nvas covering


Ageless Wisdom:


The first testicular guard, the ‘Cup’ was used in Hockey in 1874 and
the first helmet in Hockey was used in 1974. That means it only took
100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.”



In This Issue:

  1. Broken News (Miss Costa Rica, the Rico Ricos, Laura's Other Side);
  2. Feature: Stinky Feet Fruit (and Other Marvels of the Jungle);
  3. Feature: Lazy Leaves (a Slothful Approach to Life);
  4. Feature: Travel Characters (Abound Here);
  5. What's-in-a-Word (Xenophilia, May Day);
  6. ROMEO Corner (a. Puerto Escondito - Manuel Antonio & La Dolce Vita - Quepos);
  7. Founder's Quotes (Washington on the Public Debt and Tom Paine on the Constitution)
Quepos Weather

Travel Quote of the Month



"A man of ordinary talent will always be ordinary, whether he travels or not; but a man of superior talent (which I cannot deny myself to be without being impious) will go to pieces if he remains forever in the same place."

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


 Broken News

Miss Costa Rica

The Miss Costa Rica pageant was held recently to select one young lady to represent the country here and in the upcoming Miss Universe competition. The ten finalists are shown on the header above disguised as butterflies. When our hero looks at the ten finalists. he's grateful that he didn't have to judge and actually pick one of these beauties over the others.

Miss Cpsta Rica's Full Name:
Maria Nazareth Cascante Madrigal

Newly Crowned Miss Costa Rica

The winner was a young lady named Nazareth Cascante from Alejuela, the San José suburb west of the city (athough a true Alejuelense would probably object to that characterization on the grounds that Alejuela is a separate and distinct city - picky, picky, picky). I believe that Miss Cascante's position in the ten finalists in the picture above is third from the right although that picture doesn't seem to do any of the finalists justice.

It was only fitting that a lady from Alejuela should win the pageant during the same week that the country celebrated a holiday devoted to Juan Santamaria, the national hero who also came from Alejuela and who was instrumental in routing the American filibusters back in 1856 (see definition of filibuster in article on Juan Santamaria linked above). Methinks Miss Cascante would be good at rousting filibusters also, but probably in a different and more friendly way.

Miss Cascante is 21 years old, 173 cm tall (5'8") and a Phramaceutical Science student at a local university. By winning the title, she receives an extensive new wardrobe, jewelry, a new car and a $7,000 cash prize (in a land where a typical monthly salary is $700). Of course, she also gets to represent Costa Rica in the upcoming Miss Universe contest.

I couldn't help but notice that one of her four names is Madrigal, the same name as my landlord. When I asked him if Miss Cascante might be in his greater family he blushed and mumbled something about him not being so lucky ("no me estoy si suerte, amigo"). Pobrecito hombre (poor little man).

Naz, baby, have your people call my people and we'll do lunch at the Teatro next week, OK?

¡Pura Vida!

Rico Ricos

A recent report in the local press caught my eye for a couple of reasons.

GG is waiting for a replacement Costa Rican driver's license as the old one was extemporaneously removed, along with the wallet surrounding it, from my pocket while boarding a bus for San José recently. Bummer. Not a big worry for me as I don't own a car here and only rarely drive one and I can still use my Florida license here.

La Presidenta with Hubby José Rico
and Their Son Ricky

The recent press report referred to was about the husband of our President (Laura Chinchilla), José Maria Rico. The First Dude? had recently suffered an auto accident and minor injury while driving near his home. When the police who investigated the accident checked his driver's license, it was found to be expired. José, dude, not good press for your esposa, amigo.

But then Laura wasn't having the best of political times anyway as her Minister of Finance resigned amidst charges of tax irregularities related to cronyism and influence peddling including some favorable government contracts for his wife. Meanwhile the Ministro of Hacienda and his Director of Tax Collection (kinda like the head of the IRS) was exposed by the local press (La Nación) who uncovered the fact that both guys had not paid taxes on their own properties for many years (dude, your Minister of Housing but I guess you just forgot, eh?).

I become convinced more and more that our politicos here were O-trained in the U.S. - both countries are developing a government class (classe gobierno?) that seems to think it operates above its own laws.

(Sorry for the op-ed - I get carried away now and then)

One of the other things I found interesting in the article on Señor Rico (word has it that's not only his name but his state of personal financial worth) noted that he was 77 years of age. I looked up Laura's age and found it to be 56. Rico, Señor Rico!

Ah, I'm sure it's just another Mayo-Septiembre love and didn't have anything to do with the money - nah, couldn't be.

Laura's Other Side

Not all the recent press for La Presidenta  was bad. This report appeared recently in an English language electronic paper:

"After a busy Sunday which culminated with a visit to the National Assembly, President Laura Chinchilla was ready to go home and prepare for the week ahead. Traveling on route 27, which connects San Jose with Puerto Caldera in the Pacific Coast, she noticed a road traffic accident near La Sabana. Her security escort tried to push through the accident and take our President home, but she ordered them to stop and got off (sic)the car.

Four people were lying injured on the road. They had been passengers in a car driven by a motorist who was allegedly inebriated. The vehicle struck against a roadside concrete barricade, causing injuries to the riders. The driver abandoned his passengers and sped off.

Our President took control of the situation and immediately ordered her bodyguards to pursue the driver of the Hyundai Accent, who was intercepted 800 meters away. She then called the Red Cross and Transit Police, and while the responders arrived, looked after the safety of the injured. Two passengers were taken to the hospital while the driver was tested for intoxication. The results were positive."

I presume they mean the test results showed the presence of alcohol.

Bravo y buen trabajo (good work), amiga Laura.


Stinky Feet Fruit
(and Other Marvels of the Jungle)

The lush jungles and rainforests of tropical zones all over the world produce a plethora of plants and fruits, some of which are known to have incredible medicinal properties. Costa Rica is no exception.

Here are just three examples, two fruits and a plant, that occur naturally in Ticoland and elsewhere in the tropics that are recognized as having important medicinal effects. The scientific studies are now catching up with indiginous practices - the indians knew about these things all along amigo.

Carao (cah-rah-o)

This strange fruit is also known in parts of the world as "Stinking Toe". It has been described as giving off aroma like the inside of a pair of boots that have been worn all day by a hard worker. Others think it's more reminiscent of some long-aged expensive cheeses found in Europe like Limburger. (the smell never stopped me from eating good cheese when I lived there). With regard to Carao, however, the flavor reportedly is sweet and quite tasty, once you get pass the smell..

Carao Juice in a Bottle = This Pint Offered for $13 On Line
Carao Tree (Cassia Grande)
The Carao Fruit Pod
Roble de Sabana or
Prairie Oak (tababuia rosea)

Carao has been used for many years in Costa Rica as a remedy for "tired" blood or anemia. Recent scientific studies now show it to be greatly effective for that and even for sickle cell anemia.

The Carao fruit comes in long, brown pods that have to be split open and the pulp separated from the seeds, The pulp is then made into a purple juice - see bottle left. (GG doesn't know what they do with the seeds, if anything, except maybe making more little Carao trees).

It's not gone unnoticed by nutritionists and scientists that many healthful fruit extracts are purple in color such as Aĉai, Mangosteen and Carao. Several ingredients (chemicals) are currently being researched to identify components of purple fruits that are thought to contribute special medicinal properties.

At the same time that our hero was researching and writing this article, I had been observing for a couple of months the blosseming of a large tree with pink flowers all across the land. When I asked a Tico friend of mine what these pretty trees might be he responded "Oh, amigo, those are called Roble de Sabana trees or Prairie Oaks".

Then I looked up a picture of a Carao tree and exclaimed "Dude! (that's modern terminology for Eureka!), I found it, Roble de Sabana = Carao." A couple of days later my friend tells me "They're not the same tree, amigo". What? Sure enough, when I looked up the genus of both trees, they were indeed different. (see pictures left and right above to see why GG might be easily confused). Since then, I have found a third large pink-flowered tree growing here. Dude, ya gotta know your arboles here.

Leave it to Costa Rica to produce more than one large tree with beautiful pink blossoms that look alike . I'm told that if you get very close to both trees you'll notice a difference in the blossoms. The Carao has something akin to a gardenia blossom and, of course. the Carao might also have those special long pods dangling from it that contain the miracle juice.

¡Solo Bueno, amigos!

Cuculmeca (koo-kool-may-ka)

Pronounced "koo-kool-may-ka", this is a root plant described by one source like this:

          "The plant is a woody, climbing, evergreen perennial, growing to fifteen feet and having
            broadly ovate leaves, tendrils, and small greenish, yellow, or brown flowers. The root is
            gathered throughout the year, but mainly from January to May".

The other interesting point about Cuculmeca is that it's of the same plant family as zarsaparilla. Yeah, that's right, a North American form of this root was used to make Root Beer after boiling it with licorice, cassia, ginger, cloves and coriander seed. Sounds like a mixture that would cure a lot of things or at least open nasal passages. Modern root beer and sasparilla however, is made with artifical flavoring and ingredients (pooey).

The Aztecs used this root in the treatment of syphilis and chronic skin ailments. The 16th century Spanish used a concentrated reduction of boiled zarsaparilla to create, in conjunction with heavy clothing and blankets. a treatment to sweat out colds and other illnesses, even syphilis.

The North American experience included use of the root by indians for healing sores, ulcers and wounds. Cowboys in the western U.S. often went to saloons after frequenting the local house of ill repute in order to have a natural sasparilla based on the root - I guess this was a rather primitve form of safe sex, albeit a little late. And we thought they just liked root beer.

Now, that's getting to the root of things, eh amigo.

Cacao (ka-ka-o)

Change the "r" to a "c" in Carao and you get a completely different fruit tree, the Cacao. Yes, Dorothy, this is the same tree from which the beans for cocoa and chocolate are derived. To read about the history and the process for making cocoa and chocolate, go here: chocolate.

Historically, the medicinal properties of the Cacao were noted to alleviate fever, anemia, poor appetite, poor breast milk production, as well as tuberculosis, gout, kidney stones and low virility. Its use has been documented going back to Mayan and Aztec times.

Cacao Tree with Pods

The medicinal use of cacao/chocolate included treatment of emaciated patients to gain weight, stimulation of the nervous system for apathetic, exhausted or feeble patients and treatment to improve digestion for weak stomachs. Other complaints treated with chocolate/cacao have included, consumption/tuberculosis, fever and poor sexual appetite.

Chocolate paste was also used as a delivery vehicle to administer drugs and to counter the taste of bitter pharmacological additives.

There were, for example, a great number of remedies listed in the Mayan "pharmacopoeia" that employed cacao in one form of another. The beans., bark, oil (cacao butter), leaves and flowers have been used to treat burns, bowel dysfunction, cuts and skin irritations. The Mayans and Aztecs combined the various forms of cacoa with many other jungle materials:

A remedy called "chacah" consisted of a bowl of chocolate combined with hot peppers, honey and tobacco juice. It was prescribed for skin eruptions, fever and seizures (yuk, c'mon, tobacco juice - did they drink it or use it topically - dunno?). Chocolate added to liquid from the bark of the silk cotton tree supposedly cured infections. Chocolate blended with corn kernels and cornsilk flower was drunk to relieve fever and faintness. There were (and are) literally dozens, if not hundreds of combinations of derivatives from the Cacao tree with other medicinal herbs and plants.


The medicinal plants above represent only three of the many plants, trees and fruits found in rainforests and jungles. We didn't even get past the "C's" in the alphabet.

For more on more exotic, but not neccessarily medicinal fruits of Costa Rica, go here: La Feria

And, oh yeah dude, chocolate rules!


Lazy Leaves
(a Slothful Approach to Life)

Continuing with the natural and medicinal theme, there is a tree in the jungle that provides a great service, at least to one mammal. That tree is the Guarumo (cecropia) and the mammal is the Sloth, both of which are shown to the left, below.

Guarumo Tree (Cecropiaceae)
Perizoso/Sloth (Mom with Baby)
(Choleopus Hoffmani, Barypus Variegates - Yeah, Right)

The Guarumo, a fruit-bearing tree, is also known as the trumpet tree. It grows in the rainforest to a height of as much as 20 meters (65+ feet). The leaves of the Guarumo are the parts used to make medicines. The extract is reported to improve various ailments, including arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), asthma, bone fractures, bruises, diarrhea, fever, genitalia infections, gonorrhea, herpes, kidney disorders, liver disorders, mouth and tongue sores, obesity, Parkinson's disease, rheumatic inflammation, skin diseases, warts, and wounds.

Guarumo Leaf & Fruit Flower
Guarumo Fruit (Immature)

Animal studies suggest that Guarumo leaf extract may lower blood pressure and have diuretic effects. Human studies suggest that it may reduce blood sugar levels in some patients with Type II diabetes, however additional research is needed to confirm these findings. (So what doesn't this stuff help?)

The wood from a cecropia tree is rendered by natives for a myriad of uses, including making musical instruments such as flutes and guitars and even for the production of matches and wooden boxes. The tree is also planted in some areas for erosion control.

Enter the sloth.

It's not uncommon to find a Perizoso (sloth) perched in a Guarcumo tree as they find the leaves and buds of this tree to be their favorite food. Sloths are common here and come in a couple of varieties, namely two-toed and three-toed. I doubt that perizosos have been briefed on the medicinal benefits of cecropia but I bet there are very few sloths with Type II diabetes or arteriosclerosis.

Here's a primer on sloths:

GG has seen a sloth take up position in the crotch of a guarumo tree, go to sleep and stay that way for days. The only break in its routine was to eat a few more leaves and make the weekly trek down to the ground to go to the bathroom, a strange ritual sloths adhere to, but I'm glad they do go to ground. I wouldn't want to be under one in a tree when the hairy dude decided to let go; I'll leave receiving that indignity to monkey mischief.

So, if you want to have one of these strange, hairy creatures that spends much of it's time hanging upside down and has a permanent smile on its face, plant a Guarumo tree or two in your back yard.

¡Pura Vida!


Travel Characters
(Abound Here)

One of the most intrihuing things about living in a tourist area is the great number of very interesting personalities that you run into who have unusual stories to tell as they pass through on vacation, come for a visit or take up life here. I've experienced this phenomenon in three widely different tourist areas during my life in Plum Island, Mass where I grew up, Sarasota, Florida where I lived for ten years and now Costa Rica.

For example, I recently met a fellow who moved here part time for a number of reasons and who I came to learn later had traveled the world rather extensively. His demeanor and bearing led me to guess he had probably been a salesman for some kind of tech outfit. When I finally got around to asking him what he did for a living (or is doing - he's not that old) he said: "I set up banks in war zones". Right amigo, I should have known. He's gonna make for a lot of interesting stories before we're through.

The Dos Locos (or "Two Crazies") Restaurant and Bar in Quepos

Here's another character that popped up recently as related to me by a friend:

"So there I was hanging out at my Saturday afternoon joint in Quepos called 'Dos Locos' hoping to pick up a dance partner. It’s crowded so these two guys offer to have me join them.

They turn out to be a couple of well-to-do Texans from Fort Worth and Dallas. One of them ( I'll call him Mr. TV) was a television producer who had a show on TV for a long time called 'Scuba World'. He also claims to have had the very first scheduled fishing show on television. He had spent a lot of time down here in Quepos in the 80's when it was nothing more than a fishing village.

Mr. TV recounted this story.

In 1976 Mr. TV had gotten the rights to film the Fourth of July picnic hosted by Willie Nelson in Gonzales, Texas. This event was a large annual affair in the manner of Woodstock. The show took up acres of space for performers like Nelson, Waylon Jennings; virtually anybody who was country. As the show was winding up, with only David Allen Coe and Willie yet to perform, it started raining buckets.


There was a cloth or canvas cover above the stage that was filling with water in such a way that they described is as a giant teat (you know, like a cow's udder). As it continued to rain and rain and rain, the ‘teat’ filled with water and got larger and larger. To fix the problem a member of David Allen Coe's band (who was perhaps drunk at the time) took out his .38 and shot a hole in it. The performers' equipment received a torrent of water and then there were explosions, sparks ...everything blew up. These unplanned pyrotechnics turned out to be the show’s finale.

This particular event, attended by an estimated 80,000 people, turned out to be a raucous and drunken affair with 140 arrests including at least one charge of kidnapping and three rape charges. Mr. TV said he would go back to Viet Nam before he would ever go back to a Willie Nelson picnic. He ended up selling the tape of the event to Dick Clark for a documentary."

Bars, taverns and restaurants are hotbeds for meeting people of interesting and different backgrounds. Quepos has several of these. Dos Locos is one of those well known places (a watering hole as well as a restaurant) where both townies and visitors gather to swap stories. Its central location in Quepos and its reputation among tourists attract large numbers of visitors and local gringos. The place is always good hunting ground for meeting dudes of a different stripe, like Mr. TV..

(Thanks to contributing editor Hal Hardy for this story)

¡Pura Vida!




The following was reproduced from the travel quote header of last month's chronicle: "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home" - James Michener

Someone who has an unreasonable fear of strangers is said to suffer from Xenophobia or is called a Xenophobe. The opposite, someone who is attracted to strangers is described as having Xenophilia or is called a Xenophile.

So amigo, if you have to choose between the two and if you come to Costa Rica, please be a Xenophile.


'Mayday' is the internationally recognized voice radio signal for ships and people in serious trouble at sea. Its origin is interesting. Made official in 1948, it is an anglicizing of the French m'aidez or 'help me'.

The Mayday call sign originated in 1923 by Frederick Stanley Mockford (1897–1962) who had been a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London, Mockford was asked to think of a word that would indicate distress and would easily be understood by all pilots and ground staff in an emergency. Since much of the traffic at the time was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris, he proposed the word "Mayday" from the French m’aider. "Venez m'aider" means "come help me."

Very interesting friend, tres interesant ami, muy interesante amigo.



ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Anaconda at Costa Verde

Location: About Half a Mile Down the Hill on the Left from the Airplane at the Top of MA Hill.
Hours: Open Every Day 6:30 AM to 10 PM (in the very slow season it may close on Mondays)
Parking: Ample and Private All Around the Restaurant
Contact: Tel.: 011 (506) 2777-0584 or 2777-0187 | US/Canada Toll Free: 1 (866) 854-7958 ; Fax: 011 (506) 2777-0560; Email: reservations@costaverde.com; Website: http://www.costaverde.com/.

Reviewing ROMEOS: Alice Lee S., Brian M., Bob N.

This restaurant is associated with the well known, medium sized hotel of the same name.

The dining room is large with a high ceiling and open to the atmosphere on two walls giving a commanding view of the rock islands off the main Manuel Antonio beach. (Like all places in Manuel Antonio, if you want that incredible view, you'd best have an early dinner by 5 PM - or do lunch as it's dark by 6 PM). Be sure to check out the long, mounted anaconda skin over the entrance to the restaurant and the tile art on the walls and columns, the latter being an excellent and unusual collection.

The tables are plain but warmly decorated with Tico wooden holders for napkins and condiments, a wooden candle holder with chimney and teak-tiled place mats. We could quibble over the poor lighting for reading the menu and the somewhat uncomfortable chairs but it's S.O.P. in this area and not worth the quibble.

The menu is quite extensive, particularly the seafood offering. In addition there is a fair range of pastas and some meats. GG chose a salmon steak finished in an "Anaconda" sauce which consisted of a fine chop of tomatoes, capers, black olives, onion and sweet pepper. It was mounted on thin, cooked slices of zucchini and the whole amalgam flavored by a rice vinegar. Outstanding. Other ROMEOS chose red snapper and pasta dishes that were reported as not outstanding but pleasant .nevertheless.

Two ROMEOS chose deserts of apple pie and ice cream, while one had chocolate cake with ice cream. The "pie manzana" turned out to be a thin slice of a cake like material covered with a find chop (pray tell, who are all these secret people in Costa Rica that chop everything into 2 millimeter cubes?) of cooked apples and raisins. The pie seemed to get a higher rating than the chocolate cake which was deemed a bit dry.

The service by the staff was attentive and prompt although the wait for the main course was a little long.

For atmosphere, service and food quality we give the Anaconda four sloths.

$ $ $ $

The bill for the salmon, coke, apple pie and coffee was about 14,000 colones or $28. The other two came in at 10-12,000 colones (why is GG's bill always the highest? I'm sure it has nothing to do with my eating habits). This puts the restaurant in the high but not highest cost level in the area. We give the Anaconda four dollars for cost.

Overall, the ROMEOS found the Anaconda to be a very pleasant dining experience and we can easily recommend it.

La Dolce Vita

Location: 1st Block of Main Street (Identified as Avenida Central on the Map), Quepos
Hours: Mon-Tues & Thur-Sat: 12 PM - 10PM; Sunday 4-10 PM; Closed Wednesdays
Parking: On - Main Street; Tel.: 2777-1843

Reviewing ROMEOS: Bob N.; Guest ROMEOS: Beth M., Ken S., Glenn K.

This is an unassuming little restaurant on Main Street in downtown Quepos a block west of the bus station and a couple of doors east of Wacky Wanda's. It's owned and run by a little Italian lady named Terri who personally oversees everything that's done in the kitchen.

There are maybe 8-10 tables in the dining room and three half moon tables at the windows for those who want to view busy metropolitan Quepos or say hi to friends, acquaintances and tourists as they pass by. The lighting is pleasant and sufficiently adequate for GG's aging eyes to read the menu.

The overall atmosphere is warm and friendly - we give 3 1/2 sloths for atmosphere.

The food is real Italian without Tico overtones. Yours truly had a cheese ravioli bathed in spinach cream sauce - delicious. Other ROMEOS had fish and pasta dishes, all of which were reported to be fresh and tasty.

$ $ $

The real treat came at desert time; I suspect this was what Terri had in mind when she named the place. GG had what the French might call a "mille feuille" (or thousand folds) pastry in which the delicate leaves were cemented together with a caramel sauce and the whole thing sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yummy.

For food we give La Dolce Vita four sloths and the same rating overall for food, service and atmosphere.

Service was pleasant and attentive. Our party of gringos was furnished separate checks without any flinch on the part of the server, indicating to me that they're used to this request (Ticos ask for separate checks less than gringos and some restaurant servers approach this request almost as if it's an irritation).

The price of the meal was very reasonable for this area. For two courses and a soft beverage, my bill came to less that 10,000 colones ($20).Other ROMEOS with only one course and a beverage racked up tallies of 7,000 to 8,000 colones. This puts La Dolce Vita in the midrange of restaurants of this area and a bargain for the quality provided. That's $$$ on our scale.

So, If you're in Quepos and want a simple meal of good Italian food at a reasonable price, be sure to try La Dolce Vita.


Founder's Quotes

"No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt." - George Washington (Oh, George you damned idealist)

"A Constitution is not the act of a Government, but of a people constituting a government, and a government without a constitution is a power without right." - Thomas Paine (I presume Tommy, that that holds not only for a government without one but a government that ignores one?)

don Beto de Quepos,
El Gringo Dorado
Pura Vida!

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