By Dagmar Reinhard
Photos Isidro Obando Vargas
Don Amancio Vargas Obando was born in Guápiles (Limón) and raised in Quepos. He worked with the Banana company, where he also met his future wife, Zaida. He was 26 and she 14 years of age. When the company ended its operations in Costa Rica, they paid out the workers. Zaida and Amancio were married once she reached adulthood and moved southward with the goal of reaching Dominical.
Their first stop was at Dona Angela´s, a relative and owner of the post office where the buses from San Isidro stopped. Thereafter travelers had to walk with their bundles, first of all waiting for the tide to go down to cross the river or walk along the beach since there was no road.
South of Dominical, Amancio found an ideal site for his young family: a thicket at the beachfront dominated by a high rock formation, against which the sea rages when it is rough.
He began planting cacao, coconuts and bananas. There was no electricity or water at their first home. It was lit with a kerosene lamp or candles;
“we had water from our source flowing through canals made with chonta palm.”
And his young wife had their first children. After they grew up a little, the children accompanied their father to harvest, armed with sticks and pikes.
They got supplies of beans and rice at Memo’s grocer’s shop in Dominical or in San Jose when they took the cocoa harvest, once clean and dry, crossing Cerro de la Muerte to the capital.
“Those were the good old days,” said 77-year-old Dona Zaida whom we visited at her home in a small community, called Las Rocas Amancio, 2 km south of Dominical. From the property there are beautiful views of the sea and the famous rocks bearing her husband’s name.
“From 1968-1970 my husband was the principle police officer of Dominical. I had 16 children with him, ten girls and six men and now I have 26 grandchildren. I never went to a hospital to give birth; my husband was my midwife,“ she added. “However, when one of the children got sick we got distressed; we had to reach and cross the river and once we arrived too late; our little one died on the way.”
“The days usually started at 3 in the morning bringing the stove to life to prepare coffee and tortillas for breakfast. Afterwards I looked after the children, and started cooking for lunch. Thanks God there was always plenty of fishing and harvesting; we lived well,” she added.
Today several families live at Las Rocas Amancio, almost all are descendants of Don Amancio, who died 18 years ago, and Dona Zaida, who lives with Yorleny, her youngest daughter.
Be sure to enjoy a tasty ceviche along the road at Las Rocas de Amancio, prepared by doña Zaidas granddaughter Stefany Obando.
And on Saturdays try the seafood soup with coconut milk!