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In This Issue:

1. Broken News (All the News That's Fit to Reprint): a. Ciudad Gobierno - Building Government City; b. Work on Quepos Airport Restarted; c. Ring Around the Rosie; d. Pentagon Admits UFOs Are Real; e. First Electric Train Collision; f. Highway and Water Companies to Consult Each Other; g. El Chepito Passes Away

2. Economic Drumbeat (CR Business Happenings): a. COOPESA Expanding; b. On-Line Tax Exemption Cancelled; c. Nextern Commits to Costa Rica.

3. Latin America Update (Major Events In Neighboring Countries): a. Columbia - Large and Violent Anti-Tax Demonstrations; b. El Salvador - New Assembly Dismisses Judges; c. Nicaragua - In the Top Ten Safest Ranking; Election Violence in Mexico and Peru.

4. Rumble and Weather Talk: a. A Small Shaker; b. Wet Season Moderates Momentarily.

5. Feature 1: Tico Sayings and Superstitions (Sayings, Lucky Words and New Year Wishes)

6. ¿Que Es Eso? Department: What is It`s Name and Where is It?

7. Feature 2: The Latin American Space Race (The Allure of a Vacuum and Meeting Other Life Forms)

8. Health Stuff: a. The Yes`s and No`s of the Vaccine; b. Critical Care Bed Needs in Hospitals Exceed Capacity; c. Handling the Covid Resurgence and The Spike; d. Two Million More Doses.

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.

11. ROMEO Corner: Raphael`s Terrazas, Manuel Antonio


 

 

 

 

 


Wisdom of the Ages

 “Old age doth in sharp pains abound;
We are belabored by the gout,
Our blindness is a dark profound,
Our deafness each one laughs about.
Then reason's light with falling ray
Doth but a trembling flicker cast.
Honor to age, ye children pay!
Alas! my fifty years are past!” 

― Pierre-Jean de Béranger

(How about my 70 years are past?)


 

Holidays in Costa Rica in June


Father`s Day is the only holiday or day of observance on the Costa Rican calendar for June and will be observed on Sunday, June 20.

Happy Father`s Day to all you daddies out there.





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

Ciudad Gobierno - Building Government City

Many of the Costa Rican government offices have been spread about in rented buildings all around the Capital City for years. A project is now envisioned, and in the planning stages, to replace these rented facilities with the construction of some 153,000 square meters (1.65 million square feet) of new office space in the south side of San José (covering the three blocks located to the west of Plaza Gonzalez Víquez, up to the Pacific train station, and half a block to the east side of the Liceo de Costa Rica).

Artist`s Rendering of "Ciudad Gobierno"
Ciudad Gobierno would house eight buildings, some 16 ministries and government agencies, almost 8,400 government employees and include commercial spaces generating income to the government of some $74 million per year. The scheme also includes large walking plazas, bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, a central square with an amphitheater, restaurants, gyms and shops located on the ground floors.

Another source of income would come from expense reduction related to the $42 million per year that government is currently paying for rented facilities. The method of managing the project would reside in a 30-year concession (to the project constructor and manager) planned to be awarded prior to the new administration to be elected in 2022. The concessionaire would be responsible for construction costs, estimated at $318 million, but would also receive some $50 million per year from the government.

Seems to me that, properly managed, the project could achieve a major new government city at essentially break-even cost. Wouldn`t that be something?

Quepos Airport Work Resumes

Two to three years ago work was begun to expand the runway and the terminal at Quepos Airport (La Managua or QXP). A year or so later work came to a grinding halt and eventually it was disclosed that the work by the contracting company was not up to par or specifications. It was recently announced that work had resumed on the project in early May and that a budget of ₡1.67 billion colones ($2.7 million) had been set.

The photo left shows the conga line of trucks at work. GG may be overly suspicious but the equipment shown looks more like they are removing the asphalt from the old runway and dumping it into the trucks. Maybe that`s the under-specification they were talking about? Maybe the removed asphalt could be used to fill potholes in Quepos downtown? Just thinking.

The announcement indicated an expected project completion time for the runway of less than four months to allow for an expected (hoped for?) tourist rush later this year. Quepos airport is rated as the third largest volume of traffic for a regional airport in the country after Tambor (1st) and Puerto Jiménez (2nd). In 2019 there were 4,655 landings and takeoffs at Quepos (XQP). Nothing in the announcement was said about the status of the terminal.


Ring Around the Rosie

Ring roads around any metropolitan area are always difficult to achieve and often controversial but almost always necessary. I remember when I was growing up (Lincoln was president) in the Boston area and they were building Route 128, one of the very first ring roads in America if not the first, It went (goes) from Cape Cod in the south, around Boston to the North shore. A lot of people deemed it "The road to nowhere" and bumper stickers with that inscription appeared all over the place. Now I here it`s just an endearing regular traffic jam with a history of thousands of bumper to bumper crunches but it does help disburse traffic to the countryside and also to the south, west and north from the metropolitan area.

Rodolfo Mendez Lifts the First Shovel

And then there`s the Circunvalación, the local name for the ring-road-to-be around San José. (why say "ring road" when you can coin a six syllable word for it - actually the full name for a ring road is la carretera de circunvalación which is 12 syllables... stop it GG, you`re being catty).

Ground was broken for the Circunvalación in October 1978 (that`s 43 years and 10 presidential terms ago). The head of MOPT (Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transportes), one Rodolfo Méndez, who was in charge of the project then, was one of the officials present at the ground-breaking ceremony. He was also the man, now 78 years of age, brought back to finish the last link in the northern section and is shown in the photo above right taking the first shovel full of dirt under the watchful eye of our President Carlos Alvarado (Alvarado is the man in the undersized construction hat standing between Rodolfo and the wheel barrow).

The project is expected to take a matter of months (just how many was not disclosed; perhaps they were talking Tico Time?).

Pentagon Admits OVNIs Are Real

 

One of the More Famous Pentagon Videos

In late April the U.S. Government, through the Pentagon, and in stark contrast to past policy, admitted that three of the widely seen videos that were earlier published on the internet are real and could be called UFOs. They also confessed that they have been studying debris from crashed UFO vehicles for years.

 

In Spanish these flying objects are called OVNIs or Objeto Volador No Identificado. These objects often appear as spherical disks or triangles that move strangely, such as hovering, making radical changes in direction at high speed and demonstrating velocities far beyond any known earthly capability. To see one of these three famous videos go HERE.

 

OVNI sightings have been increasing significantly in recent years all over the world including a recent sighting of a couple of them near Costa Rica`s main airport Juan Santamaria (they probably wanted to beat the Covid line and check in early).

 

Damn, it must be fun to fly one of those things. GG thinks we just might be on the verge of meeting people, eerrr... some kind of intelligent extraterrestrial life form in the near future.

 

First Electric Train Collision

 

The Chronicles has been following the startup of a new rail system in San José which is based on electric cars purchased from China. After shakedown trials, the first of eight cars began to operate on April 26. Exactly one month later, May 26, one of these new cars had a collision with an SUV (photo right). There were no injuries, except for the driver`s vehicle and pride, because the car was returning to the car barn (there may be a better term here for the home station than that) and had no passengers aboard.

 

One of the articles I read about the accident offered some interesting side information. The eight new cars were purchased from China at a cost about $4 million each whilst some regular, older ones were purchased from Spain in 2009 at a cost of about $500,000 each. No information was given on the relative fuel efficiency between the two types of cars but let`s hope they offer a better energy usage to make up the gap in capital costs.

 

The electric train route(s) is expected to cover 84 km (52 miles) within the GAM (Grande Area Metropolitano or Greater Metropolitan Area) including service directly to Juan Santamaria Airport. The entire project is expected to cost $1.55 billion of which a loan of $550,000,000 has already been granted from the Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica: BCIE in Spanish (I`m doing really well with acronyms this month, eh amigos?). The system when finished will have 47 stations like that depicted by an artist`s rendition left.

 

Highway and Water Department to Consult With Each Other

 

It`s kind of a long term joke around Costa Rica that if you see a road or street being paved or re-paved, the water company is sure to follow shortly and dig up a large part of it. I have to say I`ve seen that over and over again just in the little town of Quepos.

 

Paving streets and roads is handled by the National Highway Council which is part of CONAVI (Consejo Nacional de Vialidad) while the water and sewer department is called AyA (Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados).

 

(Come on folks, I`m just trying to meet my monthly quota of acronyms.

 

Now, in an earth-shattering breakthrough (pun intended), the two departments announced recently that they will actually consult with each other in the planning phases of projects. A press report said: "The agreement indicates that both entities must share the details of the projects from the pre-feasibility stages."

 

Can`t wait to see how this works out.

 

El Chepito Passes Away

 

El Chepito and His Cedula Showing his Birthdate of March 10, 1900

José Uriel Delgado Corrales, more widely known as Chepito passed away Thursday, May 29 at the old age home in San José where he had last lived for 27 years and which is called Hogar de Ancianos de Piedades de Santa Ana. Chepito was 121 years of age, the oldest man ever recorded in Costa Rican history. That`s José proudly showing his cédula in the photo left.

 

The announcement that he died at 8:30 pm was made by Sister María Inés, the director of the home who said “He has been in this process for about a month. He has been accompanied, we have taken care of him, but it is a normal process of wear and tear of an organism that was already 121 years old”.

 

As they say here - Descanse en paz, amigo (rest in peace my friend).

 

The oldest person to ever live and the oldest person ever (female) was Jeanne Louise Calment (21 February 1875) from Arles, France who died at the age of 122 years and 164 days old. When asked on her 120th birthday what she expected from the future, she replied: “I expect a short one.”

 

For more on El Chepito, go HERE.

 

¡Pura Vida!

 

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Economic Drumbeat
(Costa Rica Business Happenings)

 

COOPESA Expanding

COOPESA stands for Cooperativa Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales (there we go, just when you thought we were running out of acronyms). COOPESA is located not far from the main airport in Alajuela. A Costa Rican company that started as a manufacturer of bus bodies in 1963, COOPESA currently provides services that include heavy maintenance, interior and avionics modifications, painting, and passenger-to-cargo conversions of aircraft. The company recently entered into a partner agreement with the Boeing Company to open two 737-800BCF conversion lines here in Alajuela.

The company currently employs just under 900, including highly skilled technical teams led by aviation professionals with broad and proven experience in commercial aircraft maintenance. Conversion of passenger aircraft to freight is a booming business and Boeing says they expect as many as 1,500 freighter conversions will be needed over the next 20 years to meet growing demand. Just such a conversion is shown in the photo to the right, a new freighter aircraft for Amazon. No figures were given on the expected increase in employment.


Tax Exemption Discontinued

In a quest for more tax revenue, the government recently eliminated the No-tax-on-articles-of- less-than-$500 exemption. This primarily hits imports resulting from on-line purchases. Articles will now be taxed at their "category value" which can vary from the base sales tax of 13% up to 81% depending on the item. Only items from relatives (and of no commercial value) will now be exempt.

 

GG recently ordered an office supply item that I could not purchase in Quepos, one which is not produced in Costa Rica and one I would have had to go to San José (100 miles) to find. The cost of the item was about $21; shipping and import fees came to $26 for a total of $47. The order was made on-line on April 28 and Amazon gave an estimated arrival time in Quepos of May 25. Since that time span bridged the implementation of the new rule I wonder if the item will be stopped at the border?

All you gringos out there that live a 10 minute drive from a Walmart should kiss the manager the next time you go there.

Nextern Commits to Costa Rica

In the latest wave of announcements regarding expansion of the medical devices industry in Costa Rica, MedTech, a multinational company with plants in Minnesota, Vietnam and China, is establishing a fourth plant in the La Lima Free Zone, in Cartago just south of San Jose under their trademark Nextern.
Nextern is a major supplier of non-evasive medical devices.

No projected numbers of future employees were offered but the General Manager of Nextern Costa Rica stated they will need "highly talented applicants with an entrepreneurial spirit and creative mind, as well as operators who are skilled, dedicated, and careful to follow procedure".

Interested parties may apply by email to HRCR@nextern.com. This will include senior bilingual professionals for positions in process engineering, product development engineering, quality engineering, and buyer-planners. He also stated that t
he company chose Costa Rica for its new operations after evaluating various options throughout the Americas. They settled on Costa Rica for the availability of talent, ample linkage possibilities, a solid supply chain, and a location strategic to the North American market.

Welcome to Costa Rica Nextern.

¡Pura Vida!

 

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Latin America Updates
(Major Events In Neighboring Countries)

Colombia

 

Demonstration in Cali

Beginning on April 29 large demonstrations and violence erupted on the streets of the major population centers of Colombia including Bogota (the capital), Medellin, and Cali as well as all across the country. This was in reaction and frustration to President Ivan Duque`s attempted introduction of a new tax law which is perceived to add new or expanded taxes on citizens and business owners as well as the elimination of many tax exemptions, such as those on certain sales of everyday goods.

lopDuque billed the action as a post-Covid recovery plan. The plan is seen by the general populace as favoring the wealthy and placing more strain on the working and middle classes. As of May 3, the sixth day of demonstrations, 19 people had been killed in the protests including one policeman. As the demonstrations proceeded, Alberto Carrasquilla, Colombia’s Minister of Finance and the author of the tax plan, resigned.

 

 

Update Late-May: As of late-May and after more than three weeks of demonstrations the death toll had risen to 46. The new law, essentially an increase in sales tax, is for all intents and purposes dead and was so acknowledged by President Duque. A Colombian think tank noted that 42% of the population is below the poverty line with another 30% susceptible to slipping into poverty making 75% of the population "economically vulnerable".


El Salvador

True to his majority in the El Salvador Assembly (56 out of 84) and the constitution which allows the Assembly to elect Supreme Court Judges (similar to Costa Rica), five of the Constitutional Court`s Supreme Court Judges were dismissed in early May under the new administration.

They were then replaced with new judges more favorable to President Nayib Armando Bukele Ortez. The Bukele-controlled Assembly also moved to replace the Attorney General. Some segments of the country and outside political opponents (including U.S. VP Harris and Secretary of State Blinken) are now becoming concerned that Bukele is moving towards a dictatorship. More to be revealed.


Nicaragua

 

A study based on country Pandemic data from the World Health Organization and the University of Oxford placed Nicaragua as the ninth safest place to visit in the world and the safest in Latin America. The rankings were: 1.Israel, 2. China, 3. Australia, 4. New Zealand, 5. Morocco, 6. Egypt, 7. Bhutan, 8. Algeria, 9. Nicaragua and 10. Rwanda.

 

The "study" was performed by a biomedical engineering graduate student named Manuel Aguilar who is based in Cartago, Costa Rica. He used the data to rank four characteristics to determine "how feasible it is to travel somewhere in times of a pandemic". The data categories ranked were vaccinations, confirmed cases of Coronavirus, population density and the valuation made by the International Health Regulations (IHR).

 

The press report on the study stated: "it should be remembered that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and other institutions declared concern for Nicaragua given the null sanitary restrictions imposed by the government and its responsibility for the agglomerations reported during the pandemic." It other words, the statistics are not to be trusted and "To date, there is no accurate data on how many individuals have been immunized and regarding confirmed cases, the Multidisciplinary Scientific Committee warned of a new wave of infections and deaths from Covid-19."

 

Ometepe Island - Lake Nicaragua

The study report also included a pitch for tourism in Nicaragua: “If you want to visit Nicaragua, the island of Ometepe will enchant you (it does - Ed.) because it enters the middle of two volcanoes: the Concepción and the Maderas. Travelers often visit the place by bike and, the more adventurous, by motorcycle. The beaches of San Juan del Sur are ideal for surfing. The best thing is that there are hardly any people.” I wonder why that is?

 

 

Mexico and Peru

 

Mexico
Peru

As the U.S. is coming off Memorial Day and heading towards its celebration of independence on July 4th, and as Costa Rica will follow with its bicentennial celebration of its independence on September 15, its good to remember that both countries have repeatedly celebrated their democracies with a peaceful turnover of power.

 

Assassinated Mexican Mayoral Candidate

This is not so everywhere in the Americas; take recent examples occurring in Mexico and Peru. In Mexico, where legislative, gubernatorial and local elections are all taking place on June 6, a mayoral candidate of a town in Central Mexico, after filming a video to supporters, then went out and was promptly murdered in broad daylight. That brings to 88 Mexican candidates so far murdered in this election alone.

 

In Peru, 18 people have been killed by "Shining Path" rebels ahead of presidential runoff elections scheduled for early June. The victims included 10 men, six women and two children, said General Oscar Arriola, the head of the police counter-terrorism unit. The sign shown in the left photo states that "Soldiers are Constructing the Future" and I`m not sure whether that`s the slogan of Shining Path or of the anti-terrorism police; either way the system could stand some improvement.

 

In addition to Mexico and Peru violent demonstrations were also happening in Colombia - see that report above.

 

¡Solo Bueno!

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Tico Sayings, Omens and Superstitions
(Sayings, New Year Wishes and Lucky Words)


Mesoamerica
Costa Rica, a region that partly encompasses Mesoamerica, has a long history of storytelling as does all of Mesoamerica. Having endured invasions by Spanish Conquistedors and more recently by hordes of tourists from North America and Europe, Ticos have produced their own array of Sayings, New Years Wishes, Omens and Lucky Words to describe their way of life. GG`s intention here is to explore some of these.

 

Many of them are hearsay (GG hears and says) while others are recorded in various journals but may also have dubious origins. Costa Rica, being on the southern border of Mesoamerica, many of these sayings were adopted or modified from the ancient Native American civilizations that existed from Southern Mexico on down to northern Costa Rica. Some of the other sayings are purely Costa Rican.

GG hopes you enjoy them.

Sayings

1. Instead of saying “my other half”:  Ticos often refer to their significant other as their “media naranja” or the other half of their orange.

2.
Having a Baby: We say in English “She had a baby” or “She gave birth”, but in Spanish, it’s, “Ella dio a luz” or “She gave light.” Perhaps more accurately, “She gave light to her baby” indicating that she brought the baby from the darkness of the womb to the light of day.

4. How about this one? "Bienes Raices" is the word for Real Estate. Bienes means property or possessions and raices means roots. So there you have it “property roots!”. Gives meaning to the expression “laying down roots”.

 

5. GG loves this one: "Más Tico que el gallo pinto", meaning: “More Costa Rican than spotted rooster.” This expression combines two essential Costa Rican terms: Tico, which is what Costa Ricans call themselves, and gallo pinto, literally “spotted rooster”. (Check the description of gallo pinto HERE). After almost 13 years in Costa Rica GG considers himself mas Tico que el gallo pinto.

6. Tuanis | “Cool,” “nice,” “awesome”. The origins of this Costa Rican slang standard are in dispute, but one theory is that it derives from the English phrase “too-a-nice.” Example: “Rappelling down that waterfall was super tuanis.”

7. Llevarla suave | “To take it easy” Literally “to carry it soft,” this expression comes in handy when you’re on vacation. We should also totally start using it in English. Example: “I’m overworked. I’m going to Costa Rica to carry it soft.”

8. Hablar paja | “To talk straw” This expression can mean “to talk bull” or “to shoot the breeze.” There’s also pura paja, “pure bull.” Example: “José is talking straw. He has no idea what he’s saying.” Photo left: "I don`t listen because he talks pure bull."

9. Salado | “Tough luck” Ticos use this expression, literally “salted,” to say “tough luck” or “too bad.” Example: A: “Two tickets to Limón, please.” B: “Salado! The guy ahead of you got the last seat."

10. Hacer un MacGyver | “To do a MacGyver” Yes, we are referring to MacGyver of ‘80s TV. The ingenious secret agent who solved problems using paper clips and chewing gum rather than guns is so beloved in Costa Rica that he has made his way into the local lexicon. As those familiar with the show may have guessed, hacer un MacGyver (pronounced mah-GHEE-verr) means to improvise or fix something with whatever you have at hand, or just to find a simple solution to a problem. Example: “The zipper on this suitcase broke. Pass the duct tape and we’ll do a MacGyver.” 

 

New Year`s Wishes/Omens

Yeah I know, we`re a long way from New Year`s but best to be prepared!

Things to do to make the new year better:
1. Late at night on Dec. 31, sprinkle a handful of rice in every corner of your house. The next day, sweep up all the grains with a new broom and save them in a little bag. The old wives guarantee this will keep food on the table all year.

2.
Another way to keep the household cornucopia full: stuff a large loaf of bread with grains of rice, corn, coffee beans, black beans and sprinklings of sugar and salt. Tie the lucky roll in a red ribbon.

3. Wear something yellow on New Year’s Eve and you’re bound to meet your true love in the year to come. If you already have a true love, wear yellow anyway; it ensures good luck throughout the year, especially if you wear it on Jan. 1, too. If you wear something new, you’ll be well dressed all year.

 

4. As the clock strikes midnight on December 31, eat 12 grapes, one for each strike of the clock. It is said that those who don’t finish 12 grapes before the clock is done striking will have a year of bad luck.

5, If it’s travel and adventure you’re after, pack a suitcase and leave the house with it at exactly midnight. Walk at least one block to ensure a year full of travels.


6. To guarantee money all year, Ticos used to ask 13 different friends for cincos (five céntimo coins) before midnight December 31. The tiny coins are now extinct, but the tradition lives on using five-colón coins. (sad to say but the 5-colón coins are also being retired) - best not the be stingy - you may have to ask for a 25-colón coins, total 325 colónes for the 13 friends (that's still a total of less than U.S. 50 cents).

7. If 2010 was a bad year, take a bath or go for a swim at the stroke of midnight to wash all the bad luck away (hmmm, pool, beach or bathtub?).

8. A roasted Leg of Pork is a tradition in Costa Rica for New Year`s Eve dinner. It`s normally eaten with friends and family rather late on New Year`s Eve, typically around 10 p.m. followed by the New Year celebration. Optionally the meal may wait until guests have returned from the Misa de Gallo, the Mass of the Rooster (Midnight Mass). 9. An old Tico belief holds that whatever you’re doing when the clock strikes 12 on December 31 will characterize your year to come, so make sure you’re engaged in some worthwhile or pleasurable activity.

Lucky Words and Actions

1. Many Ticos carry an estampita (a small picture of a deity or saint), hoping it will drive away potential thieves and to help the carrier to think clearly as well as help one to do good.

 

2. It is sometimes suggested for grown-ups to throw a bucket of water outside their window to get rid of bad luck (like in the photo right - so watch where you`re walking).

3. To know what the weather will be like in the new year, make a note of the conditions on the first 12 days of January, the period known as the pintas because they “paint” (pintar) the weather for the coming year. If it rains on Jan. 5 – and it always rains a little in January to bring out the coffee flowers – then you know May, the fifth month of the year, will be rainy. If it’s windy on Jan. 7, expect a gusty July. (and what about November 27 - my birthday, amigos...? I guess that`s out of the painting range)

4. Cut a bouquet of the fuzzy blue or lavender wildflowers known as Santa Lucía (a type of aster)  that grows in pastures and on roadsides. Said to be medicinal for eye ailments, the plant is named after the patron saint of those with eye problems, and the flowers are accepted as magical. As you cut them, recite with devotion: “Santa Lucía de enero, tenme todo el año con dinero” (Saint Lucy of January, keep me in money all year). A bunch of Santa Lucía blossoms in the house on New Year’s Day will keep you solvent all year. And if you dry them, wrap them in paper and carry them in your purse or wallet, you’ll never find yourself short of cash.

5. La Nigüenta. This is a small, child/like statue of a naked little girl picking fleas (chiggers actually) from in between her toes. The doll and the practice of using it as an amulet are thought to have come from Europe in the late 19th Century.
Employing La Nigüenta is believed to bring good luck. If you tie red ribbons to the doll, it will give protection to the house you live in; yellow and white ribbons tied to it will help your family. Also, if a lottery ticket is folded underneath it, good luck will follow. Write a wish on a piece of paper and tie it to the doll. At New Year`s tie a small sack with rice and beans to it and enough food for the year will be provided. Lastly, place the photograph of a loved one who has left for whatever reason and the person will return home.
___ ___ ___

So, Costa Rican culture provides interesting sidelights that GG finds endearing. The next step beyond these mildly eccentric characterizations would be Legends and Myths, often more serious than sayings and some times purposefully frightening. GG has written a number of articles on Costa Rican Legends which you can find in the Topical Index Archive HERE.

 

¡Solo Bueno!

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Rumble and Weather Talk
(Shaky Happenings and Weather Observations On or About the Paific Rim)

Rumble - A Small Shaker

At 9 AM on the morning of May 14 GG was sitting in a meeting with some friends at a Manuel Antonio restaurant when a tremor supposedly shook the room. I say supposedly because GG didn`t feel it but later a friend sent a UCR Red (University of Costa Rica Seismic Network) report that showed the epicenter just north of Quepos and the strength was pegged at 4.7R.

 

I certainly don`t look forward to tremors no matter what the strength but maybe it`s because I was in the center of the second largest quake in Costa Rican history in Puntarenas on September 5 2012 which registered 7.6 on the Richter scale that I may have become less sensitive. And because that scale is logarithmic rather than linear, a 7.6R represents approximately 1,000 times the energy release of a 4.7R.


Rainfall - Wet Season Moderates?

June is the second month of our seven month rainy season but sunshine prevails most mornings. GG once made a historical comparison of average high temperature, low temperature and rainfall by month for Quepos, Sarasota, where I spent 10 years before moving to Quepos, and the for the Boston area where I grew up. That comparison can be seen HERE.

 

 

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

¡Pura Vida!


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Search the Golden Gringo Chronicles Archives for Topics That Interest You

 

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The Latin American Space Race
(The Allure of a Vacuum and Meeting Other Life Forms)

 

GGC has been following Costa Rica`s effort to be in the space business. Keep in mind that Costa Rica is 1/65th the population of the U.S. and 1/360th its economy as measured by by GDP or Gross Domestic Product.

 

Last month the President of Costa Rica finally signed a bill which establishes the Costa RicanSpace Agency, all the while threatening to veto it and saying that no money is available to fund it anyway. Nonetheless, our own NASA astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz has started his own company here to work on space interests and has been appointed as head of the new Space Agency to serve as an interface on space matters between Costa Rica and other Latin American Countries.

 

hjy
FDC is the One in the Front

Chang-Diaz, having been the first Latin American to become a NASA astronaut, commands a certain respect within the Houston crowd. He logged seven different space flights for over 1600 hours in space (that`s over two months) and which included almost 20 hours in three different space walks.


Interest in space matters is peaking. As one press story put it: "Satellite technology, international partnerships, national pride and local development all beckon."
Not to speak of the natural curiosity of mankind.

 

Here`s a quick summary of the effort in some Latin American countries (keep in mind the corresponding economic figures for the U.S. are: Pop - 331 Million: 331; GDP (22,050 Billion)


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Costa Rica from Space

Costa Rica: Stats: Pop (5.1 Million); GDP (61.8 Billion)

 

Ticos recently launched a satellite (via the private company SpaceX), which was named Irazú after the Costa Rican volcano of the same name. This satellite, partially and privately funded by a Kickstarter campaign, is intended to monitor tropical forests and climate change. And a new space radar, based in Guanacaste Province, was recently inaugurated which monitors the lower earth orbit debris and is intended to offer an early warning collision alarm.

 

ghgThis new radar tracked the recent fall of a large Chinese rocket stage that plunged in a ball of fire into the Indian Ocean on May 8. The Chinese lucked out because it hit nothing on land. Evidently there is in excess of 200,000 pieces of debris in the LEO or Lower Earth Orbit, ranging from small pieces of plastic to burned-out rocket engines.

Nicaragua: Pop (6.5 Million); GDP (12.5 Billion)

ploNicaragua recently formed its own space agency called the “National Secretariat for the Affairs of Outer Space, the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies" (no acronym provided - GG would go with SNAPOC). With little money to support a significant space effort and with a left-leaning government we should look for connections here with both Russia and China. Russia four years ago set up a satellite navigation system in Nicaragua and China once agreed to launch a communications satellite for Nicaragua but delayed the project to an unspecified later date, perhaps a long-term delay like they did with the canal Nicaragua wanted to build across the country to compete with the Panama Canal.

Ecuador
: Pop (17.4 Million); GDP (107 Billion)

dfgEcuador was one of the first Latin American countries to establish a space agency which they did in 2007 based in Guayaquil, Ecuador`s second largest city The official name of the agency is the
Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency but it is better known as EXA. EXA is a civilian, independent organism in charge of the administration and execution of the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Program, conducting scientific research on planetary and space sciences and to pushing forward the development of science in the educational system of the country (that`s a good idea anywhere).

 

Ecuador also began in 2007 to develop its own astronaut program by training its first astronaut, Ronnie Nader, at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia. Nader is now the director of the Space Operations Division and is also the Honorary Chairman of the Directorate Board of EXA. "EXA is backed up by the Ecuadorian State through the Ecuadorian Air Force with whom EXA maintains a close relationship, not only of work for the benefit of Ecuador, but also of mutual respect and friendship." Sounds like a Space Force to me. EXA has been involved in experiments and training of future astronauts for Ecuador since its inception.

 

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NASA Radar Rendition of the Lower Earth Orbit Debris Field

The Chinese helped Ecuador launch a satellite named Pegaso in 2013 with great fanfare. Unfortunately it suffered debris damage a month later from what some observers believe was an old Russian rocket, part of the lower earth orbit debris which is estimated to have upwards of 200,000 pieces ranging from a few millimeters in diameter to large rocket and satellite parts.

 

That`s why we need the space radar recently inaugurated here in Costa Rica by LeoLabs, Inc. and mentioned above. GG is holding out for a ray gun that can move these pieces from lower earth orbit towards the sun where they can quietly burn up. Otherwise it`s like a 747 proceeding through a large flock of birds - it can be disastrous.

 

The effort for the Ecuadoran space effort since 2007 was plagued by a series of fits and starts including the eventual elimination of the Space Agency by the government in 2018 as a result of "having produced no tangible results for the country". Nevertheless, EXA continued to supply technology, particularly in the field of laser communications, to other space programs including selected parts for certain NASA projects.

 

They must have developed something worthwhile along the way.

Guatemala
: Pop (17.5 Million); GDP (77 Billion)

 

frtThe highest population country in Central America (17.5 million), launched it`s first satellite, Quetzal-1, with the help of the Japanese in 2020. Some pointed out that this project happened in a country whose problems have compelled many citizens to look for a better life elsewhere.

 

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The KiboCUBE

On 28 April 2020 the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG), winner of the KiboCUBE programme 2017, run by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), saw their satellite deployed by JAXA from the International Space Station (ISS).

 

The satellite – Quetzal-1, also known as the KiboCUBEv– is Guatemala’s first and will unlock new possibilities for the country and help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The primary objective of the mission is to test a multispectral sensor to acquire remote sensing data for natural resource management. The sensor could be used to monitor water quality in inland water bodies, helping to achieve SDG Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation.

Brazil
: Pop (211 Millions); GDP (1,840 Billion)

 

werOne would expect more of a space program to emanate from the country with the largest population and greatest GDP in Latin America (211 million people and $1.84 trillion in GDP). And, indeed, Brazil has been active in space related activities for almost 50 years, nearly as long as the U.S.

 

In 1994 the government of Brazil created the Brazilian Space Agency (Agência Espacial Brasileira; or AEB in Portuguese). It is located in the Federal District of the capital, Brasília. The Brazilian Minister of Science and Technology is a former NASA astronaut. Although the agency is controlled by the government, it also is an integral part of the Brasilian Air Force.

 

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Alcântara Launch Center

Back when Soyez and Saturn rockets were competing to be the first in space, Brazil was attempting to join the race. It developed and launched a series of smaller "Sounding Rockets" which are used to perfect various types of missile components, instruments and accessories prior to launching them in larger rockets - they do this by sounding out the component. That experience has given them extensive knowledge in launch capability as well and they now have two major launch sites on the Brazilian coast. There is also a secondary launch center, at Barreira do Inferno near the city of Parnamirim, also near the northeast coast and which is primarily dedicated to launching sounding rockets.

 

 

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At Alcântara 10, 9, 8,...

The main lauch site is the Alcântara Launch Center on the northern Atlantic coast (launching over a large body of water is a safety factor), and it`s facing east which takes advantage of the earth`s spin to accelerate launch speed. On top of all that the location offers good weather only 2.3 latitude degrees below the equator.

 

The biggest asset of Brazil’s spaceport is its proximity to the equator as mentioned above. For anyone launching a rocket, that’s a juicy spot. There aren’t many options on Earth for launching that close to the equator, and the site would make it much easier for satellite operators to send payloads into an equatorial orbit. Additionally, rockets at the equator get an extra boost in speed, thanks to the Earth’s rotation which is about 1,000 miles per hour (- at a circumference of 25,000 miles - that`s why it takes a "day" to circle the globe dude). And this kind of launch at the equator also helps rockets save on fuel.

 

It`s clear that Brazil is in the space business for good or bad.


Others -
After Argentina was turned down by Brazil in 2015 to establish a joint southern Latin American space agency, the Argentines turned to Mexico and are currently trying to form a regional space agency similar to the European Space Agency which already has a launch site in French Guiana on the Northeast coast of South America (again, near the equator less than four degrees north).

 

To the idea that spending money on space efforts ignores the current state of needs in many countries, our home-grown astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz, says: “A lot of people criticized the creation of NASA in 1958 when the United States was struggling with the worst economic recession of the postwar era,″ but sometimes we forget "the enormous technological and economic benefits that followed the moon program". He didn`t elaborate on these benefits but somehow I believe him.

 

A young Tico recently asked me about my Chemical Engineering training and whether or not he should pursue a similar course. My response was essentially that "You could do worse." But watching his eyes as he filed this information in his brain, I said: "Whatever you do, follow your heart and good things will come to you."

 

A couple of times before this we had spoken of space, so I felt I had to add this: "If I were choosing a career these days, amigo, I`d get a B.S. in Archaeology, an M.S. in Ancient Astronaut Theory and a PhD in Exopolitics (i.e.,The art or science of government as concerned with creating or influencing policy toward extraterrestrial phenomena and extraterrestrial beings). It`s becoming more and more obvious that we`re on the verge of a whole new existence amigos.

 

The young man walked away smiling broadly with a somewhat puzzled look on his face. As he faded off I just envisioned him on the deck of a starship.

 

¡Solo Bueno!


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

 

 

 

 

Some Will Immediately Recognize this Costa Rican Beach.

 

What Is It`s Name and Where Is It?

 

 

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?)

 

The Yeses and Nos of the Vaccine

 

jklRecent headline: "7 Out Of 10 Costa Ricans Accept The Coronavirus Vaccine; 3 Doubt Or Reject It". When polled as to their feelings about the vaccine almost 70% of the population responded they had been vaccinated or that they would go to get vaccinated. Of the balance, 15% said they have doubts about receiving the vaccine, 13% said they would not be vaccinated at all, and finally, 2% of the people consulted conditioned their decision to get vaccinated according to the type of vaccine they were given. As of May 5, 605,000 people (about 12% of the population) have received at least one shot of the vaccine here, mostly the Pfizer version.

A recent study said that the willingness to get vaccinated is much higher among people with a college education and those over 55 years of age. The acceptance rate reaches 81% in the group of respondents with higher education and 78% in the group over 55 years of age. The group that rejects the vaccine is stronger in people between 35 and 54 years old and with secondary education.

 

Handling the Resurgence Of Covid and The Spike

 

Beginning in the last half of April and continuing through the month of May, it became obvious that Costa Rica was dealing with a serious second wave and spike in Coronavirus cases. It`s all shown graphically in the chart to the left. The new case load more than doubled over the case load that prevailed during the first spike October 2020. The large drop in the last point on the chart is hopeful but it`s too early to say it`s a real trend since it represents only one five-day period.

 

By mid-May allotted critical care bed capacity throughout the country exceeded 100% and emergency measures were underway to develop additional capacity in areas not normally used for such purposes. Those who would provide macabre statistics pointed out that in one two week period in late April and early May we were approaching one Covid death every hour whereas the entire previous year the average was less that one third that rate. Health providers likewise were showing signs of fatigue trying to provide both the pandemic need and the regular needs of patients.

 

Reaction to the spike caused the government to put the entire country into a yellow alert and reinstate the driving restrictions that had been localized before. Now, drivers are permitted on the road based on the last number on their license plates; one day even, next day odd etc. There was some discussion and argument between health professionals and commercial interests with the former suggesting the country go to a red alert, which shuts down everything, while the latter vigorously argued that the country would collapse under red alert. So far the yellow alert is prevailing.

 

Vaccination strategies were also changing. As of May 24, approximately 1,251,900 doses of vaccines had been administered which, on an equivalent two-shot per patient basis, represents about 12.4% of the population. Two weeks ago the Ministry of Health placed another order for two million more doses of the Pfizer version (after receiving 1.5 million year to date) and in the last week of May the department received the first full shipment of the AstraZeneca units (200,000). Another decision was made to spread the first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine out to 12 weeks like the AstraZeneca version presumably to get a wider spread of the first shot of the vaccine which has been shown to provide increased immunity.

 

The UCR Respira

On another front, the University of Costa Rica completed, within the campus physical plant and with the support of various "companies, government institutions, embassies, professionals from different disciplines and individuals, who became strategic allies of the initiative", the construction of ten new ventilator machines (named UCR Respira)". The unit will still have to pass clinical trials but will then be available for use in the trenches (...er ICU rooms). This kind of product was not produced in Costa Rica before the pandemic (bet it will be now - but the government stated that the product design info will be provided to other Central American countries).

 

"What a Foul Turn
of Affairs Ladies"

On a somewhat lighter note, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention (commonly known as CDC) issued a statement that people should refrain from kissing and hugging their chickens or other "backyard poultry".

 

They stated some 163 cases of salmonellosis in 43 states have broken out since February of this year and interviews with the afflicted showed that "contact with poultry was probably the source of the epidemic,”

 

There`s been no word about this from the Costa Rican Ministry of Health; they`re probably hesitant to regulate the unofficial national bird of Costa Rica.

 

¡Pura Vida!

 

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Travel Quote of the Month

 


 


¡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.

 

Here are the books currently on our bookshelf:

 

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Costa Rica`s Mystery Spheres Mariposa Love Story English

Mariposa - Español The Chronicles as a Narrative

Read More Read More Leer más aquí Read More
gty ikl dft drt
Small Business Guide Making Time Count Overcoming Drinking 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

gyh

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

Keep Writing Amigos!
Spiritual Love Connection World War II True Story    
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?

 

It`s the Whale`s Tail Beach of course. This is a popular and striking part of Marino Ballena National Park located in Uvita, Costa Rica about one hour`s drive south from Quepos along the coast (using the Costanera Sur highway). A simple look at the photo tells you why it`s called what it is. For another striking view, drive up one of the roads across the Costanera into the hills. That view is incredible.

 

GG has been there two or three times (the memory fails the exact number) and I particularly liked the south side of the tail where the surf was much calmer than the tip or northern side. Surfers will like the beach at the flat tip.

 

 

¡Solo Bueno!

 

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ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Raphael's Terrazas, Manuel Antonio

 

Location: On Manuel Antonio road heading towards the beach just 50 meters down from La Cantina restaurant on the right, next to the Hotel Arboleda.

Hours: Daily: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Parking: Ample on site at the restaurant.

Contact: Tel.: 2777-6310; Email: raphaelsterraza@gmail.com;
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/raphaelsterraza

 

Reviewing ROMEOS: Carol X., Dennis R., Roger B., Steve M.



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

 

 

For the first time in 10 consecutive years of ROMEO outings GG failed to make a ROMEO Review. I was tied up in an appointment with my Orthopedist trying to get some direction on the problem that persists with my back. The good Doc was slammed for appointments on May 25 and I didn`t get to see him until 15 minutes into the ROMEO hour.

 

In terms of restaurant ambiance, menu selection etc. for Raphael`s Terrazas, I don`t think the story has changed substantially from our previous review done in September 2019. You can read our review from that time here:

 

Raphael`s September 2019

.9
$$$.3
Value Index= 121

 

One thing that didn`t change much was the rating by the four ROMEOs that attended this session; the Value Index still came in at an above average 121.

 

Thanks to my compatriots and co-ROMEOs for carrying on in my absence.

 

¡Solo Bueno!

 

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