Daniel Fernández Chacón.
His story begins on November 2, 1925, the son of a humble home of poor people, of working people with bare feet and hands that reflected work, faith and the struggle for survival that left the earth to make way for an uncertain future. A future that would be linked to the mountains, poverty, the revolution with Don Pepe and the discovery of one of the greatest natural treasures of Costa Rica, known today as San Gerardo de Dota.
We moved to Sunday March 14, 1954, Efraín begins his day in the usual way, wakes up before the sun caresses the cold Providencia mountain and kisses his wife Caridad, crosses himself and prepares his hunting equipment with the conviction of putting on the table something to feed his family, those weapons that in previous years detonated explosive charges in “El Empalme”, “La Sierra”, “La Ventolera” and even Cartago in a fight in the rebel squad led by Caudillo Pepe and that on that day would be his main ally to any animal that crosses its path.
He, along with his brother Federico were preparing to enter the mountain as they had done countless times, with a heart full of hope and with the guidance of their dogs, who soon found a trail that forced them to speed up their pace when the sun was not yet present, without realizing that this trip would change their lives forever. They set out on their way to the south, like someone preparing to walk towards Pérez Zeledón in the middle of a forest as dense as lead.
"We could not say that we were good hunters, but that day we left with the thorn that something good was going to happen, my younger brother Federico was also my best friend, and his company was always part of the great gift that these trips gave us. Strategically, we chose to walk south, because we knew that no one had passed through there, which gave us the opportunity to find a place that we could work and over the years call our own, ”explained Don Efraín with the memory still fresh in his eyes.
A valley of hope.
After many kilometers, with feet cracked by the lack of a shoe, (a situation so common in the national reality of many at the time) and without having managed to capture the coveted prey that would mark the moment of returning home, among the dense trees forest they managed to make out the first tones of what seemed to be an opportunity, a valley that was hidden at the foot of the Bella Vista hill, with the Savegre river dancing to the beat of birdsong and the natural beauty of a place that I did not know yet the caress of man.
"It was a feeling of love at first sight, like the one I had only felt when I met Cari, my wife, and even when we knew that we were very far from our homes, a feeling that we had come home invaded us," says Don Efraín.
There they found a crossroads, since if they wanted to settle in this place they knew that they had to leave the comfort and little stability that living in Providence gave them, they had to move their families to place them in an isolated place, alone and without comforts.
They made the decision to go home, gathered their wives together. Caridad, companion of Efraín, and Claudina, who had been married by Federico were coincidentally sisters, like their husbands, so all their lives they had lived together, a reason to reunite them, since they knew that one without the other did not would go away.
There they gave their husbands for the second time the most important “I accept” of their lives, and with the support of their wives they began to draw up the plan to start working the land in this distant place.
Building a dream.
"We lived for a long time in a cave, cold, without food on many occasions but motivated by the ideal of a better future for our families, we worked little by little, because we had to return to Providencia to fulfill our duties as day laborers on a farm . Days went by without us knowing about our families, but we couldn't give up because when we decided that it was time to bring our wives and children, we had to have at least something to offer them, ”says Don Efraín.
So the years passed until they decided to settle permanently in this place, which until then had no name. They started the road with their wives, they already had a small ranch and animals in confinements. Caridad traveled with 5 children, Lorena, the youngest at that time was just a few months old, Claudina lived the same situation.
"When we arrived with the family it was a great illusion, because we knew that we had the full support of two extremely brave women, with courage, and that together we were going to move this place forward, Cari decided to call it San Gerardo, since this is the patron saint pregnant women, and she experienced labor pains many times in this place, sometimes we had to get her on a horse without a mount, to hit the road to wait for the bus to take her to the hospital, asking God not to give birth on the road. " Don Efraín comments.
A Natural Paradise
Efraín and his brother together with their families managed to develop San Gerardo until turning it into a true natural heritage of Costa Rica today, being one of the main ecological tourism sites worldwide and having a large tributary of tourists who enjoy the fruit today. from the work of two enterprising men, who were not afraid to say “Yes” to the challenges, regardless of the size and how impossible they looked.
Of these four adventurers, only Efraín remains today, his wife Caridad said goodbye to this life in his beloved San Gerardo on November 1, 2015. His eternal companion even today walks as firm as oak on the roads and paths built by brothers, like symbol that there is nothing impossible when you have conviction and courage.
Honor to whom honor is due
On December 1, 2016, in an act where the struggle of Don Pepe was remembered, accompanied by his comrades-in-arms in the '48 revolution, his family and closest friends, Don Efraín Chacón received from President Solís the medal of merit in peace and democracy, which names him as an exemplary citizen of Costa Rica, as a tribute to his bravery, his effort, his love and courage, which allow us to enjoy today the natural treasure that San Gerardo de Dota represents .
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Wayne James Sheppard (Sunday, 29 May 2022 11:47)
My wife Hazel and I were introduced to Don Efrain in 1997 when Costa Rican artist Don Max Rojas and his wife Terri brought us to Dota. In the early 2000's I donated a sculpture of a Quetzal to the QERC.
We have returned to the Savegre Hotel many times since then and very much admire all that the Chacon family has done over the years to preserve and sustainably expand this wonderful place.