Feature and Department Links:

Broken News

Rumble Talk

Print Your Car

No Hablo Inglès

Al and Doris

What's In A Word

ROMEO Corner

Archived Editions

Topical Archives

Restaurant Archives

In This Issue:

  1. Broken News (GG Appointed Contributor to QCosta Rica, Also to Bristol Who's Who, One More for Chocolate, Gringas Gain the Cup, Quepos Quickies: Parking Regs Lifted, Another Ex-Pat Fiesta, GG Explained)
  2. Rumble Talk (Earthquake Warning System)
  3. Feature: Print Your Next Car (More on Additive Manufacturing)
  4. Feature: No Hablo Inglès (Getting Down with Spanish)
  5. Feature: Al and Doris Meet the Road (A Hitchhiker's Essay)
  6. What's-in-a-Word (3-D Printing Explained)
  7. ROMEO Corner (Gondola - Manuel Antonio, Delfines con Amor - San José)

Wisdom of the Ages

The Importance of Walking

My grandpa started walking
five miles a day when he was 60.
Now he's 97 years old and we

have no idea where the hell he is.

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

GG Appointed Contributor to QCosta Rica

GG (the Golden Gringo, aka yours truly), as editor of the Golden Gringo Chronicles, has now been appointed as a contributor for QCostaRica News. The first GGC article published in that daily was one I did a few months ago titled “Potholes and Wormholes" (Los Huecos of Costa Rica and Avoiding Falling Through the Universe)”.

QMedia publishes QCostRica as well as QColombia and offers many articles on a daily basis about Latin America in general and individual countries in particular. For those wanting more info on QMedia's publications, go to the link above and sign up.

Bristol Who's Who

GG was also included in the latest listing of Bristol Who's Who, an international registry of business professionals based in New York. The mission of Bristol Who's Who is stated by them in this way:

"As a selective membership organization, Bristol Who’s Who is dedicated to providing top tier service to its elite members. We are a forum for serious, like-minded professionals to connect, conduct business, and make themselves known to their fellow members and the world, receiving recognition for the excellence of what they do. It is the mission of Bristol Who’s Who to empower professionals from all industries and stages of professional development to experience greater levels of success by providing them with unique opportunities in order to develop and promote their personal brands."

Move over Microsoft®, GGC Publications is getting branded.

One More for Chocolate

GG has been having fun over the years watching the change of attitude towards certain foods, particularly coffee and chocolate, two of my favorite foodstuffs (see Coffee as Health Food and Another Plus for Chocolate). And these two were often bad-mouthed in the past as being unhealthy.

A three and a half ounce bar of chocolate has been shown to be a very good source of minerals such as Iron (67% RDA), Magnesium (58%), Copper (58%), and Manganese (98%) as well as significant amounts of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. We're talking here about the dark, unsweetened variety of chocolate, not a Snickers or Milky Way bar. Dark chocolate, particularly the roasted, unprocessed beans is full of antioxidants and can aid the heart and cardiovascular system.

Now comes a report from the British Medical Journal that reinforces the benefits of eating chocolate to improve the heart. In a long term study of some 20,000 people over an average of 12 years, the chocolate eaters, particularly the heaviest consumers (up to 3.5 oz daily) exhibited lower risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease. Conclusion: "Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events."

Personally I just love the taste of the stuff, the darker the better. And now I know it's good for the ticker also. How schweeet it is.

Gringas Gain the Cup

While the U.S. men's team had difficulty getting to the top 16 in last year's World Cup and the Costa Rica men valiantly lost in the quarter finals, the U.S. Women's Team actually won the World Cup for women in July of 2015 against Japan 5-2.

The gringa team came out of the gate psyched to revenge their loss to Japan in the previous world cup in 2011. They did it with a vengeance. Within 16 minutes of this 90 minute game, the U.S. ladies had pumped in four goals and stunned the opposition. Three of those goals were engineered by mid-fielder Carli Lloyd (photo left), a record for a Women's World Cup. Goal #4 from the U.S. was an almost unbelievable center field bullet from Lloyd catching the Japanese goalie off guard.

In the next 36 minutes, Japan struck back with two goals narrowing the deficit to 4-2 but the final goal was scored by Lloyd's fellow mid-fielder Morgan Brian sealing the game at 5-2, a record number of total goals in a Woman's World Cup Final. It was also the third time the U.S. ladies won the coveted Copa Mundial.

Wow, what a performance. Congrats, ladies.

Quepos Quickies (Heard on the Streets of Our Metropolis)

Parking Regs Lifted. On or about July 3 the Municipality of Quepos rescinded the extensive, complicated and thoroughly disliked parking regulations that had been instituted a couple of months before (see More on the Parking Regs). Downtown parkers may now resume the scramble for whatever curbside space is available and do not have to buy a parking permit or restrict themselves to a very limited number of uncontrolled spaces.

See there, sometimes democracy does work and reason prevails.

Another Ex-Pat Fiesta. Last month the Chronicles reported on what ex-pats do during gringo holidays like Memorial Day (see Ex-Pat Fiestas). July 4th presented another opportunity for locals to celebrate.

Patriotic Colors Prevailed
Skip with His "Caja China"

On Independence Day a bunch of resident gringos and a few visitors gathered at an ex-pat gentleman's farm a few miles outside Quepos on the top of a large hill with a splendiferous view of surrounding mountains. The organizers did a great job of arranging activities or amusements: there was a pool, horseshoe pitch, even a pellet gun range (although I don't recall anyone using it while I was there - good thing - at least for me, as I'm not a good shot).

And of course there was the food. What 4th of July picnic would be without it? In addition to some classics like home made potato salad, home made baked beans, deviled eggs and several other types of salad, we had roast pork with several barbecue sauces.

I take that back, it wasn't just roast pork but a whole roasted porker, prepared by the same gent that cooked for the Memorial Day affair. "Skip" uses a technique I found interesting, namely he loads the whole pig into a box he called a "Caja China" (literally Chinese Box) then builds a wood fire in a metal pan on top of the box. The radiation downward from the pan cooks the pig ever so slowly and produces a richly flavored, juicy pork. He also served, as an appetizer, the skin of the porker that had been reduced to a crunchy, flavorful snack that looked like peanut brittle and was almost as sweet (secret coating perhaps?) - it gave a new meaning to pork rind.

So this is how we poor, suffering displaced patriots weather holidays in the tropical mountains.

GG Explained. GG (i.e., the Golden Gringo, aka yours truly) belongs to a Writer's Group that meets in San José once per month in an effort to help each other become better writers. I asked for a group critique on an article I wrote recently for this newsletter and one of the responses I got from a new reader was "Who's this GG person?" It was suggested that new readers have to be given a brief explanation of what GG means.

Point taken. GG is me, of course.

The use of "Golden Gringo" has a two-fold meaning. First it refers to the aging dude who writes the Chronicles because he is doing so in his golden years and, secondly, it connotes being lucky or golden for having chosen Costa Rica for retirement.

Sorry if I confused any new readers - I will take heed of this suggestion in this and future editions.

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

Still quiet on the Costa Rican front.

I was working on this Chronicle one day, and watching TV news as usual, when there was a report that a major earthquake on the northwest coast of the U.S. could occur at any time. What it meant was a big earthquake is overdue in that area when the historical record is considered. While dating of sample cores from the sea in that region show that major quakes have occurred, on average, every 240 years, it's been 315 years since the last one.

Earthquake Warning Device?

Part of the news report was a statement that many people around the world believe animals, particularly dogs and cats, act strangely in advance of an earthquake.

Nervous dogs have been observed barking for no apparent reason before tremors but other animals have shown weird behavior as well. This includes restlessness of birds and, in December 1974, people watched as snakes came out of hibernation in winter and froze on the surface. These events were followed by small earthquakes.

Some scientists believe that the slow creep of tectonic plates over each other produces low frequency sound emanations that only the animals can feel or hear. Others say by that air pressure waves are what they pick up.

A bevy of barking dogs won't work in my neighborhood as a reliable warning system, Uncontrolled baking here occurs every time someone walks their dog through the barrio. Virtually every house here has a mutt that likes to be heard.

Grrrr, woof!

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

Print Your Next Car
(More on Additive Manufacturing)

(N.B., to get a better understanding of what 3-D Printing really is, see What's-in-a-Word below)

It may take 10 million years to complete the birthing of a star but, in modern times on this planet, businesses and industries are born at lightening speed.

The Chronicles reported last year on 3-D printing (officially labeled "Additive Manufacturing" or "AM"), an emerging technology that has the potential to revolutionize much of manufacturing (see Need a New Part for Your Dishwasher? - Print It!). It continues not only to emerge but it's use is accelerating at a phenomenal speed. The precision and replicability (I just printed that word, couldn't find it in my Webster) of this process is outstanding. When used in prototyping and modeling, AM saves big time and money as well as producing exact reproducibility and consistency. And it's use in actual production situations is continuing to grow with new applications being added everyday, such as car parts.

One of Leno's 3-D Printers
Leno's Antique Roadster

In 3-D printing the "printer" is an electro-pneumatic device that dispenses the building material, either plastic or sintered metal, controlled by a computer that holds the layered, 3-D digital design of the part to be manufactured. The "printer" deposits thin layer after layer of plastic or sintered metal and slowly builds up the piece. Lasers are used to adhere each layer to the previous one for a virtually seamless piece.

Jay Leno, the former Tonight Show host, is known for his exceptional collection of antique cars, both family types and racing cars. One major problem with having a collection like this is that maintenance and renovation using original parts is almost impossible. Instead one has to have a part specially manufactured and machined at tremendous cost. Jay Leno has purchased a couple of 3-D printers to produce parts for his collection (see photos left). Note that the printer doesn't have to be gigantic in size.

Because the controlling mechanism in the process is an electronic file, the printer can be located remotely and instructions sent to it through simple telecommunications. To prove that point, NASA sent a 3-D printer up to the International Space Station in 2014 and then transmitted a file that was used to print some 14 items consisting of 25 parts. This of course means that future spacecraft may be able to produce its own repair parts needs in flight (remember that basic materials will still be needed, i.e., plastic resins or metal powders, but these can be standardized and stored aboard ship).

And what about combining AM with AI (Artificial Intelligence) Shall we call it AMAI? The possibilities seem limitless, stagger the mind and perhaps rendering it a bit wary. Sounds to me like the beginning of computers making other computers ("Beep, beep, Take me to your AMAI source, amigo earthling.")

rtyEven the U.S. Department of Energy is getting into the act (I gotta believe the Defense Department is doing the same but in their case the uses are probably kept rather quiet at this time). The DOE has already produced (i.e., printed) the body of the Cobra AC replica shown to the right. All plastic, the body is lighter and stronger than the traditional metal. The body was combined with an electric engine - voila!, the perfect environmental vehicle, right?

Not so fast McGirk, as usual there are other problems. It took the DOE six months to build the one unit - not exactly GM assembly line standards. One would expect that production capability should improve dramatically with more and more building experience (it would need to). I seem to remember an old manufacturing rule that says the production unit cost of an item drops by half for every doubling of aggregate production (if the first 1,000 units cost X then by 2,000 total production, the unit cost is .5X and by 4,000 it's .25X etc.). The model above, sans engine, drive train and ecountrements came in at $18,000. If this kind of production conforms to the old manufacturing rule, even the final totally assembled cost of an AM vehicle could be dramatically inexpensive compared to traditional auto manufacturing..

An Early Cycolac CRV Vehicle
The Jaguar XKE

GG (the Golden Gringo that is, aka me) is not without experience with all-plastics cars as this isn't the first one to be produced. My first job out of university was as an engineer for Borg-Warner Chemicals at their headquarters in Parkersburg, West Virginia. At that time it was called the Marbon division and they were the largest producers of ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) polymers in the world under the trademark "Cycolac".

Borg-Warner would later sell their chemical division to General Electric plastics for $2.3 billion and GE in turn would sell it combined with their other polymer operations (like polycarbonate) to SABIC - Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, the national petrochemical company of Saudi Arabia, for $11.6 billion. I draw some solace from the fact that the meager pension from my time at BW now is paid by the oil sheiks. Keep it pumping guys, Allah Akbar!!!

To illustrate the versatility of their polymers Marbon had an all plastic car built that they called the CRV or Cycolac Research Vehicle. There were several design versions including one that looked suspiciously like the old Jaguar XKE. About 200 of the employees at the headquarters, including me, wanted to order that one but it would never be produced beyond the prototype stage, even for us. Bummer.

Of course there were certain technical problems that needed to be overcome with the CRV, particularly those related to the "butadiene" part of the ABS molecule. Butadiene is the same material that synthetic rubber is manufactured from and has an important flaw, it deteriorates over time with exposure to UV light, you know, like being outside where most cars are found. Have you ever wondered why just about all tires are black? It's because carbon black, the filler and colorant used in tire manufacture is also a great UV absorber and it keeps the butadiene from turning into a useless powder and your tires from disintegrating. The CRV boys overcame the problem on their vehicle body by adding an (expensive) acrylic coating (also a good UV absorber) over the ABS.

Another thing butadiene does is impart impact resistance to the polymer. It, like rubber, bounces off stuff. The bad part of that is that the prototypes had a tendency to bounce off things rather violently. One of the other great uses for Cycolac, we thought, was for bowling pins but the pin action when the bowling ball hit the pins was so strong that game scores were elevated and erratic. For car crashes on the other hand, one good thing about metal is that it crunches and crinkles and in the process absorbs a lot of energy, minimizing but not eliminating the bounce effect inherent with the plastic prototype.

Although the Borg-Warner engineers and marketing people gave it a herculean effort, they were never able to convince U.S. car manufacturers to take the chance on an all plastic car. They did, however, convince Citroen in France to produce one model with an all-Cycolac uni-body. But Marbon and Borg-Warner did gain in the long run as they more than tripled the use per car of ABS plastics in various automobile components, largely because of the interest caused by the CRV prototype.

Sorry to drag you through my personal nostalgia tour but seeing that Department-of-Energy-printed prototype set me off. Once an engineer, always an engineer.

Damn, I would have liked to have had a shot at owning, or just driving, that Cycolac CRV version of the Jag XKE, printed or otherwise.

Hmmm, we could buy a printer...and......whoa, settle down GG.

¡Pura Vida!  


No Hablo Inglès
(Getting Down With Spanish)

Back in early 2009, when GG had been here only a few months and when I had barely achieved the moniker "GG" and when I was finally getting around to studying Spanish, I made the following statement (Edition 07 - February 2009):

"As I see it, I have some advantages in learning the language: (1) an ability to mimic sounds easily (I’ve been a verbal copy-cat since high school), (2) a pretty good grounding in Latin from parochial high school, and there is a great similarity in regular verb conjugation for the two languages, and (3) a smattering of French from living in Brussels, again where there are some similarities in words, although not often enough and too often with different endings."

A piece of cake, eh? In subsequent additions I had to back down. By January 2010 I was saying this: "As I struggle with the vagaries of learning, absorbing and retaining a new language at my age, I am perversely encouraged by people on the other side of the idiomatic wall who also struggle." In other words, I was encouraged by the mistakes my Tico friends were making with their English. Then I adopted the major excuse that the problem was my age. Yet there is some validity to that last assertion as I can't retain information as easily nor extract it as rapidly as I could when I was 30 (duh!). That weakness for me holds now even for English.

The literature states that there are over 6,000 languages in the world. The Christian bible alone has been translated into more than 2,000 distinct idioms. The table to the left slows the top five spoken languages in the world expressed as a sum of L1 (first language) and L2 (second language). The grand total of these five still represents less than 45% of the world's population.

Spanish, like English, is used in many places around the world particularly in the Americas but also in the Caribbean and Europe. You may be surprised as I was that Spanish is the first language (native) to more people than English (399 million versus 356). As a second language however, English out does them all with more than 500 million users. This is most likely due to the relatively recent (last 200 years) spread of English around the world for commercial purposes and, of course, some of it is also due to colonialism. The number of countries where English is an integral part of the culture (some dub this group the "Anglosphere") is only six: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States but 52 other countries have English as the official language. The 52 account for nearly two billion in population including India with with a population 1.2 billion.

But back to Spanish. As a guest resident in Costa Rica I refuse to give up trying to learn the language, nor will I try not to learn as some ex-pats have opted to do even though the locals love to practice their English and can divert you easily. Spanish is the first language of my.host country and as an ex-pat I feel obligated to try my best. So when I took the local bus a couple of months ago and noticed a sign posted behind the driver that said: "Free Spanish Conversation Class" how could I refuse; the idea and price were both right. I signed up and have attended once or twice per week since.

The class is held at a language school called the Academia D'Amore. The photo below, right shows the administrative offices but there are as well a number of buildings and classrooms not shown in the picture. The academy is located next door to the Tulemar condominiums at the top of Manuel Antonio hill on the main road to the beach.jui

Academia D'Amore claims itself as the first school in the area teaching Spanish to non-native speakers. It first started 23 years ago in 1992 as Escuela D'Amore and was located near the main Manuel Antonio beach. At that time it was the only school of its kind outside of San José whereas the big city had approximately 20 schools at the time. (The list now proclaims over 100 Spanish Schools in San José and its environs)

gtyAcademia D'Amore offers extensive courses, for a fee of course. Students come from a number of sources including U.S. Universities. because the academy is accredited by some schools of higher learning (e.g., University of Texas at Austin). Students may qualify to receive course credit in their language programs at home. Other sources include using the Academia for a study/vacation program, internships sponsored by companies and referrals from various agents for people that just simply want to learn Spanish. More than 90% of students are 18 or older.

Academia D'Amore believes in the immersion method of learning a language. All five teachers on staff are Ticos and speak only Spanish to students as a school rule and also because, in most cases, the teachers are not bilingual in English. The staff are good at gently guiding and prodding their students into learning by doing rather than translating. The immersion focus is reinforced for those who elect to stay with a Tico family during their visit, as the school works with a number of private families for that purpose. Among options available are Group Classes, Private Classes of a combination of both. Also, there are a number of focused classes offered for medical, legal, business or teaching personnel.

The conversation class runs from 12:30 to 1:30 Monday through Friday and one of the things I like about it is that once you walk through the door, all English stops. Sólo hablamos español en la clase, amigos.

Our teacher or, if you will, class moderator (Mauricio - photo right), quickly but patiently corrects us when we break into English as we struggle to find a word or construct a phrase. It helps that Mauricio and the other staff are really not bi-lingual with English so they spend their time instead devising clever ways to extract the word or info from us in Spanish. My view is that using the Spanish-only method helps learning rather than having to remember the word or phrase in two languages (God knows I'm having enough trouble remembering anything in one language these days).

This is a basic class and we go over things like flowers, animals, foods and body parts (at least the public parts). During a recent class when we were talking about body parts, I felt pretty good when I was able to identify, in Spanish, 17 of the 23 parts on the list. As a result of that class I can now add the elbow (codo), eyebrow (ceja), eyelash (pestaña) and chin (barbilla) to the conversation. (I already knew the private parts - surprise!)

So if you're inclined to learn the Spanish language, or feel obligated like me, Academia D'Amore might be a good option for you. ¡Compruébelo! (Check it out!)

Contact info for Academia D'Amore:
Toll Free: 877-434-7290
Local: 506-2777-0233
Mail: Aptdo. 67-6350, Quepos, Costa Rica
Email: info@academiadamore.com
Website: www.academiadamore.com

¡Solo Bueno!


Al and Doris Meet the Road
(A Hitchhiker's Essay)

When GG made the decision to move to Costa Rica back in 2008 I also made a crucial decision not to buy a car here for three months to see how difficult it would be without one. As time passed, I never did feel the need in the ensuing seven years. I recently met someone who takes the no-car philosophy one step further. He and a friend of his have done a great deal of hitchhiking in recent years in the States and now here. He also likes to write, so I encouraged him to tell his story directly. His narrative follows.:

Story by Alexander Alberts


Anybody who drives the coast road in the Southern Zone see's these two bluehairs standing on the side of the road. Two hippies disguised as old people. Well hell, you say...everybody here is an old hippy disguised as an old person!

Maybe so. Maybe not.

The thing about these two is that they are in their 60's and they hitchhike everywhere! You would think they would know better! Al and Doris sold all of their worldly possessions and moved to the Southern Zone three years ago. Together they made a moral, ethical and financial decision that they would no longer own an automobile...most people call them 'cars' now.

Back in the day a man would walk up and say..."That's a damn nice automobile ya got there bub!" This would open a dialogue on the topic of fine automobiles, which was about the only topic that keeps most men from talking about #$@%&!

Now a mope just lugs by and says..."nice car."

Whatever happened to class?

Wait a minute...who said "hitchhike?"  Oh sure...they've got a thumb out...but it's the signs! You've seen 'em. Two people with heads shining like silver dollars, but they use signs indicating their destination...Platanillo, San Isidro, Dominical, Playa Hermosa, Palmar Norte ,Chacarita, Golfito, Nielly, Puerto Jiminez, Paso Canoas, Quepos, Jacó, San Jose. These two are effing everywhere I'm tellin ya...like mobile Burma Shave signs...remember those?

When you see...
Their silver hair...
You have to stop...
And take them there...
-Burma Shave.

Al and Doris planned to take a bus to Paso Canoas and the Panamanian border crossing to renew their visas. A fishermen's strike had blocked the road in Jaco and closed the highway in both directions that day, leaving the buses at a standstill. So, being prepared, Al held out the "Paso Canoas" sign, one of several that he carries everywhere with him at all times. They both stuck out their thumbs and willed themselves to look like hip young wanderers sporting dreadlocks.

Didn't work.

A Costa Rican gentleman pulled over and picked them up in Uvita and drove them all the way to Paso Canoas.  The man stopped at an eighty year old neighborhood soda in Palmar Norte for some lunch. The food was delicious and served with kindness and pride in her culinary skills. The loving eyes and sweet expression on the deeply lined face of the old abuela revealed her expertise in the kitchen and one could taste the generations of love in the 'family style' dishes she served.  The Costa Rican gentleman refused to accept a dime from Al and Doris. Not for gasoline, not for lunch, not even a regalo... commonly referred to as a lagniappe. The gentleman's only words on the subject were... "One day that might be my son who needs a ride and I hope you help him."

Pay it forward.

The same man told them that if they could make it through immigration in two hours he would drive them all of the way home! Al and Doris had just got their visa stamped re-entering CR and Al dashed to the road just as the Costa Rican gentleman was passing. Al felt as if time had suddenly turned to slow motion. Al was waving frantically trying to get his attention...almost close enough to tap on the window, but the driver was headlong and oblivious, focused on the trucks and traffic and huddles of pedestrians that always line the roadside. The noise of the trucks masked Al's shouts. Al chased that car like Forest Gump but missed their ride home by, literally, three seconds!

On another occasion Al was holding out his "Paso Canoas" sign and was picked up by a beautiful gleaming white Freightliner 18 wheeler deadheading from El Salvador to Panama City. They rode long and large, rolling to Canoas on the seats mounted on air shocks which provide a very comfortable accommodation for a skinny sixty year old tukhus. Many people do not know that the big trucks are fitted with the cushy seats...but many people do not know many things. Al was explaining to the guy that they were in what was called "the rocking chair" in a convoy of trucks. Do I have to explain "rocking chair" to you dopes? Use your google machine.

Turns out the driver had lived for twenty years in Kalamazoo, Michigan (where Al and Doris are from) and made it clear to Al that Al did not have to explain trucking to a guy driving through four countries in Central America. It was a nice way for him to explain to Al that Al was an idiot. The trucker got on his CB radio..."Break 1-9... Break 1-9" He actually didn't have a CB and used his cell phone. Most of the people under 50 don't even know what a CB radio is. Where was I...yeah...the truck driver got on his phone and actually arranged for a northbound trucker to haul Al's ass from Canoas back to Dominical a few hours later. He said if it didn't work out and Al could not get through Immigration in time, that he had an extra hammock and that Al could sleep under the truck that night with him...well...not with him...but on his spare hammock hung underneath the other side of the trailer.

Aces! Have you ever seen truckers snoring in a hammock in the shade beneath their rig? These guys are awesome.

Al also left his brown XXX Beaver felt hat with a Terciapello headband in the cab of a northbound purple Kenworth 18 wheeler bound for Guatemala. Al had found the dead snake on the side of the road in Dominical with only its head smushed...took out his Boy Scout knife and made him a daggone nice hatband out of the serpents skin. Some trucker in Guatemala is sporting a sweet wide brim, but Al is pretty sure he will get the hat back...karma.

So when you see the 'Silver Seniors' hitchhiking in the Southern Zone...stop and pick 'em up for crying out loud! Al spent three years in the early seventy's hitchhiking all over the U.S. and chances are that if you have been to some of the most beautiful places in the U.S.; north, south, east and west, Al had been there and left already. You may have given him a ride along the trail long ago when you were a hippy and still believed in peace and love and sharing. Al used signs to get across the U.S. back then and employs the same method today. Al is a legend in his own mind.

Now for the kicker. Many drive alone in their gas guzzling S.U.V.'s with the blacked out windows and A.C. on full blast. They tilt their head in a way as if pretending not to see Al and Doris as they zoom past. On the other hand...the Ticos will pull up to the bus stop and pile as many bodies into their car that will fit, until their muffler is dragging, shooting off a spray of sparks like a bottle rocket as they pull away. Tico's, Europeans, Canadians, S. Americans, Asians and most other civilized people pick up hitchhikers on the coast road. Getting a ride from a citizen of the United States is a very rare occurence...like seeing Elvis.

So Al has a new technique. If he sees a rental car or a big S.U.V. approaching with a singular driver...he stands in the middle of the lane with his sign, forcing the Gringos to stop in their lane, run him over or go around. Doris encourages this behavior as she will receive 'double indemnity' when Al gets himself creamed on the hot blacktop. Doris actually keeps Al's dental records wherever in the world they travel and only wants to retrieve the jawbone. She's a morbid woman! When Al almost died in a 'rip tide' Doris went running to find...not a lifeguard, but a fishing pole to hook that jaw with..."Fish On!"

That's just wrong! Where's the love?

So when you see the 'Silver Seniors', you can't miss their signs...give em a ride. They are  not threatening and chances are you could kick Al's ass anyway! The old hippies have discovered the 'Fountain of Youth' in CR and are reliving their late teens and early twenty's and having the time of their lives. While we are on the subject, if you are driving alone or your back seat is empty, please give the less fortunate, like Al and Doris or a fatigued Tico,  a lift in your sweet automobile. Individuals in big empty cars should also be picking up Tico's at the bus stop or those slogging along the byways after a hard days labor; c'mon you guys, give 'em a ride home. The machetes are 'tools of the trade' and should not seem threatening.

You may discover some of the most beautiful, gentle people on the planet walking along the long and winding road. Let all of us also remember that we are guests here in paradise and with the blessings of our good fortune should pay it forward.

- End -

Thanks to our contributing writer and his friend for telling their story. All Al and Doris ask is that, if you find yourself driving the roads of Costa Rica, look them over and consider giving them a ride. Not all hitchhikers are troublesome and some have quite interesting stories to exchange with you.


Travel Quote of the Month

What Those Travel Brochures Are Really Saying

............ TERM .................................. TRANSLATION

Old world charm .......................................... No bath
Tropical ......................................................... Rainy
Majestic setting ...................... A long way from town
Options galore ...... Nothing is included in the itinerary
Secluded hideaway ......... Impossible to find or get to
Pre-registered rooms .................... Already occupied
Explore on your own .................... Pay for it yourself
Knowledgeable hosts ..,...They've been in an airplane
No extra fees .......................................... No extras
Nominal fee ............................... Outrageous charge
Standard ........................................... Sub-standard
Deluxe ..................................................... Standard
Superior ................................. One free shower cap
All the amenities .................... Two free shower caps
Plush ................................... Top and bottom sheets
Gentle breezes ............. Occasional Gale-force winds
Light and airy .............................. No air conditioning
Picturesque ............................... Theme park nearby
Open bar ........................................... Free ice cubes


3-D "Printing" Explained

If you're like me, the term 3-D "Printing" is confusing at first. It has nothing to do with printing and the respected term to describe what's going on has since become "Additive Manufacturing".

Computers have aided the design of everything for some decades now and the possibilities keep growing. For any solid object, an electronic file can be created that is a perfect and precise three dimensional rendering of the object. That file can further be "sliced" mathematically into an almost limitless number of horizontal planes. The complete electronic mathematical file is then sent to a machine as instructions on where to build the item, one layer at a time.

The machine deposits the plastic or metal compounds onto a surface building up the three dimensional piece one layer at a time. The possibilities are only limited by man's imagination and even include food (print me a California cheeseburger please!). It's starting to look like Startrek had the right idea - see it here.

Next comes the transporter device, Hong Kong in forty seconds Mr. Spock. 


ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

We have two offerings this month, one in Manuel Antonio and another in San José.

Gondola, Manuel Antonio

Location: Plaza Yaro, half way between the Mono Azul and Hotel Gaia bus stops.
Hours: Lunch and Dinner, Monday through Sunday 3-10 PM
Parking: Ample, in front of the restaurant and strip mall.
Contact: Tel.: 2777-9153; Email: silcrc@hotmail.com; Website: http://www.gondolagourmet.com/

Reviewing ROMEOS: Brian M., Bob N.

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

Gondola was reviewed by the ROMEOs back in September of 2014 when it was located at the Hotel Tres Banderas but we thought it would be a good idea to review it again since it recently moved to Plaza Yaro To see the 2014 review here: Gondola -2014.

The restaurant site at Plaza Yaro is new to Gondola but not new to restaurants. Prior to the current offering, this was the location of restaurant "Z" and prior to that it was "Salt" and before that "La Hacienda". Musical restaurants is a common game in a resort town like ours. Incidentally, all those mentioned were good places to eat and let's hope Gondola finds it a good home for a long time because it too fits the bill.

One of the chief advantages in restaurant atmosphere here has always been the proximity to the jungle. The Gondola dining room is open on two sides to the rainforest and, if you listen closely, you can here the sounds of tucans and an occasional howler monkey. Some colored lighting placed in parts of the nearby forest highlight the foliage well.

The tables are simply decorated with cloths, runners and small candles. The only detriment in the design that I could see is that certain lights placed on posts about eight feet above the floor (you can see them in the photo to the left) created a bit of glare. In my view they'd be better off with deflectors or translucent shades that would make the lights more indirect (another old fogey complaint). We give Gondola four and a half sloths for atmosphere.

Gondola has an Italian flare to the menu and that's because it's owner and principal chef is a lady named Sylvana of who is of Italian descent. She impressed us with her creations at the last location and the good news continues. The menu is adequately extensive in sea foods, meats and pastas and seems to have some especially Italian versions in all sections. It is also replete with pasta dishes, fresh pasta being one of their trademarks.

For a first course, GG ordered a melanzana dish consisting of thin slices of eggplant that had been grilled and wrapped around a chunk of mozarella and a fresh basil leaf and sprinkled with a thick balsamic sauce. Excellent.

Pana Cotta

For a main course I settled on a chicken breast roll stuffed with ham and fontina cheese and covered in a light white sauce, accompanied by several steamed vegetables and pureed potatoes. My dining partner ordered a tagliatelle pasta with shrimp and vegetables in a light, clear sauce. Both were outstanding.

For dessert, I had a pana cotta, a rich, delicious flan covered with an orange glaze and accompanied with a few orange sections. It doesn't get better than this amigos. My dining partner went for a brownie with ice cream.

Value Index = 100

For food quality we give Gondola five sloths. Service was friendly, attentive and efficient and we give five sloths for that as well. That yields an overall rating of five sloths for atmosphere, food quality and service.

For my three course meal, the eggplant, the chicken roll and the pana cotta, my bill came to just over 24,000 colones (just about $45) while my partner's somewhat simpler meal of a main course, a brownie with ice cream and a bottle of water came up to 23,000 colones.This puts Gondola in the top 10% of cost ratings of restaurants on the area for which we give it 5$ and a Value Index of 5/5x100= 100.

The ROMEOs can easily recommend Gondola for excellence in food in a pleasant dining environment but be prepared to pay full fare for the experience.

Delfines con Amor, San José

Location: Corner of Calle 3 and Avenida 4, one block from the Teatro Nationa.l
10 AM to 10 PM, Monday through Sunday, open on holidays also.
Good luck; within a few blocks, probably.
Tel.: 2223-0303; Email: N/A; Website: http://www.delfinesconamor.co.cr

Reviewing ROMEOS: M. Miller, Bob N.

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

Recently I ended up in San José one week early due to an error in my planning for a meeting. When I discovered I had nothing to do, I called a friend, MIke Miller, who I had met at our Writer's Group and he agreed to have lunch with me. I've reported on Mike before (see Statuesque San Jose). In my opinion he has the most definitive English self-guided tour book for San José (The Real San Jose). Discovering the aesthetics, art and culture of our capital city might be a better descriptor of what he does.

hyuMIke not only was a fun lunch partner but when he offered to take me on a mini-tour of SJ, I jumped at the chance. That excursion will be reported on next month but for now let's talk about where we had lunch, a gem Mike had discovered only one block from the national theater.

Delfines con Amor (Dolphins with Love) bills itself as a marisqueria, or seafood restaurant, and has the following motto on its menu: "El marisco que usted se come aqui, durmió anoche en el mar". "The seafood you're eating here, last night slept in the sea". If true, that's pretty fresh, eh? And it sure tasted that way.

This place is as simple as it gets, sort of like a cross between a bistro and a busy lunch place in New York or any major city. The tables are unadorned and may have to be shared if you want to get in at lunch time. Another way of looking at it is to think of it as a step up from a ("tipico") soda but with more seafood. Three sloths for ambiance.

A quick glance at the menu showed extensive seafood offerings as well as a full compliment of Tico "tipico" food such as arroces, or rices, with everything, casados etc. etc.. But as we sat down to a shared table in a very busy place, I noticed the gent next to us had a huge scallop-shaped bowl filled with a mixture he kept turning over and over with a spoon, exposing a number of different sea foods.

I learned that it was their flagship ceviche dish and I decided quickly to order the same thing. Mike ordered a smaller version. What I got was a large shell with shrimp, scallops, "pulpo" or octopus, fish, a couple of small clams and a mystery seafood, all swimming in lemon juice and a little vinegar and cilantro and all good. It was served with raw plantain slices probably to offset the acidity but I find them bland (gimme the maduros fried in butter).

Value Index = 114

What can I say? If you like ceviche you won't find a better tasting or richer mixture of seafood - five sloths for seafood.

Service was efficient and friendly and we give it four sloths. For ambiance, food quality and service, the average comes to four sloths.

For the two dishes and two soft drinks the bill came to just over 9,000 colones ($17). That's a good deal for seafood and we give the restaurant three and a half dollars for cost. That yields a Value Index of 4/3.5 = 114 ranking it #13 in value out of 35 restaurants currently in the archive.

If you find yourself running around busy central San José and want a good, quick lunch at a reasonable price, try the ceviche at Delfines con Amor.


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)

Opt-In Here to Receive Your Free Copy Monthly

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


or Email me at gg@goldengringo.com

The Golden Gringo
Pura Vida!

To Contact GGC World Headquarters (yuk, yuk) to make comments, suggest topics or criticize my bad jokes, just send an email to: bob@bobnormand.com.

Be pithy but kind; I'm sensitive.





Unsubscribe from Golden Gringo Chronicles