In What Happen the people of Costa Rica's Talamanca Coast talk about everything important to them--how they came from the islands of the Caribbean to the unpopulated shores where they founded the communities of Cahuita and Old Harbour (Puerto Viejo); the survival skills, values and customs that sustained them; shipwrecks, snake doctors, cricket, and cocoa farming; and the uncertain future of their communities as tourism develops on the lovely coast that is their home.

"...(a) wealth of oral history, culture and social anthropology...well worth reading."

-The Lonely Planet

"What Happen is the history, the tradition, the pains and the dreams of the people of the Talamanca Coast, as told by the people themselves. Paula Palmer has done her work brilliantly...It is a major contribution to race relations in this country."

-Quince Duncan, El Negro en Costa Rica

"...the beautifully-told history, dreams, and legends of the Talamanca coast people."

-The Tico Times

"...a fascinating history of the (Caribbean) region."

-The New Key to Costa Rica



Paula Palmer arrived in Costa Rica in 1974. When she learned that the people of Cahuita wanted to revive their tradition of Caribbean English education, she volunteered to help design a program of studies. She served as director of the Cahuita English School for three years with support from the Peace Corps. Paula Palmer holds a Master’s degree in sociology from Michigan State University.


ISBN: 978-09705678-3-3

U.S. Retail: 13.95


Zona Tropical Publications

What Happen

A Fold-History of Costa Rica’s Talamanca Coast

By Paula Palmer