Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2009 Issue

To Costa Rica and Back, Again

Libreria chunches

Libreria Chunches of Santa Elena.


Books are still pricey in Costa Rica - a used paperback in mediocre to fair condition can be ¢2825 colones which is about $5.00, but when you don't have something to read, you are willing to put out a bit of cash. I did get a chance to speak briefly with the owner, Darren Morro, this time. He is originally from Costa Rica. He speaks English quite well and between my much-improved Spanish and his English, we managed to chat for a while. He was enthusiastic about his move to his new location. I talked to Calvin Robinson, the man who is leasing the building in which the bookstore dwells, and he plans to put in a small coffee shop, which should be good for Morro Books' business.

Later that first month, we climbed some very high mountains on the "chicken bus," which was our term for the local buses. We like to travel the way the Ticos travel because we see more of the country and don't have to pay the excessive rental car rates. After many hours on the bus on one-lane roads with two buses passing side by side, we arrived at St. Elena in Monteverde, which is sort of the "Aspen" of Costa Rica. It was the most expensive place we went, but still quite affordable, and had all sorts of interesting things to do. We aren't exactly hikers or mountain climbers and the thought of flying down a zip line through the jungle does not appeal to recipients of Social Security. Also, it was quite windy and a bit chilly. We went to three amazing critter places there, the Serpentario (yes, snakes, Eek!), the Ranario, or frog pond, and a fabulous Mundo del Insectivos, the bug house. We saw many more species of creatures than we would have otherwise seen wandering around in the jungles. Also, after reading The Mapmaker's Wife by Robert Whittaker, I didn't want to wander around in the jungle at all. I highly recommend the book before you go for a stroll.

My husband, who loves to grow orchids, found El Jardin de Orquideas San Bosco and we whiled away many hours looking at their 500 species, many of which were in bloom. We found a very friendly and more reasonably priced Hotel El Sueño, than the place we stayed the first night. My favorite restaurant had a huge strangler fig tree (three stories high) and you could sit and eat among the branches. Costa Ricans seem to eat to live, not live to eat, so I won't say much about the food other than we did find a great Mediterranean tapas place and several really good seafood joints near the ocean.

In Spanish, biblioteca is a library and libreria is a bookstore. In Santa Elena, we found Libreria Chunches. It is owned by an American gal, Debra Hamilton and her Tico partner Victorino Molina Rojas. It is a very nice little bookstore with a good restaurant and coffee house upstairs. They had a small selection of fairly pricey used books and a very good selection of new fiction, and books in English and Spanish on Costa Rica and its critters, birds, flora, and food. They also had plenty of kids' books and school supplies. Amid all these tomes were lots and lots of local crafts as well as tourist souvenirs.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>A Record Breaking Season</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> <i>The Book of Mormon,</b> first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. Sold Sept. 30 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Vincent Van Gogh, <i>Homme à la Pipe: Portrait du Docteur Gachet, Evening,</i> etching, 1890. Sold Nov. 2 — $161,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edward Ruscha, <i>Stains,</i> title page, one of 70, signed, 1969. Sold Nov. 9 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> John James Audubon, <i>Carolina Parrot, Plate 26,</i> hand colored aquatint, 1828. Sold Dec.9 — $137,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edmund Dulac, <i>The Snow Queen,</i> watercolor, gouache, pen & ink, 1910. Sold Dec. 16 — $125,000.
  • <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> DANTE ALIGHIERI (1265-1321). <i>Commedia.</i> Venezia: Vindelino da Spira, 1477. Estimate: € 40.000 - 60.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> DALI, Salvador (1908-1989) - William SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616). <i>Romeo e Giulietta.</i> Milan: Rizzoli, 1975. Estimate: € 25.000 - 35.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> MALVASIA, Cornelio; MONTANARI, Geminiano. <i>Ephemerides novissimae motuum coelestium.</i> Modena: Cassiani, 1662. Estimate: € 8.000 - 12.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> JANSSONIUS, Johannes. <i>Atlantis majoris quinta pars, Orbem maritimum [Novus Atlas, volume V: carte marittime].</i> Amsterdam: Janssonius, 1650. Estimate: € 12.000 - 18.000.

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