For the dozen or so years we have known him, our good friend Jeff Reynolds has been part of a cooperative group engaged in development of a large tract of mountainous land in Costa Rica, along the Pacific Coast between Jaco and Manuel Antonio. It is what I would call an intentional community consisting mostly of U.S. nationals. The name of the community is Alazan.
Our friend Jeff lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Several of the other Alazan participants, so we have learned, live in and around Sacramento. Jeff and Lorenzo, his partner for the past five years, recently got married and have settled in Sebastopol, about 40 minutes north of where we live in San Rafael.
Another long-term friend of ours, Jerry Martin, a retired physician (we call him “Doctor J.”), also is a participant in the Alazan project. We saw Jerry about six months ago, and learned he had recently completed construction of his own house on the Alazan property. He had just returned from a visit there.
As it happened, Jeff was visiting Alazan during our first week in Costa Rica. We arranged to meet him for drinks and dinner in Manual Antonio, just up the road from our hotel, along with several of Jeff’s Alazan compatriots and another visitor. They were Ted and Cheri, a really delightful couple from Sacramento, and their visitor, April, another great person, who had just arrived that afternoon from Sacramento. We enjoyed their company at happy hour and dinner. I’ll never forget how Ted anticipated the punch lines of all my jokes. He drew out the best of my joke-telling ability.
The next day, we drove up to Alazan, the last few miles on a good dirt road. Jeff and Cheri gave us good directions, and Jeff emailed us a photo of the front gate, so we had no problem finding the place. We parked just inside the gate and the four of them soon arrived down the mountain road to greet us — Jeff, Ted, Cheri and April.
We spent an enjoyable day touring the property and discussing all the infrastructure work they have accomplished in the past 10 years – especially electricity and water supply. We had a beautiful lunch at the house where the four of them were staying. It was a comfortable and beautiful home, designed by a local architect, high up in the hills. From there we had a beautiful view of the valley below, including a view straight up the road we had driven down a short while earlier. Cheri and Ted prepared a delicious lunch.
After ten years of visionary planning and hard work, Ted, Cheri, Jeff and the other participants have only two house sites left out of more than twenty, so the development of the property is proceeding very successfully. There are two hilltop sites owned by Cheri and Ted and by Jeff, respectively, that are being cleared and readied for construction. The homes that have been built, including Jerry Martin’s, are all beautiful, and although each is unique, they all are harmonious with one another and with the land. Some of them, Jerry’s in particular, have fabulous views of the valley below and the distant mountains that run up the spine of Costa Rica and separate the coastal region from the Central Valley. When fully built out, the community will have a community center and pool for the residents.
We were haunted, however, by one house. It is as beautiful as the others. Its owners, a gay male couple, were in a bad traffic accident a year or two ago after leaving the property, up toward Jaco, the next big beach town to the north. One of the two men was killed, along with their dog. The other partner has never returned to the property. The house, modern and attractive, sits empty, with leaves and brush collecting around the driveway. Inside the furniture is covered in white sheets.
Brian and I are in agreement about virtually all the basics of life, and in our opinions about people, politics, etc. One of the things we ardently agree on is that we would not want to be owners of a second property, a vacation home, even assuming it was something we could afford (with the possible exception of a vacation property within an hour or two of home, but even then it’s not something we aspire for). So, we were never candidates for investing in Alazan, and our hosts were gracious and good humored about it. We kidded Cheri about being president of the homeowners association at Alazan, calling her Madam President. She and Ted were exceptionally warm hosts. After our visit to the Alazan property, they took us and April to a nearly deserted beach for a swim in the ocean, in the hot sun, before we left them and headed back to our little gay resort in Manuel Antonio.
We liked Ted and Cheri very much, and also April. It was a real treat to see our old friend Jeff there at Alazan as well, after so many years of hearing about the property. Jeff is, to quote a phrase, a real sweetheart.