"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 The first school Dan built in 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 Kenny Easton (left)
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 Michelle Fowlie at Rancho Del Rio Dan Junior getting shacked
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
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
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|
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
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 Experimental crops
Agronomist John Hall 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>.