Personalities in Our Midst

Carol Vlassoff

Carol VlassoffPersonalities in Our Midst

Gina Jimenez Artavia

Imagine that you are 26 years old, female, recently promoted to the job of Operations Manager at Banco Promérica in Manuel Antonio.  You are about to have your first meeting with other bank executives in San José.  You’ve arrived from Quepos early that morning and you walk into the room carrying your agenda and a pen.  There you confront a group of officials, mostly middle-aged men with laptops slung over their shoulders, talking on cell phones.  That was Gina Jimenez’s introduction to her professional peers in 2005.

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Carol VlassoffPersonalities in Our Midst

Jeannette Pérez

From the moment she set foot in her friend’s sports fishing boat, Jeannette Pérez fell in love. She sweeps an arm toward her front window, with a view of the Pacific waterfront, directly across the street from her second floor office in a modest Quepos building. “That’s what I loved,” she smiles. “I will never forget my first sailfish. It was the most beautiful thing!”

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Carol VlassoffPersonalities in Our Midst

Dr. Alfonso Gaspar Martinez del Pino

Dr. Alfonso Gaspar Martinez del Pino, born and educated in Cuba, says that he planned to stay in Costa Rica from the time he accepted an invitation to attend a conference here in 1995. Leaving his friends and family, with 63 pounds of luggage (59 pounds of it books) and $145 in his pocket, he set out to establish a new life here. He gave several lectures at the Escuela de Veterinaria de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma en el Barreal de Heredia, and then, he says, “I stayed.”

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Carol VlassoffPersonalities in Our Midst

Constant Boshoff

Constant Boshoff – chiropractor, conservationist, coffee farmer and owner of Rafiki – was born in German East Africa, Tanganika. His ancestors moved to South Africa when he was a child because of “political storms over Africa”, as he puts it. Boshoff ‘s father was a big game hunting outfitter. Equipped with luxury tents and a portable kitchen, his father and his party would pitch their camp under the trees at night. He watched his business grow into a very popular tourist destination for high end clients. This is the background that shaped Constant Boshoff’s own trajectory in life.

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Carol VlassoffPersonalities in Our Midst

Barry Biesanz

Barry Biesanz pulls into my driveway, hops out of his car and wastes no time settling onto a patio chair for our interview. He does not need any prompting: he clearly has a message to share. “People ask me,” he says, “I bet you’ve seen a lot of changes here over the last 40 years. They assume they have all been for the worse – but they haven’t. Sure, there are some ill-conceived projects, drugs, prostitution and corruption. But there are far more monkeys than there were in 1971, and much more prosperity.” Most of Manuel Antonio, he continues, was being converted to pasture and crops, even much of what is now the park, and all the mangroves near town were cut to make charcoal.

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Carol VlassoffPersonalities in Our Midst

Milo Bekins Faries

Milo Bekins Faries and his attractive wife, Tey, meet me in their forest home, four kilometres from Londres on the road to Cerro Nara. We sit on the veranda that encircles four sides of the house. True to the Bekins’ lifestyle, the house is built of cedro amargo and teak. Milo planted these trees on his own property years ago, with the idea of seeding their “house-to-be”. It is surrounded by forest gardens and a running water ditch moat that keeps their house amazingly insect free.

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