The Loco Tico

On my first visit to the farm I went on a perimeter hike with the farms “caretaker”. He was a very fit man in his late 20’s and knew the land amazingly well. We talked a lot about the abundant wildlife he has seen over the years and also a sad story about how his family was displaced when Carara National Park became public land.

After awhile I started asking about the road system, the neighbors, the customs in the area, and things like that. Apparently one custom is when you buy property, each of the neighbors (there are few) will sooner or later invite you over for dinner.

But otherwise one is not expected to wait for an invitation to a meal.  Instead just stop by and you are likely to be quickly received with “pase adelante” which basically means, “come on in!”, and followed by, “cafecito?”, short for “would you like a cup of coffee?”.  As a result neighbors are always visiting and having coffee and meals at each others homes, and that type of socializing apparently forms the basis for an efficient network of communication in such a remote place. I also notice they are always exchanging seeds of one sort or another and it is usually from a fruit or vegetable they have successfully grown. Indeed the conversations almost always include the current weather and what food crop is growing best these days. How cool is that?!

Later in the day we reached the apex of the land I was contemplating purchasing and we had been hiking for perhaps three hours. At that point the caretaker (his name was Luis and at some point I’ll show a photo of his handsome little boy) pointed to the top of a steep dense jungle of a mountain. Then he made a gesture about a loco tico or “crazy Costa Rican” who lives near its crest. The term “tico” refers to a native Costa Rican and you probably already know what the term loco means.

When I asked why he was loco  Luiz told me the man grew up in a privileged home near San Jose and with many of the comforts most ticos could only wish for.  But he became disenchanted after witnessing so much human excess around him and yet there was so much poverty in the world. He felt helpless to do anything about it and so now lives a simply life in solitude and solely off of what the cloud forest produces.

No one really sees him anymore but occasionally smoke can be seen from his camp on a clear day. Naturally I was super intrigued by this man and what his camp might look like so I asked Luiz if he would take me to meet the man. Luiz became quickly uncomfortable and then sort of agreed, but rather begrudgingly. Then I asked how the Tico could possibly survive without access to at least basic staples like milk, sugar, flour, etc. That’s when he gave me a little more detail on the guy’s food source which often include things like monkey brains and turkey vultures!

Needless to say we decided not to visit the loco Tico that day after all. But if you ever decide to pay him a visit I suggest you bring a healthy supply of Tums!