The Facts about Dan Fowlie and Pavones

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Friday, July 4, 2008

"A First Step to Rebutting Internet Rumors"

A First Step to Rebutting Internet Rumors
By Farah Oshun

As a personal friend and biographer of Danny “Mack” Fowlie, I feel obliged to clear the air of rumors about him on the World Wide Web. As many have discovered by watching the surf documentary Chasing the Lotus, Danny Mack is much different than how he’s depicted on the Internet. Danny Mack founded and then managed Pavones for eleven years, and he kept Pavones’s waves pristine and available only to friends, family, and locals. Unless people know Dan from the Internet or from Allan Weisbecker’s rants, most people either don’t know of Dan, as he likes to keep a low profile, or have only heard the mysterious whisperings circulating in the surf community today. Those who do know him are old-school friends, part of the privileged few who literally knew him from school growing up or who were invited to experience Pavones before the surfing world knew about its world-class left point break. Most of these friends are now legends themselves, and it is only by their stories that knowledge of Danny Mack has been passed down. Yet, information about Danny has often been glamorized into tall tales.

Fowlie was never involved with cocaine; he was convicted of a marijuana conspiracy charge. Simply put, Fowlie didn’t get a good deal. It was a dry conspiracy, meaning that the prosecution had minimal hard evidence—in this case, less than one ounce of marijuana on his California property, which was seized from the homes of tenants when Fowlie lived in Costa Rica. During that time, the drug war had just begun under the tutelage of Nancy Regan. Now, dry conspiracy cases are never tried in many countries and are not tired in US courts when testimonies come from people who are paid by the prosecution—as was the case with Dan’s trial. Yet for just one ounce found on his property, Fowlie spent eighteen years of a thirty-year sentence in jail! He was released early for good behavior.

I must applaud all the Internet sites for their entertaining stories, but there were no drug dealings on the beaches of Pavones, and Dan never knew Noriega, although he did know the fugitive financier Robert Vesco, from whom Fowlie bought a house. Through this association, Dan started to take heat from the FBI and Customs, who were the agencies involved in his arrest, not the DEA as typically written. Dan, by the way, would like anyone who believes false rumors about him to know that he thinks they are “kooks.” Gotta’ love Dan.

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"Fowlie Banned Again"

Fowlie Banned Again
By Farah Oshun

Costa Rica’s current Director General de Migración y Extranjería has concurred with the previous administration’s (i.e., Marco Badillia’s) decision: Daniel Fowlie is not allowed in Costa Rica.

Fowlie was banned in 2005 because of complaints that he allegedly caused violence during a trip he took there that fall, the first time Fowlie had been back to Pavones since his extradition to the United States in 1985. Fowlie had waited twenty long years to return to Pavones. Worrying that those who had stolen his land may attempt to plant illegal substances on him to keep him out of Costa Rica, Fowlie hired a Costa Rican police officer to accompany him 24 hours a day during the visit. Fowlie speculates that the land thieves fabricated claims of violence out of fear of losing their illegally acquired land holdings, which legally belong to Fowlie. Fowlie muses that it must be quite frightening to own land with Fowlie’s cloud on the title and wonder if the original owner will appear one day for his land.

The complaints center on claims that Fowlie threatened one of Fransisco (Chico) Gomez’s children; however, Fowlie has a video of the entire trip, including this incident. In the film, Gomez’s son stopped in his car and invited Fowlie back to his father’s house. Gomez, however, had profited extensively over the years off of Fowlie’s properties by selling them and keeping the cantina’s profits during Fowlie’s absence. Not surprisingly, the film shows Fowlie politely declining the offer. Instead of showing a confrontation, the video clearly depicts a peaceful encounter in which Gomez’s son smiles congenially before getting back into the expensive car, which Fowlie suspects was afforded by selling Danny Land illegally.

Another portion of the video shows Fowlie in his cantina, pointing to two police officers sitting outside. He had noticed them following him discretely for several days. The video shows Fowlie’s son exiting the cantina and striking a peaceful conversation with the officers. According to Fowlie’s son, they told him that they received complaints from local gringos and a couple of ticos but had yet to witness any disturbances. Fowlie’s son attests that the police stated that what they observed was peaceful and that they saw only the joy of people excited to see Fowlie return. Fowlie has begun to fight his exile in an international court using the video evidence, police reports of his peaceful stay, and historical facts about his past improvement of Pavones, Costa Rica.

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"How Fowlie Made the Money He Invested in Pavones"

How Fowlie Made the Money He Invested in Pavones
By Karl Block

The rumor that Danny “Mack” Fowlie bought and developed Pavones with “ill-gotten” drug profits, a rumor popularized by

Dan's Father
Allan Weisbecker,i has gained widespread circulation despite its irrationality. Fowlie has always had money. He inherited a great deal from his multi-millionaire father, also named Daniel Fowlie, who (after WWII) created Executive Transport Corporation by buying several airfields and their planes, converting the aircrafts into executive planes, and selling them to corporations and airlines. Dan Senior sold Braniff Airlines their very first twenty-one DC3s. When Dan Senior died in 1949 (when Danny still was a teenager), Danny invested part the inherited money offshore and into lucrative California real-estate deals. At age sixteen, Danny bought property in La Jolla, and after he got back from the Korean War in 1954 (at age twenty-one), he subdivided the property, sold the first lot for more than he had paid for the entire property, and profited hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Dan with over 3,000 pounds of big lobster
          Fowlie also had a very lucrative career diving for abalone and trapping lobster. By sports diving as a boy in Pacific Beach and La Jolla and selling his catches to local restaurants, “[a]t age thirteen (1946) Dan bought his own car, although cars were still rare just after WWII (1939-1945).”ii At age seventeen, Fowlie began diving commercially in Santa Barbara and selling his catches to the Pierce brothers, some of the biggest abalone processors on the West Coast at the time. Fowlie dove with four men on the Commander, and the crew sold their abalone for five-to-six dollars a dozen (today abalone sells for about eighty dollars a dozen). Earning up to six hundred dollars a day on those occasional hundred-dozen days, Fowlie recalls the glory he experienced when he and the Pierce Fisheries' other two boats outproduced the entire Black Fleet (comprised of over fifteen boats) in the late fifties. Pierce Fisheries became fishing legends that season.

Fowlie’s Leather Gypsy Inc., however, brought Fowlie some of his greatest financial success. Fowlie’s business grossed millions each year selling leather handbags and clothing to over three thousand stores and high-end boutiques nationally and abroad—including stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and JC Penney. Fowlie then invested much of his profits into buying and developing Pavones, Costa Rica. He also bought fugitive financier Robert Vesco’s house in San Jose when Vesco was ousted from Costa Rica; Fowlie then sold the estate for millions of profit and reinvested that money into Pavones as well.

In fact, the Costa Rican government clearly recognizes that Fowlie acquired all of his property in Pavones apart from and long before his marijuana-conspiracy charges in 1985, charges leveled against Fowlie eleven years after Fowlie began developing Pavones. Had the government found any link between Fowlie’s land purchases and these charges, it would have confiscated all of Fowlie’s property in Pavones.

                i. Weisbecker, Allan. “The Investigation.” [Internet]. [Cited 1 February 2008]. Available at  <>.

                ii. Jenkins, Dylan. “Allan Weisbecker, Can’t You Get along with Anyone?” The Facts about Dan Fowlie and Pavones. [Internet]. [Cited 21 April 2008]. Available at <>.

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"Allan Weisbecker, Can't You Get along with Anyone?"

Allan Weisbecker, Can’t You Get along with Anyone?
By Dylan Jenkins

Primary builder of Pavones, Costa Rica, Daniel Fowlie and popular writer about Pavones Allan Weisbecker, formally friends, recently had a falling-out. When I interviewed Fowlie, he provided me with all the e-mail correspondences between Weisbecker and him. Upon reading them, I quickly learned that a dispute between them over some Pavones land precipitated their falling-out, a split which also reveals a stark contrast between their histories in Pavones. On the one hand, Dan Fowlie longs to return to Pavones and reclaim its land, which he principally owns and built (called “Danny Land” by many)—the same land that was stolen from him and sold repeatedly with bogus titles during his exile from Costa Rica. On the other hand, Weisbecker curses Pavones on his way out of Costa Rica after selling property that originally belonged to “Danny Land.”i To unravel this fateful divergence between Pavones’s star-crossed pioneer and profiteer story teller, you should start where the story began. 

When Daniel Fowlie found surfing’s Eden, he had worked his whole life in and on the sea, so he was able to fulfill his greatest

Dan and Chuck
dreams by obtaining a stretch of Pavones’s heaven on earth. He had loved the ocean most of his life and known its ways and life forms as much as anyone—being a historic pioneer of California surfing, surfboard design, diving, and fishing. When Dan was just thirteen, he’d set out before dawn to skin-dive beneath Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, collect from his bonanza of lobster-brimming barrels beneath, and sell a wealth of them to local restaurants before school started each morning. Through this practice, he earned more money than his airplane-engineer stepfather earned, and at thirteen (1946) Dan bought his own car, although cars were still rare just after WWII (1939-1945). This young entrepreneur, no doubt the envy of his classmates, continued to work as a fisherman for many years and later as a successful leather-business owner.
Fowlie heard about Pavones as a fisherman from his surf-and-dive buddy Kenny Easton, who never quit talking about the waves in Pavones after he found them while harvesting copra along the southeast shorelines of Golfo Dulce and selling the coconuts in Golfito. Kenny Easton likely body surfed Pavones as a virgin wave.

When Dan, the successful water-and-business man, found the place of Kenny’s dreams in 1974, he did more than just buy Pavones and save it as his little vacation surf spot. He moved his whole family there and

Dan Fowlie at cantina luau 
devoted his life to his love for the place and its culture. Not surprisingly, the kid who had a knack for accomplishing so much also succeeded as an adult to build Pavones into a flourishing region for all its people. For over five years, he employed almost every Pavones local and built nearly every public amenity found in Pavones today. Locals await the day Fowlie returns to finish his improvements of the land.

 When the hard-working Fowlie became the envy of the world by sapiently acquiring Pavones’s emerald shores, he never quit working to make them a prosperous place for his family and Pavones natives. Though some of this paradise has been unjustly taken away from him by illegal land sales during his exile from Eden, he has no intentions of discarding his desire to benefit Pavones through hard work once more. He has already begun to win back all of his Pavones land in court, to secure his immanent return to the land and people he loves, and to implement his plan for restoring Pavones’s environment, economy, and public health and safety.ii

Contrast this Pavones pioneer with a man who became what he formally detested: another one of the “[. . .] many examples down here [in Pavones] of people selling land that is morally and ethically (and probably legally) Fowlie’s [. . .].”iii That is, Allan Weisbecker unscrupulously bought and sold a piece of Danny Land with illegal title, bragged to Fowlie about the profit,iv and shared nothing with its rightful owner—all just to say in an e-mail to Fowlie, “good fucking riddance” to Pavones.v

Though Weisbecker sold his land, Fowlie was willing to absolve Weisbecker of future lawsuits by surrendering future pursuits of the 3.1 hectares in court if Weisbecker wrote a series of articles that cleared up misinformation about Dan in Costa Rican newspapers and in Weisbecker’s own writing. In simple terms, this deal ensured that Dan got something for his property and that the people who bought the property from Allan for $550,000 after a long line of illegal sales would not have to reacquire their money from Allan when Fowlie reacquires the 3.1 hectares in court (just as he has been winning back many other properties in Pavones). Though Weisbecker denies that he verbally agreed to write articles for Dan in exchange for Fowlie’s cooperation, he also admits in an e-mail to Dan that the Tico Times refused to “[. . .] print a letter [he] wrote to them defending [Dan] [. . .]”vi—a fact which exhibits that Weisbecker agreed to write for Fowlie in some capacity. As for Dan, he has simply maintained what he considers their verbal agreement. All he ever wanted for the little piece of land taken rom him was a series of articles, and he continued to believe that Allan would live up to his word and help him by writing them; he writes to Weisbecker, “[. . .] although we have not sat down and discussed the text of how many articles and to whom, I’m sure it will be forthcoming.”vii

Yet, Weisbecker never helps himself by writing the articles that Dan demands in exchange for not legally pursuing the land. Instead of reasonably fulfilling his end of the bargain and ethically fulfilling his end of the friendship by doing Dan this favor, Weisbecker brags about how he profited on Danny Land: “i’m netting 350k, with an investment of about 200 total, so not bad. being a writer, i see this as a bit of a cushion [. . .]. having said that:  if you have a problem and need a few bucks here in CR I would be glad to help you. as you know, i’m more than talk [sic].”viii In retrospect to Weisbecker’s offer, however, he submitted little more than talk. Fowlie was willing to accept Weisbecker’s offer for financial assistance, even though Fowlie never forgot about their verbal agreement. Fowlie asked Weisbecker to assist his land defense by giving Fowlie’s attorney Franklin Morera $40,000. In response, Weisbecker claimed that he already gave Dan $10,000 dollars for Dan, saying that he might at best be able to help Dan with “7,500” more.ix Regarding the $10,000 in question, Weisbecker actually used it to purchase legal services from Franklin Morera to stop the road being built by Mark Sherman through “Allan’s” property. Morera did his job very effectively, nearly having Sherman’s tractor driver arrested, so Allan got what he paid for.

In fact, Weisbecker’s small offers of assistance turned to threats when he viciously writes in an e-mail to Fowlie, giving the e-mail the subject “back to the clink[,]” that he has “decided to put [Fowlie] back in jail, where [he] belong[s]”x—what a cruel thing to say to someone, especially to the unjustly banished lover of Pavones who dreams of returning to prosper the land. Given this dramatic shift in Weisbecker’s demeanor, Dan finally grew doubtful that Weisbecker ever had any intentions of writing the articles. Yet, Fowlie graciously continued to exhibit willingness to compromise with Weisbecker: Fowlie writes, “I don’t know why you are in denial about just doing what you agreed to do. It seems it would be so much easier if you would just hold up your end of our verbal agreement and we would have no more ill feelings. The title of your new book should be Why can’t we all just get along? [sic]”xi But after more of the same e-mail belligerence from Weisbecker, Fowlie grew to consider Weisbecker just another land shark who (like Allen Nelson, Dan’s former attorney) profited on Danny Land under the guise of being Fowlie’s friend.

    If Weisbecker wants to befriend Fowlie, he should at the very least rescind the falsities about Fowlie in his articles, like the claim in “Night at the Cantina” that the DEA was involved in Fowlie’s case, which they were not, and the slanderous suggestion in “The Investigation” that Fowlie bought Pavones land “with his ill-gotten gains”xii—when, in fact, Fowlie bought the land with money acquired in the profits and sale of his multimillion-dollar leather business, Leather Gypsy Inc. Journalists and land buyers alike should always deal with facts instead of fictions. In the case of the land thieves’ deceptive titles, may Fowlie continue to have success in separating legal facts from fictions. In the case of Daniel Fowlie’s land holdings and legendary history, the facts are simply better than fictions.

      i. Weisbecker writes, “dan, my house deal is done, i’m out of pavones in every way you can name. good fucking riddance [sic].” Weisbecker, Allan. [E-mail]. Subject line: “one thing or another.” Message to Daniel Fowlie. 18 February 2006. [Cited 1 February 2008].

      ii. See Mendez, Justice. “Why the Banished King Should Be Let Back into Pavones.” (Published on this site 1 February 2008).

      iii. Weisbecker, Allan. “Dan Fowlie Returns, Part 1.” [Internet]. [Cited 1 February 2008]. Available at < />.

      iv. “i’m netting 350k, with an investment of about 200 total, so not bad. being a writer, i see this as a bit of a cushion [. . .]. having said that: if you have a problem and need a few bucks here in CR I would be glad to help you. as you know, i’m more than talk [sic].” Weisbecker, Allan. [E-mail]. Subject line: “still in CR.” Message to Daniel Fowlie. 25 January 2006. [Cited 1 February 2008].

      v. Weisbecker writes, “dan, my house deal is done, i’m out of pavones in every way you can name. good fucking riddance [sic].” Weisbecker, Allan. [E-mail]. Subject line: “one thing or another.” Message to Daniel Fowlie. 18 February 2006. [Cited 1 February 2008].

      vi. Weisbecker writes, “Dan [. . .] although i never agreed to specifically do a ‘series of articles’ for CR papers, i tried [. . .] [sic].” Weisbecker, Allan. [E-mail]. Subject line: “Fwd: more of the same.” Message to Daniel Fowlie. 27 February 2006. [Cited February 1].

      vii. Fowlie, Daniel. [E-mail]. Subject line: “In response to your threat.” Message to Allan Weisbecker. 26 June 2006. [Cited 1 February 2008].

      viii. Weisbecker, Allan. [E-mail]. Subject line: “still in CR.” Message to Daniel Fowlie. 25 January 2006. [Cited 1 February 2008].

      ix. Weisbecker, Allan. [E-mail]. Subject line: “one thing or another.” Message to Daniel Fowlie. 18 February 2006. [Cited 1 February 2008].

      x. (My alteration of pronouns). Weisbecker writes, “fowlie, I’m [sic] decided to put you back in jail, where you belong. [. . .] how would you like to serve the rest of your term on the RICO conviction for committing a crime while on parole? maybe some of the guys at the FBI would like to see that [sic].” Weisbecker, Allan. [E-mail] Subject line: “back to the clink.” Message to Daniel Fowlie. 25 June 2006. [Cited 1 February 2008].

     xi. Fowlie, Daniel. [E-mail]. Subject line: “In response to your threat.” Message to Allan Weisbecker. 26 June 2006. [Cited 1 February 2008].

     xii.Weisbecker, Allan. “The Investigation.” [Internet]. [Cited 1 February 2008]. Available at <>.

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"Why the Banished King Should Be Let Back into Pavones"

Why the Banished King Should Be Let Back into Pavones
By Justice Mendez

In June 2005, Costa Rica’s Director General of Immigration Marco Badilla exiled Daniel Fowlie from Costa Rica for purposes of public safety on the basis of reports that Fowlie’s brief return to Pavones after his release from prison caused public fear and disorder in the region.i However, many Pavones locals strongly disapprove of this ban, public disapproval which leads us to wonder whether Immigration has creditable justification for maintaining Fowlie’s exile despite locals’ cry for his return.

All relevant facts recommend that Immigration should allow the beloved builder of Pavones back into paradise for three incontrovertible reasons: first, the exile has no factual justification on four separate counts; second, Fowlie (therefore) has a right to return in order to defend his land from thievery; and third and most importantly, Fowlie’s return would significantly benefit Pavones and its people by ensuring improvements that the Golfito municipality has proven itself incapable of implementing. In reality, a ban meant to prevent fear and disorder in the region has succeeded merely to protect Pavones land thieves from fearing the disruption of their thievery by Fowlie’s return.

The exile lacks justification because it’s based exclusively on fictions at every level. Even the source of the complaints on which the government bases their exile remains dubious. Written complaints of Fowlie’s return (which claim that the same Fowlie who brought cocaine, prostitutes, and counterfeit money to Costa Rica had returned inciting regional violence) were actually given a fictitious attorney author, one whose name does not appear in records of the law school he purportedly attended. Why, then, do newspapers and government officials continue to trust untrustworthy reports, which were most likely disseminated by the very land thieves interested in keeping out of Pavones Fowlie and his legal right to the land they acquired illegally?

On the second count of the ban’s bogus justification, the caricature of Pavones’s builder king as a kingpin constitutes pure sensationalism because it’s unwarranted by the facts of Fowlie’s marijuana conspiracy charges, particularly the fact that the only hard evidence of marijuana in Fowlie’s case was an ounce found on Dan’s ranch in California, when not he but many other tenants lived on the ranch.

Yet, Costa Rican newspapers, apparently less intenerated in facts that stories, continue to encourage wildly imaginative parodies of Fowlie and ignore what the indigenous people of Pavones know and think about Pavones’s builder. Natives of Pavones, besides insisting that nothing remotely suggested illegal drug or prostitution activities led by Dan at Pavones, will inform you that Fowlie gave them all jobs; built their roads, schools, and hospitals; strongly disapproved of any drug presence on the beach; and greatly improved their land and quality of life. On all accounts, Dan was a real friend to the Costa Rican people.

Third (regarding the ban’s missing justification), contrary to fictional reports, all actual evidence demonstrates that Dan’s visit to Pavones was “muy tranquillo,” as the local police comment in police reports during Dan’s return. Fowlie, convinced that the land thieves would harm his efforts to reacquire his land by planting contraband on him, hired an unarmed Costa Rican drug-enforcement agent to accompany him at all times during his return, and this agent also testifies to Fowlie’s good behavior. The only specific allegation of violence during Fowlie’s visit is that Fowlie threatened one of Chico Gomez’s “children”—not the best fabrication because the “child” in question was Bierno, who stood 6’3 and weighed about 225 pounds in his thirties.ii Though many know Fowlie for his bravado, the video tape of, and the eyewitness accounts of, the encounter—in which Gomez’s son had actually stopped in his car to invite Dan to his father’s house for a meeting—all suggest the opposite of baseless allegations of threats and violence. During this visit, only the people who had acquired parts of Danny Land illegally (most of them gringos) were unhappy to see Fowlie in Pavones. The indigenous people, who had become family to Fowlie in former years, embraced him.

Fourth, Fowlie insists that his exile is unjustified because it exhibits government corruption in light of the close connections between Pavones land thieves to high-ranking government officials. Though the facts of Fowlie’s accusations warrant further exploration, the government’s ongoing decision to trust the fabrications of court-recognized land thieves over hard evidence and the testimonies of Costa Rican police reports, a drug enforcement official, and local eyewitness certainly demands explanation.

The ban also hinders Fowlie from effectively exercising his right to reclaim and defend his land. During Fowlie’s absence, much of his land was sold via falsified titles or illegal squatting. Though Fowlie has already successfully reclaim much of his land in Costa Rican courts, his inability to enter Costa Rica has slowed down the progress of his legal defense in his dozens of cases and made legal processes less transparent. If allowed back into Pavones, he could direct his defense team much more efficiently, efficiency the government persists to prevent for no good reason.

Besides lacking all justification and aiding illegal land thievery, the banishment of Fowlie prevents him from significantly benefiting the people and land of Pavones. Since Fowlie’s absence, the local economy, forests, roads, and public health and safety have suffered. When Dan ran the local economy, he employed over eighty percent of the local population. Currently, Fowlie is collaborating with Parque Pavones del Pacifico to preserve Pavones as a private park and, thereby, leave it largely development free. Parque Pavones also has plans for a community northeast of Pavones, Playa Manzanillo, a residential and commercial development that blends with the natural beauty of the environment and fosters the economic welfare of residents in the region.iii It’s hard to exaggerate the economic advantages this plan would provide Costa Rica’s South Pacific. It would provide jobs to all who presently lack them in the region, help youth who sell drugs for a living find better employment, and provide women with more economic opportunities than they currently share.

Parque Pavones also maintains the highest standards for conserving the forests and diverse aquatic life in the region. The collaborative agency between Fowlie and Parque Pavones has already saved Golfo Dulce, one of the most diverse biospheres in the world, from an environmental disaster. By preventing the implementation of a tuna-farming project by Granjas Atuneras de Golfito S.A., Parque Pavones’s political advocacy rescued from future peril dolphins, sea turtles, and more. Moreover, as Fowlie wins back his land and establishes it into private park, he will thereby preserve the emerald-green forests of Pavones from the deforestation of unplanned random construction.iv Hence, this collaborative agency is essential to restoring Pavones to an economically prosperous and environmentally sound region. By donating his land to Parque Pavones, Fowlie wants to help people experience Pavones as he first saw it: a place where monkey-light jungle meets magical sea.

Regarding transportation and public health and safety, the roads have remained in disrepair ever since Dan’s absence, though he would doubtless maintain them if he returned just as he did so in the seventies and eighties after building the roads. In those days, Dan also refused to allow drugs in the cantina, and he fired a bartender for selling marijuana. Today, however, cocaine pervades the cantina in plastic straws behind the ears of local drug dealers. There have also recently been cases of rape, stabbings, and theft in the area, all without much of a deterrent of imprisonment due to the lack of an adequate detention center. Locals regret Pavones’s local inability to hold suspected violators before trial dates. In contrast to the government’s lack of assistance with these problems, Dan plans on working with Parque Pavones to maintain legal order by training government-certified park rangers and by building an adequate detention facility. When Fowlie returns, he also intends to build an adequate sewer-treatment facility to eliminate the stench and toxicity of improperly managed raw sewage in Pavones. When Fowlie lived in Pavones, he had it looking beautiful and running beautifully, and he would do so again, given the opportunity.

Given the real possibility of these significant advantages for the region, it’s no wonder that Pavones locals call for Fowlie’s return. Contrary to the ludicrous myth that the locals view Fowlie as some God because he once threw money out an airplane over Pavones, locals really know Dan as a proven means to their prosperity and as one who can effectively contribute to the worthy cause of helping Pavones flourish once again.

                     i. A.M. Costa Rica staff. “Being Banned from here is a Surprise to Fowlie.” A.M. Costa Rica. Vol. 5, No. 112. 8 June 2005. Available at <>.

                  ii. Tico Times staff. “Ex-Convict Returns to Claim Property.” The Tico Times. 10 June 2005. Reprinted from Explore Costa [Cited 1 February 2008]. Available at <>.

                  iii. Parque Pavones del Pacifico. [Internet]. [Cited 1 February 2008]. Available at <>.

                  iv. Ibid.

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"The Press's Prejudice against Fowlie's Unjust Drug Charges"

The Press’s Prejudice against Fowlie’s Unjust Drug Charges
By Justice Mendez

The public must trust the press as a source of accurate information. So it is particularly egregious when media accounts of events are based on faulty or inadequate research. Then, reporting’s air of informative objectivity simply ensnares our understandings in misinformation, and the resulting “news” piece becomes idle chatter that panders to the sensationalism that sells newspapers. The worst-case scenarios of media misinformation result when unfounded reports actually malign the character of individuals and, thereby, foster public prejudice: adverse opinions or leanings directed against individuals or their supposed characteristics without due knowledge or examination. The press then becomes responsible for these unjustified, unfavorable opinions of others that result in the public adopting irrational stances of hostility toward lambasted individuals. The most sinister aspect of this type of reporting is that it becomes next to impossible to counter the media’s erroneous statements because people tend to believe the “facts” the media reports.

Such unwelcome prejudice appears in the press’s continual treatment of Daniel Fowlie. Consider the Orange County Resister’s article (13 February 2008) about Fowlie’s “[f]ormer drug ranch” which “was a haven for a convicted marijuana and cocaine smuggler.” The article explains that in 1979 “Daniel Fowlie, a suspected pot kingpin linked to drug guru Timothy Leary and the Brotherhood of [Eternal] Love, builds a house on Rancho del Rio” and that in 1985 “investigators raid the ranch [but] Fowlie escapes.”i Simply by reading the article, we have adopted an unfavorable opinion of Fowlie and his supposed kingpin characteristics without having the actual facts with which to render sound judgment.

In reality, these “reports” about Fowlie comprise nothing more than prejudicial fictions. Fiction number one: Fowlie was convicted of marijuana conspiracy charges; no charges or evidence in his case states that he was involved with cocaine or cocaine smuggling—contrary to the article’s unequivocal declaration. Second, though many stories have been told about Fowlie, this article takes first prize for the most wildly imaginative claim that Fowlie was linked to “Timothy Leary and the Brotherhood of [Eternal] Love.” Readers should remain leery of this unfavorable rumor when it offers no supporting evidence and appears nowhere in Fowlie’s case- or court records. Nor did Fowlie “escape” the Sheriff’s raid as the article asserts (giving readers a third fiction that elicits an adverse opinion of Fowlie). Fowlie was not even in the country at the time of the California raid.

Not only do the article’s “facts” constitute pure prejudice against Fowlie; the actual case against Fowlie was on many accounts unjustified as well. In fact, it was originally thrown out of California courts “in the interest of justice.” Fowlie’s case began in 1985 when the local authorities recovered less than an ounce of marijuana in an illegal raid of Fowlie’s 214-acre ranch (Rancho Del Rio) on the Riverside section of the border between Orange County and Riverside County: illegal because the property was just outside the department’s jurisdiction, and probable cause remained questionable in later appeals. Fowlie, who lived in Costa Rica at the time, only visited the ranch several weeks each year and was visiting Mexico when he heard that his ranch had been raided. Since many friends and workers of Fowlie occupied the seven houses on the ranch at the time of the raid, it’s likelier that the small amount of marijuana belonged to them than to Fowlie. Amazingly, this single ounce found in California was the only hard evidence of marijuana ever brought against Fowlie.

The other “evidence” presented against Fowlie was the purchased testimonies of jailhouse informants—paid by the prosecution with reduced jail sentences, money, and/or immunity from prosecution. (Since the Singleton Case, the justice system has begun rescinding the questionable practice of buying testimonies from informants, a practice which gives informants a self-interested incentive to lie in order to avoid punishment). The prosecution also presented testimony of an officer who claimed that twenty boxes were found on the California ranch with marijuana residue in them. However, the prosecution could never produce the boxes or lab results confirming that the residue was cannabis. Fowlie attested that he used the boxes to collect grapes on his vineyard. Later assertions that Fowlie possessed tons of marijuana were merely induced from the capacity of these empty, elusive boxes.

In light of all these facts, in 1986 Judge McBride threw Fowlie’s case out of California courts “in the interest of justice”—leaving Fowlie free and clear from all charges.

Yet nothing but injustice was then served against Fowlie when the local authorities found a federal prosecutor to bring the discarded dry-conspiracy case to a federal judge, who allowed the illegal search in court. The federal court convicted Fowlie on the single ounce of pot, alleged (but never produced) boxes or lab tests, and the paid testimonies of informants. In 1987, Fowlie was convicted for marijuana-conspiracy charges in US federal courts, was then incarcerated in Mexico at the request of the US, extradited in 1990 to federal prison on Terminal Island, California, and then released in 2004 after serving eighteen years of a thirty-year sentence (a maximum sentence with good behavior at that time).

During his imprisonment, the authorities seized and manned Fowlie’s property for three years—living in Fowlie’s house, auctioning or looting all of his antiques, and shooting up all of Gus Fowlie’s Volkswagens, cars which Gus, Dan’s son, planned to restore into off-road racecars. Not only did Fowlie lose his ranch, now worth an estimated $22.5 million; he also lost nearly all his land in Pavones, Costa Rica, to illegal squatting during his imprisonment, land which Fowlie has been forced to win back through slow and costly legal processes.

As if Fowlie has not endured enough, uninformed Costa Rican and American newspapers continue to vilify him with their prejudicial, sensationalistic depictions of him as a former drug lord in California and Pavones. After all, Fowlie already maxed out a thirty-year- (and more-than-likely-unjust) sentence. Fowlie has more than paid his debt to society for less than one ounce of marijuana (found on a ranch he owned but did not occupy) and for the conspiracy inferred from paid informants and boxes that the prosecution lost. Continuing to misrepresent Fowlie’s case for the sake of selling newspapers not only conceals the reality of these events from readers—to their detriment—but seduces readers into prejudicially adopting irrational stances of hostility toward others—to the advantage of no one.

i. Collins, Jeff. “Former Drug Ranch Resurfaces as Luxury Retreat.” Orange County Register. 13 February 2008. Accessible at <>. [Last accessed 10 April 2008].

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"How Daniel Fowlie Discovered, Procured, and Developed Pavones"

How Daniel Fowlie Discovered, Procured, and Developed Pavonesi
By Justice Mendez

Dan operating the equiptment he brought into Pavones

When the people from the mountains behind Pavones hiked to the beach and discovered tractors connecting Pavones to the Red Road to Conte, they “had a big fiesta every year on that anniversary date to celebrate the road coming.”ii Yet, many fail to recognize the agent who

Walking into the cantina in the 80s
provided Costa Ricans with this occasion for celebration: not the Coast Rican government but American surfer and Pavones pioneer Daniel “Mack” Fowlie, who principally built Pavones (the gem of Costa Rica’s South Pacific) through years of self-financed and painstaking work. The road did not come from Conte. Fowlie constructed the road from Pavones to Conte, and he also built the present-day cantina, beach roads, bridges, hospitals,
The first school Dan built in Pavones
schools, and nearly every other public amenity in Pavones. Thus far, the facts about this region’s early stage of improvement have been obscured by the stuff of legends. So how did this gringo Danny “Mack” actually discover, procure, and develop Pavones?

Pavones was named after a peacock-like bird called the Pavones (a Pava Royal), which has nearly become extinct because, purportedly, it’s also tasty. No less peculiar a beginning belongs to the story of Fowlie’s discovery of Pavones. Fowlie first heard about this paradise from the infamous Kenny Easton: a bodysurfer, fisherman, diver, and all-around beach rat who socialized with Fowlie and other chief water men of Pacific Beach (PB) and La Jolla in the early sixties, still the dawn of California surfing. From a broken family, Kenny lived with his grandfather in PB. One night, Kenny came home drunk, and his outraged grandfather began to abuse him with punches to the

Big  bugs and Dan
face and body. Kenny defended himself but accidentally killed his grandfather in the process, consequently serving a minimum term for manslaughter. Fowlie won Easton an early release from prison as Easton’s employer in the mid sixties, hiring Kenny as a line tender for Fowlie’s
Kenny Easton (left)
commercial abalone operation in Santa Barbara. That Abalone season, Kenny told stories about a perfect wave that he had discovered before imprisonment, a left point break that wrapped endlessly around the southeast shorelines of Golfo Dulce.

Kenny discovered the wave while working as a copra (or coconut) harvester in Costa Rica. After harvesting copra all along the shorelines of Golfo Dulce, the small group, on their five mules and five horses, headed to Golfito (near the southwest corner of Costa Rica or southeast shoreline of Golfo Dulce), where they set camp and sold the sweet coconut meat. Years later as Fowlie’s line tender, Kenny reminisced about a wave that he claimed to bodysurf for blocks. In all likelihood, bodysurfer Kenny Easton was the first person ever to ride the legendary waves at Pavones, some of the best waves on the planet.

In 1974, Fowlie (41 at the time) decided to find these waves himself, so he brought his adolescent son Dan and son’s two

Dan Junior, Central American surfing champion in the '80s
friends on
Michelle Fowlie at Rancho Del Rio
a surf vacation to Costa Rica. He left with the dream of buying some of the land Kenny spoke of because at this time Fowlie wanted to
Dan Junior getting shacked
move his children away from what he thought had become an unruly party-and-crime scene in Laguna Beach. Since one his sons loved surfing, another motorcycling, and his daughter loved horses, Fowlie knew that all of his children would find something to love in Costa Rica. Fowlie had also been advised at this time to close his prosperous leather business, Leather Gypsy Inc., before an oncoming recession, when such markets usually suffer. Reckoning that beachfront property was his next profitable investment, he saved the millions that he had made selling leather clothing and accessories to over 3,000 international stores and boutiques for his new venture to buy and develop some of Pavones’s legendary shoreline, if it indeed lived up to Easton’s stories.

Contrary to legend, Dan did not discover Pavones by boat; he and the kids rented an Aztec airplane from Pat Hatch in San Jose and spotted the wave on a big swell from the air. (Hence, the first gringos did not arrive at Pavones in 1978, as Luz Marina Martinez,

Looking out Dan's plane window over Pavones
who arrived there in 1976, erroneously recounts; Kenny Easton arrived there much earlier, and Fowlie arrived in 1974).iii Ecstatic to locate the source of Kenny’s constant reveries, Dan had the pilot drop them off in Golfito, and, wasting no time, Fowlie inquired at the cantinas into who owned the beach property. The locals referred him to Claudio Lobo (or Cullo). Fowlie found Cullo in a Golfito bar that night drinking a few beers.

Cullo owned about 100 hectares (or about 250 acres) of beachfront property in Pavones and owned and operated the crude sawmill. During these extremely rural days of Pavones, only about thirty families lived in the whole area, both in the mountains and by the beach, and the only way to get to Pavones was by boat, either from the sea via Golfo Dulce or from Golfito via river. Because Pavones lacked roads at that time, people traveled by horseback or mule, and they did so only at low tide because the tide rose to solid jungle, a fact necessitating a great deal of night travel.

Asked if he wanted to sell the property, Senior Lobo replied that he would sell for the right price. Fowlie recounts that Lobo wanted some time to think about actually selling, but during that very first meeting, Dan gave Cullo $10,000 and got a provisional bill of sale for the property, a bill which left open the possibility that Dan would purchase the property for more after viewing it. They

Mike Hynson and Dan Junior
scheduled an appointment to see the beach the next morning, but it took several days before Cullo found Dan at his rental. When Cullo finally arrived, the family that was so anxious to surf finally got its chance after a 2-hour outboard-canoe ride across the Golfito Bay, the La Trocha, and then the mouth of the Rio Coto to Pavones. According to Fowlie, Cullo said that he had only seen a couple of people, including a German named Winford, surf there before Fowlie and the kids. Fowlie rode boards shaped by his friend Mike Hynson of the first Endless Summer.

After viewing the remote and rugged property, where untamed jungle met perfect waves, Dan drew up a deal with Cullo to buy the entire ranch, including the crude sawmill, for $30,000. Worth millions today, this prime chunk of Pavones sold for today’s price of a modest automobile! (Dan remarks that he bought Cu

Claudio Lobo in the new sawmill built by Fowlie
llo’s sawmill in order to better preserve the magnificent old trees and growth from deforestation). From 1974 to 1981, Fowlie purchased every beachfront ranch and beach concession from Rio Manzanillo to Punta Banco; only four Pavones land owners refused to sell. These purchases gave Fowlie over fifteen miles of beach-concession land and over eighty percent of Pavones, land which he still legally owns today. As it would turn out, Dan Fowlie was just what the people of Pavones needed.

Rancho Del Mar and Fowlie compound in 1980 after development by Fowlie


The kids’ trip lasted about a month, during which time Dan and they lived in Golfito, camped on the Pavones beaches, and began importing building materials from San Jose. By the summer of 1974, Dan had moved his entire family into huts on the beach. Within ninety days of Dan’s original arrival, he had built four houses, converted one house into a kitchen, dug a well, and constructed a water tower and power plant.

Dan's water-tower house, where Mike Hynson stayed when he visited Pavones
Dan Junior's house right on the point at Rio Claro in 1974
Dan's house under construction in front of Sawmill break 1974

First transportaion for Rancho Del Mar
      At first, importing materials from Golfito to Pavones by dug-out canoes through the La Trocha to the mouth of the Rio Coto was incredibly arduous work. As Fowlie recalls, one time when he was bringing horses to Pavones for beach transportation, having blindfolded and bound their legs in the canoes, one horse rejected the idea in the middle of the river and began kicking violently, a scene which could have cost the horse its life had Dan not been able to calm the animal. After time, Fowlie built large barges to supply the beach with tractors, road graders, and other farming and construction equipment.

One of Fowlie's barges
Building one of Fowlie's barges
One of Fowlie's tractors

From 1974 to the mid eighties, Fowlie employed almost every Pavones local, and together they built the soccer field, churches, two airports, medical center, several schools, twenty miles of beach roads, and the road connecting Pavones to Conte. Virtually

Agronomist John Hall
nothing was there before Dan built it. He also taught the people how to earn a living through farming. Together, they planted myriads of crops and trees—including coco, pine, balsa, fruits, and different rice species. Occasionally, Fowlie even played the role of local doctor by setting broken bones and distributing antidotes for venomous snake bites. Memorably, Dan put on a festive luau every month with Hawaiian-style pig roasts and musicians on the xylophone or steel drums, and before the luau, he always held a daytime turno (or “rodeo”) for the kids. The people of Pavones enjoyed these prosperous times very much, and many of them went on to begin their own farming businesses with the skills they learned with Fowlie. In those days, the Pavones people became not only Dan’s friends but also his family.

Experimental crops

Chico Gomez, Jimmy Obubo, Rory Russell, and Dan Fowlie at a cantina luau (from left to right)

During this golden age of Pavones, when Fowlie lived there from 1974-1985, everyone who wanted a job had one, and the roads were always kempt. Ironically, gringo Dan Fowlie did more for the people of Pavones than the Golfito municipality ever managed. In Fowlie’s absence, the municipality has let the roads deteriorate, let the people fend for themselves economically, and let squatting and random construction strip Pavones’s emerald-green forests from each fence line to the next. No wonder the people of Pavones do everything possible to secure Fowlie's return. 

               i. Much of the information in this essay is based on a series of interviews with Daniel “Mack” Fowlie: Daniel Fowlie, “Interviews with Daniel Fowlie.” Interviews by Justice Mendez. December 2007-February 2008.

               ii. Quotation is from “excerpts from interviews with Senor Jose Antonio Sandi conducted by author Anne Weston in the summers of 2003 and 2004.” “As Promised—Pavones, Costa Rica.” [E-mail]. Subject line: “Pavones History.” Message to Daniel Fowlie and Pavones Surf School. 12 December 2007. 12:01 a.m. PST. [Cited 11 February 2008].

               iii. [Internet]. [Last accessed 23 August 2007, cited 11 February 2008]. Text-only cache accessed from <http://www.cantinapavones .com/history.htm>.

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