Saturday, August 19, 2006

Shady Tropical Outposts: You never know who you'll meet in the developing world...

Interesting article about the international teaching "career" of John Mark Karr, the individual who either murdered JonBenet Ramsey or, more disturbingly, wishes he did.,8599,1229024,00.html?cnn=yes

This remarkably pale, clammy man hid out in Honduras, the Netherlands, Thailand...any nation where he could tuck his Sansa-belt slacks up under his armpits and reinvent himself. Not so surprising, I think, looking back on living in Costa Rica. Walking on the beach, eating at a cafe, waiting for a bus, you often ran into these expatriates of indeterminate provinance.

One refuge I met from Texas said he lived on an estate in the mountains of northeast Nicaragua and had young girlfriends stashed all over the country whom he'd shower with gifts of clothing and nail polish. He praised their bodies as "perfectly deformed" and declared that American women were "too fat and bitchy" for his tastes. Another from Louisiana, hopping among odd jobs across the country, talked about the 15-year-old girl in Colombia whom he'd almost married. The family had encouraged it, he said. When he visited them, all the sisters stood around his chair and fanned him.

You meet a wide range of expatriates in Central America - students, tourists, partiers, escapees from the corporate suburban grind. Among them, there were always those few Wild West types with crazy stories to tell, usually involving whiskey, women and allusions to some wacky get-rich-quick business venture. These folks would show up in a town, plant themselves in a community and start up a tab at the local bar. Then, one morning several months later, they just wouldn't return from a night at the disco or day out fishing. Sometimes large amounts of money went missing with them.

After returning to the U.S., I switched on "America's Most Wanted" and caught a story about a sketchy plastic surgeon who'd killed a patient via a botched lipo procedure, then chucked her body parts into a cooler which he threw into the river. The authorities of course found it, then him, luxuriating on the beaches of Playa Samara in Costa Rica, a place I'd remembered as the quaint vista where cattle graze on the town soccer pitch between games and howler monkeys serenade the bucolic hostel where I'd spent the night.

Central America - the destination of choice for the discerning fugitive. And why not? The living's easy, the dollar still goes far. Most importantly, no one asks questions, particularly of the gringos.

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At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Media Concepts said...

Hiding in Honduras. It sounds like Mr. Carr needed some lawyers, guns and money.
Nicely written post!


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