Nick’s Tree in Costa Rica

Jaco, Costa Rica

November, 2014 – Jaco is about three hours drive time (if you know where you are going) south and west of Jan Jose’s international airport on the Pacific.   Jack and Dale rented a midsize from Economy with the intention of driving west to Tamarindo and a little beach hotel Nick had found called Playa Negra at Santa Teresa.   Running short of daylight, wondering around, finding our way out of the city and winding through the mountains, we ended up at Jaco, and rented an ocean front condominium just as the sun settled down into the ocean.

Jaco was one of Nick’s favorite spots.   It’s a great little surfer’s beach town on a grand bay of the Pacific Ocean.  Jack managed to crush his right shoulder the second morning in Jaco… jumping off his ATV as it was flipping over, up in the jungle mountains 3,600’ above Jaco.  Not able to move his right upper arm much, and Dale not included on the car insurance, they decided not to drive around the Country, which precluded driving west over to Tamarindo and Playa Negra, and Tarpon Fishing up north on the Caribbean side.

Sitting at the pool that afternoon, Papa asked Nick what he wanted done, how and where.  Believe it or not, they had a long serious talk and Jack knew exactly what to do.  Back at the ATV Adventure Tours in downtown Jaco, Dale and Jack’s guide Bo, a Texas boy,  and the ATV rental manager  Diego, who  seemed to know everyone in Jaco, pointed us at a friend who owned a nursery just outside of town.  Heraldo (Jerry) listened to Dale and Jack again explain the circumstances about Nick.   We shook hands and Jerry showed us a 6’ Lipstick Palm that he would help us plant at the beach.  Jerry also showed us what the tree would look like in five years.    The Lipstick is a multi-trunked palm with some red parts.  Jerry then told Dale and Jack to find the right place along the surfer’s beach, with permission, to plant the palm tree.  We agreed to return Monday afternoon and drive together to plant our tree.

Back to the ATV place, talking to Diego, who suggested we drive to the south most lifeguard stand and talk to his friend Marbie, one of the main lifeguards.  Marbie wasn’t there, but another lifeguard, Brian, called Marbie and Diego and agreed to help us.   Sweeping his arm to show us we could plant Nick’s tree anywhere we wanted alongside or behind the lifeguard stand,  Brian also showed us where other palms had been recently planted.   Jack turned around to see Dale standing at a spot.  Dale said, “right here, this is perfect.”  Brian agreed and told Jack that this area would be less likely to have any huge surf coming in.  This spot, as you can see from the photos, is directly behind the lifeguard stand with 180 degree views of the entire bay, surf, surfers and body boarders.

This whole process took less than an hour.   Dale and Jack had absolutely no doubt that Nick was running the entire show.   On Monday afternoon Dale and Jack paid for the palm tree, some fertilizer and drove to the beach with the owner’s nephew, a shovel and a couple of soil stabilizer blocks.  Manuel was the only life guard there, along with the beach police, who drove up to ask what we were doing.  They were, as most of these people had been, extremely nice and fully understanding.

Hector and Dale dug the hole while Jack took pictures.  Set the tree base, begin filling the dirt back in, sprinkle in some fertilizer and water, and ala kazaam there is Nick’s lipstick palm.  Tuesday morning we stopped on our way out of Jaco, driving back to the airport, and Papa placed a few stones around the base of the tree and Dale sprinkled around more water.  Our nursery and lifeguard friends agreed to keep an eye on Nick’s tree and water it if necessary.   A plaque will be made by Dale’s father at Hudson, Wisconsin, to be mounted on the back of the lifeguard stand in 2015.  Please give us your thoughts on what it should say.


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  • Client : Jack Spears in Costa Rica
  • Date : 11/2014

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