built and heavy machinery unloaded. Part of the crew, with the help of local labor, built a camp for the company workers, and the rest started building a road to San Isidro. Once the trocha, as the rough cut road was called, reached San Isidro the workers split into two groups with one working toward Palmar Norte and the other toward Cartago where they would eventually meet up with other crews working from those locations toward San Isidro. It was a major operation, the magnitude of which had never been seen in Costa Rica.

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Let’s talk about the Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed hummingbirdBy Paul Gerace

The Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird is one of the most common hummingbirds seen here in Costa Rica.

It is named after its very distinct rufous colored tail. It has a very pink bill and a bright green body that appears to glitter when the sunlight hits it just right.

The Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird is very territorial. When other hummingbirds try to feed on its area of flowers it will make an aggressive dive towards them which results in their retreat.

Their wings flap at an impressive 60 beats per second and they like to feed on nectar and small insects. They are typically found in gardens and particularly like the colorful flowers on the rabo leon bushes.

Even though they are very common I still look forward to photographing them to capture their beautiful colors in the right light.

You can see more of my images at www.photosofcostarica.com


Memoirs of a Masseur – January 2019


Fugacious is a word that isn’t commonly used. It is an adjective and by definition it means lasting a short time. More importantly it is used to describe immaterial things such as emotions, because they can come and go and often do not leave a lasting effect. Botanists, for example, use the word fugacious to describe plant parts that whither or falls off before the usual time. Things that are fugacious are fleeting and do not contain substance.

I recently returned to Costa Rica after my annual two months away. I am fortunate to have massage clients in the Niagara Frontier region of New York as well as a humble family cottage on the eastern shore of Lake Erie in Canada. I spend September and October enjoying family and lifelong friends as well as reflecting on the year that has passed. My personal New Year begins in November with my return to the jungle and also coincides with another high season in beloved Manuel Antonio. While stateside I spend many of my days mountain biking to Niagara Falls and along the mighty Niagara river. The cooler temperatures persuade the elm, oak, and maple trees leaves to turn red, orange, and yellow, all signaling me to slow down and reflect. For I know that autumn is a fugacious friend that will leave me soon.


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What to Check for When Renting a Surfboard

Surfboard rentalsBy Greg Gordon,  CR Surf Travel Company
www.CRsurf.com   @crsurf

This article is mostly for beginner surfers or those taking a surfboard out for the first time. You see a lot of options on the beach for board rentals, in both sizes and prices. So which is the best for you? Well that depends on the size and type you need, the condition of the board, leash, and fins, and the price you want to pay.

Size and Type

If you are beginner you are going to want a longer board. An official ‘longboard’ is 9 feet long, and most anyone under 200 lbs can easily float on it. Bigger surfers should look for wider or longer boards, but not too long. Really long boards can get heavy and hard to control in waves over knee to waist high. If you are a smaller or lighter person, you can choose a board as small as 7’6” but smaller boards are generally thinner and will not float you as well. They also turn quickly so are less stable. Even kids should get longer boards (7’6” to 8’) since the goal is being able to stand up easily, that is the fun part. Kids get frustrated and lose interest if they keep falling down.

The two main types of boards are solid or soft-top. Solid boards are harder and float a person a little better. The down side is you want to have a good coat of wax on the board so your feet and stomach don’t slip. Also it can hurt should it hit you in the head or body. Soft-top boards are the same weight, but they have a spongy top. For most of them you do not need wax to grip the top of the board. However, the sponge like surface can cause some painful rashes on your chest, stomach, and the insides of your thighs when sitting on it.
CRSurf.com
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Kids Saving the Rainforest – January 2019

Baby sea turtlesBy Karma Casey

Happy New Year Quepolandia readers! It’s Karma from Kids Saving the Rainforest again. If you haven’t heard of us, we are a wildlife sanctuary and rescue center in Quepos, Costa Rica and we also plant trees, put up wildlife bridges, and help educate people on respecting wildlife! I’m the spokes-kid here. I moved all the way to Costa Rica to help animals!

This month I will be telling you about new beginnings. Not too long ago, my school, Life Project Education, and I took a field trip to Reserva Playa Tortuga, a great project in Ojachal that works very hard to help little baby sea turtles with their own new beginnings, and make their way safely out into the ocean where they belong! We learned all about sea turtles, did a beach clean-up, and much more!

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Fiddlin’ Around – January 2019

Fiddlin'Around headerHallelujah brothers and sisters—we have survived another trip around the sun, so HAPPY NEW YEAR to us all! Despite global uncertainty, intolerance and animosity, the manipulation of information, wildfires, floods, earthquakes and personal frustrations, a bunch of us are still here! What we need to do now is to notice the optimistic new beginnings around us! Like a kid’s first piano or flute or violin recital. Little girls in their finest frilly dresses, nervously tuning up and looking for their friends in the audience. Little guys squirming in their new duds and shiny shoes. Proud families, turning out in herds to applaud and cheer for everyone. Gawky teen-agers, walking onstage with newfound poise and purpose. That first glimpse that the hours spent in focused practice actually turns into MUSIC—something that makes everyone feel closer and happier. That thrill—that pride—that awareness of being part of a human artistic brotherhood—it never goes away, and every musician remembers their first experiences and new beginnings.

Boy playing violinI see the transformation that happens with my students at the Escuela de Musica Sinfonica in San Isidro. At the beginning of the year many of them are shy or maybe intimidated by the amount and power of the new experiences they are having, but once they settle in they eagerly look forward to the new and exciting paths they can take musically. An incredible spirit dwells in our school—it’s full of inspiration and wonder and laughter and noise and wonderful chaos. I have literally ‘seen’ that proverbial light bulb go on over their heads when they master a little bit of Bach, or finally get comfortable enough with the posture of holding a cello to actually become one with it. As adults and mentors, we need to nurture and nourish these kids to follow their musical dreams, ‘cause a whole world of ‘new beginnings’ will be opened up for them. Different cultures and history—pride and discipline—art and beauty—love and compassion.

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That’s Fishin’- January 2019

That's Fishin' headerBy Benn Gilmour

Man holding roosterfishA huge happy new year to you all, may all your fishing dreams come true in 2019! After some epic fishing during December, Quepos captains are hopeful for an even better January which is typically the start of our peak Sailfish season. Large numbers of big Pacific Sailfish averaging 70-80lbs gather just a short run from our coastline and Anglers flock from all around the world to experience our incredible fishing for themselves. Double digit Sailfish release days are not uncommon during full day Offshore charters out of Quepos when the bite is on. Blue, Black and Striped Marlin are all possible during January also and Anglers can expect some Dorado and Yellow Fin Tuna to be in the mix also. We enjoyed some spectacular Dorado fishing during November and December, numbers will likely reduce during January as water temperatures rise during the dry season but you should still expect to see a Dorado or two on most Offshore trips. Yellow Fin Tuna will be found with the Spinner Dolphin schools, we get lots of Tuna in the 30-40lb range with plenty over 80lbs and some real 100-200lb plus monsters also. There was a 245lb Tuna caught out of Zancudo lodge in southern Costa Rica during December, an amazing fish demonstrating the potential we have here.
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What’s Shaking at Marina Pez Vela – January 2019

What's Shaking header
HIGH SEASON and LOW SEASON pattern is now very much a year round destination, with activities, tourism, dynamic events and a sense of community which seems to always evolve to a new level. December of 2018 was close to one of the busiest and most exciting years in the history of Marina Pez Vela. The Triathlon, 5th annual Bright Lights Parade, Manuel Antonio Vivo concert and holiday events were an amazing kick off to our 2018-2019 season, and January is going to be ON FIRE with some of the most fun events of the year.

ROCKSTAR IS BACK!

That’s right, put the kids to bed early, cover your eyes and your ears as the ICONIC PELAGIC ROCKSTAR TOURNAMENT IS BACK AND BIGGER THAN EVER! This two-day tournament (three-day event), starting on January 11th is going to be the largest tournament in prize money and participation that the Marina has ever seen, with the 3rd annual edition of this amazing event. Teams from around the world converge on the Marina for some of the most competitive angling on the planet and for some of the most FUN you can imagine in any fishing event on the globe. Live music nightly in the plaza at the marina will be welcoming the teams with the live weigh-ins, parties and storytelling of each day’s epic battles. With 4 divisions to compete, Marlin, Sailfish, Dorado, and Tuna there will be big prize money and big ego on the line! If you are not already signed up, DO NOT MISS IT, and if you are not an angler, you will not want to miss the energy and fun each night in the plaza. Cash and prizes valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars will be on the line and nowhere in CR will there be more fun going on than at MPV!
Marina Pez Vela logo
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¿Qué Pasa en Quepos? – January 2019

January 2019 coverBienvenidos…Welcome 2019, we hope you had a wonderful holiday. High season is upon us here in Costa Rica and we are glad you are here to be part of it with us. Green season has provided us a beautiful backdrop to begin this New Year of adventure. Our magazine is filled with the best of the best this southern Pacific has to offer.

Try something new this year like sport fishing for a record Marlin with Marina Pez Vela. Either offshore or onshore the fishing season has arrived so get out there and catch your dream. Thank you to Paula RM at Caiman Photography for your spectacular cover photo this month. As you can see the fish (and mammals) are literally jumping out of the ocean. Want to party like a rock star than get to the marina for the Pelagic Rockstar Tournament Jan 11-13th. Try zip lining or exploring the canopy tree tops with Hacienda Barú or Titi Canopy. Paddling through the mangroves or down one of our incredible rivers with Tucanes Tours. Hiking through some of the most beautiful National Parks in the world. Take ATVs to explore a waterfall with Monkey Ride. Just chillin’ at the beach? Try parasailing or learn to surf with Aquas Azules. They will have you hanging ten in no time. So let the Pura Vida lifestyle set the pace for your 2019.

Life is short…GO LIVE IT!!!

Looking for great food, great drinks, and great NFL Football? Stop in at Byblos Casino or Sancho’s on the mountain or Kamuk Casino and Sports Bar in Quepos to catch all the sports action.

PAWS is holding their 8th annual Battle of the Bands on January 27 at Ronnie’s Place in Manuel Antonio. So if you’re looking for great music, great food, great people, and a really GREAT cause, this is the place to be.

We would like to welcome our new advertisers this month: Abogados Leiva y Asociados, American Export, Costa Rica Escape Bus, CR Surf, Eden’s Nest, Fab Body, Islas of Manuel Antonio, Krisa Curtains and Blinds, and Outlier Legal.

We are always looking for great cover photos so please send us your best shots to info@quepolandia.com for future consideration to have your pictures make the cover.

We hope you enjoy our magazine and it helps guide you through this enchanting paradise we call home. You can always follow and share us here or Facebook/Quepolandia. We appreciate and welcome your comments. Have a Happy 2019!

Peace and Enjoy…D


The Sloth Institute in Costa Rica is leading the world in sloth research conservation

The Sloth InstituteThe Sloth Institute (TSI), based in Manuel Antonio, is leading the rest of the world in efforts to research the behavioral ecology of wild, rehabilitating and released sloths after rehabilitating two three-fingered sloths called Destiny and Pocahontas—two of the few three-fingered sloths in Costa Rica to be successfully rehabilitated from a very young age and returned into the wild.

TSI, which is a not-for-profit organization, aims to research captive, wild and recently released sloths, so that scientists and animal-lovers all over the world might better understand the internet’s favorite slowpokes, as well as ensuring the conservation of sloths and providing care for injured sloths so they can be released.
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Let’s talk about the Resplendent Quetzal

QuetzalBy Paul Gerace

One of the most colorful birds found here in Costa Rica is also a personal favorite of mine. The Resplendent Quetzal has iridescent feathers that can show colors of green, cobalt blue, lime, yellow, and ultramarine. It’s body can appear green, gold, or blue-violet also depending on the light. The chest is a bright red and it’s bill is a bright yellow. To watch it in flight is an eye opening experience that one never forgets.

Only the male has tail feathers that can extend over 2 feet long during mating season.

They are found from southern Mexico down into Panama. But the best place to see them is right here in Costa Rica in our protected forests.

Resplendent Quetzals will eat small insects and an assortment of fruits but their main food is wild avocados.

My favorite place to see them is either in San Gerardo de Dota or Santa Maria de Dota. They are in the Trogon family and their large eyes have helped them adapt to the low light of the cloud forests.

Resplendent Quetzals are classified as near-threatened due to the loss of habitat but are flourishing in the above mentioned areas, as well as in the Monteverde cloud forest.

You can see more of my images at www.photosofcostarica.com


WHAT ON EARTH IS A FLITTERMOUSE?

Amazing Diversity of Our Flying Mammals

By Jack Ewing

Bat flyingWhat looks like a mouse with wings and flitters around the house? Of course it’s a bat. The name for “bat” in old English was “flittermouse”, I imagine because they somewhat resemble a mouse, and their wings flutter or flitter. In middle English it was “bakke” which evolved into “bat” in modern English in the late 1500’s.

What comes to mind when someone mentions bats? Probably nothing good. They have been associated with everything from witchcraft, darkness and Halloween to vampires and death. Terms like dingbat and batty have been use to describe people who are foolish or silly or you might hear it said that a person who acts goofy has bats in their belfry. If there are any terms or sayings that show bats in a positive light I have never heard them. These sayings and ideas all come from a time when superstition ruled people’s lives and science was in its infancy. Today we have a wealth of scientific knowledge about bats, much of which is truly fascinating, yet it is virtually unknown to the general public. For example bats comprise over 20% of all mammal species on our planet, and are the only flying mammal. According to Wikipedia there are 5416 mammalian species on earth and over 1200 of them are bats. In Costa Rica, and I suspect in most tropical countries, over 50% of mammalian species are bats. The smallest mammal in the world is a bat, Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, also known as the bumblebee bat, which weighs a mere two grams (.07 oz.), about the same as two paper clips. The fastest mammal in the world is also a bat, the Mexican long-tailed bat, which has been clocked at 160 kph (99 mph), much faster than a cheetah which has a top speed of 120 kph (74.5 mph).
Hacienda Baru

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Fiddlin’ Around – December 2018

Fiddlin'Around headerSan Jose topeWelcome to all you travelers who have shown the good judgement and the necessary spirit of adventure to visit this beautiful and diverse part of the world! December, and the holiday season in general, is a fine time to be here. The rains will have subsided, everything is still green and lush, and the local musicians are waking up from their long naps and tuning up. If we can all manage to remember what Christmas is supposed to be about, maybe, just maybe, we can remember to be kind to each other! And laugh and sing together!

Last month my article was about music and horses being sources of emotional and physical therapy. For the un-initiated, there are horse gatherings and parades and exhibitions that go on all over Costa Rica this time of year, so if you hear about a Cabalgata or Tope happening somewhere, go see it! It is an amazing thing to witness dozens—sometimes hundreds—of magnificent animals and their riders all spiffed up and showing off their skills. There are excellent horsemen and women here, and often they are riding pretty spectacular looking South American and Spanish bred animals. It’s big fun to watch or participate in for everyone from Gramps to little kids, and they prepare for these events and look forward to them all year long. The granddaddy of them all is the Tope in San Jose during Christmas—literally hundreds of entrants parading through the streets. They broadcast it all day long on the TV, and it is big fun to watch or participate in, even if horses ain’t your thang…

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Memoirs of a Masseur – December 2018


My sister (who is 3 years older than me) and my nephew (who is 15) will be visiting Manuel Antonio in a few weeks. I sit contemplating what side of Manuel Antonio to show my nephew, and what life lessons I’ve learned, that may help him become a happy man down the road of life. It’s not easy for me as I have been living outside the United States for almost 20 years. I want him to know and to understand that planet Earth is his home and it is a world more united than ever despite what the evening news may tell us. My most memorable accomplishments came from soul searching and meditation, often times living alone in foreign countries, traveling, and not having a computer to turn to. I read, and wrote, and felt that every day I must cultivate my body, mind, and spirit. Somehow I had complete confidence that if I did those 3 things every day, all would work out in the end. Later I learned that there is no end, or if there is, it is solely death. How does anyone see the possibilities that are in front of them, with so much static and stress involved in the high pace life of today? To act against the norm is courageous, but more admirable is to nurture the unique joy within ourselves because we are doing what we want to do, and may we live well because of it. I often see cash-motivated lives justified by ”it’s a means to an end”, but I find that the easy way out. Easy ways out are usually unsatisfying.
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Surfing Quepos/Manuel Antonio – December 2018

Surfer

Photo Paul Gerace, photosofcostarica.com

By Greg Gordon,  CR Surf Travel Company
www.CRsurf.com   @crsurf

If you are a surfer or want to learn to surf while you are here, then you should know a little about the surf breaks in the area. Here is a quick guide from north to south:

Matapalo

Not the point break at the tip of the Osa Peninsula, this is a quiet town about 20 minutes drive south of Quepos. The beach is soft sand and the waves generally are mellow and work best at two hours before high tide to an hour after. There are occasionally lifeguards about 1/2 kilometer north of the first beach entrance, but otherwise you may be the only surfer in the water. On smaller days it is a lot of fun for beginners, and on bigger days an empty break for more advanced surfers. 

Dominical

Bordered on the north end by the Baru River which creates rocky sandbars down the beach, this break has very powerful waves on the outside while the reform can be perfect for beginners at lower tides. There are lifeguards posted who will show newcomers where to paddle out and where to avoid. Generally when it’s head high or bigger the higher tide works better and when it’s under head high it can produce hollow barrels at lower tides. This is the most consistent wave in the country so there will always be something to surf, and there are five excellent surf schools in town (Sunset Surf, CR Surf School, Monkey Surf School, Dominical Waverider, and Dominical Surf Lessons) 

Dominicalito

Just south of Dominical, this bay has small boulders in the shore break that are exposed at low tide but covered at high tide. At the south end it’s best for beginners starting at about an hour before high tide until an hour after. Right in front of the beach entrance has a decent high tide wave for intermediate surfers. No lifeguards here and the rips can get strong, but generally it’s a couple of feet smaller than Dominical.

CRSurf.com