A friend leaves Paradise (aka Costa Rica)


The person who I am about to write about reads this blog, so let’s hope I don’t tick him off.

Shortly after I moved to Jaco from Quepos in Costa Rica, I met American Jack Ettinger

Jack and Ken have lunch

Jack and Ken have lunch – and a brew – in Nicaragua

playing pool We became good friends and I owe a lot of my Costa Rican (and Nicaraguan) experiences to Jack. He was such a good friend that he drove me the hour and a half to San Jose to catch my flight back to the States in August 2011, much like my friend Curtis did for me when I left the U.S. 14 months before that.

Those of you who have followed this blog since those Costa Rica days have heard about Jack and his mountaintop restaurant, Adventure Dining. What a great concept he had with that place, perched on the

Adventure Dining

Adventure Dining

side of a mountaintop, a waterfall gushing below on one side and the Pacific Coast stretching endlessly on the other, the occasional pair of red macaws floating by. I helped him with repairs and had two great surf and turf dinners there.

Jack lived in Costa Rica for about eight years and had a pretty good living there, with a nice apartment, a vehicle, a great dog and ample female companionship. Jack liked the women. But I think he became bored, even though he only had the restaurant open for 7-8 months and had the rest of the time mostly free to do what he wished.

I cannot fathom why Jack made this move. Maybe the grind with constantly trying to drum up business, which he was excellent at,

Jack and his SUV

Jack and his SUV

became too much trouble. Maybe, as he tells me, he needed a new challenge. Maybe, as he says, it was time for him to contribute something to society in his senior years. I truly hope the reason he abandoned what some consider Paradise was not because of failing health.

Last month, Jack returned to the U.S. He is now living on one of those jagged Arizona mountaintops you might see in photos. He lives rent free in a relative’s empty house, with barely an Internet connection, much less the senoritas he was so enamored with and addicted to.

Jack has decided his next challenge is to help troubled teenage boys straighten out their

Jack helps unload my bags at the airport

Jack helps unload my bags at the airport

lives before it is too late. He is establishing a 501 something or other for funding. He wants to help the kids at the worst age for behavior change to change their behavior. He asked me to serve on his board of advisors, and I, of course, said yes.

Jack is the kind of friend all of us would like to have – someone who will do whatever he can for a friend. I have missed him since I left Costa Rica and have not found a replacement in the two years since. Would be nice to have a Jack here in Batam.

We have promised to visit each other each year. Next year is supposed to be in the Philippines or Thailand. Then, in 2015, I’m to visit him on the mountaintop in Arizona, where many of the crazy right wingers are. Real friends are so hard to come by.

I have wished Jack well in his new venture, his new life, but I tilt my head in wonder as to why he would leave what he had for a new beginning. Sort of like what a lot of people might say about me, I guess.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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