Join Brian for another report from a self-liberator! This one was found in VonuLife #3, submitted in 1971. Please enjoy!
Villa Colon, Costa Rica, Aug. 19, 1971
Read your thing in Mother Earth News, and although I can’t exactly figure it out, we’re happy to let people know how, and how well, we live.
After the usual process of getting fed up with urban U.S. living, we took stock of our assets, which totaled $4,000 and a paid for ’68 Microbus, and packed up and left for Costa Rica, a tiny country between Nicaragua and Panama. Be depended on our good luck to make it here, as we knew not a person in the country, and had spent ¼ of our money on equipment, intending to buy a small farm here and figure out what to do next after that. We have two children, 3 and 19 months, and have a friend who was interested in leaving with us. We planned to leave on a good day, astrologically, for travel, and it must have been effective, as we were here only a few weeks when we found, through a new local acquaintance, a fifteen acre coffee farm in the cool, green mountains 25 kilometers west of the capital city of San Jose. We paid three thousand dollars for the land, $70 for a title search by a local lawyer, and moved up here in our 10 by 18 feet Camel tent.
We put in a garden, albeit a tiny one, immediately, and are already (only three months later) eating fresh vegetables out of it. Dick, my husband, built a henhouse from the bamboo growing on our property, and we now have a constant supply of fresh, brown eggs. Another of our first purchases was a small herd of goats, for to begin with, one giving milk. They were inexpensive because one was deathly ill with an udder infection, and had been so badly neglected that she couldn’t walk for weeks. The nursing doe had been underfed, and was malnourished. We put them all on green pasture and whole grain feeds, and they’ve improved to the point that they now look like a bargain to us. One is pregnant, and delivered four kids last time around.
We’ve started building a house out of the local stone and concrete. It’ll take a while, as feed must come first. As much as possible we barter for our necessities we can’t raise here. We’re fortunate to have hundreds of banana trees and other fruit trees, and five acres of coffee as a cash crop. I also write articles on the things I know best, childbirth and now homesteading, for alternate lifestyle magazines. This brings in enough cash to pay for store bought goods like matches and vitamins.
Our lack of knowledge of Spanish, the national language here, has proved no handicap at all, and in the months we’ve been here we’ve learned enough to get along very well. We find the climate at this altitude delightful, a sort of perpetual late spring, the soil fertile and the people friendly. Our aim in leaving for here was never to have to work at a “straight” job again. My husband and I wanted to be together during the day, feeling that the 9 to 5 separation imposed by a job job is unnatural. Soon another family will be joining us to farm and live cooperatively with us. We hope to eventually eliminate most of our cash purchases, and barter for everything we need. We’ve met other young expatriates farming here, and intend to arrange a system of barter with them. The century here is rich in wild food for foraging, and in fish on the seacoasts. No one who could climb a tree would starve in Costa Rica, and the climate is gentle and healthy.
When we have our house finished, we’d welcome guests, who would help in the garden in exchange for room to sleep and food. The lack of a winter here makes Costa Rica a great place to homestead and we’d be happy to correspond with anyone interested in doing so here.
–Sharon Wallace Maehl
P.S. Land is available here for about $150 to $500 an acre. This is prime land for small farming, or even cattle grazing. We know of some right here. Tourists are permitted to buy land here, too. For now, we’d be happy to have visitors if they have their own sleeping bags and can get to San Jose. Again, we’d like to correspond with them and discuss it. A visa is easy to get, although the border types discourage long hairs. We could swap info on warm climate farming with anyone interested.
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