News

Dental Procedure in Costa Rica

I asked a local dentist to send me some information on a new procedure they are doing and this is what I received. My wife uses them and she loves them! I hope you will enjoy it.

Over the past few decades, Costa Rica and plastic or cosmetic surgery have been become almost interchangeable. For the wealthy who wish to have their surgery in private, Costa Rica has become an internationally recognized center for high quality cosmetic surgery. Many consider it the ideal place to have surgery, due to its almost perfect weather and the peaceful natural surroundings in which to recuperate.

Due to the aforementioned reasons, we are able to offer the same or better quality than what you might receive in your own home town at a much better price. All this bined with the highly trained staff and quality medical facilities combine to make Costa Rica a much more desirable place to have dental work done.

If you are considering having cosmetic dental work done, we certainly hope you will consider a visit to Costa Rica. The savings you will enjoy, can also end up paying for a very nice vacation and more. Costa Rica dental implants are considerably less expensive, as are most other cosmetic surgery procedures, materials and treatments in Costa Rica.

Today I would like to speak to you about how much dentistry has radically changed over the past 20 years. For instance, in the past, we performed full mouth rehabilitation using large bone grafts involving complex hip grafting to restore a patient who was edentulous, that is being essentially toothless. As implant dentistry has become more technologically sophisticated we are able to address this condition in a more efficient and less invasive way. This name for this new technique is the All on 4. This new surgical procedure has become very popular because now we can treat many edentulous patients in a more economical and efficient way to obtain the best result for the patient in the shortest amount of time with less trauma. This new technique means fewer bone grafts, less aggressive surgery, more efficient use of implants with the tremendous benefit of having fixed non removable temporary bridges fabricated and attached at the time of surgery. You literally walk out of the office with a full set of teeth in one day! The advanced bone grafting protocol involving a mix of new materials has, in most cases, eliminated the need for complex bone grafts. This new grafting procedure has proven itself to be very successful and has become the medical standard. Using 3D technology permits us to fabricate a custom internal titanium frame structure for your temporary and permanent bridges. This results in a very precise fit over the implants and provides a long term resolution for edentulous patients, plus the maintenance of the bridges is simple and has a very low cost. Once again everything now is greatly simplified. With the new protocol the patient can be seen early in the morning and they can literally walk out with their temporary teeth fixed to their implants for one or both arches in a few hours. I have been doing this protocol for over two years now with excellent results. I will be more than happy to make myself available to call you to go through the process and explain it in greater detail. Also, I now operate my practice in a new, English fluent, multi-million, state-of-the-art facility with its own laboratory in San Jose.

I invite you to come and visit us at your pleasure to meet the staff and tour our new facilities. Please call 305.517.5172 to arrange a phone consultation or tour of the new facility.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

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Dentists From 18 Countries Gather in Costa Rica for International Conference By TCRN on August 7, 2014

Dentists From 18 Countries Gather in Costa Rica for International Conference

The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – From August 21 to 23, the Congress of the Latin American Association of Operative Dentistry will be held for the first time in Costa Rica. This activity will include the participation of 56 international speakers who will talk about the latest advances in dental treatments.

The conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Corobicí and will be open to students of dentistry who can listen to specialists from 18 countries, ranging from Mexico to Patagonia.

Sylvia Gudino, president of the Organizing Committee, explained that it is a unique conference, “It will cover operative, endodontics, cosmetic, bio-technological advances and then there will be four concurrent conference rooms where participants can decide which conference they want to attend.”

Most of the lecturers are professors from different universities throughout Latin America with the goal is to train dentists and refresh their general knowledge.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

San Jose, Costa Rica

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Costa Rica starts imposing immigration law from 2010 as of 8/1/14

Costa Rica News – Seems that Costa Rica has finally decided to start getting imposing laws in regards to illegal immigration and visa status in the country. The $100 a month fine for over staying your visa is finally being implemented. There are also fines for hotels and landlords that are housing those that do not have legal visa status.  The question is will this have a negative effect in Costa Rica down the line?

nicaragua-costa-rica-border 1On 1st August, the Director General for Migration and Immigration announced that from that day forward, they would be imposing fines on employers with workers in either construction or the domestic service if they couldn’t prove the legal residency of these workers.

Kathya Rodríguez, the General Director of Migration, explains that the penalty range between ¢798.800 to ¢4,8 million, depending on the degree of the breach of the law.

This is how the General Migration Law is set up, which became valid on 1st March 2010. However, collection of these imposed fines was often not properly organised; firstly due to an amnesty, and then due to an extension period which lasted around 2 years.

Rodriguez and the Government’s vice-Minister, Carmen Muñoz, explained that they were awarded a new extension, but one which would apply only to employers in agricultural industries.

Businesses in this sector would have from now until the 31st January 2015 to put themselves down on a special register. Following that, they would have a year in which to work through the entire legalisation process.

Migration Police, by paying attention to complaints and general disruption, will be working to detect any sorts of irregularities surrounding migrant workers.

In the case of domestic workers they will be assessing their treatment, if they are receiving minimum wage and any bonuses or benefits they may be receiving; not just their own immigration status. The higher the number of breaches found, the higher the penalty to the employer will be.

For cases outside the agricultural sector, Migration will keep the same entry policy as normal. During past extensions, it was possible to begin the immigration process for a person who illegally entered the country; from the 1st August, this will no longer be an option.

Rodriguez said that they would only process cases where the person in question has had some sort of migration status, or where they still hold a valid passport.

First paragraph added by Dan Stevens, rest of article translated by Leah Hendre from La Nacion

Pura Vida! Well maybe not any more for some! This could get ugly.

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Be on the lookout for this scam, it could cost you thousands of dollars

July 16th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) While not a new problem in Costa Rica, credit and debit card fraud through the use of electronic devices called ‘skimmers’ is becoming ever more common as the skimming devices become ever easier to obtain.

 

The devices do their work after a criminal inserts the thin plastic device into an ATM machine’s card reader.  The device than reads and stores every ATM users’ card information the moment they insert the card into the machine.  The criminal returns later in the day and retrieves the device, which may by then have the full data of hundreds of cards stored on it. That information is later used to create clones of the users’ cards, or for online purchases.

 

Most of the devices allow the ATM machine to function like normal, and as a result many users have no idea that their card information has just been stolen.

 

Inside Costa Rica first reported on a rash of such scams in March 2013.  Recent reports by readers indicate that the scam is back and claiming more victims.

 

One reader reported to Inside Costa Rica that criminals nabbed $600 from her account and $2,000 from two other friends’ accounts earlier this month using ATM skimming devices, one of which was apparently installed at the Banco Costa Rica branch location in Grecia.

 

Upon notifying their banks (both U.S. and Costa Rican cards were cloned), the reader’s friends were directed to file a report at the courthouse, where she reportedly learned that a rash of clonings have occurred in recent weeks in six cities across the country.

 

Francisco Segura of the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ) said last year that many cardholders have no idea that they have become victims, and that many times it is instead the banks that alert judicial authorities to possible fraud.

 

In an operation last year, the OIJ conducted 13 raids in various locations, collecting evidence such as payment receipts, skimming devices, and computers.

 

The skimmers are also sometimes placed in the credit card terminals at retail establishments, restaurants, and other places that accept credit cards.

 

The skimming devices used by criminals can be found for sale on certain web sites in Costa Rica, sometimes carrying a price tag of nearly 1 million colones ($2,000).

 

To avoid becoming the victim of these fraudsters, it is suggested to check closely the area on ATM machines where you insert your card for anything that may look like a hidden our out of place device, and also to not allow retail clerks, gas station attendants, and others to take your card out of sight.

 

Image courtesy of Banco de Costa Rica.

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Why growing numbers of pot smokers eat mango before lighting up

Not only is the fruit high in vitamin C, it could be the secret to unlocking marijuana’s true potential

Why growing numbers of pot smokers eat mango before lighting up

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

It’s not a proven scientific fact, but many pot smokers are consuming mangoes an hour before lighting up to boost their highs. According to Marijuana.com, there’s a good chance that the myrcene molecules found in mango can possibly “increase, strengthen and even lengthen” the euphoric feeling from smoking marijuana.

Marijuana already contains more than 100 terpene molecules that are responsible for affecting THC in the brain and giving highs their ebbs and flows. But marijuana contains the myrcene terpene more than any other kind. So, if you eat a mango rich in myrcenes, you can potentially improve the high for low-quality buds or give a high-quality bud a little extra. As for how myrcene and terpene work, the research is still in its infancy.

“I don’t know the answer and the reason we don’t know the answer is because our government in its infinite wisdom didn’t permit any research in this area for many years,” said Christopher Hudalla, chief scientific officer at ProVerde Labs. “In many cases we are just starting to do this research.”

Myrcene is responsible for the aromas of apricots, walnuts and Valencia oranges and is widely used in the perfume industry. It gets its name from the plant mercia and is also found in lemon grass, verbena, hops and the West Indian bay tree used to make bay rum. Its aroma is much like cannabis as it can be woodsy, citrusy and fruity.

But one of its lesser-known qualities is that the myrcene allows THC to pass through the blood brain barrier much faster. On average, it takes THC seven seconds to reach the brain after inhaling. But if you eat a mango — or a mango smoothie — 90 minutes before smoking, you could potentially halve that time.

The “Big Book of Buds” notes that the Cavalo, Rosa, Espada and Paulista variety of mangoes are excellent sources of myrcene.

Pura Vida!

 

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Fidelity Bans U.S. Investors Overseas From Buying Mutual Funds

Prohibition Applies to Both Fidelity and Non-Fidelity Mutual Funds

Updated July 1, 2014 7:07 p.m. ET
By LAURA SAUNDERS
Fidelity Investments and other asset managers are telling U.S. clients who live outside the country that they can no longer buy or trade mutual funds in their brokerage accounts.Stephen Austin, a spokesman for the financial-services firm, said the change, effective Aug. 1, was prompted by “today’s continually evolving global regulatory environment,” but he said it wasn’t in response to a specific issue.The change will affect about 50,000 accounts, or less than 0.3% of Fidelity’s 20 million accounts, he said.

“Customers will not be forced to sell holdings simply because they live in a foreign country,” Mr. Austin said.

Observers said fund managers are becoming more conservative in the wake of global developments such as the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and other U.S. efforts.

Following large settlements paid to the U.S. by Credit Suisse Group AG CS +0.35% andBNP Paribas SA, BNP.FR -0.40% “Other countries are getting angry about the size of the fines and are grumbling about retaliation,” said Jonathan Lachowitz, a cross-border investment adviser based in Lexington, Mass., and Lausanne, Switzerland.

Mutual funds are regulated differently from other investments and could be a target, he said.

David Kuenzi, an investment manager in Madison, Wis., who works with Americans abroad, said that selling U.S. mutual funds to those investors had long been prohibited. “But it was matter of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Now the firms are getting more aggressive about compliance,” he said.

Other fund companies also are changing policies for investors who live abroad.

A spokesman for Putnam Investments said the firm is no longer accepting additional investments into existing accounts held by non-U.S. residents.

The spokesman said the changes were made “in accordance with U.S. anti-money-laundering and ‘Know Your Customer’ policies” and in response to recent tightening of European laws limiting sales of funds not registered in their jurisdictions.

A spokesman for Charles Schwab Corp. SCHW -0.33% said the firm “has made changes and will continue to make changes to our policies” in reaction to regulatory changes but declined to specify them.

In a recent letter to overseas clients, Fidelity said that its prohibition would apply to both Fidelity and non-Fidelity mutual funds, and to exchanges between funds.

However, account holders still will be permitted to reinvest dividends in additional shares of a fund.

Employer-sponsored plans such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans aren’t affected by the prohibition, but individual retirement accounts and Roth IRAs are, the spokesman said.

The letter also said that if an investor has an automatic investment plan with periodic deposits of cash, then the additions can continue but the money won’t be invested in mutual funds. Instead, the funds will be added to the investor’s other “core position,” such as a money-market fund. The letter added that additions to such funds will still be permitted, but that this could change in the future.

The Fidelity spokesman said that account holders’ ability to purchase individual securities or exchange-traded funds varies from country to country.

A spokesman for the Investment Company Institute, a fund industry group, declined to comment.

A spokesman for Vanguard Group said its funds are typically only for sale to people who live in the U.S., although there are some exceptions for investors residing abroad, for example, some people with inherited accounts.

Write to Laura Saunders at laura.saunders@wsj.com

Pura Vida!

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NICARAGUA OKAYS ROUTE FOR $40B CANAL LINKING OCEANS

MANAGUA – A Nicaraguan committee approved a proposed route on Monday for a $40 billion shipping channel across the Central American country that would compete with the Panama Canal.
The committee of government officials, businessmen and academics approved a 172 mile route from the mouth of the Brito river on the Pacific side to the Punto Gorda river on the Caribbean that was proposed by executives from the HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd.
The Hong Kong-based HKND group, which is leading the project, is headed by Chinese lawyer Wang Jing, who also heads Chinese company Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group.
The proposed canal would pass through Lake Nicaragua, Central America’s largest lake, and will be between 230 metres and 520 metres (755 feet to 1,706 feet) wide and 27.6 metres (90 feet) deep, said HKND engineer Dong Yunsong.
The proposed route still faces environmental and social impact studies that could recommend some changes to the plan, but those studies should be finished later this year to allow work to begin by December, said committee member Telemaco Talavera.
Opponents of the plan are concerned about the canal’s effect on Lake Nicaragua, an important fresh water source for the country, as well as the impact on poor communities.
The plan is to finish the canal in 2019 and begin operations in 2020, Talavera said.
The proposed channel would be more than three times longer than the 48-mile (77-km) Panama Canal, which took the United States a decade to build at the narrowest part of the Central American isthmus. It was completed in 1914.


Interesting Engineering Event

THE NICARAGUAN CANAL: THE BEST RESPONSE TO

THE RISE IN GLOBAL TRADE

Lisa Langhorst (lil90@pitt.edu)

 INTRODUCTION: THE EFFECT OF THE NICARAUAN CANAL

The rise in Global trade has made the need for an alternative trade route to the Panama Canal a definite necessity. Even with the expansions on the Panama Canal, it cannot support vessels with capacities over 150,000tons according to an article in the Business Daily update [1]. An old idea for a canal that would go through the impoverished country of Nicaragua is now become a viable option to enhance global trade, as Nicaragua attempts to latch onto the back of this rise in trade and counter the monopoly of the Panama Canal.
I think that this is an important issue because the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal would benefit shale export from the United States. This would result in a better economic standing for our country, and give the United States a greater geopolitical leverage, according to an article in the Wall Street journal about the effect of oil and natural gas production on the country’s standing [2]. A better economy stands to increase the well being of every citizen of the United States of America.
There are many issues that face this project, such as environmental impact on Lake Nicaragua, the financial expense, and alternative trade route plans to connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans through other South American countries. However, the Nicaraguan Canal stands to be the best option for a trade route especially considering the revolution in shale gas exports from the United States. Currently the vessels used to export shale exceed the capacity allowable by the Panama Canal, so they are forces to go around South America instead of through Central America. The technology is there, and has been there since the construction of the Panama Canal in the early twentieth century.

BACKGROUND: THE CONSTRUCTORS AND THE COUNTRY

A Brief History and a Bright Outlook

Nicaragua has long been considered an excellent route for a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It was considered at the same time as the Panama Canal, but did not make it to construction at that time because of political unrest in Nicaragua. Now Nicaragua is “the poorest country in Central America and second poorest in the Western Hemisphere” according to the CNN wire [2]. In Nicaragua almost half of the population cannot afford enough food to meet the minimal necessary caloric intake to maintain good nutrition. The Washington Times stated that “According to the company�s projections, the canal would create some 40,000 construction jobs and virtually double Nicaragua’s per-capita gross domestic product ‘ [3]. This means that if the Nicaraguan Canal is built, Nicaragua will be able to sustain its economy, and its population. By 2015, before the canal is even finished, employment could triple and over 700,000 people could be pulled from poverty or extreme poverty. The economy could double, reaching $24 billion [4]. Nicaragua could be one of the fastest growing economies in history.
According to The Business Daily Update, the annual revenue of the canal is estimated to be $5.5 billion [1]. The total cost of the canal is estimated at $40 billion, with a building period of six to ten years, and sustainable operation for over a century, according to an article in International Construction [5]. This means that its total revenue would far exceed the cost of construction and maintenance for the next 100 years.

Financial Logistics

The project was granted to, and is being funded by, a Chinese businessman, Mr. Wang Jing, and the HKND Hong Kong based group. This past summer Mr. Jing was awarded a fifty-year concession for the project, with a possible fifty-year extension [2]. Mr. Jing made a point that the project would be funded by private investors [5]. Since Nicaragua still recognizes Taiwan and not mainland China, the two countries do not have diplomatic relations. Therefore, the Chinese government will not be investing in the project initially[6]. An investment such as this might scare away private investors, but I would not be surprised if China offers some low interest loans further into the project, as they stand to gain from the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal as well, since the Nicaraguan Canal would make trade key trading partners like South Africa more cost effective [2].

CONSTRUCTION AND TECHNOLOGY

Routes

The Nicaraguan Canal is potentially the largest civil engineering project in the world. It would be about three times the size of the Panama Canal [3]. The route of the canal has not yet been finalized, but over 100 kilometers of land will have to be excavated [5].

Figure 1 [7]

Route Options for the Nicaraguan Canal

Figure 1 displays the route options for the canal. All of these routes go through Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in South America. The simplest route would be route 6, along the San Juan River, but that has been ruled out due to some territorial discrepancies between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the country that lies along the southern side of the San Juan River. This leaves several overland routes, which would require extensive excavation. In addition to the canal, HKND also has rights to build two deep water ports, two airports, an oil pipeline across the country, and a transoceanic railroad, all of which fits into the timeline and budget [2, 7].

Construction of the Panama Canal: a Comparison

The feasibility check and environmental impact study for the Nicaraguan Canal have not yet been completed, so the exact method as to how the Nicaraguan Canal will be constructed is not yet released to the public, but looking to the past, at the construction of the Panama Canal we can get a good idea of the process by which the Panama was built. The canals were dug into “V” shapes by several techniques of excavation. Pneumatic power drills were used to drill holes for explosives, steam shovels, steam powered cranes, dredges- devices for underwater excavation-, and hydraulic rock crushers were then used to further break down the rock which was then transported to dumping sites by way of railroads. The technology will have improved by now, but the general process remains the same.

THE NICARAGUAN CANAL IS THE BEST TRADE ROUTE OPTION

Competitive Trade Routes

Nicaragua is not the only country with the intention to open up another trade route between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. In Honduras plans are being made to build Pacific and Atlantic ports connected by a series of rail lines. Guatemala is making similar plans to have ports connected by a high-speed rail line along gas and oil pipelines [5]. This would be cheaper, but less efficient for trade in the long run. The additional time spent transferring goods to and from rail lines would add time to the shipping process and make the product more expensive.

US Shale Exports

From the perspective of the United States, the Nicaraguan Canal stands to be the best option. America has recently experienced a boon in shale gas production as well as shifts in trade policy to more exports [1]. The vessels used to transport shale exceed the 150,000-ton capacity of the Panama Canal. These vessels then have to round Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America in order to export to China. Because of this, the price advantage of shale exports to China is very low. However, with the construction of the wider, deeper Nicaraguan Canal these vessels will no longer need to take such an extensive trade route. The Nicaraguan canal will be able to support vessels of 400,000 tons, vessels two and a half times the size of the largest vessels going through the Panama Canal.

CONCLUSION: A BRIGHT FUTURE

The Nicaraguan Canal will be the most efficient trade route from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. It benefits the United States, particularly by increasing shale export efficiency, it benefits Nicaragua by allowing it to tap into the expanse of world maritime trade, and it benefits China by making their trade more cost effective as well. There are challenges that face the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal, as there were challenges that faced the construction of the Panama Canal. These challenges will be overcome by the advancement of technology, and motivation of the economic prosperity produced by this canal. The expense will most definitely be worth the outcome, and the future of world trade will be made brighter.

REFERENCES

  1. (2013, June 26). “New canal a lifeline for energy. ” Business Daily Update.(Online article).http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?action=interpret&id=GALE%7CA335278599&v=2.1&u=upitt_main&it=r&p=ITOF&sw=w&authCount=1
  2. A. Jaffe. (2013, March27). “Experts: How the U.S. Oil Boom Will Change the Markets and Geopolitics. ” Wall Street Journal.(Online article). http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324105204578382690249436084.html
  3. C. Riley. (2013, June 26). “China canal project in Nicaragua has investors. ” CNN Wire. (Online article).http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/NewsDetailsPage/NewsDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=News&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=false&displayGroups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CA335033445
  4. A. Yu. (2013, July 16). “Chinese tycoon maps out rival canal; Nicaragua OKs $40B waterway. ” The Washington Times.(Online article).http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/NewsDetailsPage/NewsDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=News&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=false&displayGroups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CA336935740
  5. T. Rogers. (2013, July 24). “Can China finally make the Nicaragua canal dream happen? ” The Christian Science Monitor.(Online article).http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/NewsDetailsPage/NewsDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=News&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=false&displayGroups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CA337749275
  6. C. Arduz, C. Sleight. (2013, June 24). “Nicaragua approves Panama Canal Alternative. ” International Construction. (Online article).http://www.khl.com/magazines/international-construction/detail/item86199/
  7. J. Hobson. (2013, July 22). “Chinese Company Attempts to Build Panama Canal Alternative.� “Here & Now. (Interview). http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/07/22/panama-canal-alternative
  8. (2013, June 14) “Living on Earth: Nicaraguan Canal. ” Living on Earth. (Interview). http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/AudioDetailsPage/AudioDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=Audio&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=false&displayGroups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CA334434874

ADDITIONAL SOURCES

(2013). “The Nicaragua Canal and Development Project. ” HKND Group. (Website).http://hknd-group.com/the-project/

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Dan Budny for the opportunity to do a research project that solidified my interest in civil engineering.

I would like to thank Judith Brink for assistance in research and refinement of sources through the University of Pittsburgh Library.

I would like to thank Heinz Langhorst for discussion on the construction and issues of building the Nicaraguan Canal.

I would like to thank Alexandra George for her advice on editing and refining the diction, content, and argument of my paper.

Pura Vida!

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Report About Costa Rica Real Estate Reveals Some Surprises

Costa Rica Real Estate News – According to a recent study by San Jose-based CRREC, the real estate market in Costa Rica is displaying signs of significant interest towards pre-built construction of coastal gated communities while pressure rises from competing markets such as Panama.

costa rica real estate market 1Costa Rica Real Estate’s study contains information pertaining to market size (both volume and value), leading players, key financial metrics and an in-depth analysis in to the competitive pressures Panama holds in the road ahead. Also inside the report are growth predictions for the 2014-2015 season including trend data from a variety of reputable sources.

Only a few weeks back, Costa Rica inducted a new president and while many believe the change in power will bring economic stimulus, others remain skeptical with recent announcements from Intel and HP that they will be closing operations in the country.

Reports of increasing sales and reductions in interest rates within the real estate sector are being pointed to by many as indicators the market is witnessing an upward trend.

One agent cited in the study said, “Normally come this time of year [June] we see a drastic decline in interest from foreign investors however this year it appears to remain consistent with earlier years where sales were strong straight through.”

Although the study reveals the various areas of interest to investors, it shed light most specifically on the Guanacaste region.

There are a few contributing factors that make the region strong including expansion at the Liberia International airport, a thriving luxury resort market with the likes of the Westin Conchal and RUI, and of course we have to mention a strong commercial interest with “high roller” investors coming in on the Flamingo marina and upcoming Hard Rock projects. In fact a stand out point in the study uncovered an emerging trend for low to medium priced gated communities situated along the coastal regions.

Furthermore the report delves in to defining emerging segments with analysis and forecasts of what to expect leading in to the 2015 season.

The housing market [pre-built construction] saw the most significant growth through the 2014 season which accounted for 62.35% of all real estate transactions from the period between June 2013 and now. The trend is expected to rise to a projected 65% as the market segways in to the upcoming high season.

A surprising statistic unveiled within the report details an emerging trend of expatriates opting for the more progressive neighboring country of Panama. For decades, Panama and Costa Rica have fought toe to toe over tourism and the economic boost of attracting foreign investors. During the term of the previous president, Laura Chinchilla, the country experienced a step back in this direction with major corporations moving their operations to other emerging markets in Asia.

Professionals within the real estate sector in Costa Rica remain optimistic that Costa Rica can gain back some ground previously given up to Panama with the newly elected governing party. Forecasts cited within the report support the theory on growth through the 2015 season.

By Don Halbert, from www.worldpropertychannel.com

Pura Vida!

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Dengue Virus Spreading Through Costa Rica’s Limon Province

Costa Rica Health News – According to the Costa Rican Health Ministry, the Limon Province is where the most active transmission of the dengue virus is taking place this year. Matina is the town where the greatest number of dengue cases have been found: 309 so far this year.

dengue costa rica virusAuthorities reported 3,648 cases of dengue by June 21st and although this number is 71% lower than last year, it is still worrisome.

The Caribbean Zone is the most mosquito-infested area with more than 3 in 100 houses containing recognizable breeding grounds. This number indicates a very high risk and authorities recommend neighbors take actions to control the plague by eliminating breeding grounds such as any still water in houses and on the streets.

Dengue is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and causes intense body pain and high fever as well as diarrhea and vomiting in some cases. Cases seem to increase at the peak of winter or rainy season when still water becomes more common throughout the country.

80% of patients with dengue have been reported as living in Guanacaste, Limon and Puntarenas. Last year was reported as the worst epidemic of dengue in the past two decades and health officials want to keep the number down this year as much as possible, especially with the possibility of the chikungunya fever in the mix.

Originally posted on Costarican Times

Pura Vida!

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FACTA July 1st Implementaion Starts With 30% Penalties for Banks

Costa Rica News – In 2013, 2,999 Americans renounced citizenship, the highest number on record. The four highest totals have all occurred since Fatca became law, though the exact reasons for renunciations aren’t reported.

fatca implementationThe Internal Revenue Service is about to get an unprecedented look at bank accounts and investments U.S. citizens hold abroad, through a law that is making it harder to hide assets from the tax collector.

Tomorrow, the U.S. government will start imposing 30 percent taxes on many overseas payments to financial institutions that don’t share information with the IRS.

That new burden has frustrated overseas banks and U.S. expatriates. It’s also created a new standard of global bank-to-government information sharing designed to throw light on often difficult-to-trace accounts.

No one knows yet how successful the law will be in combating tax evasion. Still, it allows the U.S. to scoop up data from more than 77,000 financial institutions and 80 governments about its citizens’ overseas financial activities.

“I don’t think anything on this scale has ever been tried before,” said John Harrington, a former international tax counsel at the Treasury Department who is now a partner at Dentons in Washington. “The idea that it would go off without a hitch is sort of hard to imagine.”

What led to the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, was the inability of federal tax authorities to obtain clear information about financial accounts that U.S. citizens have outside the country. That’s especially important for the U.S., because unlike many other countries, it taxes citizens on their worldwide income regardless of where they actually live.

‘Honor’ System
“If you had an account outside of the U.S., you were pretty much on your honor to disclose that information,” said Denise Hintzke, the global tax leader for Deloitte Tax LLP’s Fatca practice.
In establishing the law, Congress and President Barack Obama in effect threatened to cut off banks and other companies from easy access to the U.S. market if they didn’t pass along such information. The U.S. was able to leverage its status as a financial center to demand action from governments and banks in other countries.

The proposal was barely debated when Congress in 2010 passed it as a budgetary offset to a tax credit for hiring. It was projected to raise $8.7 billion in revenue over a decade.

Congress hasn’t addressed it since then, although the Republican National Committee voted earlier this year in favor of repeal.

Withholding Tax
Under Fatca, U.S. banks and other companies making certain cross-border payments — such as interest and dividends — to foreign financial institutions must withhold a 30 percent tax if the recipient isn’t providing information about its U.S. account holders.

Later phases of the law will apply to a broader set of cross-border payments, such as gross proceeds from stock sales. Many non-financial companies will be affected, too.

The law has been accompanied by a new set of regulations and definitions, creating a cottage industry of advisers and interpreters. It was supposed to start Jan. 1, 2013, which was put off until tomorrow to give taxpayers more time to comply.

Fatca prompted more than 77,000 financial institutions to register for the program to avoid the withholding tax. As a result of that compliance, the government doesn’t expect to collect much direct revenue from the 30 percent levy, said a senior Treasury official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss planning for Fatca.

Direct Disclosurefatca implementation 1
In most cases, the law isn’t being implemented as written, because foreign banks said direct disclosure to the IRS would violate local laws. The prospect of withholding spurred negotiations between the U.S. and foreign governments, and other countries saw the potential benefits of reciprocal information exchange.
“This will become a sharing, automatically, between the various countries,” Hintzke said.

So far, the U.S. has reached final or provisional agreements with more than 80 jurisdictions, allowing for government-to-government information exchange or streamlined business-to-government exchanges.
The list includes jurisdictions that often are labeled as tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Guernsey. It also includes most of the world’s major economies, such as Germany, Japan, Canada and the U.K.

Renouncing Citizenship
In 2013, 2,999 Americans renounced citizenship, the highest number on record, according to Treasury data compiled by Andrew Mitchel, an international tax lawyer. The four highest totals have all occurred since Fatca became law, though the exact reasons for renunciations aren’t reported.

“Fatca has been a pretty difficult blow for our U.S. expatriates,” said Martin Karges, senior director in international tax at BDO USA LLP in New York. “They may be shifting money to noncompliant jurisdictions.”

As the account information comes into the U.S. starting in 2015, the focus shifts to the IRS, which will use the data to guide its investigations into offshore tax evasion.

Even without Fatca in place, the U.S. has used prosecutions against Credit Suisse AG (CSGN) and UBS AG (UBSN) to glean information on Americans hiding overseas accounts.

Bankers, Lawyers
Prosecutors have charged more than 70 U.S. taxpayers and three dozen bankers, lawyers and advisers in their crackdown on offshore tax evasion. Those charged include H. Ty Warner, the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies plush toys; Igor Olenicoff, a billionaire real estate developer; and Brad Birkenfeld, a former UBS AG banker who blew the whistle on the bank.

The IRS has sponsored offshore voluntary disclosure programs since 2009 that have brought in about $6.5 billion in interest, taxes and penalties and prompted more than 45,000 Americans to reveal offshore holdings.

The tax agency has said it’ll have a relatively light enforcement touch for the first two years of Fatca for financial institutions that are trying to comply.

The resource-constrained IRS is making Fatca a priority without spending too much time on “small-scale” compliance matters, Commissioner John Koskinen said in a speech at a Washington tax conference earlier this month.

In ‘Shadows’
“The IRS and other enforcement agencies around the world will be able to focus on the structures and arrangements that, unfortunately but inevitably, will be devised to stay in the shadows in a new world of tax transparency,” he said. “And in that new world, governments will need to work closely together to shine light into those shadowy spaces until they no longer exist.”

Almost right up to the deadline, the IRS has been issuing forms and instructions and Treasury has been signing international agreements.

“We can question whether the cost is worth the benefits,” Harrington said. “But there’s no question there’s a cost, a big one. And it’s going to be ongoing too.”

By Richard Rubin, bloomberg.com

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Patrick Hundley, DayStar, Costa Rica Human Rights Violations; Posting Bail?

Costa Rica – Since February, DayStar condominium owners, friends and family of Patrick Hundley and the entire Jaco community have been watching as the court case against Hundley plays out.  The arrest came from alleged charges of defrauding multiple foreign investors out of $7 million.

Patrick Hundley Prison DayStar Jaco 1Investors assert that they signed legal agreements then started out making monthly installments of as much as $500,000 for a year and a half, based on the promise that they would turn into shareholders in the Costa Rican corporation possessing the property after the $7 million was transferred.  The investors state that they never became owners in this corporation and never received their promised shares.

The most recent news about the case is that on Monday at the latest hearing the bail was again reduced. The bail has gone from $3 million, to $2 million to now $1.5 million.

Recently it seems that Hundley is trying to divert attention from the case and start a fight against the Costa Rican justice system and the prison conditions which he is experiencing.  This has been done with an open letter from Patrick Hundley about the prison conditions and now a website has been developed in support of Patrick Hundley called  http://www.costaricainjustice.com/.

But we really need to ask ourselves, what is the real motive behind these calls to open eyes about the Costa Rica justice system? It has been inhumane for years now and now just because there is a “gringo” in jail it should be fixed?

In order to bring some legal perspective to the claims being made on the Costa Rica Injustice Website, we had Rafael Valerde of Outlier Legal Services to review the site and set the record straight. I have added my thoughts as well in regards to the legal information being provided.

Let’s go through what is being claimed on the Costa Rica Injustice Website:

FALSE PRETENSES

On February 17, 2014, Mr. Hundley voluntarily showed up for a deposition at the Prosecutors office in Puntarenas with documents to present his side of the business dispute.  The prosecuting attorney’s request for Mr. Hundley to give a deposition turned out to be false pretenses.  After asking Mr. Hundley a couple of personal family questions several officers came into the room and handcuffed him.  He does not speak Spanish and the translator available could not explain to him what was happening.  Mr. Hundley never presented his side of the dispute.  Instead of giving a deposition, he was arrested with no explanation and no legal rights.

Questions to Rafael Valverde, Outlier Legal Services

  1. Is there ever a circumstance where the above situation would happen in which the defendant would come to present his side of a case and would be arrested and not have knowledge of the case being presented against him? 

This would never happen in Costa Rica.  The criminal procedure starts when the victims file a complaint with either the OIJ or the District Attorney. If the DA knows who the defendant is, he will summon him to give a deposition. They DA would not proceed to arrest the defendant at the deposition unless there is an outstanding warrant for his arrest.  Only a Criminal Judge can issue a warrant for arrest. The DA cannot decide unilaterally to arrest a person.

Pat Hundley could not have showed up there “voluntarily” and wound up being arrested. Most likely, he was summoned to appear for a deposition with the DA. If the DA proceeded to arrest him is because there was already the outstanding warrant, which was issued because they deemed him a flight risk.

  1. In a situation like the above is the defendant normally present with his own counsel? Is there a reason he would not appear in a deposition without counsel or translator?

Per Costa Rican law just like the Miranda rights in the USA counsel is provided if the defendant does not bring their own. Also if the plaintiff does not speak Spanish they are provided a translator.  These are rights granted to every person in the Costa Rican court system.It is the prerogative of the defendant to waive his right to an attorney. If Mr. Hundley was not assisted by an attorney during the deposition it was because he did not want to.

My hypothesis based on these facts and various sources around the case:

Mr. Hundley knew that he was being charged and ignored the communication with the District Attorney.  After ignoring these requests for an extended period of time arrest warrants were issued for both he and his legal counsel.  (This in fact happened). If he did not know what was going on when he arrived (very unlikely), he would have been provided legal counsel as well as a translator.  If these things were not done then yes, they would have violated his rights, but there would have been no reason to not follow the law in this case.

PREVENTIVA

Mr. Hundley has been held in prison in Costa Rica for over four months with no probable cause, no hearing on the facts of the case and no end in sight.  The judge determined that he should be held in Preventiva while the prosecutor attempts to build his case against Mr.Hundley.  Mr. Hundley is now in Perez Zeledon Prison where he is in a cell with 60 other men (the cell was built for 22 people), some of whom are convicted murders.  Sixty men share one shower, one toilet and one urinal. Most men sleep on the concrete floor.  The conditions at this prison are inhumane and something you hear about in third world countries.

Question to Rafael Valverde, Outlier Legal Services

  1. If there was no case nor probable cause against a client would a judge put them in preventive detention?Patrick Hundley Prison DayStar Jaco

Section 293 a) of the Code of Criminal Procedures requires probable cause in order put a person in preventive detention. The Judge can issue a warrant for arrest, and once the defendant is detained, there is a 48 hour period to revoke and appeal the order for the preventive detention. It is the responsibility of the defendant’s attorney to request the withdrawal of the preventive detention.

Preventive detention is requested by the DA and the judge can dismiss the request for preventive custody by default, provided that the request by the DA does not meet either of the elements for the request, being probable cause, flight risk, danger to the victims. In this case, it appears that there is probable cause that he committed the offenses and there is certainly a risk of fleeing the country since he is a foreigner. It seems reasonable that the court would order preventive detention for this case.

My hypothesis based on these facts and various sources around the case:

While Hundley is claiming that he is being held without probable cause; it is the responsibility of his lawyer to prove thiswithin the designated time frame.  Each client is given this opportunity in order to get out of preventiva. If he does not like it there he can pay the bail that has been set by the judge.  He would not have been arrested had he handled this case in a diligent manner. This detainment could have been avoided.

That being said, yes the prisons in Costa Rica are terrible. It has been reported on by various new sources and even reported on in the USA.http://www.qcostarica.com/2014/03/04/u-s-report-bares-naked-serious-abuses-in-costa-ricas-prisons/

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION

Holding Mr. Hundley in prison under Preventiva is an injustice and a violation of the standards of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11 (1.):

“Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

Question to Rafael Valverde, Outlier Legal Services

  1. How is this not different than the US bail system where a person remains in jail until trial or paying bail? Is it basically the same premise?  

The bail system in Costa Rica is the same as the one in the USA. If a defendant wants to get out of jail before the trial their lawyer can present their case to the judge in order to get a release or the defendant can pay bail.

My thoughts  based on these facts and various sources around the case:

This is the system in Costa Rica, and although it may be flawed it is the way it is. He is going to be provided a trial as are his rights.  Are we supposed to change everything for one gringo? What about all the other cases that no one cared about for the others in jail?

UNJUST BAIL – This section has been edited to show the real verbiage of the law

Mr. Hundley’s bail was lowered from 3.5 million dollars down to 2 million dollars on June 16th (four months after arrest).  Legal opinion is that these bail amounts are the largest bails in Costa Rican history, and one must come up with the full amount, not 10% like in some countries.

According to Section #250 in The Criminal Law Procedure Code of Costa Rica, the judge sets the bail based on the particulars of the case. For instance, the type of felony, the background of the defendant, and the economic situation of the defendant.

Patrick Hundley Prison DayStar Jaco 2On June 16, the Judge accepted Pat Hundley’s Income Tax Return, Bank Statements and Credit Card Statements (all notarized, stamped and sealed) and acknowledged the bail should be set according to the law.  The judge also gave no reason for the two million dollar amount.  Once again, Pat Hundley has been treated unfairly by the Costa Rican legal system.  By contrast, Luis Milanes Tamayo, accused of fraud by taking $200 million from investors in 2002, has served just a single day in jail while his case drags through the courts in San José.  Mr. Hundley should be able to surrender his passport, post reasonable bail and wait for a trial based on the facts.

Question to Rafael Valverde, Outlier Legal Services

  1. How is bail determined by judges in Costa Rica? Do they need to follow the above law every time or can they make determinations based on the individual?

Indeed, as noted in section 250 of the Code of Criminal procedures the bail is set on a case by case basis depending on the particulars of the defendant and the case.

My thoughts based on these facts and various sources around the case:

I do think that the bail may have been set too high at the beginning  but I am not the judge nor do I know the case that was presented to him.  If the defendant ignored requests to communicate with the plaintiffs then he would be considered a flight risk. If you are considered a flight risk then most likely your bail is going to be set higher in order to ensure that you appear for your trial.  Again I think this could have been avoided had Mr. Hundley been in communication with the clients before arrest warrants were issued.

The other questions I have in regards to this statement on the Costa Rica injustice website are the following:

Are the plaintiffs investigating Hundley’s finances and is that part of the case against him? If so wouldn’t that challenge the validity of the tax documents Hundley presented to court on June 16th?

EXTORTION

Furthermore, the fact that if Mr. Hundley meets the demands of his business partner he will be released from prison reads like the definition of extortion: pay the money or continue to suffer in prison.  And the government of Costa Rica is a party to this.

Question to Rafael Valverde, Outlier Legal Services

  1. What is the process when it comes to settling in the Costa Rican court system?Does this differ from the USA?

In the Costa Rica legal system there are 2 types of cases civil and criminal.  In civil cases it is encouraged to settle outside of court in order to not waste time and money in the legal system.  If the settlement is agreed upon the case is dismissed. There is no jail time or arrests in civil cases. In criminal cases such as Mr. Hundley’s there is also the option to settle.  The settlement terms are presented by the plaintiffs and then the defendant can agree or go to trial.  This is the exact same process that is used in the USA.

My thoughts based on these facts and various sources around the case:

When it comes to the plaintiffs in this case, they have offered settlement terms which have supposedly been rejected.  I do not know how this can be seen as extortion as it is the right of the plaintiffs in most legal systems to request reasonable terms of settlement. It seems that the “business partners” are asking for their $7 million back. If Mr. Hundley cannot come up with the $2 million bail then perhaps his claims of extortion are a bit off base and he just does not have the money to pay back the plaintiffs.  Although 7 million might seem like extortion to some people, if I stole $10,000 from someone then I would expect the people bringing charges against me to want that $10,000 back. The same goes for a higher amount of money. It is not the plaintiff’s fault he does not have that liquid right now.

In Conclusion

In regards to all of the above statements, if they are true then you would think that his lawyer would be pleading to the judge and legal system about the injustices against his client.  There are too many sketchy facts to determine what the truth is, and many of these questions need to be answered before any of us come to any judgments.

However, there is one assumption we candraw from all the above data.  Mr. Hundley placed himself in this position by not responding to requests by the plaintiffs over the past year to talk about the case. While he is sitting in his jail cell complaining about the conditions, he should only look at himself and his legal counsel for being in that situation. He may not have known the law, but his lawyers should have.  It should be noted that his attorneys were also arrested and held for 30 days as accomplices.  Nowhere in the world is ignorance a valid legal argument. If I did not have a safety kit in my vehicle in Costa Rica and received a ticket for it, I could not use the excuse “ I didn’t know” as a valid legal argument.

The current rumor flying around the Jaco area is that Hundley is coming up with the $1.5 million bail money through a property sale and will pay this in after his next hearing which occurred, Monday July 7th in Puntarenas.

One would think that over the next months the truth will come out in the Costa Rican legal system through the court proceedings, combined with the findings of the audit currently underway within DayStar .

If you have any questions for Rafael Valverde of Outlier Legal Services, Visit his Website Here. 

Originally posted Costarican Times

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I was just bragging how this stuff doesn’t happen here. :-(

A National Police officer overlooks a crowd gathering at the Fuente de la Hispanidad in San Pedro, San José, after the Costa Rica-Netherlands World Cup match on July 5, 2014. (Courtesy Public Security Ministry)

National Police arrested 90 people in brawls and other incidents during and after Costa Rica’s match against the Netherlands on Saturday, according to a statement from the Public Security Ministry. More than half the arrests involved domestic violence, despite a government campaign to curb a recent spike in domestic abuse complaints during the World Cup.

Members of the national men’s football team, known as “La Sele,” hold signs in Brazil reading “No to violence,” as part of the government’s campaign against domestic violence.

Courtesy Public Security Ministry

 

One of the most dramatic events of the weekend took place in the Plaza de la Democracia in downtown San José, where a brawl broke out between several fans. Police confirmed Saturday evening that two victims were stabbed and another hit with a bottle. Eight arrests were reported, but no motive was disclosed.

More than half of Saturday’s arrests – 48 – involved domestic violence. Violent intrafamily incidents spiked during Costa Rica’s games during the World Cup. Guillermo Aroyo, president of the Costa Rican Red Cross, said that during Costa Rica’s June 29 match against Greece the organization responded to 200 more calls than usual. The Public Security Ministry, Presidency Ministry and other government bodies launched a campaign called “Give Domestic Violence the Red Card” last week to raise awareness about celebrating the games responsibly.

Some 23 suspects were arrested for fighting in alcohol-related incidents during or after the game that knocked Costa Rica out of the World Cup. Most of the arrests took place in San José, where police confiscated drugs and knives. Police also aprehended three suspects in the act of committing a crime, three for property damage, four for drug possession, one for robbery, and two for illegal gun possession, among others.

Some 3,500 police were out across the country and on the streets of San José, including at the Fuente de la Hispanidad, Plaza de la Democracia and Parque Central for Saturday’s game.

Originally posted Tico Times

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UPDATE: 2 Costa Rica fans stabbed, another hit with a bottle in Plaza de la Democracia while watching Netherlands match

No Costa Rica say it isn’t so. 😦 Don’t be like the U.S.!!!!!!

Police cleared the front of the Plaza de la Democracia where Costa Ricans were gathered to watch the game after a stabbing that injured at least three. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times

The Public Security Ministry (MSP) released a statement Saturday evening reporting that Red Cross responders attended to three victims from a fight that broke out in the capital’s Plaza de la Democracia. Two victims were injured from a stabbing and a third received treatment after being hit with a bottle. Police arrested eight involved in the disturbance, including one suspect identified by the last names Delgadillo Ruiz who was wanted on a weapon possession charge.

Authorities still don’t know what started the brawl that interrupted an otherwise peaceful gathering. More than 1,000 fans watched Costa Rica and the Netherlands battle for a spot in the World Cup semifinals on a large LED screen at the plaza in downtown San José.

Tico Times reporter Lindsay Fendt, who was at the scene, said that fans toward the back of the plaza did not realize what was unfolding in front of them and continued cheering the national team.

An ambulance arrived soon arrived to the area and removed the injured on stretchers.

Original article continues here:

A Costa Rican fan lies in the Plaza de la Democracía in downtown San José after being stabbed in the back while watching Costa Rica play the Netherlands in the World Cup quarterfinals.AFP

Police and spectators rushed to assist injured Costa Rican fans at the Plaza de la Democracia in San José. Three people were reportedly injured, although the extent of those injuries has not yet been confirmed by authorities.

Fans  gathered in the capital’s public plaza to watch the match. Police have sealed off the scene of the alleged crime and are investigating.

A Costa Rican fan lies on the street after being stabbed in his back in the Parque de la Democracia in downtown San José, while watching Costa Rica play the Netherlands in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.AFP

Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times

 

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Originally Posted Tico Times
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Expatriate Americans Break up with Uncle Sam

Record Numbers Living Abroad Renounce U.S. Citizenship over IRS Reporting Requirements

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Patricia Moon was born in Dayton, Ohio, to a family descended from Quakers who settled in the New World before the American Revolution.

As a young woman, Ms. Moon fell for a Canadian man and moved to Toronto. The 59-year-old homemaker, who still visits the U.S. to see relatives, said she feels American in her bones, even after three decades abroad.

Yet despite her deep roots, Ms. Moon walked into a U.S. consulate two years ago, raised her right hand and recited an oath renouncing her U.S. citizenship. Afterward, she said, “I bawled my eyes out.”

Ms. Moon is among record numbers of Americans cutting ties. U.S. offices abroad reported that 1,001 U.S. citizens and green-card holders had renounced their allegiance in the first three months of the year, according to Andrew Mitchel, a lawyer in Centerbrook, Conn., who analyzes Treasury Department data. That figure puts 2014 on track to top last year’s total of 2,999 renunciations, he said, which was the most since the government began disclosing the data.

Helping boost the exodus, experts say, is a five-year-old U.S. campaign to hunt for undeclared accounts held by Americans abroad.

Since 2009, the government campaign has collected more than $6 billion in taxes, interest and penalties from more than 43,000 U.S. taxpayers. Federal prosecutors have filed more than 100 criminal indictments, including the high-profile case of Beanie Babies inventor Ty Warner, who last year pleaded guilty to tax evasion involving secret Swiss bank accounts.

The tax dragnet has also swept up many middle-income Americans living abroad, prompting some to give up their U.S. citizenship. While people who renounce aren’t freed of taxes due for past years, they don’t want to risk sizable taxes and penalties for them and their children in the years ahead, experts say. Nearly 8,000 taxpayers have renounced U.S. citizenship in the past five years, Mr. Mitchel found, compared with fewer than 5,000 in the preceding decade.

“The increase is due to current and future changes in tax law and enforcement,” said Freddi Weintraub, a New York attorney at the Fragomen firm who specializes in immigration law. She said in recent years she has seen a threefold increase in expatriation inquiries related to taxes.

Ms. Moon, for example, feared the IRS could charge her family nearly a half-million dollars in penalties on undeclared savings and checking accounts—even though, she said, the accounts never held more than $102,000, weren’t intentionally hidden and didn’t have any U.S. taxes owed. “I was afraid we would have to cash in our retirement accounts and sell our home,” she said.

Experts say the U.S. campaign could affect millions of Americans like Ms. Moon—people who aren’t wealthy, pay taxes in their host country, and who say they weren’t trying to dodge U.S. taxes.

“We have reached the point where middle-class American citizens abroad are being forced to renounce—especially if they have assets and are moving toward retirement—because of taxes, paperwork and huge potential penalties,” said John Richardson, a Toronto lawyer with dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship. He and Ms. Moon help run a nonprofit group seeking to keep Canada from sharing private account information with U.S. authorities.

As word spreads, experts said, more Americans are likely to consider surrendering their citizenship. The State Department estimates that 7.6 million American citizens live outside the U.S., but only a fraction file required financial disclosure forms.

Mark Mazur, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for tax policy, said the government’s new enforcement was intended to help make sure all taxpayers pay what they owe “regardless of where they live.”

At the same time, Mr. Mazur said, Treasury needs to “maintain a balance between enforcement efforts and equity, including the burdens that may be placed on taxpayers.”

Mr. Mazur said Treasury was looking into how best to work with Congress and the IRS to fine-tune the system: “You can always improve.”

U.S. officials launched their campaign after Swiss banking giant UBS AG admitted in 2009 that it helped wealthy American taxpayers hide money overseas. To avoid criminal charges, the bank paid $780 million to the U.S. and turned over information on more than 4,400 accounts, ending decades of Swiss bank secrecy.

In May, Credit Suisse Group pleaded guilty to similar charges and agreed to pay $2.6 billion. Dozens of other Swiss banks are currently negotiating penalties with the U.S. Department of Justice, officials said.

Following the UBS revelations, U.S. officials announced they would begin vigorously enforcing both new and long-dormant tax rules.

Unlike other developed nations, the U.S. government taxes citizens on income they earn anywhere in the world. The rule dates to the Civil War, when Ms. Moon’s great-great grandfather served with Union forces.

U.S. tax liabilities also cover children born to Americans abroad, extending the reach of the IRS across generations, as well as oceans.

For decades, wealthy taxpayers were able to hide foreign assets in countries where bank-secrecy laws fostered attractive tax havens, including Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Panama.

But the UBS case signaled the beginning of the end for such havens. Armed with information from the Swiss bank, U.S. authorities pursued individuals for back taxes, and pressured the tax professionals who helped them.

As a result of the crackdown, Ms. Moon and others learned they had failed to comply with the law. “We call it the ‘Oh, my God! moment.’ Every expatriate has it,” Ms. Moon said. “They were going to take every dime we had, that was my fear.”

The violations often don’t involve unpaid U.S. taxes on wages: The law currently exempts about $100,000 of income earned abroad each year. Ms. Moon, for example, didn’t owe any income tax. She said she never made more than $11,000 a year when she worked from 2007 to 2012 as a bookkeeper for a business run by her husband, who earned about $65,000 a year devising special effects for movies and TV.

The most common mistakes usually involved Americans failing to submit a form called the Foreign Bank Account Report, or Fbar. Since 1970, U.S. taxpayers have been required to file if they held one or more foreign accounts totaling more than $10,000 over the course of a year. Until the enforcement push, many Americans never filed an Fbar.

The law is more than 40 years old, but “no one ever heard of it” before the crackdown, said Edward Kleinbard, a former chief of staff on Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation, and an expert in international tax law at the University of Southern California.

Fbar penalties are as steep as 50% of the highest value of the account for each year no report was filed. The IRS fined one taxpayer for Fbar violations in four separate years, and a settlement reached this month in the case yielded $1.7 million in penalties, which was more than the account held at the time. Experts say the stiff penalties were originally enacted to discourage wealthy tycoons from hiding assets abroad.

In the fall of 2011, Ms. Moon learned she should have been filing Fbar forms on joint accounts she held with her husband. She calculated she could owe about $455,000 in penalties for the years she failed to file.

The IRS was unlikely to have imposed penalties that high, experts said, but it could have. “Getting professional help to correct her mistakes could easily have cost $15,000 to $20,000,” said Bryan Skarlatos, a lawyer with Kostelanetz & Fink in New York, which has advised thousands of taxpayers with secret offshore accounts.

Ms. Moon considered what to do. One of the IRS’s limited-amnesty programs had just ended and a new one didn’t start until 2012. She said she wouldn’t have entered a program in any case because she considered Fbar penalties too steep for “failing to file a piece of paper.” Penalties and other costs can amount to a third of the balance in an account or more.

“The programs are best for people who have done things serious enough to land them in prison and are willing to pay huge penalties to stay out,” said Philip Hodgen, an international tax lawyer in Pasadena, Calif.

Americans with smaller offshore accounts who entered the first IRS limited amnesty program paid proportionately higher penalties than taxpayers with larger accounts, according to Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, an IRS ombudsman.

The typical taxpayer with less than $45,000 in undeclared accounts paid nearly six times the back taxes owed, while the typical taxpayer with more than $7 million in such accounts paid closer to three times their back taxes, Ms. Olson found.

IRS officials “didn’t think about the demographics of the population” of overseas Americans, Ms. Olson said, often treating middle-class taxpayers the same as “bad actors.”

“There’s an awful lot of minnows caught up in this,” said Marvin Van Horn, a 66-year-old retired financial controller for Alaska Airlines. He said he entered an IRS limited-amnesty program in 2009: “I assumed it would be very clear I was not one of those quote-unquote offshore tax cheats, those big whales they were looking for.”

In prior U.S. tax filings, Mr. Van Horn said he hadn’t declared rental income from a house he and his Australian wife own in New Zealand, as well as interest income. He said he didn’t know such declarations were required.

“I have to take some responsibility,” Mr. Van Horn said. “It was stupidity and not paying attention on my part.”

The IRS fined him more than $172,000, roughly eight times his back taxes, which amounted to about $21,000 over six years, Mr. Van Horn said. With help from Ms. Olson’s office, he said, the fine was reduced to about $25,000. Spokesmen for the IRS and Ms. Olson said they couldn’t comment on individual cases.

In a June 3 speech, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the agency may not have been accommodating enough to U.S. citizens who have lived abroad for years. “We have been considering whether these individuals should have an opportunity to come into compliance that doesn’t involve the type of penalties that are appropriate for U.S.-resident taxpayers who were willfully hiding their investments overseas,” he said.

Scrutiny of Americans abroad will intensify, however, under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, which Congress passed in 2010. The law’s main provisions, which take effect in July, will require foreign financial institutions to report income of their U.S. customers to the IRS, much as U.S. banks and brokers file 1099 forms.

Middle-class Americans “face overwhelming problems when they try to engage in standard financial practices, such as having a small business, saving for retirement, investing, buying life insurance, and making wills and trusts,” because of the laws governing assets abroad, said David Kuenzi, a financial planner with Thun Financial Advisors in Madison, Wis., who works with expatriates.

The U.S. tax code, for example, doesn’t recognize Australia’s version of an individual retirement account, Mr. Kuenzi said. American taxpayers with these accounts must file at least two forms a year declaring the account a “foreign trust,” and paying taxes on annual appreciation.

The penalty for failing to file can be as much as 35% of both contributions and withdrawals each year, plus 5% of the assets, said Mr. Hodgen, the Pasadena tax lawyer.

Ms. Moon learned that U.S. law requires her to file annual reports on retirement accounts, such as her Tax-Free Savings Account—similar to a Roth IRA.

Her husband, Ken Whitmore, objected to divulging financial information on joint accounts to the IRS. “Would you want the Canada revenue service to know what your financial situation is?” he said.

Ms. Moon concluded that even if the IRS didn’t levy the stiffest fines, the potential consequences down the road for missing a deadline or making a mistake were too costly. She later learned she would have been required to pay U.S. taxes on part of the gain on the couple’s Toronto house, which they hope to sell for a retirement nest egg. They bought the house in the mid-1980s for $125,000, she said, and it was now worth an estimated $800,000.

Before renouncing her citizenship, Ms. Moon spoke with her sister, Sue Moon, a certified public accountant in Kansas City, Mo.

U.S. citizenship is the most coveted citizenship in the world. To give it up, it has to be pretty serious,” Sue Moon said. “There was just a sadness on her part, that she had to make that decision. She didn’t take it lightly.”

Months after Ms. Moon renounced her citizenship, her official notice arrived in Toronto. Ms. Moon went to the U.S. consulate to pick it up and paid a $450 processing fee. She told the clerk it was “the saddest $450 I’ll ever spend.”

Originally posted by The Wall Street Journal

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Zarcero, boy did you have a surprise for us!

Today we decided to take a trip to Zarcero and boy and I glad we did! I went with the wife and 2 friends. It was a really good trip. Good company beautiful town and just a wonderful feel. Boy if I knew about this place it could have been in the running for where we may live instead of Atenas, but I really do lover our town of Atenas.

Our morning started at 10:45 as we drove off out on our adventure. We stopped to pick up one friend, the other drove to our house. We went to the gas station to fill up. Not that it was that far, but I have learned that in Costa Rica you should always fill up before you go on any adventure to anywhere you have never been before. You just don’t know what will happen.

It was a pretty uneventful drive. We had good company so the drive went pretty quickly. The roads can be a little twisty and windy from Atenas, but during the day and when it isn’t raining its pretty easy.

We got there right at 12:00 on the dot! It was time for lunch and we really wasn’t sure where to go. As we drove into town one of our friends saw a little shop area that had 2 restaurants listed. One had fast food in its name so we figured we would check out the other. So we go in and can’t find the one that was listed that wasn’t fast food. I went upstairs and saw what could have been it, but it wasn’t open. So we decided to take a chance. Here are some photo’s of the little center.

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Oh my are we glad we took the chance. The food was amazing and the prices were just as amazing! Dingo’s fast food  is where we ate. Don’t let the words Fast Food fool you. It was nothing like fast food!

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Patacones were ok. So at this point we were not 100% sure this was a right decision, but than we tasted the salsa! It was delicious! So we had hope. The only problem with this was there was way too much breading and too little plantains. This was 1,450 colones.

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My friends call me the Salad Nazi and with good reason. I am very picky over my salads. Now this doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value to it, but let me tell you it was good. The chicken was a pleasant surprise. This was the Ensalada Dingo. I don’t think that was dingo on our plate! The croutons were toasted bread and not too soft but not too hard either. The dressing was a ranch and just ok, but he chicken was the hero here. The added ham and cheese was nice as well.  This was 2,950 colones and actually it was enough to be a nice lunch in and of its self. \WP_20140625_12_44_22_Pro

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Next up our friend got the Super Hamburgesa. This is a direct quote from our friend who ordered it, “This is the best hamburger I have ever had in Costa Rica.” This is high praise coming from her. It had 2 kinds of cheese, pickles and just a small piece of bacon, but it was about 1/2 lb of burger! It came with a side of fries. This cost 2,950 colones as well and well worth the price!

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There is that wonderful salsa again! This was a Burrito and again direct quote, “One of the best I have had!” So again another winner and it comes in at 2,800 colones.

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Ok so Alitas Buffalo and there are 7 of them here. I took some flack for putting Hooters on my top 10 restaurants list and this place knocks them off! I would have liked a little more heat, but there was enough to make me happy and not too much that some who doesn’t like a lot of heat wouldn’t want to eat them. They were crispy and the breading was very different, but wonderful. They were very generously sauced as you can see. 7 of them cost 1,900 colones. Amazing price!

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This was the Costilla BBQ which is BBQ ribs. They cut them into pieces which made it easier to eat. Left the bone so you have to watch when you bit them. Pretty good. Wasn’t a wonderful BBQ sauce, but it was good. Now these potatoes were amazing! I don’t know what they did to them, but they were very tasty and flavorful! This dish was 4,000 colones.

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Ok so I was a little skeptical about getting the Churrasco. I am glad I did. Again served with those wonderful potatoes! The side salad was the same minus the chicken as our main salad. So the steak I am going to let this video speak for me.

Yes it was that tender. It needed a little salt, but other than that it was really good! So very surprised and wasn’t not expected this from a little shop that had Fast Food in its name! It was a good 6oz cooked so a good size. It cost 3,450 colones. I was shocked!

We also got 2 Cafe Negro, 1 Te frio and 4 Coke lights. The cold drinks were 1,000 colones each and the coffee was only 600 colones. We also got a dessert that we shared. I didn’t get a picture of it. There was a cinnamon roll and a fruit roll and I swear it was made from angle food cake batter. We couldn’t believe it. Very nice and it was only 500 colones for each one. Very good deal.

So total for our lunch for 4 with all that food and drink was only 29,450 colones or $53.69 for those who don’t know the conversion. I was amazed! It is one of those great accidental finds that you just never know will happen. We are so glad we decided to take a chance and not go anywhere else.

Now we get to the reason we were in Zarcero. We went for the garden and the church. Both were amazing! Love the beauty of the gardens and the church. So here are the pictures I took at the garden.  Click on the images below to see larger views.

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The other reason we went was to visit the church. It is one beautiful place, no doubt. The art and paintings are amazing. So here are the photo’s I took while at the church. Again click on the images below to see larger views.

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Over all it was a very nice day. Good friends, Good food, beautiful town and a wonderful drive. If you get a chance you should go visit this wonderful place and eat at that wonderful restaurant. Here is the blog of one of the friends that went with us. Check it out. Keeping you in Stitches

The only downside was the drive home. The rain held out until we were ready to leave, but I had to drive those twisty windy roads in the rain. We made it home safe and sound and that is all that matter.

Pura Vida!

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Lightning kills 18 year old

So for those living here or just visiting you need to know about this story.

On Sunday 6/22/14 at Playa Penca in Costa Rica an 18 year old died when he was struck by lightning. He was identified as David Otoniel Rocha Rivera. It is said he was getting out of the water when the bolt hit. Rainy season is very beautiful and also can be very deadly as well. As soon as you see the clouds turn dark get inside! Do not take a chance.

This is a sad story and one that hopefully can be prevented in the future.

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Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

 Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

As we all know, our bodies are far from perfect. At times, medical intervention is necessary for recovery. Other times, medical intervention is essential for our comfort. However, American healthcare can be quite costly and a pain to schedule. A root canal, hysterectomy, (removal of the uterus) rhinoplasty, (nose job) or a shot of Botox to smooth wrinkles may not be readily available to eager patients. Some patients have opted to travel in order to receive medical treatment. This is known as “medical tourism”. Many choose to seek it in Costa Rica.

 RESEARCH

Of course, medical tourism holds many unique challenges in obtaining quality medical treatment. Firstly, the tourist would have to research the procedure, the doctor, and facility thoroughly. Some cases of malpractice due to unqualified “doctors” have been reported. However, in the age of information, it is quite possible to gain knowledge and a honest reputation of any medical practitioner, even if (s)he lives in a different country.

 TRAVEL

Even if someone is traveling for medical treatment, it is still traveling. A plane ticket and luggage is essential (or a lot of money to cover all the costs). A passport would also be necessary. And, of course, a place to rest (before and after the procedure) may also need to be planned before the trip. Depending on the procedure, schedule, and recovery, it is possible to enjoy and explore a different country. It would be a shame to travel anywhere and fail to explore its beauty and unique culture.

 COSTS

It has been reported that costs for medical or dental procedures in Costa Rica is 40%-70% less than that in the USA. And this figure is a major reason for medical travel. However, there are other costs one must consider. There is the costs of the flight and travel, necessities during the trip, (such as toiletries and clothes) food, boarding, and anything else that may be needed for a successful trip, glitch-free procedure, and a full recovery. Costs should be carefully researched and considered.

 PROCEDURE

There are many procedures that could be obtained in Costa Rica, although cosmetic and dental procedure are among the most popular. Americans have sought treatment in fields such as dermatology (skin) and more serious medical issues. The need for any procedure cannot be life threatening as the patient will face an increased risk of death.

 RECOVERY

Although recovery can be an unpleasant time, it is just as essential to the patient as the procedure itself. There is no point in getting a gastric bypass surgery if the patient eats an entire pizza to him/herself daily. As with any surgery, it is important to follow instructions. Costa Rica has several ‘recovery spas’ to help patients recover. Of course, it is important to include those costs while planning the trip (or verifying coverage with your insurance company).

 RISKS

Every procedure carries potential risks every surgery has a risk of infection, for example. It is important to know these risks. Medical tourism, however, may present even more risks. As stated before, it is important to do thorough research on any doctor before receiving treatment from them. It is imperative that the patient confirms (or plans) that the costs for the procedure (and trip) is covered. Some insurance policies will dismiss the claim because the treatment did not take place in the USA, or in their network. Recovering in a foreign country may add stress to a patient, and that is never a good thing after a major medical procedure.

 BENEFITS

Obviously (as stated before) medical costs are much lower in Costa Rica than in the United States of America. Also, there is minimal waiting for procedures there. In the USA, patients could possibly wait a while before receiving treatment. And, you cannot ignore the excitement of being in a foreign land!

 CONCLUSION

There is much to think about when discussing medical tourism. Weighing the pros and cons is essential in deciding if it is the right move for you. But, with all the controversy in healthcare in the USA today, medical travel has the potential of becoming more popular than ever before!

source: http://www.anywherecostarica.com/travel-guide/medical-tourism

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Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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Crocodile problems in Costa Rica!

A crocodile slithers into the water from the muddy bank of Costa Rica’s Tempisque River. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times

For 14 years Jason Vargas has made a living by dangling raw cuts of chicken breast in front of massive crocodiles.

As the main tour guide for Crocodile Man Tours, based at the Tárcoles River, Vargas usually spends his workdays wading barefoot down the river’s banks, putting himself within inches of the beasts’ deadly maws for the amusement of tourists. Born and raised near the Tárcoles, in the country’s Central Pacific, Vargas’ unusual career path has roots tracing back to a childhood fascination with the giant reptiles.

“When I was a boy we used to drive up and down the river in a boat,” Vargas said. “Eventually we started throwing the crocodiles food and I just became obsessed with it.”

Vargas’ death-defying antics have turned him into a celebrity. He has been the subject of news stories, a French documentary and an episode of Animal Planet. But his success came to a screeching halt in May when officials from Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) held a meeting and told all Tárcoles tour operators to stop feeding the crocodiles.

“If we had 100 people on our tours before, now we have about 50,” Vargas said. “The hotels in San José and Jacó can’t sell a river boat tour as well as they can sell a crocodile feeding tour.”

But Vargas’ tour woes are of little concern to SINAC, which says operations like his make crocodiles more aggressive, and have spurred a sea of other croc-related complaints from the rest of the tourism sector.

In the past year, crocodiles have lounged on beachesattacked surfers, closed down national park entrances and eaten a man alive. The mounting number of incidents has sparked public concern, and members of the tourism industry are now asking for a crocodile intervention.

Though Environment Ministry officials have appointed a task force to assess the state of the crocodile population, they say it may be the tourism industry, not the crocodiles, that needs to change.

Watch Jason Vargas feed crocodiles on the Tárcoles River:

The Tárcoles River is among the most polluted waterways in all of Central America. Full of trash and teeming with crocodiles, the river is hardly an appealing place for a swim. But for one reason or another, the murky waters managed to tempt Omar de Jesús Jirón, a 32-year-old Nicaraguan man who drunkenly attempted a swim near the Tárcoles’ main bridge on April 29 of this year.

Police and Red Cross responders still dispute the exact details of why and how Jirón entered the water that evening, but one thing is certain: He never came back.

After swimming for several meters, Jirón was nabbed by a group of the river’s crocs. Unable to pull Jirón from the reptiles’ jaws, witnesses watched helplessly as the crocs ripped the man apart. Several days later a woman on a walk near the river’s edge discovered the only part of Jirón police were ever able to recover: his head.

The horror of Jirón’s death captivated Costa Ricans for weeks, and drew attention to the river’s unusually aggressive American Crocodiles.

Though crocodile attacks are not statistically common, the reptiles still sit among the top 10 most deadly animals in the world. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s crocodile specialist group, there have been 1,159 reported crocodile attacks on humans since 2010, and many other attacks go unreported.

The Nile crocodile and the saltwater crocodile are responsible for nearly all of these attacks, neither of which can be found on the American continents.

“Nile crocodiles view humans as prey, but new world crocodiles won’t hunt humans,” said Brandon Sideleau, a crocodile attack specialist with the IUCN. “With that said, Costa Rica sits at the top in the new world for croc attacks.”

Though country-by-country comparisons of crocodile aggression can be misleading due to inconsistencies in reporting, the number of recorded attacks in Costa Rica is significantly higher than most in the region.

According to CrocBITE, a worldwide crocodilian attack database that reports attacks from as far back as 1816, only the much larger American crocodile populations in the U.S. and Brazil outstrip Costa Rica’s in terms of aggression. Other than those two countries, in the Western Hemisphere, Costa Rica has seen more fatalities and more than double the amount of attacks than any other nation.

Five of these attacks occurred in the past year.

In rural parts of the Caribbean Coast, a 14-year-old girl lost her leg to a croc, and another crocodile pulled a 65-year-old man from his rowboat and killed him. But these types of attacks have always been common.

“People who live in rural areas near crocodiles have always been at risk, but education has helped with that,” said Juan Bolaños, a former professor at Costa Rica’s National University and a local crocodile expert for the IUCN. “Crocodile attacks as a whole are not increasing.”

According to Bolaños, crocodile attacks in communities near rivers used to be a common occurrence; the media just never reported them. Both Bolaños and MINAE say that any seeming growth in the number of crocodile attacks is due to better reporting rather than an actual increase.

Attacks near beaches and tourist hotspots, however, are increasing.

In February, a man nearly had his legs ripped off by a croc in a river near the popular Pacific surf beach Tivives, and a Spanish surfer was attacked in the ocean near the northwestern party hub of Tamarindo. The spot where Jirón was attacked, the Tárcoles River, has more than 100,000 tourists a year who stop off at the bridge to gawk at the crocodiles, according to local business owners.

“People near the Pacific Coast are worried because it seems like crocodiles are leaving rivers for beaches,” said Flora Ayub, executive director of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotel Owners. “At this rate, an accident could happen to anyone.”

Earlier this month, the Chamber of Hotel Owners sent out an open letter to members of the government asking for controls on the crocodile population. In the letter, the chamber’s president, Gustavo Araya, wrote that tourists were getting scared of the high numbers of crocodiles near beaches, and asked that MINAE take action. The letter noted that in the case of overpopulation, MINAE officials can legally kill or relocate crocodiles.

“We aren’t necessarily asking for them to kill all of the crocodiles,” Ayub said. “What we want is for MINAE to do something.”

Siquirres native Gilberto Sheedon, or Chito, became famous for his close friendship with an American crocodile named Pocho. The Tico Times

While owners of tourism businesses complain of the lack of croc protection from MINAE, ministry officials claim that tour operators are part of the problem.

As the country develops, crocodiles’ traditional habitat has come under threat from agriculture, human settlements and, most recently, eco-tourism. Tourists who visit Costa Rica no longer stick to the well-treaded beaches and volcanoes that made the country famous, but also explore the lesser-traveled corners of the country that used to harbor wildlife.

“You didn’t used to have surfers and kayakers coming into close contact with crocodiles,” Bolaños said. “Tourists have invaded the areas that crocodiles used to be, so now crocodiles are invading the areas where tourists are.”

But some tours go beyond just entering croc territory. According to experts, crocodile feeding tours like Vargas’ Crocodile Man Tours actually change the way crocodiles perceive humans.

“As a rule feeding crocodiles makes them more aggressive,” Sideleau said. “Feeding a crocodile makes it associate people with food, even if it does not traditionally consider humans as prey.”

Costa Rica has a long-standing law that prohibits feeding crocodiles, but MINAE officials tolerated the Tárcoles tours for years because they were not perceived as a threat. After the recent attacks on tourists, MINAE decided it was time to enforce the regulations. They gathered the area’s tour operators, explained the law and told them if they did not conform they would be fined. According to Adrian Arce, MINAE’s director of wildlife for the Tárcoles region, not all of the tour operators have been cooperating.

To Vargas, it is not the tours that are causing a problem, but the dozens – if not hundreds – of other tourists who visit the Tárcoles bridge every day.

“On our tours we will feed one crocodile every hundred meters or so. That kind of feeding doesn’t make them aggressive,” Vargas said. “The problem is all the people feeding them from the bridge. Crocodiles don’t stay in groups like that anywhere else. The crocodiles there are crazy and aggressive because they have to fight for food.”

A quick search of “Tárcoles River” on YouTube, confirms Vargas’ claims. Coming from all corners of the world, camera-touting tourists have saturated the Internet with videos of near misses with the river’s massive reptiles. Some of the bridge’s visitors drop meat from above to watch the crocs fight, while the truly courageous (read: stupid) will approach the riverbank and stand face-to-face with one of the river’s massive beasts.

Surprising to most crocodile experts, Jirón’s accident was the first crocodile attack on the Tárcoles since 1995, but officials say if the indiscriminate feeding continues it’s only a matter of time before a tourist is taken out.

“It’s time we get a handle on what is going on at the Tárcoles,” Arce said. “The situation is dangerous and out-of-control.”

Though wildlife experts point to tourism as the probable cause for the crocodiles’ aggression, they remain unsure if overpopulation is also a contributing factor.

MINAE has had to address crocodile overpopulation before — just last month, SINAC officials killed 80 crocodiles in the Tempisque River, in the country’s northwest, to lower the population before breeding season — but a lack of resources has prevented the organization from studying most of the country’s rivers. The Tárcoles has not had a comprehensive population study for six years.

“For now we are educating the public about how to avoid an attack,” Arce said. “We are trying to do population studies as quickly as we can, but we are not going to allow indiscriminate killing of crocodiles just because tourists are scared.”

Watch this guy nearly fall into the jaws of a Tárcoles crocodile at 1:42:

For now, MINAE is managing the problem with a special crocodile task force charged with creating education programs and conducting population studies when funding is available. But crocodile experts say that the only real solution is to develop a comprehensive management system for all of the country’s rivers.

This would require population studies of all of the country’s rivers and personnel to continually monitor the animals. Those studies require money, money that the universally disliked crocodile has never been able to attract.

“Crocodiles have killed 14 people in the past 20 years, but still no one wants to give money to help manage them,” Bolaños said. “Jaguars, on the other hand, never kill anyone, but they are beautiful and people like them so they get all the money. Apparently people care more about saving pretty animals than they do about saving lives and protecting reptiles.”

Originally posted at Tico Times

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Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

 

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Green coffee is bitter, but study says it takes off the weight

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Scientists today reported striking new evidence that green, or unroasted, coffee beans can produce a substantial decrease in body weight in a relatively short period of time.

In a study presented at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Joe Vinson and colleagues described how a group of overweight or obese people who consumed a fraction of an ounce of ground green coffee beans each day lost about 10 percent of their body weight.

“Based on our results, taking multiple capsules of green coffee extract a day — while eating a low-fat, healthful diet and exercising regularly — appears to be a safe, effective, inexpensive way to lose weight,” Vinson said at the society meeting being held in San Diego, California. He is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

The study involved 16 overweight or obese people aged 22 to 26 years who took capsules of the extract or capsules containing a placebo, an inactive powder, for a total of 22 weeks. The subjects alternated between a low dose and a higher dose of the extract. The low dose consisted of 700 miligrams of the coffee extract, and the high dose was 1,050 miligrams. It was a so-called cross-over study in which people cycled through the two doses and the placebo, each for six weeks. Such studies have advantages because each person serves as his or her own control, improving the chances of getting an accurate result, researchers said.

All of the participants were monitored for their overall diet and exercise over the study period. “Their calories, carbohydrates, fats and protein intake did not change during the study, nor did their exercise regimen change,” Vinson said.

Participants lost an average of 17 pounds during the 22 weeks of the study. It included an average of a 10.5 percent decrease in overall body weight and a 16 percent decrease in body fat. Vinson noted that weight loss might have been significantly faster, except that participants received the placebo and the lower dose of green coffee extract for part of the study period.

Vinson pointed out that previous studies have shown weight loss with green coffee. But this was the first to use higher amounts of the coffee extract and the first to measure the response to various doses. Based on those studies, Vinson believes that green coffee beans’ effects likely are due to a substance called chlorogenic acid that is present in unroasted coffee beans. Chlorogenic acid breaks down when coffee beans are roasted, usually at a temperature of 464 to 482 degrees F. Roasting gives coffee beans their distinctive color, aroma and flavor. Green coffee beans, in contrast, have little aroma and a slightly bitter taste.

By the American Chemical Society news staff

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Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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Chikungunya Virus Now Threatens All of Central America and the Caribbean

Last December the first case of the chikungunya virus was recorded in America, which still has no cure and is expanding rapidly across the continent. In the Caribbean alone there have been 165,990 cases of infection.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Last December the first case of the chikungunya virus was recorded in America, which still has no cure and is expanding rapidly across the continent. In the Caribbean alone there have been 165,990 cases of infection.

The chikungunya virus is transmitted by a species of mosquito and is very similar to dengue, making it difficult to diagnose. The virus is not curable and treatment is limited to the relief of symptoms such as fever, rash, severe muscle and joint pain and headache. Only rarely chikungunya kills (mostly among elderly people), but its consequences can be felt for months or even years.

The virus is originated in Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania, but last December a first case in America, on the Caribbean island St. Maarten, was recorded. From then until June 13 only in the Caribbean 165,990 cases were reported with similar disease symptoms, although only 4,576 of these were officially confirmed as chikungunya, according to the Pan American Health Organization. 14 cases were fatal. The absolute majority of documented cases have been reported in the Dominican Republic and Martinique

On Wednesday, authorities of Cuba confirmed the first six (at least) cases on the island. In addition, the virus has spread along most of the continent, reaching the U.S. and 18 other countries and territories of the continent including Brazil, Panama, Venezuela, Chile and Puerto Rico, as reports the newspaper ‘El Espectador’ citing data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC English) of the U.S. In fact, the region that might be the most affected, is Central America where the chikungunya epidemic threatens to acquire character.

On Wednesday the Salvadoran President, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, announced that an alert condition shall be declared to fight chikungunya transmitters in areas where the disease has appeared in order to avoid its extension across the whole country. He argues that it “could become an epidemic”, especially during this rainy season. So far about 1,119 people have been affected in that country, which has no outlet to the Caribbean Sea. Nicaragua and Costa Rica also have taken steps to deal with a potential outbreak of the virus.

Originally posted by The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

San Jose, Costa Rica

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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Best of Costa Rica’s Top 10 Restaurants

top-10-list-231x300

Update: Who knew this would be so controversial. :-)Let me clarify a few things about this list. 1. It mainly covers the Central Valley area. While we do travel out of the area we do not eat out of the area enough at any one place to be able to evaluate it property. 2. You must be able to get a meal for 2 for under $60. and 3. Consistency is key. Please visit my blog I wrote on this subject to understand more of my guidelines that I used to select the following places. Yes there are 3 US chain restaurants. That is just the way it is. There are none that I have found that can replace them for the items I suggested you eat at each one. They meet all my requirements for being on this list.

Best of Costa Rica’s Top 10 Restaurants you must visit when you are here in Costa Rica. We will start with 10 and count down!

10. SOLO Camaron – It is reasonably priced and the food has good flavor. Don’t go in there with a large crowd. It is a small space, but comfortable. Clean and the service is very good. Everything and I mean everything has shrimp. So if allergic you may want to avoid it!

9. Hooters – Is pretty much the same as they are in the states. You only go in there for 2 thing. One is the wings and the other well it is what it is. 🙂 We have tried a few other items on the menu and were not impressed. They do have a limited selection of wings sauces, unlike in the states. If you are in the mood for wings this is your place to go no doubt!

8. Tony Roma’s It is a little on the pricey side, but not as bad as some places. If you are looking for a good Italian meal this is your place to go. Don’t get the beef products as tey are on the tough side, but pasta is delicious!

 7. Chilis – After being here for over a year we finally went and we were pleasantly surprised. It was really good. It had the best pizza I have had in Costa Rica. I know sounds strange, but it is true. So for no other reason you should go here for the pizza! The prices are reasonable. Our friend who was with us said they had the best ribs he has ever eaten in Costa Rica as well. Give it a try.

6. Sisso Another new find and we loved it. If you are a vegetarian this is one of the best places to go no doubt. They don’t have a salad bar, but they do have a make your own salad. So always a plus in my book. Food was good, prices were very good for what you got and the place was nice. Service was very good.

5. Los Antojitos – This is one of our favorite places to have lunch. I’m sure dinner would be just as excellent. We have been to two different ones and the food and services was great at both of them. So if you see on in your travels stop in and have a bite. You won’t regret it. I love their grilled salad!

4. Alida Ristorante – If you like a true Italian pizza this is your place. It has that thin crust you are hoping for and they are tasty. They have a great salad and the other food is good as well. It is a little pricey, but worth it. Nice place and great service.

3. Grego’s Bar and Grill – We do go here often. The prices are a little high for a bar, but not really that bad. The food is good! The only problem with it is the consistency of the food. One week its good, next its ok, than it is good again. I love their chicken soup! It is served with an egg that is cooked by the heat of the broth. Our favorite is the Chicken and the Corvina and I do like their churrascos as well but it is hit and miss as to its toughness.

2. Kay’s Gringo Postres – Is one of our favorite places to go in Atenas. The food is good, reason prices, and the desserts are a little bit of heaven. They are only open for breakfast and lunch, but worth a stop on in no doubt. It is the Cheer’s of Costa Rica just no booze. The staff is friendly and helpful and you will always find helpful people.

1. La Trocha – If you want a good steak this is the place to go! We love their steaks! Their ceviche is very good as well. Service is wonderful and the owners are just great people. If  you get their pasta dishes they do sauce it very generously! They have a signature sauce that is great! I love their jalapeno sauce!  If you want just a bit of heat or full tears and red lips you can get it. Just tell them how hot you want it! They will cook your steak medium rare! The only way to have a steak!

So that pretty much covers it. If you are here for 7 days or 10 days this list pretty much has you covered. Check these places out and let me know about your experience.

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

 

 

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GALLO PINTO EFFECT?

Ticos consume some 49,000 tons of beans per year. Most are imported as Costa Rica only produces some 14,000 tons. Ronald Reyes/The Tico Times

 

Call it the gallo pinto effect.

Officials from Costa Rica’s Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG) this week warned of a shortage of beans in the country, and issued an order to allow tax-free importation from any country in order to meet an estimated shortage of 21,000 tons needed to supply local demand from July to January.

The country currently has reserves of 3,200 metric tons of black beans and 1,200 metric tons of red beans. But with domestic consumption at 4,100 tons per month, there are barely enough beans for this month. Beans and rice are essential in Ticos’ daily diet.

According to the National Production Council (CNP) a change in agricultural production strategies in Nicaragua – Costa Rica’s main bean provider – severely decreased supplies from that country.

But local producers blame the possible shortage on a requirement of MAG’s State Phytosanitary Service (SFE), which states that all imported beans must be completely clean, without any residue or dirt. The rule this year has prevented some 100 containers of beans – mainly from Nicaragua – from entering the country, producers say.

Alejandro Monge, executive director of the National Association of Bean Industrials (ANIFRI), confirmed that Costa Rica currently produces only 20 percent of all beans consumed in the country, and the remaining 80 percent must be imported from Nicaragua, Argentina and China.

“Strict SFE measures are preventing the entry of imported beans in time to meet current demand,” he said.

The shortage particularly affects red beans. Nicaragua in 2013 supplied 99 percent of Costa Rican red bean imports and 50 percent of all imported beans, according to the CNP.

The situation already is affecting consumers, as the price of red beans this year increased by 10 percent, according to the CNP. Prices likely will continue to increase if the shortage extends longer. The Costa Rican Consumers Association last week asked the Economy Ministry to conduct periodic inspections to prevent price speculation from retailers.

The Grain Industries Chamber agrees with the consumers’ group, forecasting a significant increase in prices in coming months, especially for red beans. They also said in a press release that the situation will not be resolved with MAG’s shortage alert, and they urged the government to modify SFE guidelines and regulations.

ANIFRI requested a change in SFE legislation during a meeting with Agriculture and Livestock Vice Minister Joaquín Salazar. At the meeting they suggested an amendment of legislation to allow up to 2 percent of impurities in imported beans, depending on the grains’ quality. They also suggested fumigation of trucks that might represent contamination risks. However, both sides failed to reach an agreement at the meeting.

ANIFRI will continue pushing for a change in legislation, and in coming days will meet with officials from the Foreign Trade Ministry and the Economy Ministry to propose an amendment of SFE regulations.

 

Originally posted Tico Times

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I.R.S. makes major changes to Offshore Compliance Programs

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service announced today major changes in its offshore voluntary compliance programs, providing new options to help both taxpayers residing overseas and those residing in the United States. The changes are anticipated to provide thousands of people a new avenue to come into compliance with their U.S. tax obligations.

The changes include an expansion of the streamlined filing compliance procedures announced in 2012 and important modifications to the 2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). The expanded streamlined procedures are intended for U.S. taxpayers whose failure to disclose their offshore assets was non-willful.

“This opens a new pathway for people with offshore assets to come into tax compliance,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The new versions of our offshore programs reflect a carefully balanced approach to ensure everyone pays their fair share of taxes owed. Through the changes we are announcing today, we provide additional flexibility in key respects while maintaining the central components of our voluntary programs.”

Balanced against the modified programs is the government’s ongoing effort to combat the misuse of offshore assets. The IRS, working closely with the U.S. Department of Justice, continues to investigate foreign financial institutions that may have assisted U.S. taxpayers in avoiding their tax filing and payment obligations. In addition, on July 1, the new information reporting regime resulting from the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) will go into effect. Thousands of foreign financial institutions will begin to report to the IRS the foreign accounts held by U.S. persons.

The current Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program was launched in 2012 and is the successor to prior voluntary programs offered in 2011 and 2009. Since the launch of the first program, more than 45,000 taxpayers have come into compliance voluntarily, paying about $6.5 billion in taxes, interest and penalties.

The expansion of the streamlined procedures and modifications to OVDP reflect the thoughtful input of the tax community given the growing awareness among U.S. taxpayers of their offshore tax obligations.

“Through our enforcement efforts and implementation of FATCA, taxpayers are more aware of their obligations, and we believe want to come into compliance,” Koskinen said. “In this rapidly changing environment, we listened to feedback from the tax community as well as the National Taxpayer Advocate about our voluntary programs. We have made important adjustments to provide opportunities for all U.S. taxpayers to come in, including those who are not willfully hiding assets.”

Streamlined Procedures Expanded

The changes announced today make key expansions in the streamlined procedures to accommodate a wider group of U.S. taxpayers who have unreported foreign financial accounts.

The original streamlined procedures announced in 2012 were available only to non–resident, non–filers. Taxpayer submissions were subject to different degrees of review based on the amount of the tax due and the taxpayer’s response to a “risk” questionnaire.

The expanded streamlined procedures are available to a wider population of U.S. taxpayers living outside the country and, for the first time, to certain U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States. The changes include:

  • Eliminating a requirement that the taxpayer have $1,500 or less of unpaid tax per year;
  • Eliminating the required risk questionnaire;
  • Requiring the taxpayer to certify that previous failures to comply were due to non–willful conduct.

For eligible U.S. taxpayers residing outside the United States, all penalties will be waived. For eligible U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States, the only penalty will be a miscellaneous offshore penalty equal to 5 percent of the foreign financial assets that gave rise to the tax compliance issue.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) Modified

The changes announced today also make important modifications to the OVDP. The changes include:

  • Requiring additional information from taxpayers applying to the program;
  • Eliminating the existing reduced penalty percentage for certain non–willful taxpayers in light of the expansion of the streamlined procedures;
  • Requiring taxpayers to submit all account statements and pay the offshore penalty at the time of the OVDP application;
  • Enabling taxpayers to submit voluminous records electronically rather than on paper;
  • Increasing the offshore penalty percentage (from 27.5% to 50%) if, before the taxpayer’s OVDP pre–clearance request is submitted, it becomes public that a financial institution where the taxpayer holds an account or another party facilitating the taxpayer’s offshore arrangement is under investigation by the IRS or Department of Justice.

Full details of the changes to both the streamlined procedures and OVDP can be found on IRS.gov.

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News: IBM Costa RIca Investment

IBM INVESTS U.S. $ 300 MILLION IN COSTA RICA

The firm will establish a central provision of information technology, making a major investment in recent years that will generate 1,000 jobs.

IBM Costa Rica

The company chose IBM to Costa Rica to expand its operations and install a new service center information technology in which to invest U.S. $ 300 million over the next ten years.

The company plans to install a new plant will generate 1,000 new jobs. This investment is one of the most significant of the last thirteen years in the service sector is the most important in the last seven.

The Center will provide support services strategic outsourcing, server systems operations, security services, maintenance and monitoring of Harvard computer and software systems, among others. Work with other centers that have signed in China, Brazil, India and Argentina, said Patt Croning, general manager of Global Technology Delivery and Delivery Excellence, IBM.

IBM already has operations in the country, are based on human resources, customer relationship management, finance, accounting and shared services.

The decision to open a new service center in Costa Rican soil thanks is given to the country is connected with the international economy by opening up telecommunications and the Free Trade Treaty with the United States, said Anabel Gonzalez, Minister of Commerce Exterior (Comex).

This investment is also part of the strategies promoted by the government of the Republic to attract foreign investment. IBM began negotiations on a tour of the Comex and the Coalition of Development Initiatives (CINDE) in October last year in New York and strengthened in a trip he took the president Laura Chinchilla to Washington last May.

The decision to install the new center was made last week so the place where the plant will be located is still unknown but is expected to be in the province of Heredia or Alajuela and to begin operations in 2014. However, the contracts will begin in the coming days, said Croning.

Costa Rica is home to major multinationals such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard have set up their businesses, have invested large sums of money and generate thousands of jobs. Only last year the medical device company St. Jude Medical announced an investment of U.S. $ 670 million.

“This news is part of the efforts towards economic recovery and attracting investment, which seeks to position Costa Rica as an innovation economy for the quality of investment that is being installed, as in this case that the high-tech sector create skilled jobs, “said President Chinchilla.

The announcement of the new IBM investment was held Thursday morning at the Presidential Palace and was attended by the president of the Republic, the Minister of Comex, Alejandro Cruz, Minister of Science and Technology, Jorge Rossi, president of Cinde and Croning IBM.

Links: http://www.revistasumma.com/

Source: http://www.revistasumma.com/negocios/13795-ibm-invierte-us$300-millones-en-costa-rica.html

English version originally posted Euro Center

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ABOUT COSTA RICA FROM THE EYES OF A TICO

Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America with a population of around 4.7 million with 7 provinces and a lot of beautiful places to visit. It’s a very popular country for tourists to come visit when they want to be in the heat, relax at the beach and see nature. But what most tourists don’t see is what the country is like, so read on to learn all about Costa Rica, from the eyes of a Tico!

I am proud to say that I am Costarican even though I know that we have a lot of things to improve. But every time I watch the news or read about attacks, terrorism or nuclear weapons, I say to myself that I am lucky to live in a country like this.

We might not have super fast Internet speed like South Korea, the USA infrastructure or huge cities, but we don’t have to worry about paying taxes to finance an army or paying deep student loans since Costa Rican education is not as expensive as other countries.

The education in Costa Rica is for free and mandatory at the age of 6, kids starts kindergarten, then elementary school for 6 years, and finally to high school for 5 years. After you graduate from high school you can apply to go to a public university. Most of the Costaricans go to public universities since they are nearly for free and most of the times you get scholarships. The education level here is very good, people go to NASA and work for huge companies that move here because of the quality of our education.

My brother is a doctor and he works for the government. Every time I go to the EBAIS (that’s how we call the local clinics), I feel so lucky because we get all the medication and tests for free as we pay 9.17% tax out of our salaries for health insurance. I am very happy with our medical system. Sometimes you have to have a little bit of patience but you do receive excellent service.

Our economy is not as good as our beaches but we are number 11 in Latin America and like I mentioned before, several companies are moving to Costa Rica to open their operation centers such as: P&G, Amazon, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Bank of America and many more.

The Costa Rican minimum salary is 270 000 colones (Around $540) a month which depends on your education. For example, a doctor can make a base salary of $2,000 a month and a janitor around $600 but thanks to all the offshore companies, salaries are getting better. If you work for Amazon, the minimum you can make is $800 a month.

I know it doesn’t sound like $85,000 a year but if you compare it with our cost of living it makes sense. I pay $400 a month for my apartment rent which is average for the coast. In the city, you can rent a house for $300 a month.

I love beer and it is an excellent economy indicator because the price in the supermarket is around $1 and $2 in a bar. The price of gasoline is high compared to the US, a liter cost around 700 colones (around $5.3 a gallon) but prices are changing constantly.

Just like any country you can find poor people and wealthy people but on average we have a good life. We don’t have that much money to spend on new things but we do what we can to have quality time. It is common for people to live well into their 90’s and 100’s here.

Nowadays it is normal to find people from all over the world living in Costa Rica. I went to the mall the other day and I thought I was in the states as everyone was gringo and Chinese people own 90% of all the minimarkets. But I love the diversity here, you can have a Chinese New Year celebration and a Thanksgiving dinner. I love food so every celebration is more than welcome for me!

Most of the Costarican are Catholics (80%) but you can find big groups of Christians, Jews, Mormons and any other kind of religion here, we respect everyone’s beliefs.

We are a democratic country so we chose a new president every 4 years. The main political groups are Liberación Nacional and PAC.

Our main transportation system is the bus system. It needs a bit more work but if you have patience you can go to almost anywhere in the country and it is very cheap.

But our biggest treasure of all is our nature, 25% of the territory is protected and we shelter almost 6% of the world’s biodiversity which is not bad for a country that covers only 0.03% of the world. So if you are looking for rainforests, jungles, black and white sand beaches, volcanoes, rivers, or any kind of flora and fauna, this is the right place. I’d probably have to write a hundred different posts just on the types of birds that are here!

Quality time and life: that’s the most important thing you can have, you don’t need to have too much in order to have a quality life. Costa Rica has given me so much, every day I learn something new. Ticos (nickname of costaricans) are very nice people, we love to talk to people even if we don’t know them and we try to help as much as we can. We respect laws but we are not afraid of the police or the government.

This post was about Costa Rica through the eyes of a Costarican and I may be missing some more points but feel free to ask me whatever you want in the comment section and you will get a Tico point of view!

Originally posted by  on MyTanFeet

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The United States Embassy with Costa Rica Presents

The United States Embassy with Costa Rica Presents:
An International Book Fair Will be Held on August 22-31, 2014

If you are an American ex-pat and your are an author, a lecturer, a sculptor, musician, artist or photographer, here is your opportunity to be involved in an International Book Fair sponsored by the Costa Rica Ministry de Culture and The United States Embassy in Pavas. Each year a host country is chosen to represent their country. This year, The United States of America has been chosen. As a result The Embassy is inviting anyone who is an American and lives in Costa Rica, who has a hand in the Arts to be a participant. The even will be held in San Jose and run for ten days. The Embassy will have a booth area 50’X 50’which will be located in the middle of the symposiums, name, address or email address.

Last year the Host country was Mexico. Over 65,000 attendees visited the Cultural fair. The US Embassy is looking for people who want to attend and participate in this very unique Book Fair. It will be staffed by authors, arious writers, Publishers, photographers, musicians and a host of other people involved in the many arts represented by American Ex-Pats living here in Costa Rica. Everyone will be considered and selling your books, photos, art pieces and so forth is encouraged. Each person will have their own individual exhibit and booth. Feel free to send your name, email address and description of what your art is for consideration of a wonderful and golden opportunity to exhibit and sell your works of art.

The United States Embassy
Ligia Alpizar – IRC Director
Public Affairs Section
U.S. Embassy San José, Costa Rica
Ph: (506) 2519-2022
Fax: (506) 2232-7944

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Cost of living up date days 11 – 16

So here we are at day 16 and budget is almost gone! 😦 Lets see how we end up at the end of the month and see what we have learned from my mistakes while living in Costa Rica.

Most of the days were pretty easy and simple. Hang out at the house. Life is pretty simple and easy here in Costa Rica. I caught up on the current season of Orange is the New Black #OITNB. Started watching Breaking Bad. Pretty good show. You have to love a psychopathic chemistry teacher with nothing to lose. He can cook up some trouble no doubt!

Day 9 Paid all the monthly bills finally! Did a lot of running around.

Day 10 had lunch At Kay’s Gringo Postres. As you can tell we like to eat there a lot. The food is good, prices reasonable, but the company is usually amazing. Its like Cheers in Atenas, just no booze! Its where everyone knows you name!!! Well the new owners are working on it, but Kay let me tell you she is one sharp lady! We call her mom!

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This was the special that day. Yummy!!! You get all this plus the dessert for 3,500 colones or $6.31

 

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Again very yummy home made cheese cake! Still a little on the small side for my taste, but hell its FREE!!!!!!!!

 

Denise got a garden salad with an order of bacon! We love the bacon here!!!!

Day 11 Didn’t really do much just hung out. I did finally have to put diesel in the car! I think even with all the trips we make to either Santa Ana or Escazu I only fill up once a month maybe 2x. Love my Toyota Furtuner.

Day 12 It was time to go to church! Well not that kind of church. Greggo’s Bar has a deal on Thursdays certain things you drink if you drink a min of 5 next week when you come in you get that number for FREE so its like a delayed BOGO deal on beer and some liquors! It is only Thursday and you have to redeem the next week or it is lost. Here was our meal at Greggo’s.

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Oh and we had Ceviche, but I forgot to take a picture of it. Sorry! Consider my hand smacked! Steak was tasty. It was a little tough this night, but still not bad at all.

Day 13 Yep you guess it had lunch at Kay’s again. Normal stuff this time. Just salads and drinks. Again good lunch! We did go to a new place for dinner El Tronco and here is what we go for dinner. Everyone should eat here! Good food. Review will be coming. I know I owe you guys a lot of reviews! I will get them out I promise.

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Day 14 was a do nothing day. I get a lot of those. Well I didn’t do nothing. Did lots of stuff around the house. Played with the dogs, went swimming, worked out. I cooked. We did eat after all. 🙂 If you want to see the food I cook you need to let me know. I’m not going to take the time to post it if you don’t want to see it. So drop me a comment on this post and tell me you want to see my cooking. 🙂

Day 15 I got to have Fathers day dinner at one of my favorite places! La Trocha!!! I will review them the next time we go. I love their food and the owners are wonderful. I am proud of myself we almost had a conversation in Spanish with them. The owner/chef doesn’t speak English and with our limited Spanish we actually had a conversation!!!!! Yea us! Every day we get better! Denise more than me, but we did it! Here is what we had:

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Its hard to tell but that is a hell of a lot of food. If you go here and you eat there is no way you will go home hungry! We love all their pasta’s and steaks.

Day 16 We decided to try a different place for lunch today. Again I will review it in another post, but here is the food we had for the price listed on our budget.

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Since we were out and we were in the area I did stop at PriceSmart. I got very little there. I mainly went in for dog good. This is what I come out with. You can never just go in and get the one thing you need. You always have to find more! Well I do anyway.

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I got the 50lb bag of Kirkland dog food. So now I am set for dog food for a while. I had just ran out of this one. Remember I use it and the Super Perro just in case I can’t find one or the other. So I mix them. We did go in for treats as I’m running low, but guess what. NONE!!! No dog treats at all. No biscuits, not cookies nothing! This is why I buy so much when I do buy. You never know when it is going to be there or not. So you buy a few. I still have some left, but I’m going to start cutting them in 1/2 or else I may run out before Monday when I go back again or they may not have them yet again. So we will see.

Here is what the budget looks like. Yep day 16 and I have gone over my $2K budget. We can learn from this and we will keep going and see where I end up at the end of the month. Thank we can analyze it and see where I can do better. Thanks for reading and drop me a comment or two!

Don’t forget to check out our Amazon Page, and our Cafe Press page. Almost all our profits after expenses have been paid go to local Charties here in Costa Rica. So buy some stuff would ya!!!!! Also don’t forget to vote on which charity will get the money we raise. We have only raised like $12 so far. So that $24 with my matching donation. We need more people to buy more stuff! Come on help us out! Lets buy the stuff we want or need and at the same time help charity! The poll is at the top of the page. Vote and buy today!!!!!

Day 11 thru 16

 

Pura Vida!

 

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Five US tourists survive after fire sinks yacht sailing from Los Sueños

Five US tourists survive after fire sinks yacht sailing from Los Sueños (via http://insidecostarica.com)

What is this? June 17th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Five tourists from the United States were able to escape the sinking of a 40-foot sportfishing yacht after the vessel caught fire and sank while at sea yesterday morning.   The boat, an American-flagged

vessel named “Foxy Lady,” was sailing about four kilometers off the shores of Herradura after departing from the Los Sueños marina when the fire broke out.

Five passengers were on board, including the owner and captain of the vessel, Peter Wishney and his wife.  All of the passengers were U.S. citizens.

Eduardo Lizano, a dock manager at Los Sueños, said the tourists had planned to go sportfishing.

The emergency began at 8:20 a.m. yesterday morning, when Wishney reported to the marina that he was having engine problems.  After requesting assistance, he added that there was also a small fire below deck, which he believed could be controlled.

Apparently, at some point it became evident that the fire could not be controlled and all of the passengers were evacuated with the assistance of an emergency vessel sent by the Coast Guard from the port of Caldera, which also sent a naval fire extinguishing unit to attempt to put out the blaze.

Despite their efforts, the fire eventually consumed the vessel, sinking it.

Back on land, the passengers were taken by ambulance to a private medical center.  All were reported in stable condition.

Authorities said the fire is believed to have started in a bedroom on the vessel, adding that a full investigation would not be possible as the vessel had sunk.

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Banco Popular Selling Homes at 50% Discount All Over Costa Rica

Banco Popular Selling Homes at 50% Discount All Over Costa Rica

Banco Popular Selling Homes at 50% Discount All Over Costa Rica

The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – The People’s Bank and Community Development announced it will sell 775 properties across the country, which will have attractive financing up to 50% off.

The supply of houses and lots will have alternative financing up to 100% of its value with terms ranging up to 30 years to repay.

Milagro Hernandez, head of the Popular Credit Bank and Community Development, said that these properties allow families to buy a property at a good price with excellent financing options.

Those interested in one of these properties may obtain further information at their web site or in any of the 100 banks nationwide.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

San Jose, Costa Rica

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Costa Rica’s president says no plans for corruption probe

Costa Rica’s president says no plans for corruption probe

NEW YORK Mon Jun 16, 2014 6:24pm BST

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis poses before an interview in New York June 13, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis poses before an interview in New York June 13, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON

 

(Reuters) – Costa Rica’s new president, Luis Guillermo Solis, who won a landslide victory in April after campaigning against poverty and corruption, said in an interview on Friday there are no plans to open a formal investigation into his predecessor’s tenure.

Instead, Solis said he will tell the nation what he has discovered about the government’s operations during his first 100 days in office. He took office on May 8.

Solis, the centre-left academic who never before held elected office, swept into power on April 6 by tapping into public anger at rising inequality and government corruption scandals. The address to Costa Rica’s roughly 4 million citizens should occur around Aug. 15.

The incumbent Laura Chinchilla sparked outrage by accepting flights on a private jet to Peru and Venezuela despite laws barring public officials from accepting sizeable gifts. Her first finance minister resigned in a tax evasion scandal.

Asked if he would launch an investigation into corruption allegations of the prior administration, Solis said: “Not opening a probe on my predecessor, but I do want on the 100th day of my administration to issue a state of the union address and let the people of Costa Rica know what I found.”

“I think it is honest. I think it requires a lot of care so that I don’t act arbitrarily, but it is necessary to know exactly what are the things that we are facing. What are the challenges that I find,” he said in an interview.

Solis was finishing up a multi-city visit to the United States, meeting with investors and officials to try and drum up investment to help fuel improvements in the Central American country.

The coffee-producing tourist haven has seen unemployment steadily rise alongside a public debt burden that at the start of the year was over 50 percent of gross domestic product.

“My government comes at a time when we have an accumulated amount of issues that are pending in the agenda. Dealing with infrastructure, with education, with energy, with security … if we do that and we do it very transparently it is going to be easy to move on from there,” he said.

Infrastructure has suffered from under-investment, while average growth of 4.3 percent per year since 2000 has failed to dent a poverty rate of about 20 percent.

The International Monetary Fund has Costa Rica’s gross domestic product growing at 3.8 percent versus 2.5 percent for the Latin America/Caribbean region this year.

The projection was given in April, around the time of his election and a time when technology powerhouse Intel, struggling with a shrinking personal computer market, announced 1,500 job cuts in Costa Rica. Intel’s output from Costa Rica accounted for roughly 20 percent of the country’s exports.

Solis, who worked in Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry, said he would stick to the IMF’s projections, even with the layoffs at Intel as well as Bank of America’s decision to pull out of the country.

The sting of the job losses was soothed slightly by Intel’s announcement this week that it would open a “Mega Laboratory” for testing new products in Costa Rica and add back a fraction of the positions.

It might take a year for the economy to make up for those lost jobs, he said.

Addressing infrastructure deficiencies and high electricity costs may take longer, but Solis said the first decrees he has signed in the first month in office have been focused on these two areas.

Road and bridge repairs, and a commitment to building an electric train linking principal cities of Costa Rica’s central plateau are among his priorities.

“And regarding electricity costs, which again are a challenge for us, in the next few weeks I am going to join an effort to reduce them,” he said, referring to a review of taxes, how costs are calculated and how tariffs are established by the regulatory services.

On taxes, where he famously said there would be no new ones levied for at least two years, he reiterated better collection where evasion was “scandalous” and corruption needed to be stopped.

“The first transition we want to accomplish is from the sales tax (13 percent)… into a VAT (Value Added Tax), which if successful and I think it will be, will allow us to do the regulation and controlling of evasion.”

 

(Reporting by Daniel Bases; Editing by Dave Gregario, Bernard Orr)

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Oh by the Gods!!!!! Look out Vegas!

Betting on Costa Rica’s 3-1 Win Made Millionaires in Las Vegas

Costa Rica News – As I saw on a friend of mine’s Facebook wall yesterday, “That sound you just heard was the human-enduced earthquake in Costa Rica.” He was not far from the truth.  No one expected Costa Rica to win yesterday and that included the odds makers in Las Vegas.

soccer bettingThe odds were very low for Costa Rica to even win the game but a few people in Vegas not only bet on them to win but bet on them to win 3 to 1.  On average the odds were 1800 to 1 at sportsbooks but they were even higher game time in Vegas, for the score to end the way it did.  There were some people counting their dollars in Vegas even though at least 2 of them made the bet by mistake.

So far the damage for sportsbook and Las Vegas is estimated at several billion dollars.

According to a report from MGM casinos group, it only takes a few bets to completely make a business go under.

“For some reason 3 people bet in favor for Costa Rica winning with this score, and there is nothing we can do except pay,” said the MGM spokesperson.

One of the winner was an America named Robert Green who said he wanted to bet on Cristiano Ronaldo when he saw CR on the screen.

Green said that he thought that Cristiano Ronaldo could beat Uruguay and it made him a millionaire. Nice mistake to make.

Another gambler won during a drunken haze.  He was completely drunk when he placed the bet and admit that he knows nothing about soccer. His bet while drunk netted $3.2 million dollars. Some people wake up wondering where their money went in Vegas this guy actually woke up a millionaire.

Finally was a 3rd sport bettor who as of yet does not have a face.  He bet on Costa Rica to win 3 to 1 but placed the hefty amount of $10,000.  At the odds of 1800 to 1 this would make him $18 million richer.  There are several investigations going on about this bet as no one believes someone would place it.

Not only were the hearts in Costa Rica filled with joy yesterday, many people had their pockets also filled from wagers on the game.

Originally posted at Costa Rican Times

Pura Vida

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Dog Festival in Cartago Costa Rica

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Costa Rica #1 again!!!!

‘Oh, you should go to… Costa Rica’. Latin state is shock winner in list of countries people would recommend to other travellers

  • Austria also ranks highly as a place travellers would commend to friends
  • Britain fares relatively well in the survey, coming joint tenth with Greece
  • Indonesia, China and Malaysia comprise surprise bottom three in results

By TRAVELMAIL REPORTER

Many of us would run a mile rather than listen to the travel recommendations of friends who have just returned from an exotic part of the world complete with sun tans, very long anecdotes and overly effusive comments about how ‘you really should go yourselves.’

But if we were all to base our future holiday arrangements on the advice of others, it seems that – according to a new study – we would all be packing our bags for Costa Rica.

Top of the world: Costa Rica has two coastlines - and proffers beauties such as Drake Bay, on its Pacific side

With scenery like the Arenal volcano, Costa Rica is the destination travellers would most recommend

New research conducted by the Global Tourism Monitor Survey asked a total of 23,000 holidaymakers, in 26 different countries around the world, to name the destination that they would most recommend to others based on their own travel experiences.

Those questioned as part of the survey were restricted to countries they had visited in the previous 12 months, and asked whether they would or wouldn’t tell others to follow suit.

The number of people who criticised a recent holiday destination was then subtracted from the number praising a place as visit-worthy, to produce a net score for each country.

And the Central American republic came top of the tree with a score of 63 – finishing a clear five points ahead of Austria and Israel (both 58), New Zealand (57) and Italy (56).

Not too shabby: Britain, with the sights of London to the fore, came a respectable tenth in the survey

Although not, perhaps, well known to British holidaymakers, Costa Rica’s appeal is easy to fathom.

It is one of only seven countries able to boast coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (the others are Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico), and as such, is home to a wealth of wonderful beaches.

Britain performed relatively well in the survey, polling a score of 52, finishing in joint tenth position along with Canada and Greece.

Other countries fared less well in this court of popular opinion.

Tunisia was the only country in the survey to ‘achieve’ the dubious feat of a negative score, polling a dreadful -7.

The ten most recommended destinations…

1. Costa Rica
2. Austria
3. Israel
4. New Zealand
5= Italy
5= Japan
7= Croatia
7= USA
9. Norway
10= Canada, Greece, UK

…and the ten with the fewest fans

64. Bulgaria
65. Russia
66. Albania
67. Cambodia
68. India
69. Ukraine
70. Malaysia
71. China
72. Indonesia
73. Tunisia

And the Far East also fell foul of plenty of tourists.

Although it can boast the sunshine island of Bali, and some of the world’s most pristine areas of rainforest, Indonesia finished second bottom of the pile with a score of just four.

Perhaps surprisingly, China – home to the exciting cities of Beijing and Shanghai, plus the historic wonder of the Great Wall – came third last, polling a meagre five.

And Malaysia contributed to a miserable survey for the Far East, slumping to fourth bottom with an unimpressive recommendation rating of six.

Eastern Europe also found itself on the receiving end of traveller discontent.

Ukraine was the fourth of over 70 states included in the survey to manage a rating of less than ten, with a score of only eight – a vote of no-confidence from holidaymakers which will not, perhaps, come as the biggest shock in light of the current troubles in the country.

But Albania (18 points), Russia (20) and Bulgaria (21) will wonder who they offended.

‘This study is one of the most broadly based assessments of recent tourism experiences and future intentions,’ says Jon Young, on behalf of the Global Tourism Monitor Survey.

‘It looks at destination appeal and the likelihood of recommending a country based solely on personal experience in the last 12 months.’

Beautiful, but at the bottom: Despite the allure of Bali, Indonesia did not fare well as a recommended destination

The results, Mr Young says, make happy reading for Britain.

‘It’s a credit to the UK that it has achieved a high joint tenth position in a league table.of more than 70 countries, especially given the competition of countries with more favourable climates,’ he continues.

‘Overseas visits rose to 32.8million in 2013, up 5.6 per cent on 2012, and the prominence of the UK is good news for our tourism sector and the overall economy.’

Half of the 26 countries consulted as part of the survey were in Europe (Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, UK and Ukraine).

Eight Asian countries (India, China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) were also involved, with four countries in the Americas (USA, Canada, Mexico and Brazil), plus Australia, rounding out the line-up.

Originally posted on Mail on line

Pura Vida!

 

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45 percent of Ticos think they can get HIV from a mosquito bite, says University of Costa Rica report

A couple embaces in Parque Morazán in San José. Alberto Font/The Tico Times

Over 75 percent of young Costa Ricans surveyed do not know how HIV is transmitted or contracted, according to a new study from the University of Costa Rica released Wednesday.

The report’s results suggest that Costa Rica is in need of a serious overhaul of its sexual education policy. Many respondents said that the human immunodeficiency virus was passed through mosquito bites or through kissing someone who is HIV-positive. More than 84 percent surveyed said they don’t use condoms.

The report, which used information from a 2010 national health survey and received support from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, analyzed responses from over 3,000 men and women in Costa Rica aged 18-80.

Here’s what Ticos got right:

  • 91.8 percent correctly responded that risk of HIV infection was reduced by limiting sexual activity to one HIV-negative partner.
  • 93.7 percent said that using a prophylactic every time they have intercourse would reduce their chance of contracting HIV.

What Ticos got wrong:

  • 55.5 percent did not know how to correctly use a condom.
  • 45 percent incorrectly answered that a mosquito bite could transmit HIV.
  • 48.6 percent said that an HIV-positive person would always show signs of infection.
  • 40.2 percent said that the virus could move between people through sweat or saliva.

Only 18.2 percent of Ticos aged 15-17 demonstrated comprehensive understanding of the disease. Knowledge of HIV-AIDS increased after age 18, but remained below 26 percent for respondents aged 18-35.

Awareness and knowledge about HIV-AIDS improved with years of education and if the respondent lived in an urban area.

One of the problems highlighted in the report is where young people get information about HIV-AIDS and sex in general: their peers. Barely 18 percent of young Ticos had a good grasp of sexually transmitted diseases. This same group was the largest source of information about the subject for respondents under 18 years old.

Parents, apparently, are not having the birds and the bees talk with their kids, according to the report.

Mothers (62.3 percent) and fathers (46.2 percent) were the most desired sources of information about sex, but respondents’ friends (28.8 percent) were the most commonsource of information about sex. Only 24 percent said their mother was a source for this information, and just over 10 percent named their father.

The report also pointed out that there was a correlation between men and women who are the victim of verbal or physical sexual abuse and “risky” sexual behavior. The UCR report defined risky sexual behavior as infrequently using a condom and having more than one sexual partner in the last 12 months.

Adrián Barrientos, a sociologist involved in the study, told The Tico Times that more needs to be done to change how Costa Ricans think about condoms. Barrientos said that Ticos are more likely to use a condom when they want to avoid having more children than to protect against STDs. Unwanted children are a more effective motivator to use a prophylactic than STDs.

Presenters noted that men who have sex with men, male to female transgender people, and intravenous drug users are among the groups with the highest risk of contracting HIV-AIDS. Researchers said that they hope the report’s results can help target these groups and better educate the wider public about safe sex and STDs.

Some 1.4 million people had HIV-AIDS in Latin America in 2011, according to the report. One hundred and thirty eight Costa Ricans died of HIV-AIDS in 2010, according to the Health Ministry.

Originally posted at the Tico Times

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Costa Rica Ranked #1 vacation destination!

Selvatura Adventure Park, Monteverde Ronald Reyes/The Tico Times

Rain forests, volcanoes, world-class beaches, great weather, sloths, what’s not to like? A new global survey confirmed that tourists love Costa Rica, naming the country most recommended tourism destination in the world.

The Global Tourism Monitor Survey asked 23,000 globetrotters from 26 countries where they had traveled during the previous 12 months and which destination they would more recommend based on their experience there. The report, released Monday, ranked the top 65 most recommended destinations.

Austria came in second, followed by Israel, New Zealand and Italy.

Ukraine, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and Tunisia were the five least recommended destinations, according to the survey conducted by BDRC Continental.

While Costa Rica placed atop the list of most recommended destination, no other Latin American country made the top 10.

Latin America and the Caribbean placed among the least popular regions with only 6 percent of respondents saying they were “seriously” planning to travel to the region. Europe ranked the highest among potential travelers with 43 percent planning to travel there, followed by 27 percent in the Asian Pacific. Only 4 percent said they planned to take their holiday in Africa or the Middle East.

Costa Rica received a record-breaking 2.4 million tourists during 2013, according to the Costa Rican Tourism Board.

Here’s the list of the top 10 most recommended destinations (with a three-way tie for 10th place):

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Austria
  3. Israel
  4. New Zealand
  5. Italy
  6. Japan
  7. Croatia
  8. USA
  9. Norway
  10. Canada
  11. Greece
  12. United Kingdom

…and the 10 least recommended:

  1. Bulgaria
  2. Russia
  3. Albania
  4. Cambodia
  5. India
  6. Ukraine
  7. Malaysia
  8. China
  9. Indonesia
  10. Tunisia

Originally posted to the Tico Times

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Cost of living Day 7, 8, 9 and 10!

Sorry for the long update, but 7th and 8th were pretty boring days. Just sat at home, watched some TV. Started to watch the Orange is the new black, and trying to catch up on American Horror story. We are starting season 3 The Coven. Hopefully it is as  good as the others were. We did some shopping and stuff on the 9th so lets get to that.

Day 9 was a busy day as Monday’s usually are. The housekeeper and Gardener was here. So that is when we do a lot of our running for the week as they will keep and eye on the dogs for us. We did happen to have a little mishap while we were gone. The gardener accidentally hit the pipe coming from the solar hot water on our rancho roof to the pool. 😦 He ran down to the gate and had them call our pool guy who came right out and patched it. He fixed it today on the 10th. So won’t see that bill until next month. He only sends a bill once a month. Otherwise the house ran smoothly while we were gone.

We went to see the dietitian as we do on Mondays. Had a good week my wife and I both lost weight. So cheers! Even though I am no longer on the diet she till wanted to weigh me and measure me. She is interested in how I am doing. She follows me on facebook and looks at my fitbit auto post to my timeline that shows what my exercise is and what I am eating. Its a great tool for weight loss.

After we were done there we heading to Escazu to go to Pricesmart to pick up dog food. Well we decided to have lunch at the Avaneda. We scoped out a place we have never been before. You will see it on the budget. It is our 1st time there and I doubt we will be back. I will be writing a review in the next couple of days so look out for that as well.

Lunch ran pretty long about 2 hours so by the time we were done I was kind of done so I wanted to head home. Then I realized we really need dog food and really need to pay the electric bill. So we head off to the bank to take out some cash. We head to the local grocery store which is really nice and in expensive. I also realized once we were there I needed to pick up a few other things as well so we walked the entire store. We also pay our Electric and Cable/internet bills there. I did make a mistake on my internet bill and have corrected it on the budget sheet. It was $90 a month but $57 for my 5Mbps download and 500Kbps upload service. Here is what I got at the market.

IMG_2254[1]

29,205 colones or $52.67

This is a 66lb bag. I will last a good while. I would say almost a month along with the 50lb bag I buy at pricesmart of the Kirkland brand. I buy both so I can mix them as there are times when for whatever reason I can’t find one or the other. So mixing them allows me to be out of on or the other without upsetting tummies. I will need a bag of Kirkland soon so hopefully in he next day or two I will go pick one up.

IMG_2251[1]

739 Colones or $1.33

It takes about 3 of these to equal the amount I got at Pricesmart. So that puts this at $7.98 and I paid $11.93 at pricesmart. ok I’m convinced I will get my Broccoli from Coop from now on!!!!!

IMG_2252[1]

1034 colones or $1.86

The onions I bought at maxipali same amount and actually these are a little bigger cost me 788 colones or $1.42 not worth an extra trip to save a few pennies. So Coop wins again! These actually looked better.

IMG_2250[1]

1,800 colones or $3.25

Again looks like the coop wins! This is 10 for $3.25 and they are bigger than the ones I got at Pricesmart where I paid $2.12 for 5.

IMG_2253[1]

336 colones or $0.61

We have a very clear winner on this one. Coop! These were bigger then what I got at Pricesmart and I paid $1.03 for 3 smaller ones. I’m starting to see the light how about you?

The next expense on our budget is the vet bill. When we came home out housekeeper showed us a spot where one of our dogs made a mess. The reason she left it for us to see is that it had some blood in it. So we had to run our poor little gizzy to the vet to be checked out. Here is Gizzy!

Gizmo

Gizmo

We still as of yet don’t know what is wrong, but Dr. Solano thinks it is some sort of intestinal something or other.  He did put him on medication just in case. He wasn’t acting sick or looking sick. The bill was for the following:

Consult 9000 colones

Complete Hemograma 9500 colones

lopelisan shot 2300 colones

jeringa shot 1700 colones

poop sample 1150 colones

So the total bill was 23650 or $42.65

Most people say that Dr. Solano is one of the more expensive vets in town. That could be true, but he is well worth it! He is one great vet and is a pleasure to deal with and is very knowledgeable! We love, love, love him! That price is nothing compared to what I would have had to pay back it the states!

That pretty much covers I think everything. Here is the budget so far.

day 7 thru 10

As you can see we had lunch at Kay’s again! We do love the place. We were there from 11:30 until about 3:30 today. Ate and had some good conversation with friends. So its a little more this time. I only got 2 salads and my wife got her 2 egg veggie omelets, but we got a lot of Coke Zero and Gin Light. Again the food was good as always! The salads have gotten much better!

Oh and Friday I will have a cost for repair of our weed whacker that I dropped off today. The gardener has not been taken care of it the way he should and he refused to use it until I got it fixed. Which is why he cut our pipe with the machete. As the repair guy told me nothing really wrong with it, but he replace the part that had a piece that broke off and he did some maintenance that needed to be done as its not being handled well. You are suppose to mix oil and gas together and than put it in the machine??? I had no clue and apparently neither did the gardener. So I am taking him with me Friday so they can show him what he needs to do from now on!

Still have 20 days left and I know I am not going to make it for under $2k. Well we will see. Once I am done we will do a recap of the month and see where things could have been eliminated and or saved money and such and see where that lands our final budget. Have a great day!

Oh and drop me a comment if you want to see more pictures and instructions on the food I cook here at the house.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

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Cost of living day 7

Well today was a relax in the pool and chill day. Nope I did not make it to the Coop to pay the electric bill or to pick up dog food. So I guess that waits until Monday. Pura Vida right? Dogs still have food so we are good and it should last until Monday. 🙂 So what did I do today?

I went out and worked out on the bowflex. I did about 1/2 hour on it. I had to figure out how it works, but that time isn’t included in the workout time. Ran on the treadmill for about an hour or so. Got in the pool for about 2 hours and swam around and just hung out. I cooked all day so the highlight of this day will be the lunch and dinner I cooked.

My breakfast was just two eggs over easy and 3 plum tomatoes cut and cooked with a little salt and pepper. It sounds very plain but it was very nice. You take the eggs and place them over the tomatoes so when you cut into the egg the yummy yellow center mixes with the tomatoes and and their juiciness. 🙂 Really yummy you should try it.

lunch was an Asian stir fry. Very simple only need a couple of ingredients but full of flavor! As well as fills you up! I did however forget to get out the mushrooms! 🙂 It was still yummy here are the pictures and what I did.

IMG_2218[1]

Here is you need. Red cabbage (about 3 oz), orange bell peppers (1/2 regular size) (can be any pepper you want), cucumbers (1/2 regular size), broccoli (2.5 oz), and tomatoes (2 plum). Do whatever quantity you want. Cut everything up into small pieces as you see above.

IMG_2219[1]

This is what makes it an Asian dish. A dish’s ethnicity is created by the spices you use in the dish. Some ingredients will also lend to what region you dish can be assigned to, but he spices are what makes any dish! I only use 1/4 of a teaspoon of each of these in a cast iron pan that is hot!!!!! very hot!!!! We will also be adding 1 tablespoon of soy sauce later so don’t salt the dish until end.

IMG_2220[1]

 

These items will take the longest to cook so you want to get them in 1st and get the oil moving around and coating them. Here you can start to pepper your dish, but DON”T salt it yet!

IMG_2221[1]

 

Now we have added the peppers. You only wait about a min or two before you add the next ingredient. Flavor not only comes from what you put in your pan, but also from how you put it in. Layering you food is very important as well.

IMG_2222[1]

 

Now you add the cucumbers! At this point you will want to taste the dish after about a min or two of cooking to see if you have enough pepper in the dish. If not now is when you want to add it.

IMG_2223[1]

 

Finally you add the tomatoes and the soy sauce. You let that cook and allow the soy to reduce down along with the juices from the cucumbers and tomatoes. This should take about 3 min. Remember to keep moving that food around. Now taste it. If you think the soy has added enough salt to the dish you are done. If you need to add salt do so and let it cook as you do until you get it to where you want it. Remember salt a little at a time let it mix and heat for about 30 seconds than taste it again and keep doing this until you get it as you like it. Also if you think it needs a little more kick to it either add a little more hot oil or you can add some crushed red peppers!

That was my lunch! So give it a try and let me know how yours turned out as mine was very yummy and just the right amount of kick to it!

Dinner was Chicken and broccoli. It is a pretty simple dish. I just cooked the chicken I bought earlier in the week in a pan with a little evoo salt, pepper, and lemon juice. I than steamed the broccoli in a microwave steamer. Once it was done I added some “I can’t believe its not butter” to it with some salt and pepper and this is what you get!

IMG_2224[1]

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7

So day 7 nothing! Whoot! Have a great day! Onto day 8. Which is going to look a lot like day 7.

Pura Vida!

 

 

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Cost of living Day 6

Day 6 was pretty uneventful. We didn’t do much other than go out to Kay’s Gringo Postres again for lunch. Had some good conversation with friends who happen to stop in while we were there. I did go out and buy a bowflex used, but I’m not putting that in the budget as it is an expense that isn’t normal every day stuff.

I got it for $400. Its in almost new shape so I think I got a deal on it. Now if I can figure out how the damn thing works I will be good to go. Have my own personal gym at this point. I brought down with us a treadmill and stationary bike. Now the bowflex. I should be all buff in no time at all! 🙂 So her is the budget to get you all caught up. Still have not gotten to the store to pay the electric or pick up the dog food. I should do that today! Or maybe go to a movie? Not sure we will see how the day goes. Have a great one!

Day 4 5 and 6

 

Oh and the lunch at Kay’s was higher because I had 3 of the garden salads instead of 1. I was hungry. They had no dressing on them and I had them grilled. So it was 3 garden salads, 2 veggie omelets, 1 gin light, 2 coke zero’s and a full size chocolate cake! I love their chocolate cake!

Pura Vida!

 

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Cost of Living day 4 and Day 5

The one thing you can count on while living in Costa Rica is your day will never go as planned. I think I have said that already. So, yesterday was going to be a stay at home day and thank I hear my wife’s knitting group is going to eat lunch at a local pizza place that I have been dying to try, but because of the diet I couldn’t. So I jump on that! Not a knitter myself, but figured I could catch up on some writing while they all talk knitting and I can sample some pizza. So we get there and guess what. Not open! They are suppose to be open, but they aren’t. Ok so plan B. We go to the next pizza joint. Again a place that opened while on the diet and have not tried them so cool. Guess what? Not open again! Ok on to plan C. We go to Antono’s. A place we have had a meal or two before. Good food and good prices. After lunch we headed to the Maxi Pali. A very controversial store that just opened in Atenas. Long story short Expats are upset as its a Walmart owned store. Read my blog titled Unhappy Gringo’s it kind of gives my feelings on Gringo’s telling people what they can and can’t do. Again still did not complete all of my shopping. I did pick up a few more items, but I still need dog food. Glad I don’t wait till the last minute or the dogs we be starving by now. 🙂

Lets start with lunch Here is what we had. I was starving and I have no clue why.

IMG_2188

1100 colones or $1.98

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3700 colones or $6.67

IMG_2190

2600 colones or $4.69

 

IMG_2192

1800 colones or $3.25 I got it without the bun.

We also had a total of 5 Coke Lights @1000 colones each. So our total bill with tax and tip came to 17620 colones $31.79. Not a bad price really. It is a little more expensive but the food was really good. My salad was entree size. So with the burger and my wife’s meal we actually got 3 entrees.

Here are the groceries I bought on this day.

IMG_2193

Gin light 1,800 colones $3.25 and the Coke Zero 1,460 colones or $2.63. Which is pretty good prices.

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1,275 colones or $2.30

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788 colones or $1.42

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559 Colones or $1.01

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1,000 colones or $1.80 These were really, really good!

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4,517.50 colones or $8.50 this is 1/2 kilo or 1lb of sea bass.

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8,100 colones or $14.61 this again is 1/2 kilo or 1lb.

 Here is what we spend on day 4 $151.57 spent and a total left on the budget of $739.41.  Paid $59.73 for community fees which covers water, security and trash removal. Still have to pay electric once we get the bill.

Day 5 was a pretty much stay at home day. So nothing really spent. At this rate I may have to have more stay at home day. Lets see how it goes. I still need to go get dog food! When I go to Coop to do that on day 7 I will also pay the electric bill.

Here is some of the food I prepared on day 5 while I was home hope you enjoy it!

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So this is the start of Breakfast. 3 eggs, a couple slices of onion, 1/4 of a red pepper, and some mushrooms that were marinated in minced garlic. Yummy! I call it the Maryland Scramble.

 

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You put the onions and peppers in with just a 1/2 teaspoon of evoo. Let them cook until they are nice and tender.

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Than you add the mushrooms! Let it cook make sure you keep moving thing around so nothing burns.

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Here is what makes it Maryland. You put just a pinch of Old Bay. Yea right a pinch! You cover that shit with old bay!

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Scrabble your eggs and poor it in! Again keep that food moving so nothing stick or burns. Cook it to the point that you like your eggs. If you like them a little wet or completely dry. I like mine in the middle.

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Here is the final dish. It was very filling. You can use what ever veggies you want its all good.

Here are some of the pictures from dinner.

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That is onion, broccoli, tomatoes, red bell pepper and of course the garlic marinated mushrooms. Have I mentioned how much I love garlic and mushrooms?

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Place 1/2 teaspoon of evoo with the onions and broccoli. They take the longest to cook. Just cook until they are soft. Keep moving it around don’t burn it.

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Add the peppers! Add salt and pepper at this point.

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Now add the tomatoes and keep it moving.

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Now the mushrooms!

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The final product! It is very tasty! Sorry picture is a little blurry. So that is it for day 4 and 5.

Pura Vida.

 



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How to Avoid Personal Banking Disasters in Costa Rica

Coopenae Bank Costa Rica

Personal banking at the large state-sponsored institutions in Costa Rica is not for the squeamish. There are many horror stories among expatriates about frozen funds, incorrect account information, blocked debit cards, lost term deposits, excessive red tape, etc. Most of the time, these problems can be avoided in the first place with the assistance of a bilingual account executive who really cares. Asdrubal Zamora of credit union COOPENAE tells us more about this:

About 30 years ago, I remember going to a state-sponsored bank and standing in line for over an hour. More than 15 years later, I returned to that bank and endured a similar experience. In late 2013, I happened to visit that same bank and noticed that the building had been nicely remodeled, but the long lines and slow customer service had not changed at all, which did not surprise me.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity of listening to expatriates in Costa Rica talk about their experiences in dealing with state-sponsored banks. I am going to share some of them, and I should mention that they are not the usual complaints about long waiting lines, dubious service and excessive red tape: The following experiences are caused by the sad fact that major language and culture barriers persist at state-sponsored banks to this very day.

1 – Residency Status and the Future of Personal Banking in Costa Rica

Every day, I get inquiries by expats who ask about the possibility of opening a personal account or a fixed term deposit such as a Certificate of Deposit (CD). In general, this will require a residency permit; in fact, even some who opened bank accounts in Costa Rica with just their passports in the past may have troubles using the SINPE transfer system these days.

What everyone should be aware of is that inquiring about the possibility of opening an account is a good first step. Each case may be different, and there may be a chance to open an account, but it is highly recommended to do it. The current political climate is ripe for the creation of new taxes and levies, which in the future may very well apply to expats who wish to open bank accounts. Personal banking in Costa Rica is bound to get more restrictive and invasive in the future, which is why expats should try to get their accounts now so that they can be grandfathered later.

2 – The Frustration of Debit Cards Not Working Overseas

One of the most unfortunate situations travelers can run into is having their debit or credit cards declined abroad. Imagine going back home and trying to access funds deposited in Costa Rica, only to find out that it is impossible. On top of that, there’s also the likelihood of the card being blocked upon return.

Account executives must be notified when a debit card is intended to be used outside of Costa Rica, but this is something that many expat account holders are not aware of because they are never notified inasmuch. There goes the language and cultural barrier again, but the fact is that must be done at all banks, I always tell my clients to contact us before they travel to activate their cards overseas, and to also keep all their purchase and payment receipts, which must be attached to all claims and chargebacks within one month.

3 – Zombie Certificates of Deposit in Costa Rica

An expat couple once contacted me for assistance in transferring their CD, which was issued by a state-sponsored bank, into a COOPENAE account. On the maturity and expiration date of the contract, they personally went to their bank and were not able to get cash in their CD. The problem? It was set to renew automatically; the account holders were expected to notify the bank well in advance to prevent this feature from being triggered.

The couple was able to withdraw the funds and terminate the CD the next day; albeit by having to pay an expensive penalty. This is what I tell my clients: If you are going to be away from Costa Rica when your term deposit matures, it is better to be able to renegotiate the terms than to have renew by default. In terms of customer service, the bank should be making an effort to contact the CD holders beforehand to notify them of the upcoming maturity and expiration.

4 – Exorbitant Credit Card Rates and Unreasonable Collateral

Credit card rates in Costa Rica tend to be extremely high. We are talking about 23 to 52 percent, depending on the bank. Under such terms, I cannot recommend them. Still, some people like them and such was the case with this expat couple who wanted to transfer their money from their bank into COOPENAE so that they could take advantage of certain investments that were performing well at the time. It turns out that their money was tied up because their CD served as a collateral for their high-interest credit card!

Naturally, the couple’s request to cancel their credit card and liberate the funds in their CD was denied by the stuffy state-sponsored bank, which had created a Catch-22 situation by using the term deposit as collateral for the credit card. In the end, I went to the bank and performed the required, yet confusing, steps on behalf of the couple: Paying off the balance on the card with funds outside of the collateral, terminating the credit account, turning over the CD to my clients, and finally having them endorse it to my bank. It is important to remember that physical bonds in Costa Rica are as negotiable as check.

The lesson here is that complex personal banking transactions such as putting up term deposits as guarantees for credit cards should not be attempted by expats who are not familiar with the language or the system. It’s ok to handle certain basic transactions in rudimentary Spanish or English, but more involved procedures require bilingual assistance.

5 – The Case of the Lost CD and the Four-Year Wait

So an expat CD investor asked for a replacement since he lost the original paper certificate. It should be noted that CDs in Costa Rica, whether they are issued by a state-sponsored or private bank, can be obtained in physical or virtual (electronic) formats. Investors who take their physical CDs are responsible for their safekeeping.

By law, investors who lose their physical CDs in Costa Rica must wait four years until they see get their money, and only after filing a report with OIJ, sitting down with a notary to issue a public affidavit, and publishing the latter in the newspaper of record. This should not have to happen since:

  • Banks should be encouraging virtual CDs, which are eco-friendly and cannot be lost.
  • Virtual CDs promote savings and disciplined investing since they cannot be negotiated as checks before maturity.
  • Banks should offer physical CD investors to keep custody of their paper certificates in their safe or strongbox.

For more information about COOPENAE’s services and investment options, please contact Mr. Zamora directly.

Originally posted at http://news.co.cr/how-to-avoid-personal-banking-disasters-in-costa-rica/34452/

Pura Vida!

 

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Cost of Living day 3

So you know that one thing you can count on in Costa Rica is that your day will never go as you planned, but it will go as it should be. I actually went out to have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and thank finish my grocery shopping and look for some gym equipment. Well I got most of that accomplished in 5 hours. 🙂

So lets start with lunch shall we. Got to Kay’s at about 12. Had a very nice lunch see pictures below. It was a much better price than we had the other day at Hard Rock Cafe and there was more food! it didn’t cost me 2 additional trips to the Treadmill to work it off either, so it was a win all the way around by eating local and not at a chain. The price of 10,500 colones in addition to what you are about to see 2 coke lights as well.

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This was the Mama’s Meatloaf special. It was very tasty. The meatloaf was seasoned well and it was not dry! Always a plus! The string beans were very good and the potato was a nice touch and there was bacon!!!!! The side salad was good as well.

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This was 2 veggie omelets that had a good taste, lots of veggies and very filling.

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That is the chocolate cake that came with my meatloaf special. It was good as usual, but a little on the small size. I know it was free with the meal, but a little bigger would be nice.  It was smaller than what is usually served. I’m sure Kay was looking after my diet for me! 🙂 Over all still a good price for 2 coke zero’s, and unlimited ice tea (came with my special) and a full size piece of chocolate cake my wife ate, that I forgot to show which was about 3x bigger or more than this one. Cost was 10,500 colones.  Much better deal than yesterday!

So, after lunch we went off to find the gym equipment store that a couple people told me about. Guess what! Its not there any more! Go figure! It always seems to work that way. When you want something it just all of a sudden goes away. So that wasted time. Ok so lets go to the mall and visit the GNC. I did not include those purchases as it is very special items for our diet. That really shouldn’t count in the budget. We did get everything we wanted to get there. Some protein powder and protein bars and such. Mainly for snacking. You will notice no fruit in my shopping. So finally we are off to the grocery store.

This trip I decided to shop at Pricesmart for the few items. I say a few items as I forgot to make a list and didn’t get everything. So I will be going out later today to get what I forgot yesterday. What I would like to do is pick up the same items in the same quantities at other places each week so you can see the difference. I should have bought less but its Pricesmart so everything is in bulk!  Here is what I bought and the cost. This will last me about 2 weeks. I still need to get me some eggplant, onions, fish, and dog food. Hopefully that will  happen today. May check out the dreaded Maxi Pali that just opened up yesterday. If its not too crowded.

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6500 Colones $11.73

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950 colones or $1.71

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1350 colones or $2.44

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2125 colones or $3.84

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5195 Colones or $9.38 I get these to handle my sugar drops. They are the best calories for the carbs.

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1175 colones or $2.12

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7173 colones or $12.95 this will make about 4 meals for us or more.

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5198 colones or $9.38 There are 60 eggs total. Yes I had 3 for breakfast today.

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3695 colones or $6.67 I buy this as I use mushroom in everything. i like fresh but a small tray of fresh is almost this price. They are good if you marinate them before you use them. I put them in a bowl in the fridge with garlic since I put them and garlic in almost everything I make.

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7295 colones or $13.17 in the states this would be under $10 a bit more, but really what else can you use? Never looked if there is a local brand?

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8995 colones or $16.23 Dog treats. This might last a week. Remember I have 10 dogs. 🙂 I’ve tasted them they are pretty good. 🙂 I wouldn’t eat a whole one, but I understand why my dogs love them!

 

So there are the groceries for the day. Yes you can get them cheaper other places and I will try to do that next time. I like the broccoli at pricesmart as it is precut and always looks good. Sometimes the local Ferria or Grocery stores have dark areas all though out so I don’t like getting it there. Ok now for the budget update.

day 3

Doesn’t look good for me. Still have electric, pool service, and community fees to pay. We are eating out again today for lunch. Again local place so cross your fingers.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

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Cost of living day 2

Well didn’t get as much done today as I would have liked to. We didn’t really go grocery shopping at all. I got distracted by a mall our nutritionist send us to for food. Well that was a bust. It was just a food court and I didn’t see anything I wanted to eat. So we decided to go somewhere else. We finally ended at the Hard Rock Cafe. Boy was that a mistake on many levels. I will be writing a review and you really need to read it! You will be shocked by the information I have found out about their food!!!!!!!! You won’t believe it! Back to the budget.

So did go and get diet food and paid some monthly expenses. So here is the chart.

Day 2

Oh my as you can see I have went though 1/2 my budget by day two. Now if you take out the diet food my balance would be $1239 left. As you can also see I pay a good bit for Internet. Most people only pay a fraction of this. If you read this please post what you pay for internet in the comments section. Say what your location is, how much bandwith, which company please.

Looking at this I may not make it. I still have Electric and Community fees to pay as well as pool service as my monthly expenses. So cross your fingers! What is the lesson we learned? Don’t eat at the Hard Rock Cafe as it will Cost you big time! Granted not as expensive as some places but still up there for a meal for two. Again see my review it will detail everything.

Pura Vida.

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Cost of Living Day 1

Hello all. Day one of my 3 day Cost of living was pretty uneventful. We really didn’t go anywhere kind of stayed at home and watched TV and had some pool time. It was a really beautiful day out today. So nothing really spent today as we ate what we had in the house. Manly diet food and veggies. My breakfast was a diet drink, 2nd breakfast was diet pancake mix, Denise was diet drink, our lunch was grilled veggies and a diet drink. Her dinner was steamed broccoli and 8oz of chicken cooked with a little EVOO , salt and pepper. Mine was 2 cups of veggies sauteed in I can’t believe its not butter and garlic and I had a chocolate protein drink.

Today we maybe spent on Breakfast, lunch and dinner:

Veggies $3

Diet food (very expensive) $45

Misc food consumed about another (chicken and protein drink) $2

So total without diet food $5 for the day. AS we mostly drink water. So no cost here. $45 for the diet food. So total for today is $50.

Well see you tomorrow. Tomorrow we go out for our weigh in and grocery shopping and such. So I will update you on how that goes at the end of the day.

Pura Vida!

 

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5 Top things Costa Rican Restaurants need to know

no inconsistency

In the wake of last night dinner and a friend making the suggestion to create a post about the top things Restaurants in Costa Rica need to know that they are doing wrong!

  1. INCONSISTENCY!!!!!! Yes please just say no! This if you listen to nothing else I say can save your Restaurant. Everything you serve should come out the same every time. If you salad calls for cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Make sure that is what it has on it every time. How do you combat this? Keep a recipe for every item listed on you menu. Say what you do and do what you say! Keep things measured. If one day your plate has 6oz of beef on it and the next there is only 4oz you will lose a customer or two or more when they talk to their friends or write a blog seen by hundreds  of people a day all over the world!  For the love of all that is the Food Gods if you have it on your menu be sure you have it at every service! Telling a customer you are out is bad! Yes it happens sometimes, but it shouldn’t always happen. Offer a discount on another option. They will lover you for it!
  2. Service believe it or not can actually make your restaurant a success even if you just have ok food and prices. A great wait staff that knows what they are doing, is attentive, knows when to play with the customer and when to leave them alone is golden! A glass should never go empty unless the customer says so. There should never be a dirty dish on the table. You should not have to ask for salt, pepper, napkins, or for gods sake silverware. You are in the service industry and you need to stand out above the rest! If a customer asks a question about a menu item you server should not have to run and go check for you. They should know the menu in and out.
  3. Price for Quality is again a big point and one of the hardest points for a restaurant to control. You are not going to pull the wool over a customers eyes buy charging more and serving less. I like most, but not all customers are willing to pay a little more if #1 and #2 are there and the quality of the food being served is there as well. In Costa Rica local fruits and veggies are the cheapest anywhere. You should be shopping and looking for those bargains. If you are selling a $12 salad it better be one amazing salad! If your steak dinner is $30 you better have over 8oz of meat and it better be tender and juicy. Don’t be greedy. Higher prices will kill your business. Restaurants thrive on repeat business not the one timers. If your price for the quality is way too high that is all you are going to get is one timers.
  4. Presentation of the food is the cherry on top of the Sunday. If what you are serving looks like you just slopped it on a plate it tells the customer you really don’t care. If you don’t care whey should they care to come back. I’m not talking big and fancy and swirls and stacks that like like you created a master piece, but something presentable. It should be neat and organized on the plate. There should be room and space for people to cut their food without it falling off the plate. This doesn’t mean give them less. See #3 it means get new plates! If it doesn’t look appetizing it may not be appetizing!
  5. Cleanliness is that which binds all these things together and makes you THE RESTAURANT to go to.  The tables should be neat and in order and bused. See #2. Utensils, floors, counters, etc should be clean. Here is a big tip! Bathrooms need to be clean, orderly and functional! Nothing will turn off a customer faster and have them not return than a bathroom that is disgusting. If that is  how you keep the bathroom, the customer is going to wonder how do you keep your kitchen! I have been to places where there is no running water to wash your hands, no toilet seats, no paper towels.

So in summary Good food, good service, good prices, good presentation, and a clean place will keep your customers coming back time and time again. They will also tell their friends who will tell theirs. People will blog your praises to hundreds of views a day all over the world! So please restaurant owners of Costa Rica heed my words and take care. You never know who is there and what reach they have to either praise you or bury you in the sand!

Want to turn your restaurant around? Email  me at info@bestofcostarica.net I would be happy to come in and evaluate (not review) your place and help you to make it the best place in town!

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

 

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Costa Rica Expensive? What? Part I 1/2 (Video)

So while I was out gathering up prices for my Part 2 I took some video. We went to he Friday Faria in the center of Atenas. It is always nice to get out and support the local community. You can shop, eat, meet people and just have a nice time. So I hope you will enjoy this offering until my Part II is completed. I want to be sure to bring you all the correct pricing and information that I can. So grab your favorite drink, be it coffee, tea, or something with a little kick, watch and enjoy the video is about 12 minutes long, but worth the watch. I want to thank Eunice for coming a long and helping me with this video. She was a dream and a pleasure and showed me many things! Enjoy!

Pura Vida!

 

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12% Return! Banking in Costa Rica by Mr. Asdrúbal Zamora of COOPENAE

Coopenae logo

The banking culture in C.R.

Costa Rica has a very particular banking culture. A couple of weeks ago, an expat related a story to me about her relative in the U.S. who was dissatisfied with his bank there. He had to wait for service, felt that he was being ignored, so he closed his accounts and withdrew from the bank. In Costa Rica, if you expect immediate service you will be disappointed.

The financial system in C. R. is small, just $ 40.639 US Million $ (Jan. 2014), however it is very stable. You can get all kinds of financial services and first order banking, including excellent access to internet banking, however, you must arm yourself with a little patience and prepare to wait an average of fifteen minutes in line at the bank. Lines can be long and service slow, especially in the national banks.

How secure is to invest in C.R.

The vast majority of financial institutions in C.R. are regulated by the government through the Sugef (Superintendent of Financial Institutions ) which issues a monthly rating on major financial indicators for each bank. It’s a pretty demanding state agency whose guidelines are obligatory for all institutions within the financial system. There are also several financial institutions which are not regulated, due to their small size.

In terms of financial and bank auditing, some banks are turning to local audit companies.  Others, particularly some of the larger banks, use international auditing firms especially highly recognized worldwide such as Deloitte, Peat Marwick and Price Waterhouse. Coopenae is audited by Peat Marwick. These three audit firms are supported by Sugef to audit local financial institutions in C.R.

The C.R. financial system

The financial system consists of 51 financial institutions regulated by Sugef (Jan. 2014).  Of these, there are 4 state banks, 9 private banks, 2 mutuals, some financial companies, and several credit unions. The majority of the 51 are small credit unions.  In the past, there were more private banks, however in the last two decades, some have merged, leaving us with the present 9.  The largest by assets is BAC San José and the third is Banco Davivienda, both from Colombian capital.  The second is Scotiabank and the fourth, my bank, Coopenae,  a credit union, the largest and strongest in C.R., which is internationally audited, with an outstanding financial performance and 100 % “Tica”.

Coopenae has been in the local financial market for more than 47 years and currently is the 4th largest credit union in Latin America.  Our credit default rate for loans paid late (more than 90 days) has been under 1% for the last decade, it is currently well rated by Fitch Ratings and, as of March 2014, has more than 90.000 members, including expats investors from all over the country.

How to access C.R. banking system

Keep in mind that to perform banking transactions in C.R. (opening accounts, investments, internet banking, etc.) a “cédula” or residency card is required. The residency card is a permit to reside in the country (not as a tourist) but permanently while the document is in force. If you do not have yours, I suggest you start the process to get legal residency so you can open a bank account in Costa Rica.

The foregoing information has been provided by Mr. Asdrúbal Zamora of COOPENAE. He is in charge of investments and routinely helps foreign investors in Costa Rica with earning sound profits from their investment money.  He can be reached at azamora@coopenae.fi.cr

Current CD Rates at COOPENAE:

cd rates

A question was asked that I felt would be good to add tot his posting.

 If you have a corporation could you open an account with that cedula.

As we are a credit union we cannot deal with corporations, only nonprofit corporations. Also, we don´t manage checking accounts, only savings accounts.

Regards, Asdrúbal

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Great Costa Rica Salad War of 2014

So it seems an innocent post on Facebook has erupted like Mount Saint Hellens! Here is the post I made in the Facebook group.

So anyone know if the under new management Bar Rill is actually doing a salad bar like I have been told and have yet to see?”

Who knew what this one little comment would grow into. It was fierce and it was bloody. People blocked people and just was not pretty. Now the issue is Bar Rill a nice enough restaurant has been taken over by new management. One day while sitting at Greggos a bar we go to for dinner once a week, a friend says, “So hey you know Bar Rill is got a new owner and he is going to be doing a salad bar?” He knows we are on a diet and need to eat lots of veggies so this would be great! I love a good salad bar and have not found on here in Costa Rica that is good. Pizza hut had one but it was small, you got one trip  and it cost like $10! STOP THE INSANITY! I digress. So I say cool when do they start? He tells me on Wednesday. So my wife and another couple go to check this out. Well the one couple that joined us the wife is a vegetarian, so she too is excited about his Salad bar. The best part is all you can eat for $6. Amazing. I’m so juiced and so ready for this. We get there and we notice no salad bar. OK lets check it out we are here and see what its all about. So we talk to the owner and he wasn’t ready. Tells us they will have it next week. It just so happens we go on a cruise next week so hopefully it will be up and running and ready to go by the time we come back from our cruise.

We get in on a Saturday from a long flight and airline food. So we are hungry and ready for a great salad bar in Atenas. We go to the restaurant and Nope no salad bar! Really? I had my heart set on a nice, personally made, full of goodness salad bar. So we turn around and head out. The owner comes up and asks us to come back in. I explain we were looking for the salad bar and would be back when it is up and running. His reason was the cook was out sick today. Not sure that is a good reason. Salad bars are the easiest thing to do when you cook is out sick. I still today have not heard of a salad bar being set up. Which is why I asked the question I did in the Facebook group. So now you are all caught up on what prompted me to start the Great Costa Rica Salad War of 2014.

Now the war itself was pretty funny really, but people take their food and salad very seriously. Another shop owner who does a wonderful Sunday Brunch with all kinds of food on it says,”as a matter or fact I may try to add to Sunday brunch” and this is when it started to get stupid and crazy. Here are some of the comments that were said after this message. 

There are a lot of bad food choices at salad bars”

Wow really bad choices? Like what carrots? Broccoli? Nice green veggies? Yes I will agree dressing does make your health salad unhealthy. Use a nice vinaigrette or just some oil and vinegar. Or just a splash of lemon or and or lime juice. bad food choices? Really? 

A “salad bar” in the tropics ….??? Poor restaurant owners … they will lose colones big time.”

Really? With the proper equipment and the proper management of the items its not that hard! A nice cooling table with lids and you are going to be just fine. Which is the equipment that Bar Rill happens to have! Becasue no tropical place has a salad bar! 

So at this point the owner who does the Sunday brunch, keep in mind the above are just highlight of what was said. There were many, many more messages. These were just the ones I found to be the most outrageous. So back to it. He asks if there is an interest in adding (not replacing), but adding a salad items to the bar. Here is what happen and you will just chuckle yourself to death on this one.

 I vote no. It’s not feasible from a restaurant owner’s view I think. And, when I go for Sunday brunch, the last thing I would want to order is salad because I am there for eggs, bacon, hash browns, a bit of fruit, toast. I want breakfast. How much can one person eat at one meal? Salad is for later”

Ok so has this person ever been to Brunch in their life? Really? “Br(reakfast((l)unch) combined. What do a lot of people have for lunch? Oh by the Gods Salad! Say it isn’t so! Who is anyone to say what is feasible or not for a restaurant owner. That is really up to them not us to say. He is only adding it to the bar. Not replacing items or making it some big production. They already do a huge veggie omelet when they have the omelet station so no big deal. This is the part I really love when we started talking about items. This was said.

this is Costa Rica, I want to eat Costa Rican foods”

Ok so no items that anyone listed on the “Brunch” Bar are Costa Rican Fair! Not even the eggs Benedict when they have it! You want to see some Costa Rica items for Breakfast here are some you will love and I think should be added to a “Brunch” Bar. 🙂

tico french toast

Tico French Toast Stuffed with all kinds of fruit!

tico eggs benedict

Tico Eggs Benedict

Now that is come Costa Rican “Brunch items” Love love love to have me some of these! I digress again. Food gets me so distracted.

So this thread goes on for day and over 120 comments being posted. It did finally end and there was much blood shed. Here is the real reason I am writing this blog. A salad is a special thing. You can’t just slap some lettuce down on a plate and put a little cucumbers and some tomatoes on it and call it a salad. This is an example of what is not a salad!!!!

Salad

This is what is served at most Restaurants here in Costa Rica as both a side salad (maybe you can get away with it as a side salad), but not as your dinner salad and defiantly not as your entree salad!

You should have some good items in to make it a salad. If it is your starter than just a nice verde (green) salad is good. You can put just about any veggie in it and the more the merrier!!!!!! I’m not talking quantity. I’m speaking of variety is what makes a good salad. 1, 2 or 3 items does not a salad make. An ok salad have 4 or 5 different items and a great salad will have 10 or more!!!!!! Again not in large quantities of each item, but enough that you see you have a good variety. Now if it is your main entree you add some protein to it. Again one or two ounces does not an entree make. You should add a min of 4 to 8 oz of protein to any salad served as an entree. Here are some examples of ok and good salads I have had in Costa Rica.

good salad 2 good salad ok salad

Now there is one place in Costa Rica that I have found a great salad. It isn’t your most traditional of salads as it isn’t a cold salad. It is a grilled veggies salad. It is called Ensalada Mixta de Vegetales al Carbón and has the following in it:
Combinación de berenjena, cebolla, chile dulce, zuchini, hongos frescos cocidos a la plancha con aceite de oliva, sal, especies y aderezo light sobre una cama de lechuga.

Now in Gringo speak those items are:

Combination of eggplant, onion, sweet pepper, zucchini, mushrooms cooked grilled with olive oil, salt, spices and light seasoning on a bed of lettuce.

Now even though it doesn’t have 10 or more items it has a very nice flavor and I get it every time we go! Where do I get this you might ask? I get it here!

http://www.restaurantelosantojitos.com/home.htm

It is well worth a visit! No doubt!!!!!

Here is what the salad looks like:

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Now that is a good salad.

So that is my story of the Great Costa Rican Salad war of 2014. I hope you have enjoyed it and you have learned a little something about salads today. I just want to say to all my wonder Costa Rican Restaurants out there please I am begging you please make a good salad!

Pura Vida!

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Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Rants, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pizza! Pizza!

Home made pizza by me!

Home made pizza by me!

Doesn’t this pizza look so good! Its round and gooey and cheezy and has a little tickness to the crust. This is a picture of a pizza I made myself. I use to own my own Pizza and Sub shop. We had the best pizza in the area. Its not just me saying it I was told that by customers and even other pizza shop owners. This one I made here in Costa Rica. The cheezy goodness and the sauce and the pepperoni was just a blend and a wonderful explosion of flavor in your mouth. The crust was so nice and hand tossed with just the right thickness and herbs added in. The smell while it was cooking was amazing.

So is your mouth watering and do you wan to put a piece of pie in your pie hole yet? I’m know you do. You want to run out right now and go get a pizza like this one. Well guess what, YOU ARE NOT GOING  TO FIND ONE LIKE THIS IN COSTA RICA!!!!! Nope you won’t. What you will find is what my wife and I like to call cheese and cracker type of pizza. No don’t get me wrong in the right mood I can eat a true Italian style crust pizza, but that is a very rare mood and it better have some good cheese, sauce and toppings.

Now there are 3 important things that make a really good pizza. The 1st is the crust. It has to be light an airy and have a little substance to it. It can’t be too dense or too airy. Doesn’t have to be 3 inches thick either. Again some people like that and that is ok and I prefer a thicker crust over a thin one. The crust should have some flavor to it and not be just dough. There should be some herbs and spices mixed in with the crust. It should be hand tossed and slapped out like a pizza was meant to be. This helps with the rising of the crust in the oven. It allows some air to get into the dough.  When you cook the crust you don’t want to over cook it. A nice brown crunchy bottom and sides with a soft, but not raw texture inside.

The 2nd items is the sauce. It has to be a very good red sauce! Don’t give me none of that white pizza crap or the oil and garlic sauce crust! Yea ok it can taste good, but that isn’t a really good pizza sauce for a really good pizza. You can’t put too much on the pizza. if you over sauce it the dough won’t cook properly and if  you under sauce it what is the damn point of putting sauce on it? You have to put a light coating of sauce on the pizza but not too light. Nice even coating. You want to think about a night breeze that is just cold enough for you to put on a light covering and not a huge winter jacket!!!!!!!!!!  If you put the sauce on too heavy you crust won’t cook and can even be raw. Raw dough is not good at all! The sauce is where most of your flavor comes from.

The 3rd item is the cheese. You have to have good cheese. It should be a mozzarella and provolone blend. Don’t go buying that crap in the market ok. Go to a good store and buy some good cheese. Not shredded you want the kind that are in the shape of a ball. The shredded sits on top of the pizza like bamboo shoots  a crossed its surface. It just doesn’t give it a good texture. The ball shape cheese melts very nicely and evenly over the entire pizza.

Now toppings are unimportant to a good pizza. They are just toppings people. Those 3 things are really all you need to make a good pizza. Now toppings do lend to make up for a fault in one of the three things above, but if any two of the three are bad you might as well be french kissing your dog! Its going to be about the same experience. People they are called toppings for a reason! They go on top of the pizza! Not burried on the bottom of the cheese or even worse the sauce!!! So put those things where they belong!!!!

Here are some example of what you will find and get here in costa Rica.

Riu palace pizza Bella Vita 995045_10200243694280279_1829861480_n

As you can tell from these pictures cheese and cracker. That is all you are going to get. Not that much cheese either and if you look the one even has the TOPPINGS under the cheese. Not good people not good! Now for what it is worth if  you want a pizza these will do in a pinch. There is only one place I recomend here in Atenas for this type of pizza an that is Alida’s.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1177889-d1775006-Reviews-Ristorante_Pizzeria_el_Paraiso_de_Alida-Atenas_Province_of_Alajuela.html

They have a good pizza, but it is a little expensive, but when you want a good pizza mind you cheese and cracker, Oh I mean traditional Italian pizza this is the best place to go. My wife likes to get their 4 cheese pizza as it has a little kick to it. Me I don’t get it at all really and only because their other food is so good! So she gets pizza and I get good Italian food! Works out well.

I give Alida’s pizza 3 seashell1out of 5 as their sauce is pretty good! They are a bit pricey I think their pizza is like $18. It is worth it if you are craving a pizza and are ok with the cracker crust. I gave them 3 because of their other food options are so good! If I had reviewed them as a hole they would have gotten 4 out of 5. Oh wait I just did! 🙂

Now mind you that isn’t the most expensive pizza either. There are some places that charge upwards of $25 for a 14 inch cheese pizza. Insanity!!!! I won’t go to those places to have pizza.

Now a really good pizza in Atenas is at Pizza Rica! Their crust is thicker than any crust I have seen in Atenas. Now you have your pizza hut and your papa johns pizza here, but I really don’t like those chains. Their crust is the traditional hand toss with a good thickness to it, but I just don’t like their sauce or their cheeses and their crust while thick has no flavor other than flour. Pizza Rica on the other hand has a very good pizza. No doubt and it is reasonable priced.  Her is a link to them.

http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g1177889-d2615210-Reviews-Pizza_Rica-Atenas_Province_of_Alajuela.html

As you can see from the reviews very good! I would not doubt suggest you go visit them and have a taste of their pizza as you won’t regret it.

I will give Pizaa Rica 4 seashell1out of 5! No doubt the best in town. Still not perfect but it will do what you need when you crave a pizza.

 

Now sad to say though I only give Costa Rica 1 seashell1out of 5 as I have tried so, so many places and only these two stand out! I’m sorry Costa Rica, but you need to get people to make a better pizza!

Pura Vida!

 

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moo…Moo…Slaughter…Grill….Eat!

food5So today’s blog is going to be about meat in Costa Rica. So if you are vegetarian or by the Gods a Vegan! Do no read this blog post. Really don’t read it. See now there you go reading this blog and I told you not to. Don’t yell at me, I did warn you!

When we came to Costa Rica in 2012 one of my major disappointments was the Steak here.  It was tough, it was dry, and they refused to cook it medium raw. There is nothing like a nice juicy piece of medium raw (yes raw not rare) piece of steak. The taste of the flavor and the blood. Sometimes, but not always I just want you to cut the meat from the bone, show it to the grill and slap it on my plate! If it can still moo when I stab my knife into it than that is a good steak. 🙂 Steak Tartare is one of the best ways to eat steak! You don’t even have to show it to the grill in this case. 🙂 Rare steak meat and I really love it when they place a raw egg on top of it. Yummy!

rawsteak2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now you know how I like my steaks and lets go over my issue with the steaks here in Costa Rica. One of the major issues is that they do not age their beef. They cut it from the cow and slap it in the cooler and sell it. You have to age the meat in order for it to have that tender texture us hard core meat lovers want. A steak at minimum has to age for 14 days. Longer is better, but 24 days “wet aged” is the best, the juiciest and the most tender of meats!

Now you are saying what is “wet aged”? Wet aging is the process of placing the meat in a vacuum sealed bag so that it retains its moisture. The moisture accumulates and the amount depends on the length of aging, there seems to be little to no weight loss unlike dry aging which can have other issues like mold on the meat and more waste.

The next major issue is the butcher the meat. When I say butcher I am not talking about the art of cutting the meat from the carcass. They “BUTCHER” it. They just cut it any old way they happen to fell at the moment. When it is sitting in the display case it looks horrible. It is so thin. They really don’t have any thickness to it at all. Depending on what you are doing with the steak it need to have some depth to it. Not a lot. If you are going to grill or pan fry it then it needs to be a minimum of  1/2 inch thick. Now if you are going to sear it and finish it in the oven than you need min of 1 1/2 inches to have a nice steak.

How it is cut from the cow and the various parts are very important as each one has a different flavor and texture and needs to be treated differently. Now there are some parts of the cow I just won’t eat. Like the cheek, tongue and tail. I have tried it, and just don’t like it.

This brings us to our 3rd issue of how they cook it. They seem to think it must be cooked so that there isn’t a single drop of blood left in the meat or any juice for that matter. They cook it until it is black and chard. That is the best way to ruin a good piece of steak, but since most of them don’t use good pieces of steak, I guess it doesn’t matter.

So I of course at this point said to myself, “Well self I guess you won’t be eating red meat when you come to live in Costa Rica. On the bright side the chicken and fish here is amazing!”. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now that I live here I have found a number of restaurants that have good tender meat and will cook it the way you want it. You should never, ever, ever ask for a steak to be cooked more then medium and even that is pushing it. I have had a number of steaks here cooked the way I wanted it. Here are just a few examples:

steak steak2

 

Now with all that said it can be expensive to get this quality of steak eating out. A good steak meal as I have described and cost you from $15 to $100 a person depending on where you go. That is just for the entree. Than add to your bill drinks, and appetizers and doing this all the time or a couple times a week adds up in price. So how do you get good steak at home? I am so glad you asked me that question. 🙂

Uncle EarlsI found a place called Uncle Earls fine meats! This was a god send! I don’t have to go out every time I want a really tender and juicy steak any more. Sure I can if I want to, but I can have them right in my freezer ready for me to pop one in the oven or slap it on the grill. I can get one at a reasonable price!!! That is the most important part.

So a little about Uncle Earl’s. They are located at the Centro Comercial Trejos Montealegre (across from Walmart), next to Scotiabank in Escazú, Costa Rica. I know to those of you who don’t live here in Costa Rica that means nothing and you will never find it on your own. Those that do live here will know right where it is.

cutsofsteakAll their products are offering high quality meats, all grass fed, hormone free, no blood or saltwater injections. The only preservative they use is Himalayan pink salt, one of the purest of salts. They also wet age their meat a minimum of 14 days!! In 2010 Uncle Earl had a place in Coco that was also a restaurant. He than decided to focus on the meats and moved to a spot in the Mulitplaza in 2012. He needed a bigger shop and that is how he made his way to where he is now.

Now also keep in mind they do more then just steaks. 🙂 They do pork, bacon, sausage, bratwurst and all manner of other pork items. They also have lamb, and sometimes turkey and corn beef. You name it and if they don’t have I can bet you he may be able to get it for you. You never know until you ask. 🙂  This is won of the better finds in Costa Rica! I love, love, love this place. You need to go if you want some really good meat and really good prices. You may never eat meat out again! 🙂

So lets wrap this one up shall we. Costa Rica has some really bad meat and the way they handle meat, but you can find some places that will serve it the way you want and it is tender, but that is the exception to the rule. So for that I give Costa Rica 2 seashell1 out of 5 and I only gave them 2 because the chicken and fish is so wonderful here, just about everywhere we have gone. You can never go wrong ordering those two items.

Now Uncle Earl’s I give 5 seashell1out of 5. They get this for their quality and price. I love that place! Check out their facebook page for more information. https://www.facebook.com/UncleEarlsFineMeatsAndSpecialtieProducts

Pura Vida!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Flowers and plants and trees OH MY!!!!!

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Vivero Central La Garita Address: Diagonal crossing the Manolos, the Garita de Alajuela. Phone: 2433-1756 Fax: 2433-7364

So I decided that today would be the day to go to the Vivero in La Garita. I was told that on Sundays they have people there who speak English. I do speak very little Spanish and my restaurant Spanish is so much better then my garden flower Spanish, I decided Sunday would be a good day. So we get there and the place is packed! Tons of cars everywhere. Glad they have a lot of parking. After some walking around and taking pictures, I started to look for someone who spoke English.  So go up to person number one, ¿Hablas Inglés? No. Person number two ¿Hablas Inglés? No. Person number three ¿Hablas Inglés? No So at this point starting to get worried that I was told incorrect information or the one person who speaks English is out today. I than go up to person number 4. ¿Hablas Inglés. No pero Frank hace and he pointed to a gentleman waiting on a nice young lady. So I waited until they were done their conversation and said, Are you Frank? He replied, “Yes”. Score! English! So I said, “When you are done can you please help me”. Again his response was, “Yes I can, I will be 10 minutes.” So if you go on a Sunday and ask for Frank wonderful young man and he speak English.

Let me tell you this place is huge!!!!!! I can not explain how large it is. Some stuff you have to get in your car and drive to go see and pickup. There is miles and miles and miles of plants and trees and all manner of things. I found all sorts of stuff I wanted. I was trying to be a little frugal and I was concerned about space in my car so I bought a few things. I was looking to spend about $200.

Now nothing had any prices on it that I could see out in the field. The stuff inside close to the check out line did. As we were walking around and I was asking him questions, I was figuring things in my head as to what they may cost in the US. So we walked for about an hour and picked up a good bit of stuff and when we went back my wife had picked out another items as well. So he writes up everything on a little slip of paper and hands it to me to go to the check out while he gets boxes to put everything in. I look over the list and my jaw drops on the floor! Oh my god! I could not believe my eyes. I had figured in my head with US prices it should have been about $250 to $275. So as soon as I get home I jump on the internet and double check my prices. Yep I was just about right. If I would have bought these items in the states it would have cost me $265. What did I pay for this you ask? $80. Yep that is right $80. Not 80,000 colones. $80 us dollars. I am so going back and picking up so much more!!!!!

So here is a gallery of pictures of the Vivero. I hope you enjoy them. This is only but a sample of what was right in front of the place. There was so, so, so much more! Next time I think I am going to buy orange trees! Come rainy season we are thinking the part of our property we don’t use to plant a bunch of fruit trees on and I know where I am going to get those trees!

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So lets wrap this one up. Good service, huge selection, close to Atenas, and cheap!!!!!!! I give them 5 seashell1 out of 5.

OH I almost forgot here are pictures of what I got. It doesn’t look like much but it is all clumped together in the boxes. There are a good number of plants there.

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Pura Vida!

Categories: Garden, Travel | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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