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(506) 223-1327         Published Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 27            E-mail us
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Lots of Nicaraguan kids will soon be fans of 'champion' Patriots
By Anne Clark
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anyone who has seen a championship sports game has wondered how the winning team gets their 
new england tee shirt
"World Champion" T-shirt so fast.  Most of the coaches and players don the emblazoned clothing and caps while they're still on the field!

It turns out that world champion clothing is printed up for each competing team,
but only the winner gets to wear theirs.  As fans watch the tears and the hanging heads make their way to the losing locker room, the now-misprinted world champion clothing already is on its way for a long trip.

This year in Nicaragua, it's a case of "Dewey Defeats Truman."  For hundreds of lucky kids, the New England Patriots DID win the Super Bowl — or at least that's what their new t-shirts say. 
Through a partnership between the National Football League and World Vision, millions of dollars worth of the incorrectly titled, Super Bowl XLII losing team’s licensed apparel will bring joy to families in poverty this year in Romania and Nambia, as well as Nicaragua. The value of the clothing was reported to be $2.5 million.

World Vision is an organization that helps children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling poverty.

“World Vision helps us to ensure that no NFL apparel goes to waste,” said David Krichavsky, director of community relations for the professional football league. “We are pleased to find a good home for clothing by getting it to those who need it most.”

After last year’s Super Bowl game, a significant portion of the Chicago Bears apparel was distributed and some wound up in Nicaragua. World Vision also distributes counterfeit clothing confiscated by U.S. customs agents.

Arias gives a push to power project on Río Térraba
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez took action Wednesday to jump start the $1.8 billion hydro project on the Río  Grande de Térraba in southwestern Costa Rica.

Technically Arias signed a decree that labeled the project to be in the public interest and convenience. The plan is to build a 220-meter (715-foot) dam, create a lake larger than existing Arenal and construct the associated facilities to generate power.

The presidential action cleared the way for the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad  to continue with soil studies and other research before the anticipated start of actual construction in January 2009. The project is supposed to be finished in 2016 and generate 630 megawatts of power.

The project has been in first place in the administration's energy priorities, despite the controversy surrounding construction.

Part of the problem is that the proposed dam will create a lake 6,000 hectares or  14,826 acres of surface area. Much of the land being submerged is property of the Boruca Indians and is called the Reserva Indigina Boruca. The reserve straddles the river from Rey Curré nearly to Palmar Norte. Opponents say that some seven Indian reserves will be affected one way or the other.
The project also means relocating about 65 kms. (40 miles) of the Interamerican highway.

In part to take the focus off the controversy, the former Boruca project is now called  El Diquís.

The Río Térraba is the largest and most powerful river in the country. It is the product of the union of the Río General and the Río Coto Brus. It also is the source of the rock from which pre-Columbian inhabitants made the stone spheres that enthrall visitors to the area. The river empties into the Bay of Coronado at Las Delicias not far from Puerto Cortes and Palmar Norte.

Environmentalists also oppose the project for various reasons, but power outages and blackouts last year appear to have quelled the organized opposition. The hydroplant will generate an amount of electricity that would be about a third of all the power that is being used now in Costa Rica. This fact has led opponents to speculate that much of the power will be sold outside the country via a Central American electrical grid perhaps as far north as the United States.

The  Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica is loaning about $10 million for the pre-construction studies. Actually construction will require the creation of a consortium of major banks to provide the funding. The dam project has been on the drawing board for at least four decades.

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Hotel in sewage flap to start
moving guests elsewhere

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Guests will be evacuating the Hotel Allegro Papagayo in their hundreds over the next few days, after the Ministerio de Salud gave the hotel the order to close on Monday afternoon.

Some 600 vacationers will have their stay at the four-star hotel located on Playa Manzanillo in Guanacaste cut short, after a scandal emerged surrounding the methods used by hotel management to dispose of sewage and waste water.

“Hotel managers are soliciting a plan of the best way to handle the evacuation,” said Mario Calvo, a health official in Liberia.

The hotel staff of between 220 to 250 people will also have to be evacuated.

Blue flag certification is to be removed from Playa Manzanillo, according to officials of the Laboratorio Nacional de Aguas, who have recently done tests in the sea water outside the hotel.

The blue flag certifies that a beach is safe and clean for recreational use. Manzanillo is the second beach to lose the blue flag in the past three months. Tamarindo beach, also in Guanacaste, lost its certification in November.

Calvo added that the Ministerio de Salud will be issuing a formal legal complaint against the hotel for acts of contamination.

The hotel has been accused of shipping hundreds of trucks full of sewage to an under-equipped sewage plant in the town of El Gallo, as well as running a sewage pipe from the hotel into a nearby stream

Hotel management was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but staff were no longer telling callers that the hotel was open and functioning normally, as they had been doing for the preceding three days.

Cartago home invasion
results in multiple arrests

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A group of men entered a house in Cartago pretending to be police officers, tied up a guard and the couple who owned the home and then loaded up valuables totaling $250,000.

To top it off, the men stole two luxury cars from the property and drove off without any sirens wailing or police on their tail.

That was in December. Weeks past until Wednesday, after a long investigation, officials raided five houses and arrested four suspects.

Officials from the Judicial Investigation Organization conducted four simultaneous house raids Wednesday morning and another in the afternoon. The raids were conducted in Los Cuadros, Purral and La Joya and resulted in the arrests of four men. 

The man and woman who were robbed were a Cuban couple living in Paraiso de Cartago. Among items stolen were a valuable collection of paintings, a gun collection, cash, a Jeep Cherokee, a second vehicle, and many other valuables, said investigators.

The men arrested were Rody Marín 25, Alejandro Alvarado Masis, 25, Lizano Mairena, 31, and Randall Aguilar Quesada, 32, said agents. Officials said they found numerous items belonging to the victims in the houses they raided.

Two men shot in Tibás

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men engaged in a gun fight were shot Tuesday night and later died, said officials.

After an initial fight in Cinco Esquinas de Tibás,  Emmanuel Borlón Castillo, 25, was walking away with his girlfriend, said officials. Another man involved in the fight wanted to rob Borlón, according to the homicide section of the Judicial Investigation Organization. A struggle ensued and both men ended up shot, said officials.

The second man, Erick Agüero, 23, died on the scene, and Bórbon was transported to Hospital México, were he died at 5 a.m. Wednesday, said a hospital spokeswoman.

Blues event changes location

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Blues fans are being redirected for a festival to be held this weekend due to problems with permits.

The First Annual Costa Rica International Blues Festival was billed to be held at Motor Psychos Bar and Grill in Santa Ana, but the five live bands, mostly hailing from the United States, will now be playing in the Club Cubano in Guachipelín de Escazú, organizers said Wednesday.

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Financial watchdog won't share its data on drug figure Nayor
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's financial watchdog has refused to provide information about two companies to the legislature's anti-narcotrafficking commission, and the Sala IV constitutional court agreed that the information be kept secret.

The high court decision, announced Monday, brought an unhappy reaction from  José Manuel Echandi, a lawmaker, who said that the committee would have taken the information in private.

The agency involved is the  Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras. Echandi said in a release that lawmakers wanted information on companies linked to George Nayor who has a business and personal relationship with the brother of the former vice president, Kevin Casas.

Oct. 6, 2006, Elías Antonio Saca, president of El Salvador,
said that Nayor was behind a plot to assassinate him.  Salvadorian officials deported Nayor into the waiting arms of U.S. Drug Enforcement officials.

Nayor has many business interests in Costa Rica, and his lawyer has been Ciro Casas, the former vice president's brother.

The  Comisión Permanente Especial de Narcotráfico of the Asamblea Legislativa wanted to look into some of the relationships. When the  Superintendencia declined to provide the information, lawmakers appealed to the Sala IV, which denied the appeal.

Echandi said he was anxious to read the written decision by the magistrates that will be available in perhaps 15 days to find out their reasoning. He said that there were parallel investigations taking place, and that members of the legislative commission had promised not to do anything that would affect them.

Seven raids target bootleggers' stills in Alajuela, Cartago
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials raided seven homes Wednesday to investigate allegations that the occupants made and sold a dangerous homemade liquor, said the security ministry.

The operations were run by seven families, and most of the leaders of the illegal liquor stores were women, who often used their children to make the sales, said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. Five of the houses were located in Alajuela and two in Cartago, said officials.

This sort of homemade alcohol is extremely dangerous, according to the Costa Rican liquor company. If consumed it could cause cerebral blindness, complications in the kidneys and the liver or even death, they said. They also mentioned the lack of hygiene and health code violations, in facilities such as these.

One woman with the last names of Vega Carvajal is suspected of heading an operation in Desamparados de Alajuela, said officials. Authorities found various containers of liquor hidden under clothes in Ms. Vega Carvajal's home, they said. They also found stills most likely used for the distillation process, they said.

Officials said they were tipped off to the illegal operations by various complaints from neighbors in the area.   Neighbors later said they were grateful to police for stopping an activity which attracted many dangerous people to the area, said officials. 

The Dirección de Investigación Especializada, the Fiscalía de Narcotráfico, and the Fábrica Nacional de Licores worked together on the operation.  Authorities said they
bootlegging operation evidence
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
Police officer packages up empty containers that they say were used to distribute bootlegged alcohol.

urge citizens to report any suspicious activity or illegal sales of liquor  in order to eradicate the problem.

There is no surprise that price of gasoline is going up again
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Gasoline prices are going up again after a brief respite when the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and colon was adjusted Nov. 22 to the benefit of most Costa Ricans.

A liter of super gasoline is going up 11 colons, and regular will go up nine colons, said the Authoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos. Diesel will increase just three colons a liter. The amount of 11 colons is just a bit greater than two U.S. cents. It takes about 500 colons to purchase a
dollar, and the banks are giving about 493 colons to those selling a dollar.

The new prices are based on international costs between Dec, 12 and Jan. 10, said the price-setting agency.

Increases also were approved for other petroleum products.

There are 3.785 liters in a gallon, so the new price of super, 573 a liter, equates to about $4.40 a U.S. gallon. Costa Rica imports all its petroleum.

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Most active volcanoes in Ecuador and Chile strut their stuff
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano erupted Wednesday, spewing molten rock, smoke and ash into the air and forcing the evacuation of people living nearby.

There are no reports of any injuries or deaths, but officials warned that the eruption may spread ash across six of Ecuador's provinces. Authorities did not evacuate the nearby tourist resort of Banos, although they were monitoring developments.

The volcano has been rumbling and shooting out clouds of smoke since January. Volcanologists say they expect stronger activity from the mountain because it is in the middle of an eruption cycle.

Separately, authorities in Chile say the Llaima volcano in
the south of the country has resumed activity, spewing a small stream of lava down its slopes Wednesday. The volcano erupted last month, forcing the evacuation of 150 people from its base. But officials say Wednesday's activity was more subdued.

Llaima in Chile and Tungurahua in Ecuador are among the most active volcanoes in those countries.

Ecuador's Tungurahua, which means "throat of fire" in the native Quechua language, is about 130 kms (81 miles) south of the capital, Quito. It has been active since 1999, when it erupted for the first time in 80 years.

In August 2006, an eruption of Tungurahua killed at least five people, destroyed villages and displaced thousands of people. Tungurahua stands 5,000 meters (about 16,250 feet) tall.

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Chicken suits, foot photos brought to Galeria Nacional by art colony residents

By Helen Thompson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those with a sharp eye who look closely at Nancy Ennis' collages will find a man in a chicken costume haunting each one.

In some, he is the main focus of the piece, and in others he is as invisible as a smudge behind a layer of material.

“One of my kids gave me this photo of their Dad when younger,” said Mrs. Ennis, as she pointed out the eerie figure, standing amid her as-yet unhung exhibition in the Galeria Nacional. “I like it because my ex-husband was a very funny man, although very irresponsible.”

Mrs. Ennis, an American who lives in New Jersey, has been creating artwork on Costa Rican soil for the last six weeks, working in a private artists colony in Ciudad Colon.

She is one of several dozen who seek out Costa Rica's tropical climes each year to spend a residency in the Julia and David White Artists' Colony.

Her time here this year has been one of frenzied production, turning from her preferred medium of sculpture to that of collage using found objects.

“Watching my kids it seems to me that young people are often not aware of death until they grow older,” said Mrs. Ennis.

“I have always been aware of it, and it has always figured in my life. I was born a year before the Hiroshima bombings, and those images have haunted me throughout my life.”

Black and white photographs from the era of the Second World War, both historic pictures of war victims and personal images of Mrs. Ennis' family members, appear on the deceivingly pastel-shaded collages alongside the image of the chicken-suited man. This man is a legacy of Mrs. Ennis' own personal loss; her ex-husband died of AIDs 14 years ago.

Other subtle tokens are woven into the pieces, such as the Ace of Spades, a reminder that American soldiers used to leave one of these cards next to each Viet Cong they killed during the Vietnam war. This practice went on to such an extent that one card company started making packs solely comprised of Aces of Spades.

“I am so outraged by American foreign policy that it leaves me almost speechless,” said Mrs. Ennis. “Each of my pieces tells its own story, and these tokens help to achieve that.”

Layering contributes to the creation of a narrative, with

nancy ennis
A.M. Costa Rica/Helen Thompson
Nancy Ennis' collages will be on display in Galeria Nacional alongside three other art colony residents

materials creating tattoo effects on old photographs, and closed silk pages hiding bundles of images.

After so much time working with sculpture, Mrs. Ennis finds collage an interesting way to create 3D space out of 2D objects.

Ms. Ennis' work will be displayed in the Galeria Nacional, alongside exhibitions by two other Americans and one Canadian, all of whom produced the work during stays at the colony.

Currently moving to South Korea, photographer Ellie Brown will not be able to make it to Friday's inauguration, but says she hopes that some of the subjects of her work come to San José to see themselves in an exhibition.

Ms. Brown brought her interests in photographing women and girls with her to Costa Rica last April. “Once I arrived in Ciudad Colon, I was captivated by all of the visual stimulus and photography became the tool of most interest to me,” Ms. Brown said.

Having grown up taking stills of her younger sisters, Ms. Brown continues to be interested in photographing humans and their behavior, but at first found Costa Rica a challenging place to follow this theme.

“In the beginning I was very shy about photographing people as a tourist and trying to be aware of not offending anyone, so I began started photographing people's feet,” said Ms. Brown.

“This is not something I had ever done before or have done since but I have a really beautiful collection of feet images which in my eyes, say so much about the people attached to them.”

Ms. Brown and Mrs. Ennis will be joined in the Galeria Nacional by Nancy Cusack and Canadian Vanessa McKernan. Their exhibitions will be open to the public from Feb. 8-29.

Art Galleries ....

48 etchings by 17th century master Rembrandt to be displayed here

San José will receive a visual treat from the Old World when 48 original etchings by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn will go on public display.  The “Grabados de Rembrandt” exhibition opens Feb. 8 at the Museos del Banco Central.

Rembrandt is best known for his dramatic and lively yet compassionate handling of various subject matters, particularly Biblical scenes and portraiture.  The heightened emotion accompanying his work is aided by his famous use of chiaroscuro.  Rembrandt's diverse thematic range will be represented in the exhibition. 

The exhibition will occupy the gallery space on the first level in the Museo de Numismática because of its high security and better exhibition environment. 

The works are on loan to Costa Rica from the Rembrandt House Museum and the Embassy of Holland. 

The exhibition runs through April 6. 

The Museos del Banco Central is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission is $7 for tourists and 1,000 colons for citizens.  Wednesdays and the first Sunday of each month have free entry for nationals with identification.

Exhibit condemning illegal fishing would be better elsewhere

For a while now, a large marquee has been standing outside the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporaneo in San José.

In it hangs what has variously been described as an enormous bee hive, a throwback to sixties glow lamps or a swarm of schooling fish.

The last explanation is the one that the artists propound. Huge, blue, glowing and transparent, the structure extends almost four meters down from the ceiling, nearly equaling its height with its width. It tapers towards the end, putting one in mind of a chrysalis, and its outside is made totally of clear nylon wires.

Read more - click here

Imagen V show has a few gems but a pack of clinkers, too

videoartshowNew media art is always a bit hit and miss with the potential to come across as a foundationless piece of pretension if it is not done well.

The Bienal Iberoamericana Inquieta Imagen V, a competition for video artists from across Latin America, is a good example of this, containing a few pieces that engage well with the subject and make the most of their medium, but many that leave the viewer cold.

Most of the works are video projections, some as short as a pistol shot and the flight of birds and some as long as a didactic letter that teaches about identity, isolation and fuschia flowers.

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Mistaken identity? No such thing, says new exhibition

historiaoficialCosta Rica is a land of volatile volcanoes, orchids, coffee fincas, Catholicism and Ticos.

Or you could say it's a country of wide seashores, football stadiums, fast food restaurants and beach towns overtaken by Gringos.

Some are clichéd symbols of a tourist nation, while others are part of the country's changing culture, but all are involved in Museo de Arte Costarricense's new exhibition that challenges viewers to reconsider their own perceptions of the nation.

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Festivals ...

First International Blues Festival

Texas blues bands are heading down to Santa Ana for an afternoon of live music. BBQ's and cold beers will accompany artists including Smokin Joe Kubek & Bnois King and Robbie Clarke & the Live Wire Blues Band.

Two stages at Motorpsychos Bar and Grill will host a total of seven bands during the afternoon of Feb. 9. Tickets cost $25 and can be found by contacting

Puntarenas Carnaval a mix of the traditional and the modern

If you didn't know otherwise, you could be forgiven for thinking that Puntarenas Carnival is largely about scantily clad ladies fighting it out to be crowned queen of the show.

However, the organisers claim that the carnaval tradition that will fill Puntarenas with people dressed in luminous feathers, steel bands, and brightly-coloured dancers, has roots that go back for thousands of years, to pagan celebrations of Baco, the God of wine.

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Mini-mall comes to the rescue of the not-rich-but-hungry

food court

For those in the know, there is a clean, affordable, relatively quiet gastronomic surprise off the pedestrian mall in downtown San Jose.  Between Arenas clothing store and the Patio Restaurant, behind a perfume counter and a Pops Ice Cream sits a food court without a McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway or Church's Chicken in sight. 

Tropical Food is a counter selling relatively healthy food.  While their batidos aren't as delicious as the ones found at FrutiLand in Mall San Pedro, the water-or-milk-
blended-with-fruit drink is a refreshing treat to carry during your walk along Avenida Central.  A batido with the fruit of your choice mixed with water costs 650 colons, with milk, 750 colons.  That's from $1.30 to $1.50.

Adding honey or granola takes you up to a still-reasonable 900 colons ($1.80).  The store also peddles fruit salads, ranging from 700 to 1.600 colons ($1.40 to $3.20).

Marisqueria produces delicious looking and smelling seafood dishes.  A customer-friendly hanging chalkboard lists their menu and respective prices.  A small corvina ceviche will set you back 1,950 colons ($3.90).  Get a small rice with shrimp for 2.150 colons ($4.30), 2,800 ($5.60) for a larger serving.  Or try one of the fish filets prepared several different ways, the cheapest being with oil and garlic for 2,600 ($5.20) colons, the priciest fish filet dish is 3,600 colons ($7.20) for relleno with ham and cheese.

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Festive season proves troublesome even for established restaurant

vealBeing a chef in a busy kitchen must be a pretty stressful job, but around Christmas stress is something any successful restaurant should factor in as inevitable.

On a second visit to well-reputed French restaurant Le Chandelier, it soon became obvious that the staff were poorly equipped for the onslaught of Christmas party diners on a Tuesday night, leaving the usually decent food to deteriorate into a procession of almost inedible starters and bland entrees.

Set in an old San Pedro house with brick ceilings and wooden beams that was converted into a restaurant around 15 years ago by Swiss owner Claude Dubuis, Le Chandelier purports to offer French cuisine that has been developed over generations of experience.

Click here to read the full review

A great meal is not all in the presentation

musslesandfondue120407With a vaulted glass ceiling, palm trees lining the pathway and posh lighting, one would not expect Saga restaurant to be settled behind a dull parking lot in Escazú.

Although this restaurant may look out of place, it doesn't deviate much from the norm in Escazú, an area many would classify as suburban sprawl.

The majority of the cuisine at Saga seems to fit with the setting: classy presentation, yet lacking any profound flavors. Although the restaurant boasts itself as an “international food restaurant” on its Web site, much of the inspired cuisine is lacking the depth which would be found in authentic dishes.

Click here to read the full review

Dramatic Arts...

Sunny days in San José complemented by free concerts

MAFconcert The hot dry days are being put to good cultural use by the Museos del Banco Central with a series of outdoor concerts in the middle of the downtown area.

Hundreds of shoppers stopped to lean over the balcony in Plaza de la Cultura Saturday, when the Costa Rican singer MAF and her band played a sunny set of pop tunes outside the doors of the museum.

Although the series is named 'Conciertos en las gradas', fewer people sat to on the steps outside the Museo de Oro than stood around the edges, looking down at the stage.

Onlookers were enthusiastic about the music, in spite of the singer's annoying lack of the ability to dance. She has recently released her debut album, Viaje Cosmico, for which she was recognised as 2007's revelationary interpretive artist by Costa Rica's music association, Asociacion de Compositores y Autores Musicales de Costa Rica. 

An alternative offering of rock trip-hop is up next on Feb. 9 at 2 p.m., played by group Parque en el espacio. The band recorded a live CD in San Pedro's Jazz Café during 2006, called Hello Hello.

Miriam Jaraquín and Blues Latino will bring piano and accordion, flute and saxophone to the stage at midday on March 2., with an acoustic jazzy sound.

The final concert of the series will be on March 29., with trio Villegas playing some classic Spanish rock from 2 p.m.

Cultural prizes handed out to 2007's cream of the crop

Premio Magón

maria eugenia dengoA woman who devoted her life to the improvement of Costa Rica's education system was yesterday announced as the winner of 2007's Premio Nacional de Cultura Magón.

María Eugenia Dengo started out by introducing new subjects and professions to the Universidad de Costa Rica in the early 70s, and moved on to such respected positions as minister of Educación Pública and UNESCO regional coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Read more click here

National Culture Prizes

Hot on the heels of the Premio Cultural Magón winner have come the announcements of the numerous other national culture prize winners.

María Elena Carballo, minister of Cultura y Juventud, read out the long list of Premios Nacional de la Cultura 2007 Tuesday, in a conference at the Centro Nacional de la Cultura.

Along with the prizes for national theater, music, dance and literature, came two presented by the minister of Ciencia y Tecnología, Eugenia Flores.

Read more click here

Books ...

Land use in Costa Rica documented by Fulbright scholar

Forty years of living in the jungle, moving between secluded forestry stations and research labs, has led Louisiana resident and NASA veteran
Armond Joyce
Armond Joyce
Armond Joyce to write a book about the changing uses of land in Costa Rica.

After winning a presitgious Fulbright scholarship in 1998, he came back to Costa Rica to revisit forest sites that he worked on over three decades earlier as a graduate student. 

Some of the earliest satellite technology available was used in 1966 to take arial photographs of Costa Rica's countryside, and the
book compares these black and white shots with up-to-date images.

Click here to read more

New book dwells on the social aspects of food

Food is not just a selfish pleasure or a way to stifle hunger, but is central to the evolution of art, according to a new book published by Museos del Banco Central.

Artworks by Costa Rican painters are the main content of the hardback book, “Imagenes para Comer,” which follows the representation of food in art since still life painting became popular in the Renaissance.

Full-color pictures of both traditional and modern works are far more common than recipes, as the author Marjorie Ross only provides seven recipes within the book.

All are traditional Costa Rican dishes showing influences from different sections of the community, such as corn fritters, white beans and chorizo and fruit salad.

The book focuses on the meanings that food has within society, and how these are portrayed by art.

Click here to read more

Should you play limit or no-limit Texas hold’em?

Until the start of the current poker boom that dates back to 2003, you couldn’t find a no-limit Texas hold’em cash game if you tried.  Limit hold’em ruled.  But that all changed once No Limit tournaments started to air on television.

Back before the boom started, poker professionals played Limit games to pay the bills.  And hold’em wasn’t the only game they played.  Stud, Omaha, stud hi-lo, and Omaha hi-lo were also played – all of them limit games.

Like these pro players, you can become a better overall player by investing the time and effort to learn both disciplines of the game. 

Playing limit hold’em will certainly improve your no limit game.  There are subtleties to the limit game that will enhance your technique at the no limit tables. 

Mastering these uniquely aggressive limit tactics will enable you to steal more pots when you sit down to play no limit hold’em.

So, if you’re trying to make a living playing hold’em, which is the better game to play, limit or no-limit?  Here are some factors to consider.

Go Fishing

Inexperienced players generally flock toward the no limit tables because it’s clearly the most popular form of the game.  Having said that, where the fish go, so go the sharks!  As a result, you’ll often find that limit games are even softer because the pros are concentrating on the no limit games, baiting their hooks and reeling in their catch.

Playing the Percentages

Your winning percentage by session will likely be higher in no limit games than in limit games.  Winning 65 percent of your sessions in limit hold’em is excellent.  In no-limit, however, it’s not uncommon to log winning sessions 80 percent of the time.

That’s due to the natural differences between the two games.  Less control can be exerted in limit games because it’s more difficult to force players out of pots with structured betting. 

In no-limit, though, hands can be protected from being outdrawn by making large bets that force opponents to fold weak draws. 

Bankroll Protection

Despite the fact that you’ll likely win a higher percentage of sessions in no-limit hold’em, choosing to play limit hold’em is a safer decision to protect your bankroll.  You won’t win as often, but you also won’t risk losing everything you have on any single hand.

Your results in limit hold’em will be more consistent over time, and that’s especially important if you plan to grind it out at the tables for 40 hours every week.  No-limit hold’em is simply a much more volatile game.

Level of Aggression

Contrary to popular belief, limit hold’em is the more aggressive form of the game.  It’s characterized by constant raising and re-raising before the flop.  On the other hand, no-limit hold’em is played more carefully since any hand could cost you your entire stack.

If, for example, you flop top pair in limit hold’em, it’s usually correct to raise and re-raise on the flop.  No limit hold’em should be played more cautiously.  You need to be concerned about over pairs and flopped sets.

Pace of Play

Limit hold’em is the game for you if you bore easily and crave fast action.  Conversely, in no-limit, the game will often slow to a halt when someone is faced with a big decision.  That’s uncommon in limit games because all-in bets are rare.

Whatever game suits you best, learn to play both limit and no-limit Texas hold’em.  Your overall game will definitely improve.
Visit for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, "Hold’em Wisdom for All Players."
© 2008 Card Shark Media.  All rights reserved.

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