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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): 1. McDonald`s Celebrates 50 Years in Costa Rica; 2. Christmas Week Shutdowns; 3. Canada and Costa Rica Celebrate 100 Year Relationship; 4. Standard Visa Stay May Be Extended; 5. Aguinaldo Shoppers Abound.

2. Economic Drum Beat (Costa Rica Business and Economic Happenings): 1. Astra Zeneca Looking to Add Jobs Here; 2. Foreign Investment Down 50% in Latin America; 3. "We Will Go to the IMF - Carlos Alvarado"; 4. Significant Investments Here Continue; MicroVention-Terumo, Nevro Corp. and Intel Plan More Expansion; 5. Fifco Lays Off 10% of Their Workforce; 6. Private Taxis Are Now Taxed; 7. Costa Rica Third Highest Debt Ratio in Latin America; 8. The Cost of Covid.

3. Latin American Updates (Major Events in Neighboring Countries): Colombia - High Regard for Sanitary Rules; El Salvador - President Bukele Offers Costa Rica 100 ICU Beds; Nicaragua - New Law Designed to Guarantee Re-Election of Ortega.

4. Rumble and Weather Talk: 1. Area Rumbles at a Minimum in December, the Largest Occurring in Puerto Rico (5.7R). 2. Summer Weather Coming On Strong.

5. Feature 1: New Slick Payment Media (Costa Rica Will Go Plastic for All Note Denominations)

6. ¿Que Es Eso? Department: Ancient Zinc Monolith Found In Costa Rica - or is it?

7. Feature 2: Living Through Two Pandemics (How to Become a Centenarian)

8. Health Stuff: 1. First Costa Rican Vaccinated for Covid; 2. Ingress/Egress Rules for Costa Rica Airports; 3. Vaccine is Approved, First Shipment Arrives, Vaccinations Begin; 4. Massive, Worldwide Vaccination Campaigns Begin.

9. GGC Bookshelf and More: 1. Books from GGC Publications; 2. Golden Gringo T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs; 3. Books from the Quepos-Manuel Antonio and Other Writers Groups.

10. What's-in-a-Word: Answer to ¿Que Es Eso?

11. ROMEO Corner: Victoria`s - Manuel Antonio


Wisdom of the Ages




Christmas Week, terminating in New Year`s Day, is a really big time in Cost Rica. The week of December 24 to January 4 is governed by law in Costa Rica, particularly for public employees. The detail on that is given in the report below in the Broken News section (Christmas Week Shutdowns).

The Golden Gringo and the entire staff of GGC Publications (guess who that is) wish you and yours every blessing and good wish for the New Year.



¡Happy New Year!


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

McDonald`s Celebrates 50 Years in Costa Rica


Where`s My 8¢ Big Mac Amigos

McDonald`s Corp., and its Arcos Dorado ("Golden Arches") franchise here, are celebrating 50 years of growing business in Costa Rica. Arcos Dorado has not only grown the Tico business to over 50 stores in Costa Rica but has become the largest independent McDonald`s franchise in Latin America and, in fact, the world.


In honor of this milestone, Arcos Dorados printed 50,000 Big Mac coupons at ₡50 colones (about 8¢ U.S.) which sold out within a few hours. (You guys didn`t even give me a chance to make the bus trip up there but I`m first in line for the 51₡ Big Mac next year, right?)


This is what we call a successful, long-term business relationship.



Christmas Week Shutdowns


The week between Christmas and New Year`s is a very celebratory time in Costa Rica. For Public Institution Employees (let`s call them Government workers) its particularly celebratory as they receive not only a thirteenth month`s pay as a bonus but enjoy 11 days off including the Christmas and New Years holidays with a few odd ones in between as well. This year government offices will be closed December 24 to January 3 (get your G-stuff and Bank-stuff done early amigos). The thirteenth month salary or Aguinaldo was explained last month.


With these kinds of incentives it was obvious that this period would become a prime vacation period, which it indeed has become. This is the time when many beaches, including Manuel Antonio, will fill up with vacationers, both indigenous and international. Or at least we hope they will for the economy and workers sakes. But let`s not forget the sanitary guidelines under which we continue to operate until Covid-19 is beaten. Be safe, be careful, enjoy.


Canada and Costa Rica Celebrate 100 Year Relationship


1920-2020 Commemorative Coin
Canada and Costa Rica

This is the time Diplomats from both Canada and Costa Rica gathered recently to commemorate the 100th year of diplomatic relations between the two countries: 1920-2020. A commemorative coin was struck in honor of this diplomatic milestone and is shown at left.


The images on the coin have been struck with a high regard for environmental issues of import to both countries including those depicted as various plants and animals on the front and the water molecule on the back, water being so important to two countries that are flanked on both coasts by oceans. Congratulations to both amigos.


The event sparked my interest as a gringo such that I had to look up the U.S. diplomatic recognition between Costa Rica and the U.S. and found that it occurred on April 24, 1849. Wow, that`s even before the U.S. Civil War.


Standard Visa Stay May be Extended


The standard visa allowance for a visit to Costa Rica is 90 days and for most tourists that`s enough time to visit the parks, beaches and other attractions. But for others, it`s too short. When someone comes here to study, engage in a project and for a slew of other reasons, 90 day is just too short. That includes part-time residents and people like myself who ended up spending three years here before getting their cédula.


Typical Passport Visa Stamp

I was not alone in this. There are or were a surprising number of people in that category and the periodic trip to the border we came to affectionately call a "border run". We`d get a small group together and proceed by bus, private car or hired van to one of the border crossings (usually Peñas Blancas in the northwest at Nicaragua or Paso Canoas in the southwest at Panama. We`d cross over and spend a night or two in either San Juan del Sur or Granada in Nicaragua or David or Bocas del Toro in Panama. In those early days, in addition to keeping us legal, this also provided an opportunity to explore and visit our nearby neighbors. It made for a good introduction to living here.


Now one expat, a certain Joseph Cahill, has started a petition among the expats, and anyone else concerned, to increase the standard visa stay to 180 days or six months. Not coincidentally the visa allowance in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, in other words all of North America is already at six months for most of the Americas and many countries worldwide. If you would like to sign it: click here for the petition.


I would be very surprised if this did not pass by the government because of its potentially positive effect on the economy in the time of Covid.


Aguinaldo Shoppers Abound


Avenida Central - San José - Near The Teatro Nacional

Black Friday on November 25 turned out to be rather normal, a least by the look of thousands of shoppers walking around the downtown center of the capital`s streets looking for bargains. Of course San Jose is also the home of much of the government`s offices and the Aguinaldo for government workers was a full 13th month of their regular salary based on the average of the previous 12 months. Looks like people were out trying to spend their Christmas Bonus;


Even better news; GG counted only one unmasked shopper in the photo above. Can you find #1 and then identify if there is a second unmasked shopper? (answer in What`s-in-a-Word Section below)


¡Pura Vida!



Economic Drumbeat
(Costa Rica Business and Economic Happenings)


AstraZeneca Expanding


AstraZeneca, one of the major players in the development of a vaccine for Covid-19, is expanding it`s facilities here. In business here for some 20 years, it expects to add some 60 personnel, increasing its total workforce here to about 350. The company also recently signed a contract with Costa Rica to supply one million doses of it`s vaccine, AZD1222, jointly developed with the University of Oxford. The contract and supply is, of course, dependent on successful conclusions of clinical trials on efficacy and side-effects currently being conducted.


AstraZeneca is an international biochemicals company that: "...has its corporate headquarters in Cambridge, United Kingdom, and its main research and development (R&D) centers are in Cambridge (UK), Gaithersburg (Maryland, US), Gothenburg/Mölndal (Sweden) and Warsaw (Poland). Sales of its products and services reached $24 billion in 2019.


Foreign Investment in Latin America Declines 50%


The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) expects that when all the beans are finally counted the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean will register a 50% decline in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for the year 2020. They view this as a direct result of the Covid problem. Worldwide, FDI is expected to come in at about a 40% reduction overall.


The one bright light in the report seems to be the growth in FDI related to Covid-19 and other health problems. Costa Rica seems to have been at the forefront of obtaining new FDI related to biochemicals and medical devices. Exact figures for these two areas were not given in the ECLAC report but Costa Rica has been a leader in FDI in the last 10-20 years.


"We Will Go to the IMF" - Carlos Alvarado


Recall that Costa Rica recently suffered some major country wide strikes that greatly interrupted business and that often turned violent resulting in a number of injured police and citizens. The protestors (more like rioters) came to heel only later after President Carlos Alvarado called together various factions to "dialogue".


Alvarado at La Nación Interview

In a recent interview of the President by Armando González, the head of La Nación and the largest newspaper in Costa Rica, the Prez revealed that the government intends to enter into negotiations with the IMF to obtain a loan somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.7 billion in order to offset the economic losses due to the pandemic. Alvarado also stated that instructions to his staff were to restrain from talking about the deal with the IMF until it has been completed. Re-emphasizing Costa Rica`s need for funds to get over the Covid crisis, he also stated that "We will go to the IMF" for relief.


It`s not easy to talk about the amount of deficit in the Costa Rican budget because its normally expressed as a % of GDP or Gross Domestic Product rather than a percentage of current fiscal expenditures which we would normally use as a guide. As near as GG can determine, the numbers come out to be: GDP=$61.021Billion, Expenditures=$13,134B (which I take as the "budget") and the Deficit=$4.253B. That makes the deficit 32.4% of the budget and about 7% of GDP.


Significant Investments in Costa Rica Continue


A California based division of a Japanese company called MicroVention-Terumo announced an $80 million expansion at their facility in the Coyol Free Zone (Business Park) just west of San José`s Juan Santamaria International Airport. MVT is a major manufacturer of medical devices used for endovascular therapies for the treatment of vascular and brain diseases. This will be the third expansion of their business in Costa Rica and the goal is to reach a level of of 35,000 square meters (370,000 square feet) and 3,000 employees by the end of 2022.


Meanwhile Nevro Corporation, another California based company and also in the medical field (biopharmaceuticals) announced the opening of it`s first global manufacturing facility. Prior to this the company had subsisted on outsourcing their products but the new integration will assure providing medical products that support financial and diversified growth. On of their main products is the Senza spinal cord stimulation system, a non-pharmacologic neuromodulation platform (wazzat Ralph?) for the treatment of chronic pain. (Hmmm, maybe GG and his sciatica problem should check out these dudes) The new facility is also located in the Coyol Free Zone in Alejuela.


Third expansion announcement this month was our old friend Intel Corp., the chip guys (not potato chips folks, the electronic type). Intel`s presence in Costa Rica began in 1977 and the company currently employs over 2,000 at it`s facilities in Belén. With this new $350 million expansion over three years (2021-3) employment will rise another 200. The new facility is an expansion of their assembly and testing operations to support continued market growth.


It should be noted that Intel was the forerunner of modern tech-type investments in the central valley that gave birth to what is now called the Silicon Valley of Costa Rica because of its concentration of high-tech companies including medical supplies and devices.


Fifco to Lay Off 10% of their Employees


After reading about the four expansions above, the negative report from ECLAC (also above) doesn`t seem so threatening, does it? On the other hand the following type announcement brings you back to earth quickly.


One of the major employers here is a company by the name of Fifco or Florida Ice and Farm Company. The company is involved in the food and beverages industry as well as owning several hotels and resorts here.


They announced a layoff of 500 employees or 10% of their total employment in Costa Rica. In making the announcement the company stated: “It is important to mention that Fifco supported 100% of its workers for more than 9 months of pandemic, despite having the hotel operation 100% closed and a very important part of its beverage customers also closed (GG is surprised they could do that much).”


Part of Fifco`s Holdings in the hotel and resort area are the Reserva Conchal, the Hotel W. and the Westin Golf Resort and Spa.


Private Taxis Are Now Taxed


As of December 18 in Costa Rica taxies such as Uber, Didi, Disney+, Expedia and a host of others are now taxed. So, automatically that means the cost of these services have increased by 13%, the amount of the VAT Sales tax here. These companies are classified as “digital transborder services” which are provided by companies not located in Costa Rica through the internet and used or acquired by consumers in the country.


Costa Rica Has Third Highest Debt Ratio in Latin America


Highest 10 Debt Ratio Nations in Latin America

ECLAC, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the organization mentioned above in relation to Direct Foreign Investment recently published a study on debt to GDP ratios among the Latin American Countries.


The results shown in the table to the left are for the highest ten countries and put Costa Rica #3 with a debt to GDP ratio of 66.2%. Only Brazil (90.5%) and Argentina at 95.4% have a higher debt ratio than Costa Rica.


I`m sure that fact of our debt was pointed out to our president Carlos Alvarado when he was applying for another loan from the IMF.


Such are the fits and starts in the economy now playing out in the time of Covid-19.


The Cost of Covid


It`s often hard to have a discussion about business conditions in Costa Rica without ending up taking about the "informal" or "formal" business sectors. The simple way of understanding this is that if you or your employer do not pay into CCSS (the Social Security system) you are an "informal" employee but if you or your employee does pay into CCSS you are in the formal system.


Another Closure Sign

Being "formal" entitles you to national health care and some form of pension upon retirement Unfortunately, the system in Costa Rica is such that 45% of employment is still "informal". One can expect that being "informal" means that much of what is exchanged between employer and employee somehow is not taxed. Taxing that 45% component would obviously make a significant dent in the deficit problem mentioned above. Instead, the government relies on a higher sales tax (VAT) for its income, currently 13% , means the "formal" employee gets hit two ways, income tax and sales tax.


Having gotten that out of my mind, the government recently reviewed the cost of Covid and came up with the following numbers: since the epidemic began in early January, 3,541 businesses have closed or almost 5% of the 72,963 formal businesses registered with the Government. Of course they have no comparable numbers for the informal segment but it`s likely their closures were even worse. There was also a trend for formal companies to convert to informal to minimize costs.


And of course the businesses that were hurt the worst were the hotel and restaurant segments. Their decline in the formal segment was over 24%.


¡Solo Bueno!



Latin American Update
(Major Events In Neighboring Countries)




Instilling a respect for sanitary practices during a pandemic is the goal of every government. In Medellin, Colombia this respect hit a new high recently, or low, depending on how you look at it.


"Attn Shoppers-Please Use Sanitation Treadle..."

Security cameras caught a stray dog walking through a supermarket. After casing the joint, Bowow found the dog food aisle and helped himself to a bag of dog goodies. Then later, the pup, bag in mouth, decided to exit the market with his treasure. With proper respect for Covid rules the dog made his exit through the automatic sliding doors after passing over the disinfectant pad for all shoppers. Now there`s an anti-Covid dog.


El Salvador


President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador, noting reports that Costa Rica was down to 8 available ICU beds due to the Corona Virus, made an offer through his Twitter account to provide 100 ICU beds to help Costa Rica.


Presidents Bukele (Left) and Alvarado (right)

A report on December 8 noted that only 8 ICU beds were available here. Of the 359 intensive care beds available in the CCSS (National Health System) 226 of them are occupied by Covid-19 victims, 125 by people with other problems. On top of that report was another one that stated that three large hospitals are running over capacity: Heredia - 125%, Perez-Zeledon at 140% and Liberia at 100%.


El Salvador claims to have available 700 ICU beds in their hospitals. In Bukele`s words: “Our brothers in Costa Rica now only have 8 beds for patients in intensive care. There are 700 available here. The least we can do is offer 100 Costa Rican patients our ICUs. Let’s just coordinate the transfer,” said Bukele. As I read that statement, Bukele is suggesting that 100 patients be transferred to El Salvador rather than the beds to Costa Rica.


A few days after the Bukele offer was publicized the Costa Rica Ministry of Health announced that ICU capacity had been reached. At this time it does not appear that the El Salvador offer has been or will be taken up.




Nicaragua has a new law named “Defense of the people’s right to independence, sovereignty and self-determination for peace.” Independent readers of the bill are calling it a way to eliminate competition to President Ortega on his upcoming re-election campaign in 2021 and that it is illegal and unconstitutional. The law passed the Nicaraguan assembly with a vote of 70 to 20, the exact majority enjoyed by President Ortega`s Sandanista Party.


Here are some of the components in the new law:

There are penalties in the code and law already for these actions but now just being accused of doing them disqualifies you for participating as a candidate in the election. So if you besmirch Ortega`s character or agree publicly that the sanctions against him and his family are proper you are now a traitor and can`t run for public office in Nicaragua.


Rumble and Weather Talk

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




Peace be with us amigos. There has been several rumbles over the last 30 days but only three in the 4.0-5.0 range. Otherwise the month was quiet and the biggest shaker to hit the Central America/Caribbean area was a 5.7R registered in Puerto Rico.




The sounds and the looks of summer abound everywhere. The days of sunny beach weather have come about right on schedule. Enjoy amigos. However, the Costa Rica Weather Service was warning us as I write this at Christmas time that pre-summer cold surge #8 is forming in the northern Caribbean. We could lose as much as two degrees Celsius (about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit). Here we go suffering again - it might go down into the low 70Fs once more.


The real danger in these cold surges is wind gusts and rain that could flood rivers and streams causing flash flooding.



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


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Feature 1 New Slick Payment Media
(Costa Rica Will Go Plastic for All Note Denominations)


About 10 years ago the Chronicles reported on a significant change in the money system here when the coins were recast and the paper denominations were expanded to allow the larger denominations of 20,000 (colones) and 50,000. The 50,000 note, worth then about $100, was later withdrawn as it sparked little interest for use by the general populace (perhaps it was too big, too early; maybe later) while the 20,000 (current value about $33) note became rather popular.


The earlier changes occurred at a time when the dollar exchange rate was about 500 ₡/$ (it`s now about 600). At that time the bills were revamped in size and look and a new plastic bill was introduced for the 1,000 note which affectionately became known as el Rojo or "a red" in reference to it`s color (which is really more pink than red - maybe we should call it "una rosa")? (There is no end to the trivia that the GG mind can concoct). The new bill was of a rather complex design, including a see-through clear plastic section. People found it difficult to use it in the beginning because of it`s slipperiness. It sometimes seemed to jump out of your wallet onto the counter or floor. After we got used to it and after the slipperiness wore down a bit (probably because it got dirty) it became just another note.


Now the government is set to revamp it`s 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 notes, all into the plastic format. Are more slippery times ahead amigos, except with 50,000 colone notes ($83)? As part of the new changes now being instituted the 5 colone coin has also been withdrawn, its value now being worth only $0.0083 or .83 US cents. (gotta believe the 10 colone coin isn`t far behind a similar fate).


Carol Vaughn, a friend and oftentimes contributing author to the Chronicles recently wrote an article on this new money for the Costa Rica Star. I thought you would like reading it here:


Get Ready For New Plastic Costa Rican Money in 2021

By Carol Vaughn

The paper money banknote that circulates the most in Costa Rica is the “rojo”, the red 1,000 note worth about $1.67. A few years ago Costa Rica began making the rojo out of a plastic substrate, in order to prolong its life and make it recyclable. In 2021, all Tico folding money will be made out of plastic, except the 50,000 note, which is being phased out of circulation. The rojo has won international awards for its beauty of design and artwork, featuring a Guanacaste tree, white-tailed deer, beautiful foliage and — guess how many scorpions.

As most know, the Costa Rican colon (CRC) was named after Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus, (Cristobal Colon in Spanish), who visited Costa Rica in 1502. The colon was introduced in 1896, and is issued exclusively by the Central Bank of Costa Rica. The new rojo began circulating on November 26 of last year, and is waterproof and more durable than the paper bill it replaced. All denominations of Costa Rican bills are different lengths so that the visually impaired can differentiate them. Unlike United States money, the bills are also different colors, making it easier to distinguish one from the other.

The New 2,000, 5,000 and 20,000 Shown in This Sample Printing Says "Muestra Sin Valor" or Sample No Value.

A new 2,000 and 5,000 note will begin to circulate next week, and soon all Costa Rican currency will be made of plastic substrate, which is waterproof, harder to counterfeit, and has a longer life in circulation. Pablo Villalobos, Director at BCCR, explained, “In 2017, the Banco Central began a process of revision of the family of folding bills, endeavoring to improve their durability and minimize their damage to the environment.” This revision is anticipated to save the bank about 74% by lasting longer. The life of a folding bill will go from 12 months, to 64 months. Plastic money is also harder to counterfeit.

“Although the new bank notes have adjustments in their design and in their structure of security measures to verify their authenticity and combat counterfeiting, they maintain the same characters, motifs, shades and sizes of those currently in circulation”, explained a spokesman for the Central Bank. The new bills include holograms and transparent windows to avoid counterfeit.

The plastic substrate bills will live on, recycled into benches, national park railings, trash cans and even playgrounds. The rollout of the new rojo has gone very smoothly, and concern over a possible run on money in the banks due to COVID-19, has subsided. The 50,000 will be a collector’s item, for those wishing memorabilia from Costa Rica’s folding paper bill past.


___ ___ ___


Thank you Carol for another great article.


Un "Rojo"
New 10,000 Colone Note
(= 10 Rojos)

The "Rojo" and the 10,000 colone note complete the five paper notes (er...oops, the plastic array) of the new currency, complete with plastic see through sections that are difficult to copy making the currency hard to counterfeit.


My guess is that it won`t be that long before we see a new 50,000 plastic note reintroduced as inflation has a way of forcing this issue and remember it`s only been about a decade since the exchange rate in Costa Rica has gone from 500/$ to roughly 600/$.


Just ask the Venezuelans how inflation-push works. With the collapse of their oil industry in the early part of the last decade they lost important foreign funds.



It the meantime we can have fun with our slippery, colorful and artistic money.


¡Pura Vida!





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



What am I - I`m made of zinc and a trace of other precious metals (yuk,yuk).



Looks like it was grown from the rock.



Could it be a precious zinc monolith like others found around the world?



Ancient Astronaut Theorists Say "Yes".


Answer in


section below.

¡Pura Vida!



Living Through Two Pandemics

(How to Become a Centenarian)


GG recently came upon an article in a Costa Rican daily electronic newspaper that grabbed my attention. I decided I needed to share the facts of the story with the Chronicles readers. It was too interesting to just let go by (at least to me).


You may remember, or know from other sources, that Costa Rica includes one of only four Blue Zones in the entire world. To refresh your memory of what constitutes a blue zone and where that region is in Costa Rica go HERE. It is basically an area that has an unusually high percentage of centenarians (people of 100 years or more in age on this planet and are still alive). Obviously it might be useful to other regions of the world as to why these areas do so well.


Juan Gabriel Hernandez

The article I read featured the story of one Juan Gabriel Hernández Matamoros (photo left) who lives in Naranjo, Costa Rica, northwest of the Capital of San José. While this area is not factually a part of the Blue Zone it isn`t far from it either. Señor Hernandez was born on October 19, 1913. Yup, that`s right, Don Juan Gabriel Hernandez Matamoros is 107 years old.


Gabriel and Juan

His mother named him in honor of San Gabriel, the chief of the Archangels and he has kept a definite devotion to Gabriel to this day. Gabriel, you may recall is the archangel that announced to Mary, mother of Jesus, that she would give birth to a saviour of the world. Juan still keeps his devotional statue of Gabriel in his home (photo right). And, although slowed down by poor circulation in his legs, he is still quite active. (I know the feeling amigo even though I'm 30 years your junior)


Juan was a carpenter most of his life and learned the trade from several of his uncles who also were carpenters. He was 80 years old in 1993 when his seven children suggested he retire. He slowed down but didn`t stop and still spends a few hours each day puttering in his workshop which takes up one corner of his home. Carpentry is definitely still his passion. Juan`s wife of 72 years and mother of his seven children passed away in 2008.


Just think of what this man has seen during his lifetime:


Polio Epidemic 1916, 30 thousand deaths. He was 3 years old.

World War I (1914-1918); he was 1-5 years old - 20 million deaths, 21 million wounded.

Spanish Flu Pandemic, 1918, 75 million deaths. Age 5.

Dozens of Major Eruptions of Volcan Poas in the 1920s, 30s, 50s and 2000s. Naranjo is 20 kilometers downwind from Poas.

World War II, 1939-1045, 60-120 million perished. Age 26-32.

Costa Rica Civil War, 1948, 2,300 deaths in a population of 500,000, Age 48.

Vietnam War,1955-1975, 58,209 (U.S.) deaths, age 42+. (U.S.) Several million military and civilian.

Asian Flu, 1957, 1.1 million deaths, Age 44.

Aids Epidemic, 1981 to present, 35 million perished, Age 68+.

H1N1 Swine Flu, 2009, 727,000 deaths, Age 96.

Ebola 2014, 11,325 deaths. Age 101

And now Covid-19; worldwide deaths over 1.7 million at this time and counting, Age 107.


Señor Hernandez has lived in the town of Naranjo all his life. Naranjo is currently a canton of about 43,000 people situated to the northeast of San José, maybe half again bigger in size of the canton of Quepos. Cantons are like counties, and there are a number of cantons in each of our seven provinces (the Province of Puntarenas which includes the Canton of Quepos has a total of 11 cantons including Quepos). The actual towns in each case are probably less than half the listed population of the cantons and cantons are usually named after the principal town in the canton as are Naranjo and Quepos.


Costa Rica has always abounded in various forms of folklore, some of it designed to scare and often to keep you on the path of righteousness. Don Juan was able to give two examples of what he perceived to the interviewer and writer of the article. In his young man days, Don Juan used to make a trip to Zarcero to deliver corn to his parent`s farm. One day, during a trip to Zarcero, a woman climbed onto the wagon and began yelling that she was La Llorona. Literally translated that means "The Weeping or Wailing Woman".


To get back at her husband, the woman threw her two children into the river (the one near where Don Juan made his trips) and then threw herself in also. Locals found her dead but it is said that she still wanders the countryside wailing and scaring people. According to Don Juan that creature visited his wagon more than once. To get the complete story of the legend of La Llorona go HERE. Don Juan and his friend were doing the trip to Zarcero one night when a woman came from nowhere and jumped onto the wagon, she screaming that she was La Llorona. They were scared until, after a while, she leaped off the wagon and disappeared. According to Don Juan that contact happened more than once.


Don Juan also claims a contact with another scary Costa Rican legend: El Cadejos. In this legend El Cadejos is a black dog with supernatural powers that originated as a man that was turned into a beast during a horrific argument with his father. The man who became El Cadejos was a terrible drunk and this beast now warns those who drink to much to straighten out. The full legend can be read HERE.


Despite the need of a walking cane these days, Don Juan gets around and is in general good health (I can relate to that too amigo, in both aspects). When not puttering around in his workshop you might find him in his favorite overstuffed chair - the orange one shown at left as he watches a Saprissa futbol game (yeah man, I`m a Saprissita also) or he may be thoroughly reading La Nación, the largest daily newspaper in Costa Rica.


I was taken aback by his chair because it looks very much like the one GG recently put into his quarto. The only difference? - Juan`s is orange and mine (right) is brown and also I have a taller back support. As a budding scientist friend of mine in University used to say: "Great minds think in the same track!" (I wonder what ever happened to that amigo?)


When asked what reasons he'd give for his longevity, Don Juan answered without hesitation:


"Eat well, sleep at least eight hours a day, do not consume liquor, do not smoke, and work hard."


And by that last item he means work hard physically.


Those have been the secrets that Don Juan claims have kept him in very good health until now. Well, perhaps they`re not so secret; the quote out of the Blue Zone survey suggested the same thing when they reviewed the centenarian lifestyle in our own Blue Zone (in Guanacaste). See: Centenarian Capers for more info on our 100+ Costa Rica buddies (actually a majority of them are women).


And we have another interesting character in Costa Rica; one who claims to be Don Juan`s senior. His name is José Uriel Delgado Corrales. This Don José, who is affectionately known in Costa Rica as "Chepito", has a government issued cédula with a birth date on it of March 10, 1900 which makes him 120 this year!


A picture of him when he was a bit younger, at his 114th annual birthday party exhibiting his cédula in the upper left photo and is only topped by the photo in the lower left with him dancing at his 119th cumpleanos (birthday celebration). Old Don José never did miss a chance to dance with the ladies nor did he miss having a slice of cake.


Their is a mild controversy about his age as Guineas or any other International Records verification organization has not yet been asked to verify his birth date (Chepito claims he has a birth certificate showing his birth date as 10 March 1900 and he has a cédula with the same birth date). In the meantime he looks forward to having his birthday celebrated each year at his retirement home in Santa Ana where he lives (25 years now) and the staff say he still relishes his daily walks around the home`s campus.


Two gents with an average age of 113. Wow.


¡Felicidades abos amigos, buen trabajo! (Congratulations to both amigos, good work!)


¡Pura Vida!





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 any 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?)


Progress on the Coronavirus


The new case load (shown on the graph left) continues to show a slow decline in the number of new cases from the peak reached in early September. We hope this trend will accelerate as the new vaccines work their way into the system.


Sometimes its too easy to forget what the people on the front lines have experienced. I came across an article in a local electronic newspaper that recounts what these people have gone through and are still going through. Their effort can be described as nothing less than heroic. You can read that article here: Director of the Alajuela hospital: “I remember March 6 with unknown anguish” | Q COSTA RICA.


Latest (Mid-December) Rules On Border Ingress and Egress


On December 15 the Ministry of Health, along with the Inmigración Department published an update to the current rules and regulations for entering and leaving the country. Here they are:


Arrival to Costa Rica:

At check-in:

Departure from Costa Rica:

At the boarding gates

In the VIP rooms there will only be packaged food and the food service is individual. In other words, the buffet service is no longer available.


And have a great visit! (sorry, GG added that, i couldn`t resist).


First Costa Rican Vaccinated


Andrés Sandí, a Costa Rican and a doctor currently living in the U.K. recently became the first Costa Rican to be vaccinated. He is presently working as a nursing assistant at the Royal Surrey County Hospital of the U.K. National Health System (NHS). Because he`s working in the health system he was given an early chance to get vaccinated and he took it.


I already had COVID-19 2 weeks ago. However, immunization is important, since there has been a lot of recontamination. I had not realized that I could be one of the first. It was really funny because we joked that I am the first (to get vaccinated), but I can’t say. I feel happy, since I hope it will be the last step to get out of this pandemic and return to normal life in a few months,” said the Costa Rican.


“What I feel is like any other flu shot, pain in my arm. I have not yet completed 24 hours since the injection and so far I have not had side effects reported, such as an allergy reaction to the components of the vaccine. The vaccine as such does not hurt, the arm hurts later and can give other symptoms related to COVID-19,” said Sandí, who is a doctor by profession and is waiting for his credentials to be validated.


Thanks for your endorsement Dr. Sandi.


Ministry Endorses Vaccine, First Shipment Arrives, Vaccinations Begin


On Tuesday, December 15 the Ministry of Health signed an endorsement to use the Anti-Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer Chemical and BioNtech.


The agreement also calls for supply of three million doses of the new vaccine to service 1.5 million people (standard dosage for this type of vaccine is two per patient). Actual vaccination isn`t expected until the first quarter of 2021.


First Vaccines Arriving by DHL

On Wednesday, December 23 the first shipment of the vaccine described above landed at Juan Santamaria airport. It consisted of 9,750 doses of the new vaccine with 11,700 more doses expected next week. The plane was met by President Carlos Alvarado, Minister of Health Daniel Salas and other dignitaries.


We`ve got a long way to go but ins`t nice to be talking about innoculations of vaccines rather than acquisitio of enough ventilators or having enough ICU beds.


Two days later the vaccination of key infected began with the inoculation of Doña Elizabeth Castillo Cervantes, 91 years old, and Don Jorge De Ford Almetlla, 72 years old, both from the Fundación Persona Adult Mayor, in San Ramón (Photo of Doña Elizabeth Above, Right).


Massive, Worldwide Vaccination Campaigns Begin


As we go to press on December 31 we note that massive efforts have begun to get us out of this pandemic. In Costa Rica we noted the vaccination program based on the Astra-Zeneca, Pfizer vaccine have begun here. Much of North America is expected to use the same vaccine as is the EU (European Union).


In South America there is a mixture of vaccines being employed; in Argentina for example they have elected to go with the Russian vaccine (photo left).


Let`s hope they all work.



Travel Quote of the Month

¡A Cachete!


GGC Bookshelf

The latest book to hit the market is a new book by Robert A. Normand (aka GG, and yes, this is a plug) entitled Las Esferas, Mystery Spheres of Costa Rica. Check out the cover on the list below and click on the "Read More" button to review a synopsis of the work and to order.



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


Here are the books currently on our bookshelf:


cvb uio jio
Las Esferas - English

Mariposa - Español
Mariposa - English

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

gty awe There's Room for
More on the GGC Bookshelf

Keep Writing Amigos!
Casa de Doloros Overcoming Alcohol World War II True Story  
Read More 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:






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!


"Tell me and I forget; teach me and I remember; involve me and I learn"
Benjamin Franklin



Masked Shopper Answer to Que Es Eso?


fgt This one is a spoof of course, modeled after the television series Alienigenas Ancestrales (Ancient Aliens) often on the History Channel. Our monolith of course is not like theirs in that several large monoliths have been found on Earth before, supporting their theory that the planet has been visited by extraterrestrial some thousands of years before our time, perhaps even before our recorded history began. To get the effect some dude just planted a piece of corrugated tin roofing in a crack in the rock.

































ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Restaurant: Victoria`s - Manuel Antonio


Location: Top of Manuel Antonio Hill Across the Highway from Tulemar.

Parking: Limited; in front of the restaurant.

Hours: Monday thru Sunday: 07:00 am – 10:00 pm

Contacts: Tel.: 506-2777-5143; Email: info@www.victoriasgourmet.com; Website: https://www.victoriasgouret.com/


Reviewing ROMEOS: Ashley H., Bob N., Gaye C., Glen N., Julia S.


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


Victoria`s has been an operating restaurant here for as long as I`ve known Manuel Antonio (17 years now). It does not have a view of ocean but does have a wonderful and peaceful view of the jungle from the back edge of the dining room.


The dining room takes advantage of rich local wood on ceiling, walls, tables and chairs along with earthen colors of column tiles that compliment the same. Indirect lighting compliments these features. The tables are sparsely decorated but enhance the warm wood feeling.


The composite score for ambiance came in at 4.4/5.0 sloths


The restaurant bills itself as Italian Gourmet and the menu reflects that with a variety of pastas and pizzas with meat or seafood options. GG and one other ROMEO went for the spaghetti and meatballs suggested as derived from the owner`s moms collection. What was served was two large and flavorful meatballs with spaghetti in a red sauce. Very tasty.


Two of the other ROMEOs selected the Victoria`s Signature Pizza which by the look of it was a pie of about 10" in diameter. The pie was graced with white sauce, mozzarella, walnuts, garlic, caramelized onions and Kalamata olives. It must have been sizeable because both romeos took half of their pie home for later consumption.


Another ROMEO had a grilled tuna steak with vegetables which he pronounced as fresh and tasty.

Value Index= 120


The ROMEO score for for food quality came in at 4.5/5.0 sloths.


We were served by a young man named Edson who was very courteous and polite and perhaps a little slow on attentiveness but we may have contributed to that ourselves by descending on the restaurant 10 minutes before opening while they were still setting up. In any event we gave Edson a composite score of 4.4/5.0 for service. This yielded a composite average of 4.43 for ambiance, food quality and service.


For my spaghetti and meatballs, a ginger ale and a slice of Tiramisu (fresh and sweet by the way) my bill came to just over 19,000 colones (about $32). The composite score for cost came in at 3.7 out of 5.0 possible which in turn yielded a Value Index of 4.43/3.7=120, putting Victoria`s in the top half of our local restaurants for value.


Victoria`s continues to be a place where you can have a quality meal, in a pleasant atmosphere for a reasonable price.


¡Solo Bueno!




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The Golden Gringo Chronicles is a free newsletter that is non-political, non-commercial and, hopefully, informative and entertaining. By signing up you will receive an email each month around the first of the month giving you the links to the latest edition as well as to each individual feature and departmental section.


or Email me at gg@goldengringo.com, or use our Website at: www.goldengringo.com

Bob Normand, Editor & The Golden Gringo
Pura Vida!

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