the area remains a reference point for location information. Local inhabitants will tell you where they live in relationship to the location of the big tree or they will arrange to meet at the big tree at a certain time.
In 1821, Central America (Costa Rica included) declared independence from Spain. Thereafter the Central American republics were established.
Originally, the Pacific Northwest peninsula now known as Guanacaste belonged to Nicaragua; however in 1846 the annexation of Guanacaste as part of Costa Rica took place. "Guanacastecos" (as the people living in the province are referred to) have always had a deeply rooted sense of independence. At times it appears as though they consider themselves Guanacastecos first and then Costa Rican. This strong sense of identity give the area noticeable distinction from the rest of Costa Rica, and the advanced Spanish speaker will even notice a variance in their Spanish accent. Many of the villagers today bear strong resemblance to the indigenous "Chorotega" tribe that once lived in the area.
Despite the Nicoya peninsula being one of the last locations with large areas of unpaved roads in Costa Rica, Nosara is one of the oldest expatriate communities in the country, as well as a fishing and agricultural area.For generations, the land around Nosara was used mainly for cattle pasture. Large tracts of land were deforested thus greatly diminishing the natural beauty of the area. In the 1970s a developer named Alan Hutchinson traveled the coast in a small plane, until he happened upon the Nosara river and the mountains, completely undeveloped, with the small pueblo in the adjacent valley, and decided this was where he wanted to develop. Alan purchased the land from a local man, apparently a campesino who had squatted on the land long enough to lay claim to the entire area, and then Alan and his team came in by oxcart to survey the lots and mark off the sections. Building supplies came by boat and labor came from the pueblo for the new gravel roads, the small development at Playa Pelada, and the few first houses in other areas.
In our local Nosara library is a book entitled "Never in Nosara: Anecdotes and Reminiscenses," by Maxine MacKay, 1989. Maxine MacKay was among the first handful of gringos to buy property in Nosara shortly after seeing an ad in the New York Times. It seems that despite the tangled relationships and resulting tension among those first gringo settlers, so apparent even during that first sales pitch, despite the unknowns of how to build, despite some questionable legal issues, Maxine buys two lots on the spot. Perhaps it was the cocktails she was served that evening: tomato juice, rum and turtle eggs.
Maxine writes: "The natural life and the human-animal exchanges are too fine for troubles about property to be consuming...life in Nosara is a natural life, a special continuance all its own, at its own particular pace. And I am delighted to have shared its quiet moments and to have heard its voice and to have felt its return of the love that those who live in Nosara feel for its rhythms and its twilight and its days--and the perpetual pounding and ebbing of its surf, the long shadows that cross its enclosing mountains just at dusk."
This first subdivision was surveyed into approximately 500 residential lots with some commercial sites sprinkled through the design. Most of the lots were about 1/3 to 1/2 an acre in size. Plans included an 18-hole golf course winding through the subdivision. Roads were built and the services were installed (hydro, phones, water). The original developer was unable to secure the necessary capital to complete the project. Individual investors acquired the various sites, a community association was formed and the area became popularly known as "The American Project" (or Bocas de Nosara). Many of the original families still live year-round in the subdivision and can regale you with tales of the early days. Today about 15% of the lots have permanent dwellings established. The golf course area was purchased by the Nosara Civic Association (NCA) and converted to a wildlife preserve inside the Project.
Over the years, life has become much easier for new arrivals. We now have a good water system, mostly dependable national electricity, passable roads and bridges, telephones, Wi-fi and doctors. Before the roads were built, building materials arrived by boat and then transported to the sites by ox cart. Fresh vegetables came once a week when lucky, and most goods had to brought from the states or San José. There were no hardware stores closer than a three hour drive to Nicoya, crossing 21 rivers and streams. Electricity was provided a few hours a day by generators.
The NCA (Nosara Civic Association) has fought legal battles (some for over 20 years) to preserve our beaches from huge developers and has been instrumental in establishing community service organizations, which continue to enhance our total quality of life. For example, in Nosara there is the only free-lending library on the peninsula, Biblioteca Kitson, FUCAN, our local "trade school" and the NCA was instrumental in establishing a Nosara high school in 1997. They also continue to make reforestation priority. North of us is the Ostional Turtle Refuge where the Olive Ridley turtles and occasional Leatherback turtles nest. Up to 100,000 turtles lay eggs in one night otherwise known as an "arribada”. In 1985 the Refuge was extended south to include Playas de Nosara, Playa Pelada and Playa Guiones. Unlike most coastal towns, Nosara ‘s immediate beachfront will never be developed thanks to the 200 M Maritime Refuge now protecting 21 kilometers of beaches totaling 352 hectáreas of land and 8,000 hectares of ocean.Today, Nosara is one of the green zones of greatest beauty in all of Costa Rica. Thick rich forest grows in areas that were once razed for the benefit of cattle. Nosara's "Proyecto Americano" or American Project, which includes lots in the northern end of Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada and some of the surrounding hills, is a wonderful example of responsible planning and development. A large number of homes exist in the area yet the first time visitor will still feel total isolation while surrounded by a pristine tropical environment. This permanent Green Zone consists of 22 separate plots of land totaling 77 hectares or about 170 acres disbursed through the Project. The original developers promise of a golf course was never realized, but that land is officially protected and under the guardianship of the Nosara Civic Association.
Nosara serves as a perfect example of planned growth that is the model for development in other areas of Costa Rica. As a result Nosara enjoys the cleanest water table in Costa Rica, clean ocean water with no dumping of gray or black water into the streams or beaches (sad to say only a few parts of Costa Rica can boast this claim, regularly scheduled trash collection, and excellent health and educational services for the townspeople.
For a fun, romantic version of the history of Nosara please visit: http://www.nosararealestate.com/HistoryofNosara.pdf (courtesy of long-time Nosara Resident, owner of Costa Rica Yoga Spa and Nosara Real Estate, Darin McBratney.)