How it all started, 25 years ago
I have brief glimpses of the land as cow pasture, a moment's memory of the dirt-floored hut with horse feed and building tools that was the only roof on the property, my sleeping bag upon packed red clay. Thus began the La Paloma Lodge project. The view was, even then, magnificent, but the land had been devoured and destroyed, left bereft of all vegetation except a few hardy weeds and bushes.
Dad began the lodge with the clubhouse, his dream of kicking back with good friends and a few beers after a day of fishing at Cano Island. The clubhouse was finished (minus the stairs, at that point we pulled ourselves into the building from the ground four or five feet beneath) in 1986 with the thatch roof true to our logo, and then, while we kids explored the river and raced horses across the beach, construction began on cabins 1-3. Although today we have a staff over thirty people, the work in those days was shared between just ten. Most of those people were seeing electricity (with the help of a small generator) for the first time. My Dad did most of the architectural design and set-up. Mom worked on the landscaping and home-schooled her rambunctious brood.
Our family moved into Rancho 3 in 1988. Mom, loaded down with school books for three different age groups, and Dad, ready to make the last minute adjustments to transform La Paloma Lodge (at that time Drake Bay Lodge) into a gateway for the avid sport fisherman. After the fishing boat sunk on its way up the coast from Panama with Dad and my grandfather aboard (a story in itself) , Mom had the good sense to notice the environmental treasure we had; the gears shifted and guidebooks began taking note of La Paloma, an eco-lodge nested atop a hilltop in beautiful Drake Bay.
After the usual slow start, guests began flocking to La Paloma for its beauty, its remoteness, the food, the tours, even the fishing. There are constant changes, and many improvements each time I return to the Lodge. Both of my parents are still hard at work to preserve this pristine area for future generations, and in our family we shudder when hearing the words "progress" and "development" attached to our childhood paradise of Drake Bay. - Kate Kalmbach, 2003
La Paloma Lodge is dedicated to supporting education and environmental issues in the surrounding communities. The lodge is an active contributor and supporter of the the following foundations. For more information about our involvement and how you can help, see below.
Drake Bay School
The small, three-room school serves all the children in the area. It exists without the technology that we so often take for granted. Hotels in the area are selling note cards and T-shirts designed by the school's children. The profits provide desperately needed school supplies, as well as materials for the building's infrastructure. If you want to donate to the Drake Bay School or drop off supplies, please contact us.
A dedicated non-profit organization started by NatureAir in 2002, which teaches local children English reading and writing skills. The program has grown from a one room classroom in San Jose to several locations throughout Costa Rica and with classes for entire families, from children to grandparents. Drake Bay citizens have embraced the Nature Kids English program. They are also initiating efforts to clean up water in smaller communities and collect and recycle garbage. Environmental lessons are given to instill sustainable lifestyle practices in younger generations.
The Corcovado Foundation is a local non-profit committed to protecting the greater Corcovado ecosystem. They are leading the fight to stop illegal hunting and logging, while working closely with the National Park Service. Donations are used for hiring more park rangers, and Jaguar Youth Environmental Education Program, Sea Turtle conservation and Sustainable Tourism.