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¿Que Es Eso?


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In This Issue:

1. Broken News: Costa Rica's status in CONCACAF Futbol; Don't Cross That Bridge When You Come to It; Independence Day (in Costa Rica - Not the Movie); Baseballs are Made in Costa Rica - Whoodathunkit?

2. Rumble and Weather Talk: Mexico Disaster and Heavy Rains Continue Around Costa Rica

3. Feature: Allan's Air Force (Watch Out for Low Flying Aircraft)

4. Que Es Eso? Department: What's that Shiny Stuff on my Coffee?

5. Feature: Calypsonians (Cumon Mon, Let's Dance!)

6. Health Stuff: Malaria Alert; How Sweet It Is - Too Much I'm Afraid

7. What's-in-a-Word: Answer to Que Es Eso; Etymology of Real, Diaspora, Calypso, Autochthonous

8. ROMEO Corner: Mercato del Porto - Quepos




Wisdom of the Ages



Publisher's Corner

GGC Publications Group is the umbrella organization that publishes the Golden Gringo Chronicles as well as a number of books and paraphernalia related to the Chronicles.


We now have a web page, separate from the Chronicles, that describes our product offerings in detail:


GGC Publications Page - Products This page has 3 sections:


Section I: Books from GGC Publications Group


This section consists of descriptions of the following books published by GGC Publications:


Golden Gringo Chronicles - The Novel (see description HERE)

Mariposa, A Love Story of Costa Rica (English - see description HERE)

Mariposa, Una Historia de Amor de Costa Rica (Spanish - see description HERE)

Entreprenewal! Business Management Guide (see description HERE)


Go here to see more: GGC Publications Page - Products Section I


Section II: Recommended Inspirational Books - Life Changing Stories


S.O.B.E.R. - How the Acronyms of AA Got One Drunk Sober - by Ian Asotte (description HERE)

To Eternal Happiness - by Abelardo Garcia, Jr. (see description HERE)

A Woman Awakens: Life, After Life - by Jan Hart (see description HERE)


Go here to see more: GGC Publications Page - Products Section II


Section III: T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs All About Costa Rica and the Chronicles


In addition to books, GGC Publications Group now also offers t-shirts and coffee mugs that are related to the Golden Gringo Chronicles with Costa Rican themes, to wit:


gtyderT-Shirts: 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! with Photo of White Face Monkey and e. It's OK to be Slothful with Three-Toed Sloth



Coffee Mugs: a. Golden Gringo, b. Wanna Monkey Around?, c. OK to be Slothful

Go here to see more: GGC Publications Page - Products Section III

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

Costa Rica's CONCACAF Status in Futbol

FIFA Divisions Including CONCACAF

The competition for qualification to play in the 2018 World Cup in Futbol (not soccer amigos, Futbol), to be held in Russia for a month beginning in May 2018, is heating up and Costa Rica is in the fight.


CONCACAF (the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) is a regional agglomeration of national teams hailing from, in alphabetical order, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles), El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname and the United States. CONCACAF is one of six continental confederations affiliated with  FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association. The others are shown on the world map to the left.


Two hundred and ten teams from the six confederations will play a total of 760 FIFA matches to determine who qualifies for the World Cup. The number of teams in a confederation varies from confederation to confederation; the largest being the CAF (African) group with 54 and the smallest being the CONMEBOL (South America) with 10. CONCACAF comes it at 35 teams.


The qualifying matches began in March of 2015 and run through mid-November 2017, so we are rapidly approaching the end of the qualification period . The completion of the qualifiers will result in 31 teams being invited to Russia and will include the top three performers in the CONCACAF division. To qualify for the World Cup competition, a CONCACAF team must finish with enough points (3 for a win, 1 for a tie, 0 for a loss) to rank in the top three of the division. Costa Rica is currently (September 7) ranked number two behind Mexico in CONCACAF as shown in the rankings table below.


The interesting thing about the World Cup is that players on a national team, also called the "selection" or "sele", must be a native of the country for which they are playing but they can, and often do, play for pay on a professional team that may be a team outside their home country. A good example of this is Costa Rica's Keylor Navas, an exceptional goalie who plays for the Real Madrid team in Spain for a reported $1 million per year salary. (see What's-in-a-Word section below for the meaning of "Real"). Yet Navas is always called upon to reinforce his "sele" when the Costa Rican national team plays a CONCACAF qualifier or is in the World Cup.


There's only one thing more avid (or rabid) than a U.S. football fan and that's almost any futbol fan, anywhere. Costa Rica and the U.S. have been (friendly) rivals since the original inception of the division in 1961. The friendship was strained a bit in 2013 when the Tico team found themselves playing against the U.S. in a snowstorm in Denver (see It's Snow Joke) where the U.S. squeaked out a 1-0 victory. The Ticos have taken revenge several times since then, most recently trouncing Los Americanos 2-0 in a raucous game at Red Bull Stadium in the supposedly U. S.-friendly home turf in New Jersey. But that state just happens to also have one of the highest Costa Rican expat communities in the world.


I think GG might be turning into a die-hard futbol fan, don't you?.


Don't Cross That Bridge When You Come To It


Sixaola Railroad Bridge (Right) in 2016
Sixaola Bridge Recently

Back in June of 2016 GG reported on the bridge situation at the Costa Rican - Panama border on the Caribbean side at the town of Sixaola (see New Border Bridge). This was during a trip to Bocas del Toro, a Panamanian island group just south of the border, and a delightful place to visit. I pointed out that the old railroad bridge at the border had been designated unsafe for vehicles and had been replaced, for vehicular traffic only, by a new sturdy bailey bridge.


The old RR bridge was then assigned to service for pedestrian-only traffic from the Costa Rica side to the Panamanian border and back, over the crocodile-laden Sixaola river. At the time I quipped: "Thankfully (I'm being just a little cheeky here), it seems the railroad bridge is still deemed acceptable for fifty to one hundred people crossing it in both directions at the same time." At that time, the five people I was with and myself did just that, walking across with a large crowd going in both directions.


So it was interesting to read recently that the bridge had collapsed but fortunately no one was on it at the time. The authorities have yet to announce the cause of the collapse - just old age perhaps (GG can relate to that).


In a separate bridge issue, in mid-September, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court issued an order to MOPT (Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes - essentially our Department of Transportation) giving them two years to assure the safety of observers who crowd the Tarcoles bridge, about 15 miles north of Jacó. Most people who come this way have stopped to gawk at the one or two dozen hungry crocks sunning themselves in the mud below the bridge. The bridge is modern but only has a very low guard rail that could be easily breached by accidentally falling over the edge. Then you're lunch for the crocs. Good order Court, but why two years?


More to be learned and reported on later.


Independence Day


September 15 is the annual holiday designated for celebration of Costa Rica's independence from Spain which occurred on that day in 1821.


All the modern countries in Central America from Guatemala to Panama celebrate the same independence day. After Simon Bolivar led a local rebellion that threw the Spanish out of the Vice-Royalty of New Granada (Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela), the other Vice-Royalties, Mexico and Guatemala (of which Costa Rica was a part) revolted and declared independence. Due to poor communications and the relative remoteness of Costa Rica at the time, the news that they were finally independent didn't reach Costa Rica for almost a month.


In modern times, the route taken by the original courier of the news of independence is duplicated by teenage children running a torch relay from Guatemala all the way down to Cartago south of San José. During the month of September and particularly just before September 15, the red, white and blue flags and bunting come out prolifically and so do the school kids practicing their drums and Glockenspiels (there's nothing a Costa Rican kid loves more than to pound the heck out of a drum and create noise).


This year marks the 196th year of independence (be careful, some people designate it to be the 193th anniversary after the date of the first government formation). This year, as always, the drummer and glockenspiel bands practiced for a couple of weeks as the town of Quepos became replete with red, white and blue. There was a lengthly and colorful parade to show things off on September 15. The kids as usual stole the show, particularly the little ones all decked out in their red, white and blue finery. Happy Birthday Costa Rica!


Baseballs Are Made in Costa Rica - Whoodathunkit?


GG found an interesting article in Q Costa Rica this week. It seems all the baseballs for the U.S. Major League teams are made in Costa Rica. The Rawlings Company has had a factory in the town of Turrialba (60 km/36 miles) west of San José for over forty years. If you look up Turrialba via the Chronicles Search Routine below you will get a a large number of references that talk about all the activity at Volcan Turrialba in recent years. It's one of our busier volcanoes.


Rawlings also makes minor league baseballs in a factory in China but those balls are clearly marked as "Made in China" while the major league U.S. balls are unmarked in that fashion. Whoodathunkit?


¡Pura Vida!

Rumble and Weather Talk
(Shaky Happenings Around the Pacific Rim)

Destruction in Mexico

Once more this month, gracias a dios, there has been very little rumble to talk about in Costa Rica.


The shakers in Mexico dominated the news in September. The terrible earthquakes there, some over 8 on the Richter Scale, have left tremendous devastation and a fatality count of several hundred.


The first and worst of the tremors, centered southwest of Mexico City, was measured at 8.1 or 8.2, depending on who's seismometer you read. That would make it about 10 times the energy release of the terremoto GG experienced in Puntarenas and the Nicoya peninsula in September of 2012 (see Terremoto Terror). That one was surely scary enough.


After the recent big one there were two additional serious quakes in Mexico in the seven range and a number of aftershocks in the 5+ range.


Landslide Near San José

The rains in Costa Rica continued unabated. Landslides and flooding continue to be problems in many parts of the country but particularly in the central valley and northern provinces. Several hundred were forced into shelters by flooding or danger to their homes.


With all the other havoc caused by three major hurricanes and recent earthquakes, 2017 will obviously go down in history as some kind of record year for natural disaster events, at least in the Western Hemisphere.



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

Search the Golden Gringo Chronicles Archives for Topics That Interest You

You can use our Archives to search for anything that has been written in more than 220 feature articles of the Golden Gringo Chronicles plus find Broken News items and ROMEO restaurant reviews. Enter your topic or item to search in the Google Search Routine below and follow the links offered from the search results. Suggestion: Enter only a simple, precise and unique as possible keyword or two in order to narrow the number of references retrieved:


Golden Gringo Chronicles - Enter Search Here


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

Allan's Air Force
(Watch Out for Low Flying Aircraft)

GG means really low flying aircraft, like the ones that end up crashed in the jungle, but in this case they didn't crash.


El Avion - Manuel Antonio

If you live here or have visited the area you can't help but come across an unexpected site on the top of Manuel Antonio hill. Coming from Quepos, as you reach the peak of the mountain and cross over the top, just before you begin the decent down the road to the beach, you will be startled to see the front end of a large plane sticking out of the jungle. This landmark is named, understandably, El Avion, and is a well-known bar and restaurant. There is an interesting history to this plane and so is the larger story that continues to evolve around it.


GG had the opportunity recently of spending a couple of hours with the founder of El Avion (and the founder of a bunch of other stuff as we shall see), a gentleman named Allan Templeton. Allan, though gringo by birth (Connecticut) is a defacto Tico having first come to Costa Rica in 1978 as a member of the Peace Corps and, despite a few years living in different parts of South America, has spent most of his life here in south central Costa Rica. After trying a few and varied business opportunities here and elsewhere he hit upon the idea of the hotel in Manuel Antonio and, in 1988, a three room hotel was added down the street from the present El Avion which became the Costa Verde Hotel that today has more than 70 (non-airplane) rooms.


El Avion Pub Bar ("Contra Bar")

During his early years here, Allan often took flights out of San José's Juan Santamaria airport and noticed a few inoperable (that's a kinder word than junked) planes or sections of fuselage on the edge of the airport. Some of these skeletons were used for airport bomberos (firemen) training drills where tire fires were created in the fuselages for the trainees to put out with their foam equipment.


Other used planes were just sitting there open to the elements. Allan first saw the plane shown in the photo to the right, the one with the camouflage paint, abandoned on the side of the airport. He hit upon the idea that it might make an interesting bar if he could acquire the plane at the right price. He got the right price (guess there's not much of a market for leftover planes that can't fly). That was in 2000 and it became El Avion.


He learned that this particular model of aircraft (C123) went back to World War II when it was used as a glider and troop landing plane (capacity of sixty-four soldiers). Later, in Vietnam, it was powered by two triple-prop engines and served duty as a supply plane. This particular copy of the plane later was relegated to be of service in the Iran-Contra affair to supply fighters in Nicaragua against the contras (the Ollie North connection). After that incident was over, the plane was abandoned at the San José airport and had been sitting there since the late 1980's. Allan bought it in 2000 and moved it to the present location. A restaurant was added the facility became know as El Avion.


The two nacelles on the plane shown in the picture at the top are designed to house the propeller engines but are now empty. Getting the plane from San José to Manuel Antonio was not an easy affair. Allan pointed out that back in the 1980's the bridges were so poor between the Central Valley and Quepos that he had to ship the plane in pieces by truck to Caldera (near Puntarenas) where it was loaded onto a barge and brought by water down the Pacific coast to Quepos. GG remembers those roads and bridges very well. As late as 2003, when I first started coming to this area, there were eleven one-lane bridges between Quepos (three in Quepos alone) and the airport, some of them looking like they wouldn't support a bus let alone a heavy trailer with a plane on its back. Now all those one-laners have been replaced with modern reinforced concrete bridges.


Sunset at El Avion Restaurant

Getting the airplane up the paved road from the Quepos dock was relatively easy and they succeeded in getting the plane to its current resting place. The bar became a hit and a landmark. A restaurant was built around the plane and El Avion was born. Oh, did I mention that all of these facilities we're talking about have one of the best views in Manuel Antonio, that is, the Pacific Ocean, the nearby rock

islands, and the incredible sunsets we have here.


"Cockpit Cottage" Interior
Boing 727 Fuselage Home - Before
Boing 727 Fuselage Home - Today

If an old plane fuselage could be successfully turned into a bar and restaurant, might one be turned into actual hotel rooms? Allan realized that the aluminum that these planes are made from is a perfect construction material for Costa Rica. Properly maintained it would be good at combating corrosion in a jungle where it's often 90/90 (degrees Fahrenheit and percent humidity).


The first project was quite simple, the cockpit of a Lockheed airplane that Allan quickly dubbed the "Cockpit Cottage" (photo left - note the cockpit has been made into a kitchenette.


Next on the agenda after El Avion was a retired, well-used fuselage of a Boing 727, a plane GG often flew in the '60s and '70s. This copy was made into a large suite that Allan dubbed the "Fuselage Home" (see photo left).


Most of the rooms at Costa Verde hotel today are still conventional hotel rooms but those airplane rooms are intriguing to an old flyer like me. I was treated to a tour of two of them and I noticed the extensive use of the rich woods that are natural and native to Costa Rica which have been used in the floor, paneling and room dividers.


An additional new plane and suite, a very large room that was more like an apartment, was just finishing up its renovation when I saw it. This suite had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, one pair on either end of the fuselage where the floor had been lowered to the freight deck, with a large living room perched higher "on the flight deck" in between the bedrooms. There is also a cockpit where you can sit in the pilot or co-pilot's chair.


Allan (Right) Being Interviewed by The Travel Channel in the "Carcass" of His Latest Project

The next project involves a McDonnell-Douglas MD-80 fuselage being built into a steep jungle hillside. I mentioned to Allan that our ROMEO group had recently had lunch at the Anaconda restaurant which is part of the main hotel and that I noticed yet another fuselage resting temporarily beside the restaurant. Sure enough, he confirmed this fuselage is the new project and would be made into rooms, in this case another two-bedroom suite.


Now with this much airplane conversion experience under his belt Allan often jokingly refers to himself as a "Master of Jet Carcasses". He efforts have attracted many a reporter from travel magazines and television programs.


The Costa Verde complex during these nearly 30 years has included adding restaurants. The operation now includes restaurants El Avion, La Cantina, El Wagon and Anaconda, all located along the hotel strip running down the hill. The links in the above names are to the ROMEO reviews, all of which have received an above average rating.


In addition to the restaurants and expansion of the hotel there now are two jungle rides, the Zip Coaster and the Canopy Bike, the latter being a motorized hanging bike, the speed of which is controlled by the rider. (GG has tried it - I call it zip-lining for old farts - great fun).


Whether you stay at the hotel or not, the Costa Verde complex and particularly El Avion is one of the most interesting places in Manuel Antonio. Check it out, and...


Happy landings!


¡Pura Vida!

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


Now this one takes the cake...or at least it accompanies it.


If you guessed it to be a cup of coffee, of course you were right.


But what is that shiny stuff in the middle of the foamy cream?


Naw, it couldn't be....



Answer in What's-in-a-Word section below.




(Cumon Mon, Let's Dance!)

Costa Rica has two sides bordered by oceans, the Pacific to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east. The distance between the Caribbean Islands and Costa Rica is not huge; for example, Costa Rica to Jamaica is less than 700 miles. So it's not surprising that, at some point in time, the Caribbean culture would have an influence in the development of the country. It started shortly after Señor Cristóbal Colón (you remember him, the dude with the three ships, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria) made four trips to the "new world" from 1492 to 1502 (see History of Costa Rica - A Primer, Part II, The Spanish Occupation).

Pedro Alonso Niño

The immigration of West African culture (often referred to as the African Diaspora) technically started as early as 1492 with Chris. He had, as one of his ship's pilots, a gentleman named Pedro Alonso Niño (left), a Spanish-African who was a Moor born in Spain. Later Alonso returned to the Caribbean as an independent (contractor) and then back to Spain with a ship-worth of wealth but, on his return to Spain, he fell afoul of the Spanish Crown. He was imprisoned and died before his trial took place; the accusation at the trial would have been that he was holding out some of that wealth from the crown.


By the middle of the sixteenth century, Europeans, including Columbus and succeeding compañeros, had explored and made the first maps of the Caribbean Islands including Jamaica and had made a number of forays into what would become the Central American coast.


During the 16th through the 18th centuries there was a large migration from West Africa to the Caribbean, most of them involuntarily, as slaves. The capture and transport of slaves to the new world during that period was a world-wide phenomena and scourge and heavily practiced by the major European powers in order to people their colonies and plantations with labor. Such was the case with France (French Guiana, Haiti), Spain (Colombia, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico), England (Jamaica, Trinidad, Bahamas and, of course, the U.S.A.) and Portugal (Brazil). All these powers took their slaves from colonized parts of West Africa where the slaves learned the respective European languages of their masters. That's why those island colonies still speak dialects of those various languages today.


I read an article recently which stated that Calypso started in Trinidad, which is about 1,500 miles away from Costa Rica, in the 1960's. That surprised me as instinctively I thought that the incredible rhythm and beat of Calypso was surely a reflection of another, more ancient culture (it was, it's African). What the writer of that article meant was that Calypso was introduced to Costa Rica in the '60's, but as we shall see below, neither statement is totally true.


Friends Thomas and Jessie
The Parismina Boys

Recently I was introduced by a friend to a gentleman named Thomas Carry Bailey who, like my friend, was born and raised on the Costa Rican Caribbean coast. Thomas and his parents were born in Siguirres (see map above, right), a small town about 45 km west of Limón. When Thomas was five years old, the family moved to Parismina, a small town directly on the Caribbean coast half way between Limón and the Nicaragua border (map above). My friend Jessie and his family also happen to be from Parismina and his family and Thomas' go back a long way. Thomas (age 64) went to school with Jessie's mom so he knew the family well for many years..


Thomas Bailey Performing

Thomas' heritage is Jamaican which is where his grandparents emigrated from. That explains his good command of English and his strong Island accent (I kept hearing "eye-tee" and eventually asked him to write it down - he wrote "Haiti"). Thomas, always the gentleman, gave me the scoop on how Calypso developed in the Caribbean.


The beginnings of Calypso in Costa Rica came with the building of the railroad from Puerto Limón to Alejuela (see Choo Choo Chiquita - History of the Railroad in Costa Rica). It took almost 20 years beginning in 1871 (long before the 1960's) to build the railroad over the mountainous and thick jungle terrain of the 147 kilometers/88 miles route from the coast to the central valley.


Many of the railroad workers were imported from the islands (slavery having been abolished in most of the developed world by then) and with the workers came their music. Many died, reportedly over 5,000 due to malaria and other diseases (the Panama Canal, which happened about the same time but was not completed until 1914, would have an even worse record with estimated fatalities of 27,000). Many of the workers stayed in Central America and most of those that elected to stay in Costa Rica settled on the Caribbean coast.


According to Thomas most of the original calypso songs were initially sung in African dialects on the islands but eventually they were translated, either in the African colonies or later on the islands, into the European languages that dominated the islands where the slaves became citizens. In Costa Rica many of the songs that were imported in English, primarily from Jamaica, eventually got translated into Spanish.


As the 20th century progressed, Calypso festivals began to pop up in different places all over Costa Rica. Later, the first International Calypso Festival based in Costa Rica happened in 2012 and then in July of 2017 the 5th annual International Calypso Festival occurred in the Caribbean coast town of Cahuita, half way between Limón and Puerto Viejo.


Thomas Bailey's full time job is being a tour guide for Iguana Tours, a well known multi-tour company based in Quepos. He often serves as host aboard a company catamaran, the Guayacan, where he gets an opportunity to play his banjo and sing calypso (see video above left and note how the base of the banjo has been worn from frequent use). On the trip GG took with Thomas, after lunch, he asked the passengers (some from Spain, some from Holland and me) what they'd like to hear sung. The others responded with names I had never heard of (or in accents I couldn't interpret) but Thomas quickly produced a song for every artist they mentioned and they all sang along.


When he got around to me I thought I'd be clever and, as my choice, blurted out the "King of Calypso". Without hesitation Thomas raised his head to the ceiling and began singing one of Harry Bellafonte's* greatest hits, the banana boat song: "Daylight come and me wan' go home. Day, me say day, me say day, me say day, daylight come and I wanna go home... c'mon mister tallyman, tally me banana". The wonderful thing about calypso is the upbeat happiness of the rhythm and beat even when applied to the simplest things in life. And this from a people that were terribly abused. Their recovery is inspiring to me.


I often think about the happiness inherent in the calypso character because a few years ago a friend gave me a present done by a Caribbean coast Costa Rican artist of a painting depicting calypso dancers (right). You might see it in the background of the video previews I give each month on YouTube about the upcoming Chronicle. I find it a happy painting.


"C'mon mon, let's dance!"


Yeah mon.


* Bellafonte was actually born in Harlem, New York in 1927 (yes, currently he is 90) of island immigrants from Martinique and Jamaica, he returned with his mother to Jamaica in 1935, staying there until he was thirteen and learning the music he so loved.


Harry Bellafonte's great talent and good looks propelled him to a very successful career that lasted to the end of the 20th century. Along the way he became the "King of Calypso".



¡Solo Bueno!



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?)



Malaria Alert


Yup, that's right, the Costa Rican Minister of Health recently issued an alert for Malaria, saying this:


Costa Rica did not have transmissions from 2012 to 2015 however, this year there have been four cases of autochthonous transmission in Matina, three in Sarapiquí and, more recently, two in Pital de San Carlos”. The ministry then went on the blame Nicaraguan worker migration as the source:


Due to the high rate of constant migration between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, due mostly to labor reasons, and taking into account that this country (Nicaragua - ed.) is an area of high endemic and has recently reported a high number of cases, it was decided to declare health alert for increased risk of malaria in Costa Rica.


The cases in Costa Rica reported so far (9) have been limited to the northern and eastern provinces. Not to be outdone, the U.S. Embassy issued it's own alert:


"At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not recommend that travelers to Costa Rica take medicine to prevent malaria.  Public health authorities are responding to this outbreak by enhancing malaria surveillance, making sure that patients are diagnosed and treated promptly, and educating the community and health care workers on malaria.

Because malaria is spread by mosquito bites, travelers to Costa Rica should prevent mosquito bites (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites). This includes using insect repellent when outdoors, wearing protective clothing, and sleeping in an air-conditioned or well-screened room or under an insecticide-treated bed net. 

Learn more about malaria, how to prevent it, and what to do if you think you are infected at CDC’s malaria page for travelers (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/malaria).


Keep your bug spray handy amigos and damn those Nicaraguan mosquitoes.


How Sweet It Is - Too Much I'm Afraid


GG, a diagnosed Type II diabetic, watches the food consumption by natives with unease. Diabetes is on the rise in Costa Rica and portends a serious health crisis in the making. Life expectancy here (79.6 years) is statistically insignificantly different from the U.S. (79.3) but as recently as 2011 the average age of the population here was a full ten years lower than the U.S. (26.5 vs 36.7 years). As the population ages, problems due to diabetes are likely to accelerate.


Reports keep coming out about the rise in sugar consumption in Costa Rica. There doesn't seem to be any reason for it other than tastes run to the sweet life. And sugar-based product companies are ever-ready to provide the stuff in greater quantities.


GG has conducted a non-scientific study of the consumption of sugary products - just watch Ticos pursue their love for sodas, processed snacks and candy. Add to that the typical Tico diet high in other carbohydrates (rice, beans, yucca, potatoes, tortillas, etc.) and you can guess a serious situation is in the making. The consumption of sugary drinks is currently 1.8-12oz cans per person per day and this number is on the increase. For men between the ages of 20 and 44 that number jumps to over 3.


Time for sugar awareness education methinks.


¡Pura Vida!




Travel Quote of the Month





Answer to Que Es Eso?


Yup, that's pure gold leaf (24 karat shavings) in the center of that foam.


A new restaurant has opened in the San José suburb of Escazu called, unsurprisingly, Goldy's Cafeteria, and is offering two types of special coffees with gold leaf sprinkled on top: a frappucino for 6,250 colones (about $11 at current exchange rates) and a cappuccino for 7,250 (~$12.50). Well, after all, there's gold in them, thar beans amigos, it's not cheap. Nothing like one-upping Starbuck's, eh?


As an old chemical engineer with a rapidly fading knowledge of the periodic table, GG's first thought was: Whoa amigos, should we be ingesting the shavings of a heavy metal - especially one (Au) with atomic weights only a couple of protons away from mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb), both definitely bad actors? Fluorine is only a couple of protons away from oxygen but I wouldn't breath flourine if I could avoid it.


The owners of the new coffee shop, who were inspired by similar coffee offerings during a visit to Asia weighed in this way: “We saw a restaurant that sold food with edible gold and found it interesting and decided to investigate more about it. Besides the great look of gold in food, we saw it has benefits to one’s health and is used in laboratories and hospitals.” They pointed out that there are several websites touting the health benefits of gold.

Personally, I'd like to see a few more clinical studies on the health benefits of the metal before I start ingesting gold leaf. Until then I'll just take a regular cup of Costa Rican java with no sugar and no cream - Pura Costa Rica (about $1.25).


Etymology Section:


Real (Used in the Broken News article on Costa Rica's CONCACAF standing)


"Real" is one of those handy-dandy Spanish words that can be used in different ways. Its first meaning is like that in English; tangible, something real. But the word is also used to mean "Royal" as in La Familia Real or The Royal Family.


The name of the futbol team Real Madrid (official emblem left, including the Spanish Crown symbol) means Royal Madrid. It was given the royal seal of approval by King Alphonso XIII in 1902 when the club was founded.



Diaspora (Used in the article on Calypsonians)


Diaspora the word comes from the Greek διασπορά (diaspora, literally "scattering"). It first gained popularity in English in reference to the Jewish diaspora before being more broadly applied to other populations.


Calypso (Used in the article on Calypsonians)


The origin of the word is believed to come from Greek mythology. Calypso is the siren that played a role in Homer's Odyssey in which she attempts to keep the fabled Greek hero Odysseus on her island to make him her immortal husband (GG has met women like that).


According to Homer, Calypso kept Odysseus prisoner at Ogygia for seven years, while Apollodorus says five years. Calypso enchants Odysseus with her singing as she moves to and from, weaving on her loom with a golden shuttle. During this time they have sex together, although Odysseus soon comes to wish for circumstances to change (I met women like that too).


Autochthonous (Used in the Malaria Alert article in the health section)


The primary definition is something that is aboriginal or indigenous. In medical pathology it is defined this way:


(1) found in the part of the body in which it originates, as a cancerous lesion,

(2) found in a locality in which it originates, as an infectious disease.



ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Mercato del Porto - Quepos


Location: Pez Vela Marina, Second Level, Dockside
Hours: 7 AM to 10 PM Daily
Parking: More than adequate as part of the marina underground parking garage.
Contact: Tel: 2519 - 9091; Website: http://www.mercatodelporto.com; Email: info@mercatodelporto.com

Reviewing ROMEOS: Alma L., Bob N., Jerry C., Kenny M., Jessie P.

To Review Our Rating System and Procedure, go here: R.O.M.E.O. Rating System


This is one of the new (2-3 years) restaurants (there are six now) that has grown up with the new marina on the southwest side of town.


It's a simple place, simply decorated as shown in the photo left, with plain wooded chairs. The red checkered table cloths add to the Italian bent of the motif. Most of the tables directly overlook the docks and the marina with a view of the Pacific beyond and the coast running north and to the right.


The restaurant bills itself as a Pizzeria & Mercado Gourmet as it also includes an Italian Deli in the backside of the restaurant. Our group gave the Mercato del Porto a rating of 4.2 sloths for ambiance.


The cuisine is

Italian and the menu is replete with that fare from page one to the end. It includes breakfast sandwiches, antipasti, pizzas (red and white), strombolis, pastas and paninis. There were even three selections on their Menu por Bambini (kids menu). The main courses for adults included a widespread selection of Italian flavorings, spices and vegetables like porcini mushrooms.


GG started with an appetizer of three kinds of pitted olives marinated in balsamic vinegar and olive oil - fresh and tasty. Another ROMEO had a gazpacho that was tasty but not as smooth as he expected.


At the suggestion of one of our ROMEOs who had eaten there before, three of us ordered the linguine with clam sauce (all three white but red was available also). The pasta was truly al dente (haven't had it that way in many a pacific sunrise). The clams were fresh and the light sauce very flavorful. Another ROMEO had a red sauced (actually tomato cream) tagliatelle, again flavorful, fresh and al dente.


Two of us treated ourselves to a dessert called Fagottini alla Nutella, a baked, tortilla-like pouch containing fresh strawberries in a pool of hazelnut puree, sprinkled with chocolate sauce and accompanied by vanilla ice cream. Zowie!


Our group gave Mercato del Porto a composite score of 4.6 sloths for food quality.

Value Index = 120


Our server (Romero) turned out to be a neighbor to one of our group and he gave us pleasant, friendly and efficient serving experience yielding a 4.2 sloth rating for service. That gave an overall sloth rating of 4.33 for ambiance, food quality and service.


For one appetizer, two pasta dishes, the nutella dessert and two soft drinks the bill came to just slightly over 30,000 colones or just about $26 per dinner. Our group gave Mercato del Porto a composite rating of 3.60$ for cost which yields a Value Index of 4.55/3.60x100=120 and puts the restaurant in the upper third of our value rankings for restaurants in the area.


The ROMEOs can easily recommend Mercato del Porto for a good meal, especially if you like Italian food, at a reasonable cost.


(Gotta go back and try the pizza next)


¡Buen Provecho!



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