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(506) 2223-1327       Published Tuesday, March 10, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 48      E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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How about some good news for a change?
Each day A.M. Costa Rica receives letters critical of the country. The Internet discussion lists are frequently negative, too. So it is with delight that the editors publish this missive from a Canadian couple who not only enjoyed their trip but are able to comment authoritatively on dental tourism.

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

 In 2008 on a visit to Costa Rica we had the good fortune to be guests at the beautiful Bed & Breakfast named Posada Mimosa.

On this visit our hosts Tessa & Martin Börner introduced us to a book Tessa had written entitled "Potholes to Paradise" (Available from Amazon).

Somewhere deep in this book was an item on dentistry in Costa Rica. We were intrigued by this and as we travelled we saw various places where there were offices doing all types of medical work including laser eye surgery and plastic surgery. We knew we both needed major dental work.

As seniors in Canada, with no dental insurance (dental Insurance was extremely expensive and requires 3 years of coverage before any major work could be done.), we needed to find an alternative.

We checked out some information from various sources on the Internet and contacted Tessa asking for a referral near their B&B. She got back to us recommending a dentist in Grecia (about 10 minutes by car, 30 minutes by bus and approximately 30 minutes from the airport in San José). She recommended Dr. Enrich González, gave us an e-mail address and telephone number.

We contacted him by e-mail sending photos of some of the work required, checked his schedule to confirm that he could accommodate us and arranged flights last month on Feb. 10 and 24.

At 10 a.m. Feb. 11 we were in his office for our first visit. During this appointment we had x-rays (including 1 panoramic) cleaning, assessment and study models done.

Later that day we received faxed estimates.

Our next appointment was Friday afternoon where we had the preparation work done for the implants (two each) and some work done by his brother,
a dentist in another specialty.

Saturday morning 9 a.m. for gum surgery.

Thursday morning 9 a.m. for root canal.

This is another specialty, and the specialist arrived with two assistants at Dr. González’ office. No need to find another address.

Friday, we returned to complete the work scheduled. This work included the resurfacing of a crown.

The cost for one was $3,145USD and the other $3,037USD. They accept credit cards.
The entire trip for each of us was approximately the price of one implant in Canada. Staying at Posada Mimosa was a wonderful place to recuperate.


• Do your homework (due diligence). There are many dentists doing work for people coming from all over the world to Costa Rica. As with anywhere, there are good dentists and other dentists.

• We also checked the Internet. In the search engine we entered "Dentists Costa Rica."

• Can they work within your schedules?

• Call your credit card company to advise them of the unusual activity.

• Implants require a second visit in 3-24 months. Oh, darn!!!

To add to our confidence, the day before we returned to Canada a retired dentist and his wife from Ontario checked in at the Posada and we were sitting around chatting and we shared our experience, the leaflet attached to the implants and our invoices. He examined the documents and told us we had the best implants available and really good prices.

We strongly recommend Dr. Enrich González, his excellent staff and colleagues. They spoke English and were all most accommodating.

Ellen Munro and Casey Van Dyk

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Lawmakers question Dobles
on controversial concession

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The outgoing environment minister subjected himself to questioning before the Asamblea Legislativa Monday and affirmed that he had not been involved in the study leading up to the award of a controversial concession.

The minister, Roberto Dobles, resigned Friday, effective today, as head of the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones. He had come under fire from opposition lawmakers over the award of a gravel concession to a company, Agricultura Mecanizada Chapernal S.A., in which his uncle holds a vice presidency.

The relationship is according to the Partido Acción Ciudadana, which also said the man is a first cousin of President Óscar Arias Sánchez. Both Arias and Nobles eventually signed the concession award, and the president's political opponents are now demanding that the president himself present his case to the government's ethics panel.

Dobles showed up at the legislature Monday with paperwork and said that the concession holder, Chapernal S.A., met all the requirements and that the Dirección de Geología y Minas recommended approval. He called the criticism directed at him unfounded.

Still, Acción Ciudadana is making a powerful case. In a summary sent to the press Monday the political party said that Chapernal S.A. is owned by Azucarera El Palmar in which the Dobles family holds shares of stock through a company called Morvill.

The political party also said that the concession was for five years with the annual value of the extracted gravel to be $2 million. Acción Ciudadana also said that the Municipalidad de Puntarenas opposed the concession award in April 2006, just before Dobles took office. The concession area is in Miramar along the Río Aranjuez.

Water company president
rejects AyA allegations

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The president of Tamarindo's private water company said Monday he rejects allegations made by a representative of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados.

In addition, the president, Claudio Cerdas of Servicios Beko S.A., said that problems with the water system began two days after his firm turned over the operations to the institute known as AyA.

Residents of Tamarindo and nearby communities suffered a water outage over the weekend, and AyA had to bring in tank trucks to charge the system. The company said that Beko had sabotaged the operations. Pumps were removed from wellheads. The AyA message also said that Beko was working against the public health.

Both AyA and Beko are involved in a long-running battle. Beko has had the water concession in Tamarindo for 15 years, and now AyA wants to run it. The government water institute received backing in a decision Tuesday by the  Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo. Cerdas said his firm turned the operation over to AyA within two days and made no effort to keep AyA employees from entering the land on which the operation was located.

Cerdas also suggested that the takeover was temporary and that his firm will prevail in future legal actions. Beko became the company to hate over the weekend when residents said the firm had done something to stop the water. The written message from AyA added to the unhappiness.

Cerdas noted that his firm built, developed and directed the water system for 15 years. His family is widely credited with developing Tamarindo.

Mysterious Bat Island
now has launch ramp

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The infamous Bat Island (Murciélago in Spanish) has been regarded by suspicious expats as the location of a secret C.I.A. base set up to control Latin America. More recently it was the supposed location of a Venezuelan invasion force.
The area is in far northwest Costa Rica, and the only regular visitors are fishermen and drug smugglers.

But now there is a launching ramp for boats there, thanks to the security ministry. The ministry said that it was increasing its presence there to combat illegal fishing and to cut drug routes.

Escazú Company expanding

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Schematic, the Internet marketing company, will inaugurate its new facilities in Plaza Robles, Escazú today. Attending will be President Óscar Arias Sánchez, said Casa Presidencial.
The company plans to expand and hire more Costa Ricans, Casa Presidencial said.

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Sixaola and Chirripó rivers are reported flooding again
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Caribbean coast has been hit again with heavy rains, and at least two rivers are running out of their banks and causing flooding.

The national emergency commission said that the Río Sixaola was flooding and restricting passage from the town of the same name to BriBri.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, which oversees the roads, said that the coastal highway on the Caribbean would be closed at least until 6 a.m. today while workmen blast a boulder that has slid onto the driving lanes. The restriction is in the vicinity of Hone Creek.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional blames the storm that hit the area over the weekend on high pressure located off the U.S. state of Florida. The high pressure area is channeling winds and moisture south into the Caribbean coast,it said.

The automatic weather station at Limón recorded 122.5 mm. (4.8 inches) of rain between 7 a.m. Sunday and 7 a.m.
Monday. From 7 a.m. Monday 16.8 mm (.66 of an inch) fell.

In Manzanillo the rainfall was nearly the same: 127.7 mm (5.0 inches) up to 7 a.m. Monday and 6.3 afterwards (.64 inch) after 7 a.m.

The problem, of course, was not the local rainfall but rainfall in the mountains that probably was heavier.

In addition to the Río Sixaola, the Río Chirripó was reported doing damage in the community of Agrodisa and preventative measures were being taken downstream.  Some communities were under two- to three-feet of water.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias declared an alert and opened two shelters, but no one was reported using them by late afternoon.

Although more clouds are expected over the Caribbean coast today, the weather institute said that winds would become reduced in force as the week wears on and that conditions would improve.

Free tour in southern zone among Orquestra Nacional's innovations for 2009
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Orquestra Sínfonia Nacional opens the 2009 season Friday evening with a repeat concert Sunday morning, and the year promises innovations.

At the end of March and early April, the orchestra will make a southern zone tour with free concerts in Golfito, Ciudad Cortes and San Vito as well as San Isidro de Pérez Zeldón. In October the orchestra will be in BriBri. For fans in the metro area there is "Carmen Burina" with the Coro Sinfónico Nacional Nov. 6 and 8.
The concert this weekend features pianist Jacques Sagot under the direction of Chosei Komatsu.

Among the works will be the "William Tell Overture" by Rossini and Dvorak's "New World Symphony."

The concerts June 26 and 28 will feature Midori Goto, the famed violinist.

In another break with tradition, the orchestra will be performing live for "The Nutcracker," put on by the Teatro Nacional at Christmastime.

Smugglers continue to use different methods to bring their goods through here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

By land, sea and air they come, "they" being drug smugglers.

The Guardacostas broke up a drug delivery Sunday when a patrol happened upon smugglers transferring packages containing cocaine from a fastboat to shore where they would be carried by horses or mules.

Law officers were able to confiscate 262 kilos of cocaine, some 576 pounds, some of it still in the boat and some dumped in the ocean. The smugglers escaped with some of the cocaine packed on an animal.

During the weekend the Fuerza Pública got a tip and found
a Cessna Centurion single-engine aircraft abandoned at the end of a rural strip. It carried a Mexican registration number.

The drug delivery Sunday was at Punta Burica in the extreme southwestern part of the country. This is a frequent delivery spot and rest stop for fastboat operators. The  confiscated crafts had two 100-horsepower motors.

U.S. Navy operations in the Pacific, supported by the Costa Rican Guardacostas continue to make life miserable for drug smugglers. So some boards are unloaded in southern Costa Rica and the drugs smuggled north by vehicles. Tractor-trailers frequently are found carrying drugs within secret compartments when they are searched at the Peñas Blancas border crossing to Nicaragua.

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The turnout for the initial lunch hour concert was surprising and included a number of tourists who worked the inaugural event in on their tour of the elaborate Teatro Nacional.
Teatro Nacional
Teatro Nacional photo

Lunch hour cultural event is a piano concert this week
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Teatro Nacional, basking in the success of its new approach to culture, presents four young pianists today for a lunch hour concert.

The concert is part of the theater's new Teatro al Mediodía. The four pianists are Jonatan Duarte, Carolina Ramírez, William Gómez and Josué González, all of the Instituto Superior de Artes. The works are classical compositions by Beethoven, Liszt and Chopin.

Even theater workers were surprised that the first
presentation of the mid-day effort filled much of the theater. That was Feb. 24. Organizers were clever and included the 30- to 40-minute midday show on the tours of the theater given at that time.

So a number of tourists were in the first audience and heard pianist Ramiro Ramírez and Raquel Ramírez, a mezzosoprano, inaugurate the series with a recital of songs by Costa Rican composers.

The admission for Costa Ricans and residents is 500 colons, about 90 U.S. cents. Tourists pay 5,000 colons, about $8.90, but the concert is included in the price of a theater tour.

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A.M. Costa Rica

users guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.


The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.


A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.


Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.


A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us

Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

Bolivia's Morales ousts
another U.S. diplomat

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bolivian President Evo Morales has ordered a U.S. diplomat out of the country in the second such expulsion since September.

The president Monday declared Francisco Martinez persona non grata, accusing Martinez of involvement in a conspiracy against the Bolivian government.

Last month, Bolivia's government accused Martinez of working with a former Bolivian police officer who, it alleged, infiltrated the state-run energy company YPFB on behalf of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

The French news agency, AFP Monday quoted Morales as alleging that Martinez was "in permanent contact with opposition groups during the entire period of the conspiracy," which, the president claimed, caused Bolivia's anti-government unrest in September.

The State Department called the expulsion order unwarranted and unjustified.  Martinez has served as second secretary at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz.

Last month, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in the Bolivian capital described as false accusations Morales' claims about a U.S. conspiracy.

This past September, the Bolivian president expelled the U.S. ambassador, Philip Goldberg, blaming him for inciting violent anti-government protests.  The U.S. State Department called Goldberg's expulsion a grave error and dismissed the accusation as baseless.

Last year, President Morales also ordered the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to cease operations in Bolivia, accusing agents of spying and supporting anti-government protests.  U.S. officials rejected those accusations as well.

Chavez says he'll respond
to Colombian incursions

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has warned Colombia against sending troops into Venezuelan territory in pursuit of rebels. Speaking on his weekly television and radio program Sunday, Chavez said he would respond to any such Colombian incursion by deploying Venezuelan warplanes and tanks.

Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said earlier this month Bogota has a right to pursue terrorists attacking his country wherever they are.  Colombian troops raided a rebel camp in Ecuador last March, killing 20 people, including senior rebel Raúl Reyes.

Chavez says Santos would be foolish to authorize a similar incursion into Venezuela.  Chavez said he spoke Saturday with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and reiterated that Venezuela does not seek a conflict with Colombia. Chavez has called Santos a threat to peace in South America and a pawn of the United States. 

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Latin American news digest
Amazon drought provides
measure of carbon absorption

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Amazon is surprisingly sensitive to drought, according to new research conducted throughout the world’s largest tropical forest.

The 30-year study, published this week in Science, provides the first solid evidence that drought causes massive carbon loss in tropical forests, mainly through killing trees.

“For years the Amazon forest has been helping to slow down climate change.  But relying on this subsidy from nature is extremely dangerous”, said Oliver Phillips, a professor at the University of Leeds and the lead author of the research.

“If the earth’s carbon sinks slow or go into reverse, as our results show is possible, carbon dioxide levels will rise even faster.  Deeper cuts in emissions will be required to stabilize our climate.”

The study, a global collaboration between more than 40 institutions, was based on the unusual 2005 drought in the Amazon.  This gave scientists a glimpse into the region’s future climate, in which a warming tropical North Atlantic may cause hotter and more intense dry seasons.

The 2005 drought sharply reversed decades of carbon absorption, in which Amazonia helped slow climate change.

In normal years the forest absorbs nearly 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide.  The drought caused a loss of more than 3 billion tons.  The total impact of the drought — 5 billion extra tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — exceeds the annual emissions of Europe and Japan combined.

“Visually, most of the forest appeared little affected, but our records prove tree death rates accelerated. Because the region is so vast, even small ecological effects can scale-up to a large impact on the planet’s carbon cycle,” said Phillips.

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