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(506) 223-1327               Published Monday, July 16, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 139        E-mail us   
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Lottery honors women who have built Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sunday's lottery included a homage to the women in Costa Rica who have fought for equality between the sexes and social development of the country. The Junta de Protección Social de San José, the operator of the lottery, frequently adopts themes for the weekly drawing.

This week, the tickets featured the faces of nine women who have contributed to Costa Rican society. They range from Adelaida Chaverri Polini, who founded the Parque Nacional Corcovado in 1975, to Anna Gabriela Ross González,
a physician who was a tireless fighter for public health and the first woman to be executive president of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados.

Another, Angela Acuña Braun, was the first president of the Liga Feminista Costarricense in 1923.

Bernarda Vásquez Méndez was the first woman to vote in a Costa Rican election in 1950.

The top prize Sunday was 60 million colons, about $115,400. The winner: Series 334, No. 99.

It's back to classrooms for public school children after two weeks off
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Public schools are back in session today after a rainy two weeks when some families went away on midterm vacations.

The Policía de Tránsito was out in force over the weekend. Officers also spent the two weeks conducting roadside checks mostly for drunk drivers.

Police said they estimated that up to 500,000 persons would be returning to the Central Valley
from Caribbean and Pacific vacations. The courts had a week off, but they are supposed to be back functioning today.

The traffic accidents over the last two weeks took the lives of some vacationers, but the bulk of the tragedies could be blamed on drunk drivers and crashes not far from the homes of victims.

The next challenge for traffic police is Aug. 1 and 2 when more than a million faithful will walk from all corners of the country to the Basilica of the Virgen de Los Ángeles in Cartago.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, July 16, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 139

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bus stop la fortuna
A.M. Costa Rica/Donna Lynn Norton
What is wrong with this photo? Passengers get off a bus in La Fortuna but, despite standing orders, there is not a single policeman around.

Despite written orders
police are among the missing

By Donna Lynn Norton
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Bus stops are hot spots of luggage thefts, particularly in tourist areas like La Fortuna, near the Arenal volcano.

So police officials have issued written orders that policemen meet every bus in the hopes that uniformed men standing around will cause thieves to go elsewhere.

There seems to be a gap between requests from headquarters and what actually happens. During a recent, rainy morning, there were plenty of buses but no policemen.

Victor Angel Porás Carillo, bus employee, said he more or less does the same thing the police are supposed to do. He said he makes sure everything and everyone arrives OK and are not the victims of thefts. However, when asked where are the police, he laughed and said, “It’s raining—you’ll have to go to the station if you want to see the police today.” 

Planning money allocated
for southern zone airport

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Transport officials seem to have scaled back a plan for a jetport in the southern Zone. The new airport will have a runway 1,800 meters long, some 5,249 feet, said officials over the weekend.

They said this length would be sufficient for Sansa and  Nature Air craft with some 48 to 50 passengers.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez said Saturday that he was happy that jets would be landing in the new airport. But he must have been talking about what officials call the last stage of the airport when a runway of 2,900 meters (9,514 feet) is planned. The date for that job has not been set.

The new airport will be in Valle del Sierpe, and Arias noted that the Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia caused fundamental changes for the Guanacaste area. He said he anticipated the same for the southern zone.

What happened over the weekend was the signing of a cooperation agreement between the Consejo Técnico de Aviación Civil and the Junta de Desarrollo Regional de la Zona Sur. The amount involved is 600 million colons or about  $1.2 million for planning and the development. the junta will give this money to the consejo.

The airport in Palmar Sur has been talked about for years. The idea is to open up the southern zone to direct tourism with an airport that can accommodate international carriers.

Chicken-processing plant
to be inaugurated in Grecia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new $8 million chicken processing plant will be inaugurated this week in Río Cuarto de Grecia. Eventually investors plan to put $20 million into the project.

The plant is being set up by Corporación Multi Inversiones which recently purchased Tico Pollo, Pollos Delji, Propokodusa and Tío Pepe. The company is launching its own brand, Pollo Rey.

Multi-Inversiones is a Guatemalan holding company that also owns the Pollo Campero chain.

Speaker's Forum guest
to discuss Quetzalcoatl

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Motivational speaker Lawrence Poole will be the next presenter at the Speaker's Forum. The session will be July 24 at 7 p.m. in Escazú.

Poole, a Canadian, is the author of the book "Self Empowerment."  His multimedia presentation is called "Quetzalcoatl:  The Myth That Empowered America's First Leaders."  He said his presentation will reveal empowering facts about the ancient jaguar kings and queens of Mesoamerica.

For more information those interested can call 289-6333 or 821-4708. There is a 1,000-colon admission.

Unity to have animal blessing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Unity-Costa Rica is having a blessing of the animals Sunday at 11 a.m. at its facility in Piedades de Santa Ana.

The religious group said that the event will be a special bilingual activity and that anyone is invited to bring a pet or an animal. Animals of all kinds will be honored and blessed, the organization said, adding that for everyone’s safety, we suggest the use of a leash, carrier, bridle, terrarium, etc.

Unity is 350 meters south of the Shang Hai restaurant in Piedades. Information is available at 203-4411.

Warning signs going in at beaches

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The tourism ministry will install 186 signs at 31 of the nation's beachers to warn visitors of the dangers of the surf. The steel and aluminum signs will be in both Spanish and English. The 24 million-colon contract went to M&P Obras Civiles, J&L Señalización y Arquitectura SA. That's about $46,150.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, July 16, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 139

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A giant hot pool does not have many bathers at this quiet place that does not advertise.
hot springs phtoo
A.M. Costa Rica/Donna Lynn Norton

La Fortuna hot pool does not open its doors easily to public
By Donna Lynn Norton
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

It's a secret.

They don’t advertise, period.  They have no type of handouts, nothing written, no sales people, no marketing, no Web site, not even a sign to let you know you have arrived at the right place. 

And without a reservation, a guest may or may not get in — depending if the facility has reached its self-imposed hourly maximum number of guests.  Unless lightning has zapped the electric gate, the front entrance is always closed and locked, leaving the only option of talking to the reservation desk via intercom.  Chances are, a tour guide has made the reservations, and a guide has likely brought tourists there as part of a several day tour package.

The four-and-a-half year old Ecothermales natural hot springs development is directly across from the Baldi Hotel Resort and Spa heading toward Lake Arenal out of La Fortuna.  It has been elegantly designed near the base of the west side of Volcán Arenal.  The facility has five natural hot pools, each with a different temperature from 98 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Attendants recommend no more than 15 minutes at a time with a few seconds in cold water before returning to the natural hot mineral waters.  There is one natural cold pool, a restaurant and two poolside bars.  Several waterfall pools are set further down the lighted walkway through the area. 

The restaurant is mainly buffet style which serves meals according to whatever time was specified by a guest. Just like the bar tab, the restaurant bill is separate from the $21 entry for either a three-hour or four-hour stay, depending on time of day.

The entrance fee includes a private locker in the dressing room building, and a towel. 
hot springs falls
A.M. Costa Rica/Donna Lynn Norton
Guests enjoy one of the waterfall pools

According to entrance personnel, most tourists come from the United States, and many others are from Germany, France and Spain.  Just 100 persons are allowed at one time.  This is to assure guests have a better feeling of seclusion as opposed to the typical overcrowding at other hotel and hot springs areas, attndants said. 

The landscaping is not only professional, but breathtaking, including many unusual tropical plants.  But, it’s a secret.

Not every country attributes bad luck to Friday the 13th
Martes 13 ni te cases ni te embarques

“On Tuesday the 13th, neither marry nor put to sea.”
Most people in the United States, whether they admit to being superstitious or not, are nonetheless leery of the 13th day of the month if it should fall on a Friday. In Costa Rica, however, this superstition is attached to Tuesday rather than Friday. In Spanish we call this trezidavomartiofobia.

The number 13 is considered very bad luck in the Spanish-speaking world primarily for biblical reasons: There were 13 diners at the Last Supper, for example, and the 13th chapter of the Book of Revelations speaks of 13 malignant spirits. The same chapter talks about “the great beast” and the “Antichrist,” presumably representations of Satan.
But why Tuesday? Martes, the Spanish word for Tuesday, was most likely chosen because it comes from the Latin word for Mars, the red planet. In Medieval times red was considered the color of evil (a connection that persists in some circles to this day). But the tradition that connects Friday with bad luck is also rooted in Christian belief because it was on a Friday that Christ was crucified. Additionally, in English the connection of extreme superstition with the number 13 is called “triskaidekaphobia.”

 If you’re in Italy it’s Friday the 17th that is bad luck. In Spain, Greece, and Latin America it’s Tuesday the 13th. And, of course, in the English-speaking world it is Friday. Last Friday was the 13th of July, but I decided to ignore it because I am Costa Rican by birth, and we don’t attach any malignant significance to that day. Actually, I can also ignore Tuesday the 13th, since I’m a naturalized U.S. citizen. So, there don’t have to be any official bad-luck days for me.
Of course, everyone knows that misfortune can come at any time on any date. In my work with the Department of Family and Community Resources of The City of Bloomington, Indiana, I encounter folks in the middle of bad luck situations frequently. But one of the things that make my job so rewarding is that, perhaps not always but often, I am able to help.
I recall the case, last year, of a woman from Colombia

way we say it

By Daniel Soto

who arrived in Bloomington with a small scholarship to study English at Indiana University. Her scholarship was enough to pay her tuition and provide food and a very modest apartment for her and her 8-year-old daughter. There was not much left over for contingencies.
Then suddenly the little girl fell ill and had to be taken to the emergency room at our local hospital. Unfortunately the mother’s very sparse budget could not provide sufficient funds to cover health insurance for her child, and soon threatening collection letters began arriving from the hospital. By joining the forces of several different agencies within my department, however, we were able to help pay the child’s medical expenses and provide her with minimal health-care coverage.
But, though this particular story did have a happy ending, I was reminded of the many millions of people who every day must face such dilemmas even to the point of having to choose between providing their children with medical care or putting food on the table. I ask myself, though, how much of this can really be blamed on mere bad luck and how much must be laid at the feet of a system that places health insurance beyond the reach of some 45 million Americans.

In the balance it seems to me that the system vastly outweighs what can be chalked up to misfortune.  When life-saving services are available but unaffordable then it’s not really a matter of bad luck that some people do not receive treatment.
 Luck, after all, is beyond our ability to control. It seems to me that health care should not be.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, July 16, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 139

Catholic bishops meet with Communist officials in Cuba
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Roman Catholic leaders from across Latin America met with senior Cuban government officials in Havana Friday, seeking a wider role for the church in the Communist-ruled country.

Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Brazil, one of about 50 clerics taking part in the talks, said communist officials are opening up to dialogue with Catholic leaders, in a climate of improving relations.

The newly elected president of the Latin American Bishops Conference says he looks forward to many future meetings with Cuban authorities.

A Cuban bishop, Emilio Aranguren, from Holguin province, in southeastern Cuba, echoed similar sentiments,
 although he indicated the two sides steered clear of potential disagreements or controversy. Human-rights issues were not discussed, the Cuban clergyman said, and the visitors did not repeat previous requests for religious programs on government-controlled television.

Friday's talks in Havana concluded a four-day meeting by the Latin American bishops. It was their first in Cuba.

Church-state relations in the island nation began to improve following Pope John Paul II landmark visit in 1998. However, the church has no role in Cuba's education system.

After Fidel Castro's revolutionaries seized power in Cuba in 1959, Catholic priests were expelled and the state was officially atheist for decades. Cuba declared itself a secular state in 1992.

Texas newspaper pulls reporter from border area after threats of death
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Texas newspaper has pulled a reporter out of the border city of Laredo following reports that Mexican drug traffickers are planning to kill foreign journalists along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The newspaper, The San Antonio Express-News, said Friday it did not know if the threat is true, but that it will err on the side of caution. Laredo is across the border from the crime-ridden Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, which has seen numerous killings and shootouts between drug smuggling gangs.  Journalists covering the drug-related violence are constantly threatened and attacked.

Tony Garza, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, said in a statement Friday that U.S and Mexican authorities will do everything possible to ensure the safety of American reporters working on both sides of the border.
Garza said threats against journalists must be condemned by all who understand the importance of a free press in a democratic society.

Separately, Reporters Without Borders urged Mexico's government to stop the violations of press freedom it says are coming from local politicians and criminal gangs.

The press freedom group said recent threats and advertising boycotts against journalists and media have taken place in the states of Puebla, Guanajuato and Yucatan.

The rights group said the violations are typical of the kind of pressure to which Mexican media are constantly subjected.

Reporters Without Borders said it considers Mexico one of the world's most dangerous places for the press, with two journalists killed and two missing since January.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, July 16, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 139

Brazil surprises Argentina to win America Cup, 3-0
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Brazil has stunned bitter rival and overwhelming favorite Argentina, 3-0, to win its eighth America Cup soccer title in Venezuela.

Julio Baptista scored his third goal in three games Sunday in Maracaibo. He gave Brazil the lead after just four minutes. Brazil's second goal came in the 40th minute when Argentina's Roberto Ayala sent a crossing pass into his own
goal. Substitute Dani Alves took a pass that split two defenders in the 69th minute and scored the final Brazilan goal.

Brazil has now won its second straight South American championship while Argentina fell short in gaining a record 15th America Cup title. Brazil had fielded a team without superstars Ronaldinho and Kaka.

Mexico beat Uruguay, 3-1, Saturday to place third.

Pan Am Games get underway with ceremony full of glitter
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The 15th Pan American Games have opened with a glittering ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The ceremony featured dancers, drummers, puppets, and the games' symbol of the Sun in a celebration entitled Share the Energy.

The ceremony at Maracana Stadium featured more than 1,500 percussionists, accompanying 12-year-old Bahia native Kania Do Jeje.

From there Arnaldo Antues and Ana Costa led the crowd in the games' theme song "Share the Energy." Delegations from the 42 nations then marched into the stadium with Brazil last as the host nation.

The next three sections emphasized the energy of water, the sun and man. Giant puppets, dancers arrayed like flowers, plants, butterflies and exotic birds danced on the floor of the fame stadium.

Water's energy was then highlighted with part of the
stadium floor transformed into the Atlantic Ocean as the dancers forming the shape of the sidewalks of Copacabana Beach.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was set to open the games, but at the last minute did not. In his place, Carlos Arthur Nuzman , Brazilian Olympic Committee president, did the honors.

Nuzman hinted at Rio's bid to host the 2016 Olympics when he thanked Jacques Rogge, International Olympic Committee president, for his support.

Following a prayer for peace sung by Chico Cesar, the Pan American torch which traveled through 51 cities before arriving in Rio de Janeiro, entered the stadium.

Several athletes took a lap of honor with the torch before Joaquim Cruz the 1984 Olympic 800-meters gold medalist ignited the cauldron to the cheers of the crowd. The Pan American Cauldron, specially designed and shaped like the sun, will burn for 16 days of competition.  The Games conclude July 29.

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