I have been coming to Costa Rica since 1982. I am married to a Tica, and we live in Florida now with our 6-year-old son. Costa Rica is near and dear to my heart, and everyday I am away I think about what I want to do as soon as I get home. It used to include looking to see ifMalpais was going to be playing at the Jazz Cafe!
In August, Costa Rica lost a National treasure with the death of Fidel Gamboa, the singer, song writer and driving force behind the musical group Malpais. I first heard their music about 2000 when as I was leaving the airport. I heard Malpais Uno and bought the CD. I was hooked. I wanted to understand what they were singing about so I studied and improved my Spanish. I moved to live in San José in May of 2005 and, in time, met both Fidel Gamboa and Manual Obregon. I have had the pleasure to share a drink and stories with them on several occasions.
I brought many students from the language school I studied at to hear them play at the Jazz Cafe, and all of the members would come and sit, talk and sign the CDs the kids bought. They were truly ambassadors for the country and the culture.
Now Malpais is going to perform its final concert this Friday at the National Stadium. I wish I could be there with my son Jarrell sitting with me and Dina singing their songs out loud. When Jarrell could first start to sing we would do a duet together to “Una Gota de Agua.” We still sing it together. I haven’t told him Fidel died and that Malpais will disband after this concert. He doesn’t comprehend death yet.
I hope the band finds a way to continue to play on with another name, much like the Grateful Dead did when Gerry Garcia died. The music will never die.
If you are an American reading this, and are in San José and if you have never seen Malpais, buy a ticket no matter what the price and go. This is treasure not unlike the Gold Museum or the Teatro Nacional, and it’s going to end. Don’t miss it. You’ll understand when all of the people there sing every song. It will be AWESOME!
St Augustine, Florida