I came across the bookstore quite by accident while strolling around Turrialba The owner I had met in the first few days in Costa Rica in a store called maxi pali which I am told is affiliated with walmart. My neighbor knew him and he is an American. A soft spoken man dressed casually in a button shirt and jeans
His small used bookstore appears cluttered with books stacked on the floor and with nooks and crannys. I amost felt like the "Never Ending Story" where I could open a book n it would come to life. There were crates of bottles and bags of cans that he recycles but he had organised the books so that they were in alphabetical order and grouped in categories. We chatted as he is one of the few English speaking people around.
The store was empty for hrs as we talked and I bought a copy of The Art Of War for $6. The man looks like a German to me,blonde hair ,middle aged, very intelligent and fairly witty with a sarcastic sense of humor.
The books were not cheap as he explained that even if you buy a book for a penny on Amazon you will pay $4 shipping ,so his books all start at $4
I asked him if he made any money at this business. He told me that he owns the store outright and doesn’t make much money but it allows him to engage his passion of reading as he gets books from paper recyclers and other used books stores. He started the store by taking 80 boxes of books from his dad who had a huge library. I asked him if he did anything else, and he explained he is also a psychiatrist and a loan shark and a landlord.
This interested me, It seems he came to Costa Rica to avoid being drafted and going to Vietnam. His brother was about to turn 18 and he was 14 so his dad wanted to keep them from being drafted and moved the family to Costa Rica.
He stayed and became a psychiatrist doing many long years of medical school and training .
He worked in the hospital on the hill a block from my hotel and he had a bright future .
Then one day he was fired from his job because he had been accepting bribes from people who wanted sick leave in exchange for declaring them mentally unfit to work due to depression etc. Aside from losing his job I asked he if he got in trouble for this. Oh yes he said he was set up in a sting operation where the judge recorded the serial numbers of the bribe money he was paid by an informant and he went to jail for ten months of a four year sentence.I asked him about life in a Costa Rican jail thinking the worst, with a Spanish Bubba cellmate and all. He explained that it wasn’t so bad because he knew some of the administrators as well as the prison guards etc and he started teaching English lessons so he was well received.
He has a US passport, an id card "sedula" for CR as his wife is Cost Rican, as well as being a Paraguayan citizen but he had to renounce one of his former citizenships when he got the CR card but he didn’t say which one whether it was Paraguay or US so his many citizenships are a mystery, He didn’t pay any income taxes in CR on his store for years and one day the equivalent of the Costa Rican IRS came by and wanted to inspect his books. He had to get an accountant and now pays income taxes of about $20 a year. He says with all his deductions he doesn’t really owe anything but he tells his accountant to make it so he owes $20 so they will be happy they are getting something.
I asked him about his loan shark business and he explained he gives mortgages with interest rates of 4% a month. Apparently this is legal and very profitable and people will pay it or he forecloses on them. We also talked about crime nearby and he said he has been here since 1980 and there have been exactly 8 murders in this area in 33 years and they were mostly drug related. This confirms my belief that this is a safe area.
He is also a landlord owning a couple of houses that he rents. As it turns out I want a house to rent in the city to split my time between city and my country house and he has a 3br 2 ba house that is coming up for rent, ( as the current tenant is using it as a church and found a better place)
The price …$260 a month and about a 15 min walk to the city.
I asked him for some other recommendations and he gave me some good restaurants and a place to dance as well as a few beaches to visit and a place to go in Nicaragua for my visa run which I have to do every 90 days.
So my new friend and quite possibly my future landlord is a draft dodging,tax evading, convicted felon, loanshark, shrink. A Most unusual man.