Posted by: elambend | August 6, 2008


Juan Del Mar speaks terrible Spanish. He’s fluent enough, actually he’d gotten quite better since meeting his wife several years ago, or so I’ve been told. Yet his accent was so thick that it would confirm what a look at his blond hair and blues eyes would have already questioned, he wasn’t really from Central America. His friends called him Blanco.

Yet, according to his passport, his birth certificate, and to Juan, he was born in a little village in Nicaragua. Some speculated that he had been a Soviet advisor for the Sandanistas, for it was obvious to everyone that Juan was Russian. Juan knew about these rumors and did not dissuade them, although he was far too young to have taken part in that war. He had only been in his late teens when the USSR ceased to exist. He preferred that no one knew the true story of his background, particularly if it meant he never saw another Russian again.

I first met Blanco on a scouting expedition on the southern coast of Costa Rica. I was looking for some undeveloped land to purchase with some investment partners. At the time the area was kind of the back of beyond, the government hadn’t paved the main road up the coast, yet. My partners and I hope to take advantage of all the Baby Boomers would be retiring in a few years and looking for a cheap tropical place in which to live on their fixed income. Up in the area I was looking there was one old beach hotel and Juan was working the bar.

I didn’t know the hotel was there until I saw it and was happy to have a reason not to drive back down into the city that night. After checking in, I went to the bar, which was empty except for Juan and the hostess, and ordered a beer.

“Are you Russian?” I had asked him, in Spanish, after hearing him talk.

“Nicaraguan.” He’d replied.

I started to open my mouth and he continued, in English, “you’re pretty nosy considering that I know where’ll you’ll be sleeping tonight,” and then he winked at me.


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