Sunday, September 27, 2009


Music is big part of this story - Listen while you read
Have you ever felt haunted by a promise you made?  This is my story. It has been with me since March of 2008 when I vacationed in Costa Rica.  The travel log of that trip will wait for another day although I brought back photo memories of that magnificent country that you can see here (suspend the music player if it is playing by pressing the space bar) - you’ll have to dream up your own explanations for the photos, but the feel for that enchanting  country will come through nonetheless – stay in touch and the travel log will come).

This posting is really about being haunted by a promise. This is, in a small way, my first step toward buying my freedom from that promise.  Time will tell if it works.  I may have to travel back to Costa Rica to try harder than this, and that would not be bad at all.  So, here it goes:

The trip

In 2008 Darlene, my wife, and I wanted a trip to a warm place with a direct flight from Phoenix AZ.  We’ve seen much of Mexico, another lovely country of wonderful people, so we were looking for another destination.  My boss Rich, an accomplished world traveler and bon-vivant, told me that he had invested in Costa Rica to develop property near Dominical.  He sang the glories of the country and we decided we had to see this jewel often called “Switzerland of Latin America” for its orderly government, peaceful people, high productivity and dependable banking. As a former international banker I was most curious to see it.
We traveled there in March 2008 just before the rainy season would come.  In one week we drove all over the North and West of the country and saw a volcano up lose (Arenal), high altitude cloud forests, sea level tropical forests, and more monkeys, sloths and butterflies than we had hoped. The Costarican people proved to be all they were promised to be: friendly, helpful, well educated and with a joi de vivre hard to find at home in our hurried culture.  Check the photolog  (suspend the music player if it is playing) and go see for yourself.

 A monkey on my back

In this wonderful country full of monkeys, I managed to put one on my back in a most unexpected way. The last stop of our Costa-Rican west coast exploration was the famous surfer village of Dominical, well known to all “real surfers” that dream of an “endless summer” lifestyle.  We are not surfers, so we were looking mostly for a laid back village where Rich had been developing property for sale to vacationing and “expat” gringos.  We were enchanted enough to even go talk to realtors about property, but in the end that was just daydreaming.

We stayed at the Hotel Domilocos, a grand hotel by surfers standards, but more of a motel-6 sort of place. It was just what we try to travel by: basic, clean, convenient, friendly, well priced accommodations you do not need to book days ahead, the kind that are mostly a lucky find.  That day we were lucky, the more so because in it, at the edge of the village, at the end of a dusty road, they were said to have a high end Italian restaurant.
The restaurant opened quite late, was an untested quantity, looked suspicious with high prices at the end of that dusty road and the front desk announced that the chef had just left to Italy on vacation. We decided to go for fish tacos at the local surfers’ hangout under the nearest palapa surrounded by broken surfboards.

Late in the evening on our way to our room we found the restaurant at Domilocos packed, lively and with great music.  We stopped for a nightcap and got a seat right in front of the single musician that sounded like a whole orchestra. Over a cognac and a banana flambĂ©’ in Grand Marnier we discovered that the restaurant was indeed top class despite the vacationing chef.

As we listened to the music I felt transfixed. The latin rhythm, the romantic songs and a musician that could switch from piano to keyboards to accordion to acoustic guitar and  guitarron were too much to leave.  We stayed until closing, whenever that was.

During a couple of intermissions I met the musician, bought a couple of his CDs for souvenirs and bought him a drink. Rafa Mora was his name (he is from Costa Rica, there is a musician in Spain by the same name).  I learned that he had tried to introduce his music into the US with the help of a friend in NYC, but the friend had gone bust, his CDs were gone and no contacts had come from the effort.  Rafa asked what I did for a living and I explained my work at Maricopa College Small Business Development Center.  Instinctively, and as I did with just about anyone in those days, I offered to help him develop his business by tracing his friend and see what could be done to reopen his web site.  I was willing to host his site along with several of my own ones if we could get it transferred without too much trouble.  At that news Rafa gratefully gave me a copy of all his other CDs that I had not already bought and wished me well in my endeavor.  The rest of that evening he pulled all the stops off performing for us as if I had been the most connected music industry mogul in LA.

Upon our return I made a few searches over the net, but never found his former friend. I had no time to develop a site for him, besides I did not have any local contact for him in Dominical since he never followed up to send me his email address. Life happened, I took up some demanding projects that took all my time and eventually I left the MCSBDC to chase a success chimera to the moon.  Over the months, I listened to Rafa’s music often as a crutch in tough times to make me smile again remembering that happy night in Dominical.  His captivating music has a joi de vivre that beats any antidepressant and on a romantic soul it works wonders.

All this musical bliss has not come free of charge, however.  Every time I hear Rafa sing and play a little monkey on my back gets agitated and whispers in my ears questioning if I did enough for those free CDs I got.  They had no cost to me and I could not sell them for more than I paid, but to Rafa they were a significant cost and investment in his future as a musician or so says the little monkey.  So, today I had to take a step, at least a little one, to quiet the little miserable bastard on my back:  1.  I wrote this posting, 2 I am streaming Rafa’s music for you to hear.  May be it will be my luck that some music industry connected reader my “discover” Rafa and lend a hand.  In time I’ll do more, starting with tracking down Rafa by email back in Dominical – I doubt my monkey will rest for long.

In the meantime you can enjoy Rafa’s magic.  Look him up if you are in Dominical, Costa Rica. The Hotel Domilocos will be a good place to start and  everyone in town should know Rafa Mora musician and singer extraordinair.  Happy travels.

Mucho gusto mi amigo Rafa – El mejor a Costa Rica

Songs and arragements copyright of Rafa Mora