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¿Que Es Eso?

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In This Issue:

1. Broken News (All the News That's Fit to Reprint): a. Keylor Navas Best Goalkeeper Ever?; b. Road Deaths Lowest in Seven Years; c. Crocodile Rescue; d. Somos Quepoa; e. Space Radar Now Functional.

2. Economic Drumbeat (CR Business Happenings): a. Gasoline Price Up; b. Costa Rica Forecasted for Slow Growth; c. Law Change Benefits Foreign Vessels Here.

3. Latin America Update (Major Events In Neighboring Countries): Cuba - New Leadership - No Castro; Honduras - Using Costa Rica`s Banana Bounty; Venezuela - Look Who`s Talking.

4. Rumble and Weather Talk: a. Eruptions on St. Vincent Devastate the Island; b. Deluges Cause Casualties

5. Feature 1: Profiles in Quepos - Jeff Duchesneau (Not Just Any Port in a Storm)

6. ¿Que Es Eso? Department: What am I?

7. Feature 2: Major Projects Delayed or On Hold (Development Casualties Caused by Covid)

8. Health Stuff: a. Vaccinations Proceeding With Some Confusion; b. Sad Statistics; c. Vaccine Talk; d. New Spike in Cases.

9. GGC Bookshelf and More: Books from GGC Publications, Golden Gringo T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs as Well as Suggested Books from the Quepos-Manuel Antonio Writers Group.

10. What's-in-a-Word: a. Answer to Que Es Eso; b. Definition of Syncretism.

11. ROMEO Corner: Puerto Escondido - Manuel Antonio

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wisdom of the Ages


“All things old become new again. In my youth the athletes had crew cuts and the hippies had long hair. Now the athletes have long hair and the hippies are bald.” ― Harley King

 


Holidays in May

 

After up to seven paid holidays in April due to Easter, the schedule of holidays in May in Costa Rica drops to one: Monday, May 3, Labor Day. There will be marches, there will be celebrations (all with the proper sanitary precautions we hope), there will be short vacation trips as the holiday falls on a Monday. Happy Labor Day to All!

 


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

 

Keylor Navas Best Goalkeeper Ever?

 

PSG, or Paris - Saint Germain, is a team with an incredible history of successes in the UEFA (European Futbol Association) Champions League (they don`t call it that for nothing). The current goalie for PSG is our own Costa Rican Keylor Navas, whose stellar win record is only exceeded by his spectacular goal tending at critical times.

Keylor Navas
Lionel Messi
Navas showed his skill recently in a playoff game against Barcelona that also included another legendary futbol figure, Lionel Messi. At one point Messi steamed a low shot to the left side of the net and Navas somehow reached enough of it to ricochet the ball upward which was then cleared by his fellow defenders.

The incredible save set the game and PSG and Navas advanced to the quarter finals whilst Messi and his Barcelona buddies retreated to Spain.

After-game praise for Navas was effusive. Teammate Alessandro Florenzi had no hesitation to say that he thought Navas the best goalkeeper in the world. PSG Manager Mauricio Pochettino (what are all these Italians doing on a French team?) seconded the motion: “Navas? I can’t speak about the past of the keepers here, but Keylor is one of the best in the world,” said Pochettino. “He’s important and decisive for us.”Navas is, of course, also the goalie of the Costa Rican National Team or Selection, best known as the "Sele".

The International Futbol Federation`s (FIFA) next quadrennial World Cup competition will take place in November 2022 in Qatar. I`m sure Navas will be there; the question is can Costa Rica break through their past best performance level in the world cup, go into the semi-finals or even the finals. If Navas and team do that Costa Rica will go crazy.

 

Road Deaths Lowest in Seven Years


The Pandemic took its toll during 2020 on people`s health and, in Costa Rica it claimed more than 3,000 lives. There was, however, one interesting and positive statistic here: deaths from traffic accidents dropped by 27% last year versus 2019. Authorities explain this by noting the large reduction in vehicle circulation due to rules imposed by the government, which they call "sanitary vehicle restrictions".

The number of fatalities dropped to 400 from 551 the previous year. The last year that fatalities were below 400 was 2013. The low point was April 2020 when restrictions were most severe - there were 13 deaths, down from 46 in April the previous year or a reduction of 72%. The report noted that it was in April last year that the authorities set the amount of the fine for violating the restrictions at ₡107,000 (about $177).

kloThe report also stated that much of the decline in fatalities came in the form of lower motorcycle accidents. In 2019 "192 motorcyclists and 26 companions died on site. While in 2020, the number was 109 motorcyclists (-43%) and 11 passengers (-58%)". The report also noted a significant reduction in necessary hospitalizations from road accidents but all the good news didn`t last very long. Vehicle restrictions were significantly loosened in January 2021 and the results for the first two months of this year show an increase of about 11% in traffic fatalities versus last year.

 

Crocodile Rescue

No, someone was not rescued from a crocodile; instead, in this case, the crocodile was rescued from some people.

Hi, My Name is Crocky, Wanna Play?
For hundreds of years Mesoamericans have revered lizards and crocodiles, often making them sacred in their rituals. The Chrorotegas, a derivative of Mexican tribes and the people who settled in Guanacaste Province here several hundred years ago, were such a people.

All was well until the Spanish took over control in the early 1500`s after which the rituals changed in favor of Catholic Church beliefs. The locals then began to practice a certain syncretism and the new respect for crocs took the form of a tradition and practice called Legarteado which combined crocodile reverence with the Easter holiday and Good Friday. The tradition was that stalwart younger dudes were sent out to capture a croc and it was held in a barn or other building overnight.

Traditionally the croc was released unharmed one day later. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years the practice has run afoul of the new national policy which forbids hunting of any animals unless it were done in an approved population control program. So the latest attempt at Legarteado resulted in police and environmental officials finding a pent up croc and releasing it. Looks like no more Legarteado amigos.

Somos Quepoa

Galway Ice Cream, a company founded at it`s namesake town in Ireland, recently added a store in Quepos centro and produced a video using locals who extolled the benefits of the town. It`s in Spanish but even as a gringo you get the general idea of what they think of the town. There are subtitles in Spanish to help you practice. Somos Quepoa of course means "We Are Quepos!". You can find the YouTube video here:

Galway: Somos Quepoa - Horse in Motion - YouTube

Space Radar Now Functional


Two S-band radars in Costa Rica have begun tracking objects in low Earth orbit. The intent is to track various kinds of objects and, to avoid collisions by establishing an early warning collision avoidance system.

"Space junk is a growing problem due to the steadily increasing number of objects and debris in space, which the U.S. Department of Commerce last year noted is making collisions and near misses more common. There are about “five debris events per year that are reported,” such as the near miss of two defunct spacecraft in the sky above Pittsburgh in January. In all, there are as many as 200,000 objects whizzing around the Earth, according to data analysis firm AGI. The estimate includes pieces as small as two centimeters." (kinda like a man-made asteroid belt).
Maybe the long term answer is a ray gun to push the debris towards the sun - just thinking amigos, GG.

 

The information generated by tracking is not only of interest to governments but also to companies like SpaceX and Amazon who are planning to launch thousands of satellites in the future.

A new company named LeoLabs (get it? Low Earth Orbit - LEOLabs, formed by an ambitious group of scientists and engineers in 2016, is now offering a tracking service for LEO with an automatic collision warning system. In less than a year LeoLabs constructed two S-band radars in Costa Rica (maybe we should get them to work on Route 32). These two radars now join three other worldwide sites: two in New Zealand owned by LeoLabs, one in Texas and one in Alaska by inter-company agreement between LeoLabs and two other firms.

 

As our home-grown ex-astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz, the CEO and founder of his own space based company, AdAstra said: "Costa Rica is now in the Space Business".

A-OK amigo.

¡Somos Quepoa!

.

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Economic Drumbeat
(Costa Rica Business Happenings)

Gasoline Prices Up

 

The regulatory authority (ARESEP) for establishing gasoline prices in Costa Rica is expected to increase the prices of regular gasoline (here called Plus 91) and super (here called super) right after Easter by 55 and 57 colones per litre respectively. That will put the price of Plus 91 at ₡683/liter or about $4.25 per gallon. I happened to check my old stomping grounds and found that the latest average price in Florida for regular is about $2.87 per gallon. That`s a 50% premium to run a car here.

 

UPDATE (25 April): ARESEP actually increased gas prices even more than mentioned above - regular is now closer to $4.35 per gallon.

 

Costa Rica Forecasted for Slow Grow

This time it`s the World Bank offering up economic forecasts. They recently published their semi-annual report for Latin America and the Caribbean and gave Costa Rica one of the lowest ratings in that group at 2.6%; 3.3% and 3.1% for this and the next two years, respectively.

That puts Costa Rica at the sixth lowest growth rate of 23 forecasted (graph). Contrast this with the projection of the highest growth country, Panama, at just under 10%. The report noted the sharp economic contraction caused by the Pandemic and stated that "Lower levels of learning and employment are likely to reduce future earnings, while high levels of public and private borrowing can strain the financial sector and slow the recovery." The report also noted that "Latin America and the Caribbean has the cleanest electricity generation matrix of all developing regions, mainly due to the abundance of hydroelectric energy. The region should have the cheapest electricity in the developing world, but instead has the most expensive, essentially due to inefficiencies."

I feel that one amigos, what inefficiencies?

Law Change Benefits Foreign Vessels Here

"Ley de Impulso a las Marinas Turísticas y el Desarrollo Costero” (Law for the Promotion of Tourist Marinas and Coastal Development) was recently enacted which allows foreign vessels to hire Costa Rican captains and sailors and to develop commercial activities in national waters. The law: "Authorizes foreign flag vessels and their crew to carry out commercial activities related to water transport, recreation, and tourism within the waters of the national territory. It also enables marine concessionaires and their subsidiaries to grant the concession as collateral in order to access financing".

Marina Pez Vela - Quepos - 195 Slips
Boil it down and it simply means foreign flag vessels can do tourism business which is expected to stimulate marine tourism in a market segment that caters to visitors with high purchasing power. Our own Marina Pez Vela is one of five Pacific Coast marinas (the others are Bahía Golfito, Los Sueños - Herradura, Banana Bay - north of Golfito and Papagayo in Guanacaste). Together these marinas comprise some 800 berths. Besides the economic stimulation it sounds to me like there will be even more tournaments based out of our Marina.

Fish on, amigos!

¡Pura Vida!

 

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Latin America Updates
(Major Events In Neighboring Countries)

Brazil

 

Be sure to read the piece on Venezuela below which contains some information on Brazil also.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuba

 

Fidel and Raul in Past Years
With the resignation of Raul Castro, 89 years old, Fidel`s younger brother on Monday, April 19, Cuba will have a leader who is not a Castro for the first time in over 60 years. Raul Castro succeeded Fidel when the latter resigned for health reasons in 2008 and has been running the country ever since.

Raul with Miguel Diaz-Canel
To mean that you are head of the country in Cuba means you have been elected to be First Secretary of the Communist Party and which also makes you the head of the 17 member Politburo, who completely control the country. The new First Secretary and leader is Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, the former President of Cuba.

Cuba watchers and analysts point out that the country is philosophically split between the old guard who remember the tough times before the revolution and the more recent generations who pursue more freedoms and economic innovation. Add to this the pressure from sanctions imposed by the U.S. and others and forecasting what will happen next is anybody`s guess. More to be revealed.

 

Honduras

As if the Pandemic was not enough of a problem in 2020, the Hondurans got wacked by two major hurricanes, Eta and Iota. That tells you how busy a storm season it was when the naming got into the latin titles. These two Cat 5 storms hit Honduras and destroyed nearly 40% of their banana production. So it was no big surprise recently when it was announced that Honduras had placed a large order for bananas (and plaintains) with Costa Rica, reportedly for their domestic market. The amount of the order, in both weight and value was kept confidential.

 

As background information, Costa Rica enjoyed fourth position as a banana exporter in 2019 at slightly under $1 billion behind Ecuador ($3.3 billion), the Philippines at $1.9 billion) and Colombia at $1.6 billion. Honduras in 2019 came in 12th position at $303 million.

Be careful amigo Hondurans, once you get a taste of Costa Rican bananas you`ll probably go bananas over them.

Nicaragua

Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua is located about 20 km south of Managua and about equidistant to the northwest of Granada. In late April, the area around the volcano exhibited a series of small earthquakes with the highest registered at 2.9 magnitude.

Ineter (Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales) is responsible for monitoring seismic activities in Nicaragua and has suggested the Park at the volcano be closed temporarily. They note that the walls of the crater are unstable and if slides occur they could produce "small explosions of gases, ashes and expulsion of small fragments of rocks". As usual, living on the Pacific Rim means one always proceeds with caution.

Venezuela

hju Look Who`s Talking.
jui
Nicolas Maduro


Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela took the opportunity recently to excoriate the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, in a public broadcast. Maduro accused Bolsonaro of being "insensitive and a psychopath!". He blamed the Brazilian president for the expansion of the coronavirus in Brazil including new variants he called the "Brazilian Variants" while acknowledging the same variants are now in Venezuela. (Of course the number of cases has been spiking at the same time in Venezuela for which Maduro also claims Bolsonaro is responsible)

Jair Bolsonaro
Bolsonaro kinda started the latest round of jibber-jabber insults.

During a shortage of available oxygen in certain hospitals in the States of Manaus and Amazonas in Brazil, the Venezuelan government offered and sent supplies. Despite that, Bolsonaro publicly commented about the President of Venezuela as follows: “I will make a suggestion to the people who love Maduro, that the voices reach Maduro, how about Maduro grant emergency aid to his people. Tarcísio (asked the Minister of Infrastructure), do you have a dog in Venezuela? They do not have it. It is sad to say that, but the people ate everything,” (Wooof - ed.)

Sounds to me like an old fashioned pis..ng match with an international latino flavor.

¡Solo Bueno!!

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es

Profiles in Quepos Series

Jeff Duchesneau
(Not Just Any Port in a Storm)

When GG first moved to Quepos in 2008 there were rumors that a new marina would soon be coming to our town. It would be called Marina Pez Vela (for you Spanish landlubbers out there Pez Vela = Sail Fish). Sure enough, the new marina opened in front of the area formerly known as the American Zone not too long after I arrived. At the time it was a simple dock and I had the pleasure of doing some sail fishing out of there on a couple of trips. That was Phase I of a plan structured for four phases and which is now well into it`s third phase.

Marina Pez Vela Today
I can remember seeing artist renditions of the various phases of the plan appearing in a development office downtown. It showed the construction of a first class facility and I thought it would be a good symbol to promote the great fishing waters here and indeed it has been that. But things didn`t start off with a bang as many readers will remember; 2008 was a recession year, reminiscent of the Covid experience. After I moved here that year, the site took off eventually. In the last five to ten years I became more and more impressed at how it had blossomed into a major facet of the community.

 

Jeff Duchesneau
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Jeff Duchesneau, the General Manager of Marina Pez Vela and who has played a significant role in it`s development. I quickly found an interesting parallel between us in that we are both from northeastern Massachusetts originally, he from Leominster about 50 miles east of Plum Island where I grew up. Also, we both have French sounding names, he Duchesneau (pronounced doo-shay-no) and my last name, Normand but which is very hard to mispronounce.

Professionally, Jeff worked 12 years for a company originally called Aerocasillas, based in Doral, Florida but which eventually became known as Aeropost and which was part of the Freight Forwarding Services Industry. Jeff describes it as "a very sophisticated logistics/cross border e-commerce company." During his tenure with Aeropost, "We grew to over 250,000 customers in 28 countries and islands. My job was to go in and identify the right companies to purchase or partner with in each country. I loved the challenge of quickly learning all the cultural and business nuances of each country.  It was very stimulating and kept me on my toes." 

Jeff joined the Marina about 7 years ago but his personal history in Costa Rica goes back much farther. He received his B.S. in International Business Management in 1995 from Georgetown University, winning a Rotary Scholarship to visit Costa Rica in his third year. Like many people before him and me, the claws of Costa Rica, it`s lifestyle and it`s climate dug into Jeff`s psyche. Later he was able to swing an internship at the U.S. Embassy in San José and, as he puts it, "I felt like I was living as a diplomat!"

Later on Jeff would meet and marry a Costa Rican lady and they now have formed a family of five with three little ones, two sons and a daughter aged 1-6. They live their day to day family life in Alajuela where he conducts some business out of his home office. That means he is frequently on the road to Quepos when the business demands it. His family often follows him to Quepos so, in essence, his entire family splits time between the two towns.
Marina Pez Vela at Sunset and During a Public Event
I mentioned earlier that the Marina has blossomed during the time that Jeff has been there. I remember when the first restaurant came in "Oh boy - a new restaurant in Quepos!" I shouted. But by now, and by my count, there are at least seven restaurants including two dessert and light food courts.

One of the specialty shops is Amorosi, a name that just happens to be the second family name of the Marina General Manager (Jeff Duchesneau Amorosi). Personally I rarely leave the marina after a meal without stopping at Amorosi for the best Italian gelato in the area. Amorosi, the store is located on the top level of the three story marina in the commercial plaza which also contains a number of other stores and commercial enterprises.

Direct employment at the Marina currently is 153, making it one of the top employers in the area. Jeff told me something I found very interesting. The Marina was able to maintain all its employment throughout the 2020 Covid emergency. At the same time, they introduced selective discounts for boats and yachts, particularly the smaller ones, that sustained a lot of the business through the Pandemic. Now that`s what GG calls good management.

Haul-Out Service
Another feature of the Marina is the Yacht Yard where boats can be pulled out and repaired or be subject to various kinds of maintenance. Services include skilled labor for electrical, mechanical, carpentry, paint and fiberglass repairs, welding, and technical and specialized work as well as semi-skilled labor like parts removal, cleaning, scraping, sanding, polishing and the gambit of yacht yard services.

This yard employs over 40 factory trained and third party approved specialists. To date there have been over 1,000 haul-outs of up to 125 foot yachts. This yard employs a 200 ton Marine Travelift and also forklifts up to 12.5 tons.

Fishing is important, after all it is a Marina. They had just finished the Marina Pez Vela Open fish tournament in April when I talked with Jeff. In addition to the Open, there are tournaments galore including six majors in the next eight months: the Summer Solstice Shootout (June), the Dorado Derby (November), the Dorado Derby Dos (also in November), The Pelagic Rock Star Offshore (January), the Rooster Rodeo (February - Check that one out HERE) and the Pescadora Billfish Championship (also in February). And of course, in addition to the tournaments their are also plenty of fishing party boats available at any time.

Jeff and His Mahi-Mahi
When I asked Jeff what he does for relaxation and hobbies he shot back that when he`s not with his family he loves to go fishing. So, when he gets the opportunity he`s an angler - not a strange hobby for someone who works around fishing vessels all the time. I guess he`s pretty good at it, if that photo to the right is any indication; that`s a big blue Mahi-Mahi Jeff`s holding. GG never caught a Mahi-Mahi, blue or otherwise, but Jeff tells me that fish can also turn green when it wants to (sneaky pesca).

I asked Jeff what his business philosophy is and his response was:
"You have to have a passion for what you do. Fishing is important but it`s not the only thing we do. We have more than 60 tour operators, including boat cruises, jet ski, catamaran cruises, parasail operations and others."

I asked him what his goal and objective for the Marina was. Without hesitation he responded: "To make it open to the whole community and an integral part of life here".

This observer would say that you`re doing a pretty darn good job of that amigo.
___ ___ ___

To see more Profiles in Quepos, go
HERE.



Rumble and Weather Talk

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

 

Rumble - Major Eruptions in St. Vincent

 

St. Vincent, often referred to as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is a group of some 32 islands situated near the end of the archipelago in the Caribbean that runs from Puerto Rico down to Grenada. This area is also known as the Lesser Antilles. The main island of St. Vincent has the largest volcano which is named La Soufrière.

La Soufrière has been dormant for some 40 years but decided to erupt, not once but three times on Friday, April 11 living up to it`s name (liberally translated as "Sulphur Mine") by spewing huge plumes of ash with a strong sulphur smell. Several thousand people were evacuated from the island and further eruptions are likely say the authorities. The volcano was still spewing at the end of April.


UPDATE: Most of the inhabited parts of the island have been covered in ash and silt. By 25 April the aerosol plumes from the explosions continued to travel along vast stretches in the northern hemisphere to the south-southeast. The latest satellite-based measurements of SO2 concentrations in the atmosphere show these plumes reaching as far away as India. The locals vow to rebuild but it`s going to take a lot of help from outside the island.

Here`s a CNN report
: La Soufriere.

 

Rainfall - Deluges Bring Casualties

 

Rains in April have been stronger than usual for this time of year, more like September and October. Reports were that two people died during the onslaught around the 18th of the month: one in Talamanca who apparently was swept away by a flooding river and another in Garabito de Puntarenas when a boat capsized and knocked the man overboard unconscious.


¡Pura Vida!


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

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Major Projects Delayed or On Hold
(Developmental Casualties Caused by Covid)

The Pandemic in Costa Rica has caused significant problems for the population; nearly a quarter of a million cases nationwide (equal to about 5% of the total population of 5.1 million people) as well as attributed deaths totaling over 3,000. One has to add to that a considerable slowdown in the economy. Part of that slowdown includes the delaying of major developmental projects that are expected to fuel growth and make Cosa Rica an important commercial and industrial player in Central and Latin America. There are four large developmental projects in particular that are suffering the strain of financial insecurity caused by the Pandemic.

Let`s look at these one at a time:

New Airport at Orotina

The two international airports (Juan Santamaria in Alajuela and Daniel Oduber Quirós near Liberia) have both done an exemplary job in growing their facilities to accommodate increased passengers in the last few years. Nevertheless, it became obvious a few years ago that a major new airport would be needed to accommodate even greater expected growth. After a few years and assorted feasibility studies, a proposal was made to build a major new, multi-runway airport and "mini-city" near Orotina in Guanacaste Province. The town of Orotina is about half way between the two major airports.

Artists`s Rendition of the New
International Airport at Orotina
GGC reported on the design concept of the new airport in the July 2017 Chronicle following the government`s announcement of the project in May of that year. That article also briefly reviewed the progress of aviation in Costa Rica starting from the original airport in downtown San José, a building which is now the National Museum of Contemporary Art, up to the present.

These kinds of projects don`t come about easily nor are they constructed in a few months. Juan Santamaria (SJO) took eight years to construct and MIO (Metropolitan International Orotina - I made that up. I was going to use MIA as an airport code but that seems to have been taken by some other airport to the north - yuk,yuk). That code, MIA, would probably cause problems just like SJO does when people`s baggage goes to SJC, San Jose, California, instead of here and vice versa. Ah, how the feeble mind wanders to extraneous and useless thoughts these days.

Despite the project being started and in the design phase, further work is likely to be delayed because of the fiscal problems caused by Covid. Carlos Alvarado, President of Costa Rica, as much confirmed that recently using pretty much the same words as did the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT).

Electric Train Network


Anybody who has ever driven the GAM ("Greater Metropolitan Area") in the Central Valley at rush hour, or even during the business day, will attest to overcrowded streets and roads that make movement slow and potentially hazardous. The planned electric railway network is designed to bring relief to that situation.

Artist`s Rendition of New Electric Train Terminal
The plan calls for the construction of 84 kilometers of track including 46 stations with 10 offering connections with buses, taxis or motorbike systems. The project is being financed by loans, the initial $550 million of a $1.55 billion total coming from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration.

Some eight train cars have already been delivered and are in shakedown operations. When fully completed the system will transport 200,000 people a day through the GAM on a line that runs from Paraiso de Cartago to Coyol de Alajuela. Will the country (be able to) take out another loan to finish this project? We`ll see.

Discovery Costa Rica

This project was announced in April 2019 as the largest ever single investment project in the resort sector in Costa Rica at an expected cost of $1 billion. The project had been originally scheduled to be inaugurated by the end of 2020 but was interrupted by the Pandemic.

Discovery Costa Rica Adventure Park (Rendering)
Discovery Costa Rica would consist of a large development of temporary residential units as shown in the artist`s rendition left on a farm property plus an array of tourist services and activities that include a water park, scuba diving at four beaches, hiking and visits to volcanoes. There are also natural rock canyons on site to be explored.

Consequently, with these attractions the project is being called "an adventure park". There will also be Discovery brand hotels and restaurants throughout the complex. Discovery Costa Rica Adventure Park would be located about eight kilometers from the center of Liberia, in front of the entrance of the farm of the Escuela de Agricultura de la Región Tropical Húmeda. The Park would cover an expanse of 810 hectares (2,025 acres) and already has some concessions for a water well as well as wet and dry waste control.

The owner of the project is Discovery Communications Inc., the parent of Discovery Channel and Animal Planet television networks. The original announcement of the project was in April of 2017 with a projection to begin construction in 2018 with an opening planned for 2020. By August 2017 the reports were that the project was still under "clarification discussion". By mid-February 2021 Discovery Communication Inc. said the project was still under discussion but when a press reporter checked with the Liberia Mayor`s office, they said there were no construction permits under review at this time.

This is a complex and difficult project that seems to have been slowed down to a halt, having had more pressure to do so because of the Covid uncertainty.

The Dry Canal


jki
The New Panamax Canal
The Panama Canal has been a very major contributor to international commerce for over 100 years now, having first opened in 1914.

The new Panama Canal, known as the Panamax Canal was expanded to handle today`s larger ships and was inaugurated in June of 2016. It is now capable of handling over 90% of all shipping available in the world. The Canal is also an important source of revenue for the Panamanian government (2019 toll income $2.6 billion).

But fixed canals are expensive to build (latest expansion of the Panama Canal cost $7 billion) in order to keep up with shipping advances. Another way to improve the handling of international shipping, often suggested and occasionally studied but never realized, is to build an above-ground road and rail expressway dedicated to transfer of containerized loads between ports in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Theoretically, with the right unloading and loading equipment and a roadway or railway uncluttered by vehicular traffic, material should be able to cross the isthmus nearly as fast as a ship through the canal. In practice the dry canal neither is simple to construct nor is Costa Rica the only place in Central America that is possible for a project of this magnitude (other routes shown on the map left are blue lines - they number 7 in total).

Some countries, Mexico, Colombia and others have also considered building a dry canal across the isthmus of Central America. The cost is quite substantial; the estimate for the Costa Rica version alone is $16 billion. This in a country that has total fiscal expenditures of about $13 billion per year, about a third of which already is debt.

And it`s not only the money but a number of obstacles that would have to be overcome such as breaching the central mountain range, construction over a number of railway lines, roads and highways and a significant resistance on the part of environmentalists as the road passes through or by sensitive areas already declared national patrimony. Another difficulty, the reason for which the exact route has been kept secret by confidentiality agreement with the government, is land speculators. For that reason the developer had executed a non-disclosure agreement with the government of the exact route to be taken.

After years of studies the government chose the Caribbean Basin International Development Corp. S.A., legally represented in this country by the private company Canal Seco en Costa Rica, or CANSEC as the successful bidder. To date, however, the project has not started. Will this become a reality? Who knows, but the financial pressure caused by the Pandemic has not helped the cause.
___________

So the negative financial pressures are definitely here and creating difficulties for such major projects as these. It is likely that a strong recovery will be needed to regain breathing space and confidence in proceeding with these projects.

¡Solo Bueno!


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





The amateur horticulturists among you
will know what this pretty flower is.
It has over 250 species that are
prevalent in most of the
rainforest areas of the world
including Costa Rica.





Answer in

What's-in-a-Word

section below







¡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?)

 

Vaccinations Proceed With Some Confusion

Seniors in Line for Vaccinations in Tibás
Anti-Covid vaccinations across Costa Rica have been proceeding with determination, according to Health Ministry priorities, but there has been some confusion within the candidates to be vaccinated.

A press report came out recently that some older people were waiting in long lines in a suburb of San José to get vaccinated. With some investigative reporting it was determined that a large number of them did not have an appointment. The national operational plan is such that someone in the health system (Caja) is supposed to give a telephone call to individuals according to their position in the priority list in order to set an appointment for the vaccination.

Therein lies a weakness in the system in my opinion in that everyone is not in constant contact with their telephone (bathroom, noise, dead battery etc.). If all you see on your call record is a strange number with no message or call back there stands a good chance of missing your appointment. How about an appropriate message (telephone text or email, the Caja people have both capabilities).

And then there`s also the good chance that people will violate the system, just like GG did. I was waiting for my Group 2 (people aged 58 or over without any risk factors) call back in March when I heard that vaccinations were being offered at our local water company (AyA)office. I went there and after a considerable wait I was interviewed by a gentlemen who suggested I go to the bank a get a proof of income report! I laughed, told him I have a citizenship cédula and I don`t play that game anymore (besides I thought these vaccinations were free amigo?). I balked at what he was saying gently but firmly and he seemed a little nervous that he had been challenged.

That precipitated a brief discussion between him and someone in a back room office. He returned with a lady who led me out of the office, down the block and into an alley where other people were congregated, one of whom I recognized as a Caja employee. She reviewed with me what had happened and about ten minutes later returned with a little slip of paper which was my appointment the next day (March 9) for the first vaccine shot, but at the Catholic Church not the water company.

I got my second shot on March 30 and I`ve never figured out what the game was that was being played out at the AyA.


Sad Statistics

 

The government recently noted that deaths from Covid-19 in 2020 far exceeded those from the category that usually leads the statistics, that is, heart attacks (acute myocardial infarction to be precise). For the entire year, 1,433 deaths from heart attacks were recorded while deaths attributed to Covid were 2,334; and that`s 63% higher for Covid. In addition, 57,848 births were registered, down 6,426 or 10% versus 2019.

 

Vaccination Talk

CNVE, the National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission (didn`t know we had one) on April 9 approved the AstraZeneca vaccine. This vaccine is different from the Pfizer version in that, while it is a two-dose system like the Pfizer version, the shots are done 12 weeks apart versus three with the Pfizer. The CNVE approved the vaccine after studying the results of the European Medicines Agency that discounted earlier reports concerning blood clots with the vaccine saying "the appearance of blood clots is extremely rare (6.5 cases per million people vaccinated)".

Just to emphasize that the AstraZeneca was safe, the Costa Rican Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, was the first here to get the shot of this version of the vaccine (photo).

To show their confidence in this vaccine a group of well known health officials also got vaccinated. They included: Pedro González, vice minister of Health, Priscilla Herrera, general director of Health; Leandra Abarca, coordinator of the Expanded Immunization Program of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS); Román Macaya, executive president of the CCSS; and its medical and logistics managers, Mario Ruiz Cubillo and Esteban Vega de la O, Alexánder Solís, the president of the National Emergency Commission (CNE); the Minister of Security, Michael Soto; and Roberto Arroba, secretary of the National Commission for Vaccination and Epidemiology (CNVE), also got their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.


The second dose of this vaccine happens 12 weeks after the first.

On another front, CNVE reported that it is in negotiations with Johnson & Johnson to supply a quantity of its single-dose vaccine. This brings the number of suppliers to three with Moderna not yet in the action here because they indicated they wouldn`t have availability until at least the second half of 2021.

New Spike in Cases

In the last few weeks Costa Rica has experienced a spike in new Covid cases that is depicted in the graph to the left. The health authorities are pointing the cause for this toward recent relaxed restrictions and more group activity during Semana Santa (Holy Week), probably the most popular vacation time for Ticos annually. The good news is that the contagion or "R" rate dropped significantly before that, to 0.83 but at the same time authorities suggested caution. The "R" rate, The Health Ministry cautions that: " This value indicates how many people, on average, a carrier of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes covid-19, would infect and is very volatile, changing drastically from week to week." So they suggest that we be and act cautiously.

By mid-month April the R-Rate had increased to 1.45 reflecting the factors that go into the spike described above. And that prompted the government to return to their previous sanitary driving restrictions first on the weekends and then every day beginning April 27 and lasting until at least mid-May. This was done in the face of a projection that critical care beds are likely to run out at the hospitals by early May.

 

UPDATE: A late April reading of the situation produced yet another all time daily record on April 26 of 2400+ new cases. The hospital ECR situation has become critical, especially in the Central Valley. In an effort to stem the spike the government also closed all non-essential trade in the Central Valley from May 3 to May 9.

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Travel Quote of the Month

Over the plane loudspeaker on approach:

 

"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds,

but they'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember,

nobody loves you or your money more than Southwest Airlines."


¡A Cachete!


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GGC Bookshelf

(skip section)

drfGGC Publications Group 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 the Quepos-Manuel Antonio Writers Group in which GGC has been a founding member. are the books currently on our bookshelf:

 

jio uio cvb gty
The Chronicles as a Narrative

Mariposa - English

Mariposa - Español Small Business Guide
Read More Read More Leer más aquí Read More
dft ikl gyh drt
Overcoming Drinking Making Time Count Spiritual Love Connection Murder or Suicide?
Read More Read More Read More Read More
ser kio fty
Getting Around the Capital Retiring in Costa Rica Avoiding the Pitfalls What's the Sleuth Up To?
Read More Read More Read More Read More

 

There's Room for
More on the QMA Writers Group Bookshelf

Keep Writing Amigos!
   
       

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
: der 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?


rty It`s Heliconia!

One of the most beautiful wild plant flowers, it has a liking for rainforests around the world including Costa Rica. Heliconias are sometimes called "lobster claws" or "parrot flowers" because of their beak-like "bracts" which can be orange, purple, red, yellow, pink, green or a combination of these.

T
he Heliconia's flowers are tiny and found inside these bracts, which are so large and colorful that they almost hide the flowers altogether. This keeps the flower's sweet nectar tucked away so that only specialized birds can get to it.

It still amazes me to walk down a street near the forest`s edge here and see one of these beauties flowering brightly.

Syncretism


This term was used in the article on legarteador crocs in the Broken News Section above. Definition: the merging, as by historical change in a language, of two or more categories in a specified environment into one. I can live with that, or without it.

 

 

¡Pura Vida!

 

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ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Puerto Escondido, Manuel Antonio

Location: Manuel Antonio at the Hotel Espadilla near the National Park.
Hours: 7 am to 10 pm Monday thru Sunday
Parking: Ample in front of the restaurant.
Contacts: Tel: 506-2777-0903; Website: www.hotel@espadilla.com
Reviewing ROMEOS: Bob N., Dennis R., Gay C., Harry R., Jorge M., Julia S., Mark W., Marshall W., Penny W., Roger B., Ruth R.

 

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

This restaurant is part of the Hotel Espadilla complex located about 100 meters before the main entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park. There are actually two dining rooms, one on the lower level more traditionally decorated and the second an outdoor garden restaurant on the upper level. We ate in the lower level dining room.

ROMEOS Hard at Work at Puerto Escondido
The restaurant is surrounded by thick foliage and you`d probably not realize that you are a short walk from the main beach unless you knew that fact. The lower dining room is pleasantly and simply decorated with typically local wooden furniture. Part of the place setting was an unusually large cloth napkin - perhaps a sign that the food would be plentiful and juicy.

The group composite rating for ambiance came in at 4.10/5.0 sloths.


We were presented with a menu that contained a rather large assortment of dishes ranging from appetizers, soups and salads to a rather lengthy selection of meat and fish dishes done in different ways. GG was a bit disappointed in that one of the house specialties, a boneless pork filet done with a special cranberry/chocolate sauce (I know it sounds weird but it works), was not available that particular day.

Instead of the pork filet, GG ended up ordering a pan fried fish filet coated in a sauce of green herbs and garlic butter. Excellent. It was mounded on steamed vegetables and papas puree (mashed potatoes) in an amount that would make even a lumberjack happy.

Other ROMEOs opted for a variety of dishes, a majority of them being seafood including tuna, shrimp, and other fish dishes in different sauces. One ROMEO also had a pesto spaghetti and another opted for the ubiquitous hamburger. GG also ordered a simple desert of sliced fruit (grapes, berries) in a sabayon of maracuya (passion fruit). Super!

.05
$$.95
Value Index= 137

 

Reports on all the dishes were generally favorable and the composite score for food quality came in at 3.85 out of 5.0 max.

Our group of ten were helped by two servers, one of which was also acting
as dining room manager. They were courteous, friendly and helpful. The composite score for service came in at 4.20 out of 5.0 making the average score for ambiance, food quality and service 4.05.

GG`s meal of the fish, the sabayon and a ginger ale michelada came to 16,400 colones (about $27) including taxes and requisite tip. The composite score for cost came in at 2.95 out of a possible 5.0 max, yielding a Value Index of 4.05/2.95x100=137. That would place Puerto Escondido in the top 1/3 of all the restaurants we have reviewed in this area for value index.

Puerto Escondido still represents a good restaurant choice for interesting food with ample portions at a reasonable cost.

¡Solo Bueno!

colones (about $27)

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Pura Vida!

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