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(506) 223-1327         Published Monday, March 17, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 54            E-mail us
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Domingo de ramas
A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas


Catholics in Desamparados began Holy Week observances with the traditional procession in remembrance of the arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. Here
Christ is a statue mounted on a horse instead of a donkey, but the effect is the same. Similar processions were held all over the country Sunday.


An analysis on the news
Discovery of rebel cash stash here raises questions

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The discovery of $480,000 in aging dollar bills in Heredia Friday is but a sample as more and more revelations come from three computers taken from a top Colombian rebel commander.

Both Costa Rican and Colombian officials are playing the situation close to the chest. The Colombian chief prosecutor simply confirmed the discovery and said little more in a Saturday television appearance.

The rebels, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, have been branded a terrorist organization by the United States and other nations because of their kidnappings, drug smugglings and attacks against the elected government of Colombia. But they have supporters and users of their product all over the world.

Two friends would be the former Universidad Nacional professor, Francisco Gutiérrez Pérez, 79, and his wife, a 52-year-old woman with the last names of Prado Rojas, in whose home agents found the money. That was in Santa Bárbara de Heredia, and the couple were not at home when the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad Nacional and the Judicial Investigating Organization came calling.

The professor is identified with leftist causes.

The Colombian prosecutor, Mario Iguarán, said the money belonged to Rodrigo Granda Escobar, a high official in the rebel organization. The worn cash was in a small safe. More than likely it was there since Granada was last in Costa Rica in 2000.

Colombians determined the location by reading an old e-mail from Granada to Raúl Reyes, who died when Colombian troops attacked his encampment just inside Ecuador March 1. Reyes was considered the rebels' No. 2 commander.

The military located three computers, which are proving to be a treasure trove of information about the rebel organization, its finances and its supporters. This is the evidence that Álvaro Uribe, Colombia's president, cited when he said that Hugo
Chávez, the Venezuelan president, had given $300 million to the rebel terrorists.

Infiltration by Colombian rebels is not new in Costa Rica, but most of the supporters were believed to be Colombians living here under a refugee program.

One, Héctor Orlando Martínez Quinto, fell into law enforcement hands Aug. 10, 2006. He had been living the life of a simple fisherman in Puntarenas. Investigators have since attributed to him the organizing of the Costa Rican fishing fleet as an arm of rebel drug smugglers.

The Pacific is a primary route for cocaine and heroin traveling north. The typical fastboats with their four big outboard engines are vulnerable to the joint U.S.-Costa Rican net covering the Pacific, so the fishing boats with their sheer numbers are able to transport drugs with less risk.

Agents also said that Martínez was in charge of buying weapons and other supplies for the rebels. He has been deported into the hands of Colombian officials.

Such activities cannot go on without some officials at least turning a blind eye. More revelations are likely to come from the Reyes computers. The questions remain:

• Were the rebels active in supporting politicians here. If so, who?

• Are there some highly placed Costa Ricans who have been in the pocket of the rebels for years?

• How about judges? Some detained for drug crimes seem to wiggle out of their jail time easily.

• But even more pressing is how far will the Óscar Arias administration follow the leads that are coming from the Colombian investigation? Or will administration higher ups keep the information secret for later strategic use against political enemies?

• And finally, do the Costa Rican people care that their country is being infiltrated by terrorists and is a highway for illegal drugs and drug money?



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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 17, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 54

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3437-4/1/08
hiding place for money
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Package of cash is pulled from truck floor

Truck subfloor yields cash
coming from México

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The cocaine that goes north through Costa Rica frequently comes back as dollars.

The Policía de Control de Drogas found one lot of cash being transported illegally by being hidden in the subfloor of a tractor's trailer. The cargo truck was coming from México, Officials said.

What made this haul different was that the money was in $10 and $20 bills. The total was $359,950, counting the $2,000 the truck driver had in his socks.

The discovery Friday took place at the Peñas Blancas station on the Nicaraguan border. The truck was carrying flour.
Detained was the driver, a 40-year-old Salvadoran man with the last names of Quintanilla Díaz.

The money was in 39 separate packages that had been pushed inside the metal beams of the truck bed. A special implement was needed to pull out the packets.

Transporting cash is not illegal if the individual doing so declares the amount. Not to do so is equivalent to money laundering.

Angry residents vent rage
on bus stuck in ditch


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

People had been angry at the bus company for a long time, said a police officer, so the accident was the perfect opportunity to show their rage.

A public bus passing through La Unión went into a ditch and flipped over Sunday morning, according to reports. The driver and one passenger were injured and taken to the hospital, said Gerardo Campos, a Fuerza Pública officer. The bus company, Tranporte Huba, according to Campos, had long been a sore spot for locals in the area.  Residents blamed the latest accident on faulty brakes.

“People were angry with the owners of the company and the bad service,” said Campos.

Angry residents smashed windows, climbed a top of the vehicle, and chanted in rage, according to reports. Campos said things were back to normal Sunday afternoon. People hoped this act would get some attention and perhaps a new bus service, said Campos.

U.S. air traveler suffers
effects of excess cocaine


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man from the United States was arrested Thursday shortly after he began to convulse on an airplane, said a security ministry spokesman. The man carried 65 packets of suspected drugs inside his body, according to a ministry spokesman.

The suspect has the last name Keller, 22, had just boarded a plane at the Juan Santamaría airport, when he began to shake violently and vomit, according to police reports. A packet of the cocaine he was smuggling inside of his stomach ruptured, according to the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

The plane was destined for Miami, Florida, but Kelly never made it, said the spokesman. He was rushed to the hospital and will later be placed in the hands of the Fiscalía Adjunta de Narcotráfico, said a spokesman.

According to the security ministry, drug smugglers, swallow the product very shortly before entering the airport. This is the third case of the kind this year, said the ministry.

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Police trainee killed as secruity guard opens fire on crowd
By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A woman training to be a police officer died early Sunday after a security guard began shooting at passing youths from inside a store complex, said a Fuerza Pública spokesman.

The victim, Mailyn Andrea Martínez Anchia, 21, was shot in the neck on Avenida 7 and Calle 3 at about 1 a.m. Sunday, according to reports. The Fuerza Pública identified her as a member of a basic class at the Escuela Nacional de Policía.

A group was gathered on the street and had just left a rock concert at a nearby bar, according to Luis Guerrero Sánchez, a guard at nearby Antiguo Poás. Guerrero estimated that there were more than 100 people in the street and he heard more than six shots fired.

Bottles were breaking and the Gothic-glad group were pounding on walls, according to one witness. “They were making all the noise they could. General mischief kind of stuff,” said Adam Bowser, who first heard the noise from his hotel.

The security guard accused of the killing has the last names of Roda Marroy, said the Fuerza Pública. He was working
at a building on Avenida 7. The shooting took place on the first floor of the building inside a beauty salon encased in windows. Bowser said he heard more than 12 shots and that when Fuerza Pública officers arrived the security guard would not come out. More shooting ensued, and finally police were able to bring the guard out of the building, tied up, said Bowser.

The windows were evidence of the violence Sunday morning. Although one glass pane had already been replaced, two bullet holes and one larger hole remained in the other windows Sunday afternoon. Occupants of the stores gathered there Sunday but declined to talk to a reporter.

Two men also were injured in the shooting. David Castro Goñi, 23, was shot in the leg, as was Rafael Sánchez Carrillo, 41, said the Fuerza Pública. The men were attended by Cruz Roja and taken to the nearest medical center, according to police reports.

Witness reports are mixed as to what provoked the shooting. One man said that the guard was actually at the rock concert earlier that night. The police have not yet confirmed any theory.  Roda was detained and the investigation will be handled by judicial officials, according to the security ministry.


Culture shakeup does not sit well with outgoing theater head
By Helen Thompson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The appointment of new directors to the capital's biggest cultural institutions has sparked criticism of María Elena Carballo, the minister of Cultura, Juventud y Deportes.

The Teatro Nacional, Teatro Popular Melico Salazar and Museo Nacional will all shortly be under new leadership, the ministry said last week.

By removing the original directors from their seats and replacing them with new blood, Ms. Carballo said that she would be providing the cultural sector with a more cohesive team and maintaining contact between the institutions.

This would be in line with the “Plan Nacional de Desarrollo Jorge Manuel Dengo,” inaugurated in January 2007, which demands better coordination between institutions of the public sector to increase efficiency and guarantee a better assignation of public resources, the ministry said.

As part of the shakeup, Ms. Carballo removed Ana Carboni as director of the Teatro Popular Melico Salazar, replacing her with Lina Barrantes, a long-time employee of the Fundación Arias para la paz y el progreso humano, and it was this move that drew a fierce response.

After 20 years of working for the culture ministry, Ms. Carboni was angered by her dismissal, the reason for which was given as lack of trust between her and the ministry.

Ms. Carboni was instrumental in making public the fact that Carlos Ovares Fallas, the ex-director of the Compañia Nacional de la Danza, used the ministry's money for a trip to Spain in October. Her investigation has been cited as the act that caused the ministry to be cautious of her. 

Ovares resigned Dec. 5.
Thursday, Ms. Carballo said that this was not the reason that she removed Ms. Carboni from her post, saying that the theater ex-director had acted according to the law throughout the investigation and that the ministry is emphatic in its support of transparency within the institution.

Ms. Carballo said that the decision to replace the original directors had been taken after a thorough analysis of the necessities of the institutions involved, for the effective accomplishment of the development plan.

Taking the place of Ms. Carboni, Ms. Barrantes has many  contacts in the international cultural field that could be beneficial to the ministry, and has organized various cultural events in the past.

The other new appointments are Rocío Fernández who will replace Francisco Corrales Ulloa as the director of the Museo Nacional from May onwards, and Jody Steiger, who will direct the Teatro Nacional.

Ms. Fernandez's background is as a culture journalist who won the Premio Nacional de Periodismo for her work on the Áncora cultural section of La Nación. She went on to direct the Museo de Arte Costarricense, and has recently been working at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

Her predecessor, Corrales, will go to work on an attempt to have the Parque de las Esferas, in the southern zone, declared a U.N. Universal Cultural Landscape.

Ms. Steiger started her career in the Teatro Nacional as a scene and lighting designer and has remained linked to it, becoming a member of the board of directors.

She has also been involved in projects such as the Sistema Nacional de Educación Musical and the rebuilding of La Aduana.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 17, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 54


Winter was chilly in U.S. and around globe, scientists say
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The average temperature across both the contiguous United States and the globe during December 2007 to February 2008 was the coolest since 2001, according to scientists at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

In terms of winter precipitation, Pacific storms, bringing heavy snow to large parts of the West, produced high snowpack that will provide welcome runoff this spring.

In the contiguous United States, the average winter temperature was 33.2°F (0.6°C), which was 0.2°F (0.1°C) above the 20th century average yet still ranks as the coolest since 2001. It was the 54th coolest winter since national records began in 1895.

Winter temperatures were warmer than average from Texas to the Southeast and along the Eastern Seaboard, while cooler-than-average temperatures stretched from much of the upper Midwest to the West Coast.

With higher-than-average temperatures in the Northeast and South, the contiguous U.S. winter temperature-related energy demand was approximately 1.7 percent lower than average, based on Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index.

Winter precipitation was much above average from the Midwest to parts of the West, notably Kansas, Colorado and Utah. Although moderate-to-strong La Niña conditions were present in the equatorial Pacific, the winter was unique for the above average rain and snowfall in the Southwest where La Niña typically brings drier-than-average conditions.
During January alone, 170 inches of snow fell at the Alta ski area near Salt Lake City, Utah, more than twice the normal amount for the month, eclipsing the previous record of 168 inches that fell in 1967. At the end of February, seasonal precipitation for the 2008 water year, which began Oct. 1, was well above average over much of the West.

Mountain snowpack exceeded 150 percent of average in large parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oregon at the end of February. Spring run-off from the above average snowpack in the West is expected to be beneficial in drought plagued areas.

Record February precipitation in the Northeast helped make the winter the fifth wettest on record for the region. New York had its wettest winter, while Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, and Colorado to the West, had their second wettest.

Snowfall was above normal in northern New England, where some locations posted all-time record winter snow totals. Concord, New Hampshire, received 100.1 inches, which was 22.1 inches above the previous record set during the winter of 1886-87. Burlington, Vermont, received 103.2 inches, which was 6.3 inches above the previous record set during the winter of 1970-71.

While some areas of the Southeast were wetter than average during the winter, overall precipitation for the region was near average. At the end of February, two-thirds of the Southeast remained in some stage of drought. Drought conditions intensified in Texas with areas experiencing drought almost doubling from 25 percent at the end of January to 45 percent at the end of February.


Mass grave of drug war victims found in Ciudad Juárez
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican authorities say they have found the remains of 33 people buried at a home in the Ciudad Juárez area, which borders the southwestern U.S. state of Texas.

Officials said Friday they believe the victims were killed by members of Mexico's Juárez drug cartel, which operates in the area. Ciudad Juárez has drawn attention in recent years due to a series of murders of women that have largely gone unsolved. Many of those victims were sexually assaulted.

Mexican authorities also say seven people were killed
  Thursday in a law office in the western city of Guadalajara, in what appeared to be another round in a string of recent drug-related slayings.

The law firm, Rangel Garcia and Associates, has high profile drug smugglers among its clients, including Joaquin Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel. Mexican newspapers report that some of the victims were found tied up and shot execution style.

Since taking office more than a year ago, Mexican President Felipe Calderón has launched a nationwide campaign to crack down on gangs and drug-related violence.


Four tourists freed after being taken hostage in Guatemala
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Guatemalan officials say protesting farmers in the eastern jungle have released four Belgian tourists taken captive Friday.

Officials say the four tourists were freed late Saturday following negotiations between the government and the kidnappers. Reports say the Belgians were exchanged for three members of a farmers' group who had been detained by local authorities.

The two Belgian couples were seized along with two
Guatemalan guides as they traveled up a river near the Caribbean coast by farmers angry over the arrest of a local community leader, Ramiro Choc. The farmers demanded to speak with Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom.

The kidnappers are from the same group of farmers who briefly held 29 policemen hostage last month, and made similar demands.

The mob freed the 29 hostages after the government agreed to discuss property issues and the possibility of dropping charges against the jailed farm leader, who was detained on charges that included illegal land invasion and robbery.


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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 weekday.

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.

Searching

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration deployed the final two tsunami detection buoys in the South Pacific last week, completing the buoy network and bolstering the U.S. tsunami warning system.

This vast network of 39 stations provides coastal communities in the Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico with faster and more accurate tsunami warnings. One is off Costa Rica's Pacific shore and another is off its Caribbean shore.

These final two tsunami stations, deployed off the Solomon Islands, will give forecasters real-time data about tsunamis that could potentially impact the Pacific coast, Hawaii and U.S. Pacific territories. Tsunami sensors are now positioned between Hawaii and every seismic zone that could generate a tsunami that would impact the state and beyond, including the U.S. West Coast. Buoys already in the western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean have been keeping watch over the U.S East and Gulf coasts.

Buoy stations consist of a bottom pressure sensor anchored to the seafloor and a companion moored surface buoy. An acoustic link transmits data from the bottom pressure sensor to the surface buoy, and then satellite links relay the data to tsunami warning centers. The network serves as the cornerstone to the U.S. tsunami warning system.

Other components of the tsunami warning system include tsunami warning centers, a network of tide and seismic stations, forecast models for at-risk communities, and a public preparedness and education program.

Since the Indonesian tsunami of December 2004, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has made significant upgrades to the U.S. tsunami warning system.

Pope urges end to Iraq war
during Palm Sunday Mass


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope Benedict XVI made a strong appeal for peace in Iraq at the end of Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter's Square. Thousands of people took part in the service, which marked the start of the Roman Catholic Church's Holy Week celebrations.

Just days after the body of the Chaldean Catholic archbishop in Iraq was found, the pope denounced the 5-year-old Iraqi war, which he said caused the complete breakup of Iraqi civil and social life.

Pope Benedict said: "Enough with the slaughters, enough with the violence, enough with the hatred in Iraq!" And the crowd of thousands of pilgrims broke out in applause.

The body of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was found Thursday near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The pope who has called the prelate's death an inhuman act of violence praised his loyalty to the church. The pope said the archbishop refused to abandon his flock, despite the many threats and difficulties. Benedict will be presiding over a Vatican memorial service today to honor Rahho.

Benedict also used the occasion to make an appeal to the Iraqi people. He called for them to raise their heads and reconstruct their life through reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and coexistence among tribal, ethnic, and religious groups.

The Palm Sunday service, which kicked off Holy Week celebrations for the Catholic Church, was attended by thousands of enthusiastic young people and festive pilgrims. They carried palm leaves and olive branches, which the pope blessed at the start of the mass.

For Christians, Palm Sunday marks the day the Church celebrates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The pope reminded them that Jesus did not enter the holy city to be crowned, but to be condemned and crucified.

He told the crowd that during Holy Week the faithful would be recalling the most sublime drama in history, the drama of salvation, when Jesus died on the cross. In his homily, the pope urged them to follow God with the innocence and purity of a child's heart.

The pope has a busy week of holy week ceremonies ahead of him, including a Passion of the Lord service and Way of the Cross at the Coliseum on Good Friday.



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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 17, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 54


bailando brazil

Brazilian group 'Bailando Brazil' will be performing to the music of traditional instruments during the Fiesa Brasileña held by the Costa Rica Women's Club


Brazilian flavors to entertain diners at Women's Club fundraiser
Brazilian musicians will be the guests at the Women's Club of Costa Rica's next fundraising night, filling the El Rodeo Country Inn in San Antonio de Belén with exotic sounds and dancing.

The Fiesta Brasileña offers a full night from welcome drinks and dinner to dancing and a silent auction.

Dance group Bailando Brasil will be in charge of the entertainment, dressed in elaborate costumes and dancing to the rythms of bossa nova and samba played on traditional Brazilian instruments.
The group has been around for a year and has performed in national events such as the Teletón 2007 and the Brazilian Carnival.

Proceeds from the $30 (15,000 colons) tickets, the raffle and auction go to scholarships for economically disadvantaged high school students and to the development of libraries in public and primary schools in Costa Rica.

The event takes place on April 5, at 6 p.m. For tickets and information, call 285-1276, from the Asociación de Residentes de Costa Rica on 233-1276 or mail fiesta@wccr.org.

Art Galleries ....

Rembrandt exhibition opens to high acclaim in downtown San José

Rembrandt etching
Hailed as the most important exhibition of the year, a collection of the Dutch master Rembrandt's etchings opened amid much praise Thursday.

The 48 etchings usually reside in Amsterdam's Rembrandt House Museum, where the artist lived for about 20 years from 1620-40. They were collaboratively chosen from a wider collection by Dora Maria Sequiera, the director of Museos del Banco Central and Ed de Heer, the director of the Rembrandt House Museum.

Although now better known for his marvelous paintings that capture intense emotion, facial expression, and deeply contrasted light and shadow, the etchings that are now on show in San José are considered by art buffs to be just as important.

“Rembrandt was the most influential and original etchers possibly of all time,” said de Heer. “He is a shining beacon because he changed etching from a reproductive medium to a fully fledged artistic medium.

“He used all sorts of different techniques to get all the possibilities out of the medium — he printed on copper plate, parchment, even sheepskin to make luxurious editions of prints. He didn't want any two to be the same.”

There is no sheepskin involved in this exhibition, as some of the finer materials are too fragile to export for exhibition in humid tropical countries like Costa Rica. The collection does, however,  but include something from each of Rembrandt's main themes.

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.

Read more - click here

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.

Read more - click here

Food...

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.

Click here to read more

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 ...
Prize-winning contemporary dancers to explore environmental issues

Dance takes on the environment this week, as prize-winning contemporary group Metamorfosis premieres its show “70% Agua.”

The Costa Rican dance group, which was honoured with 2007's national culture prize for best dance group, will bring together elements of theater, circus, video, photography and music to amplify the theme.

Water, its vital importance to human beings, and the problems that the world faces in finding enough water for all of its inhabitants is the idea that inspired the composition.

Read more - click here

Sunny days in San José complemented by free concerts

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 for the first concert, 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.

The final concert of the series will be on March 29, with trio Villegas playing some classic Spanish rock from 2 p.m.
Festivals ...
Flamingo Beach to be filled with magic this Easter

Easter celebrations will take to the beach on Easter Saturday as Playa Flamingo is filled with bonfires, BBQs and art.

An event called “Magic Playa” will be held by Asociación CEPIA, as a follow up to events it has held on the Guanacaste beach for the last two years running.

More than 400 people are expected at the event, where the summer delights of slightly charred BBQ food and outdoor drinking will be complemented by music, dancing, and a fire show.

Decoration is also not forgotten, with art group JAGUART putting on a display of local artists.

The charity that is putting on the show works with  children in the Guanacaste area, giving them the chance to participate in cultural and educational activities that they would otherwise not have access to.

It has held a circus and a fashion show in past years in order to raise funds.

It is hoping to raise $10,000 from selling the $20 entrance fees ($25 on the door) and fundraising during the evening, which would represent almost a tenth of the charity's annual turnover.

Read more - click here
International acts to make rare festival appearance in Costa Rica

Excitement is rising over the announcement of headline acts for Festival Imperial, Costa Rica's most highly anticipated music festival of the year.

Costa Rica is often missed off the list when world-famous bands are compiling their top international touring spots, but the second edition of the beer-backed festival is set to attract a few top names.

Two years ago, the first Festival Imperial brought Sting and Jamiroquai to Costa Rica, while also promoting national bands such as Gandhi and Malpais, and April 2008's edition of the event promises similar quality.

Read more - click here

Duran Duran in concert

British group Duran Duran will headline Festival
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

Teaching poker is like teaching golf
I’m terrible at golf but I love the game with a passion.

Some golf instructors get overly technical and teach the mechanics of the ideal swing.  That approach didn’t work for me.  So, I found a pro that didn’t insist that I learn Tiger’s swing.  He accepted my physical limitations and improved my game by focusing on the minimal golf skills that I have.

That same teaching approach applies to poker, too.  That’s why the online instructional course that I designed for www.PokerVT.com addresses the learning needs of both beginning and advanced players. 

In golf, no one learns to hit a draw, a fade, or a cut shot until they’ve been taught how to hit the ball straight.  Similarly, novice poker players need to learn how to “hit it straight” before taking on more difficult concepts.

While sophisticated plays can work in poker, if attempted by an inexperienced player, they’ll usually backfire.  Elaborate bluffs and check-raises are best left to experienced players.  It’s just like golf; don’t try to hit a tricky flop shot with that 25-handicap of yours!

You see, poker players are not all created equal.  Some learn faster than others because they have better people skills, card sense, or maybe they’re just downright smarter.  But all players should learn the game from the bottom and work their way up.  Don’t skip the valuable lessons that you’ll need to learn in order to improve your game.

A big mistake beginners make is that they jump ahead too quickly, looking for bigger, tougher games where they are simply outclassed.  You have to pay your dues in poker.  The game is just as much about bankroll management, ego, psychology, and emotional control as it is about learning starting hand requirements and basic probabilities.

In golf, some pros succeed because they can hit the ball a mile while others rely on their deadly putting skills.  On the pro poker circuit, some players win because they are super-aggressive while others succeed by playing a more controlled game.  There are many paths to success.  You just have to pick the one that works best for you.

I’m naturally aggressive so adopting an assertive poker style works best for me.  That approach won’t work for everyone, though.  That’s okay. 


But whatever poker style you do adopt, you must learn how to adjust your game in response to different situations.  In golf terminology, use all of the clubs in your bag.

Here’s one important distinction between golf and poker. In golf, it doesn’t really matter what your swing looks like as long as you get the ball in the hole.  In poker, your style does matter.  How you decide to play a hand greatly impacts the decisions that other players will make against you.

That’s because poker is a cat-and-mouse game.  Your objective is to play to your comfort level while injecting enough deception to cause your opponents to make mistakes.

For example, if an opponent thinks I bluff excessively, I’ll make an adjustment and will bluff less.  If another player believes that I’d never bluff on the river, well, you’d better watch out when I throw out that last big bet.

Golf and poker can be frustrating.  Golfers can struggle because they lack basic physical skills that limit their ability to succeed.  Poker players can face similar challenges on the felt.

You may never play poker like Doyle Brunson or golf like Tiger Woods but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to improve your game and have more fun.  Just find an instructor who will teach you a style of poker play that accentuates your strengths and de-emphasizes your shortcomings.


Visit www.cardsharkmedia.com/book.html 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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