Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Robert Isenberg’s funny, moving ‘Green Season’ debuts

September 28, 2015

When I went to my first Tico Times party, I had one question: “Who is this guy Robert Isenberg?”

One of my new co-workers pointed out an orange-haired guy in the swimming pool wearing a hat.

I had been reading The Tico Times every day, and Robert stood out like a giant in the ranks. I knew him only as a byline, but I had to meet him because his writing was so good it gave me prose envy.

I walked over to the pool and introduced myself, and I soon learned how Robert gets so many people to open up to him — he’s simply one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

Author Robert Isenberg.

(Courtesy of Robert Isenberg)

I partied with Robert once in Monteverde, at the main bar in Santa Elena, and I was shocked to hear him strike up a conversation in nearly fluent German with a visitor from Germany.

The man turned out to be something of a boor who wanted to bend Robert’s ear for an hour, but Robert was too polite to walk away for the longest time. When he finally did, he came to me and laughed and said, “That guy!” Then to get over it he bought us both a shot of chile guaro.

The Green Season” is an excellent compilation of Robert’s best work at The Tico Times, starting with a hilarious story about dealing with spiders and insects in his new home. Some of the funniest stories are on the most routine topics — Robert rides the bus, Robert buys a car, Robert goes to the dentist.

But Robert is also capable of prize-worthy journalism, as in his account of visiting a home for former child sex workers, or his counterintuitive interview with Costa Rica’s most celebrated poet.

Robert’s travel writing is also exquisite, whether he’s going on a night bioluminescence tour in Panama or mistakenly arrives in Limón the day after Carnaval, missing all the festivities, but then turns around and writes the definitive profile of a dubious city he is determined to love.

Anyone who likes Costa Rica, good writing or both should find a lot to like here.

“The Green Season” is available in paperback format at The Tico Times Store (for customers in Costa Rica); the paperback is also available at Amazon.com and the Kindle e-book will be released on Amazon this week. Read our Q&A with Robert in News.

Contact Karl Kahler at kkahler@ticotimes.net.

 

 

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