At first, on their arrival in San José, they rented houses, while their scouts searched everywhere in the country for a place to settle. Finally, on April 19, after having found a suitable location, they negotiated from the Guacimal Land Company the purchase of 3000 acres at 900 meters above sea level, an altitude high enough to be free from malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Since then, April 19 is celebrated annually as "discovery day or Monteverde Day), a day which is spent with festivities and thanksgiving.
The Amish Farmers
As to the Amish, I feel I had somewhat of a hand in the settling of a group of them in Costa Rica. One morning in the 1960s, going through the classified ads of the daily paper La Nación, I found one that read: "A group from the USA is looking for land in which to settle in Costa Rica". I was not in the real estate business, but rather in publishing technical magazines in Spanish for Latin America. Guillermo, an uncle of my wife, owned a 20,000 hectare farm in the cool uplands of Guanacaste a few miles east of the town of Liberia, so I decided to answer the ad and offer the property. A reply came a couple of weeks later from Mr. William McGrath, spiritual leader of an Amish group in Pennsylvania. In his letter he said he would come to Costa Rica to see me so I could show him the property.
McGrath arrived with about six other Amish men and women to scout the land. They rented a jeep and my oldest son Frank, Mr. McGrath and I in my Land Rover went to see the place. It was a beautiful property, all green even during the dry season because of the eternal Atlantic mist that crosses the mountains. It had three rivers flowing through it, white-tailed deer, howler monkeys, armadillos and other small animals, plus a herd of beef cattle. A Pelton wheel placed in a small stream near the old farmhouse produced
At night we slept in two big rooms, one for the women and the other for the men. The following morning, Sunday, the Amish gathered at the terrace and had their spiritual ceremony. I was courteously asked to sit in and, of course, being a Catholic, it was something entirely new to me. I enjoyed and admired their ceremony in which everyone remains silent, the only sound emanating being when someone suddenly got up and said a short prayer or made a request to God.
The Amish group decided they would buy the property and wanted to pay in cash but at a lower price. Guillermo refused the offer so they bought a smaller property at Tronadora, also a nice area in the Tilaran Mountains also in Guanacaste and eventually the group located there where they planted some crops and went into dairying. That's how the Amish established themselves in the country.