NIWDE was the telegraph alias used by an old folk I knew well. He was active in Costa Rica, after WW1 and before Nixon. He was a short man with a flashing wit, a talent for the theatrical and the local slang. He mastered the whistle language and the lariat. Born the son of a very successful entrepreneur and public figure, he matched his father’s stamina and ingenuity.  However, his own business efforts were convoluted and doomed.  Shortly after marriage he decided to go to a remote mountain beyond Zarcero to pursue a business as a farmer, a trade he knew really nothing about. After some years he had to move back to the city, broke and his wife tired of selling flowers to make ends meet, of using moist firewood and with child. Later he became a soldier in the army that fought against a putsch from the left and ended up in prison.  After the conflict, he refused to return home, claiming that the US was going to topple the new government any minute, using large bomber planes he saw hovering. He tried his hand at psychological warfare long before the Noriega episode. His wife had to drag him out of jail after the last POW had left. Under an armistice, the government wanted to tear down the building. The US never invaded.  After politics he started a business called “United Laboratories,” that sold watered down vanilla essence imported from Nicaragua. The venture was a failure. The next business was in selling home-use drugs in the northern parts of the country, at a time when one needed to travel on horseback, canoe and mule to cover 80 miles in 5 days.  During that period he acquired a reputation that would haunt him forever.People said he was able to tangle any discussion to the point that he would never lose an argument. The drug distribution business was short lived, but he was now a “doctor.”  Fittingly, he opened a pharmacy in the city, and a perfume operation.  He sold enlargers at a time when sex was a very bad word, and long before SPAM and Austin Powers.  He also sold a strange looking tonic for “nervous” women, which was a concoction of water, herbs, alcohol and laudanum. For some time he distributed diluted mineral alcohol for office use.  He was a compulsive hoarder, who treasured thousands of old newspapers that he intended to read sometime, when work was less. He also had the most complete collection of rusty nails and pieces of copper wire, classified in glass jars of various sizes.  Towards the end of his life, he embarked on a new venture… a coffee plantation. He went to buy a piece of land and a Land Rover, also thousands of almácigos (coffee sprouts) by means of a loan from the government for agricultural development. Still and inexperienced farmer, he had the plants treated with the wrong chemical and all but one dried up.  NIWDE died in his nineties, neither rich nor broke, but a very happy man who knew how to gamble life.

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