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(506) 2223-1327         Published Wednesday, May 7, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 90         E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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An A.M. Costa Rica editorial
Dall'Anese case needs a trained, professional eye
The article this newspaper published Tuesday about the visit of Francisco Dall'Anese to Miami leaves many troubling questions unanswered.

Dall'Anese, the fiscal general or chief prosecutor, said he was treated badly when he tried to enter the United States April 23. A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security gives a different account that, if true, means that Dall'Anese grossly exaggerated what happened.

Reporters here have come to the end of the line in trying to determine the truth. The U.S. spokesman cites the privacy act that keeps officials there from talking about specific persons. Dall'Anese has repeated his account before the assembled Corte Suprema de Justicia and in a letter to the foreign minister. He wants U.S. employees to be punished and the nation reimbursed for his roundtrip flight.

The situation should not be swept under the rug because if Dall'Anese is exaggerating that finding would reflect directly on his fitness to be fiscal general. If U.S. officials are stonewalling, some changes would be vital for Homeland Security.
The only correct course would be for Costa Rican magistrates to obtain the services of an independent and professional investigator who, with a privacy waiver from Dall'Anese in hand, could ask hard questions of U.S. officials in Miami. And, if necessary, hard questions should be asked of Dall'Anese.

Unlike the U.S. Embassy officials here who were apologizing even before they had full information on the case, Dall'Anese is not known for his diplomacy. He was in Miami to follow up on the bribery allegations facing former president Miguel Ángel Rodriquez.

A former Alcatel executive who admits paying $2.5 milllion in bribes to win a cellular telephone contract is in custody in Miami and is a key witness.

Dall'Anese left in a huff without talking to the man. This puts the case in jeopardy.

So it is essential that a trained individual press to obtain the facts of the case and to make the findings public.
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Hospital visitors were decked out in red noses
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wearing a red clown's nose, Cristopher Bonilla Suarez, 5, went to the Hospital Nacional de Niños to give some drawings to Hunter “Patch” Adams, a man who symbolizes cheer to the boy.

Bonilla, from Villa Bonita, Alajuela, drew “Patch” with his cat and sat in the waiting room of the hospital to fulfill his wish.

Bonilla, who was paralyzed in his legs, has had hospital attention every month in the Centro Nacional de Rehabilitación since he was born.  He said that his only hope is to study so he can be a veterinarian and help the animals.

“The doctor is a good man, because he makes a lot of people smile. His red nose and the big clown shoes in the movie are the funniest things,” said Bonilla, whose knowledge of Adams comes from the movie that carries his name.

Bonilla's mother, Karla Suarez Zamora, said that two years ago the boy did not walk but now he is able to walk very well. Suarez said that her son first learned to swim because the problems in the legs made walking so difficult.

Adams, 63, is a medical doctor, social activist, citizen diplomat, professional clown, performer,
youngster waiting for Patch Adams
A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Karla Suarez Zamora and son Cristopher Bonilla Suarez, 5, await a brief visit by Patch Adams.

and author. He founded the Gesundheit Institute in 1972 in Hillsboro West Virginia.

Robin Williams played the young doctor in the movie. The principal idea in the film and in Adams' version of treatment is that “smile medicine” and not just prescribed drugs help people who are sick. His institute organizes trips for clowns all over the world.

Those who were waiting for Adams in the hospital lobby were disappointed that he raced through and vanished into an elevator. He only had a few words for newspeople. A crowd had gathered in hopes of a longer appearance. Many wore red clown noses.

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Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo
Hui Liangyu, vice prime minister of China, receives a floral tribute upon arriving in Costa Rica Tuesday. Also pictured is Wang Xiaoyuan, the People's Republic ambassador here.

China allocates cash
for Costa Rican projects

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The vice prime minister of China, Hui Liangyu, reached an agreement with Costa Rican officials Tuesday night for loans and an additional $10 million grant to buy new police cars.

The visiting Chinese delegation met for a working session at the foreign ministry after a day of meeting with legislators and President Óscar Arias Sánchez.

Casa Presidencial said that the vice prime minister showed interest in the Peace with Nature proposal and the Consensus de Costa Rica. Both are international initiatives by Arias.

The Peace with Nature plan would cause Costa Rica and, by extension, other countries, to balance their emissions of carbon dioxide. The consensus encourages First World countries to relieve debt for developing countries that channel their budgets into education and social programs instead of the military.

Costa Rica broke with Taiwan a year ago, and the People's Republic has promised to construct a new $60 million soccer stadium.

Mystery pedophile sought
in INTERPOL world sweep

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The International Police Agency is asking for the public's help in identifying a man pictured sexually abusing children in a series of images found on the Internet and retrieved from the computer of a convicted pedophile.

The man, whose name, nationality and location are unknown
mystery man
Man being sought
is featured in approximately 100 images in a series of around 800, which are believed to have been taken in Southeast Asia and depict the sexual abuse of at least three boys aged between 6 and 10 years old. The first pictures of the man were originally discovered by police in Norway in March 2006.

“The law enforcement community around the world has done all it can to find this man who clearly presents a danger to young children, and we are now asking the public to help identify this predator and protect other potential victims from abuse,”
said Ronald K. Noble, secretary general of the International Police Agency.

In October the police agency used a similar method, issuing an unusual appeal over the Internet for the capture of a suspected pedophile from Canada. Eleven days later, the Royal Thai Police arrested the suspect, Christopher Paul Neil, 32. Neil was taken to Thailand's Royal National Police headquarters in Bangkok after his capture in the north of the country.

The appeal issued in October was to help identify and catch a man shown in Internet photos, allegedly performing lewd acts with at least 12 young boys in Cambodia and Vietnam.
The photos showed the man's face distorted by a digital swirl pattern, but authorities in Germany were able to unscramble the pictures and reveal Neil's face. A manhunt ensued.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 7, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 90

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Tourism institute may try some non-standard ad techniques
By Helen Thompson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

New Yorkers out for a stroll may soon find themselves listening to the sounds of the Costa Rican rainforest and the yodelling of tourists on a zip-line tour every time they pass by a telephone booth.

In San Francisco, unsuspecting drivers may find themselves following a bus painted with leaves and flowers, with the legend “Costa Rica – No artificial ingredients” emblazened upon its side.

Camouflaging methods of public transport and blue-toothing mobile phones with the exotic sounds of Costa Rica's tourist destinations are two ideas the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo has incorporated in its strategic marketing plan for sustainable tourism, announced Tuesday.

Lasting from 2008 to 2010, the marketing plan budgets $14 million for the first year alone.

“We want to be proactive not reactive,” said María Amalia Revelo, subdirector of marketing for the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. “These are some of our newest and most innovative ideas.”

Other plans are more mundane. Emphasis is placed on the importance of the Internet, with the intention of bettering the institute's Web site so that tourists will be able to access information more easily. An online campaign will place ads for Costa Rica with links to strategic pages in the most common search engines, such as Google.

Pamphlets and brochures about travelling to Costa Rica will be distributed in airports, to target the people who recommend the country to friends and family. Statistics from Liberia airport show that almost half of visitors came to Costa Rica due to personal recommendations, and it is hoped the materials will aid this process.

Costa Ricans themselves will also have efforts dedicated to them. Ms. Revelo said that the national market is essential to the strategy. She said that the institute will work together
with local municipalities and cámaras de turismo to open up new destinations where Ticos can go to relax.

The plan will also try to do away with the low-season slump, mainly in May, September and October, by catering to niche markets. Honeymooners from the United States, families, especially those from Britain, and people who come to fish are top of the list of those who will be targeted by new low-season packages.

Considering that the tourists who come to Costa Rica have been proved to be affluent, educated and mainly American, the strategy includes advertising in higher-class tourist magazines such as Conde Nast and the American Association of Retired Persons Magazine. Costa Rica will also continue to make its presence felt at international tourism expositions on other continents.

“We need to do more to take the product to the consumer,” said Ms. Revelo. “If the tourist can't see the product in their own homeland, they will never end up in Costa Rica.”

Despite the economic slump, there is still a high focus on the United States of America as the prime market for Costa Rica as a tourism product, with the plan dedicating 30 percent of its funds to the country.

Opening up to new markets is also a top priority though, with 23 percent dedicated to Europe and Asia, and 8 percent headed to Latin American countries such as Argentina and Mexico.

“The American depression has global effects, and for us it is a challenge, but one that we want to confront,” said Carlos Ricardo Benavides, minister of Turismo. “With the strength of the euro rising, it makes it easier for Europeans to travel, and we are optimistic about the possibilities of tapping this market, especially with the direct charter flight from London to Liberia.”

Ms. Revelo said that the tourism institute has worked closely with private businesses in the development of the plan in order to draw on all the experience and knowledge available.

National origin on 2007 tourists still a mystery to institute
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Optimistic figures about the number of tourists arriving in Costa Rica in 2007 have been provided by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo, but officials say they are still unsure where these tourists came from.

Tourism officials are quick to promote data stating that 1.9 million tourists came to Costa Rica last year, saying that this is a 12.9 percent increase on 2006, but detailed figures of which nations these tourists came from have not yet been released.

“We hope to be able to release those figures within the next month,” said María Amalia Revelo, deputy manager and marketing director of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. The institute obtains the date from the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería.
Before the data is released, it will not be clear whether the increase is due to more affluent tourists from the United States, Canada and Europe, or whether larger numbers of people from poorer neighbouring countries are entering Costa Rica on tourist visas.

Although the first trimester of 2008 is said to have registered a 17 percent increase in the number of tourists flying into Liberia airport on last year's high season figures, some are left wondering where the tourists are going to.

“I'm not in the hotel business, but speaking to other people who are, some say they have seen a drop of up to 75 percent in the number of tourists coming to Tamarindo,” said Shawn Maricle, a broker for Century 21 in Tamarindo. “The airport figures say more people are coming, but a lot of people go back and forth from San José – maybe they are put in as tourists and that accounts for the rise.”

Guachipelín furnitue store owner becomes target of successful hit in Zapote
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men on a red motorcycle sped by Ana Julia Quiros's BMW Monday night, according to police. Just as Ms. Quiros stepped out of her SUV, a man shot her in the left side of the head, killing the woman who was with her husband and father in Zapote, said a Fuerza Pública officer.

Ms. Quiros, 43, was the owner of a furniture store, and lived in Guachipelín de Escazú, said a judicial spokeswoman. The assassin only shot one time, and no one else was injured, said Gloría Alvarez of the Fuerza Pública
in Zapote. “They wanted to assassinate her,” said Ms. Alvarez.

Ms. Alvarez did not say why someone might have wanted to put out a hit on Ms. Quiros. The Judicial Investigation Organization is handling the case, she added.

Ms. Quiros had been driving the vehicle and was with her husband, father, and another woman who may have been a family member, said Ms. Alvarez. The woman was killed in Quesada Dúran, Zapote, at about 8:30 p.m., said Ms. Alvarez. 

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 7, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 90

Tropical creatures will get brunt of warming, scientists say
By the University of Washingotn news service

Polar bears fighting for survival in the face of a rapid decline of polar ice have made the Arctic a poster child for the negative effects of climate change. But new research shows that species living in the tropics likely face the greatest peril in a warmer world.

A team led by University of Washington scientists has found that while temperature changes will be much more extreme at high latitudes, tropical species have a far greater risk of extinction with warming of just a degree or two. That is because they are used to living within a much smaller temperature range to begin with, and once temperatures get beyond that range many species might not be able to cope.

"There's a strong relationship between your physiology and the climate you live in," said Joshua Tewksbury, an assistant professor of biology.

"In the tropics many species appear to be living at or near their thermal optimum, a temperature that lets them thrive," he added. "But once temperature gets above the thermal optimum, fitness levels most likely decline quickly and there may not be much they can do about it."

Arctic species, by contrast, might experience temperatures ranging from subzero to a comparatively balmy 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They typically live at temperatures well below their thermal limit, and most will continue to do so even with climate change.

"Many tropical species can only tolerate a narrow range of temperatures because the climate they experience is pretty constant throughout the year," said Curtis Deutsch, an assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Our calculations show that they will be harmed by rising temperatures more than would species in cold climates.

"Unfortunately, the tropics also hold the large majority of species on the planet," he said.

Tewksbury and Deutsch are lead authors of a paper detailing the research, published in the May 6 print edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The work took place while Deutsch was a postdoctoral researcher in oceanography at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The scientists used daily and monthly global temperature records from 1950 through 2000, and added climate model projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for warming in the first years of the 21st century. They compared that information with data describing the relationship between temperatures and fitness for a variety of temperate and tropical insect species, as well as frogs, lizards and turtles. Fitness levels were measured by examining population growth rates in combination with physical performance.
beetle on leaf
Kimberly Sheldon, University of Washington
This leaf beetle, which lives in the cloud forest on the east slope of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador, is from the family Chrysomelidae. Climate change could have a much bigger impact on such tropical species than scientists previously thought.

"The direct effects of climate change on the organisms we studied appear to depend a lot more on the organisms' flexibility than on the amount of warming predicted for where they live," Tewksbury said. "The tropical species in our data were mostly thermal specialists, meaning that their current climate is nearly ideal and any temperature increases will spell trouble for them."

As temperatures fluctuate, organisms do what they can to adapt. Polar bears, for example, develop thick coats to protect them during harsh winters. Tropical species might protect themselves by staying out of direct sunlight in the heat of the day, or by burrowing into the soil.

However, since they already live so close to their critical high temperature, just a slight increase in air temperature can make staying out of the sun a futile exercise, and the warming might come too fast for creatures to adapt their physiologies to it, Tewksbury said.

The work has indirect implications for agriculture in the tropics, where the bulk of the world's human population lives. The scientists plan further research to examine the effects of climate change, particularly hotter temperatures, on tropical crops and the people who depend on them.

"Our research focused only on the impact of changes in temperature, but warming also will alter rainfall patterns," Deutsch said. "These effects could be more important for many tropical organisms, such as plants, but they are harder to predict . . . ."

More evacuations ordered as volcano in Chile dumps up to a foot of ash
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A volcano in southern Chile has started spewing lava again, prompting officials to order a total evacuation of residents still living in the area.

More than 4,000 people have already been evacuated from
the nearby town of Chaiten since eruptions began Friday.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet oversaw the evacuation on Monday of Futaleufu, a small town on the border with Argentina and about 160 kilometers (about 100 miles) southeast of the volcano.  Some areas in the town had as much as 30 centimeters of ash, about a foot.

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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.

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Contacting us

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

Panama's president with Bush
White House photo by Chris Greenberg
Martin Torrijos shares a few moments with George Bush at the White House.

Bush promises to push
Panamá free trade deal

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President George Bush and his Panamanian counterpart, Martin Torrijos, have met at the White House and discussed bilateral trade and other issues.

Addressing reporters after the talks, Mr. Bush said the issue of a free trade deal with Panama should be a priority for the United States.

The president said he will do everything possible to get Congress to approve the deal, along with pending agreements with Colombia and South Korea.  Torrijos thanked the U.S. president for his efforts.

Panama and the United States signed the deal last June.  Some U.S. officials have said the agreement may be in jeopardy because the head of Panama's national assembly is wanted by the United States for the 1992 killing of a U.S. soldier. 

The politician, Pedro Miguel Gonzalez, denies any role in the death of Sergeant Zak Hernandez Laporte.

Gonzalez also denies involvement in the attempted murder of another American soldier in Panamá.  He was acquitted in a trial about a decade ago.  Separately, Gonzalez says in a letter to President Torrijos that he will not seek re-election to the assembly post.  Gonzalez's term ends in early September.

Drowning victim identified

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. man who drowned Sunday was Nicholas Johnson, said a spokeswoman from the Morgue Judicial Tuesday.

Johnson, 28, was believed to be from Oregon and was on vacation at Lake Arenal. Johnson had an accident while in a kayak. The man was found in the early afternoon by boaters. He was believed to have been visiting Nuevo Arenal. Officials said that the lake was turbulent because of strong winds.

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Russian and Uruguayan artists play Teatro Nacional
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Uruguayan conductor and a Russian pianist are the invitees for this weekend's Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional concert in the Teatro Nacional.

Famous Russian pianist Andrei Pisarev, whose style of interpretation has been said to closely coincide with that of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, will be performing works by Berlioz, Smetana, Chopin and Mussorgsky.

He will be conducted in these pieces by the Uruguayan Giséle Ben-Dor, who has conducted with symphony orchestras all over the world and who is now the Conductor Laureate with the Santa Barbara Symphony, in California. She has held the post since 2006.

This year she is also invited to conduct with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Israel Symphony, and Bern Symphony Orchestras, among others. In the past she has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops orchestra.

Pisarev will play Hector Berlioz's “Overture to King Lear,” a
piece he is said to have written in Nice in 1831, after he had decided not to assasinate his ex-fiancée. It is based on the Shakespeare play.

The program also includes Czech composer Bedrich Smetana's opera “The Bartered Bride”, a comic piece based on Czech myths; Chopin's “Concerto for piano and orchestra No. 2”; and to finish he will interpret Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky's “Pictures at an exhibition,” which describes the paintings of his friend, the artist Viktor Hartmann, through music, and is one of the composer's best known pieces.

Pisarev started studying piano at the age of seven, and is now a professor at the Moscow Conservatory. He has won prizes for his participation in the International Mozart Competition and the Rachmaninoff Piano Competition.

The concerts take place at 8 p.m. on Friday and at 10.30 a.m. on Sunday at the Teatro Nacional in downtown San José.

Entrance costs from 3,000 colons ($6) to 9,000 colons ($18), and tickets can be bought from the theater box office on telephone number 2221-5341, or by logging on to

Play it safe in tournament poker
There’s a misconception about tournament poker that goes like this:  Players need to try frequent sophisticated bluffs and make lots of risky moves to maintain an unpredictable image and to win. 

Well, there might be some truth to that in small buy-in tournaments, or even online poker tournaments where the blinds and antes escalate quickly.  But on poker’s biggest stage, the World Series of Poker, nothing could be further from the truth.

The best tournament players actually try to avoid risky plays altogether.  They prefer to wait for their opponents to make the risky moves.  They’ll wait patiently until they catch a strong hand.  When they do, they’ll take down their overly aggressive foes.

Watch any tournament on television and you’re sure to see some no-name player at the final table.  Chances are you’ll never see him again.  Sure, you’ll occasionally you’ll see an unknown player win using ultra-aggressive tactics, but trust me, that kamikaze style just doesn’t work consistently.

You see, great players will play a wide range of dealt cards but they’ll never risk a large percentage of their chips on a marginal hand.  When they do push in their chips, they’ll have a premium hand to back up their bet.  In situations where it’s unclear whether they have the best hand, the best players will choose to play it safe. 

To be sure, playing it safe isn’t a flashy style of poker.  Some even claim that it’s too weak and passive.  That being said, playing safe poker is still a proven recipe for success in the world’s biggest poker tournaments.

That’s because the goal in high-stakes tournaments is to win lots of small pots without the risk of going broke.  Of course, you’ve got to occasionally win a big pot too.   Just stay patient.  Eventually, some hyper-aggressive player will go crazy with a bluff when you do have a premium hand.  Or, he won’t believe you when you have a strong hand and he’ll call your big bet.  It’s bound to happen.

Don’t get me wrong, bluffing is a critical part of the game.  It’s a weapon all pros use in tournament play.  They just won’t bluff nearly as often as you think.

Also, professionals will tend to make smaller, more controlled bluffs to minimize their risk.  If they get caught, well, that’s not the end of the world.  A failed bluff could easily payoff later in a much bigger pot when the pro has the unbeatable hand. 

Now, you will have to change up your game when you become short-stacked in a tournament.  You’ll be forced to make more risky plays.  Just be sure you don’t push the panic button too quickly!  Skilled players realize that a short stack doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on patient play.  In poker, unexpected situations can occur at any time but you have to wait for the right opportunity.

If you do choose to run a bluff, don’t be afraid to put your table image to work.  When other players observe that you don’t bluff often, that’s the time to confuse them with a little well-timed deceit.

And always pay attention to the skill level of your opponents.  Big buy-in events attract players with a wide range of poker ability.  If you find yourself seated at a table full of bad players, running a risky bluff would be foolish.  Instead, wait for a good hand and hope you’re called.

That same approach won’t be quite as effective against highly skilled players; they’ll know just what you’re up to.  Against tough players, you’ll have to bluff occasionally, but again, not as often as you think.

Visit for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, "Hold’em Wisdom for All Players."
© 2008 Card Shark Media.  All rights reserved.

Art Galleries ...
Art Biennial breaks down national stereotypes

A work of art that involves only a metal key is among the most acclaimed piece in the Museo de Arte Costarricense's latest exhibition.

Also on display are old Caterpillar boots, a patchwork quilt and a foosball table, all aimed at breaking down the stereotypes that exist between Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans.

As Nicaraguan migration into Costa Rica continues, so do tensions between the two national groups.

The U.S. Department of State's most recent estimate was that up to 15 percent of the population of Costa Rica is made up of Nicaraguans who have migrated here mainly in search of work.

Read more - click here


"Cuenca Compartida" by Ruth Morenco Wasserman, showing the Rio San Juan which divides the countries
Dramatic Arts ...
Salsa and big band collide in a night of dinner and dancing

Music students of Pérez Zeledón and salsa-dancing fans of the group Son de Tikizia are preparing for a night of dinner and dancing to be held in the capital of the province.

The big band of the town that calls itself Pérez Zeledón, but whose actual name is San Isidro del General, will join dancers from the Universidad Nacional to present Cena Bailable May 23.

A concert by the 25 members of the big band will start off the evening, which will continue with a buffet-style dinner and end up with dancing.

The big band musicians are all students of the Escuela de Música Sinfónica de Pérez Zeledón, Universidad Nacional, and will be interpreting everything from jazz to 
popular under the  direction of  Leonel Rodríguez Cambronero.

Cambronero is a member of the Cuarteto Trombones de Costa Rica  and the Costa Rican salsa group Son de Tikizia.

The second of these will be playing their highly acclaimed tunes after dinner for everyone to dance to.

During the performances of the two bands, the Universidad Nacional's dance group “Katuir” will be giving dance demonstrations.

The night takes place on May 23 at 7 p.m., in the Rancho Don Beto, La Ceniza.

Entrance tickets are 8,000 colons ($16), including the dinner, and can be bought in the buildings of the Escuela de Música Sinfónica de Pérez Zeledón.
More information can be found on 2771 6498.

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

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

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