Feature and Department Links:

Broken News

Rumble Talk

Ex-Pat Fiestas

FIFA Flim Flam

Legend of Turrialba

What's In A Word

ROMEO Corner

Archived Editions

Topical Archives

Restaurant Archives

In This Issue:

  1. Broken News (Tourist Season, Quepos Quickies - More on the New Parking Regs, Geraldo Update, Mango Munching Mutt, Navas Nuptials, Caitlyn or Nix)
  2. Rumble Talk (Quiet Time, Bad Turrialba Prediction)
  3. Feature: Ex-Pat Fiestas (Remembering the Homeland on Holidays)
  4. Feature: FIFA Flim Flam (World Class Money Problems in Futbol)
  5. Feature: Legend of Turrialba (Romeo and Juliet, Costa Rican Style)
  6. What's-in-a-Word (Ex, Portero)
  7. ROMEO Corner ("Z", Quepos)

Wisdom of the Ages

“Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.”


“It’s better to be poor and miserable than to be
rich and miserable because at least you still have
the possibility of some improvement.”

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

Tourist Season

The past few months have been the time for the masses to invade our living space.

GG has lived in three major tourist areas in his lifetime, all coasts bordering large bodies of water: the North Shore of Massachusetts (the Atlantic Ocean) where I grew up, Sarasota, FL (the Gulf of Mexico) and Quepos-Manuel Antonio (the Pacific Ocean). I'm used to seasonal invasions, even welcome them. I love the people who invade us; it's always fun talking about where they come from and trying to help them with information about our area.


We get about 2.5 million foreign tourists (arrivals) each year in Costa Rica. On a population basis, that would be equivalent to 172 million in the U.S. whereas actual arrivals to gringoland total about 34 million. In terms of tourist intensity very few places are higher than Costa Rica.

My feeling is that 99% of tourists are fun people. Of course that leaves 1% or about one in a hundred who can be expected to be difficult or at least different. The problem is we get about two and a half million tourists a year so, even at 1%, about twenty five thousand here will fall into the latter category on an annual basis. And never fear, we get our proper share in Quepos-Manuel Antonio.


How bad can it get? The Thomas Cook travel agency has kept a running tally of some of the more interesting comments from their tourist customers, to wit:

1. "On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry.  I don't like spicy food."

2. "They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach.  It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax."

3. "We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish."

4. "We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels.  We assumed it would be included in the price."

5. "The beach was too sandy.  We had to clean everything when we returned to our room."

6. "We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow."

7. "It's lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons.  I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time -- this should be banned."

8. "No-one told us there would be fish in the water.  The children were scared."

9. "Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg slicer in the drawers."

10. "I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts."

11. "The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort.  Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun."

12. "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England.  It took the Americans only three hours to get home.  This seems unfair."

13. "I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends' three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller."

14. "The brochure stated: 'No hairdressers at the resort.'  We're trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service."

15. "When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there.  The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish.  No one told us that there would be so many foreigners."

16. "We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning."

17. "It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel."

18. "I was bitten by a mosquito.  The brochure did not mention mosquitoes."

19. "My fiancee and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed.  We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant.  This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."

As you can see, this condition (in Latin, "turistico oblivioso") is not limited to U.S. tourists or even to North America as at least two of the comments above were from Brits (the ginger nuts and Jamaica guys).

As someone said: "And these people vote!"

Quepos Quickies

More on the Parking Regs. The Chronicles reported last month that the new regulations restricting parking and requiring a permit in downtown Quepos were causing uneasiness among the populace (see parking).


The uneasiness turned into resentment and grumbling this past month when yellow lines were painted in a considerable number of places in the town that used to be parking spots but are now verboten for any vehicle. So the number of parking spaces has actually been reduced significantly and the ones remaining have been divided by white lines and require a parking permit purchased from City Hall (Officina de la Municipalidad de Quepos). Purportedly, the divided spaces will get 350 colon per hour parking meters sometime in the future. It was also learned that handicapped parking spaces are subject to the same rules as the others - pay or get ticketed (now that's mean).


To add to the confusion and resentment even further, the city was busy putting up high cement bumpers in front of stores and offices that used to have inclined parking directly in front. That action further decreased available parking space throughout the city. But towards the end of the month they were busy (or someone was) constructing cement ramps over the abutments at some of these shops so that they could regain some of the lost parking spaces.


gtyReports are that parking tickets with fines are being liberally passed out to further irritate citizens. Opposition to the change in policy has surfaced by way of a citizens group headed by a local merchant. The rebels (dare we call them Occupy Quepos?) are fighting the new policy and started with the presentation of a petition by a large number of citizens to the Muni officials asking for the removal of the regulations. The opposition group has developed a logo (right) that appeared on a new facebook page. They got the Canton wrong though, it's no longer Aguirre but now is officially the Municipalidad de Quepos.


Let's see how democracy in action works on this one. The powers to be in the Muni might want to remember that 2016 is a country-wide municipal election year. I smell change in the wind (or is that the tide backing up the sewers again).


Geraldo Update. In last month's chronicle we did a piece about all the things you can do at the beach (Playa Diversiones). We gave an honorable mention to an octogenarian who plies the beach selling beach towels but GG had no picture of him at the time - we do now, see Geraldo. At 84, the man is one of a kind.


Mango Munching Mutt. Recently GG and a friend were sitting at another friend's house , a lady who owns and operates a hotel in Manuel Antonio, and were discussing various happenings about town when I noticed her dog, whose name escapes me at the moment, chewing on a mango (see pic left).

Not being a dog owner here, it hadn't occurred to me that it's natural for an animal such as a dog to pick up a mango that had dropped from one of the many trees that grow wild in the rainforest. After chewing the sweet flesh away from the large nut the mutt surprised me by swallowing the nut whole in one gulp. Her owner said she often has to deal with the dog throwing the nut back up because it's too big to go though his canine digestive system. But oh, that sweet fruit is worth it mom - woof.


frtNavas Nuptials. One of the key players for Costa Rica who helped get them to the quarter finals of the World Cup in 2014, their best performance ever, was portero (goalkeeper) Keylor Navas (right). Navas was a hero when he helped defeat the team from Greece by shutting them out of points from penalty kicks, the last stance that is used to settle a match when the final score is even. Evidently the Real Madrid Spanish team thought his performance was good enough to offer him an $8 million contract for 2015.


In the middle of June word began spreading throughout Quepos that Navas was planning to be married in Quepos on the 20th of the month. Also rumored was that he would have, as a guest at the wedding, one Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is one of Navas' teammates on Real Madrid team and the highest paid fútbol player in the world. (see the article below on FIFA for more info on Ronaldo). Having Ronaldo and Navas in Quepos at the same time is tantamount to seeing Jesus appear in Manuel Antonio to some of these people.


The rumor turned out to be just a rumor when quasi-hero Navas actually got married in Santa Ana just outside San Josè. Whether or not Ronaldo attended was not clear from the reports. And so much for the fifteen minutes of fame for our pueblo.


The press was billing the Navas nuptial as the wedding of the year in Costa Rica. Mrs. Navas turned out to be a former model and word was that the two had been civilly married for the past six years. The wedding on the 20th took place at the Parish Catholic Church in Santa Ana. GG was not invited to the reception (bummer).

Nevertheless amigo portero, congratulations to you and your new bride..

Caitlyn or Nix

Seems like a lot of people are bent on changing the gender of things these days. While Bruce Jenner was morphing into Caitlyn Jenner recently, a team of scientists was busy converting some female mosquitoes into males.


Healthy Female
(I Guess)

Now GG has to admit he's never considered that those pesky little critters might have two genders, pray tell, why would I?. I do know from working as a consultant with a company which is in the pest control business that mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide emissions, which is why they are often buzzing around your mouth or nose. I also have noticed that I personally am a bit less sensitive (or attractive) to the average skeeter and scientists are now saying that has something to do with certain body surface chemistry which I care not to know about in detail.


Harmless Male After Nix Surgery

What I didn't know was that it's the females who do the blood sucking and, as a result, the carrying of diseases. The males, like in many other living species, are useless in this regard (no comments from female readers please). And not unlike much of the human experience, its the female that stings while the male just hangs around ready for breeding (whaaaat girls, that's our job).


Now scientists at Virginia Tech have discovered a piece of the mosquito genome they call "Nix" that allows them to "switch" the gender of developing mosquitoes. They can therefore change all or some of these insects, like the ones carrying diseases, by using the Nix switch to convert them from female disease carriers into harmless males (no Dorothy, "harmless males" is not an oxymoronic term).

Can't wait to see what the gender nerds will do next. Bzzzzzz.


¡Pura Vida!

Rumble Talk
(Shaky Happenings On or About the Pacific Rim)

"And it came to pass that, in the gentle month of June 2015, there was a great quiet in the land with the exception of a certain low intensity grumbling from some of the more active volcanoes along the central ridge. The silence was profound and we could not know it would portend a future event of great magnitude. something we could not know until it happened..."


Opening chapter in a historical novel, to be written (by me) in the year 2059.


Then there was the bad prediction at Turrialba last month also. Some people got carried away interpreting information from certain studies conducted over the years. This data seems to suggest that major eruptions may be caused by gravitational pull from the moon when the moon approaches close to the earth, much like the tides in the ocean. This came as our own Volcan Turrialba had been experiencing significant eruptions for the past three months (see Editions 80, 81, 82).


The moon dudes predicted a major eruption at Turrialba between June 6 and 9 based on the high state of the volcano's activity, a full moon and the orb reaching its perigee with earth. Not only did it not occur but the volcano quieted down significantly compared to what it was doing in the previous three months. For the last few weeks the funnel has been throwing out only moderate amounts of steam that results from vaporizing rainfall (pic).


Sorry moon people, guess the moon theory is still that, just a theory. Maybe next time (the next perigee of the moon will be July 5).


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

Ex-Pat Fiestas
(Remembering the Homeland on Holidays)

GG confesses he never liked the name "ex-pat" when describing a person who is native to, or citizen of, one land but is living in another. To me, the term ex-pat sounds too much like being a former patriot. Let's save the ex- for things like ex-wife, ex-priest or ex-politician, it fits better. Unfortunately, anything with the word "foreigner" or "foreign" in it doesn't cut it either. So until a better connotation is found, I guess we'll stick with ex-pat. (reader's suggestions on a better moniker always welcome)


I've been an ex-pat twice in my life, first from 1974 to 1977 living in Brussels, Belgium and then for the last almost seven years in Costa Rica. I loved living in both places and enjoyed the different cultures but, as an American, nostalgia always crept in at holiday time, whether it was the Thanksgiving-Christmas period or some of the others. Ex-pats go to great lengths to gather together at these times and the patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day and July 4th, often result in some of the bigger and stronger celebrations.


So it was on Memorial Day this year when a sizeable crowd gathered at a local motel/resort area called Rancho Leon in the Paquita area of Quepos to have a pig roast and celebrate our veterans past and present. We don't have an official count on American ex-pats in the Quepos vicinity but I'm guessing it's in the low hundreds and that we probably had about half of them at this party. Some of the crowd is shown in the photo to the left taken during a moment of honoring veterans who were present.


"Papa Bill"

This is not a new event; it was first organized 15 years ago by a marine veteran (here's one place that "ex-" doesn't work, a marine is never an "ex" marine, Semper Fi). Most people here know this gent as "Papa" or "Papa Bill". Bill Crossley (photo right) used to run a restaurant-bar in downtown Quepos called Sargento's, a place which was in operation when I first moved to the area and which I quickly came to frequent.


In Sargento's, Papa Bill had a bank of some six to ten rocking chairs set up in a circle in front of a wide screen TV for sports events and news. Besides giving us the opportunity to solve the world's problems, Sargento's was also a great place to learn what was happening in Quepos. It was at Sargento's, talking to fellow ex-pats, where I found out about the apartment I still occupy seven years later.


On my very first day at Sargento's an item on the menu quickly caught my eye; Philadelphia Cheese Steak it said. Having lived and worked in the Philadelphia area (it's never "Philly" to a native), and having encountered imitation "real" Philly cheese steaks in a number of towns in the U.S. including Florida and even in Pennsylvania, I was dubious. So I challenged Papa. "Are you really from Philadelphia?" says I. "I grew up at 22nd and Allegheny" says he. Nuff said, and his cheese steaks turned out to be the real McCoy; awesome.


The fiesta this day provided for renewing old acquaintances in the gringo community here and swapping stories. The freshly roasted pig provided excellent pork, accompanied by old fashioned potato salad and other goodies. There was a band and a cash bar but all of the food and entertainment as well as the band was given freely for only a free-will donation to the Marine Corps League of Costa Rica.


The highlight of the day was the presence of two active-duty Marines sent down from the U.S. Embassy in San Jose. These gents, very sharp in their dress blues, presented Papa Bill with a plaque thanking him for his generous support of the Marine Corps League of Costa Rica over all these years.. This was the 15th year in a row that Papa had thrown this event for that purpose.


Although the marines were in great demand for pictures with all the ladies, GG was able to sneak in for the photo shown at left. Check out the hash (service ribbons) on the chest of the Sergeant Major on the right - this dude has been around.


The Queen of Quepos

One of the people who showed up for this festivity was a lady named Virginia who I had met on a trip to the area before I moved here and who I see occasionally in downtown Quepos.


Because of her long time here, convivial demeanor and continuous smile, Virginia has been nick-named the Queen of Quepos by a number of her friends. Her enthusiasm is infectious. A photo of her at the picnic is at right.


Virginia was born in Nebraska and grew up in Newport news, Virginia. She moved here 43 years ago, i.e. 1972, and has lived in her home in the American Zone of Quepos ever since. For those not familiar with the American Zone, it's a hilly area above the Pez Vela Marina with a commanding view of the marina, the Quepos harbor and the Pacific coast running north. It got its name. American Zone, from the fact that the United Fruit Company first occupied the area in the 1940's and 50's.


VIrginia made a point of telling me she had just passed her 93rd birthday (must be that good midwestern stock). Congrats and God bless, kid.


¡Solo Bueno!  



FIFA Flim Flam
(World Class Money Problems in Fútbol)

Fútbol World Cup

The national pastime in the U.S. may be baseball, and its passion football, but in most of the rest of the world it's fútbol, the kind which in some places is known as soccer. As might be expected, because of it's broad popularity and avid followers all around the world, the number of fans being literally in the billions, a lot of money (also literally in the billions) permeates the sport. This means that a lot of corruption is possible and during this past month, that possibility became reality.


FIFA Headquarters - Zurich

The World Cup of fútbol (left) is played every four years. The coordination of all international competition including the World Cup is done by FIFA (pronounced fee-fah), the Fédération Internationale de Football Association  or the International Federation of Football Associations.


The organization was created in 1904 and currently is based in Zürich. The countries that comprise FIFA have a total population of approximately 1.6 billion (notably absent from the list are the huge population countries of China and India). FIFA membership currently includes some 209 national team organizations divided into six regional confederations in Africa, Asia, Europe, North & Central America and the Caribbean, Oceania and South America.


The CONCACAF division, the association for North & Central America and the Caribbean includes thirteen countries: Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao), Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname and the United States. That represents a population of approximately 429 million people, about 70% of which are in the U.S. When any of these teams, called "seles" (i.e., they are selected from various teams within the country) are playing each other, more than likely it is an official CONCACAF game that builds points for qualifying to compete in the World Cup. A tie gets you one point and a win two.


While individuals may play on any team in the world, they can only play on the national "sele" for their native country in world cup competition. Lionel Messi, for example, plays for Barcelona but is a native of Argentina and plays on the Argentine sele while Cristiano Ronaldo is from Portugal and plays on that national team but earns his daily salary as part of the Real Madrid team. Here are photos of the top five fútbol money earners:


C. Ronaldo
L. Messi
Z. Ibrahimovic
G. Bale
R. Falcao


As GG mentioned, there is mucho money in this granddaddy of international sports. Check out the table to the left. The top ten players earned a total of almost $380 million last year. Señores Ronaldo and Messi alone accounted for almost $150 million. Note also the dominance of European clubs in this list.



But, in the last week of May press focus came off playing fútbol and became directed at FIFA management. Swiss authorities, with the cooperation of U.S. federal authorities, swooped down on a meeting of FIFA executives and former executives in Switzerland and detained 14, some of them for possible extradition to the U.S. Charges are expected to include bribery, wire fraud, money laundering and even racketeering. Much of FIFA's money evidently got funneled through as many as a dozen banks in Miami and New York (hence the U.S. involvement) and possibly included millions of dollars paid to certain divisions to gain or influence their vote on where the World Cup will be next located. The recent choices of Russia for the 2018 World Cup and Qatar for 2022 will be included in the investigation of corruption.

Sepp Blatter of Switzerland
Eduardo Li of Costa Rica

The police action against FIFA happened (or was planned) to occur just a couple of days before the current president of FIFA, a Swiss gent named Sepp Blatter, was to be re-elected to his post. Blatter has been president of FIFA since June of 1998 and, despite the police action against him, he won another term even though he was charged along with the other officials.


Then three days later Blatter unexpectedly decided to resign. A friend of mine snidely remarked: "That gave him three more days to run the shredder at the FIFA office". Also caught in the sweep was the (suspended) head of the Costa Rica fútbol federation and another member of the FIFA executive committee, Eduardo Li. Li is one of those fighting extradition to the U.S. He's being allowed family visits in Switzerland but is more likely for the very near future to be enjoying fondue dinners in Zurich (or maybe burgers in New York) rather than casados with gallo pinto at home.


Charles Blazer - U.S.A.

In another development in early June, a U.S. court unsealed documents which showed that a gentleman named Charles Blazer had pleaded guilty a few years ago to taking bribes to influence the location of World Cup games including the 1998 tournament in France and the 2010 competition in South Africa. Blazer is an U.S. citizen and has held several high level positions in soccer including being a member of the executive committee of FIFA.


So this investigation and the crack-down have been a long time in the making. Stay tuned amigos, this is a story with lots of legs, as the press boys say.



Legend of Turrialba
(Romeo & Juliet, Costa Rican Style)

jioThere are many legends in Costa Rica that date back to pre-Columbian times and the Chronicles has written about a few of them. With all the activity and reporting going on about the volcano at Turrialba, GG thought it might be interesting to review one more, the Legend of Turrialba, which is the mythical story of how the volcano first got formed.


Turrialba is located about 37 km or 22 miles as the quetzal flies almost directly east of San José (considerably more as the car drives). There are a number of villages in the area that have recently been evacuated in the face of eruptions that caused ash deposits, villages like La Silvia and La Picada. The Chronicles has also reported on the several closings of the main San Josè Airport in recent weeks because of ash disgorged from Turrialba.


The legend of Turrialba takes place many years, perhaps centuries before the Spanish arrived in Costa Rica (for the Spanish occupation see History of Costa Rica - A Primer, Part II). The legend takes place near the volcano in the valleys and hills surrounding it. Here's the gist of the legend (this version is a rendition by me, not a quote from another source):

There was an elderly cacique (chief), a widower, of a tribe near Turrialba. This tribe was known for its culture, bravery in battle, excellent agricultural practices that produced a bounty, and for placing a high value on artistry. They produced many decorative vases, pots, beautiful drawings and figurines that not only enhanced their roundhuts and conical teepees but provided barter for exchange with other tribes.


kolThe cacique had a daughter, a 15 year old that was gifted with a perfect body, alluring silky skin of a light bronze color, jet black shiny hair, high cheek bones, almond shaped eyes with large russet colored pupils...in short she was absolutely beautiful. Her name was Cira. Cira's father was very proud of her and had already selected a handsome young warrior from the tribe who was known for his hunting skills to be her husband. The problem was that Cira was secretly in love with someone else yet it was totally unacceptable for her to go against her father's wishes.


Cira had often bathed with some of the other women of the tribe in the crystal pool of a stream that took its source half way up the mountain. The pool was located some two hours walking distance from the camp. After bathing, the women would anoint Cira's hair and skin with perfumes and oils that had been developed by them over the years and which were extracted from the flowers and plants of the forest.


sdfOne day Cira decided to stay behind at the river to rest and lie in the filtered sunshine that poked through the high tree canopy like streaks of silver. Suddenly, a warrior name Coo appeared from the forest. The markings on his belt were of another tribe and were vaguely familiar to her. Suddenly she realized she had seen him once before during a meeting of regional tribes that had gathered to barter, dance and play. She was afraid for her life but he quickly made her comfortable. They talked for several hours before going their separate ways to their camps. Both had fallen in love immediately.


One night some days later, while Cira's father was dreaming of her marriage ceremony, Cira could not sleep. She arose and walked towards the pool in a clear night of a full moon. At the pool she finally became tired and sat down in the notch of the trunk of a huge tree and fell into a sleep listening to the sound of the night creatures. After some time she was awakened at dawn by a gentle kiss from Coo. They both realized their love was beyond the bounds of their tribes and families and they sang happy songs and celebrated their romance together.


werMeanwhile, Cira's father had ordered and led a search for his daughter and, with dawn breaking, he became distraught when he came upon the lovers embracing each other near the tree at the pool . The chief became violently angry with his daughter and thought of killing them both. He let out a blood curdling scream that shook the forest and scared the animals.


The cacique then raised his bow and positioned an arrow to kill the warrior but just then the earth shrugged and opened itself to swallow the two lovers. Shortly thereafter a plume of smoke issued from the opening and it was considered a sign that the couple had undergone an apotheosis; they had been elevated to the rank of gods.

And thus was Turrialba born.

Romeo and Juliet, Costa Rican style. It can be inferred from the background information that the tribes of the maiden and the warrior were often at war with each other as they competed in a relatively small area of the forest for the same resources.


GG was a bit surprised at the parallels between this myth and another Tico myth, the Legend of Zurqui. In the Zurqui tale, the heroine and her close friends end up turning into butterflies and the implication is that's where the original butterflies of Costa Rica came from. Both stories have a Romeo and Juliet theme as well as the potential for a Hatfield and McCoy sub-plot and both have a mystical, some might even say spiritual ending.


This was too much for GG to pass up so I've begun research on a novel based on these myths. The early title: Mariposa - A Love Story of Costa Rica.


This country is rich with story possibilities.



Travel Quote of the Month


“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien





From Latin or Greek.


Used as a preposition: In finance as without, not including the right to have, e.g., ex interest or ex rights. Used in commerce as free of charges to the purchaser until the time of removal from a specified place or thing, such as ex ship, ex warehouse or ex elevator.


Used as a noun: a former spouse or a former partner in a long-term relationship; ex-wife, ex-husband or ex-lover.


In U.S. colleges and universities: from, but not graduated with, e.g., from the class of; ex-'47.




Used widely in Spanish to indicate a goalkeeper in fútbol, the literal meaning is "gate keeper". It can also mean caretaker (de casa [home], colegio [high school]). A British interpretation is super(intendent); in the United States: porter or doorman.



ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

"Z" - Quepos

Location: Marina Pez Vela - Second Level
Hours: 2-10 PM, Monday thru Sunday
Parking: Ample in several areas surrounding the marina.
Contact: Tel.: 2777-6948; Email: N/A; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ZSeafoodGrill/


Reviewing ROMEOS: Mary M., Lance M., Anita M., Brian M. Bob N.


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


The ROMEO's first reviewed "Z" back in May of 2013 when it was located at the Plaza Yara in Manuel Antonio. At the time we gave the restaurant five sloths for food quality, service and atmosphere, four $ for cost and a value index of 125.


The ROMEOS Hard at Work at "Z"

The new location at Pez Vela had been opened only two weeks when we visited this time. GG learned during this visit how the restaurant was named. Evidently Dean, the owner, was a big fan of Datsun series Z cars, those sleek fast little dudes that captured the imagination of many a teenager (and a few old dudes like GG) in the past and evidently they captured Dean's imagination enough to title his restaurant "Z".


The new restaurant, like the old, is open to the atmosphere and a light, cool breeze came our way throughout the meal. The dining room faces the marina with its yachts bobbing in the foreground and the Pacific stretching out forever in the background. The motif is bright, white and modern.


The tables are simple wood but lined with cloth runners and small sleek candles that compliment the modern decor. The white covered seats were padded and comfortable and I was impressed that Dean remembered GG has badmouthed several other restaurants in the past about the hard wooden chairs that seem to be the norm in this area (obviously he reads the Chronicles!). Five sloths for atmosphere.


The menu was quite extensive and, as we shall see, creative. A good list of appetizers, lots of seafood and a grill to boot that can prepare for you steaks and other meat choices including a 32 oz. t-bone (I'll leave that one for the cowboys or yacht captains). One of our ROMEOS ordered two appetizers for both courses and received a tuna tartar that was as attractive as it was delicious. Others had soup or salad, all reported tasty.


One of the things that attracted my eye was an unusual combination of caramelized octopus and fried calamari (left). I had never eaten caramelized octopus; it was interesting and delicious served with yucca spears like french fries and a salad.


One other ROMEO chose a grilled whitefish (right) and another a combination chicken with jumbo shrimp. All were pronounced delicious. All portions were ample but not overly so - just right for this ROMEO. For food quality we give five sloths.

Value Index = 125


juiOur waiter was very courteous, helpful and friendly and I noticed that other members of the staff pitched in to help him when he needed it. There was only one small thing that occurred that would knock a half sloth off the rating for service: a few of the dessert items called for a bola of ice cream on the side which they didn't have. Asked why, Dean said the freezer that was supposed to be installed (remember that we visited less than two weeks from their opening) was too large for it's space and had to be reordered. C'mon let's give 'em a break - it's a typical start-up problem. When they offered a special dessert consisting of a thin layer of chocolate cake holding a mound of a white chocolate mousse over that and coated with another layer of dark chocolate with a shaving of white chocolate crowning it, several of us could not resist. Ricissimo! (Photo right).


Service is not just about receiving your burger piping hot 12 minutes after you order it. GG thinks , in addition to attentiveness, courtesy and helpfulness, it's about those little extra efforts that restaurants and people go to to make the customer experience pleasant. In this regard "Z" showed some creativity. We received some rolls with olive oil and in between the appetizer and main course they served us a demitasse cup of cold gazpacho (the French would say "pour rafraichir la bouche" or refresh the mouth/palette). At the end of the dinner they also served each of us a complimentary Italian Limoncello after dinner drink. When three of us declined because we don't do alcohol, they responded with a piece of dark chocolate for each of us. Nicely done. Four and a half sloths for service and a solid five sloth overall rating for atmosphere, food quality and service.


You don't get this kind of dining for the price of a casado. My three courses (bruschetta of tuna tartar, caramelized octopus and that twin chocolate concoction as well as two sodas and a coffee came in at 31,500 colones ($59 as usual GG had the most expensive bill). I kept thinking that the real rating I'd like to give is 6 sloths for atmosphere, food quality and service and a cost rating of five $ but that would distort the current system, so I decided to keep the original ratings, i.e., five sloths, 4$ and the value index at 125 as before. Therefore, we give the restaurant the same ratings as before which puts it in the top third of our rating system.


If you like good food, creatively prepared in a pleasant atmosphere, "Z" is for you.


Golden Gringo Chronicles Novel and E-Books Now Available!


GGC Book CoverThe story of the Golden Gringo Chronicles is also available as a hard copy novel of 192 pages available through Amazon and all major online retailers. ($9.95)


Amazon link: GGC, the Book. (Kindle Edition available)


Follow GG through the first six years of his odyssey in making the decision to retire in Costa Rica, overcoming the trials and tribulations of moving and obtaining residency there and the fun and experience of actually living in Ticoland.


Ride along with the Golden Gringo as he learns about the rich, varied culture of Costa Rica, the incredible bio diversity, the charming nature of the Costa Rican people and the ease with which a sometimes clueless ex-pat can assimilate into a small southwestern town on the Pacific coast.


Whether you are already a Costa Rican resident, someone contemplating a move here or just a traveler who enjoys different cultures, you will find the Golden Gringo Chronicles interesting, entertaining and informative about Costa Rica.


Part 1-150 Part 2-150 Part 3 Light

A narrative version of the Golden Gringo Chronicles is now also available as a trilogy of E-books in formats compatible with virtually all electronic platforms.

Part 1: (FREE!)
Leaving the Homeland

Part 2: ($3.99)
The Early Years


Part 3: ($3.99)
Becoming Tico, Maybe


Click on Part Number above for E-book sample downloads or click the price above right for purchase. (The best price is on Part 1; it's FREE)

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The Golden Gringo
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