by Luis Gutiérrez Galera – fotos: Philippe Chapuy
Thanks to the courageous work of a group of men and women last century, fertile land, majestic mountains and warm weather are part of the scene that about 150,000 inhabitants of Perez Zeledón have the privilege of observing almost anywhere.
The colonization of Valle del General began when then president Jose Maria Montealegre, at that time, offered a prize of 5,000 CRC (Costarican Colons) to open a route between the Central Valley and the last town to the southeast.
Cornelio Monge took up the challenge without being able to succeed, it was Pedro Calderón Ureña and his son in law Juan López who managed in 1866 the way to create a trail that would connect El General, Térraba and Boruca with the valley of El Guarco in Cartago.
With this trail, native families of the capital “Cartago” and other areas in the Central Valley eager to colonize new lands, undertook the journey to the place that would become their new home.
Getting to Valle del General in those years was an audacity, almost a madness from those trying to travel to the current Pérez Zeledón area. The 165 kilometers separating the two sites were not the biggest problem, but facing the dreaded Cerro de la Muerte with its 3460 meters height, its glacial climate and rugged conditions, caused the death of many men and animals while in attempting to conquer it, giving it its lugubrious name.
Later on, the construction of shelters for travelers and animals in Ojo de Agua, Cerro de La Muerte and Division improved travel conditions, giving alleviation to the tired feet of new settlers who proudly managed to meet the epic conquest of Cerro de la Muerte.