From the Tico Times

An exciting new book about Costa Rica is about to make its debut. “Costa Rica Kaleidoscope: Multicolored perspectives on the reflections of culture” is a collection of personal essays, stories and informative articles whose purpose is to enlighten tourists, new residents and lovers of Costa Rica everywhere. 

Written by a group of expat writers who call themselves “The Bards of Paradise,” the book is, according to the introduction, “a map for all to follow to discover the treasure that is Costa Rica.” And indeed, the book includes a number of valuable articles providing such a perspective. 

Especially insightful are the pieces by outstanding writer Michael Crump: “Wither La Humildad,” “Metaphors,” “Victor’s Vivencia” and “Peón.” Most remarkable is “Cop Stories,” where, in a rare account of cultural elements in Costa Rican police forces, Crump convinces us that “cop stories have a unique capacity for illuminating the culture.”

Equally good, because they impart such a vivid picture of life in the campo, are Carol McCool’s stories “Six Rivers to Cross,” which teaches us, given Tico paucity of information and Gringo assumptions, all the things that can go wrong, and “Terror in Escazú,” where, it turns out, monkeys are not always endearing. Best are accounts of her Sunrise Mountain Farm, in which, as a rootless expat, she poignantly asks, “Will I find a place where I can plant my fence post and watch it spread its roots and branches?” 

Then, heart-wrenching are Greg Bascom’s portrayals of a pristine Manuel Antonio before it was forever changed by an excess of tourism and construction. Delightful, too, is his rollicking raccoon story, “Pepe LeCoon,” and the charming piece “Pulgas,” a dog story with a cultural lesson. 

There are other notable pieces: Robin Kazmier, another compelling writer, provides us with the heart-stopping “River Crossing,” in which we find out just how perilous running a farm in Costa Rica can be. Lenny Karpman thoroughly informs us about everything from food to insects to health care, while Frans Lamers teaches us about coffee, biodiversity and finances. Finally, Jo Stuart gives us a touching account of her encounter with campesino schoolchildren.



The long and short of this wonderful read, written and compiled by ex-pats living in Costa Rica, is that it offers great insight into an alluring country. From "shorts," -- Lenny Karpman's ruminations of being the only human at home with his menagerie of dogs and rescued wildlife, or Michael Crump's lyrical account of watching exotic birds with morning coffee -- to "longs," including Carol McCool's riveting account of life on a Sunrise Mountain Farm, and Greg Bascom's three-parter documenting his love-life through successive visits to beautiful Playa Manuel Antonio (from first wife, to lover, to second wife), these pieces offer a tasty sampling of Tico life. I particularly liked the "call and response" effect of three pieces beginning with Robin Kazimer's gripping "River Crossing," which describes coaxing a reluctant teen-age volunteer onto a small horse to cross a raging river in a storm to bring in the cocoa crop, followed by later making the crossing herself when conditions were much worse. Jo Short responds in the next piece, "Buses and Horses," where she addresses the courageous Kazimer's fear of riding on city buses. Kazimer answers in kind in "Response," explaining her discomfort with buses versus her ease in crossing swollen rivers on a dilapidated horse. From wilds to cities to recipes to tropical gardens, there is something for everyone to enjoy who is interested in tales from the ex-pat perspective on Tico life.
Joanna Biggar

The Bards of Paradise


The Bards are a group of ex-pat writers who found themselves serving each other gourmet lunches and sharing writerly feedback.  As their collection of tales grew, they assembled the best stories into a sensitive yet edgy anthology called Costa Rica KaleidoscopeClick HERE to learn more..

In addition to his essay contributions in Kaleidoscope, Mike has drafted two novellas, "Tyrone the Flyboy," and "El Peon," (in English), and has half-completed the third, "Candyman,"  a Guatemalan Civil War story.  All are set in Central America. He has a series of short stories, all set in the campo of Costa Rica. This month's selection, "The Encounter," is an excerpt from "El Peon."  This epic-like story follows three children from one generation from about 1970 to the current time. It illustrates the cultural and life options of the generation that saw the transformation of Costa Rica from a developing country to full membership in the global economy.


Greg Bascom

Greg's award-winning new novel, Lawless Elements, is set in the turbulent first decade of this century of the Philippine Republic. Read the first chapter at Greg has lived in Central America for over thirty years working as a corporate executive. Click on the title to learn more.


Frans lamers

Born and raised in Amsterdam, with a short tour in South Africa, Mr. Lamers immigrated to Canada in 1968 and to Costa Rica in 1990. He has degrees in anthropology and sociology and taught at Simon Fraser University and the Universities of Victoria and Prince Edward Island. He enjoys, and enjoys writing, topics in history.

Lenny Karpman

Cardiologist, food critic, and chef, Lenny is the author of Costa Rica's foremost restaurant guide, Feasting and Foraging in Costa Rica and his most recent memoir, The Foodbridge to Everywhere: Confessions of an Old Foodophile. He also has  over a dozen other books. Learn more by clicking on the titles or by going to his blog.

Jo Stuart

Costa Rica's premier columnist and interpreter of the culture, Jo is the author of Butterfly in the CIty. (Click to learn more). It is a series of the most astute and intresting observations of San Jose and surrounds available in English. She previously taught women's studies at San Jose (CA) State and directed the International Center.

Robin Kazmier

Currently the Immersion Program Coordinator for Common Ground International, Robin has worked as a study abroad advisor, medical spanish instructor, and a volunteer coordinator on a cocoa farm in Costa Rica. She has a long history of journaling furiously about her mishaps in latin America but professionally her wrtings mostly include academic material.

Carol Marujo

A retired psychologist frm Chicago, Carol settled on a small farm in Costa Rica in 2004. She is a travel writer and freelance journalist with stories and articles published in the the Tico Times, El Residente, and more recently in the anthology, Wandering in Costa Rica. She is an environmentalist who now spends most of her time managing her bed and breakfast.