I saw McGrath a few years later, printed for him a book he had written on herbal medicine, and visited him at a house which he and his family rented in ltiquis, Alajuela. It was a nice house built on a hilltop from where you could see the city of Alajuela and the international airport. I said to McGrath, "You're fortunate, what a beautiful view you have from here!" And he replied, "yes, beautiful, but you can't eat the view". I never saw him after that. Perhaps he returned to Pennsylvania. But the rest of the Amish remained at their Tronadora farms perhaps until their farms were later expropriated when the government decided to flood hundreds of acres of that area to build Lake Arenal which now supplies water for the three hydraulic power plants (Arenal, Corobici, and Sandillal) that produce more than half of the country's electricity requirements.
Other than the Amish, but very similar to them in their customs and attire, more than 500 Mennonites now live in Costa Rica, They arrived in 1968 and are scattered in various areas of the country.
Italian Coffee-Growing Colony
Besides the Quakers, also in 1952, Italians from impoverished southern Italy, mainly for financial reasons, emigrated to south-western Costa Rica, carved a place in the jungle, and founded a very successful colony which today produces some of the best coffee in the country. The thriving town of San Vito, established by them in the mountains, is a testimony of the hard work and perseverance of those Italian settlers and their descendents. At first they had trouble adjusting to a new way of life. It wasn't easy to go from dry barren southern Italy to a jungle environment where it rains almost daily.
To make it appropriate for the Italians to arrive, the Costa Rican government had helped create the Italian Society for Agricultural Colonization and granted it land in the remote Coto Brus Valley so that poverty-stricken Italians could come to the country and build a future for themselves by farming while helping to develop the area. Vito Sansonetti and Gastón Bartorelli, both of San José, were instrumental in bringing the Italians to their new home. The first six families entered the valley in two box cars pulled by a tractor over a muddy, slippery semblance of a road. At first they all slept in a single wooden room and during the first weeks many cried from homesickness until they realized there was no turning back.
It took them sometime to sort of accustom themselves to life in a hot, humid jungle environment. Many had not seen a papaya before and went ahead and ate the seeds. Others had never seen a tamale and asked, perhaps only jokingly, if the banana leaves that wrapped it were some kind of boiled lettuce.