Known to the gringos around Samara as James, Jose Yens Gonzales Vasquez has been making cabinets and furniture for 15 years. He started as an apprentice with a maestro woodworker in Heredia (near San Jose) and stayed there for 5 years before opening his own business. For the past 10 years ago, he’s been living and working in the village of Santa Elena, about 10 kilometers from Samara, where his parents and all of his brothers and sisters still live. Yens prefers to work with woods that are grown in this zone of Costa Rica, including Cedro, Pachote, Melina, and Teak. And because tropical hardwoods contain a lot of natural moisture which causes cracking and warping, he drys the woods he uses, on site for 5-6 years before transforming them into custom pieces, including windows and doors. Even though he’s considering building a kiln for drying the wood, he feels there’s no substitute for time and good ventilation to keep the wood from “moving” after he’s finished and installed a piece. He can turn a simple drawing into a sturdy hand-built piece of craftsmanship. Most important to Yens is the satisfaction of his clients. His assistant Rigo has been working with him for 3 years.