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Feature #1

¿Que Es Eso?

La Mona

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In This Issue:

1. Broken News (All the News That´s Fit to Reprint: a. Electric Trains Will Start Service in the GAM Shortly; b. Driving Restrictions Lowered Except for the San Jose Circunvalación; c. Unemployment Hit 20% in Fourth Quarter 2020; d. Kiddies Are Back to School; e. Latest Update on Visa and Driver`s License Renewals; f. When Passwords Are Too Easy; g. FAA Upgrades SJO Assessment; h. Women Eye the Top Spot?; i. Record Drug Catch; j. Central America Bracing for Transitory Migration Wave.

2. Economic Drumbeat (CR Business Happenings): a. New Tax Structure Planned; b. Costa Rica Joins CAF; c. Banana Exports at Record Level in 2020; d. Amazon to Open Web Services Office in Costa Rica.

3. Latin America Update (Major Events In Neighboring Countries): a. Nicaragua - Nicaragua`s in the Space Race (but then so is Costa Rica).

4. Rumble and Weather Talk: a. A Cluster of Tremors; b. The Dry Season is Upon Us.

5. Feature 1: Rooster Rodeo (When Work Gets a Little Fishy)

6. ¿Que Es Eso? Department: That Can`t be a Real Bird With All That Color and Sleekness?

7. Feature 2: Legend of La Mona (One Is Too Many, Two is Not Enough) plus Steve`s Beast

8. Health Stuff: a. Chepito Gets His Second Vaccination; b. Xenex Robot Can Kill Covid Virus; Vaccinations Proceeding and Accelerating.

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

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

11. ROMEO Corner: Jiuberth`s Marisqueria





Wisdom of the Ages


“My experience with age: it instills a degree of patience in some, leaves the virtuous spiritually unchanged, feeds the character defects in others, and brings little wisdom to any of us.” 

James Lee Burke, Crusader's Cross


There is no holiday in March in Costa Rica so we'll just have to celebrate our biodiversity; check out some of our local, and magnificent, fine-feathered friends:

frt gty jio
Scarlet Macaws Blue-Crowned Mot-mot Resplendent Quetzal

¡Spring is Here Amigos! Except That It`s Really Summer In Costa Rica.

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

Electric Trains Will Start Service in the GAM Shortly


One of the New Trains

The first shipment of Chinese made electric railcars began their shake-out trials here in early February after being delivered to Incofer (Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles), our train company (we Ticos love acronyms) in December.


The cars, connected two to form a train (we call that a tram where I come from), will be tested over the entire rail system of the GAM (Grande Area Metropolitano or Greater Metropolitano Area; but I bet you probably figured that one out for yourself). The trials and tests will likely take through March with regular commuter service scheduled for April.


Elizabeth Briceño Marzo

Operating diagnoses on the cars is being carried out by Chinese engineers from the CRRC Qingdao Sifang company that manufactured them in conjunction with the German company MAN and Voith, who manufactured the engines.


The trials include what are labeled "speed trials" which in their vernacular means up to 72 km/hr (43 mph). They`ve already uncovered one problem; it seems that, in a couple of places, power lines crossing the tracks are lower than the top of the train cars. Gotta fix that boys, electricity and metal rail cars don`t mix very well.


As mentioned above, the national railway company here is called Incofer and Incofer`s president is Señora Elizabeth Briceño Marzo (photo above). Señora Briceño recently suggested that people be on their toes during this period to avoid unnecessary accidents. All of the routes for the new trains are at street level raising the possibility of accidents with car and bus traffic.


We call above ground trains, trams where I come from. Long term GG`s gotta believe that a subway is the right answer to improving surface traffic in San José and the GAM but I suspect the cost is prohibitive at this point, especially considering we`re now out trying to borrow nearly $2 billion from the IMF just to run this year`s budget (of about $15 billion).


So, Señora Briceño, when do we get the San José - Quepos Express? I`ll buy the first ticket (with my Senior Discount of 25% of course).


Driving Restrictions Lowered Except for the San José Circunvalación


The San José Circunvalación

As part of the anti-Covid strategy over the past year, vehicle circulation in the country was limited by a system of prohibiting certain vehicles from use on certain days. For example, if the last number of your license happen to be 1 or 2, you could not drive your vehicle on Mondays, 3 or 4, not on Tuesdays etc. I guess the logic was that this system would indirectly reduce traffic and thereby lower potential exposure to infected people.


The government announced in early February that these restrictions would be removed in all areas of the country on February 8 with the exception of the so-called San José Circunvalación, the core of the city encompassed by the ring road surrounding it. I`m not sure that there was much of a decline in traffic by prohibiting 1/7th or 14% of the daily total in a place like San José but then again increasing it now by 14% shouldn`t be too taxing either.


Unemployment Hit 20% in The Fourth Quarter of 2020


The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC or Instituto Nacional de Estatisticas y Censuses - told you we Ticos love acronyms) reported Thursday, February 4, that unemployment in the last moving quarter of 2020 reached 20%, composed of women at 25.2% and men at 16.4%. The annual average unemployment rate for 2020 for all four quarters was 19.6%; higher than that of 2019 by almost 8%. Let`s get back to work amigos.


Kiddies are Back to the School Room


On February 8, after 11 months of suspension due to Covid, 1.2 million students of the elementary and high school level went back to school. As one person put it, "the face-to-face modality will be mixed with distance education." - must be a politician. The interim Minister of Education, Melania Brenes, said that “we will come out with a new way of teaching and learning.”


A few days earlier the same minister gave a status report that there is a current shortage of 800 teachers which prompted a quote in the press by one mother who said “I didn’t buy supplies because my daughter doesn’t have a teacher, we don’t know anything about the classes.” (In Costa Rica parents are required to purchase school supplies for their kids to take with them on the first day - Ed.).


The restart won`t be easy but the government pledges their total commitment to resumption.


Latest Update On Visa and Driver license Renewals


In mid-February, the Cosa Rica Star newspaper put out a summary concerning the latest plans by the government for renewing expat visas and drivers licenses and also the vaccination plan for the general population. To see that summary, go here:


Complete Immigration and Residency Update for Costa Rica: Where do you Stand? - Costa Rica Star News


As usual. the info here was reliable at the time, but it behooves one to confirm and update the details with the appropriate authorities when you need to use the data.


When Passwords Are Too Easy


Our President, Señor Carlos Alvarado, has recently been taking a ribbing and even threatened with impeachment by political opposition because of the password on one of his phones, which is (was) 1,2,3,4,5,6. This was in the middle of an investigation into the Prez`use of a secret data gathering organization called UPAD, an organization (now defunct) which he set up at the start of his presidency and which is charged to have accumulated private data on Costa Rican citizens. The phone was seized by the Fiscalia (Prosecutor’s Office) and the OIJ (Judicial Agency), during a raid of the presidential office (try that in the U.S.). by these organizations.


Come on Señor, even carlosal1 would have been better; but it`s a moot point now.


The article in the press noted that this password is one of the most insecure in the world and listed the top ten passwords worldwide, in order of popularity (insecurity?) - They are: 1. 123456, 2. 123456789, 3. picture1, 4. password, 5. 12345678, 6. 111111, 7. 123123, 8. 12345, 9. 1234567890 and 10. senha. That last one, "senha" surprised me a bit, I wonder why it comes to mind to so many people and I wonder what the heck it means? Wow, on second thought maybe that makes it a good password.


FAA Upgrades SJO Assessment


Two years ago the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency downgraded, from its top rating to one notch below, its assessment of international aviation safety standards and practices at Juan Santamaria airport, Costa Rica`s largest international airport. On February 11, 2021, they restored the rating to the highest level.


Said the FAA Administrator: “We commend the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of the Republic of Costa Rica’s demonstrated commitment toward effective safety oversight of Costa Rica’s aviation system.”


No matter where you live it`s good to hear things like that about your local airport.


Women Psyching Out Running for President


The next presidential election in Costa Rica will happen about one year from now on February 6, 2022. Per the constitution, the current president cannot be re-elected to a consecutive term but after waiting out one term, he can run again. That means the current president, Carlos Alvarado, must wait until at least 2026 to run again.


GG, now a citizen, is able to vote but I must figure out who has what policies and whether or not I like them. That`s not so easy considering the number of candidates that compete in a "modified two-round system". Basically, if no one gets more than 40% of the vote, the two highest vote-getters compete in a run-off. That`s how our current president, Carlos Alvarado ended up beating his opponent, Fabricio Alvarado (no relation to Carlos) 61% to 39% in a second round.


One of the more interesting aspects of this election is that a number of women are either thinking about running or have actually thrown their hat in. The four pictured left are part of that group and some have long term government experience. Here`s a brief summary of their qualifications (left to right):


1. Natalia Díaz, president of Unidos Podemos (United We Can - Liberal)

2. Carolina Hidalgo, PAC (Partido Acción Ciudadana or Citizens Action Party), legislator and former president of Congress.

3. Lineth Saborío, former vice president in the Abel Pacheco Government (2002-2006).

4. Martha Zamora, former PAC legislator in the 2002-2006 period.


Laura Chinchilla

If a woman is elected president it would not be the first time in Costa Rica; that honor was taken by Laura Chinchilla for the 2010 to 2014 period. Señora Chinchilla has declined to run this time.


At least a dozen men have also indicated interested in running so it will

likely be necessary to once more have a run-off.


As if the presidential scramble was not enough, their are simultaneous elections in the provinces to fill the 57 seats of the Assemblea. Understanding what`s going with all the parties and candidates looks complicated to me at this time so I have a lot of familiarity work to do before election day.


Record Drug Catch


The Drug Catch

In 2020, 71.7 tons of drugs were intercepted and confiscated by Costa Rica. Assuming it`s primarily cocaine (more likely it`s a mixture of more and less valuable drugs like heroine, methamphetamines and others), it could have a street value of as much as $150 million in the U.S.. To cooperate with Costa Rica in these efforts. the drug catch was recently transported, amid very strict security measures, by a U.S. military aircraft.


In Miami the drug catch will be subjected to plasma gasification, a process whereby the materials are incinerated at 14,000 degrees Celsius (about 25,000 degrees Fahrenheit). This reduces the material to virtually nothing which can pollute, so says the report. The products of the combustion (I looked it up) are syngas (primarily made up of hydrogen and carbon dioxide) and a solid slag that can be used to make furniture or used in road paving.


This cooperative effort will save Costa Rica a lot of money but the Ticos are working on a project to build their own plasma gasification unit.


Central America Bracing for Transitory Migration Wave


With the recent change in migration and asylum policies in the U.S., Central American governments have begun to think about a possible return to the migration difficulties countries had here a few years ago. During that time Panama and Costa Rica became conduits for large numbers of immigrants from Haiti, Cuba, Asia and Africa who traveled from Peru across Panama`s Darien Gap in Panama, to continue on through to Mexico and then to the United States.


Crossing the Darien Gap (Panama)

At a recent meeting of OCAM, Comisión Centroamericana de Directores de Migración or the Central American Commission of Migration Directors (obviously Ticos aren`t the only ones who like acronyms), Guatemala proposed a three point plan to base Central America countries reaction to this problem: 1) protect the security of the region, 2) deal with a possible mass migration (details not offered), and 3) develop possible solutions at the regional level considering collective displacements.


Sounds like they expect big things ahead.


¡Pura Vida!




Economic Drumbeat
(Costa Rica Business Happenings)

New Tax Structure Planned


When President Alvarado recently negotiated a deal on a loan with the International Monetary Fund that included some substantial increases in taxes, that resulted in a very large number of demonstrations across Costa Rica, some violent. Our Prez continued negotiating a deal with the IMF that moderated the tax requirements and recently the presidential office announced that there will be an increase in income tax by dropping the minimum level of income where income taxes begin to be applied.


That number will drop (assuming the right legislation is passed) from 842,000 colones per month to 683,000. At today`s conversion rate that`s going from roughly $1,400 down to around $1,140. Annually that would convert to new thresholds: $13,700 versus old: $16,800. Yet to be seen is whether the 13% sales tax will convert to 15% VAT as desired by the government earlier and whether or not they will still try to implement a transactional tax (you know, like on bringing in or transferring money from and to a bank).


Expats (and also citizens) wait with baited breadth for what new taxes might be coming.


Costa Rica Joins CAF


CAF, Corporacion Andina de Fomento (Portugese) but better known as the Development Bank of Latin America is headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela with representative or satellite offices in Madrid, Lima, Brasilia, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Quito, Panama, Montevideo, Asuncion, Mexico City, Port of Spain and La Paz. The goal of CAF has been, for fifty years, to "stimulate sustainable development and promote regional integration by financing projects in the public and private sectors in Latin America".


Costa Rica first joined CAF as an associate member in 2002 and this latest agreement makes them a full member. In the recent signing ceremony with the CEO of CAF, the President of Costa Rica and the President of the Central Bank of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Cubero, Cubero said: “The incorporation of Costa Rica as a full member of CAF gives the country full access to resources in favorable financial conditions to meet fiscal needs and promote economic growth and employment. In addition to financial support, Costa Rica will benefit from technical cooperation in various areas, especially those that continue to allow us to advance towards sustainable development and the well-being of the Costa Rican population.”


Always good to have more financial connections and technical advice.


Banana Exports at Record Level in 2020


Well, here`s one business that didn`t get whacked by the Covid adventure. Shipments of Costa Rican bananas in 2020 reached 129.6 million boxes, each box containing an average of 40 lbs of fruit (that`s over 5 billion lbs or roughly 2.6 million tons of fruit according to my calculator). That`s an increase of 7.3% over the total shipments in 2019 of 120.7 million boxes.


Man that`s a lot of banana splits (hmmmmmm).


Amazon to Open Web Services Office in Costa Rica


Amazon Web Services, Inc., the web services division of Amazon (but you probably figured that out all by yourselves), is opening an office in Heredia in the Zona Franca Americana (American Free Trade Zone). AWS offers cloud computing services and has been in an important relationship with Costa Rican business for some time. According to Marcos Grilanda, AWS regional director:


“Costa Rica is a key market for AWS in Central America, where companies have been innovating with AWS and are using the cloud to accelerate time-to-market and expand their businesses to reach customers locally and around the world, especially during these times of pandemic.”


According to the CEO of CINDE (Costa Rican Coalition of Development Initiatives - told ya Ticos love acronyms, even in Spanish) Jorge Sequeira, noted that cloud computing represents 54% of the services provided from Costa Rica to the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as to other Latin American and European countries.


The company said it will hire highly qualified professionals for the sales department, public sector, marketing and technical engineering to be based in the country; establish a local group of account executives, solution architects, partner managers, support personnel and other functions, for customers to directly engage with AWS in their local environment and language. Those interested in working in this division are invited to find more information on the page https://aws.amazon.com/.


GG wants to be a "Solution Architect", I just love the title.


So the technical steamroller continues down the Central Valley of Costa Rica earning its new name: The Silicon Valley of Latin America.


¡Pura Vida!



Latin America Updates
(Major Events In Neighboring Countries)



Ortega the Spaceman

Press reports in early February were abuzz that President Daniel Ortega would shortly be submitting to his congress, which is a formality as it is heavily controlled by him, a bill to create the “Secretaría Nacional para Asuntos del Espacio Ultraterrestre, La Luna y otros Cuerpos Celestes” or “National Secretariat for Outer Space Affairs, the Moon and other Celestial Bodies”. Yup, that`s right, Ortega wants Nicaragua to directly participate in the space race.


I guess since relations between Nicaragua and the U.S. are not exactly rosy it`s unlikely having his country participate at the astronaut level through NASA like Costa Rica did is not going to happen soon. Personally I`d put this new venture in the same likelihood of success as his plan for Danny`s Ditch to compete with the Panama Canal.


All the while this is happening the country reached, at the end of 2020, a level of poverty for 30% of the people, defined as an income of less than $3.20 per day. Look for Russian and Chinese participation in Ortega`s space program.




Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz

Not to be outdone, on February 15, the Costa Rica Assemblea passed the first reading of a bill (it takes two readings to pass a bill here) to create a Costa Rican Space Agency or Agencia Espacial Costarricense (AEC).


Franklin Chang, a Costa Rican scientist and the first Latin American immigrant NASA Astronaut selected to go into space, quickly gave his approval to the idea and is expected to be involved in the new agency. The agency was then approved by the assemblea after a second reading on February 18.


How is the agency to be funded? According to the press report: "To finance itself, it will depend on donations and loans in favor of the initiative, as well as a contribution from state institutions within their free surpluses." Hmmm, I wasn`t aware we had lots of surpluses in state institutions with an annual federal deficit of 7% of GDP (about $4.3 billion on a budget of about $15 billion). And as an old banker I wonder what the collateral is on the loans - a satellite?


Two days after the Assemblea passed the bill creating a new "non-state public entity", a press report the next day stated that President Alvarado "assured that the State lacks the money to start the Costa Rican Space Agency".  


The space race is on in Central America amigos, hold onto your mochila (backpack) and bring donations.


¡Solo Bueno!




(Rumble and Weather Talk)

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

Rumble - A Cluster of Tremors


The February 2021 Cluster

Between Sunday, February 14 and Tuesday, February 17, a series of some 40 tremors rattled the south west area of Golfito and its surroundings. No serious damage was reported and the largest of these shakers was on Monday the 15th, registering 4.9 on the Richter scale. Over the next two days a series of 13 aftershocks were felt as far north as the central valley. GG remembers no shakers in Quepos during this period (ignorance is bliss).


Rainfall - Dry Season Mostly Back


The header says it all; the days are warming, the rains are more periodic and the summer is here amigos, let`s go to the beach.


¡Pura Vida!

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



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Rooster Rodeo
(When Work Gets a Little Fishy)


aerI have a close friend named Jessie who just happens to have worked at the Marina Pez Vela for the last few years. He was telling me about a fishing tournament he was in recently. I was surprised that he actually was in the tournament and even more surprised when I learned that the Marina management fielded a boat for him and three of his fellow workers as a team.


The name of the tournament is the Rooster Rodeo because the primary target for competition is roosterfish. If you`re not familiar with this fish, like I wasn`t when I moved here, it`s a great game fish that reportedly can give you a great fight as it tires you out. The roosterfish gets its name because of its "rooster comb", seven very long spines along the dorsal fin (the man in the picture below is holding one of them).The Roosterfish Foundation offers the following description of typical catches:


Near Record 100+ Pounds

"Typically the hard fighting sport-caught roosterfish weighs between 25-40 pounds, with 50-55 pound fish fairly common, and occasionally a 75-80 pound fish is taken during the year at most locations that target the fish. The IGFA world record fish is currently 114 pounds taken by Abe Sackheim in 1960 in La Paz, Baja California Mexico. More recently, an almost 106 pound fish was recorded as an IGFA 80 pound line record in 2008 by Jeffrey Reinhardt when fishing with Captain Adolfo Espinoza on the panga Dos Hermanos in Zihuatanejo, Mexico." Photo right.


On an early trip to Costa Rica around 2003, GG (actually I had not grown up to be GG quite yet) went fishing for sailfish and I got two to the boat. My captain told me the second one was about 80-90 pounds and I`ll verify how tired (and excited) they can make you as you haul them in. Both sailfish and roosterfish are "catch and release" here causing minimum damage to the environment and the fish.


The MPV Boys Ready to Go
(Jessie on the Right)

I mentioned above that the Marina management helped to support the affaire by fielding a boat of their own. That`s how Jessie, who works in the boat yard, got involved. He had three team mates: Oliver (Properties), Miguel (Runaway Restaurant) and Noel (Security) (don`t ya think that names in Latin America always sound more poetic than North America - Jessie, Oliver, Miguel and Noel as opposed to Bob, Sam, Jack and Irving). Besides the group of four men, a captain and first mate were provided - The team called themselves the MPV Boys.


So I asked Jessie: Were you on the payroll while you were fishing? "Yes." he said. My god, you spend the whole day boating and fishing and get paid for it! Fifty years ago I would have killed for a job like that.


So the tournament ran under a rigid timetable: 1) leave the marina at 7 AM (God says all fisherman must get up early); Fishing finishes at 3 pm. All pictures (of fish measurements) must be submitted between 3 and 6 PM. For fish under 18 inches no points are awarded, for each fish 18-36 inches, you get 50 points and for a +36 incher, 150 points are awarded. I found it interesting that the fish is measured from the tip of the mouth to the notch in the tail which is in between the two tail fins. That`s probably because you can stretch the tail fins (and some would) about 5-7 inches to the length (my devious mind thought of that).


Jessie is the One in the Farmer`s Hat

So on Friday, February 5, the tournament sent out 10 competing boats and they spanned out to cover all the way from Damas Island, just north of Quepos, up to Palo Seco beach just south of Parrita, about ten miles north of Quepos. This region is known to house roosterfish and that day was no exception.























For the MPV Boys team, Jungle Jessie got the biggest prize when he caught a 42 incher. That also cinched the MPV team final status at number four out of ten. Jessie, who hails from the Caribbean coast has been a fisherman all his life and he`s darn good at it. He hails from a fishing family and his father and brother run a sports fishing boat out of Quepos as well.


Check out the video above which captures Jessie's winning moment and the MPV Boys landing and celebrating Jessie`s prize. To get the full effect of the celebration, hit the expansion square on the right side of the video. The only thing the video doesn`t show is the team throwing the roosterfish back which they did because roosterfish are catch and release here just like billfish (sailfish, etc.).


All in a day`s work amigos.


¡Solo Bueno!


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

I think that`s a wooden bird model, can`t be for real. I`ve never seen anything like it in Costa Rica.


Anyone who can identify this bird and whether or not it`s in Costa Rica will get the next three issues of the Golden Gringo Chronicles free.


Wait a minute GG, all issues already are free. Oh yeah, I forgot.


Answer in

section below.


¡Pura Vida!



La Mona - Costa Rica`s Answer to Sasquatch
(or - One is Too Many, Two`s Not Enough)


This legend comes out of the Chorotega people who were descendants of Mayan and Aztec peoples and culture who had long ago immigrated from Mexico all the way down to Guatemala and even farther south.


At one time the indigenous Chorotegas, because of their migratory passion, became a sizeable population of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. In Costa Rica they settled largely in our northwestern province of Guanacaste, which is marked "X" on the provincial map left.


The fact that they settled in Guanacaste is not a surprise to me - it was sorta like the old comment in the U.S. about going west and why people ended up starting a small town in the middle of nowhere - "cause that`s where the wagon wheel fell off and there was plenty of water and game." In the Chorotegas case, the topography from central Nicaragua down to southern Guanacaste the terrain was relatively thin in jungle and relatively flat and therefore made for easier migration.


"Yeah, I`m Angry,
What`s It To Ya, Big Fella"

But let`s go directly to the legend. This legend involves depictions of both unfriendly, vicious monkeys and certain kinds of women, better know as witches. The nasty monkeys were drawn from the Nahuales culture folklore and included Aztec, Mayan and other Mesoamerican stereotypes. The Mesoamericans had long also cultured legends about the nastiness of some animals including monkeys. Later they came to learn about the nasty, harrowing witch legends which they took from European culture as taught to them by the Spanish.


Eventually the Chorotegas and other Mesoamericans melded the two cultures into a combination of the folklore of their two histories. The type of folklore that blends such characteristics into a resulting special, mysterious animal or animals is a style categorized in the literature as "cryptids". The story of La Mona is definitely a cryptid.


Before GG moved to Costa Rica I had the simplistic notion that monkeys (not gorillas or orangutans, mind you, just lil`ol monkeys) were cute little fur balls. Having been here a while now and met up with or come close to our three local candidates, the Titi or squirrel monkey, the Whiteface (Cara Blanca) and the Howler (Congo) I don`t see me making close friends with any of them any time soon. This is what the literature says about monkeys:


"As babies these big-eyed, furry creatures may seem harmless. But once they reach sexual maturity, experts warn, monkeys can become aggressive. And some primates harbor deadly diseases, like herpes B, that they can pass on to human primates via bites and scratches."


So, with the Mezoamericans and Centroamericans living with these animals for ages, it was easy for superstitious people, storytellers and shamans to prey on their worst fears using tales of vicious monkeys and witches and their combinations. AS for me, GG is one human primate who`d rather not be bitten by anything, neither a monkey nor a mosquito.


The story goes like this: La Mona looks like a cross between a human and a monkey. She`s depicted in a variety of ways which the pictures to the left represent. Of those four types I`d prefer to take #1 but I bet she has some sharp molars behind that facade. #2 reminds me of a nun I had in sixth grade and one could be forgiven for not wanting to meet up with #3 and #4. #3 is reminiscent of a girl I met at an over-lubricated frat party sophomore year in college.


The legend speaks of women who have been abandoned by their men (damn drunks) and are looking for ways to channel their anger. This is where the drunkenness comes in. La Mona would visit a Chilamate tree at midnight and, in a full moon, pick the flower that grew from it. The flower of a Chilamate tree is seductive to most wildlife and supposedly a favorite of La Mona. Because of it`s incredible root system this tree is also one of Costa Rica`s most intriguing trees (shown below).


A Chilamate Tree

After speaking an unintelligible incantation from ancestral and indigenous prayers, the woman would become La Mona by transforming into a monkey that would viciously attack wandering men and could even drive them insane with the mere touch of her hand (like another girl I knew in University). Transformation to animals, particularly vicious ones is a theme that passes through several other Mesoamerican legends as well.


Why monkeys? "Because they could move at high speed through trees, usually to hurt their enemies in a surprising way. They did so amid chilling laughter and dreadful wingers that wielded the blood of their victims, leaving them stunned or speechless for the rest of their lives."


I Wonder What These Chorotega Ladies Have Seen (and Done) Over the Years

So, if you find yourself in Guanacaste on a clear, hot, moon-filled night; beware, you may experience a witch reincarnate as a vicious monkey (at least the guys may, especially the heavy drinkers).


Oh yeah, I forgot to say what you`re supposed to do if you meet up with La Mona. According to folklore:


The only way for a person to get rid of La Mona (and other entities like her) was to suppress one`s personal fear and say Christian prayers against the apparition. One should also stick a crosshead of some kind such as crossed machetes on the ground, throw a fist of corn, mustard seeds or salt across the area,and throw one`s hat upside down.


Those rituals are supposed to wear La Mona down having to pick up the grains, so that would make her tire of picking the grains. Then she would not be able to release the grains until she repented of her evil charms and vowed never to disturb anyone again throughout the region.


ADDENDUM, Steve`s Beast


File Photo - Not Steve`s
(Check Out Those Incisors)

As I was just finishing the article above when I learned of an experience a friend of mine, Steve M., had the previous day. Steve had been here a few weeks psyching out the area and country with an indefinite return date to New York and with the likely and growing intention of moving here for retirement.


Steve had purchased a motorbike and had been touring the countryside in the surrounding area. He happened to stop near an area about 10 miles east of Quepos, which is known by some as the Blue Banyon, named after a prevalent tree in that area. He demounted his bike, walked around a bit enjoying the greenery and the mountains in the background and headed back to his bike where upon he heard some rustling in a nearby tree.


Steve`s Beast

The shape became apparent as being a monkey which he would later identify as a Spider Monkey. GG didn`t include this specie in the three types quoted above in the La Mona article because for a long time, Spider Monkeys only resided in the south of Costa Rica, not in the central or northern regions. Reports in recent years have indicated that they`ve been expanding northward and Steve confirmed that report by his experience.


The story goes that the monkey (left) approached Steve`s motorbike and then Steve but backed off. Basically, the beast was checking him out but was not afraid to stand up to the interloper (Steve) who was bold enough to come into his (Spidey`s) private jungle.



Then Steve started his bike and the monkey, probably startled and frightened by the noise, charged Steve and bit into the inside of his right knee. These creatures don`t like sharp sounds and they have no qualms about attacking once overly excited. He chomped into Steve`s right leg just above the knee (picture at right - ouch!); that was not a mosquito bite.


To watch Steve`s beast flirting around him and his motorbike, checkout the video below (again, hit the expansion square on the video to get the full effect):


Needless to say Steve spent the rest of the day at the hospital emergency room and while enjoying competent, meaningful service by the staff. A couple of hours and three injections later Steve went home. One good news was the bill - only $71 (Steve is not an official resident here yet so he has to pay). It will, of course, take at least one more visit to the hospital to confirm the treatment is working.


Gotta watch the monkeys around here folks, they`re not cute little kitty cats.


To Steve: it could have been worse, it might have been La Mona after you.


¡Pura Vida!


To See More Costa Rica Legends Having To Do With Women (La Segua, La Llorona, La Tulevieja) Go Here: Legends of Costa Rica. There are other legends in that group referenced besides the women, a total of 17.




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?)


Chepito Gets Second Shot


Señor José Uriel Delgado Corrales, more famously known as "Chepito", our oldest man in Costa Rica at 120, got his second shot of the COVID Vaccine in mid-February.


Chepito Gets His Second Shot
Hang in Their Buddy - It`s Quick

Two other residents of the same nursing home where Chepito lives, the Jimenez Brothers (aged 59 and 70) also got their second shot. All three reported no complications. To support the vaccinations another almost 80,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived by air the day before Chepito and his buddies got their shot.


GG would be in the same group as the boys in the nursing home except for the fact that I'm not yet in the nursing home. My Group (II) will be next to receive the virus but I have to wait for a telephone call from the health service and, if they`re going alphabetically, it might be a while as the vaccines are rationed out.


Xenex Robot Can Kill Covid Virus


A robot that uses UV light radiation and claims the capability of destroying SARS-CoV-2, the Covid Corona virus and virtually any other virus and bacteria from any surface in a matter of minutes is now seeing it`s first use in Costa Rica. The press report did not disclose where or at what facility or facilities where it's being used.


The Xenex at Work

The robot carries the name Xenex and is manufactured by Astronics Corporation in San Antonio, Texas and distributed exclusively in Costa Rica by Sterimed Infection Control.


The device basically works by issuing bursts of UV light in a room evacuated of people and other living things. The primary treatment can be a matter of minutes and followed by a second treatment of the room that might be rearranged to assure all necessary surfaces are exposed.


Xenex is used in hospitals and health centers, laboratories, hotels, airports, and sporting events in countries such as the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain, France, Mexico, and Ecuador.


¡Bienvinedo a Costa Rica Xenex!


Vaccinations Proceeding and Accelerating


The number of new cases of Covid has been declining since it`s peak in October as is shown by the graph to the left. Note, however, that a new, lower case load level has resulted in the flattening out of the curve in the last few weeks. It is too early to judge if the vaccines now being applied are having any effect on the totals of new cases.


In the meantime vaccinations have been proceeding according to the following Health Ministry plan:

Vaccination Program

That second group, which is underway currently and which is GG`s group, encompasses almost one million people. Those people who possess a cédula (residency card) and meet the age requirement may expect a telephone call from the ministry scheduling them for the event. These people so registered in the EDUS System (Expediente Digital Único en Salud), the Caja’s digital health record system will be called in order of their age, oldest first.


Vaccinations first began with the Pfizer vaccine on December 24. Our early allotment was about 33,000 units per week but since has risen and the last shipment before this writing was almost 100,000 units. Now it would be good to see a further plummeting of the new case numbers and an early end to this damned plague.


¡Pura Vida!



Travel Quote of the Month


¡A Cachete!


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:


jio uio cvb gty
The Chronicles as a Narrative

Mariposa - English

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

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

Keep Writing Amigos!
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


Answer to Que Es Eso?


That bird is listed as being in Costa Rica; just because I haven`t personally seen it doesn`t mean it`s not here. By it`s name, "Montezuma" my guess would be it`s base is probably on the Nicoya peninsula, but maybe a reader could confirm or correct that assumption.


Multi-colored tail, multi-colored beak, a partial rust color on the feathers. Beautiful.


Etymology of "Mona"



Origin: Arabic. The name Mona means Desires, Wishes and is of Arabic origin. Mona is a name that's been used primarily by parents who are considering baby names for girls.


¡Pura Vida!




ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Jiuberth`s Marisqueria


Location: Colinas del Este, Quepos. Approximately 2 kilometers east of Quepos` Pali Supermarket on the road to the hospital and Naranjito and 150 meters into the woods on an access road to the left (there's a sign on the main road pointing left as you take the road to the hospital).

Hours: Lunch and Dinner

Parking: Limited at the Restaurant

Contacts: 2777-1292; Email: N/A; Website: N/A


Reviewing ROMEOS: Alma L., Bob N., Glen N., Jorje M., Julia S., Mark W., Roger B., Steve M., Tony B., Donna D..


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


This simple restaurant is nestled in the eastern hills of Quepos; I`m sure that I can see the hilly area where it`s located from my kitchen window even if I can`t see the building because it`s obscured by trees. The couple who runs the place have been offering locals and visitors local seafood for decades, having first opened a restaurant in downtown Quepos called Kukela in the Boca Vieja section. That one continues in operation by their son.


The dining room is basically a long porch overlooking the eastern hills and making you feel like you`re part of the landscape. The interior of the room is decorated by many wall hangings and nouveaux art that the chef loves to produce in his off hours (cant imagine he has many of those). The floor is also an artful composition of many pieces of multicolored tiles, again, I`m sure, an expression of the master chef.


The ROMEO group, ten strong this time, gave Jiuberth`s a composite score of 4.1 sloths out of 5.0 maximum for ambiance.


The current menu is quite simple, being a two sided laminated page with umpteen varieties of seafood cooked in many ways from simple pan-fried fish to the all-purpose arroz or rice with several varieties of seafood and then to specialties such as langostinos (river lobsters) prepared "au chef" with a special sauce.


GG ordered the special of the day, boiled langostinos finished in the chef`s special sauce. As near as I could ascertain the ingredients in that sauce contained (at least) sweet green peppers, a touch of onion, one or two liquefied tropical fruits such as papaya and/or mango and perhaps a reduction of berries of some type.


I found that sauce as fine an example of haut cuisine cooking I`ve had in this area. There was no "piquante" in this sauce (hot spice that is often added to dishes here and which also often overwhelm the taste of the food). In this case, the chef`s sauce perfectly complimented the lobster, bringing out its naturally rich flavor.


The chef twice declined my request for a list of ingredients used in the sauce and I don`t blame him, I`d keep that one to myself too.

Value Index= 141


Two or three of the other ROMEOs also selected the langostinos while the others went for a wide variety of seafood concoctions. Everyone seemed happy with their choices and the composite score for food quality showed that at 4.3/5.0. One striking fall back was the fact that they offered no postres (desserts) for this carbohydrate hungry crowd.


The ROMEOs Hard at Work

Service was provided by the Mrs. to the chef. She was polite and helpful but a couple of drinks never arrived. Methinks part of this was a language problem as she speaks Spanish only. Despite that, the composite score for service came in at 4.3/5.0.


The average of scores for ambiance, food quality and service came in at 4.2/5.0.


Using my own meal as a judge, for the langostino plate and two micheladas, one ginger ail and one fresca (ran out of ginger ale) the total cost including service was 13,600 colones or about $22. For seafood like that it`s a good deal. The composite score for cost came in at 3.0 leading to a Value Index of 4.2/3.0 or 141 putting Jiuberth`s right at the top of our list of local restaurants for value.


Jiuberth`s Marisqueria continues to be a great place for seafood at a very reasonable price.


¡Solo Bueno!




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Pura Vida!

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