Guest Writer

The Birth of Quepolandia by Ana Lyons


Before deciding to move to Costa Rica, I had already retired from the “rat race” and was working a few different jobs while living on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. One of the last jobs there was with a publishing company, although my job was accounting and personnel—not publishing. But I suppose all those ideas flowing around the office must have found a place tucked away into my mind’s data bank.

I had known for a long time that I would love to live in a tropical environment after visiting Puerto Rico, Haiti, Barbados and Jamaica. My boyfriend at the time felt the same way, and since he was a surfer, we finally decided Costa Rica should be our next home. Fortunately, my 20 years “rat race” career allowed me to have a small financial advantage which provided the means for the move.

The first Costa Rican adventure was a small bar, restaurant, and cabins—el Oasis Americano—on the beautiful Playa Matapalo, a few kilometers south of Quepos. It didn’t take long to realize this was not my Costa Rican dream job.

I had brought my computer, printer, and some simple CD programs and spent some time creating simple “publications” such as a menu for the bar/restaurant and flyers to pass out to tourists. Matapalo is a small pueblo, but there were (and still are) a few businesses there and several events, the most recognized one being the marine turtle conservation program. So, the very first newsletter I created was called Viva Matapalo—thanks to Michel Trottier, owner of Terraza del Sol for that title.

Basically, I gathered all the information of all the businesses there to include in the newsletter. My neighbors were happy since there was no charge to them for this advertising. And I included a tide chart (very important for surfers and other ocean lovers), bus schedules, and any other information that I thought might help our visitors who understood English.

A very dear friend from Dominical who visited el Oasis often talked me into creating a similar newsletter for Dominical, working with him. So Christian Williams and I created the first publication for Dominical called Dominical News. Eventually he took over full responsibility and I was off to Quepos/Manuel Antonio to see what could happen there.

I had already made some friends there, and because that community was much larger with many more tourists, lots of ideas developed. Vera Jones, dear friend and owner of Dos Locos was a huge impetus in the process leading up to Quepolandia. She let me use the area upstairs in the restaurant with an extra phone line to start a small office.

We had a make-shift “internet café” allowing folks to send/receive messages via email which was still in the early stages in Costa Rica. Several publications were created—a one page flyer that Vera gave her customers called Que Pasa en Quepos, which provided useful information in English for visitors. And there was Coastal Classifieds—a page or two of local classified ads which was distributed around town.

And eventually, with encouragement from Vera and some other friends/business owners, who agreed to pay for advertising, the first edition of Quepolandia – July 1998, was created. A simple, black and white, 8-page tourist magazine—printed in my little office on legal size paper, copied next door at Asoproquepos, folded and stapled, and then distributed to all the advertisers and other places where tourist could get copies. I don’t recall how many copies there were of that first edition, but it was sufficient enough to gain interest from others, and the publication grew quickly.

More office space was needed, so we rented a room in the back of a building owned by Don Luis Bolanos—that building no longer exists and is now the location of the beautiful retail complex known as La Garza. Later the office was moved again to a space owned by Cabinas Alicia—just around the corner from the post office.

As the publication grew, it was necessary to pay a professional company to take over the printing and eventually, as we added color, a more sophisticated software program and a full-service printing company were added. Distribution became a major task as well, so I hired Alberto Rodriguez to assist with this.

By the eighth year of creating and distributing 10 issues of Quepolandia each year, most of that time completely on my own, I was getting tired and knew it was time to consider passing the responsibility on to someone with fresh new ideas. Those initial 8 pages per issue became as many as 84 over the years. I set a goal of hanging in there for at least the 10 year anniversary before seriously considering retiring. There were several people who had expressed an interest in taking over Quepolandia, but I wanted the new owner to be someone who cared as much as I about the responsibility. And I knew right away that my friend, Pat Cheek would be the best choice! The last issue before passing Quepolandia on to Pat was for the month of March 2009. Paul Rees agreed to handle the graphics and technical part of the operation, so the two of them did an awesome job of continuing to grow the publication, adding on a beautiful website to compliment the printed editions. A few years later, Pat passed on the responsibility to Dave Bolger, current owner, and Paul has continued these years with Dave to grow and produce the beautiful printed and digital version that all of us are enjoying today.

Hats off, congratulations and many thanks for all the hard work that has taken place these past 25 years!! I can’t wait to see all the wonderful changes and additions you will charm us with during the next 25 years!!