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in the Jungle

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In This Issue:

1. Broken News (All the News That's Fit to Reprint): 1. The COVID-19 Shield; 2. COVID-19 Pandemonium; 3. Is UPAD a Political Crisis?; 4. GG Publishes Book on the Mystery Spheres of Costa Rica; 5. No Futbol?!

2. Economic Drumbeat (CR Business Happenings): 1. Intel Gearing Up New Microchip Production Here; 2. Fuel Prices Dropping; 3. Banana Republic Opens First Store in Central America Here.

3. Latin America Update (Major Events In Neighboring Countries): Latest Stats on COVID-19 in Latin America; 1. Argentina - Suspends Flights from the U.S., Europe and China; 2. Nicaragua - No protocol on Corona Virus; Government Lifts Printing Supplies Blockade; 3. Panama - New Border Bridge at Sixaola; Seven-Fold Increase in Children Crossing Darien Gap; 3. Perú - A Cock and Bull Story; 4. Venezuela - U.S. Offers $15 Million Reward for Maduro's Capture.

4. Rumble and Weather Talk: A Shaker in Buenas Aries

5. Feature 1: Things You Can Do in the Jungle (Like Writing a Novel)

6. ¿Que Es Eso? Department: Purple People Eater?

7. Feature 2: Forbidden Love Stories (The Legend of La Tulevieja)

8. Health Stuff: Review of COVID-19 Happenings in Costa Rica.

9. GGC Bookshelf and More: a. New Featured Book - Las Esferas - Mystery Spheres of Costa Rica; b. Books from GGC Publications; c. Golden Gringo T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs; d. Books from the Quepos-Manuel Antonio and Other Writers Groups.

10. What's-in-a-Word: a. Answer to Que Es Eso, b. Chiquilleria

11. ROMEO Corner: No review this month

Corona Corner

The Golden Gringo and the entire staff of GGC Publications (guess who that is) wish you and yours every blessing and good wish for the holidays (whatever and whenever they may be). April makes up for the lack of Costa Rica holidays in February and March with two significant events:

 

April 11 is Juan Santamaria Day, a national hero who got the best of a Philadelphia lawyer named William Walker and April 5-11 Is Semana Santa or Holy Week culminating at Easter on Sunday, April 12. Semana Santa is a traditional vacation period for Ticos (and Manuel Antonio beach will show it). Pura Vida!


Broken News
(All the News That's Fit to Reprint)

The COVID-19 Shield

 

Like many other countries that were hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, Costa Rica instituted restrictions on business and personal behavior in March as the number of people effected by the virus grew at an accelerated rate (0 to 295) in four weeks with 2 deaths. These policies were described as "raising the country's shields". The main tenets of the new policies are:

  1. The entry of all foreigners (at all seaports, airports and land borders) is prohibited; only citizens and those with a valid residency permit will be admitted. Those that still qualify will receive a health order from the Immigration Police to submit to a 14-day mandatory home-isolation.
  2. Processing of new visas will continue only for those already submitted; the acceptance of applications of new visas is suspended indefinitely. Those that began their 90-day visa before December 17 will have an extension on their visa until May 17.
  3. All public and private schools were closed on March 17 and will remain closed at least until Monday, April 13, the day after Easter.
  4. Bars, discos/clubs, casinos will all remain closed. Events at the National Stadium have been suspended indefinitely. Restaurants are required to operate at no more than 50% of Health permit capacity and failure to do so will result in a closing of the establishment for 30 business days.
  5. Added restriction on March 23: "... residents or refugees who “abandon” (leave) Costa Rica during the national emergency will lose their residency status. This measure applies to all residents of all nationalities, though many feel it is aimed at the large Nicaraguan population in Costa Rica who may leave the country for lack of employment or during the Semana Santa, a major travel period for Nicaraguans to visit their families in the homeland. Under the previous regulation, residents who left the country would be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

COVID-19 Pandemonium

 

Throughout March, as described above, the screws kept tightening down as a result of the coronavirus formally known as COVID-19.

 

Checkout at a Pricesmart in San José
Get It While You Can

The Costa Rican experience with the Pandemic has been slower than many other countries. Right up until early March 5 there had been no reported or confirmed cases here. The induction period began with the first confirmed case on March 6 and by March 18 that had risen to 69 with the first fatal casualty also announced at that time. By March 30 the confirmed count had risen to XXX.

 

Over a period of about three weeks, public government directive after directive ordered the closing down of clubs, bars, casinos, schools, sporting and other public events, national parks, restriction of restaurant seating to 50% of capacity and finally closing the borders to entry of anyone except Costa Rican citizens and official residents (like GG).

 

The government also suspended action on new visa applications and brought into question whether or not 90-day renewals will be processed. Is the day of the perpetual tourist over, asked one electronic newspaper?

 

Essentially the world here, like in many places around the globe, reverted to a state-regulated and self-induced home quarantine with the occasional foray to the supermarket or other still-open store for a critical need. The nervousness of it all tends to induce a run on those markets as can be seen in the photos to the left (the one on bottom with the nearly empty shelves is the same market as the checkout photo above it). Like in many countries, the penchant for stocking up great amounts of toilet paper goes unexplained.

 

Is UPAD a Political Crisis?

 

Morales Resigning at Casa Presidential

The short and easy answer to that question is yes.

 

Last month the Chronicles reported on the UPAD controversy that Carlos Alvarado, our President of the Republic, less than two years into his term. Since then the wheels of jurisprudence have been grinding rapidly. A later announcement (March 5) was that Alvarado's Minister of the Presidency (Chief of Staff), Victor Morales resigned, the sixth senior administration person to do so since UPAD was exposed.

 

Morales stated: “On my part there was an omission of a leisurely and quiet reading (of the decree forming UPAD). If I had done so, we would not be in the discussion we are in, because I would have advised on the possible interpretations.” Sounds like Victor tried to take the hit for his boss.

 

As if that wasn't enough, the public prosecutor's office, only a day after the disclosure of the UPAD system, raided Casa Presidential (the Costa Rican equivalent of the White House) and nine other locations, seizing evidence and confiscating the President's cell phone and computer. No need for FISA here amigos.

 

Legal pundits pointed out that Alvarado and his people could be open to charges of "prevarication" which is punishable of up to six years in prison. Prez Alvarado replaced his Chief of Staff with Señor Rodolfo Mendez, an 82 year old who is currently head of MOPT, the Ministerio de Obras Publico and Transportes (The Ministry of Public Works and Transportation). Mendez has been in national government jobs a long time, from 1990 to the present.

 

Much more to be revealed.

 

GG Publishes New Book on the Mystery Spheres of Costa Rica

 

When you write your own newsletter you get to toot your own horn (yuk.yuk).

 

It took a couple of years of research and writing and spirited discussion with Amazon on organization specifics, but GG was finally able to publish his latest book entitled "Las Esferas, Mystery Spheres of Costa Rica".

 

If you've not encountered these sometimes nearly perfect stone spheres (the one I have my hand on in the photo left is more circular than it looks because I distorted the photo to get it into the narrative) made out of prehistoric stone, and obviously fashioned by some kind of intelligence, you're in for an interesting story. The first one was found by a company that was a forerunner of Chiquita Banana when they turned over some farmland for a new plantation back in the 1930's. Over 300 more have been found since then.

 

By the way there are several of these spheres in Quepos and Manuel Antonio like the ones mounted at the Malecón (photo), the bay walk in downtown Quepos.

 

To learn more about the spheres book go to the GGC Bookshelf below.

 

No Futbol?!

 

On Friday night, March 13, GG wandered down to La Futsal (our neighborhood indoor futbol arena) to enjoy watching the young lads and ladies kicking la pelota around only to find out the building was locked up and dark. The seven o'clock game on Friday night is often the best game of the week; maybe it's because they're working off the workweek's aggravations. When I went down again on Saturday I found the same thing and, after asking around, I learned all futbol games there had been suspended until further notice because of the COVID-19 scare.

 

OK, that's enough, when that damn virus interferes with futbol it's time to eradicate it (the virus, that is)!

 

Craft Beer to be Delivered

 

One of the restrictions noted above was that bars throughout Costa Rica have been indefinitely closed. The Association of Craft Brewers of Costa Rica (Asociación de Cerveceros Artesanales de Costa Rica) got together and are offering the delivery of their beers to the home in an area ranging from the GAM (think Central Valley) west to the Guanacaste area.

 

The only requirement is a minimum of six beers to an order. The complete list of craft brewers is available at acacr.net under the blog section (http://acacr.net/acacr-co19/). In this way these entrepreneurs hope to take the sting out of self-quarantine. I wonder if the peanuts and pretzels are complimentary?

 

¡Pura Vida!

 

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Economic Drumbeat
(Costa Rica Business Happenings)

Intel Gearing Up New Microchip Production Here

 

Back in 2016 Intel, the microchip company, who at that time had reached about 110,000 employees worldwide, announced a 10% across the board staff reduction. That was followed by hundreds of cuts in tech administrators. In Costa Rica, where they employed as many as 2,800 some 200 of these were cut and the manufacturing part of their facility was closed.

 

Now, as the company rebalanced its business, it recently announced the start of a new production line for microchips here and an expanded testing capability at it's campus in Heredia. The new process started in April and will be up to full production capacity by August. No additions to staff were announced at this time.

 

Fuel Prices Dropping

 

Citing weaker demand for fuel caused by a drop off of business particularly in China due the Corona Virus (see the Health Section below for an update on the virus here), the Costa Rican regulatory authority (ARESEP) dropped prices on fuel in early March. The drop was 39 colones/liter for super gasoline, 40 for regular gas and 63 for diesel. If you do the arithmetic that averages about 25 cents per gallon for super and regular and about 42 cents per gallon for diesel. The reduced rate for regular is now ¢583/liter or about $3.85/gallon (a quick check at that time of regular gas prices in Florida produced $2.15).

 

Pura Vida! or maybe, considering those still high gas prices above, it should be Poorer Vida!

 

Banana Republic Opens First Central American Store

 

And they're doing so on Avenida Escazu in the barrio of the same name on the outskirts of San José. (Good place for this store, in an area sometimes referred to as the American Ghetto). GG guesses that he's been out of the business world too long as I didn't know that Banana Republic was a brand and division of GAP, Inc. along with Old Navy, Gap, Athleta, Intermix, and Hill City brands (for a total of almost 3,200 stores).

 

Can't think of a brand name that relates quite as well as this one does to this region of the world (although, in some quarters the term might be considered pejorative).

 

¡Pura Vida!

 

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Latin America Updates
(Major Events In Neighboring Countries)

COVID-19 Stats for Latin America

 

As of mid-March the stats for infection growth in the coronavirus in Latin America were as shown in the table to the right.

 

The results by country as of March 15are shown in the table to the left. The largest number of cases were in Brazil which of course is also the most populous country in Latin America at 209 million people. Only three deaths had been reported in Latin America as of that date; 2 in Argentina (population 44.3 million) and one in Panama (4.1 million). Panama is one of the smaller Latin American countries, like Costa Rica (5.0 million currently counting 69 cases, 1 death).

 

The stats were sure to swell in the weeks coming after March 15 and, of course, they did. The table to the right gives the status as of March 31 for the same countries. The virus is off and running and maturing in Latin America just as it has in many other countries. We may be running 4-6 weeks in our curve behind the U.S. and Europe but we're working on catching up.

 

If you're interested in following these depressing stats by country I've found the following source of information very good: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/.

 

Other happenings in Latin American Countries:

 

Argentina

 

Most of the Latin American countries recently fell in line with the rest of the world and began taking precautionary measures to control the COVID-19 virus. Argentina, around the 12th of March, announced the suspension of scheduled international flights from the areas most affected by the virus for 30 days. Of particular concern is the very long term relationship, both pleasure and business, that Argentina has enjoyed with Italy.

 

Unfortunately, Argentina was also the first of the Latin American countries to record and announce a death from COVID-19, a statistic which has now risen to 19 for them.

 

Colombia

 

Normal Bogotá (above) and
Quarantined Bogotá (below)

President Ivan Duque, like many of the surrounding Latino countries, closed their land, sea and air borders to international travelers on March 17 for at least 30 days . Detection of the COVID-19 disease results in a quarantine health order that is checked up on and enforced.

 

The capital city of Bogotá, home to 7.4 million residents also has, like other sister cities in Latin America, turned into a virtual ghost town (see photos right).

 

At the time these new regulations were put in place Colombia had designated 108 confirmed cases and no deaths.

 

Nicaragua

 

No Protocol on coronavirus. The Nicaraguan government has

given notice through the press that they will not institute a protocol for coronavirus nor will they quarantine entering visitors even if they are coming from high-instance countries such as China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran in the last 14 days. Those suspected of having the virus will be accepted in local health facilities for treatment. Criteria? People with fever greater than or equal to 38° C (100.4 F), cough or sore throat and in the most severe cases, respiratory distress.

 

With no reported, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nicaragua the government led by Senor Ortega and his Vice-President wife Rosario Murillo not only did not put cautionary procedures in place, such as "social distancing" or closing schools and sporting events, which were instituted by other countries, but the government: '...made a call to public employees and supporters to attend rallies this Saturday, March 14, under the motto: 'Love in times of COVID-19'.

 

The rules, however, may be about to change in Nicaragua as the country recorded it's first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 18 and by March 28 recorded four cases with one death. In a side action, the government of Costa Rica increased it's security presence all along the Nicaraguan border (some 10-15% of the population of Costa Rica are originally from Nicaragua and many cross-visit to see their families).

 

Ortega Lifts Blockade on La Prensa. A major government crackdown on the press in Nicaragua occurred after the riots of April 2018 and President Ortega severely restricted the supply of newsprint and ink to the country's most read national paper, La Prensa (and to others as well). "The paper went more than 500 days without the necessary supplies to print. To keep what they could flowing they shrunk their editions from 32 to eight pages and later used a more expensive kind of paper. They also cut staff and limited distribution."

 

In February the government released 92 tons of supplies valued at over a half million dollars. A statement from La Prensa credited the intervention of the Papal Nuncio to Nicaragua for the change in policy.

 

Panama

 

New Bridge in Sixaola Nearing Completion. Back in 2017 GG reported on a trip to Bocas del Torro, Panama on the Caribbean side of the Central American isthmus and how interesting it was crossing the border into Panama on that side of Costa Rica. Read about that HERE.

 

The New Sixaola Bridge

One of the highlights of the Sixaola trip was walking over one of the two bridges that spanned the Sixaola river. The one used for crossing by foot from Costa Rica to Panama was an old railroad bridge that had spaces between the slats so you can see the crocs swimming in the river below with a hopeful gleam in their eye.

 

The other, larger bridge was for vehicle transport. The bigger bridge fell into the river during a flood not long after our visit and this triggered the obvious need for a bridge replacement.

 

Last month the press reported that the new, modern bridge is now about 72% complete (photo - how dey figuur dat number?). No info was given on when the other 28% will be finished. The new span will be 260 meters (852 feet) long and 16.4 meters (54 feet) wide and will have walkways in both directions for peatones to cross as well as bike paths. In line with the way these things happen, the original cost estimate for the bridge of $15 million is now coming in at $25 million.

 

But how do we get up close to the crocs amigos? I'm going to miss that.

 

Seven-Fold Increase in Children Crossing the Darien Gap. On the southern end of Panama, far away from the Sixaola Bridge is the Province of Darien. It is known to be a an area of heavy jungle that sort of isolates the rest of Panama from Colombia. It is also the only place where there is a break in the Pan American Highway which runs through 18 countries for over 30,000 miles in its journey from the tip of Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and for that the area long ago earned the nickname "Darien Gap". To this day it still requires a ferry around the gap to complete a road trip from upper Panama to Colombia.

 

In recent years the Gap has also been used as a way to funnel illegal immigrants from South America along the routes where the "coyotes" and other unscrupulous people prey on them and charge them hundreds if not thousands of dollars to "guide" them to North America. A recent press report stated that, over 4,000, more than 50% of which were under six years of age, had been run through the Gap in 2019. This is more than a seven-fold increase over the 500+ counted in 2018.

 

UNICEF is in there trying to give some of these immigrants a minimum of physical needs and health care but the problem continues. The migrants are not just from South America; they are from as many as 50 different countries including India, Somalia, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Bangladesh.

 

Perú

 

This is a cock and bull story, literally. The highest court in Perú recently ruled that cock and bull fighting could retain their classifications as "cultural shows". The case was brought before the court by animal rights activists but a majority of the court could not be mustered to obtain a change in the law.

 

Quoted in the weeks prior to the ruling: "... thousands of people took to the streets of Lima in support of these popular activities, which come under an exemption in Peru’s animal protection laws. One of the banners at Friday’s rally read: “United for a passion, culture and tradition.”

 

Other countries that still permit bull fighting are: Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Spain and Portugal. Both activities are banned by law in Costa Rica but GG will wager that if you asked around in Costa Rica you could at least find a good cock fight to go to.

 

If you want to see what they do with bulls in Costa Rica go HERE.

 

Venezuela

 

Relations between the U.S. and Venezuela hit a new low in late March when the Attorney General for the Southern District of Florida, at the behest of the Trump Administration, filed charges of “narco terrorism” against Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro. They also offered a $15 million reward for information leading to the capture of Maduro. (I wonder how exactly that works - everybody knows where he is but who's going to try to grab him?)

 

Most of the western democracies long ago ceased their recognition of Maduro as president of Venezuela (review that HERE). All he has left is the recognition by his "friends" in China, Russia and Nicaragua.

 

¡Solo Bueno!

 

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Rumble and Weather Talk

(Shaky Happenings and Weather Observations On or About the Pacific Rim)

In the March Chronicle issued on February 29 I bragged about feeling no rumbles at all during the month of February.

 

So there I was on March 8 at 8:40 in the evening writing away, content on improving content on the April Chronicle, when it started. Over a period of about ten seconds, two waves of about five seconds each shook the room, the computer and anything else that could shake. It was not devastating or even injurious, just unnerving, not knowing if it would end or perhaps get worse at any second.

 

The U.S. Geological Survey put the tremor epicenter at Buenos Aries, Costa Rica about 95 km southeast of Quepos as the Macaw flies (but more like 2 1/2 hours by car). They rated it at 5.2 on the Richter. My initial guess was 6.0 and the University of Costa Rica office said it was 5.6. UCR is traditionally higher in Richter rating that the USGS - I know not why but they did agree on the depth of the epicenter at about 40 km.

 

Just another moderate jolt from the Pacific Rim (eee-haaah!).

 

¡Pura Vida!


Check Out Recent Earthquakes Around the World Posted by the U.S. Geodetic Survey: Recent Quakes

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Search the Golden Gringo Chronicles Archives for Topics That Interest You

 

You can use our Archives to search for anything that has been written in more than 260 feature articles of the Golden Gringo Chronicles plus find Broken News items and ROMEO restaurant reviews. Enter your topic or item to search in the Google Search Routine below and follow the links offered from the search results. Suggestion: Enter only a simple, precise and unique as possible keyword or

two in order to narrow the number of references retrieved:

 

Golden Gringo Chronicles - Enter Search Here

 

Readers: Our publication is open to suggestions regarding future articles and will accept pieces written by others but we reserve the right to decline anything that the editorial staff (that's GG) thinks is inappropriate for this format. Send proposals, comments, suggestions, ideas, meaningless statements and jocular observations concerning the Chronicles to GG here: gg@goldengringo.com.

 

 



Things You Can Do In The Jungle

 

Matt Ferraz

This past year GG had the pleasure of meeting a young man from Brazil named Matt Ferraz, who is 29 and an aspiring and already accomplished writer. Unlike many of us, Matt decided early in his life that he wanted to be a writer and he's already come a long way. He started with a degree in Journalism and a master's in Biography and is as comfortable in English and Spanish as he is in his native Portuguese. He now boasts eight titles on Amazon, two of which are book series. Check out his works with the links at the end of this article.

 

Matt came to one of our Quepos-Manuel Antonio writers group meetings a few months ago. He had come to Costa Rica on a scholarship, a "literary residency", explained below. He recently was asked to write an essay about this experience and the article below is that essay. GG added a couple of the images about Costa Rica to enhance the text about Costa Rica.

 


Applying for a literary residency in Costa Rica from the comfort of my home didn’t feel like a big deal. Just send some credentials, a few sample texts and an idea for a book. Having lived in Brazil all my life, I never thought of going to Central America. Still, I applied for literary residencies around the world every week, and always got rejections. This one was going to be another one for the pile, right?


Reality hit me when I got the response. A full scholarship was a big deal. And it was scary. I had to spend two months in an ecological reserve writing a novel about the endangered jaguar. It was a good opportunity to isolate from any interference from the outside world, immerse in the project and – who knows – craft a bestseller!


The plane left at one A.M., Brasilia time, and after a quick stop in Panama, I saw myself in San José. A cab took me to the local bus station. My journey was only beginning. I had to wait three hours in the station, and then it was an eight hour bus ride down to Copa Buena, where I was supposed to stay.


My first impression of San José was that it looked like my hometown, except the signs were all in Spanish. There were plenty of hospital buildings around, and the cab driver explained in English that a big chunk of the Costa Rican economy was based on Americans who traveled there to get surgery.


It was September 15, 2019, which happens to be Costa Rica Independence Day. Schools were preparing their celebrations and there were parades on the streets. I could have used those three hours to take a look around, but there were no lockers for my suitcase. Instead, I stayed at the station and tried to get some rest for the trip ahead of me.


Cerro de la Muerte

There are two major lines from San José to Copa Buena. One is the Costanera, the coastal road, and the other one goes through the Cerro de la Muerte. Traveling across a place called Mountain of Death didn’t sound appealing, but the trip was much shorter and I felt exhausted already. The Cerro de la Muerte, I was later told, got that name a long time ago, due to people who tried to cross it on foot and died on the way. The bus ride was much safer, and the roads were constantly renewed.


Having bought my ticket before all the other passengers, I got the first chair, which had a view not only to a side window but also to the windshield. And what a view it was! Mountains as I’d never seen, huge rivers flowing down the bridges, and so many shades of green it almost hurt my eyes.


Looking back, I realize how insane it was to do that trip all at once. If I could go back, I’d have a night of rest in a San José hotel before taking the bus. Still, there was something transcendental about being so tired in such a magnificent place.


It was dark when I got to Copa Buena, a small pueblo near the Panama border. The Jaguar Luna Cultural Arts Collective, where my novel was going to be written, was a fifteen minutes ride from there. I got out of the bus into a cab that took me to Jaguar Luna. The cab driver, Jorge, became one of my closest friends in Costa Rica, and always took me wherever I wanted to go.


drf
The Writer at His Lair, Complete With
Anti-Snake Boots

I was the only residing artist at that point, and was allowed to pick any cabin I wanted. I fell in love with a second-floor room with a gorgeous view of nature and a rustic desk where I could work on my book.

 

For most of the time, I only had contact with four people. The owner of the place, the one who gave me the scholarship, was an American named Huilo. Besides him, there were three Costa Ricans who worked there, taking care of the gardens and building a new theater where Huilo was hoping to have a drama fest.


Apart from the owner, nobody in Jaguar Luna spoke English, which meant I had to learn Spanish to survive. The language is close to my native Portuguese, but there was a lot to learn. Amongst the workers, my best friend was a boy of my age named Alexis, who shared meals and coffee with me, and taught most of the Spanish I learned there.


The road to the pueblo was steep, and I had to call Jorge every time I needed to go for groceries. He had a four-wheel drive jeep and took me around while sharing some good laughs. I managed to do the trip on foot only once, but had to call Jorge to take me back. My feet hurt for days after that.


Something that struck me about Copa Buena was that all buildings had only one story. Another curious thing happened when Jorge said he needed to put some gas on the car. I was expecting him to drive to a gas station, but he instead parked near a house with metal drums on the porch. The gas was passed from those drums into the car through suction, and Jorge explained that the pueblo was too small and remote to have a proper gas station.


Back at Jaguar Luna, surrounded by nature, I worked on my book every day. In the afternoons, I took a walk around to observe the wild life. The days were hot and the nights were freezing, and there were heavy rains at least twice a day.


One Can Write Anywhere Amigo

My cabin was far from the main building, where there was hot water. So, for most of the time, I took cold showers and used a dry toilet. That place was harsh to the body, but a paradise for the mind, and I was able to write three to four-thousand words a day, every day.


There was only one main interruption to that routine, when I took four days to travel to Manuel Antonio and attend a writer’s conference. They wanted me to talk about how I released my previous novels on the internet, and I thought it would be nice to see a little more of Costa Rica.


This time, I traveled through the Costanera, and arrived at Quepos, from where I took a cab to Manuel Antonio. It was near the Pacific Ocean, hot and wet. The meeting was at a restaurant called El Avion, and my hotel was across the street. For the first time in weeks, I was surrounded by people and noise, and was a bit intimidated. The meeting was a success, and in two days I was on another bus back to Copa Buena.


The Costanera runs side by side with the coast, and you can see the Pacific through most of it. The plantations of palm trees are beautiful there, if you’re not too tired to look around. I was thinking about my book and how I had to finish it before the date I should go back home.
For the next couple of weeks, I worked hard on the novel, and finished it ten days before the deadline. Ninety-thousand words of the saga of a jaguar living in the jungle, during the European colonization. I was bringing it home with me, knowing it would take a lot of work before it could be submitted to a publisher.


I took those last days to enjoy nature, to read and talk to my new friends and learn more about their culture. Costa Ricans love chicken, beans and fried plantains. They’re an amiable people, and their catchword ‘pura vida’ is an expression of cordiality you hear all around the country.


Saying goodbye to Jaguar Luna was sad, but with my book ready it was time to make that eight hour trip back to San José. This time, there was something bittersweet about it. Will I ever come back to Costa Rica?


One of my last adventures was at the bus station, the same I had been at two months prior. When the time came to collect the luggage, I couldn’t find my ticket. To prove that the case was really mine, the driver and the security guard pulled the books from it and asked me the titles and the names of the authors. That satisfied them, and soon I was taking a cab to my hotel.


Being in a room with an air conditioner, hot water and espresso machine was bliss. There I ordered my first pizza in two months, and slept like a king. Too bad I couldn’t enjoy it for long. The plane was leaving in a day, and my home was waiting for me. It felt like a long way since that afternoon in which I sent my application. In those two months, I became a new person, and wrote a new book. One I could never have written under normal circumstances.

 


 

BIO: Matt Ferraz is a Brazilian author with works published in English, Portuguese and Italian. He’s the creator of the Grandma Bertha Solving Murders series and the novel Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game, which features the meeting of Holmes and Watson with Pollyanna from the classic children’s books.

 

Newsletter: https://tinyletter.com/MattFerrazAuthor

 

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14405163.Matt_Ferraz

 

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Matt+Ferraz&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

 


 

Thanks Matt for your perspective and the interesting essay on your visit here. We're glad you took the side trip to visit us here in Quepos; come back soon amigo. Best wishes for success in everything you do!

 

¡Solo Bueno!


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¿Que es Eso? Department (¿What is That?)

 

Is this what happens when you
drop the borscht you're cooking
on the kitchen floor?

 

Or maybe its a form of algae
found off the coast of Costa Rica?

 

Jungle bacteria?

 

Answer in
What's-in-a-Word

section below.

 

 

¡Pura Vida!


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Forbidden Love Stories
(The Legend of La Tulevieja)

Note: GG extracted this story from my own, shall we say, imperfect translations of Spanish to English as well as some other bad translations done by others that I came across. The key points in the story, however, appear to be accurate to the legend.

 

Costa Rica has developed an endless variety of legends over the centuries that have motivated and sometimes frightened both children and adults.

 

La Tulevieja the Harpy

This legend is credited as being started in Central America a long time ago and evidently there is more recognition of the story in Panama, where it may have started, yet it is also well known in Costa Rica. The spelling of the name is slightly different whether you're in Panama or Costa Rica; in Panama it's known as La Tulivieja whereas in Costa Rica it's La Tulevieja.

 

In either case it's about a woman of bad reputation who is married to an old man she can't stand and she, in spite, accosts various men for sex and eventually turns into an evil spirit complete with wings and talons for feet, very much like a harpy. In the Costa Rica version she comes from Barrio Desamparados in San José (been there three times, never saw her; maybe next time).

 

La Tulevieja ("Tule" is a word for a large, floppy straw hat and "vieja" means it's an old hat). The legend starts out with an elaborate description of the hat and the fact that she was never without it, never took it off. She always wore it and it was said that she even slept in it.

 

Large, floppy hats are not unusual in Costa Rica or Panama and are routinely used for protection against the rain and the sun. They also get profusely stained from banana and coffee plants, which was the case with La Tulevieja. As her hat got older and more abused it started to look more and more like the proverbial witch's hat (photo above left and to the right).

 

This old, crumpled witch's hat that she wore added to her frightful appearance and the fact that she weathered poorly and became ugly as she got older made her a subject of derision among local children (the chiquillería - see meaning of this word in the What's-in-a-Word section below). When La Tulevieja would go to the river to gather firewood, the children would taunt her so mercilessly that she would take a stick and chase them away.

 

The legend has it that La Tulevieja, particularly in her early days, was promiscuous and one result of being such was that she gave birth to an unwanted baby which she threw into the nearby river. Following that, but much later, she became distraught and to atone for her sins she later committed suicide by jumping into the same river where she had discarded the baby.

 

Another version has it that her hat blew off one day and landed in the river and she jumped in to retrieve it and was swept away and drowned.

 

Regardless of why she ended up in the river dead, she returned as a cross between a bird (usually depicted as an eagle) and a woman who flaps around bare-breasted and scares the hell out of people, particularly children (I knew a woman who did that where I grew up). In this way there is an overlap between this legend and the one known as La LLorona.

 

A video animation of the legend is given above, left (3:52 minutes). It's in Spanish but I'm sure you'll get the gist of the story as I tried to explain it above. I'm happy that I have never seen La Tulevieja even though I've been to Desamparados a few times (she has not deigned to come to Quepos yet).

 

And she does somewhat resemble the nun I had in sixth grade.

 

¡Pura Vida!

 

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Health Stuff

Note: The information given in this section is offered as news information only and does not indicate GGC confirmation or denial of the accuracy of the treatment or a recommendation to pursue it, nor can we or do we guarantee the efficacy of the results nor validity of the conclusions proffered. (How's that for a disclaimer amigos?)

 

Costa Rica COVID-19 Update

 

lokThe March Chronicle, that was issued on February 29, reported in the Health Section to that date that there were "no reported cases of COVID-19 or Coronavirus in Costa Rica".

 

That didn't last long. By March 3 there were two suspicious cases of COVID-19 with two Costa Rican women, a mother and a daughter from Limón. Final test results on the two were negative but by March 5, just about the same time those good results were released, a new case popped up with a woman who had recently arrived as a tourist from New York. The final test result for her test was positive on March 6 and she became the first confirmed case in Costa Rica.

 

Then, within a couple of days, four more cases were confirmed. So by March 8 the total number of confirmed cases in Costa Rica reached five and we were off and running. By mid-March the number of confirmed cases had risen to 27 and the month ended with the total of confirmed cases at 330. The growth of the problem is shown in the table and graph to the right.

 

Thirteen of the 50 cases up to March 17 were in Alejuela centered around the San Rafael hospital where a doctor is believed to have unwittingly spread the virus to a number of hospital workers. The majority of all cases country-wide are still in the Central Valley (San José is our New York) which we also call the GAM or Grand Area Metropolitano.

 

One of the early and extraordinary things about the pandemic here so far was that the Province of Puntarenas where GG lives and which contains six of the top ten destinations for tourists (Corcovado, Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, Santa Teresa/Malpais, Matapalo, Nosara), had no confirmed case until March 21. The first confirmed case came on that date in San Vito (about 185km/110mi south of Quepos), yet within four days after that another case had been confirmed in Jacó (about 40 miles north) and by the 28th there were 9 in Puntarenas Province.

 

Note the graph below the table which shows the growth in confirmed cases throughout the month. The curve has actually leveled off in the last two days of the month but both mathematicians and medical personnel would caution not to read too much into that. My former differential equations prof would simply say "two points a trend do not make".

 

¡Pura Vida!

 

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Travel Quote of the Month

 

 


¡A Cachete!


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GGC Bookshelf

This month we are pleased and happy to introduce a new book by Robert A. Normand (aka GG) entitled Las Esferas, Mystery Spheres of Costa Rica. Check out the cover on the list below and click on the "Read More" button to review a synopsis of the work and to order.

 

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GGC Publications is the parent organization that publishes the Golden Gringo Chronicles as well as a number of books and paraphernalia related to the Chronicles and Costa Rica. The GGC Bookshelf also includes works from a number of other authors that belong to various writers groups based in Costa Rica including the Quepos-Manuel Antonio Writers Group.

 

Here are the books currently on our bookshelf:

 

cvb uio jio
Las Esferas - English

Mariposa - Español
Mariposa - English

The Chronicles as Narrative
Read More Leer más aquí Read More Read More
gty ikl gyh drt
Small Business Guide Making Time Count Spiritual Love Connection Murder or Suicide?
Read More Read More Read More Read More
ser kio awe fty
Getting Around the Capital Retiring in Costa Rica World War II True Story What's the Sleuth Up To?
Read More Read More Read More Read More

gty There's Room for
More on the GGC Bookshelf

Keep Writing Amigos!
 
Casa de Doloros Overcoming Alcohol    
Read More Read More    

 

All of the above books are available on Amazon.com and the "Read More" links above will lead you to them. You can find more detail on all of them on our GGC Publications Page.

 

GGC Products Store

 

GGC Publications also offers some accessories and paraphernalia related to the Chronicles and with Costa Rican themes, to wit:

 

T-Shirts:

 

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a. Golden Gringo Chronicles with Logo,

b. Official Golden Gringo with Monkey on Banana Hammock,

c. ¡Quepo en Quepos! ("I Fit In Quepos!") with Photo of Quepos,

d. Wanna Monkey Around? - Come on Down! (shown) with Photo of White Faced Monkey,

e. It's OK to be Slothful with photo of Three-Toed Sloth.

 

The t-shirts are available in several themes, colors, styles and sizes. See them all HERE.

 

Coffee Mugs:

 

a. Golden Gringo, b. Wanna Monkey Around?, c. It's OK to be Slothfulgty

See them all HERE:

What's life without a great cup of Costa Rican coffee? And it tastes even better in a Golden Gringo Chronicles mug!

 

To see ALL the products available in the Golden Gringo Store go here: GGC Store.

 

¡Solo Bueno!

 




What's-in-a-Word
"Tell me and I forget; teach me and I remember; involve me and I learn"
Benjamin Franklin

 

Answer to Que Es Eso?

 

The answer is closest to #1: Purple People-Eater. That's because this is what the Corona Virus (COVID-19) looks like under a microscope (not sure if the scope added the pretty color). Those little spikes sticking out are reportedly the thing they use to crack into healthy cells and make them unhealthy.

 

 

I hope that's the closest most of us will ever get to it.

 

Chiquilleria

 

From the legend article on La Tulevieja. This is a colloquial word that refers to a group of small children. You can see the root in the word as "chico" (boy) or "chica" (girl). The word was used in the article above about the legend of La Tulevieja to described the band of kids chasing the harpy.

 

¡Pura Vida!

 

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ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

SEE COMMENTS BELOW

 

Location:

Hours:

Parking:

Contacts:

 

Reviewing ROMEOS:

 

To Review Our Rating System Go Here: R.O.M.E.O. Rating System

 

 

For the first time in over 10 years of doing R.O.M.E.O. Reviews on restaurants in the Quepos-Manuel Antonio area, we did not do one this month.

 

That is because the government has brought the hammer down on group gatherings to include shutting clubs, bars and casinos. Similarly, restaurants of all sizes including sodas are being limited to 50% of their seating capacity. We thought it prudent not to test the system.

 

Hopefully we will be able to resume next month but we will see what happens.

 

¡Solo Bueno!

 

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Pura Vida!

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