San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arenal Report

Jeudy (Jepi) Castro and his 10 year-old son Roberto were caught in a massive landslide, and their bodies were recovered Oct. 10. The funeral service was held in Nuevo Arenal Friday evening, during which the family expressed its profound gratitude to the hundreds of people who rushed to the scene with shovels and began digging frantically in hopes for a rescue.

As those hopes faded with time, no one gave up. Huge dump trucks, a crane excavator and a front-end loader, aided by a high-pressure hose brought by the fire department, moved tons of earth. At one point it looked like another part of the 100-foot high cliff overhanging the area would break away, but the digging continued. Emergency Medical Services helped other volunteers distribute food, water, juice and coffee to the diggers who worked to exhaustion. At no time was any available shovel standing idle. Sadly, it was not until the afternoon of the third day that the crane scoop grazed the body of Yepi, and soon after revealed that of his son. The hundreds of people who responded to this tragedy are heroes.

We are so fortunate to live where Nature abounds in beauty and provision. But with this incident, we have seen another aspect of the natural world, one that has brought grief and sadness to many people. It’s a sobering observation and it will stay with us for along time.

Ladies of the Lake Co-President Rene Aoki has announced that the 4th annual Christmas Bazaar on Dec. 8 has been moved to the Salon Communal in Tilarán, across from the police station and bus terminal. Ruth Fountaine has been hosting craft days at her home with groups of women, creating many surprises for the Bazaar. If you have things to donate such as clothes, books, DVDs, furniture or other salable items, arrangements may be made for pick-up and storage. Anyone wishing to participate in any way may contact Ruth at

The indigenous Maleku of the San Isidro de Guatuso area held a fiesta recently that featured historical re-enactments, bow and arrow competition, sports and a large assortment of beautiful crafts. Carved masks and gourds, jewelry, magnificently painted drums and rain sticks, handbags of woven natural fiber, to name just a few of the items, were available at prices well below those of the souvenir shops.

Maleku artisans feature themes of nature, especially birds, butterflies, monkeys, snakes, jaguars and flowers. The workmanship is exquisite. An abundant supply of freshly prepared food and drinks kept visitors and participants happy and well fed. This fiesta is fun, and well worth the trip to Guatuso for anyone interested in the historical and cultural aspects of Costa Rica. We plan a return to the fiesta in 2014.

Nuevo Arenal’s German restaurant, La Rana held it’s annual Octoberfest on Sunday Oct. 6.  Reinert Becker treated everyone to savory German delicacies and plenty of good German beer and music. Monday, Oct. 7, the Arenal Garden Club met at Guia Pelican’s farm for an outstanding tour of his agricultural achievements. Cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys, chickens and ducks all contribute manure for his bio-digester, which then produces methane. Ponds teeming with fish complete the self-sustaining operation. Guia’s presentation was professional and inspiring. It was exciting to see everything we ever read in Mother Earth News actually working on a neighborhood farm. After the walking tour, more than 60 people enjoyed a great potluck picnic and good fellowship with live music provided by Michael McBride.

-William & Jean Priest

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