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These stories were published Friday, Feb. 25, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 40
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Murder of U.S. citizen treated  hush-hush
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The best-kept secret in Costa Rica for the last two weeks is that someone murdered a U.S. citizen from Heredia.

The man, identified as Ronald Steven Hayes, 62, died sometime between Feb. 9 and Feb. 11. An employee of the Morgue Judicial finally confirmed the death Thursday. The body has been there for two weeks while the case presumably has been under investigation.

Possible foul play was suggested more than a week ago by U.S.-based friends of the man who made repeated inquires of newspeople here.

Hayes had purchased a property in San Pablo de Heredia sometime before Feb. 3. The property is  believed to be a condo.

Officials became aware of the case when the body of Hayes was located in the Puriscal area. Agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization operating in that community west of San José declined to discuss the case Thursday but did confirm their office was involved. San José contacts of the same agency said for nearly two weeks they had no information.

An employee of the Morgue Judicial finally confirmed Thursday afternoon that the body believed to be that of Hayes had been brought in Feb. 11.

The employee said that Hayes’ lawyer, Carlos 
Soto, had made the identification. Soto has refused to accept calls on the matter for more than a week. Friends of Hayes said by e-mail that those connected with the case wanted to avoid a lot of publicity because they feared property fraud.

This newspaper has reported in the past that unscrupulous characters frequently use the death notices to locate properties that they then try to steal by using false documents.

The friends said that Hayes was last seen alive leaving his condo for a taxi the evening of Feb. 9.

The friend also said that the family of


Ronald Hayes in front of the 1983 Mercedes Benz that he drove.
Hayes was arriving Saturday to plan a funeral service. 

 
Increased protection part of accord for area around Arenal
By Clair-Marie Robertson
of the A.M Costa Rica staff 

An agreement has been signed by the Camera de La Fortuna of San Carlos to increase protection in hotels and resorts at the popular tourist area after a spate of robberies. 

Ana Helena Chacon, a vice minister of the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Publica, said that the thefts that have occurred in recent days are due to that fact that visitors have been careless and too trusting. Chacon said that this applied as much to the Costa Rican visitor as well as foreigners. She met with chamber members Thursday.

Because of Arenal Volcano, hot water pools near La Fortuna are the nation's most visited sites.

Last Friday about $3,200 in cash was stolen as well as video cameras and clothes from 14 Australian tourists while they were visiting the thermal pools.   Fuerza Pública said its officers had recovered the bulk of the items stolen later the same day. 

"The majority of incidents have been registered inside hotels and shops where tourists feel less threatened and wont take care of their belongings. It then becomes very easy for the criminals to steal," said Vice Minister Chacon.

She said that the ministry will be developing a program for all hotels that will advise them on when and how to inform the authorities if they see anyone acting suspiciously. In La Fortuna de San Carlos a mobile police office has also been set up. 


 
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Ciudad Colón artist colony operator William White dies
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

William L. White, who operated The Julia and David White Artists Colony in Ciudad Colón, died early Friday morning in Clinica Biblica.

White, who as in his 70s, opened the colony in 1998 to provide a place where artists from all over could come and create in Costa Rica. He said on the colony’s Web page:

"I strongly believe that today more than ever society needs cultural visionaries and innovators to remind us all of our common humanity. By providing a refuge from the demands of everyday life, The Colony directly supports dedicated and highly talented artists. In so doing we hope to make a contribution to a more 

peaceful, humane and civilized world." 

The colony was named for his son David and daughter 

Julia. Both were artists who committed suicide..

White, a champion for peace, was against war and left the United States in  despair after the first Gulf war.

Friends said that a remembrance gathering will be held at The colony on Saturday, March 5, 2005, at 2 p.m. Information about 

William White
funeral services were not available.

 
Tico family in Missouri
fights deportation there

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Costa Rican family living in the U.S. state of Missouri may soon be forcibly returning to Costa Rica. 

Marvin González along with his wife, Marie, and his daughter Marina moved to Missouri 14 years ago. The story of their deportation hearing was originally published by the Missourian in Columbia, Missouri. 

According to the Missourian, the family originally moved to the United States in 1991 on a six-month tourist visa. Once their tourist visa was up, however, they continued to live in Missouri.

In 2002, the U.S. Board of Immigration noticed the family and filed papers to have them removed. The family filed an appeal immediately and has been fighting the ruling ever since. 

The family has not been fighting alone, however. According to the Missourian story, the González and his wife had been active in several civic and religious groups during their time in the States. People from those groups have banded together forming the "González" group to protect their friends.

According to the Missourian, the group has collected more then 2,800 signatures supporting the Gonzalez Family. The local government, however, has not been as supportive.

The González family is currently living in the United States illegally. The government’s only path to allowing them to continue their lives in the states is to file a private bill in the U.S. Congress. Private bills, however, are usually only offered to foreigners who aid in the fight against terror.

According to the Missourian, the local community plans to stand behind the family even if their chances are small. Friends of the family say that the family is exactly what America needs and that it would be the country’s loss if they left. 

U.S. citizen in wreck
requires plastic surgery

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An American citizen was involved in a car accident in Jacó Wednesday. The citizen, Julie Ann Gue, 43, from Washington, D.C., was driving a large suburban truck which lost its steering. The incident occurred opposite the Gas Station Herradura. 

Ms. Gue said that she heard a pop and was then unable to steer the truck. " I guess I panicked. I don't remember much but people have been giving me details of what they saw. I ran off the road and the truck rolled a few times and stopped in a ravine." 

Ms. Gue was taken to the Clinica de Jacó and was treated for a serious wound to the head which began on her lower forehead and exposed part of her skull. She was then transferred to Hospital CIMA in Escazú were a plastic surgeon re-stitched the wound to reduce scarring. 

"The hospital in Jacó stitched me up as quick as they could because of the bleeding," Ms. Gue said.

Ms. Gue also suffered from several puncture wounds to her lower lip caused by her teeth.  She also has two broken ribs and a wounded knee that also required stitches. "The doctor says that I will be getting out in a few days, I guess you could say that I am very lucky," she said Thursday from her hospital bed.

Ms. Gue has lived in Costa Rica for three and a half  years with her fiancé Rob Hall. " We love Costa Rica and we are a building a house right on the beach in Jacó. We are having a great time here and this won't put me off." she said 

Faster net connections
promised on telephone

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff 

Internet Broadband services will become more widely available in Costa Rica from June, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, known as ICE, announced Thursday. 

Broadband offers high speed internet access, with quicker download times It also allows a user to surf the web and talk on the phone at the same time for a monthly charge of $28.

At present there are 15,000 broadband connections. In the next four months there will 84,000 additional connections, said ICE. A statement released by the Institute said that the expansion of broadband has been delayed because of problems purchasing the necessary equipment. 

The total cost of the project was estimated at $48 million. $25.2 million will be invested into installing connections and $22.8 million for buying equipment from the transnational company Samsung. 

Special lounge set up
for VIPs at airport

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A VIP waiting lounge has opened  at Juan Santamaría International Airport. The lounge offers up-to-date technology that allows travelers to access the internet. Computers as well as laptop ports are available to print documents, burn CDs and photocopy documents. 

The air conditioned VIP lounge also offers a meeting room for eight persons that comes with up-to-date teleconferencing equipment. Plasma screens and satellite television as well as fresh snacks and beverages are also be available free of charge. 

A day pass for the lounge costs $35, annual membership is $350. The VIP lounge is open from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. To register for the VIP lounge go to www.viplounge-cr.com. 

Trio arrested near embassy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff 

Three men were arrested in Pavas, Wednesday in connection with a series of armed robberies that have been committed in the area. 

Officials from the Fuerza Pública of Pavas  arrested the suspects outside the U.S. Embassy on Avenida Central. They were travelling in a Nissan Sentra which was driven by a man identified with the last names of  Hernández Alvardo. The other two suspects have not yet been positively identified. They were carrying a .22-calibre handgun, a knife and ammunition, police said. 

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So what are you going to have for breakfast today?
After my column on sausage appeared, I received an e-mail from one Dr. Blount that read, "Pork. What kind of a doctor are you?" Mea culpa, Dr. Blount. After that column and this one, I have to admit that I was a cardiologist who directed a large regional cardiac catheterization laboratory and, for a time, directed a lipid-lowering program in a large medical center. 

Although my usual morning repast is dry whole grain toast, coffee and fresh fruit, I do get a hankering for excessive and less healthful gorgies every now and then. Don’t you? Eggs Benedict? A Belgian waffle? Lox and onions and eggs with a toasted bagel? A stack of pancakes topped with fruit and syrup? French toast and bacon? An omelet with toast and potatoes?

No, I don’t advocate eating that way every morning. On occasion, however, it sure feels good to indulge.  After sampling enormous and very expensive Sunday brunches at the Marriot and Intercontinental, I came away very impressed. Presentations, variety and quality were exemplary for what they were, marathons of elegant buffet foraging at premium prices. 

Noteworthy were the seafood at Intercontinental and the ambience at Marriott. La Luz at the Alta Hotel is also elaborate and expensive for Sunday brunch but is not served buffet style. Many other hotels including Melia Carriari, El Presidente, Del Rey and Courtyard by Marriott serve primarily or exclusively breakfast buffets. Still, not the kind of place to linger over coffee and chat or read the morning paper over breakfast.

Next option, Boston Bagel or one of the Bagelman outlets. Better, but still not on the mark. The bagels are decent by all but New York standards. The other options, sandwiches, including egg and cheese combos, and pastries, are not bad. Not quite the hummer quencher, but more conducive to breakfast table conversation and a quick trip across the headlines.

Desperate option, McDonald’s and other American fast food breakfasts, fail miserably. Hungering for a pancake, I tried them a few times. Home fries with eggs turn out to be deep fried, dripping fat, potato pancakes. Rubber scrambled or deep fried not so sunny sided eggs are the norm. No fluff or flavor in the pancakes.

Then there is Denny’s. No comment. I won’t pretend to know a place I’ve not visited here. Suffice it to say that comments from others have not caused me to want to visit.

Gallo pinto topped with an egg and served with corn tortillas is not bad, but doesn’t fulfill the old comfort food prerequisite. And if you ask for toast, the airy fresh loaves that taste so good warm out of the local panaderia oven, are dry and crumbly toasted. Sodas can be great but don’t do it for omelets and waffles. 

To satisfy other morning desires, coffee shops providing fresh fruit batidos, rich java and pineapple empanadas are wonderful. Another weekend option, but still not 

Dr. Lenny Karpman

On 
the 
food
we eat

 

the real gringo thing, is dim sum at Lotus or Don Wang or the Chinese Cultural Center.

To soothe our cravings, Joan and I go to Café de Artista, half a block off the main street in Escazú past Rolex Plaza. The tried and true menu, the pleasant and efficient service from Watson, the hospitality and conviviality of owner and former West Coast attorney William Hill, the artistically coifed walls and general ambiance are unchanged. 

The chef is new and seems to be doing nicely. Some of the daily specials are his. The breakfast choices are 10 specials every day and an 11th on weekends, including eggs Benedict with a decent Hollandaise sauce draping poached eggs on toasted English muffins, buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh fruit or syrup, a "supreme" version of the pancakes topped bananas and walnuts, a similarly topped Belgian waffle, stuffed French toast — New Orleans style, omelets (the "Richer" Mediterranean contains feta, spinach and mushrooms), bagels, lox and cream cheese, home fried potatoes, muffins, croissants, cinnamon rolls and mimosas on the weekends.

The luncheon menu is OK. Salads, soup, sandwiches and a few hot entrees are the fare. Favorites include tuna melt and barbecue sandwiches. It doesn’t strive to compete with gourmet venues, and you can order breakfast food any time of the day. 

If it were my call, I would add a slice of Canadian bacon or smoked ham under the eggs Benedict, serve the potatoes hotter and consider adding poached eggs atop corned beef hash if corned beef is available and not prohibitively expensive. 

Another addition might be a coffee refill for an appropriate cost, to make this American breakfast more traditional. Good luck to William and his staff and thanks for the comfort at very reasonable prices. 

Stars ´´
Cost: $-$$.

Open for breakfast and lunch everyday. 


 
Give her the simple life — with restaurants, of course
I get a lot of letters from readers asking me about living in Costa Rica (after all, what do I expect with the title of my column?).  Many ask what it would cost "to live a simple life" here.  I am not sure I can judge what the writers mean by "simple."  Just as one man’s treasure is another man’s trash,  one person’s simple is another’s luxury. 

Actually, my own idea of simple is pretty nebulous.  Mainly it is not accumulating a lot of "stuff."  Except maybe books.  It’s not being a big- time consumer, and being concerned enough about the environment not to pollute it any more than I can help, by recycling. 

Recycling not only helps to live simply. It helps to live more cheaply.  I live, for the most part, on products that are available in Costa Rica.  This is not entirely true.  I am delighted when some new product from the U.S. or Europe comes into the supermarket.  But I rationalize that is the global economy.

However, there are people living here who have built simple homes near a rainforest or in a small town, far from San José, who really live a simple life.  They grow their own organic crops, make their own bread, and survive very nicely without TV or telephone — or even electricity.  I could not do that.

My idea of simple includes going out to dinner — sometimes at friends’ homes and sometimes at restaurants.  This past week was a surfeit of delicious meals.  First came a dinner party — most of us actually have dinner now in the middle of the day — at Joan and Lenny’s where a multiple course Moroccan feast was served. 

My favorite courses were the lamb stew and Turkish coffee. I didn’t think I would eat again for at least three days, but that evening we had our perros calientes traditional supper at Sandy’s.  The sad fact seems to be that the more you eat, the more you can eat.  Hot dogs and baked beans never tasted so good. 

Saturday Sandy, Anabel and I celebrated the Chinese New Year at the special dinner (in the middle of the 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

day) at Tin Jo’s Asian restaurant.  Maria and Roberto, the owners, had prepared a really comfortable and fun buffet style dinner of a variety of very good Chinese dishes.  They also had a dragon dancer to entertain us. 

There were lessons in a number of things, including origami and the use of chopsticks.  They even had special activities for the children.  At the table next to us was this little boy of about 3, maybe 4.  I love little boys at that age.  Little girls already seem wise about the ways of the world and how to manipulate it.  Little boys don’t have a clue.  This little boy was wandering from his table looking quite at sea about what was going on. 

A bit later a dragon dance of children had formed and was parading through the restaurant.  The front child had a lion’s mask and the children behind were holding on to a long red canopy or each other ?— much like a conga line.  As they passed by our table we saw the little lost boy in the line, his head thrown back, and an expression of pure joy on his face as he passed his table, as if to say, "Look, Mom, I’m dancing!"  The three of us burst out laughing with him. 

Again I thought I couldn’t eat a thing for days, but that night I was hungry again!

So living the simple life, according to Stuart, sometimes seems pretty luxurious even to me.  And we come to the most important part of living in Costa Rica.  Simple or complicated, a life well lived needs friends.  And for whatever reason — I think partly because just the fact of having moved here preselects the people — it seems easier to come upon people you really like here.


 
Paper poducts company Kimberly Clark opens new distribution center
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Kimberly Clark Costa Rica S.A. inaugurated a $5 million distribution center in the Las Brisas industrial zone in San Rafael Arriba de Desamparados Thursday.

The paper products company will use the center to service its Central American distribution web. The new center will generate 45 jobs and about 50 indirect positions, said Casa Presidencial.

Among other items, the company distributes diapers.  The company has two planes, one in Cartago and one in San Antonio de Belén west of San José. 

These production facilities employ 784 persons, Casa Presidencial said.

President Abel Pacheco attended the inauguration and noted that the company has invested $32 million in Costa Rica in the last three years.


 
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Nicaragua wants to keep some hand-held missiles
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MANAGUA, Nicaragua ? Nicaraguan officials say that their country will not destroy its entire stockpile of Soviet-era portable missiles, which U.S. officials say could fall into the hands of rebels or terrorists.

Nicaraguan Defense Minister José Adan Guerra said Wednesday he told a U.S. State Department official, Rose Likins, that Nicaragua wants to keep 20 percent of the shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles for defense. 

Ms. Likins is leading a team of U.S. officials who went to Nicaragua this week to review progress by the country in destroying its arsenal of surface-to-air missiles. Nicaraguan officials say the U.S. team has been assured the weapons are being stored safely. But at last one has been offered for sale on the black market recently.

So far, Nicaragua has eliminated about half of the estimated 2,000 missiles. Nicaragua's Sandinista government bought the weapons in the 1980s to battle U.S.-backed Contra rebels.


 
Prime suspect in Christmas massacre caught in Texas
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Homeland Security officials say Texas police have arrested an alleged gang leader wanted in Honduras for a December bus attack that killed 28 people.

Officials said that the man was captured Feb. 10 during a vehicle stop and turned over to agents for the  U.S. Border Patrol

Investigators believe the suspect — the reputed head of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang in Honduras — was involved in a Dec. 23 massacre in which assailants forced a bus off the road and opened fire with assault rifles. Most of the victims were women and children.

The gunmen left a note challenging politicians who have taken a hard-line against organized crime. President Ricardo Maduro offered a $50,000 reward in the case.


 
Free trade area discussion generates optimism in D.C.
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? After consultations between U.S. and Brazilian trade officials, efforts to forge a free trade area of the Americas are moving in the right direction, said Richard Mills, assistant U.S. trade representative for public and media affairs 

The United States and Brazil are co-chairs of the agreement’s process, and trade officials from both countries met in Washington this week to move the process forward.

In a conference call Thursday with reporters, Mills said

 that the agreement remains a priority for the United States, and he said  that the consultations were constructive and narrowed some differences.

Mills acknowledged that establishing a balanced set of rights and obligations to guide agreement negotiations has been a unique and difficult goal, but he said it remains one worth striving for.

He noted that the co-chairs will meet again March 29-30 and hope to reconvene the full Trade Negotiations Committee in late April or early May.  Mills said that the United States hopes the latter session will establish a basis for moving the process forward.


 
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