Castillo de Lilo
This is the story of a young Costa Rican woman, Ericka Villalobos, who was determined to find her way in the world and take care of her family in the process. This is also the story of Klaus Jung, a German engineer who sought after a magical place where he could eventually lay his daughter’s precious soul to rest.
When these two lives would collide, an incredible story would unfold.
Chapter I: Ericka
Ericka’s mother had become so ill after the birth of her second baby that it would be apparent that this would be the last child that she would bear. Eleven years later and at the age of 43, Ericka’s mother would find out that she was indeed pregnant again! This was a beautiful surprise for the family and Ericka’s mother quickly referred to her unborn baby as a miracle in the making. Ericka’s father was ecstatic and certain that the baby was going to be a boy — the boy that he had always dreamed of having since they were so lucky to already have two beautiful girls.
Ericka, a sweet baby girl, was born in a very rural area of Costa Rica. She was raised on a farm where life was simple and peaceful, but also a struggle with no running water and no electricity.
Ericka grew up extremely close to her dad. She would follow her dad wherever he went, and has fond memories of milking the cows, feeding the chickens and playing with the dogs, as well as enjoying every minute being in her dad’s presence. She truly was her father’s little shadow.
At the age of 17, Ericka had dreams of going to university to study international relations. But just before she was ready to head off to school, her dad would pull her aside to explain something very important. This information would change the trajectory of Ericka’s life.
First, Ericka’s dad would share with his daughter that he was diagnosed with cancer and that he was afraid for the financial security of the family. He had a bank loan for the family home and farm, and he could not bear the thought of his loving wife and girls losing the home and not having a place to live. He asked his daughter to help.
Ericka’s dad had two ideas, the first being finding work for his daughter in a restaurant in San Ramón, Costa Rica. The second option would be for Ericka to travel to the United States, where a friend of her dad would arrange for a place to stay and work.
The only problem was that school would need to be put on hold. Ericka’s dream seemed to slip before her eyes, and it was a shock to be asked to leave the country when her dad was so sick. But she would do what she needed to in order to provide for her family during this difficult time.
In 1995, immigration in CR was pretty straightforward when Ericka decided she would go to the United States. Her dad reported to immigration to request a visa based on a gift he was giving his daughter for completing high school studies and graduating. He would also get a visa for himself, but it was only Ericka who would travel.
Ericka arrived in New York City, where she would meet her father’s friend. Ericka spoke no English. New York City was an incredible shock for a young girl coming from the small rural area of San Ramón. Ericka had her first chance to see TV at age 11, and now at age 17 she was suddenly transplanted into the city that never sleeps.
Ericka would go to work almost immediately and would find the workdays long and hard. She was cleaning five or six homes in a day and working a McDonalds night shift. McDonalds hired non-English speaking employees to fry food. One year would slip by, then a second and then a third. Ericka would send money back to the family and help pay for expenses, as well as the loan on the family property during these years.
Ericka’s father was growing sicker. Eventually the doctor informed the family that her dad would have another six months to live. After Ericka had completed three years of work, the final payment was made on the house loan. Erika’s mom called her to request that she come home as soon as possible, as her dad was definitely in his last days. Ericka made it in time to be with her dad for eight precious days.
Chapter II: Enter Angel #1
After the passing of her father, Ericka felt that she should return to the U.S. and work a bit longer to continue to support her family’s financial needs. She had a sister, who had been the main caregiver for her father during his illness, and this sister was also a single mother. Ericka was now 21 years old and her original visa was good for 10 years. She also had some English skills, and now a driver’s license.
Upon returning to the U.S., Ericka would find a job at an events company. One evening she was asked to cater an event in a mansion in San Harbor, the Hamptons. Ericka arrived, unknowingly, at Kenny G’s house! There were a lot of celebrity guests at the event, and one of them found her way into the kitchen. There, she was happy to strike up a conversation with Ericka. Ericka continued her task of polishing crystal glasses as this woman took an uncanny interest in her, asking for details of why she was in America.
Ericka shared her story and this woman, who introduced herself as Denise Rich, was soon to become Ericka’s new employer. Ericka’s wish of working for one individual would come true. Ericka went to work for Denise and was able to learn English as a second language. She also fulfilled her dream of getting a degree in international relations — all to the credit of Denise. Ericka would continue to work for Denise for seven years and describes Denise as the first angel that her deceased father would send to look after her.
After a break-up with her boyfriend of seven years, Ericka decided to reunite with a friend in Italy, where she would live for the next decade. Upon returning to her birth country of Costa Rica once again, she would find it financially difficult. So Ericka decided she should return to New York. However, since her previous tourist visa was no longer valid, she would have to remain in Costa Rica. It would seem that the universe had another plan for Ericka.
Chapter III: Klaus Jung – Enter Angel #2
Upon landing back on Costa Rican soil, Ericka would not find work in San Ramón. So she decided to move to the beach town of Potrero, where she would be able to put her English skills to use. A friend from Italy would offer Ericka a place to live. Ericka secured work at the Sugar Beach Hotel. She worked weekdays at the hotel and one weekend day for a woman from Arizona.
That same month, Ericka would meet Klaus Jung, and she would work for Klaus on her other weekend day off. As a property assistant for Klaus, Ericka was in charge of keeping on top of a project Klaus had started. Upon Klaus’s return from a three-month absence from Costa Rica, he requested that Ericka work for him full-time.
Klaus was a very private man, so Ericka did not know much about him, other than he was very precise, strict and organized. He expected this type of work ethic from Ericka. Six years into her working for Klaus, he fell ill. That’s when he started to open up to Ericka about his life.
Klaus Jung was on a mission to build a castle. This was not just any castle. It would be a resting place for his beloved family, with special attention to the baby girl that he lost so many years before.
Klaus was born in 1933 and raised in Germany. Klaus had suffered immensely after his father died. His father was an obligated officer under the Nazi regime. He followed out orders and eventually became emotionally distraught. It was an extremely difficult time and Klaus’ father died tragically. Soon after Klaus’ father died, the German army took away his mother, of Polish descent. He would never see her again.
Klaus was 14 years old now and had grown up with one sister. He would study what the Nazis requested, which was aircraft engineering, but his dream was to be an engineer of buildings. At age 18, Klaus had a beautiful fiancé and she became pregnant. They would have a baby girl named Lisolotta.
Klaus’ sister married a Nazi officer. It was then that he would disown her. The pain was too close.
At age 25, Klaus found himself with no future in a devastated part of Germany, oppressed after the war and with no parents. So Klaus, his cousin and his fiancé brainstormed a plan of escape from war-torn East Germany. Klaus promised his fiancé a better life one day. He promised to build his family a fortress where they would always be safe and never have to endure the hardships they had already seen.
Chapter IV: The Escape
Klaus and his cousin discussed the extreme danger they faced in trying to escape, as they would have to cross a minefield. It was approximately 3 kilometers of terrain. They decided it would be best to crawl on all fours, for if they were to land on a mine, they would rather be killed than maimed. Land mines are designed to explode on the slightest of pressure.
It was a grueling feat, crossing this muddy, thorn-filled and extremely dangerous ground. On hands and knees, they would crawl. It was dark and impossible to tell how close they were to each other. Klaus’ cousin would be the first to lose his life. Klaus heard the sound of a gunshot and then his cousin’s voice. His cousin was saying, “Keep going, keep going, and do not look back.” Klaus knew he could not turn back now. And besides, they had made a promise to each other that if anything were to happen, the others would not look back; they must keep going.
Klaus was carrying his baby girl, Lilo, and he knew they must be getting close to the border. His hands and legs and knees were cut and bleeding badly. His body was trembling. In the darkness his wife would take her turn to carry Lilo. It was very soon after passing baby Lilo over that Klaus heard an explosion. It was very close to him, as he sustained burns to his arm and the right side of his head was bleeding badly. His ear was gone. He had no choice but to make it to the border, alone, badly injured and emotionally distraught.
Klaus would find difficulty finding work in West Germany. He had made a new friend who encouraged him to once again escape, but this time from Germany completely. With this friends help, Klaus would get on a container barge and hide in a box where the motor was located. His friend would ensure he had food and water. After many days at sea, in the middle of the ocean, Klaus would risk coming out of hiding. He would find good people on the ship. The trip was just under a month long and he would arrive in NYC. In NYC, Klaus found an advertisement in a newspaper for a construction position. He secured the job. The company owner took a great interest in Klaus, recognizing his many abilities and determination and eventually sent him to college. He wanted to be a building engineer now more than ever as he still had the dream of building a fortress one day; but now it would be to protect the souls of his family.
Klaus would spend many years in the U.S. He worked in many different states and on some grand projects such as the Golden Gate Bridge. He saved his money, invested in stocks and eventually returned to his homeland of Germany, settling in Hamburg.
Chapter V: The Fortress
At age 70, Klaus started searching for the right country to build his fortress. He visited countries all over the world, but none held the energy he was searching for. Finally, upon arriving in Costa Rica, he discovered the feeling of the right energy and the right people!
He searched all over Costa Rica: Dominical, Arenal, Manuel Antonio and Potrero. He finally found the area he was looking for, but the land was not for sale. So he returned to Germany. Klaus had already started designing his castle, and a year had passed, when he received a call that the landowner in Costa Rica was willing to sell.
Klaus’ design was unique. He designed every minute detail, and other engineers commented that his hand-drawn plans looked even more precise than the computer-generated plans. The castle would have a circular tower fabricated out of iron and copper. A hole, one meter in width, was dug into the ground in the shape of a cone. The cone-shaped hole was filled with personal memories. It contained treasures such as baby pictures, coins and memorabilia, and was sealed shut with concrete.
This cone-shaped time capsule was designed to act as a sort of microphone within the tower. Klaus had intended for the vibration of sound, such as singing, humming or talking in this particular space to be felt throughout the body. This would be possible on every level of the tower within the castle. It would eventually be Klaus’s way of communicating with his lost family members. Klaus would spend hours meditating and humming in this circular space.
Chapter VI: Enter Angel #3
Ericka went out to celebrate her 35th birthday at Las Brisas on November 28, 2016. It was here that she met up with a friend named Marco. When he asked her to dance, she was amused at the thought of him being Italian and able to salsa dance.
Ericka describes Marco as the third angel that her father would send to her. Marco came into Ericka’s life at precisely the right time, with every good trait that she could have imagined. He would complement Ericka’s life — not just as a wonderful partner, but also as a partner who would work alongside her and finish the castle, inside and out, to become what it is today.
Chapter VII: Light and Life
Klaus would make his final trip to Costa Rica at the age of 83 before passing away in Germany three years later in 2017. His lawyer called Ericka to ask her if she would come to Germany, as Klaus had requested that she be the one to sign for his ashes. Ericka and Marco traveled there together, and to her surprise she found out that Klaus had willed the Potrero castle to her!
Now, the unfinished gray, abandoned, lifeless castle was in the hands of Ericka and Marco. They sought to bring life back into the castle in a new way, while still honoring Klaus’s memories and history. It took months and months of working on the castle from top to bottom to see it come to the light and life that it is today!
Castillo de Lilo, named after baby Lilo, is one of the most magical places to visit in the Potrero area. People can come to the castle to feel the peace and calm and magical energy for themselves. It is possible to feel the vibration on every floor of the tower as Klaus had so meticulously created.
Today, you can find Marco in the kitchen creating some of the most amazing meals with gifted passion. Ericka is the lovely host who is happy to keep Klaus’ life story alive. She is enthusiastic about taking guests on a tour through the Klaus Jung museum, which includes many of Klaus’s personal artifacts such as poems, his diary, drawings, pictures and many other interesting items.
Castillo de Lilo is a must for every visitor wanting to experience the magic in the jewel on the hilltop. They can marvel at its beauty and the vibrations of energy of its creators. Castillo de Lilo is an ideal place to host a dinner, a wedding or anniversary celebration or just a fun get-together with friends.
A Castle in the Sky in the Name of Love
Castillo de Lilo is no ordinary venue for hosting a dinner, celebrating a wedding or anniversary, or just getting together with friends. And it’s unlike any other castle in the world that enchanted history buffs are drawn to explore. Perched on the highest peak of the surrounding mountains at 2,230 feet above sea level, this Gold Coast treasure is becoming legendary for the peace, calm and magical energy that Potrero-area visitors seek to experience.
By design, it’s actually possible to feel the vibration on every floor of the castle tower as the original creator intended. For German engineer Klaus Jung, Castillo de Lilo was conceived as a symbol of protection and eternal love. It was named in memory of his infant daughter, who died tragically during a dangerous escape attempt from war-torn Germany. When Klaus himself died in 2017 at age 86, the castle was willed to Costa Rica native Ericka Villalobos.
Together with her husband, chef Marco Bedino, Ericka undertook to restore and bring to life her benefactor’s unfinished project in a way that would preserve his legacy. Today, Ericka and Marco manage, organize and host a variety of special events at Castillo de Lilo. They also offer tours through the Klaus Jung museum, where visitors can view his personal artifacts such as poems, his diary, drawings, pictures and many other interesting items.
Silhouette + full moon Photo: Wilberth Sanchez
White tower + blue sky Photo: Wilberth Sanchez
Castle lights + full moon Photo: Wilberth Sanchez
Aerial view + lighter sunset Photo: Javier Castañeda
Aerial view + darker sunset Photo: Javier Castañeda
Klaus Jung child Photo courtesy of Ericka
Klaus Jung older Photo courtesy of Ericka
Marco tending to guests Photo: Colleen Stacey
Castle terrace in the foreground of long view Photo: Colleen Stacey
Loft view + tree branch chandelier Photo: Colleen Stacey
View from the tower + beach Photo: Colleen Stacey
Longer view of distant beach from the tower Photo: Colleen Stacey
Overlooking the compass, where your body vibrations can be felt when standing Photo: Colleen Stacey