The Coconut Latitudes –Expat File #13

Rita Gardner and I met online – we saw each other’s interviews on two of my favorite blogs (Jamoroki and The Displaced Nation ) and found that we had some things in common: we both grew up as expats in Latin America and we are both writers who dabble in photography. Ironically, the man who “introduced” us, James King, lives in Thailand and it turned out that Rita and I live about 30 minutes from each other – so we made a date for lunch and found that we are kindred spirits.

C & Rita ps e_3285a

Book exchange! Cinda, left with Rita’s book; Rita on right with mine.


Rita grew up on her family’s coconut farm in the Dominican Republic. Her spell-binding memoir The Coconut Latitudes is about childhood in paradise, a journey into unexpected misery, and a twisted path to redemption and truth. Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:


Before I am born, my father, for reasons shrouded in mystery, abruptly leaves a successful engineering career in the United States. He buys two hundred and fifty acres of remote beachfront land on Samana Bay in the Dominican Republic. This small, Spanish-speaking nation occupies two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola and is ruled by the dictator Rafael Trujillo. Trade winds blow year-round all the way from the deserts in Africa, combing through palm groves and shaping the trunks into inverted commas. The island is also in the main path of hurricanes that storm through the Atlantic and Caribbean from June through November. In 1946, when I am six weeks old and my sister Berta is four, my father moves us into this instability. Our family lands—with a pile of suitcases, a box of books, and bright Fiesta dinnerware—years before there will be electric power or actual roads to Miches, the closest village. My father hires a crew to plant ten thousand coconut seedlings and names the property Cocoloco Plantation. My father frequently says we are a damn happy family; we’ve arrived in paradise, and are the luckiest people in the world.


Chapter 1: Miches

It’s a sticky summer day when we first bounce over the mountain in a ratty jeep driven by an old man with brown leather skin. The windshield is cracked and dust covers everything. Our suitcases are piled on top, strapped down by frayed ropes. We’re not tied down by anything at all. We heave left and right as the jeep straddles the track that’s barely a road. I’m used to these raggedy roads in the Dominican Republic. In the smelly backseat, Mama wedges in between my sister Berta and me, trying to hold on to us as we lurch up yet another switchback. Berta turns white, leans out the window, and throws up. The vehicle stops and I get sick too. Daddy tries to distract us by showing us a waterfall off in the distance… We pile in again and rumble onward. When we crest the mountain, we stop where the air is cool. There’s nothing left in our stomachs. Daddy climbs a rocky ledge. He waves his arms, motioning us to join him.

The hillsides spill all the way down to the bluest water I’ve ever seen, a bay of shimmering light so bright it makes me blink. Daddy smiles. “See—there’s Miches town.” He gestures toward the inner curve of the bay to a scattering of small buildings crouched along a rocky shoreline with a few streets … I squint at a long snaky river at the edge of town and then, to the right of it, a long sweep of sandy beach that stretches out like a sliver of new moon. The shore is lined with green fringe, and a smaller patch of a light color stands out like a ragged square of carpet. Daddy waves his arm toward the pale green at the far end of the bay.

“There,” he says as tears roll down his face. “That’s Cocoloco Plantation.”


Cinda: It occurs to me that Cocoloco would have served as an apt title as well. Although I love The Coconut Latitudes – it made me want to read more.

Rita:  Funny you would mention that – for the longest time (years, in fact), I had chosen “Cocoloco” as a title. My only concern is that is a name of a tropical drink, and I didn’t want that context. One day I just thought of “The Coconut Latitudes.”

“While our tropical surroundings were indeed idyllic, we were in the constant path of hurricanes, under the grip of a brutal dictator, and beset by alcoholism and family tragedy.”



Cinda: Your memoir details a reality far from the envisioned Eden, the terrible cost of keeping secrets, and the transformative power of love and truth.   What advice would you give someone about writing a memoir –especially a painful one?

Rita: Don’t think about or worry about others. Pretend no one else exists. Just write for you. Say anything, say it all. Later, you can come back to it objectively; see the plot, the narrative arc and structure. But for the first draft, just sit yourself down, see what comes out, and keep going until you’re out of words. You’ll be surprised at the twists and turns your writing will take. It sometimes directs itself.

Samana Beach near Miches


Rita M. Gardner was home-schooled as a child, she began writing, reading and painting at an early age. She has published essays, articles, poems, and photographs have appeared in literary journals, travel magazines and newspapers.  The Coconut Latitudes was just published this fall and is already being well received. I wrote a review for Goodreads and Amazon because I am so impressed with her writing skills and the honesty in this book. Here is my excerpted review:

A haunting memoir I wanted to read because it is about a girl who had grown up in Latin America like myself. But this is more than an interesting story about an expat; it chronicles a difficult upbringing (a la Mosquito Coast or Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight.)….The young Gardner daughters are isolated not only from the parent’s culture and extended family, but forced to keep secrets from their Dominican friends when one family member disappears. There is no one they can turn to when their alcoholic father keeps them up late at night with angry rantings and irrational demands. Even their mother is unable to protect them or nurture them. This heartbreaking memoir may shock you at times, but the writing is straight-forward and compelling. You will root for her survival and be staggered at what a young girl manages to do.

 One of my favorite authors, Julia Alvarez, (who wrote In the Time of Butterfiles) says this about “The Coconut Latitudes”: Another fine writer who moves beyond borders into the wide open spaces of the heart.” And calls Rita an honorary Dominicana.

From Publisher’s Weekly’s select review: “Gardner has written a rich, haunting book that vividly captures her childhood and makes everyday turmoil vital through precise and honest prose.”

Rita will be happy to respond to any questions or comments you leave below. Check out her website at;  see more reviews and buy the book here: Amazon– the coconut-latitudes.



Where Are You From?

Expat File #16 (In answer to South African writer-expat Charlotte Otter)

I am from Costa Rica. I am from eternal spring with blue skies and billowing clouds that sometimes rush in from both coasts and clash in the middle in a torrential downpour.   I am from green slopes of volcanoes and hot beaches that were once deserted. I am from coffee fincas, gallo pinto (rice and black beans) and beautiful birds. I am from warm smiles and friends. (My high school classmates have dinner together once a month and I am invited whenever I am in town – which isn’t often, but I am on the mailing list nevertheless.)

Coffee beans drying in the sun.

Coffee beans drying in the sun.

Clase de  67 ps -crp 033Photo of my HS reunion a couple of yrs ago (I’m in 1st row, 2nd from R). We were always a small class but half of us have moved away.

I am from Costa Rica…that is what I used to say as I had no state or other place in the world to claim as my own. I grew up as an expat with American parents. I lived in Costa Rica longer than anywhere else… from earliest adolescence and into my twenties. I went home to visit until my parents left Costa Rica in my thirties (they had lived out of the country by then for forty years).

Oxcart on Samara beach circa 1980.

Oxcart on Samara beach circa 1980.

Resplendant Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal








I might say I am from Greece where we moved when I was but weeks old.  And my first sentence was   “Thélo̱ pso̱mí” (I want bread) – or so I’m told.

white tower thslnk_crp0815

The White Tower in the background was originally built by the Ottomans, but it has long been a symbol of Thessaloniki.  My parents hung this painting on the walls of our houses wherever we moved.  My mother and I returned to Greece in the 1990’s – and to my great delight –  the harbor looked much the same as this watercolour I know so well.  I remember the blue water where we went to the beach …or do I just imagine it? …because we moved to Germany before I was three.

My mother said I spoke German before English, so I dutifully studied it for a semester in High School. That was in Costa Rica where the teacher, Frau Marin really was  German (and spoke Spanish, but not English) – but I didn’t speak it any better than anyone else. But I am from Germany… Because when I was twenty-five I suddenly found myself singing” Baa Baa black sheep” in German – lyrics hidden in the recesses of my mind for a quarter century.  I know all the words to a nursery rhyme I learned as a preschooler:   Mäh Mäh Schwarzes Schaf, Haben Sie Wolle? Ja, ja, ja drei Mal voll.…

old house_0192

Old timbered house.

I am from Colombia … I am from cool mountains with orchids and flower farms, hot beaches and lowlands… I remember flying over jungles and snow peaked volcanoes; I remember“onzes” (snack-time), kind  people, and colonial villages.  My elementary school had a reunion last year and I went with my sister and ate ajaico (wonderfully seasoned chicken stew) and danced the cumbia.  It felt like home – from a lifetime ago.

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… And now I am from California. From warm days and cool nights, egalitarian people, incredible spring wildflowers, tall redwoods, beaches, and deserts  … the Sierras, Monterey County and Yosemite.

Mt Tam Pt Reyes05 psat 017Mt Tam Pt Reyes05 psat016

 Panoramic photos above of the San Francisco Bay Area seen from Mt. Tamalpais.

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Finally I could pretend to be from Hawaii where I’d love to retire .

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay

My siblings are scattered like the wind as are my children, but we are used to traveling for family get togethers. It has always been that way. We are from everywhere.

Disclosure: the idea for the post came from a South African expat-writer, Charlotte Otter. She is the author of a crime novel, Balthasar’s Gift and her blog can be found at Charlotte’s Web.

Where are YOU from?


The Train Tracks of Separation

It honestly never occurred to me that I would ever be living outside the States a couple of years ago. But like all things when you have a wandering spirit things like this happen. My story doesn’t land me anywhere in the western hemisphere as some here at “A Place in this world”, shared. I’d love to say that my family moved to some remote part of the world but that’s not what happened. See I grew up in a middle class family in the United States. One could say “Oh how boring could you get”, but that would not be the case. See by the time I was two 1368224853201years old we had moved countless of times back and forth from Colorado to Maryland. Why? My father was a geologist with the government and Colorado at the time was a hotbed for locating the hottest ore in the world. This was the mid-fifties and uranium was a very sought after ore. It was the “Cold War” that drove the search for this all precious substance and my father was in the middle of it.  This was the beginning of my life, this is my story.

The Jungles of America

We all know that there are no Jungles on the east coast of America, telling a young boy who was constantly exploring the woods this would tell you different. We were very often been told to be careful of the snakes. We were told if a snake wrapped himself around you to break a stick and it would think it broke your back. It would be in these woods I would learn many examples about life. I remember seeing the movie “Stand by me” minus the dead body the things that 915890436happened in this movie I could have written about my life then. It was also a time of segregation, our school being one of many that white children and black children would share their young lives together. I’m thankful that my parents weren’t prejudice and I was allowed to have colored friends, but was told they couldn’t come home with me. The only place we could spend time together was in the woods next to the railroad tracks. I look back now and realize that those train tracks might have separated us then but the future would be very different. The jungles of America are very real, just in a different way.


Then in the sixties an event occurred that would impact my future. My father went to Yugoslavia, why he went there was never clear. When he returned he brought with him records to learn Russian. I was fascinated! I would spend hours listening to them only to come away learning only a single word, “здороваться” which means “Hello” in Russian. The language is still as perplexing today as it was then. campusIt was also a time of change in our family, we moved again. This time to Walnut Creek, California. It would be here that I would learn about the more cultured things in life. My parents always made sure our lives were filled experiences like visiting the theater, seeing the sights of San Francisco, visiting the Berkeley campus and much, much more.

“What’s done in Vegas stays in Vegas”

imagesIt’s been said, “what’s done in Vegas stays in Vegas”, but what if Vegas was thirty miles away and provided your only source of entertainment. Does it still apply? My final years of school were spent in a small town of Boulder City, Nevada which lies 30 miles south of Las Vegas. This small town would be where I’d finish my schooling and the start of my adult life. Life from here on forward would be spent living in over seven different states. Each states adding new chapters to my life and ending others.

Acts of exclusivity

Of all the places to have fulfilled my tenure of living in the states Vancouver, Washington was the best place to have done it. Life in the Northwest exposed me to a culture that appealed more to my nature without even realizing it was happening. See in the Portland-Vancouver area there’s a large enclave of Russians. Up until this time I had never been introduced to them or their culture. Many of those I met  became life-long friends.

A simple Dream

Marc ChagallIt’s here I must share about a dream I had. Dreams have always been an important part of my life. I’ve come to understand that some of them have significant meaning. Understanding them may be challenging and enlightenment only comes later. The dream I want to share with you is a simple dream. It wasn’t so much the dream as it was the emotions it elicited. In the dream I was holding the hand of a woman whose face was blurry at best. What was difficult was as our hands separated my heart ached terribly. I woke up being very disturbed. So why share this?  Several months later while looking online for my future wife I came across her photo to which I almost missed. She happened to be from Russia. This lead to a year and a half courtship of which I traveled back and forth from a couple of times. I came to find out later that around the time I had my dream she received a painting from her friends. The picture was done by Marc Chagall who is a master artist who is capable of capturing dreams.

A Place in this World

One must not sleep when they have a dream. Pursuing a dream is the most important thing we do in our lifetime. The fulfillment of my dream came when I moved to Russia. We all have a “A place in the World”, this is mine. I’d like to say that time and space are the reason for stopping here, but it wouldn’t be true. Truth is that my next post will explore my new world here. One that I hope you will enjoy reading.

Looking beyond ourselves to truly know who we are

There is a lesson in all of this. One can move and still not be separated, one can make a stand and cause separation, segregation was supposed to bring together only to create a deeper wedge, one can try to separate oneself only find themselves more entangled, we must learn to look beyond ourselves to truly know who we are. It’s the greatest challenge in our lives. Something to reflect on.

A 7 yr. old Refugee to England 1938-1939 – EXPAT Files # 7 (continued excerpts from Christian Zozaya’s draft memoir, Culture Shock)

When we left off Christian Zozaya was 6 to 7 years old and his family had evacuated to Barcelona because of the Spanish Civil War. Nonetheless he narrowly missed being hit in a bombing raid that killed another school-mate.   As German troops marched into Austria, Mussolini’s Italians increased their bombing of the Spanish coast and Christian’s school was badly damaged.

1938…and that was the end of the school year for us. (Mother’s friend) Molly Stephenson wrote, “Put the boy on an airplane and I will pick him up at the airport in London.”

Molly lived in a small rented flat in Paddington fit for a single woman and it had a sofa in the living room in front of the fireplace. If you pushed a hidden button in the back of the couch the back folded down and you had a bed for your guest(s.) Molly taught me what toothpaste was. I don’t remember how I brushed my teeth in Spain but toothpaste was a luxury not available during the Civil War. She pulled out a tube of Gibbs toothpaste and taught me to put a little bit of it on my toothbrush and then brush my teeth with the brush moving in circles.

Molly’s brother took us out in his car for a ride around the town… it was a two-door, four-seat (convertible) with doors cut out at the top so that they sloped down backwards sharply. I suspect it was either a Morgan 4/4 Roadster or a Lagonda Tourer. Although I had ridden in cars several times including that famous overnight trip to Valencia I had never seen turn indicators. They consisted of two arms hinged to the top of their respective housings that rested vertically on the hood (bonnet in English parlance) on either side of the windshield. When the driver flicked a lever on the steering wheel toward either side the corresponding arm would flick up.


w MOlly in ENgland

Chris with Molly in England

The Manor House School was in Little Bookham, a town near Leatherhead (where Molly’s parents lived). Molly spoke to the headmistresses and Miss Green and Miss Wheeler invited us to discuss our situation over tea. The tea was accompanied by canapés which are itty bitty little sandwiches. I complained to Mother, “¡Mamá, es que estos sandwiches son muy pequeños!”   I was still hungry from the Civil War.

As a result of our visit Miss Green and Miss Wheeler agreed to cut the school fees in half. Molly was a generous and caring woman. She knew that my parents couldn’t pay the remaining half of the fee so she paid it herself.

I was to be a boarder and I share a room with David Corroder. When I realized that I was going to be left at the school and that Mum was going away I started crying. It broke Mother’s heart because for all she knew she (might) never see me again but she was doing it for my own good. She and Molly saved me from some very miserable times that Mum and Dad had to go through. That night I was allowed to play with my toy speed boat in the bathtub.

I had precious little knowledge of the English language and my home room teacher known as “Jane” did her utter best to see to it that I learned it. (A. Z. Granville-Johnson aka Jane was a former girl.) Nobody at the school spoke Spanish…but thanks to (her) efforts and Molly’s coaching, I managed to acquire a good knowledge of the English language.

At breakfast I was introduced to such peregrine fare as herrings, and beans laced with sugar. I was also introduced during my meals to Marmite, a yeast extract with a very tangy taste. I believe it took the place in England of peanut butter in the United States.i

Every Saturday the school lined up and we walked to Little Bookham. There was a store in the town where we could buy sweets and comic books. Molly gave me a weekly allowance of two pence; a comic book cost one penny and the other penny went for candy… this is where I first read of witch doctors and a plane which folded its wings and plunged into the sea to become a submarine. Nothing can beat science fiction.Sci fiimages

(His parents were able to visit 7 yr old Christian once that year when his father attended an International Congress on Tropical Diseases in Amsterdam). He and Mother were granted diplomatic passports. Many people in Spain thought that they would take advantage of the situation to leave the country but they’d always had a deeply ingrained sense of duty. They returned to wait for the final disaster.

On December 8th the school gave me a torch (i.e. flashlight) for my birthday; it had a red and a green filter that you could slide into place to change the color of the light. At supper time I found a cardboard castle from Molly.

At Christmas recess I spent a delightful vacation with Molly and Terry, the boy next door as my constant companions. Terry had all the accouterments to play cricket and he did his best to introduce me into the secrets of the game but I am afraid that I did not learn very much. My Christmas present was a pirate costume complete with eye-patch and wooden cutlass.

“The Manor House School Magazine” was published in April, 1939. Everybody wrote an essay or a poem. I wrote about my situation as a war refugee… The situation was dire and it was obvious that the family would be forced to leave Spain.

In September my mother brought me to the Manor House School because there was a war in Spain.  I am still in the school because Franco has taken Barcelona and I have no chance to go back home.  My father is in Paris and my mother in Villa Pourcon.  My uncle, aunt, grandfather and grandmother are in Paris too.                                                                 Christian Zozaya (age 8) Form II.

… Like hundreds of thousands of others my family crossed the border into France; all they had with them was the clothes on their backs except for Father, who carried a packet of medical books in one hand and a violin in the other. Feeling extremely tired he pondered which one to drop. He figured that if the worst came to the worst he could always earn a few ‘sous’ by playing the violin. He dropped the books. For the moment I’ll spare you the details of their stay in an “internment” camp until they were taken in by some hospitable French people. At first only women and children were allowed to cross the border (They were separated and endured more hardships before reuniting with Christian.)

unlabeled photo fr  HAwaiian libertarian.blogspot

unlabeled photo of Spanish refugees (from Hawaiian libertarian.blogspot)

Eventually all my family managed to cross the puddle…my grandparents and my uncle and aunt boarded a ship and went to Mexico. As they boarded the ship Lady Astor, who was the head of the British Committee for Aid to the Spanish Republican Refugees, helped my grandmother to cross the gangplank and board the ship.


Sp men in exile

(Christian’s grandfather second from left)

Next month: the Zozaya family arrives in Colombia.

(Next week I am leaving for Europe and hopefully will have some pictures and stories to share. We start in Frankfurt and make our way to Budapest along the Danube River via Vienna.     Cinda)

The Spanish Civil War Begins: 1936: EXPAT Post #7

Christian Zozaya’s memories as a five year old boy.  (Continued from his draft memoir, Culture Shock.)

Madrid, Spain:  The year started as usual; the winter was cold and I was still going to (kindergarten) school (Institución Libre de Enseñanza (I.L.E.). This was a lay school that had been founded in 1876 by a group of liberal-minded professors who objected to the governmental policies on education.) The novelty was that I started taking piano lessons.


Christian's (Swedish ancestry on his mother side) blond hair stands out among his schoolmates.

Christian’s (Swedish ancestry on his mother side) blond hair stands out among his schoolmates at ILE.

The political situation in Spain was SNAFU… there’d been all sorts of strikes, disturbances and riots. The right was reasonably compact but the left, was split into several factions ranging from the moderate Republicans to the Socialists to the Communists and Anarchists. Although some of the strikes were of an economic nature most were politically motivated…

In the midst of this situation, of which I was totally unaware, I gave my first and only piano concert. My parents’ intimate friends were invited and sat in the living room as I proudly poked at the keyboard with one finger. And so matters stood until July 18th. …Life was never going to be the same again.

CZ w DadIt was a Saturday and Dad had taken me for a walk on the Sierra de Guadarrama, north of Madrid… We took a rail car in the morning, but before lunch Dad got restless that we should return to Madrid – a good decision because we caught the last train to the city. That day rebel troops under General Francisco Franco occupied Spanish Morocco and Sevilla. The generals misjudged the situation and their clean, surgical operation degenerated into a bloody civil war that was to last almost three years.

On the night of August 28th we heard a lone plane flying overhead. It was a biplane with tandem cockpits; the pilot was in one and the bombardier threw hand grenades over the edge of the second. We went downstairs and took refuge under the stairs. The rest of the neighbors stayed in their apartments and derided us. A few nights later the air raid sirens sounded again; now the raiders were not two fellows with hand grenades but a squadron of Italian SM79 trimotors and the bombs were for real.

The following morning we found a corpse in the empty lot across the street. The poor fellow was either a Fascist or suspected of being one. The scene was repeated several times. September rolled around and we went back to school. The killings continued. At age five I was well aware that all life had to end in death and somehow I wasn’t shocked.

On November 6th we abandoned Madrid for Valencia with the Republican government…via Alicante. The trip on the train was a classical trip in Spain. Every now and then somebody would shout, “¡Que viene un túnel!” and everybody would rush to shut the windows. The locomotives were steam driven and the cinders and ashes would cover everything and everyone unless you closed the windows while the car you were riding in was in the tunnel… Father found a car and driver in Alicante to take us to Valencia. We left at night with the headlights blued out and the bulbs removed from all the other lights.

Things got tough in Valencia. Food was hard to get even though it was rationed. I remember going one night from restaurant to restaurant trying to get something to eat. It’s the only time that I cried because I was hungry… Father spent a lot of time in the field. Although mother and I worried because he had to spend a lot of his time on the front lines there were advantages. Every time he was out on the countryside he would try to bring vegetables back home. It might be potatoes, or carrots, or once a huge cabbage.

Picasso's Guernica

Picasso’s Guernica

On April 26th 1937, the Condor Legion bombed Guernica. This was an experiment by the German Luftwaffe to find out what effect carpet bombing would have on a civilian population. (Thus) in May, 4,000 Basque children were evacuated.

Guernica after the bombing.( Photo:

Guernica after the bombing.( Photo:

On October 28th the Republican government moved from Valencia to Barcelona…Two Italian cruisers shelled Barcelona during December. Mother went out shopping and I was with Consuelo (the maid). I could hear the shells whistling as they passed over the city and the explosions as they hit the buildings. I was afraid and I started crying. Poor Consuelo didn’t know how to console me in spite of her name. I stopped crying when the women returned home. The sense of relief was enormous.

…food was still scarce and it was rationed very strictly. Because I was a child I was allowed one egg a week. One day Mother couldn’t stand the temptation; she made a one-egg omelet and split it between the three of us.…(there was) a female cat with a litter of kittens sheltering under a bush and one day the cat and its kittens disappeared mysteriously – someone probably ate them.

In December the Italian Air Force operating from Majorca started carrying out a series of air strikes against Republican ports especially Barcelona…The school, L’Ecole Française, was in downtown Barcelona and the air raids sometimes took place in the day-time. I was standing by a door watching some airplanes fly overhead. (My friend) Trini saw me and came to warn me.

“Please come inside,” she said. “They might be enemy planes and you’d be in the way of any shrapnel that might fly this way if they bombed the city.”    I answered, “They’re not enemy planes; the air raid sirens didn’t sound.”

Burnt out cars Barcelona 1936.

Burnt out cars Barcelona 1936.


Trini was firm. “You know very well that the air raid warning system hasn’t been working very well lately. Come inside.”         I did as she said and another boy took my place at the door. Two minutes later he was dead. Thank you ever so much for saving my life, Trini. I’ll never forget you or that day.

Next time: Christian is evacuated to England and separated from his parents.  Can you imagine what it must have been like for a child so young to deal with bombs,death and hunger?

Barcelona: Spanish civil war (photo from

Barcelona: Spanish civil war (photo from

“Our” Castle in Bogotá

I had a few responses to my last post showing the castle my sister, brother and I explored as little kids. Two people wrote to say they lived on the same street (Carrera 3 ) as I – near the bottom of the cobblestone street that led to Colegio Nueva Granada or on Calle 74.  (Lindel was the daughter of my 3rd grade teacher Mrs Waugh and Jenny was the daughter of Mr. Bjork our principal at CNG!) Thus I felt a couple of more pictures are warranted!

Old castle on the end of our street ( Carrera 3)

Old castle on the end of our street ( Carrera 3)

Located on the corner of Calle N° 74  and Carrera 3, Castillo del Mono Osorio was declared an architectural monument and is now is available for weddings and receptions.  It was built early in the last century by Dr. Juan Osorio Morales (whose nickname was apparently Mono).  Dr. Osorio was attached to the Colombian embassy in Brussels and painted a 12th century castle he was fond of.  On returning to Colombia he then recreated the castle over a period of 20 years replete with a small moat.

My sister Carolin at the entrance

My sister Carolin at the gate we used to peer through

I wondered if it was Dr Juan Osorio who invited us kids in that day – no I think it must have been his son, Dr. Hernando Osorio, as it was a younger man.  It is still owned by the family.  There are tall buildings around it now that were not present in our day when this was a quiet Rosales residential area.

our magic castle_ps e 0098

I was amazed that with the email response to what I thought was a personal post – but it turned out Castillo Mono Osorio was shared in the memories of others as well.

Does this bring up memories for you of a certain place or time?