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(506) 2223-1327       Published Tuesday, May 26, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 102     E-mail us
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Lady wrestler and Idol wannabe lead 'celebrities'
NBC is banking on strange remake here of 'Gilligan'

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. network NBC plans to send 10 so-called celebrities here to brave the Costa Rican jungle and be afflicted on command by various tribulations delivered long-distance by viewers.

This was the show that was supposed to star the defrocked governor of Illinois.  But the judge would not let him out of the country. So his wife has been nominated. It's called "I'm a Celebrity! Get Me Out of Here!

It's not quite clear to what jungle they are headed.
ex-governor
One will not be here.
Not many places in Costa Rica are more than a 10-minute walk to a cold Imperial.

Presumably maurading bands of white-faced monkeys will torment the visitors while they keep on the lookout for lions and tigers and bears.

The fact is the most dangerous animal in the country is the crackhead
cell phone street robber. But they mostly are not in the jungle. NBC must have been thinking of the upper Amazon or Africa. Or maybe our own Jurassic Park.

A little more than three years ago the then-environment minister was assaulted and mugged in the Parque Nacional Corcovado by a mama danta or tapir. She knocked him into the middle of next week when he approached her kids, and he was lost for three days.

That jungle is so dangerous that nothing else happened to the stricken politician.

The NBC crew could choose the high Talamanca instead. Then the celebrities would have to watch out for members of the Syndicato Nacional de Productores de Marijuana who kind of dominate that section of Costa Rica. And it may turn out that after sampling some of the local product the celebrities may not want to be gotten out of there.
celebrity gang
NBC promo photo
The celebrities: Stephen, Sanjaya, Torrie and lovebirds Heidi and Spencer. Costa Rica's mosquitoes are anxious to meet Torrie.

Of course, an evening swim in the Río Tarcoles is not recommended. There are dangerous areas and four-meter crocs. But most are so well fed from tourist guides that a bony celebrity would not be inviting.

Seven participants already have been chosen. They include, according to promotional material, World Wrestling Federation pro Torrie Wilson, American Idol wannabe Sanjaya Malakar, acting duo Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, model Janice Dickinson, former NBA player and full-time vegan John Salley and Stephen Baldwin, known for his 18-inch biceps.

You can't make this stuff up. Three spots still are open, according to the show Web site. Gilligan and Mary Ann could not make it. The premier will be Monday.

There is a chance that a local television station is planning a competing show: "I'm a Tico! Get me out of here."  They are reported to be enlisting 10 Costa Ricans to drop them unannounced into downtown Chicago. What Tico could stand the icy wind roaring off Lake Michigan for long.

For that matter, why would anyone NBC sends ever want to go back to Chicago in the first place. Maybe they should rename the show: "I'm happy as heck. Just leave me alone."



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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 102

Costa Rica Expertise
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Our readers' opinions
There are schools outside
the high-cost metro area


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

While I appreciate Mr. Baker's informative article about working in Costa Rica, and it is a good warning to many, it seems to perpetuate the myth that San José IS Costa Rica.  There is much more to the country than the Central Valley, and there are language schools located all over the place.  Granted, most of them are located in the Central Valley but not all and perhaps Mr. Baker's information would have been more complete by pointing this out. 

Also talking about living expenses is tricky.  I have known people who taught English in San José and lived in a room in someone's house for cheap.  It wasn't the best place in the world but suited the person living there and gave them a good cultural immersion.  Living situations are usually cheaper outside the Central Valley, with some exceptions, of course. 

And it is possible to travel throughout the country inexpensively on your off time using buses and staying at small, cheap places, many of which have small kitchen facilities.

That being said, I would never encourage anyone to take a job here who had not been here at least once, especially if there is a one-year committment involved.  While it is paradise to many of us, others may be in for a rude surprise if they haven't check it out first.
Harriet Smith
Bijagua

He holds similar views,
and is called too negative


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have been widely criticized for holding the same opinion as expressed in Mr. Baker’s article May 25 about non-citizens/non-residents seeking work in Costa Rica. I am active on some forums devoted to living in Costa Rica, visiting, etc., and always used to jump all over inquiries like ”I am a recent college grad/long-time teacher/young person interested in teaching, and would like to move to Costa Rica  . . . .” with the intent of quickly discouraging such an action.

My opinions have mostly been met with reactions such as I am too negative, or too mean, or too something or other considered to be less than acceptable behavior on a Web forum, so I have pretty much stopped replying to such inquiries. Personally, I believe that, as Mr. Baker pointed out, Costa Rica is NOT a serious destination for non-Ticos for purposes other than tourism, retirement, or investment (and, I have trouble with the idea of investing here long-term, expecting anything like a normal return on investment).

I further believe that it is not doing any of these young people with stars in their eyes, and otherwise unrealistic pictures of life in Costa Rica one bit of good to be encouraged in these mistaken ideas.

Perhaps some of the moderators and administrators of Costa Rica-related Web sites and forums will take Mr. Baker’s knowledgeable article to heart, and find a way to include this information on their various Web sites, in an effort to help some misguided people avoid making what could well be a very grave mistake.
John G. Dungan, RN
El Aguacate

Frugal teacher disputes
some aspects of story


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I enjoyed your article about living and working in Costa Rica. However, some of your information is not accurate. I moved to Costa Rica in August 2008 and have first-hand experience.

First, a TEFL. TEOSL etc. certificate may cost $2,000 in Costa Rica but that usually involves a homestay etc. I obtained my certificate for $200 online and it has been honored at two schools that I have worked at: Berlitz and Idioma.

Second, my rent is $225, and it includes my own room and bathroom in a lovely house in La Uruca that includes water, electricity, wifi and cable Internet, cable TV etc.
Third, food is expensive, but if you avoid buying imported foods, one person can live quite nicely spending approximately 50 to 60 a week on food, especially if you shop at the local ferria and stores like Pali.

Fourth, it is true that the split schedules at the schools are difficult especially in the rainy season, but if you are resourceful, you can find positions close to your home, which makes it a bit more tolerable. Yes you are correct, Costa Rica is not the place to make money teaching English. However, I was able to make between $600 to $700 a month and, considering my cost of living, that was enough money to have a pleasant life. At the moment, I am teaching private students — my preference and depending on what you charge, you can also make enough money to live.

Thank you for taking the time to read my e-mail. I hope that you take this opportunity to amend your article so it more accurately reflects the cost of living and working in Costa Rica.
Amy Frank
La Uruca

Puppy produces a pain
to get through customs


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Can any of your readers offer me advice or a direction to solve a problem?

Of very late I have been having problems with Aerocasillas/Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia in that they have “apparently” changed their policies on allowing pet products into Costa Rica.

The pet products I am relating to are packaged premium dry dog food (a brand which my puppy had been used to and changing brands can be upsetting to a puppy’s digestion), Pet Tabs vitamins (which are available here at inflated prices whereas I can get a “better” deal buying in bulk for my seven dogs, even after paying import duties and taxes and shipping costs).  The latest aggravation is with “wee-wee” pads, in bulk for my seven privately owned dogs, since the rainy season is here and relieving on wet grass somehow does not enthrall my “spoiled” brats. 

I was told I could get the products released to me if I applied for a “special” permit from the MAG.  I asked my lawyer and he said, basically:  “tell them to destroy the product (as if they would, in reality) because the hassle of this “special” permit is a nightmare you don’t want to go through . . . and timewise, the puppy would probably be a full-grown dog before they release the product and then the accumulated “aduana” storage charges would be astronomical.” 

Can someone tell me the logic of restricting “healthy, grain free, small bites, premium dry dog food” or PetTabvitamins (which are sold here anyway at a premium price?).  It seems ironic that a couple of years ago when a dead cow sat for three days on a neighbor’s property stinking up the area with an unknown cause of death investigated, that the MAG didn’t respond to calls of concern about the dead animal and it’s impact on the animals on adjacent farms (ours included). Yet healthy puppy food, vitamins for dogs and wee-wee pads occupy their attention.

So, over $150 worth of “healthy” pet products have been destroyed (ha ha), and I don’t know what to do about it and I can’t see myself going through the “special” permit process for something as irrelevant as these items if I re-order.  If I were bringing in dangerous to animal drugs, fine; or if I was selling or otherwise distributing them . . . permit me up the wahoo, but this?!?!  I would welcome them to open any packages, read the ingredient list, but don’t hassle an individual (I am not reselling products). 

Where can I take my complaint and will it do any good?  Aerocasillas seems to not want to get involved.  Ideas, anyone?  P.S.  I have no problem paying the full duties, taxes, etc. on anything I bring in and I always declare the product with its full value on Aerocasillas’ “pre-alert” or the invoice is enclosed. 
Mary Jay
Alajuela

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 102

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Memorial Day ceremony is still to come in Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Monday may have been Memorial Day and a legal holiday in the United States. In Costa Rica, Memorial Day will continue to be May 30, which is Saturday this year.

That is when American Legion Post 10 in Escazú holds a ceremony at the San Antonio de Escazú cemetery. It will be at 11 a.m.

All U.S. citizens, and U.S. military veterans are invited to attend to honor deceased servicemen and women, said organizers.

The names of U.S. military veterans who died in Costa Rica since the last Memorial Day ceremony will be read.

The Legion post owns three mausoleums in the cemetery, and these will be decorated with U.S. flags, said organizers.

The legion also said that there will be a Post Everlasting ceremony to honor all the members from Costa Rica's three Legion posts who died during the year. They continue to be Legionnaires in what the organization calls the Post Everlasting.

Taps will be played.

The cemetery trip begins with a stretch two kilometers 
uphill from the Catholic church in Escazú centro toward San Antonio. Organizers said that visitors should follow the signs to the White House Hotel and Casino to the cemetery, which will be on the left.

Meanwhile in Washington President Barack Obama was to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Military Cemetery. The cemetery holds the remains of more than 300,000 people, including veterans from all the nation's wars.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said nearly one-million American men and women have died in U.S. military service.

Memorial Day also is the unofficial start of the summer season, and many Americans spent the day enjoying barbecues and other outdoor activities.  The holiday was shifted to Monday to provide a three-day holiday.

Sunday thousands of motorcycle riders from around the country rallied in Washington for their annual tribute to military veterans. The "Rolling Thunder" participants gathered to draw attention to the cases of missing U.S. military personnel and for veterans' causes.

The motorcyclists rode from the Pentagon in Arlington into Washington, where they passed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as they circled the National Mall.


Afternoon downpours demonstrate that rainy season is here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The metropolitan area was hit with a wall of water about 1 p.m. Monday, and more than 30 milimeters of rain fell in the subsequent two hours. That's about 1.2 inches.

Some sewers could not take the flood. Motorists caught in low spots had to push their vehicles through waist-deep water. Lightning flashed and the wind blew.

The national emergency commission said that two homes were destroyed and eight damaged in Barrio Pilar, Goicoechea, north of the metro area. One home lost all of its roof to the wind and another sustained the impact of a tree cut down by lightning.

About 11 a.m. the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional issued an alert because of the rising temperatures. The mercury reached 88 in some parts of the Central Valley. This caused
an invasion of moisture-laden Pacific air, the weather institute said.

Similar is predicted for today.

Limón, Turrialba and the northern zone registered no rain. Only 9.5 milimeters, about .37 of an inch, fell in Liberia. Santa Rosa got 4.3 milimeters, about .17 of an inch. More rain fell in the mountains.

Both the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias and the weather institute issued warnings about flooding. The weather experts also warned of possible fog.

The rains have been particularly difficult on newly paved sections of the Autopista Próspero Fernández where petroleum seepage makes the roads much slicker than normal. 


Priest who was murder case suspect gets out of prison
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Catholic priest who was acquitted of killing a prominent radio personality walked out of prison Monday as the first step in his conditional freedom.

The priest is the popular Rev. Minor de Jesús Calvo Aguilar. He will spend several days in a halfway house and submit to psychological evaluations in anticipation of a court hearing later this week. But he also is planning a pilgrimage to Nuestra Señora del los Ángeles at the Cartago basilica Wednesday.

Calvo and businessman Omar Chaves Mora ran Radio María de Guadalupe, a religious station that was highly popular. Chaves was convicted of the contract killing of radio commentator Parmenio Medina Pérez, who was gunned down near his home in Heredia July 7, 2001.
Medina had aired embarrassing reports on the Radio María management and suggested misappropriation of funds.

Calvo was convicted of aggravated fraud in the same trial and was given credit for time served in pre-trial detention. He was convicted  Dec. 19, 2007, but had been in prison since Dec. 27, 2003.

Calvo has not been a model prisoner. He tried to broadcast a radio show from his cell but was shut down by the prison administration and the Sale IV constitutional court. 

He is a natural showman, and appeared on television with tape across his mouth and carrying a sign that said he was being silenced.

His new job will be an undefined one with the Catholic administration of the archdiocese.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 102


México will invest $90 million to rebuild devastated tourism
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexico has launched a $90 million campaign to revive its tourism industry, which has suffered as a result of the swine flu outbreak.

Mexican celebrities joined President Felipe Calderón Monday in Mexico City as he announced the new campaign, called "Vive México."

The Mexican leader said Vive Mexico is not just a promotional campaign, but a national movement requiring the participation of all Mexicans, especially those who are most well-known.  Other celebrities, including Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, Mexican actor Diego Luna and Mexican football player Rafael Marquez, are expected to
take part in the campaign to draw visitors back to Mexico.
There have been more than 4,100 confirmed cases of swine flu in Mexico, with 83 deaths.  The outbreak forced the closure of schools, restaurants and other public venues, and its total cost to the Mexican economy is expected to be $2.2 billion. 

The World Health Organization says 46 countries have officially reported more than 12,510 cases of swine-flu infection. 

Authorities in the Mexican state of Veracruz say they will soon erect a statue of the 5-year-old boy, Edgar Hernández, who is believed to be Mexico's earliest confirmed case of swine flu.  The child recovered from the illness, and the bronze monument is intended to be a symbol of hope. 


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 102


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.

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.

Newspages

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.

Classifieds

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.

Statistics
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.


Paris meeting on CO2
sets agenda for Copenhagen


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Most energy use produces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Representatives from the world's top energy consuming and greenhouse gas emitting nations are meeting through today in Paris for global warming talks before a major U.N. conference in December.

The so-called Major Economies Forum brings together 17 of the biggest world economies — including the United States, the European Union and China. These countries also account for 80 percent of the world's energy consumption and human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

The Paris forum is the second of three Major Economies meetings, an idea proposed by the Obama administration. The third is scheduled to take place in Mexico next month.

Washington hopes the meeting in Paris will find common ground on issues like green technology and ways to finance climate prevention programs ahead of a major U.N. climate change summit in Copenhagen in December. During that summit, countries will try to agree to a successor to the Kyoto global warming protocol, which expires in 2012.

Damien Demaille, a climate expert at the Paris branch of the WWF, an international environmental group, says he has seen some positive changes recently.

"The U.S. first, with Obama being much more committed to fight against climate change than George W. Bush for example, for sure," Demaille said.

Demaille says other countries, such as China and South Africa, have also made positive steps when it comes to climate change. But he says plenty needs to be done, including in Europe, which has traditionally been a leader in cutting greenhouse gasses.

"The European Union is not that bad in terms of emissions reduction. But the European Union still has no position on how to provide financial and technical support to developing countries and especially to the most vulnerable countries," Demaille said.

Demaille says participants at the Paris conference must not forget the plight of countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as small island nations, who face threats from rising sea levels. Their future, he says, is not negotiable.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 102


Latin American news digest
Police locate drugs

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police on patrol on a beach in southern Costa Rica found 20 kilos of cocaine. They said they have no idea who was responsible for leaving the drugs there.

The find was on a beach in Punta Burica in the extreme southern part of the country near the Panamá border. Drug smugglers who are being chased by police and U.S. navy patrols frequently dump their cargo into the sea. Finding packaged cocaine is not unusual along the Pacific coast.

Minister to keep two hats

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The president's communications minister will continue to hold that job and one as a legislative deputy, Casa Presidencial announced Monday.

The minister is Mayi Antilón. She will hold both jobs to block another member of her Partido Liberación Nacional from entering the legislature. The likely candidate has a checkered reputation.

Costa Rican political parties rank candidates in numerical order. If someone resigns, those below the individual on the list move up one spot.
 
Swine flu cases now 33

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Salud now reports 33 confirmed cases of swine flu in the country. That's up from 26, a number that was reported Friday.  The new cases come from those individuals who already were under study.

Gunmen kill businessman

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men on a motorcycle gunned down an Alajuela businessman while he was driving his car Monday. They grabbed a bag they thought contained money, but it only contained some meat.

The victim, identified by the last names of Arce Arias, was a meat distributor and was believed to have just picked up a payment at a packing house. Investigators found the money in the vehicle and about 350,000 colons ($613) in his wallet.

The murder happened about 1:30 p.m. in El Roble de Alajuela.






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