Hi, we are don Lulo and doña Ruth.
We came to this region 49 years ago. While still very young and beginning a new process in our lives, “marriage”, full of dreams and strength due to our youth and our new earned commitments, we traveled to a farm where I worked as a caretaker. Everything was complete virgin territory and we had to begin working the land.
Because we were very poor and having lost my father when I was a small child, I had to help my mother. Then I left school when I was in the third grade. Something quite similar happened to my wife Ruth, who only attended school up to second grade.
Opportunities were scarce for us, and all we had ahead was the hard work of cutting down trees to clear the forests and then planting corn, rice and others; but not for us, the work was for another person (my boss), and I received a wage. Ruth worked like an ant in our humble home, cleaning and cooking and doing all the other daily activities proper of a rural home (here wives help their husbands by taking care of the home, the animals, among which we had chickens, pigs and cows). At the time I didn’t think we had much work to do because our home within those four humble walls was so poor and of the few animals we had. This didn’t seem much work or effort to me. But Ruth was always there, loving and ready to greet me when I came home tired after work, making my life easier and happier. We ended every day very much in love and united.
Our first son came and after this blessing, many more arrived. Perseverance in my work, effort and who knows what other things my boss saw in me that touched his heart, that he offered to sell me, with easy payment terms, a part of the land where I so diligently worked. So much happiness! What an emotion! What a blessing! And more children and opportunities arrived for my wife and me. One day the owner decided to sell me the rest of the property. In the coming years we were able to purchase other small parcels of land to enlarge our property a little more and it was on one of those opportunities that we bought the small farm bordering on the river, which we called Nauyaca, a name which comes from the Mesoamericans, in the Nahuatl language, given to a certain type of serpent which inhabited the region. Years later we added “cataratas” (waterfalls), until finally registering the name as Cataratas Nauyaca S.A.
During this time the country was going through an intense and highly promoted livestock exploitation and I was completely obsessed with cutting down trees, something that I still did with an ax, even if it took me a whole day just to cut down one tree. I wanted all this land that God had helped us buy just for pastures.
And this is just what we did. For many years we dedicated ourselves to the exploitation of livestock with great success and because of this, three of our children were able to go to the university and another one to finish high school; this because she did not want to continue studying and decided to form her own family.
Some time later the country suffered a crisis in the prices of livestock and while looking for options to solve our needs, we began working on a small nursery project. We think that at this point we began making a 360-degree turn, because, although livestock was still very important to us, it was no longer our main concern. We began decreasing on this activity and during the first years of our new project, of the total production of new trees to sell, we set apart money to begin reforesting all areas that were less productive now, with the intention of repairing in some way the tremendous damages we had made on nature.
The time came to reforest the 18 hectares of this property that borders the river, where the waterfalls were unprotected; a rocky and uneven land, also a victim of man. One day after a hard day’s work, while resting down to enjoy a cold lunch, one of our sons suddenly said these words: Some day this place will be called Centro Turístico Cataratas Nauyaca. (Nauyaca Waterfalls Tourism Center).
Those words kept going through my mind because the idea sounded pretty interesting. My sons visited the waterfalls frequently, and many friends who visited us mostly enjoyed being guided to the waterfalls. There was no access to the falls at that time, we had to go upstream, for more than a kilometer, going around stones and lianas, fighting against the river’s current in some parts and other times just crossing the river as many times as we had to just to get to these wonderful falls. This was not always possible and our hopes were unsuccessful. I still had a lot of questions and doubts, but kept them to myself.
One of my first questions was: How? Then many more came. If we lived 6 kilometers from the main road, with no access, we could only go in by horse, it took an hour all the way to my house, without communication, no electricity, no infrastructure, uneducated, with absolutely no knowledge of the English language. I was afraid, this was a totally different world to what I was accustomed to. Even though I didn’t understand any of this, none of the ethical and professional administrative processes, my main objective was in tourism, in international tourism, because these activities were taking their first steps in the Dominical area.
As we say here in Costa Rica (take the bull first by its horns). We seemed to have it all, by owning the lands with the waterfalls. But, who knew about them? Who had visited them? How to let others know about them? With all these doubts hovering over me, I took strength and let the Lord’s Spirit guide me once again. I visited Jack Ewin and Mike Maguines, tourism entrepreneurs, the first one from Hacienda Barú and the other from Restaurante San Clemente. I told them about this beautiful place and invited them to visit us, to look at the area around the waterfalls. They made their suggestions and recommendations for us to begin our work.
After their visit and considering their recommendations, we were back where we had started once more. It was like beginning a new marriage, we had new hopes, still a lot of energy, and wanted to explore something new, in spite of all our limitations. All of this didn’t stop us and finally in June 1992 the first two tourists arrived at our house, and they were from abroad. It was total madness, like when our first son was born!
More and more arrived and we had to work harder, with honesty, tenacity and all the wonderful virtues God gives us when we let him control our lives; being who we really are, not hiding what God has given us, and not trying to be who we aren’t, in order to be able to face our difficulties.
Today, 15 years after we began our horseback rides to the waterfalls, we have survived through many storms. We have seen how others were born, grew up and died.
Nowadays many come to us with opinions and have even suggested that we should change our system, that we should hire an administrator and delegate certain functions to persons outside of the family, because there is much demand and the “pulpería” is small. (In Costa Rica, a “pulpería” is the name given to a small store, where only a few products are sold, mainly because the owners are generally poor people who cannot supply the store with more products).
Today my strength and that of Ruth, my wife, has greatly diminished. We don’t have the same vigor and youth we had when we came to this beautiful place and in spite of facing many personal problems, we have remained united and trusting and believing in our family, much larger today, with grandchildren, sons and daughters in law, and all those who have become part of our family. And of course our small staff who has remained faithful and who have in some way contributed to the success of our lives.
Because of this,
“Life is worth living, and living it until our last day”.
Don Lulo and Doña Ruth.