Neotropica: new Costa Rican magazine seeks writers

cover of Neotropica's first issue

Excerpts from a 15th-century account of Christopher Columbus “discovering paradise” in the New World. A philosophical rumination on “Before Paradise was Necessary.” A report on what expats in Costa Rica think about their Central American paradise, illustrated with images from Alice in Wonderland.

Neotropica is not your average travel magazine. The beautifully designed first issue, titled “Imagined Geographies of Paradise,” is a headlong plunge into history, myth, and culture. Available online, the magazine is laid out like a full-color academic journal, lavishly illustrated with photographs, prints from old trip journals, and reproductions of paintings, like Spanish painter Remedios Varo’s haunting and surreal “Exploration of the Source of the Orinoco.”

Founder and Editor-in-Chief Stephen Duplantier says he hopes Neotropica becomes “a widely-read journal of important ideas for all of Central America. The region is diverse and the archaeologies, histories, and traditions are thickly layered.”

"Exploration of the Source of the Orinoco," a painting by Remedios Varo

Duplantier and his wife Kathleen moved from Louisiana to the hills above San Ramon, Costa Rica, in 2004. Back home, he earned a PhD in journalism and and an MS in film and wrote extensively on Louisiana history and folk life. Duplantier also produced ethnographic films about the music and food of French Louisiana.

Now he turns his gaze on his new home—Central America—with the same learned and omnivorous curiosity that he once applied to Louisiana.

Duplantier says he’s seeking Central American artists, writers, and thinkers to help make Neotropica come alive, though at this point the magazine is a collaborative effort that hasn’t been paying its participants.

Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas chronicled the adventures and abuses of Christopher Columbus and other conquistadores

“This is a time for sharing and understanding,” says Duplantier. “We are looking for contributions in Spanish, English, and French that deal with our contested histories, and that try to understand 500 years of colonization. We’re in this together. What can we make of our lives in Central America?”

The second issue of Neotropica will be called The Banana Chronicles, and the 3rd, says Duplantier, will be “an archaeological dig to uncover buried ghosts, disappeared histories, and disappeared bodies of Central America’s past.”

Email Stephen Duplantier at

Read Neotropica online