free webpage hit counter
Sonesta condos

Hermosa Highlands
A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily

news source
Monday through Friday

universal update

(506) 2223-1327        Published Friday, Sept. 5, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 177       E-mail us
Jo Stuart
Real Estate
About us

U.S. citizen apparent victim of strangulation murder
By Melissa Hinkley
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A visitor found the body of a U.S. citizen in his apartment Wednesday night. The man was lying face down on his bed with a rope around his neck.  Investigators estimated that he was murdered three days earlier.

The 50-year-old man, identified by the Judicial Investigating Organization as Thomas Edwin Hendrix Jr., had been living in the Escocia apartments for three weeks, said Marilyn Morales Edwards, administrator of the apartments.  A taxi driver, Roy Cedeño Campos, came to the apartments on Wednesday night to collect $200 from Edwin for services.  The driver found the apartment door open, she said.

Police reported they found Hendrix with a rope around his neck, which is believed to be the cause
of death.  They also said that the apartment was very messy.  Autopsy results are pending.

There are no identified suspects at this time, but three men were seen driving away in the victims wine-colored Mercedes Benz with a license plate number of 426644, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.  The Mercedes was always kept on the street directly in front of Edwin's apartment, located on the first floor of the three-story apartment building, said Ms. Morales.  The apartments are located in Barrio Escalante north of Avenida Central in eastern San José.

Mrs. Morales also reported that the victim frequently had visitors, especially at night. 

Investigators could not say if Hendrix was a tourist or if he had just moved to the apartment from somewhere else. They also did not know from where in the United States he had come.

Heavy rains force Guanacaste residents from homes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Guanacaste and parts of northern Puntarenas province took the brunt of heavy rains provoked by Tropical Storm Hanna.

The national emergency commission said that 1,120 persons from 244 families had been evacuated from their homes because of flooding. Some 568 persons still were in shelters as of Thursday night, the commission said.

There were problems in Nosara where Dagoberto Espinoza of the Fuerza Pública said there was heavy flooding Thursday morning. Some 40 flood refugees were housed in the Escuela de Santa Teresita, said the emergency commission. About 100 more were being housed in Nosara Centro. The Santa Marta area remained cut off.

Santos Sanchez Espinoza, a policeman in Sámara, said that the Esterillos and San Fernando sections were under three to five feet of water. Some roads were flooded and some houses were flooded but not badly. The commission reported earlier that one home was destroyed in a landslide and a second was damaged Wednesday.

In Filadelfia, Fuerza Pública officer Amado Gutiérrez said 200 persons were in shelters. The areas most flooded were in the barrios Bambú and Limón, he said.

The emergency commission said that a dike at Filadelfia, repaired after the last flooding episode had held even though the Río Tempisque was running out of its banks. Dredging work on the  Río Las Palmas minimized flooding there, the commission said.

Further north in the Cantón de la Cruz near the Nicaraguan border, a number of communities took a hit from the weather. In Guajiniquil, flooding forced out more than 100 persons who were being housed in the Liceo Experimental de La Cruz.

In the central Pacific the Río Parrita that passes through the town of the same name was swollen by morning rains. But there were no reports of breeches in protective dikes at that community.

Parrita was flooded last October during two weeks of heavy rains. 1,500 persons were forced from their homes there when dikes burst.
cruz roja workers
Cruz Roja photo
Cruz Roja workers keep track of flooding and responses on the Nicoya Peninsula near Filadelfia.

Bagaces had about 50 persons displaced by flooding Thursday. In northern Puntarenas province, Montes de Oro was receiving much of the same weather as Guanacaste. It, too, was under a red alert from the emergency commission. San Martín and Bajo Caliente in Miramar were cut off, and the Cruz Roja was trying to arrange a shipment of necessities to these communities.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that conditions caused by the indirect effects of Hanna would continue until Saturday.  Hurricane Ike was following Hanna and Tropical Storm Josephine was behind Ike.

Late Thursday the U.S. National Hurricane Center said that Ike was 475 miles (760 kms) north northeast of the Leeward Islands. Although hurricanes do not hit Costa Rica directly, the long arms of humidity cause disturbances that foster heavy rains and sometimes strong winds here, mostly on the Pacific coast.

exchange rate
to our
daily digest

our site

Send us
a news story

Real estate ads

Ads for

ad info

ad info

Contact us
Our stats

Realty Executives ad

Purto Limon update

Jaco Beach Towers

Rixson real estate
Howard ad
karen banner

updated hot springs

Costa Rica
Second newspage

Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 177

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd E-mail Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

light speed advertising
sportsmens update
Click HERE for great hotel discounts

Professional Directory
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.

Residency experts

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José offices
Getting and authenticating documents can be a chore —

we know how to do it. Experienced with many nationalities. Up-to-date on
Costa Rica's evolving immigration law.
Pensionado and rentista. Your first stop for smooth, professional service and a positive experience. Javier Zavaleta
Tel: (323) 255-6116A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

Dental Clinics

Marco Cavallini & Associates
Dental Implants $500, Crowns $250

Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini has placed and restored
Dr. cavallini
Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini
over 8,000 dental implants since 1980. The Dr. Marco Muñoz Cavallini Dental Clinic, is recognized as one of the best practices in Dental Reconstruction,
Dental Implant placement and Cosmetic Dentistry in Costa Rica and the World. 
For more information,
visit us today at:

Acupuncture physician

Acupuncture (disposable needles),
& Auriculotherapy (without needles) 

Immediate results for sport and all injuries; Back, neck, whiplash, shoulder, elbow, carpal tunnel, knees, sciatica, T.M.J., kidney stones, intercostal neuralgia, and all
Eugene McDonald
Eugene Mc Donald
 painful conditions. Excellent results for migraine, stress, anxiety, depression; and many other medical conditions from constipation, hemorroids, to hemiplegia, raynauds, bells palsy, etc. Acupuncture works even if other therapies had little or no results. Free consultation, U.S. license, 17 years experience, Eugene Mc Donald, A.P (acupuncture physician) Escazú, 8352-0661


James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
US Income Tax,  US GAAP Accounting
& Business Consulting

• US Tax return preparation  for
individuals and businesses
• eFile returns: secure with faster refunds
• Assist with back reporting and other filing issues
• Take advantage of the Foreign
Income Tax Exclusion (up to $85,700 in 2007)
• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
• Accounting for US and International Financial Reporting

Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620

U.S. Tax International

Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal services
Over 10 years in Costa Rica
(English Spoken)
C.R. 2288-2201   U.S 786-206-9473
Web page with vital U.S. tax info HERE!

Real estate agents and services

with Great Estates of Costa Rica and Ocean Realty - Jacó

15 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce
(506)  2220-3729 &  (506) 8382-7399 cell
(506)  2232-5016 (phone/fax)

CENTURY 21 Jacó Beach Realty
A Name You Trust & Professional Service

Buying? Selling?
We Can Do It!
1 (877) 746-3868
  Tom Ghormley - Owner/Broker - in CR since '79

Beachfront, Views, Mountains, Lots, Farms, Beaches, Houses, Condos. Hotels, Restaurants, Projects, Commercial, Investments

7Legal services

Bufete Hernández Mussio & Asociados
 Lic. Arcelio Hernández Mussio
Tel. 2643-3058                Cell 8365-3088
Toll-free  from the U.S.: 
 Web site:

Arcelio hernandez
• Real Estate Transactions
•  Legal Due Diligence
• Purchase and Sale   Agreements/Options
• Trademarks 
• Costa Rican Corporations.
• Title Guaranty • Fraud
     protection * Litigation 
• Constitution of condominiums
• Notary public services in
   general • Offshore Incorporation • Offshore Banking  • Business Law 
• Escrow Services (registered
     with SUGEF) • Estate Planning 
• Family Law 
• Bilingual Accounting Services 

Visit our Office in Jacó Beach (GEM Building, 
Office 4 across from AyA on Calle Ancha).

Member of the Central Pacific Chamber of Commerce


Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorneys at Law and real estate brokers
Relocation services, Wedding Planning
Greg kearney
*Investments  *Corporations
*Tax Shelters *Immigration
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica
*Name & Product registration
*Business procedures 
*Family and Labor Law
*Locate People   *Private Investigations

Ph/Fax: 2221-9462, 8841-0007

Bufete Narváez y Asociados
Legal counsel and Investments
We welcome new clients
Licenciada Narvaea
Licda. Jamileth Narváez
• Corporate strategies
• Immigration experts
• Real estate investment

506 2239-4606, 506 2239-4604
506 8378-3919, 506 8871-1551
506 8350-6469

Sala IV tells Arias minister
to make public data on bonds

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Updated Friday at 5:10 p.m.)
The Sala IV constitutional court Friday ordered the minister of Hacienda or finance to provide details of a bond deal with China to a La Nación reporter.

The magistrates said the minister should provide the sales contract, including the term of the loan, the interest rate, the amounts, the mechanisms of the transaction, the relationship of any intermediary and the percentage of any commissions in the sale of the bonds.

The minister is Guillermo Zúñiga. The reporter is  Álvaro Murillo Murillo. The decision was released by the Poder Judicial press office. According to the court decision, Murillo has been seeking the information since Feb. 4 when he sent a note to the minister with questions.

Casa Presidencial said Thursday that all the relevant information relating to its $300 million loan deal with China has been sent to the Contraloría de la República, the financial watchdog. The bond deal is part of negotiation in which Costa Rica provided diplomatic relations to the People's Republic and dropped relations with Taiwan.  Much of the money is earmarked to build a new soccer stadium.

Almost immediately lawmakers on the  Comisión de Control del Ingreso y el Gasto Público asked Rocío Aguilar, the contralora general, to see the information privately. She said she would study the possibility.

The bond deal has been hush hush because the government says that China wants to keep some of the information secret. Before leaving for a 12-day European trip, President Óscar Arias Sánchez said that Chinese officials were sensitive because they gave Costa Rica such a low rate of interest and they did not want other borrowers to know that.

However, the situation got more complicated when the Spanish-language La Nación disclosed that the  Banco BCT was custodian for the bonds and that Antonio Burgués, the Costa Rican ambassador to China, is a founder and principal in the bank.

Zúñiga addressed the point at length in the consejo de gobierno Wednesday and tried to explain to newspeople the difference  between an intermediary who gets a commission and custodian who does not. According to Casa Presidencial, Banco BCT will only receive minor amounts as custodian.

Some lawmakers asked Thursday why a public bank was not chosen as custodian. They are concerned that sometime in the future they will learn that substantial commissions have been paid to set up the bond deal.  So far China has authorized $150 million. An equal amount is planned for next year.

Arias has said no commissions were paid. Zúñiga said all the funds would be accounted for in the 2009 national budget.

High school students
travel to engage in brawl

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Nine students were detained by police Thursday during a confrontation between two schools.

The 90-minute scuffle started when students from the Liceo de Costa Rica near Plaza Víquez mounted an attack against students of the Liceo Castro Madriz in Barrio Córdoba near the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública and the headquarters of the Fuerza Pública.

Police appear to have been tipped off about the 1:30 p.m. raid and managed to intercept the bulk of the Liceo de Costa Rica students. Of those arrested, seven were from the Liceo de Costa Rica. One of the two Castro Madriz students detained was a girl. All were minors, said the police.

The Liceo de Costa Rica students have a rowdy reputation, and this is not the first time that its students have traveled to engage those at other schools in fights.

Gasoline prices remain
steady for September

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Motorists using super gasoline will pay one colon less per liter in September, and those using regular will see the price drop from 726 to 721 per liter, according to the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos. The new prices were announced Thursday.  Diesel will drop three colons from 729 to 726 per liter.

The price cuts would have been more but at the same time the U.S. dollar in which international petroleum shipments are calculated advanced against the colon. The authority said it used an Aug. 7 exchange rate of 556.55 colons per dollar, The current rate to buy dollars is about 558.

Water rate hike likely
will be about 25 percent

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national water company has won a 25 percent increase in income, but a decision remains on how to allocate the increase to various customers. The decision came from the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos Thursday.

The Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados got a small increase last year. But it was appealing that decision based on its plans to make some 60.7 billion colons of investments in its systems this year. Much of this will be in the metropolitan area. The amount is about $111 million.

The price authority said that it would consider apportioning the costs to the various user groups so as to reduce the impact on the poorest.

Have you seen these stories?
Top story feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Proman advertisement
protection ad
Gap ad
newspaper nameplate
Puriscal properties

Costa Rica
third newspage

Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 177

Some expats are fighting aging with implanted pellets
By Melissa Hinkley
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those fighting the inevitability of aging look for ways to hold off Father Time.  Some look to anti-aging treatments offered in Costa Rica.  One place is Costagenics, an age management institute and medical spa, that utilizes hormone replacement, allowing patients to seek their own fountain of youth.

After reaching their 40s, many people notice that they lack energy, are gaining weight, losing muscle mass and basically, feel old.  But there may be hope for the aging community, and it does not involve plastic surgery or drastic changes.  Costagenics, located in the the White House Hotel in the hills above San Antonio de Escazú, performs a procedure that places capsules filled with hormones into an area just above the hip.  A very small incision is made where the capsules can be inserted. The hormones last from three to four months, according to the company's principals.

The capsules are filled with either testosterone, estrogen or human growth hormone and can be combined in different varieties depending on the person's age and needs. 

During the aging process, the human body begins to shut down.  As the body slows down, it begins to decrease the amount of hormones secreted.  Males go through a process of andropause where their testosterone levels continually decrease shortly after their 20s, potentially causing changes in mood, sex drive, energy, and physical appearance.  Women go through menopause and produce less estrogen, which causes similar symptoms. 

Some say that aging is part of the natural process of life but Dr. Morgan McCranie, a partner and administrator for Costagenics, says otherwise.  He said he firmly believes that through hormone replacement, people can live more fulfilling lives and can be healthier.  He said that the implants are pure hormones and simply give back what is lost.  “We are just trying to replace what is missing,” he said.  “I can't see how that is harmful.”

McCranie is a former Georgia gynecologist and reports that he still holds a valid medical license from that state. His firm is unique in Costa Rica for the kind of medical procedures it offers, he said. McCranie makes it clear that he is not licensed in Costa Rica, which is why other individuals, licensed here, do the actual medical work.

Hormone replacements are available in the United States, but only when prescribed by a certified physician for a documented medical purpose, said McCranie.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that physicians there cannot use hormones to treat the aging population, which means that this procedure is not widely used in the States, noted McCranie.

In addition to testosterone and estrogen, Costagenics also offers the human growth hormone treatments. The hormone, an artificial mimic of what the human pituitary gland produces, is a controversial supplement not allowed in the United States. 

According to online news sources: The hormone, known as HGH, was found in Anna Nicole Smith's body; Sylvester Stallone was detained in Australia for supposedly having 48 vials of HGH stuffed in his luggage;  and, of course, everyone has heard about Barry Bonds and his growing helmet size, which could be linked to his use of HGH and other steroids. 

But these are cases where people are abusing the hormone.  McCranie said that some people abuse the drug and that HGH is a naturally occurring hormone just like insulin.  If someone is deficient in insulin, then they would replace that too, he said.

McCranie moved to Costa Rica in 1995 to retire and found his passion for endocrine work come alive once again.  He did extensive work with hormones but said he was unsatisfied with many of the typical methods such as daily shots or messy creams which can cause inconsistent fluctuations in hormone levels. 
testosterone pellets
A.M. Costa Rica/Melissay Hinkley
Tiny testosterone pellets usually vanish when inserted

The inserted pellets, which have been around since the 60s, offer an efficient way to do hormone replacement therapy by slowly releasing the hormones. 

Although some pellets have been around for years, McCranie has just started working with the HGH pellets, a fairly new innovation.  According to McCranie, HGH repairs damaged cells and tissue.

“It is not just a vanity thing,” he said.  “It is not just about your hair, skin or nails.  The biggest thing is that there are things that you don't want to age, like your heart and liver.”

There are very few studies done showing the long-term effects of HGH because they require following a group of participants for 10 to 20 years.  In one study, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, scientists administered HGH to 12 men, ages of 61 to 81, over six months.  The men did show increases in muscle mass, decreases in fat, and increased bone density, according to the study.  However,  researcher Mary Lee Vance of the University of Virginia wrote that the dose used on these men was twice as high as a normal dose.  She also wrote that the long-term effects on carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism are unclear.

Another study done by the Musculoskeletal Research Laboratory in California examined a group of older men who did a strength training program.  One group of men received HGH for six months, while the other group did not.  The results showed that both groups showed similar strength gain, indicating that HGH may not help older individuals gain muscle mass.

McCranie is conducting a study of his own to see the effects of HGH and said that he is seeing nice increases in the HGH levels of participants.  He said it is too early in the study but the participants do tend to lose body fat and gain muscle mass.  McCranie is frequently tweaking the study to find ways to slow the absorption of the hormones.  Although there is a slim amount of valuable research on HGH and older individuals, there is more scientific data on testosterone implanted pellets. 

“People almost immediately see results,” McCranie said.  “They have more energy, more libido and better sexual performance.” 

The treatment is not inexpensive.

The procedure, done by Dr. Leslie Mesén Martínez, costs $750 for an HGH pellet, with the average person needing two pellets every three to four months. 

The testosterone pellets are $100 for each, and the average male needs five to seven of these.  There is also a $500 lab fee that takes care of all blood work and physicals, making the first treatment cost around $1,450 for a male and slightly less for a female. 

The average amount a person would spend on this anti-aging treatment is $6,000 to $8,000 each year.   Although there is some conflicting information, many Americans and expats in Costa Rica have been satisfied by the results, said McCranie.  

GOP right wing becomes more accepting with Gov. Palin
Not all that far north from where I sit, two hurricanes have been attacking the southern part of the U.S.  And again, I feel how blessed Costa Rica is — and again I am referring to the Central Valley more than the coasts — because we seem protected from the brunt of most storms.  It has been raining — a lot — but rain we can handle.

Because of hurricane Gustav, the Republican convention was truncated into necessary business, at least in the beginning. I was looking forward to learning more about the VP candidate that Sen. John McCain has chosen: Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

A lot of people have written that McCain chose her in the hopes of nailing down the disgruntled women who voted for Hillary.  That is not the way I saw it.  I find it difficult to believe that women would compromise their values and hopes for change just to vote for a woman.  Not all women are equal.

It seemed apparent to me that Sen. McCain was looking to regain his party’s religious right wing conservatives who have also been a bit disgruntled.

Mrs. Palin is the governor of a large, roomy state that has been blessed with oil and money and cursed with what often comes with those blessings — corruption.  She is an outdoorswoman, a lover of sports, a Christian of the born again variety and against a woman’s right to choose abortion under any circumstances.

I haven’t heard anything about her stand on gay rights, but I am sure they fit. Gov. Palin is an attractive, feminine ideological twin of President George W. Bush, who is still loved by the aforementioned religious conservatives.  For many, the need for experience pales in the light of those credentials. (No bad pun intended.)

However, with just the introduction of Sarah Palin as the Republican candidate for vice president, and from what little we know, the world has changed for women, at least it looks like it. 

In the days before abortion became legal and chastity for women was a big deal, young, unmarried women still got pregnant.  This was not that long ago. I remember that time well.  Families didn’t necessarily banish the girl to struggle on her own — except for strict moralists.  It was society and the families feared the disgrace they would face if the pregnancy were known. 

Media reporters have been going among convention delegates asking about their opinions of Sarah Palin and
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

her pregnant, unmarried daughter.  I literally dropped my jaw when I saw a woman who identified herself as an evangelical Christian showing off the oversize buttons on her hat.  In bold letters the buttons said, “I love unwed mothers.” 

In one fell swoop, unwed mothers are no longer looked upon as outcasts or beyond the pale. 

We have certainly come a long way since Phyllis Schlafly put forth a resolution at a Women’s Year Conference in 1977 concerning housewives: “We feel our rewards from our husbands are enough.  We don’t want any handouts from Big Brother in the form of Social Security or wages.”  It didn’t pass then.  I don’t think it would even be offered today.

There was something else that has crossed my mind during the so-far brief moments of fame shining on Gov. Palin.  How much more effective being an example is than preaching.
Of course, throughout history there have been many examples of women breaking the mold, but the world wasn’t ready.  Or maybe I should say, in the United States, when the born again, evangelical right wing is ready, things change. 

As for Gov. Palin’s speech, not much could be improved on her style and delivery.  She was funny and knows how to use sarcasm.  She actually did a better job than Obama did on his acceptance speech — he had a tendency to drop his voice on the last word of a sentence and cut it short.

I do have a sinking feeling when I hear Republicans asking over and over how are we going to pay for social and health programs, "to provide for the general welfare" or the infrastructure in the United States.  (Democrats will tax, tax, tax, they say.) 

When Republicans propose money to go to the rescue of other countries with weapons and help to rebuild after a war, (like recently a billion dollars to Georgia) they don’t ask how are we going to pay for it?  They know – just borrow it. It ends up being our next generation’s tax money. I have trouble with that.

Escazú Christian Fellowship

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

Jaco Towers

A.M. Costa Rica
fourth news page

Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 177

More responses from readers on the real estate market
Percentage of discounts
disputed in real estate

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have been following the comments on the real estate and crime appraisal of your contributor. I wish to comment based on some facts I have at my disposal.

While inquiries have slowed, we are still finding a number of serious buyers. We have seen no discounts at all in the Central Valley or Atenas unless they are related to distress situations. In fact, very recently in the Central Valley the following examples are our experiences directly: One house sold for the asking price of $525,000 due to competition and another fell through, because of financing. The asking price on that one was $450,000 and the price agreed was $435,000. In Atenas, a lot was sold for the asking price, another house was sold for $450,000 which was very close to the asking price, and these were in Atenas. These are just a few current examples.

What we have seen is more caution, certainly, fewer inquiries and the mix at the moment is more upper income people such as medical professionals interested in Costa Rica retirement.

Remember what I am reflecting here is a short time frame and in no way should be construed as the profile of things to come.  I am merely replying to what I think is an extreme exaggeration of the real estate market. I have documentation to show these figures as well.

To assess the current market, one needs to take into account that there are many retirements in Costa Rica information sources that have popped up in the form of Web sites. This makes the real estate market fiercely competitive and very confusing for the first-time visitor interested in Retirement in Costa Rica. The confusion scares people, especially when they are receiving sensationalized information, and this always results in less activity. The competition I speak of here is a large factor and cannot be discounted.

In cases where a developer gets caught with the recent Central Bank cutback on construction loans, I can see an issue here. Coastal overbuilding, I can see an issue here as well. Any underfunded product will always suffer when volume drops.

Developers that were thinly funded in the first place looking to pre-construction sales payments is a situation whereby aggressive discounts may be applied. There should be focus placed on this kind of thing that surely affects the price discounting and, more important, the safety of the investor.

Astute real estate offices won't sell those projects, and they can get desperate and prices could drop drastically to keep afloat, putting our clients at risk.

Many coastal boiler room projects (U.S.A. call center operations) cease to exist for the moment. The drop in these sales can surely be a factor as well.

Finally, Costa Rica is no different than any other country that gets caught up in up markets. We have had that for years, and we have our corrections like anyone else. With all the frenzy, maybe we are overbuilt. That can lead to slowdown for sure. Worth a mention: Developer inquiries have slowed considerably. The situation is clearly augmented by the slowdown, but was coming anyway in those cases.

My focus these days is to firmly address the Costa Rica retirement market as Costa Rica still is part of the solution for many. The numbers haven't changed, and there are some 65,000,000-plus Baby Boomers becoming of age. Costa Rica is still the No. 1 destination for Americans retiring offshore.

Is cost of living a factor?  Cost of living is going up here, but it is everywhere. How can it not?

Would you be more comfortable living on whatever your budget is here and paying $200 taxes on your $350,000 home or picking up a retirement condo in Florida very cheap now and paying all their future debt at God knows what rate of all their different taxes. Then you have the health care factor, the hurricanes to deal with and at least three years until there is some light at the end of the tunnel politically. We are still a viable solution for many.

I am aware that one can refute this in that Miami offers four major sports, south Beach and much more. Our clients are looking for retirement now, and they want what we have with all our problems and mainly they want difference . .  a new life. There may even be a large number of retired professionals who will come to our aid in moving us forward faster in the areas we lack.

The U.S.A will respond to their problems as they always have. Some just cannot wait and will seek alternatives. Costa Rica is still the best bet with all it's reported problems.

People may wish to investigate what Costa Rica is doing about crime. I am asking for an updated report on this so I may assess properly what our future holds. Currently, there are laws that provide incentives for criminals and these are being changed. I also know that our police force has recently been awarded a large budget for a great number of new police in excess of 1,000.  Cameras are being installed all over the place. This is a good start and I know a lot more is going on.

Back to the real estate market.  Numbers are down, no doubt. We are out of season, it is raining like crazy, and early this year, hurricanes are threatening and the U.S. economy sucks. Yes, things have slowed. But 50 percent price reductions, I don't think so.

I have spoken to three of my top associates in the business and we are all desperate to find the 50 percent discounts he mentioned. I would even welcome 20 percent discounts to include in my marketing plans for our clients promotional activities.

I do not have my head in the sand. I carefully watch the U.S.A. economical problems. I am aware we have some fallout. I cannot believe with the potential we have for retirees coming our way we won't have the benefit of this. Our country must want them and show it for sure.

I am fully aware of crime as well.

J. Robert Shannon
San José
Safety is a state of mind,
and Ticos show concern

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Most people do not feel safe in Costa Rica.  You can consider that a general statement and bury your head in the sand if you choose, but I think it is true.  

One has to ask "why do people not feel safe in Costa Rica?" You can come to your own conclusions but I don’t think it’s because they’re paranoid although the equation:  “fear + time = paranoia” is valid.

Is anyone suggesting that the average Tico has a fetish with high, concrete walls around their homes and would rather spend their money on that than on a new car or an education for their children?  What do they get out of a concrete wall other than a perceived feeling of being safe? 

Yet, look around. How many homes in your neighborhood have recently installed high walls and gates they hope will offer them security.  Hiring a guard is vogue for those who can afford it, and not because it is fashionable or chic — it’s a way to attain a feeling of safety. 

In my rural area of Alajuela, I've seen concertina wire (the same wire you see in war-torn countries) atop high street-side walls, and it signals that its owners have either been robbed in the recent past or their family/friends/neighbors have. 

People who feel safe simply do not find it necessary to bar their windows. Yet how many modest homes remain unbarred today?  One reader mentioned he doesn't even lock his door, isn’t worried in the least about his home being violated. I have to wonder if he's sane.  Or does he live in an outhouse?  

There's a joke about Canadians:  "How do you get 20 Canadians out of a public swimming pool at closing time?"  You say: "get out of the pool."  Ticos are probably as passive as Canadians — because they are in a "get out of the pool" mentality by trying to remove themselves from confrontation/danger.  But what happens when the bars on their doors and their high walls and their guards fail to protect them?  

I think that Garland Baker was just trying to stir up the public to stop just “getting out of the pool”.  Get angry enough about that sick feeling of not feeling safety for yourself and your loved ones. Demand change. Stop saying “yeah, I’ve been robbed five times.  I filed police reports three of those five times.  It was a waste of time and energy dealing with the bureaucracy and five hours filing a report so I didn’t report the other two.  Besides, the bad guys won’t get caught and even if they are, they’ll be back on the street a day later to rob again.”

Unless Ticos themselves want change badly enough will it happen.  Mr. Baker is a Tico.  I think his last article was a noble attempt to garnish support for an issue more Ticos should direct their focus on. Ordinary Mexican citizens are today marching to demand that necessary feeling of safety. 

Before another real estate reader argues vehemently that I shouldn’t compare Costa Rica to Mexico, my point is not to put down Costa Rica but to suggest this country not sit idly while it waits for the two countries to be on par in violent crime.  Start being pro-active in a way that matters.  Ticos march against free trade treaty while their wives have that “sick” feeling in the pit of their stomach, worrying if today is the day they or a member of their family will be a victim of violent crime.

A.M. Costa Rica and Garland Baker are messengers — and we know you don’t shoot the messenger.  There I go again, talking about violent crime:  “shooting the messenger.”  Shame on me!
Mary Jay

The point was missed

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Allen McDonald missed the point of George Lundquist's letter responding to Garland Baker's article about dropping property prices in Costa Rica.

The point being that the local conditions described in Mr. Baker's article shouldn't be extrapolated to conditions throughout Costa Rica. George states clearly that ". . . in the areas that I am most familiar with . . . . there remains essentially no violent and very little non-violent crime." He does not make this claim as Allen McDonald writes "In a general reference to Costa Rica . . . . " If Mr. McDonald had read a little more closely, he needn't have wasted his time writing his rebuttal to George Lundquist's letter. Of course, maybe it isn't George who is the liar doing the figuring.
Frank Muschal
Chicago, Ill. and Pérez Zeledón

A correction on a signature

Dear readers:

Allen McDonald, who wrote a letter published Wednesday reports that he no longer lives in Boquete, Chiriquí, República de Panamá. He returned to Costa Rica and San José in 2006, he said Thursday. The addition of the Panamá address to his signature was an editing error by A.M. Costa Rica.

Mr. McDonald received some comments in another letter published Thursday about living in Panamá. But he does not. Costa Rica is still the land of his dreams, he said.

The editors

Hotel Alfi
News from the BBC up to the minute
BBC sports news up to the minute
BBC news and sports feeds are disabled on archived editions

Costa Rica
fifth news page

Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 177

rss feed promo
save our forests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Algae as a biofuel source
expored in U.S. laboratory

By the A.M. Costa Rica daily news digest

In the northwestern U.S. state of Washington, an investment firm is betting algae will one day be an important ingredient in the production of bioenergy.

The search continues for cheaper more efficient alternatives to corn and other food substances used to make gas additives and biofuel.

Some researchers believe the answer to higher fuel prices will come from algae. In her University of Washington lab, Rose Ann Cattolico has been working with algae for decades.

From single cells, to fields of kelp, there are many varieties of algae. Ms. Cattolico is developing a process to turn certain algae strains into biofuel. The research is funded, in part, by the Allied Minds investment company.

"That whole process can be done," said Erick Rabins, vice president of Allied Minds. "I wouldn't say everywhere, but in many places."

Ms. Cattolico is focusing her research on several types of algae with the greatest potential. Her team grows small flasks of algae under carefully controlled conditions to extract the oils, or lipids, from it.

What researchers are looking for is the needle in the haystack, that particular organism that will give us the highest amount of lipids per unit time, Ms. Cattolico says. "The organism will grow really fast and the organism that has the quality of lipids that we want."

Algae grows rapidly, does not require farmland, and uses wastewater making it potentially an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels.
"Instead of drilling in the Arctic here is where we should be putting our money. That is my personal opinion," Ms. Cattolico says.

Cattolico believes algae based biofuel will one day be part of the solution to today's energy problems.

Jo Stuart
Real Estate
About us

What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier

The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for more details