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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014,  in Vol. 14, No. 1                          Email us
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Anti aging

Potential tourism boost
A few learn to combine studies elsewhere with beach
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As the jet stream pours frigid air into the northern United States, thousands of college and university students are about to start their second semester.

At some colleges in the State University of New York system workers erect temporary systems of ropes and barriers so students can find the buildings during winter whiteouts. Other northern schools will see three feet of snow this year.

Meanwhile, in Costa Rica a few students, perhaps from the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom, are preparing for class, too. But they will attend full- or part-time through the Internet. And some will have the advantage of government loans the same way they would if they were freezing on their way to class up north.

Some schools, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell for example, offer entire degree programs online. The school is a leader with what is known in academics as distance learning. But many other schools are seeing the advantages. The major problems appear to be maintaining quality and training faculty members to handle the technology. These are problems for students, too.

UMass Lowell says it offers one of the largest nonprofit online and continuing education programs in New England, featuring a huge selection of affordable part-time graduate and undergraduate courses.

One Costa Rican expat just returned to his home state for in-person exams. He received U.S. federal grants, educational loans from his state and additional benefits. He could be completing his online course work from an off-campus apartment.

Instead he choose to be way off campus in Costa Rica.

The trend still is small, but online courses are growing as established colleges and university seek more income. A number of private institutions, such as the University of Phoenix have pioneered online classes for foreign students, U.S. nationals overseas and even members of the U.S. military, who are eligible for special financial benefits.

The trend opens up a new area of tourism for Costa Rica where college and university students can attend classes in another country while enjoying the benefits of living here.

There are students enrolled in university classes here, but that requires good Spanish. The University for Peace in Ciudad Colón also has full-time students, nearly all international.

The idea of a semester overseas has long been a tradition at First World colleges and universities.   International experience is considered a plus by administrators and even potential employers. The country has a number of schools teaching Spanish for credit to First World students. Nearly all, however, return to their homeland after the language course is completed.

Few realize that they have the option to remain here and complete one or more academic semesters online from the beach.

An undetermined number of U.S. and Canadian academics also are participating in these programs
Lowell coure in English
University of Massachusetts at Lowell graphic
University of Massachusetts at Lowell offers full degree programs online.

from Costa Rica where they are the instructors of online classes. Universities like these arrangements, too, because they can pay teachers less and perhaps without many of the traditional academic fringe benefits.

Overseas U.S. teachers, of course, are eligible for the usual expat tax benefits.

The U.S. Department of Education says that a student must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for direct loan program funds. The agency says nothing about location. There also are direct grants.

U.S. loans and grants are available for U.S. citizens and green card holders as well as persons in a few other categories of immigration, such as refugees. Undergraduates can borrow up to $31,000 during their academic career. Graduate students can borrow much  more. That money would go much further in Costa Rica.

Pell grants go to about 5.4 million full- and part-time college and vocational school students nationally each year, the department said.

The U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $150 billion every year in grants, loans, and work-study funds to students attending college or career school, the agency said.

Chilly Minnesota has an agency devoted to helping students find educational cash. The Minnesota State Grant Program Administration lists a number of grant and loan programs open only to state residents. Other U.S. states have similar programs that dovetail with the federal ones.

So a Minnesota resident could sign up for courses at the state's leading university. The university lists more than 100 courses that begin this month. They range from the alluring ArtH 10024W Why Art Matters  to Biol 4004 Cell Biology.
Another aspect of online education is the required continuing education courses for school teachers who could easily complete a course from a Costa Rican beach during U.S. summer vacation.

Although technically it is possible for a university or college to know where an online student is located, there do not seem to be any rules prohibiting access from abroad. Still, those in Costa Rica who do this, obtain federal loans and grants as well as state incentives prefer not to make that known.

Costa Rica's own technology has advanced in the last five years so that decent Internet access is available nearly all over the country.

The downside is that students and former students living in Costa Rica have to pay back the loans unless other arrangements are made. Living overseas does not eliminate the loan. Still, the U.S. federal government reports $60 billion in loans are in default.

Many options exist for trimming that extra weight
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The typical New Year's resolution is to lose weight this year.

That usually is the personal promise while fighting the New Year's Eve hangover or the caloric overload from the rich dinner.

One expat promised in jest Wednesday night not to eat anything until 2015 because of the weight gain over Christmas.

Expats here have a number of ways to help them with their promise. LA Weight Loss has six centers in the metro area.  It is among the commercial enterprises targeting that market. There also are many gyms, some with diet help, and medically based outlets like the anti Aging and Wellness Center in Escazú that provides other services.

The venerable Weight Watchers does not have a strong presence in Costa Rica, but it does reach individuals here through a Web site that it calls a community. Joining for a fee gives members access to the site, plus computer applications and weight-loss tools.

Weight watcher and similar programs have come under pressure from free online services that help dieters count calories. Some, like My Fitness Pal, have substantial followings in Costa Rica and maintain a multilingual Web site. More than 80 percent of the people who track their eating and exercise for seven days lose weight, My Fitness Pal says.
fitness pal
weight loo places
Anti Aging logo

There also is weight loss tourism.

Jump Start Weight Loss & Wellness of Highmount, New York, reports online that it operates a center in Playa Carrillo, Guanacaste.  Jump Start clients average an astounding one-half to one and a half pounds of fat loss per day in the first week, the company says.

The firm also runs other health programs here and in other locations.

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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Real estate agents and services

Colinas photo


Jim Day, retirement specialist Representing Colinas del Sol del Pacifico, S. A
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Bee attacks lead the list
of reasons for fire calls

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The biggest reason fire fighters are called out in Costa Rica are bee attacks, according to statistics released Wednesday by the agency.

The Bomberos de Costa Rica are the first line defense against aggressive bees, and there were 13,133 such incidents in 2013. That number represented 531 more calls than in 2013.

By contrast there were only 1,082 structural fires last year, a small reduction from the 1,102 in 2012.

The bees in Costa Rica have genetic characteristics of the African bees that took over the local bee population in the last decades of the 20th century. The bees are far more aggressive and respond in masses to vibrations or odor from a bee sting. Attacks can be fatal.

The bees are descendants from a few queens liberated in Brazil in 1957. They swept north and replaced existing bee varieties.

Most of the attacks come from wild or feral bee hives that are accidentally bumped or otherwise subjected to vibration. The hollow concrete utility poles are perfect locations for hives as are hollow trees and building walls.

The fire agency issued warnings about tampering or trying to eradicate such hives. Fire fighters have special equipment for that purpose. They seek reports on hive locations.

In all the fire agency responded to 51,000 calls in 2013, a 26 percent or 10,498 call increase over the prior year.

Field fires numbered 9,682 and liquid petroleum emergencies were 6,839. Gas calls were up to 6,839 in 2013 from 2,940 in 2012. That may have been caused by several serious and a fatal event that made the news and prompted more gas users to seek outside help when there was a leak.

Financial trouble besets
Panama Canal widening

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Financial problems are causing uncertainty at the Panama Canal expansion project.

The Panamá News said that Geodis Willson Italia SPA, the shipper that brought massive gates for a new lock from Italy, has not been paid and is seeking via Panama’s maritime courts to sequester them until it gets its $47,850,785.50 bill paid.

Meanwhile, other news outlets in Panamá are reporting that the Unidos por el Canal, the consortium doing the expansion project, faces a $1.6 billion cost overrun. The consortium gave the Panama Canal authority three weeks to settle the issue and threatened to suspend work on its $3.2 billion contract.

The canal job totals $5.2 billion and is designed to let much larger ships use the facility. The job is said to be about 75 percent finished. The job is supposed to be done in June 2015.

The Panama News warned that international recognition of the project’s problems is just beginning and a reaction by foreign investors and would-be foreign residents of Panama could be more harmful to Panama’s economy than the canal expansion fiasco itself.

Nosara welfare organization
plans annual meeting Sunday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Friends of Nosara plans to hold its annual meeting Sunday at Marlin Bill's Restaurant in the Pacific coast community.

Friends of Nosara serves as a clearing house for donations, and each year it distributes more than $100,000 to various community organizations. They include Surfing Nosara Foundation, Biblioteca David Kitson, Nosara Wildlife, Nosara Animal Care, Del Mar Academy Scholarship Foundation, and Nosara Recycling Association.

Friends of Nosara is a U.S. registered non-profit.

The meeting Sunday is a time for the partner organizations to present their reports for the year and for a report on achievements, said Friends of Nosara in an announcement.

Royal Holloway University photo  
Janus, the god who looked backwards and forwards

New year's resolutions date
from Rome, professor notes

By the Royal Holloway University news service

The tradition of making promises on the first day of the year is a custom started by Romans.

“Rome’s highest officials made a resolution to remain loyal to the republic and swore oaths to the emperor on First January,” said Richard Alston, a professor in the Department of Classics at Royal Holloway University in London.

“A grand ceremony marked the occasion, where the Roman legions would parade and sacrifices were made on the Capitoline Hill. This annual event renewed the bonds between citizens, the state and the gods.”

New Year’s Day offered all Roman citizens an opportunity to reflect on the past and look to the year ahead, he said. People would exchange sweet fruits and honey, greet each other with blessings for the coming year and the courts only worked in the mornings, so they had a half day holiday, he added.

“On 1 January, our Roman ancestors celebrated Janus, the god of new beginnings who had two faces, one looking into the past and another looking to the future,” Alston added. “Janus represented doors and thresholds, and the Romans named the month of January in his honor.

“Janus also symbolized the values of home, family, friendship and civilization, and the doors of his temple were closed when Rome was at peace and thrown open in times of war, as if the god was no longer present.

“Just like we do today, we also know that the Romans celebrated a mid-winter festival in which they met with friends, exchanges gifts and had a good time before the start of the year ahead,”  said the professor.

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Third News Page
 Hidden Garden
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 1
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Marchamo stop
A.M. Costa Rica/James Marshall
marchamo plates
A.M. Costa Rica/James Marshall

Penalty for forgetfulness

Gary Jiménez, a traffic policeman, removes the plates of a vehicle whose owner did not pay the obligatory insurance and road tax for 2014. The scene was Wednesday on the Autopista General Cañas. The fine is 47,000 colons, some $95, plus a surcharge on the marchamo fee.

Officers, like the one to the left, were out in force New Year's Day. The police agency reported that more than 100 motorists were snagged for non-payment in the first day the law was enforced this year.

Driver wins ¢2 million because employer told why he was fired
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The top labor court has ordered a bus company to pay two million colons to a driver who was fired for irregularities in the accounting of fares.

The decision by the Sala Segunda of the Corte Suprema de Justicia assesses a penalty for the publication of truthful information.

However, the court said that the bus company denigrated the worker by sending a wanted-type poster to other bus firms describing why the man was fired.

The court case said the man was let go because of irregularities in the accounting of adult fares. Seniors can ride for free on local lines, but the driver has to keep track. The implication in the court case was that the driver generated excess free passages.
The court also ordered the bus company to pay the man 210,420 colons, about $400, an amount that was disputed for vacation time and overtime.

The court based its ruling on an article in the civil code that forbids denigrating workers. The court likened this to defamation, even though there was not falsity alleged.

The court said that because the bus firm notified other companies about the financial irregularities it created depression and pain for the worker and that the act impeded the man's effort to obtain work elsewhere.

Still, the court ruled that the firing without employer responsibility was justified. The amount awarded, two million colons, is about $4,000. The court said that the bus company abused its disciplinary power and caused moral damage. The reason for the firing that was affirmed was loss of confidence.
The case originated in a lower labor court in Desamparados.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 1
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Young tropical forests contribute little to diversity, study reports
By the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center news staff

A satellite image of a green swath of tropical forest doesn’t tell the whole story. About half the world's tropical forests are relatively young. Unless protected, they’re unlikely to last more than a human generation before falling to bulldozers or chainsaw. These secondary forests may contribute little to tree biodiversity conservation, according to a new report by scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panamá.

"Secondary forests in the tropics are normally cut within a few decades, and very often in less than ten years," said Michiel van Breugel, lead author of the study published in PLOS ONE. "From the perspective of tree species conservation, this doesn't work." Even 30-year-old forests have a very low percentage of the reproductive trees essential to long-term species survival,  he notes.

Perhaps the most extensive of its kind in the tropics, van Breugel’s study suggests that forests subjected to regular human disturbance may undergo profound, long-lasting tree biodiversity loss. While fallow forests can have a surprisingly high tree biodiversity, a large proportion of tree species only occur as seedlings and saplings. They do not reproduce before the forests are cleared again.

"A tree only contributes to the conservation of its species when it arrives at a site, establishes, grows and reproduces," said van Breugel.

The study was conducted on the Smithsonian's 700-hectare Panama Canal Watershed Experiment, a long-term research site designed to quantify ecosystem services provided by different land uses.

Van Breugel and colleagues had two questions in mind. First, can secondary forests recover their original diversity through natural succession in the long-term? And to what extent can short-lived secondary forests in dynamic agricultural landscapes contribute to the conservation of a high diversity of tree species? They randomly selected 45 secondary forest plots ranging from two to 32 years of age in which they counted more than 52,000 trees, palms and lianas. To the authors' knowledge, this was the first study of its kind ever conducted in the tropics.

In the study plots, researchers found 324 tree and shrub species, about 55 percent of the Agua Salud's suite of some 600 tree species. They estimated relative reproductive size thresholds and determined that in forests between 18 and 34 years of age, 51 percent (137 of 268 species) reached reproductive size. In forests between two and seven years of age, the figure 
tropical trees
Smithsonian Tropical Research Center /Christian Ziegler
This young tropical forest loses biodiversity as it suffers repeated disturbance.

fell to 36 percent (79 of 220 species). Importantly, these included few large canopy species,  slow-growing shade-tolerant understory species, and species that rely on forest-dependent animals for seed dispersal.

If left undisturbed, secondary forests may regain levels of tree diversity similar to those of mature forests – but only when the surrounding landscape includes natural seed sources like protected parkland, patches of old forest and remnant trees as it did in this case. The research underscores the importance of protecting old forests to maintain the tree diversity for which the tropics are famous.

"In the long term, we might see a distinct shift in the functional composition of human-altered landscapes," said van Breugel. "This kind of landscape becomes more and more dominated by a small group of species with specific traits like the ability to survive grazing and fire, high fecundity, good dispersal and the ability to grow to a reproductive age in a short period of time. On the other hand, many shade-tolerant trees are poorly dispersed, grow slowly and depend on forest-bound species for pollination and dispersal. Their conservation will depend on our ability to protect large areas of old-growth forests."

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San Pedro, Lourdes:  Furnished four-bedroom house for  rent near U. Latina.  3 bathrooms.  Two bedrooms have private bath.  TV with cable, wireless Internet, washer, microwave, all linens on beds, phone, garage with electric door opener.  Front yard and back patio.  Minimum 6-month contract.  $800 a month. Call Rick at 2280-3548 or write to  Owner pays cable and internet.

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

Beautiful studio home with garden patio
Completely furnished with best bed (Jiron™ Full), refri, stove, dishes, pans, etc. TV and high-speed internet connected. Free.
Located high above a river. You will sleep like a baby. Perfect weather, never too hot nor cold. Secure, private and secluded, and yet, only 10 minutes to San Isidro de El General (fairly large city in the mountains with everything) and from there, 40 minutes to beaches. Bus is close and costs 35 cents to San Isidro. Special price for single, long-term renter, nonsmoker: $425 + utilities. Go to and put in, #969365 for pics and full description Then write to us, Thanks. Email:

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80
stations, water, washer and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

prime properties
We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part 
of Costa Rica. We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at or contact us at or call at (506) 2654-5442.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 1
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Rocky Mountain high really is
as pot sales begin in Colorado

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The world's first state-licensed marijuana retailers legally permitted to sell pot for recreational use to the general public opened for business in Colorado Wednesday with long lines of customers, marking a new chapter in America's drug culture.

Roughly three dozen former medical marijuana dispensaries newly cleared by state regulators to sell pot to consumers who are interested in nothing more than its mind- and mood-altering properties began welcoming customers as early as 8 a.m.

The highly-anticipated New Year's Day opening launched an unprecedented commercial cannabis market that Colorado officials expect will ultimately gross $578 million in annual revenues, including $67 million in tax receipts for the state.

Possession, cultivation and private personal consumption of marijuana by adults for the sake of just getting high already has been legal in Colorado for more than a year under a state constitutional amendment approved by voters. As of Wednesday, though, cannabis was being legally produced, sold and taxed in a system modeled after a regime many states have in place for alcohol sales but which exists for marijuana nowhere in the world outside of Colorado.

Scores of customers lined up in the cold and snow outside at least two Denver-area stores on Wednesday morning waiting for doors to open.

“I wanted to be one of the first to buy pot and no longer be prosecuted for it. This end of prohibition is long overdue,” said Jesse Phillips, 32, an assembly-line worker who was the day's first patron at Botana Care in the Denver suburb of Northglenn. He had camped outside the shop since 1 a.m.

A cheer from about 100 fellow customers waiting in line to buy went up as Phillips made his purchase, an eighth-ounce sampler pack containing four strains of weed labeled with names such as King Tut Kush and Gypsy Girl. That sold for $45 including tax. He also bought a child-proof carry pouch required by state regulations to transport his purchase out of the store.

Robin Hackett, 51, co-owner of Botana Care, said before the opening that she expected between 800 to 1,000 first-day customers, and she hired a private security firm to help with any traffic and parking issues that might arise. Ms. Hackett said she has 50 pounds or 23 kilos of product on hand. To avoid a supply shortage the shop was limiting purchases to quarter ounces on Wednesday, including joints, raw buds or cannabis-infused edibles, such as pastries or candies.

Like other stores, Botana Care also stocked related wares, including pipes, rolling papers, bongs, and reusable, locking child-proof pouches.

Voters in Washington state voted to legalize marijuana at the same time Colorado did, in November 2012, but Washington is not slated to open its first retail establishments until later in 2014.

Still, supporters and detractors alike see the two Western states as embarking on an experiment that could mark the beginning of the end for marijuana prohibition at the national level.

“By legalizing marijuana, Colorado has stopped the needless and racially biased enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Criminal Law Reform Project.

Cannabis remains classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law, though the Obama administration has said it will give individual states leeway to carry out their own recreational-use statutes.

Nearly 20 states, including Colorado and Washington, had already put themselves at odds with the U.S. government by approving marijuana for medical purposes.

Opponents warned that legalizing recreational use could help create an industry intent on attracting underage users and getting more people dependent on the drug.

Comparing the nascent pot market to the alcohol industry, former U.S. rep. Patrick Kennedy, co-founder of Project Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said his group aims to curtail marijuana advertising and to help push local bans on the drug while the industry is still modest in stature.

“This is a battle that if we catch it early enough we can prevent some of the most egregious adverse impacts that have happened as a result of the commercialized market that promotes alcohol use to young people,” he said.

Under Colorado law, however, state residents can buy as much as an ounce of 28 grams of marijuana at a time, while out-of-state visitors are restricted to quarter-ounce purchases.

Restraint was certainly the message being propagated on New Year's Eve by Colorado authorities, who posted signs at Denver International Airport and elsewhere around the capital warning that pot shops can only operate during approved hours and that open, public consumption of marijuana remains illegal.

Northeast U.S. facing twin
major snow storms this week

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The eastern United States faces a major winter storm this week that could reach blizzard conditions in some areas and snarl plans for travelers returning from holiday trips, forecasters said on Wednesday.

The powerful storm will stretch from the Midwest into the mid-Atlantic states and New England today and Friday, forecasters said.

“We are telling people, prepare for road closings and take mass transit. Especially tomorrow,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters in a conference call about the storm.

A double-barreled weather system aimed at both upstate New York and the New York metropolitan area, especially Long Island, could dump 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30.5 cm) of snow accompanied by high winds and frigid temperatures, he said.

The National Weather Service forecast snowfall along the I-90 highway corridor from Chicago to Syracuse, New York, to Boston through early Friday.

The heaviest accumulations, up to a foot (30.5 cm), were forecast for the New York metropolitan area, parts of Connecticut and in Providence, Rhode Island, and Boston, said Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist for

Less snowfall is expected in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. A quick freeze and slippery conditions are likely around Baltimore and Washington, he said.

“It will be far from the worst storm to ever hit the area, but people should be prepared for flight delays and cancelations,” Sosnowski wrote on the Web site.

More than 94 million people were estimated to be traveling during the holiday season through Jan. 1, according to the automotive group AAA, although many people may not be planning to head home until later this week or over the weekend.

The last time a major storm slammed into the New York area at the winter holidays was in 2010, when 20 inches (50 cm) of snow fell on the city two days after Christmas. Streets were clogged, transportation slowed to a crawl and emergency services were snarled for days.

This powerful storm is likely to bring biting winds, said Sosnowski.

Another storm may move into the Northeast Sunday, according to

Gay couple exchange vows
on Pasadena Rose Parade float

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A gay Los Angeles couple exchanged wedding vows atop a flower-covered float trundling through Pasadena Wednesday as part of the nationally televised Tournament of Roses Parade, capping a momentous year for same-sex marriage in the United States.

The nuptials of Danny Leclair, 45, and Aubrey Loots, 42, who have been together for 12 years and own a local chain of hair salons, marked the first same-sex marriage on a Rose Parade float in the 125-year history of the annual event, organizers said.

In the past, two heterosexual couples have tied the knot during Rose Parades, in 1989 and last year.

Leclair and Loots made it official aboard a float shaped like a wedding cake coated in white coconut chips, accented with red kidney beans and festooned with 12,000 roses and other floral decorations, said Ged Kenslea, a spokesman for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The foundation sponsored the float to celebrate same-sex marriage and the role it can play in helping to reduce new HIV infections among gay men, he said.

The minister who performed the wedding, Alfreda Lanoix, an openly lesbian minister for the Unity Fellowship Church of Christ, tossed handfuls of rose petals into the air to mark the completion of the ceremony.

The parade was witnessed by an estimated 700,000 spectators who lined the 5.5 mile (8.8 km) procession route and by millions of viewers tuning into one of several networks carrying the event live in the United States and broadcasting it around the world. The parade also was live-streamed over the Internet.

The wedding float ended up winning the tournament's Isabella Coleman Award for “best presentation of color and color harmony through floral use.”

In the parade procession, the wedding float was in a lineup that included a high school marching band from Reno, Nevada, a float sponsored by the city of Beverly Hills, and another float sponsored by the Lutheran Laymen's League featuring a banner that said “Jesus Welcomes All.”

Joining the newlyweds on the float was a married lesbian couple, Sharon Raphael and Mina Meyer, who have been together 42 years, Kenslea said.

Loots, who is originally from South Africa, and Leclair, a native of Canada, met at a Los Angeles nightclub and originally had planned for a relatively low-key wedding until the opportunity to exchange vows in the Rose Parade surfaced.

“For me, I was moved by the stand that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was taking,” Leclair said Monday.

Loots said he had been traveling when he got a message from his partner asking if he would want to get married on a Rose Parade float.

“I said, 'You're crazy! Of course, let's celebrate our love in front of the world,”' he recounted, adding that the couple also were motivated by the chance to offer hope to same-sex couples who in most states cannot marry.

“Being on top of this cake floating down the road is truly for the men and women in the world that don't have these opportunities,” he said.

As of this month, same-sex matrimony has been legally recognized in 18 states and the District of Columbia, with the tally more than doubling during the past year, due in most cases to litigation over the issue.

Medical workers wondering
what Obamacare will bring

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hospitals and medical practices across the United States braced for confusion and administrative hassles as new insurance plans under President Barack Obama's healthcare law took effect Wednesday.
More than 2 million people enrolled in private plans offered under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, during the initial sign-up period for health benefits. Enrollment began in October and lasts through March, but Americans in most states had to enroll by last week to get coverage that takes effect with the start of the new year.
The expansion of coverage through the new plans is one of the main parts of the 2010 law, the most sweeping U.S. social legislation in 50 years. Over time, the law requires most Americans to buy insurance, offers subsidies to help low-income people get covered and sets minimum standards for coverage. The measure aims to dramatically reduce the number of Americans who lack health insurance, which the U.S. government has estimated at more than 45 million.
After a difficult October launch plagued by problems with the Web site used to enroll people in coverage, the focus for the government and healthcare providers has turned to what will happen beginning when patients with the new coverage start to seek care.
The law still faces political and legal hurdles. Roman Catholic Church-affiliated organizations obtained last-minute court injunctions Tuesday that gave them temporary exemptions from a part of the healthcare law that requires employers to provide insurance policies covering contraception.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted one temporary injunction to Baltimore-based Little Sisters of the Poor and Illinois-based Christian Brothers Services, plus related entities.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, had 10,000 agents on call for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day to field questions from people dealing with enrollment problems.
At the start, confirming a patient's plan may present headaches for care providers. The Obama administration has acknowledged that errors occurred in transmitting enrollment data to insurers, especially early in the enrollment period.
“It will be difficult for us to actually verify coverage. That's my concern,” said William Wulf, chief executive of Central Ohio Primary Care, which has 250 primary-care physicians.
The task could be made more difficult by decisions by the U.S. government and many states to push back enrollment deadlines toward the end of the year. The late deadlines mean that many enrollees who seek care initially may lack insurance cards or other proof of coverage.
Wulf said his physician offices will assume existing  patients are covered if they say they are when they come in for appointments and their coverage cannot be verified immediately. But if they require expensive tests, such as MRIs or heart-stress tests that can cost up to $700, the practice will check with insurers first to make sure the patient has coverage.
Andy Chiou, chief executive of Peoria Surgical Group Ltd in Illinois, said that if the practice finds a significant minority of its patients do not have coverage when they believe they do, it might delay elective surgeries for patients until their insurance is confirmed.
For the Obama administration, the political stakes are high in ensuring a smooth transition period for coverage, particularly after the Web site's problems damaged the popularity of the Democratic president and the healthcare overhaul, his signature domestic achievement.
Republicans, who have called Obamacare a costly program that will rob many Americans of insurance choices, have said they will make Obamacare's problems their top issue in the November 2014 elections, when control of Congress will be at stake.

U.S. merchandising landscape
in U.S. changing quickly

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

If there was one lesson from this year's holiday shopping season, it is that many traditional retailers are having to work a lot harder to persuade Americans to open their pocketbooks.
A lot of stores had to discount heavily to eke out a modest increase in sales, likely squeezing profit margins in the process.
Some improvement in the U.S. economy and declines in the jobless rate, plus gains in stock and home prices, are failing to resonate with many Americans whose incomes are struggling to catch up to where they were before the financial crisis.
But to many retail experts and economists there are other less cyclical factors at play. Consumers are spending more. Government figures show monthly personal consumption has risen for seven straight months with November's outlay marking the fastest increase in five months. But they just are not spending in the shopping malls like they used to.
And that means that, even if the economy picks up significantly, retailers of many products could still struggle.
“We are in a something of an evolutionary process, said Bill Martin, founder of data firm ShopperTrak, which monitors foot traffic in about 60,000 retail stores.  Americans are spending more online and becoming more careful about what they buy, he said.
Some of this has been unfolding over a long period, although the changes might be picking up pace.
For example, department stores have found themselves on the wrong end of trends for some time. They now capture just $3.37 of every $100 of U.S. retail spending, the lowest since records began in 1992, when the number was nearly $9.
Some of that is explained by the rise of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and other big box discount retailers. But the pace of decline has picked up, with department stores losing about 0.28 percentage points of market share at an annualized rate between 2002 and 2011, compared with 0.22 in the prior 10 years.
The problem is two-fold. The middle class consumers to whom the likes of JC Penney Co., Inc., and Kohl's Corp. cater to have struggled with stagnant wages and a payroll tax rise, prompting them to reduce spending on apparel, said Scott Tuhy, a retail analyst at Moody's Investors Service in New York.
People have also gravitated toward spending on services such as travel. Airline ticket prices and hotel room rates are up as well as movie downloads and other content for their TVs, smart phones and tablets. Prices to attend live sports events, theme parks, movies and rock concerts have also been rising.
In addition, increasing healthcare costs have been eating up discretionary income, with many employers seeking higher contributions from their staff.
According to the U.S. Commerce Department, spending on services hit an annual rate of $7.1 trillion in November, by far the biggest slice of overall consumption.
“There was a day you bought your TV, refrigerator, furniture, everything in a department store, whereas today, it's really just apparel and maybe jewelry,” said Stuart Hoffman, an economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. “But as incomes rise over time, people spend more on services, travel, entertainment.”
As data from MasterCard showed last week, it took deep discounts and hefty promotions to spur a 2.3 percent rise in holiday sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 compared with a year earlier. The figures include apparel, jewelry, electronics, luxury goods and home furnishings.
U.S. sales of big-ticket items such as autos and home-related goods such as washing machines, as well as purchases in home-improvement stores, surged in 2013, boosting overall retail sales. Homes sales also increased pretty steadily from mid-2012, although a summer spike in mortgage rates cooled things off a bit this fall.
Some of the gains reflected a long-anticipated release of pent-up demand as the economic recovery has gained momentum, but it might also be partly a reflection of changing attitudes, with the focus on more practical purchases.
According to the National Association of Realtors, more than half of home buyers between July 2012 and June 2013 made some sacrifices, such as reducing spending on luxury items, entertainment and clothing.

Haiti marks its 210 years
and gets Kerry's praise

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As the new year begins, Haiti is celebrating 210 years of independence.

In a New Year's Day statement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States "joins in commemorating the courage and spirit of independence of all Haitians as well as the ties of friendship and family that bind our peoples together."

Kerry said the United States has a "strong commitment to help all Haitians as they chart a path toward greater peace, security and, prosperity."

When it gained independence from France in 1804, Haiti became the only nation in the world established as the result of a successful slave revolt.

The Caribbean country was the second republic in the Americas, following the United States.

Haiti occupies the western portion of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic.

Encrypted data in plastic
is new look in credit cards

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The recent news that data from 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target department stores were hacked has raised concerns about the security of plastic bank cards. These contain financial information on a magnetic strip or a memory chip embedded in the plastic.  A new method of storing encrypted data is in its early stages, but the company developing the technology says some credit card companies are paying close attention.

Most credit and debit cards today use magnetic strips that hold the data about the owner’s bank account and personal identification number called a PIN.

Other credit cards hold the data in memory chips that communicate wirelessly with card readers. Both systems are vulnerable. Criminals can steal the data by hacking into the banks’ or retailers' computer systems or, as in the case of Target, tampering with card readers in stores.

Now, scientists in Britain say they are developing a way to make encrypted data more secure by storing it in the plastic itself.

Gordon Smith, a professor emeritus at Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick said researchers are manipulating a plastic molding machine to use the colors of the card to encrypt data.

“As it's making that plastic from a molten plastic into a solid component, we are moving the pigments such that they form specific images,” he said.

The way the pigment is configured inside the plastic ensures the security of the data. When the card is passed through a special scanner, similar to magnetic strip readers, the software reads the embedded image containing the data.

“When we first developed the images within the plastic, it looked as though it would just be an aesthetic aspect to it, but then we've realized that once we could make it covert, we could color the plastic so that the image was hidden, then it became something a lot more special," said Smith.

Smith admits the system could be compromised if someone discovers how the card was made, though he said that's unlikely. The counterfeiter would need to have access to an injection molding machine that costs more than $300,000.

The patents for this new method are pending, and it has not been used commercially at all. Smith said some credit card companies, however, already have indicated they are interested in the technology.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

Project completion specialists
Casa del pacifico logo
Pacifica living
A turnkey home and project completion agency devoted to creative vision and flawless execution. We provide a single, solid and dedicated point of contact for the duration of your real estate project, specializing in:

                      • Building completion services
                      • Interior design & decoration
                      • Custom furniture design & manufacturing.

Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad. We customize to suit each client’s personal taste, lifestyle and budget.
Serving region for 10 years.
We regularly exceed client expectations. We guarantee it.
Cell phone: (506) - 8707-8008
Office phone: (506) - 2288-5644

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.

For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 2228-5961 or 8339-2112.

Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert
Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Moran logo

Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English: (Cristian Arce)
(506) 8309-0173  
English:  (Luis Arce)
(506) 7100-8489  
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)
  (506) 8707-4016  
Grecia 794
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $850.000: HERE!
30,000 square meters of land and 750 square-meters of construction.
Grecia 792
300 square meters of land, 195 square meters of construction HERE
Grecia 807
  18,000 square meters of land and 300 square meters of construction. HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

Rich Coast montage
Real Estate, Central Pacific Region

Central Pacific between Jacó and Quepos-Manuel Antonio
Lots in gated community near the beach  from $17,999! Only 3 left
2-bedroom house in gated community was $120k now $99,900
3-bedroom house with 2 additional residential lots, walk to the beach $160k
Turnkey coffee shop/ bakery, corner location, great ROI! $65k
2-bedroom panoramic oceanview house, guesthouse on 2.5 acres $269k
Panoramic oceanview  property, 3 houses, on-ground pool $375k
And much more!!!
   USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
   CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891

Samara church and lot
Commercial lot with great visibility in heart of Playa Sámara commercial district. Located alongside town's largest church, bank, hardware store/lumber yard, mini shopping plaza, and Pali (Sámara's largest supermarket). This lot has a large elevated building platform shaded with mature treees. All this makes for many commercial options.  One block from stunning "blue flag" beach. This is a perfect location for a eco/boutique hotel, restaurant/catering, apartments, or condominium. All utilities to this property. Lot size 1,414m2. Price 325K. Email:

Gorgeous Survival Farm located between San Ramón and Arenal Volcano bordering the huge Arenal Monteverde Nature Reserve. 30 acres of virgin rain forest with no neighbors, river, spring waters, rich soil, giant trees, homesite, no electricity, year-round 4WD access. 59,000 USD

Gulf road

Beachfront pristine five-hectare (13-acre) property

includes a common open air lodge with kitchen, three cabins, a caretaker's house, a garage and a secure storeroom. The property is maritime and has a current and valid maritime user's permit, all up to date and clear. In addition to the immaculately landscaped portion of the property that is already developed with bungalows, there are an additional three hectares that are ready for expansion and are cleared and planted in grass. The sales offer includes furnishings, appliances, catamaran, kayaks, and a whole series of extras. This property has about 300 meters of beach front in a docile portion of the gulf about 15 minutes north of Puerto Jimeenez, ideal for mooring boats just off the property shoreline. Has municipal water and power. Offered at $970,000. All reasonable offers will be considered. See photos and maps and more at Contact us at: or +1-866-514-7435.

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary.

long view

200 miles of panoramic views over the Gulf of Nicoya and from Nicaragua along the volcanoes of the Cordillera de Guanacaste down to Jacó and around the southern Nicoya Peninsula to the open Pacific. 55 acres located at an altitude of about 2,800 feet in a fresh eternal spring climate, forest and pasture plus an old avocado forest. Many home sites, hidden entrance, property roads, spring waters.  195,000 USD

Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

Five bedroom home
Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths plus guest house
Price reduced $100,000 for quick sale. Features include out door BBQ, swimming pool, plus on the beach. The home is completely furnished with U.S. products. Each room is individually air conditioned.  Hot water in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Fully furnished. Includes TV’s, refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, microwave, electric stove/oven, washer & dryer and many “as seen on TV” appliances.  To see more, go to YouTube
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email

Becker montage
Beach property on the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste.

House and guest house on adjacent half acre lots. Each with separate electric,  private septic and well. Each can be sold stand alone or packaged. Modern kitchen, granite counters, Viking stove, large separate frig and freezer. Private commercial grade septic and well. No water shortages even in dry season. High speed internet and U.S. standard electric. Center of the beach -- NEVER floods. Estuary at each end of the beach with excellent kayaking and bird watching through the mangroves. Excellent fishing right off the shore. Great surfing, horseback riding, bicycling or Turtle watching. Groceries three miles away. Mentioned in "The Lonely Planet" Page 301. "Two of the most beautiful and least visited beaches in Costa Rica. Wilderness beaches of fine silver-grey sand." Despite opportunities for great surfing, kayaking and just about anything else you want to do on a sandy strip of paradise, the beaches are nearly always abandoned. $500K Will finance.  More pictures available at:  Contact information:,  US: 001-612-599-0205 or Costa Rica 011-506-2655-1202.


ULatina, UCR, & U Fidelitas San Pedro, San Jose. $185,000.
Quietly located behind The Foundation Costa Rica Canada, 500 meters north of Iglesia Lourdes, San Pedro. ULatina, UCR, U. Fidelitas, bus & new train station are within five minutes Four-bedroom, three and half-bath unit within a secure complex of 40 condos with high cement outside walls with secure entrance manned by an armed guard 24 hours per day. Security fencing with electric wire, and a CCTV recorded security camera system is monitored within the guard house.  For additional peace of mind, this residence equipped with an independently wired security system, iron bars on windows and patio doors, a telephone communication system to contact the guard house and secure parking at your front door.   Beautiful mountain view from roof covered 3rd floor terraza. A green park area inside the complex for your children to safely play and an outside parking area in from of guard house for visitors. Cable TV/Internet lines and 220-volt service for hot water heater, stove and dryer. Water storage tank with pump maintains high pressure to bathrooms on all three floors. American style washer and electric dryer, refrigerator, glass top stove, and kitchen cabinets included. Other furniture items may be available. Call Bill   (English) C.R. Phone: (506) 6011-6987   or  U.S. Phone:  (630) 886-4458  or   (305) 848-5577. C.R. Spanish  phone number: (506) 8799-4041  or  (506) 8363-9898.  Email:

Med house
Mediterranean inspired home overlooking the Bay of Nicoya and Pacific Ocean. This design allows for barrier free living, yet maximizes views from every room in the house . Vaulted ceiling over the living area and kitchen give the great room it’s spacious, open feeling with a natural stone fireplace and imported Spanish tile floors. $365,000.   Property: 22,000 m2 or 5.5 acres. Construction: 4,500 sq. ft. including porches and garage. 3 nedrooms, 2 baths, full dining room, separate office. Custom wrought iron gates, custom exotic wood cabinets, high-end stainless steel appliances, Granite countertops.    Slide show at   
For more information contact:

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

For sale is a beautiful 50-acre property located in Los Alpes, just 15 minutes outside of San Ramon. At about 4,000 feet above sea level, this finca provides gorgeous views of the Central Valley as well as the Pacific Ocean in the distance while also offering a wonderful climate year around. The main house is two stories with three bedrooms and two full baths. High quality construction using exotic hardwoods such as almond, which covers the ceilings throughout the entire house. There are also two corrals and a small casita on the property. This location is perfect for a farm-style home or for beginning an agricultural business. This truly is a rare piece of property and is available for $399,999. Price is somewhat negotiable and we will be happy to work with the buyer to make it work! Please call 8816-2478 or e-mail for more information ¡y se habla español!

humming bird nest

Bed & Breakfast for sale and personal home with 2 houses on property of 3/4 acre (3,030 m2) and buildings w/verandas & carport approximately 350 m2. One house at entrance is central to village w/gated parking lot and a 3-bedroom house for rental or employees/family w/carport/yard/gardens. A 50-meter sendero winds to the top among lush gardens where the main house is situated w/2 buildings attached by verandas & stairway to second floor.  There are 2 bedrooms, sala, 4 baths, large kitchen, laundry rooms, work bodega, storage bodega and hot tub on veranda w/tiled shower room.  Home is surrounded by tropical gardens, views of Arenal Volcano, panoramic views of Lake Arenal, private w/school owned property on one side, pasture land on back side and connecting entry gate on other side to Cabinas El Castillo & Fusion Restaurant.  A bird watcher's paradise w/hummingbirds, Montezuma, toucans, butterflies and visits from howler monkeys.  The B&B is listed four consecutive editions of Lonely Planet and the first established B&B in this area.  Photos can be viewed on the Web site:  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email:

Guiones retreat
Approximately half acre on the beach with private path to the surf. Very private three-home complex with pool, spacious patios with two wet bars, barbeque and yoga area. Featuring a three-bedroom ranch style home plus a two story Mexican villa style home with two master suites, large kitchen and living area with ocean views and breezes upstairs and a garden apartment downstairs with separate entrance. A caretaker's or teenager's cottage and lots of space for expansion. PRICED FOR QUICK SALE: $899,000.  Call 506 8867-8883 or

Real estate services
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Business for sale or lease (paid category)
Jaco station
Gas Station/Auto Plaza
Located on the Pan American Highway, Jacó Beach, Costa Rica, Central America. This property is  45,000  square feet or  18,000  meters.  Liquor and convenience store is operational. Room to add an automotive service, car wash, restaurant, pharmacy, lotto sales, tour sales, ATM's,  etc, for a real money maker. Also future plans for a 80-unit  auto motel and casino. See on Youtube at: Asking price  $3.9 million. Email or call: 8899-9870.

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

In the nine years of operation, DIGITS Resource Guide has grown to cover the entire Southern Pacific Zone, and opened the door to further penetration in San Jose, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, and Osa Peninsula areas.  DIGITS is the only one of its kind with no comparable competition. With the extensive groundwork that has already been achieved, the business is now poised to expand into an even greater level of success. Operating since 2005, the owner is retiring to another Latin American country. For a preview of the magazine, go to, or simply go to a local Distributor for a copy. Details on the business, its history, a strategic analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as a Pro-Forma Income Statement from 2008 through to 2013 are available upon request to aha_jm@yahoo.

Live the dream!
Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 1
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC neews feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Passengers on trapped ship
are leaving by helicopter

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Dozens of passengers aboard a Russian research ship stuck for over a week in the Antarctic ice were preparing to be evacuated today after a rescue helicopter finally was able to land nearby.

Video posted on YouTube by Chris Turney, one of the scientists on the ship, showed a Chinese helicopter landing on the ice near the "MV Akademik Shokalskiy," which has been stranded since Christmas Eve.

Fifty-two passengers, including scientists, tourists, and journalists, are waiting to board the helicopter, 12 at a time. After being dropped off at a nearby Chinese vessel, they will be taken by barge to an Australian icebreaker ship, which they will take on a weeks-long journey to dry land.

Blizzard conditions hampered previous attempts to evacuate the passengers by helicopter. Icebreaker ships from China, Australia, and France have also failed to reach the Russian vessel.

Seventy-four scientists, tourists and crew members are on board the "MV Akademik Shokalskiy," which has weeks of supplies and is in no danger of sinking.

Most of the 22-member Russian crew are expected to stay behind and wait for the ice to break up naturally.

The Russian ship, which left New Zealand Nov. 28, was trying to recreate Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica.


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From Page 7:

Latvia becomes 18th state to adopt euro

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Latvia joins the eurozone on Wednesday, banking on its experience of self-imposed austerity to bring it prosperity in a currency union where other economies have floundered.

The Baltic country of just two million people was set to become the bloc's 18th member at midnight, taking a step further out of the shadow of neighboring Russia a decade after joining the European Union and NATO.

The euro, which was launched 15 years ago, will now be the official currency of 333 million Europeans.

Even so, neighboring Lithuania is the only remaining EU country showing much enthusiasm for euro admission after the temptations and strains of sharing a currency forced Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus to seek international bailouts for their government finances or their banks.

Among the ex-Communist EU countries that have yet to adopt the euro, Croatia is stuck in recession while bigger economies such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary have become reticent about currency union.

But Latvia's acting Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, who led his country through its worst economic crisis since it left the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s, was keen to mark the currency change by withdrawing the first euro banknote from a cash point after midnight.

”It's sad, but we will get used to the euro, which marks our return to Europe,” former central banker Einars Repse, who led the introduction of the lat currency in 1993, said.

Latvia, which becomes the fourth smallest economy in the eurozone after Malta, Estonia and Cyprus, expects the euro to lower its borrowing costs and encourage investors by eliminating currency risk.

Both Standard & Poor's and Fitch have raised the country's credit ratings in anticipation of its euro entry.

But opinion polls show ordinary Latvians are divided on the euro's merits, with many worried that its adoption will be an excuse to raise prices.

Latvia won praise from EU policy makers for emerging with strong economic growth and relatively low debt levels from a deep recession after it slashed spending and wages, and hiked taxes to keep the lat pegged to the euro during the global financial crisis.