The Afro-Caribbean people first settled the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in the mid 19th Century and lived in small farming and fishing coastal villages.
Punta Mona existed as a typical coastal village with nearly 40 Afro-Caribbean families until the early 1970's. At that time, most of the families moved to neighboring towns in search of work. By the early 1980's just one resident remained in Punta Mona- a fisherman named Blas Martinez, better known as Padi. Padi fished and farmed the land, collecting rainwater to drink and reading by kerosene lantern.
In 1995 Stephen Brooks began working with North American high school students in Costa Rica, through his first company Costa Rican Adventures. In planning the first program, he searched for a remote beach that would offer the students a diverse, sustainable experience with nature.
In November he was brought to Punta Mona by a local guide and introduced to Padi, who was harvesting pigeon peas in a garden next to his small wooden house. Stephen felt an instant connection to Padi and over the next several years would be a constant visitor and companion, camping in Padi's front yard.
In 1997 Stephen arranged to purchase 30 acres of land, adjacent to Padi's, from an attorney living in San Jose. There was a house on the property, over 50 years old, and a second small back house. It was completely off the grid and much of the property was overgrown.
This was the beginning of the The Punta Mona Center for Sustainability and Education