A.M. Costa Rica

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These stories were published Monday, Oct. 10, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 200
Jo Stuart
About us

Fence climbers celebrate goal

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Torrential rain did not dampen the winning spirits

It was a long night for the U.S. team and fans
By Jesse Froehling
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Saturday was a rough day to be a Gringo. 

A solid 3-0 spanking by the Ticos against the U.S. team was enough to make one want to hop on the next flight north out of Juan Santamaría International.  Too bad it was fogged in. 

And the stadium was rained on heavily for the first half of the game. Half the city will be coming down with colds and the flu this week despite efforts by fans to stay dry

The airport wasn't the only thing that was foggy.  U.S. coach Bruce Arena rested most of his starters because the United States had already qualified for the World Cup finals.  The team that he fielded came out flat with the United States playing much of the game in their own half of the field. 

It was bad enough that the U.S. lost.  It was really bad to stand as the lone Gringo on the north side of the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in a sea of rowdy Tico fans that rivaled the student section at any college football game in the United States. 

The first blow came in the 34th minute when U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard blocked a nasty shot by Alvaro Saborio but the rebound fell straight to Paulo Wanchope who blasted  one into the empty U.S. net.  The stadium erupted.  On the north side of the field, fans scaled the fence to yell at Howard and sing the constant refrain that will be stuck in the ears of horrified Gringos for years to come: “Vaaamos, vamos los Ticos, este noche, tenemos que ganaaaaaaar!!!” 

Five minutes later, Taylor Twellman tapped in a header by forward Eddie Pope and the lone U.S. fan on the north side went screaming up the fence.  When Twellman was ruled offsides and the goal was taken away, the fan crept back to his seat with his tail between his legs and tried to ignore the smirks of the Ticos around him. 

Things were bad enough that although one   
soggy American flag was visible on the east side of the field, the only fan with a U.S. flag wrapped around his shoulders was from England.  Reports even circulated about Estadounidenses who cheered for the Sele. 

After the game as the North American sulked amidst the never-ending songs and shouts and horn honks that echoed up and down Avenida Central, the guy behind the counter at the pizza place offered his condolences: "Hey, you guys sucked alright, but at least you're already in," he said, referring to the World Cup finals in Germany next summer.   

Though there were no reports of violence after the game, the Fuerza Pública was ready.   Rogelio Ramos Martínez, minister of security, said that officers were on high alert throughout the country.  Fortunately, Ticos didn't have much to be angry about Saturday. 

La Unidad de Intervencíon Policial had more than 100 officers, some decked out in riot gear, to keep the celebrations peaceful and when fans entered the stadium, they were searched thoroughly. 

Saturday's win guaranteed the Costa Rica team a spot in the World Cup finals next summer in Germany.  In the North/Central America and Caribbean group, Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica have locked up the first three spots. 

All three of those teams will go to Germany.  The crucial fourth spot will come down to the final games Wednesday.  That spot will fall to either Trinidad and Tobago or Guatemala.

Trinidad and Tobago leads with 10 points but face a tough Mexican team on the road in the tougher Aztec stadium.  Guatemala, with eight points, will play Costa Rica at home in Guatemala City.   The team that clinches the fourth spot will play a one-game playoff with the fifth place team from the Asian bracket, either Bahrain or Uzbekistan, to see who goes to Germany. 

The U.S. team plays Panamá in Boston in a game that has no significance for either team.  Panamá is already eliminated. 

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 10, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 200

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Chamber agitates
for more airport help

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Daniel Oduber international airport in Liberia is struggling to keep up with Costa Rica's skyrocketing popularity with North Americans through the additions of extra flights and hopefully more personnel, said Giancarlo Pucci, executive director of the La Cámara de Turismo Guanacaste. 

The airport is trying to form a commission composed of members from both the public and private sectors to solicit more employees from the government, Pucci said.

Pucci said that the airport's estimated 250 employees won't be enough to handle the high season. 

“We need 34 more,” he said.   The commission is made up mostly of employees of La Cámara de Turismo Guanacaste to represent the private sector and persons from civil aviation, security and public transportation to represent the public sector, Pucci said. 

“We suppose that the commission that was formed last year will be reactivated, but we haven't yet cemented our plans.  Authorities have announced extra personnel for Juan Santamaría but Guanacaste hasn't seen the importance it deserves,” Pucci said.

That commission talked the government into hiring 21 workers last year as the high season approached, Pucci said.   The tourism chamber estimates that 300,000 tourists will pass through Daniel Oduber International's terminals by the close of 2005.  

Pacific Alert lifted
despite weekend rains

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Though the rain kept falling all weekend, the Pacific Coast and Guanacaste seem to have regained stability after a thorough thrashing at the hands of hurricanes Rita and Stan. 

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias dropped the red alerts it had maintained since the rain started more than two weeks ago.  However, Friday, emergency workers were still evacuating families in Santa Cruz, Carrrillo, Aguirre, Pérez Zeldón, Bagaces and Cañas among others.

By Sunday, the Cruz Roja said Filadelfia, Liberia and Santa Cruz in Guanacaste were returning to normal “little by little.”   In addition, all the once isolated communities now have access, the Cruz Roja said.  The organization finished its few pending necessities such as entering the community of Guinea in Filadelfia with medical equipment to attend to needy persons there, the agency said.    

José Antonio Bonilla, head of Prevención de Desastres of the Cruz Roja, said that although the situation has stabilized, a small amount of rain could renew the disaster.

“The region is unstable enough that a small amount of strong rain for prolonged periods could renew the flooding in any part of the region.  As a result, we recommend that residents stay alert and vigilant at the slightest drops of rain,” Bonilla said. 

By Sunday, strong, prolonged rains were falling again. 

Road contract approved
for Costanera Sur

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes named Constructora Meco S.A. to repair some 12 kilometers of the Costanera Sur.  The ministry estimates the cost of the contract at $4,237,145.

The plan now must be approved by the Plan de Gestión Ambiental, a branch of the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental, and countersigned by the Controlaria General de República.  At the current rate with which the project is moving, the ministerio hopes work will begin by March 2006.

Viceminister María Lorena López said that one of the defining factors in awarding the contract to Cornstructora Meco was the decision to use asphalt in the construction of the highway as opposed to concrete. 

Unlike many roads in Costa Rica, plans for this section call for drains, barriers, a green zone, reflector strips and a pedestrian walkway.

The Costanera Sur is fundamental for transit along the southern coast of the country and will serve as an alternative route to Ruta Nacional 2 which crosses the Cerro de la Muerte and ends at the Panamanian border in Paso Canoas.  Such a road would have been indispensable when flooding brought on by the rains of hurricanes Rita and Stan knocked out many of the roads along the southern Pacific coast. 

400 police give security
to carnival in Limón

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Carnival started Saturday in Limón and Fuerza Pública officers said they have added 400 officers to the area who will patrol the province by land, sea and air until the festivities end Sunday. 

Walter Navarro, director general of the Fuerza Pública, said that the agency had been moving officers to the province in the hopes of reducing incidents of violence and guaranteeing a peaceful gathering for all carnival goers.

In addition, Navarro said that in the case of medical emergencies, the agency will have two coast guard vessels ready to speed needy persons to help. “We are doing all that is necessary to guarantee the tranquility of thousands of people who, we hope, can enjoy the festivities in a safe and peaceful manner,” Navarro said.     

Planned activities for the carnival include the Día de las Culturas Wednesday.   The carnival coincides with the arrival of the first cruise ships to touch the coast this season. A record number of ships are expected to dock briefly in the Caribbean port this year.
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There's Spanglish and then there's Spanglish
¿Quiere café aunque sea con lengua?

“Would you like some coffee even if it’s only with the tongue?” This dicho applies when someone offers you a coffee but nothing to go with it. Another form of this expression is: ¿Quiere café aunque sea vacio? Meaning: “Would you like some coffee even if it’s empty?”

You can use this dicho when offering any beverage to someone. It doesn’t have to be coffee. For example, you might substitute refresco (soft drink) or jugo natural (juice) for coffee.

On the other hand, if you offer something to eat and nothing to drink, you can say ¿Quiere un pedacito de queque aunque sea seco?  Meaning: “Would you like a piece of cake even if it dry?” Remember, however, that queque is Costa Rican dialect.  It’s a spanglishization of the English word “cake.” So don’t try using it in Madrid or Lima. The standard Spanish word for cake is pastel or pastelillo.

I have no problem with Spanglish. Languages borrow words from one another all the time. But sometimes I find it a little difficult to understand what a given speaker is trying to communicate when not only words but grammars start getting mixed up together.

For example, on our way back to the U.S. from Costa Rica last month we stopped off in New Jersey to visit my cousins. They threw a big party the day after we arrived. Many of the guests were from Colombia. The conversation turned to the weather, and we were talking about how the humidity is more noticeable when there is no breeze. A Colombian friend said: Hoy estuvo brisiando, meaning, I suppose, “Today was breezy.”  I looked at him a little perplexed at first because I didn’t quite understand this word brisiando. After all, the word brisa is not a verb in Spanish, so how could it have a gerund? Also, if brisiando is a gerund, as the ending would suggest, then the sentence actually means, “Today it was breezing.” This appeared to me to be carrying spanglishization a tad too far. The word for “breezy” in Spanish, by the way, is hace viento. So, there was no need to resort to such silliness as making up brisiando.

Then later in the day I overheard my cousin produce the following astounding locution: Estuve mangueriando las matas, presumably meaning, “I was hosing the plants” or “I was using the hose to water the plants.” But here again, manguera is not a Spanish verb, so how can it have a gerund? There is a way to say “to hose” in Spanish: regar con manguera. So to express the idea “I was hosing the plants” in Spanish – without resorting to turning manguera into a verb resembling English usage – one would simply
way we say it

By Daniel Soto

say: estuve regando con manguera las matas or estuve regando las matas con la manguera. Shame, shame, shame!

Often when English speakers are first learning Spanish they make a lot of attempts at literal translations. Frequently this simply doesn’t work, because the way we say it in Spanish is quite different. Still, trial and error is, to a large extent, the way one learns to speak a new language. But for native Spanish speakers to commit such egregious errors is often a bit hard to overlook.

Studying grammar is difficult and boring I know, but some knowledge of how a language functions is obligatory for students just learning to speak.
And there is probably nothing more boring than learning to conjugate verbs, but there is probably also nothing more important in language acquisition. I knew one student who pretended conjugations didn’t matter, that he could express everything using only the present tense. However, he soon discovered that it was hard to get his meaning across when he wanted to tell someone what happened yesterday or even five minutes ago, or if he wanted to make plans to meet his girlfriend next Saturday to go to the beach.

Of course, friends will often go the extra mile by piecing together your meaning even when you’re not really saying exactly what you mean. However your friends are not doing you any big favors by letting your bad Spanish slide by. Sadly to say, this world is not populated altogether with one’s friends.

Most certainly it is rude to be constantly interrupting someone to correct their Spanish when they are in the midst of a conversation, but there are ways of helping people correct their errors without being inconsiderate. I think if you are trying to learn to speak Spanish well, you should ask your Costa Rican friends to help by gently pointing out your mistakes in private, if you are among the somewhat thin of skin.

Some Web pages are affected by accidental blackout
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Web surfers in Costa Rica did not get full service over the weekend because of a technical problem at the government's Internet monopoly.

The company, Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., known as RACSA, suffered an apparent failure in a server that contains some but not all of the DNS numbers used to hook users up to Web pages. The bulk of the Web pages that could not be reached were in the United States.

DNS numbers are like telephone numbers that direct the user's computer elsewhere to the correct server where the Web page data is stored. So depending on
 what computer RACSA stores a particular number of a Web page, the location either was available or unavailable.

For example, A.M. Costa Rica was available all weekend, as was Google.co.cr, which tied into the computers of its mother company. However, another search company, Yahoo, including its Internet discussion groups about Costa Rica appeared to be down.

A source close to RACSA disclosed the problem that had endured since sometime Saturday. However, RACSA did not respond to the problem because its high-level technical staff does not work weekends, the individual said.

Vannessa reports that its Las Crucitas gold project is moving ahead
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Vannessa Ventures Ltd., the Canadian company that owns the local firm that owns the gold mine in Las Crucitas, said that it has provided the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental with all of the information necessary to allow the agency to issue a final resolution on whether the company is in compliance with the Environmental Performance Bond.  Las Crucitas is in the provincia de Alajuela in the northern central part of the country near the Río San Juan.

Vanessa said that its submission included
confirmation of prior promises it had made to the agency and updated estimates of project costs. 

Vanessa said that it is now looking for consultants in the fields of geology, mineral processing, infrastructure construction and other areas to complete additional requirements issued by the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental. 

The gold mine is controversial because it is an open pit and gold will be leached above ground from rock using the chemical element mercury. Environmentalists fear the toxic metal will infiltrate the soil and enter the San Juan basin.

Robertson says Venezuela's Chávez is a nuclear threat
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An American Christian minister who recently called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez says the Venezuelan leader poses a nuclear threat to the United States.

In August, the minister, television evangelist Pat Robertson, made headlines when he suggested the United States assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez rather than watch the South American leader spread marxist ideology throughout the region. Days later, Robertson apologized for the remarks.

But appearing on CNN's Late Edition program, Robertson, a one-time Republican presidential aspirant, made new charges against President Chávez.

"This man is setting up a marxist-type dictatorship in Venezuela. He is trying to spread marxism throughout South America. He is negotiating with the Iranians to get nuclear material, and he also sent $1.2 million in cash to Osama bin Laden right after [the terrorist attacks of] 9-11," said Robertson.
Robertson declined to say how he had learned of the accusations he was making, saying only that he was passing along information he had received. But while repeating that he does not believe Chávez should be killed, he characterized the Venezuelan leader as a problem that should be dealt with.

"One day we are going to be staring at nuclear weapons, and it will not be Katrina facing New Orleans, it is going to be a Venezuelan nuke. So my suggestion was, is it not a lot cheaper, sometimes, to deal with these problems before you have to have a big war?" he added.

The Bush administration has denied any plan to remove President Chávez from power, and says that Robertson's comments in no way reflect U.S. policy.

Venezuelan officials have described Mr. Robertson's August remarks as criminal and a form of terrorism. Venezuelan political analysts say Robertson's comments have played into the hands of Chávez, a self-avowed socialist who for years has accused the United States of plotting against him.

Taxi mishap highlights dangers of mixing locomotive with motor traffic
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rail service in the Central Valley begins in earnest today shortly after 5 a.m., but the inauguration Friday pointed out the danger.

A locomotive whacked into a taxi in Barrio Cuba. No one was hurt but the crash was a reminder of the two mishaps that took place during test runs last November.

The problem is that not all grade crossings have signs and motorists are not used to mixing with rail traffic. All signs will not be installed for at least two months. officials have said.

There is major grade crossing all the way from Pavas to Barrio Cuba where the accident took place. In addition, the train mixes with traffic on Avenida Principal in Barrio California as well as on city streets from the Estación del Pacifico east.

The morning train run begins at the Pacific railway station at Avenida 20 and Calle 2 at 5:08 a.m. The train heads west to Pavas and begins the return run at 5:44 a.m.  Once the train returns to the Pacific rail station, it does not continue east, according to the preliminary
timetable provided by the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles.

Instead, the train leaves the station at 6:18 a.m. and returns to Pavas for another round trip, arriving back at the Pacific station at 7:25. Then and only then does the train leave (at 7:28 a.m.) for a run to San Pedro with a final stop at the Universidad Latina at 7:55 a.m. Ten minutes later the train begins a return run to the Pacific station, arriving at 8:33.

The afternoon run is less complex. The train leaves the Pacific station at 4:23 p.m. and arrives at Universidad Latina at 4:50 p.m. Then, after a 10-minute layover, the train heads to Pavas with an intermediary stop at the Pacific station at 5:37 p.m.  with an arrival at Pavas at 6:11 p.m. So the entire trip is 61 minutes. The return from Pavas at 6:15 p.m. only goes as afar as the Pacific station.

The stops from Pavas to the Pacific station are Villa Esperanza, La Jacks (three blocks from the U.S. Embassy), La Sabana and Cemeterio.  Stops from the Pacific station to University Latina are Plaza Víquez, The Procuraduría on Calle 11 not far from Avenida 2, Universidad Estatal a Distancia, the Universidad de Costa Rica and then Universidad Latina.

Our readers express their opinions
What about bad weather
that hit the Pacific coast?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Regarding Ms. Stuart’s opinion piece of 10/7/2005 — perhaps this piece could’ve been timed a bit better.  She stated: “Neither one (Panamá nor Argentina) can compete with Costa Rica for its weather.”  Given that the Pacific coast of Costa Rica has been taking an incredible beating from the weather and its after effects, I sincerely doubt either Panamá or Argentina would want to compete.  Does Ms. Stuart actually look at the postings on A.M. Costa Rica -— you know, the ones mentioning the dead and missing, the photos of the destruction, the appeals for assistance?

Also in this opinion piece, Ms. Stuart applauded Costa Rica for “a history of peace and political stability for the past 50 years.” Forgive me, but I’m finding it difficult to join in the applause for this stability, as I need both hands on the steering wheel of my car as I dodge potholes — one of the MANY, MANY shameful (and negligent) results of on-going political corruption at its worst.  Please, let’s remember how many ex-presidents of Costa Rica are in prison and why they are there.

Louis DuBois

Don't treat terrorism
as just another crime

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Jo Stuart said in her article today:
“In the 90’s terrorists were viewed as criminals committing  criminal acts, and dealing with them in this manner seemed to put their threat into one that could be dealt with.”
She could not be more wrong.  It is this type of thinking that is one of the major problems with the issue of terrorism.  It has always been a war, not a criminal act that can be dealt with.  Name one occasion  please, where a terrorist attack was dealt with as any other crime and it was of any benefit to curtail an attack somewhere else.

These people have one goal and one goal
only — to subjugate you to their brand of radical  Islam.  When some leaders finally started taking a stand against the rising terrorist attacks, yes, things did escalate, that happens in a war.   The key though here is that it is a war, and people better start realizing  that.  Had President Clinton been serious a long time ago about dealing with terrorism, we would be more ahead of the game now.  Please don’t trivialize terrorism by suggesting it’s just like any other criminal act and should be dealt with in that manner.  If you don’t learn from history, unfortunantly, you are destined to repeat it.
Dave Treadway
Esterillos Oeste

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Send it to

Tourist chronicles
tough time here

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I was (WAS) a tourist looking to purchase property near Manuel Antonio. All the ads and the ridiculous televison station WSEE35 (”Tell them Joey sent you”) talked about the beauty of Central America’s most visited tourist attraction. (TRAP)

Driving there, the horror started. After driving through Parrita, the roads turned into an obstacle course with three bridges so unsafe, that we  wouldn’t drive over until all traffic was off the bridge. This is the route to CR’s most cherished park!!??

All the money tourists pump into this country must be going in someones pocket; it is certainly not  being used to improve the infrastructure.

We made a mistake and stayed one night in Playa Jacó on the way back. A bridge on the main road is closed so all the traffic is re-routed through Jacó, Including 18-wheelers, tankers, tourist traffic and hazardous materials. This caused the worst, pot-holed street in CR. The dirt and pollution is  horrible in this dirty little town that is reminiscent of Tijuana, Mexico.

Filthy streets, muddy ocean water, dirty beaches. What a joke.

Our next mistake in Jaco was going to the “Monkey Bar” for a nightcap. When we came out, the immigration police were outside with a bus and if you did not have your PASSPORT, you were herded on the bus for an overnight stay in Puntarenas.

Ah ha, but, if you paid the officer a “FEE” of $50.00 USD you were let off!

But wait. When we arrived at the airport, they handed us a little blue piece of paper telling us NOT to carry our passports, but to make a copy of it along with the incoming stamp showing when we arrived.

As newbies, we diligently followed the advise of the *CR Government*, but the Puntarenas Immigration officer said that was “no good.” It is lucky that I am a former U.S. federal agent and still had my ID; the corrupt cop backed off quickly when I asked to speak with his supervisor.

And, the powers-that-be condone this ‘thief’ as well as the traffic police, who are all on the take.

Yes, this is a developing country, but it is developing into the most corrupt Central American country in Latin America.

I guess talking about the corruption to those of you that live in CR falls on deaf ears. You can always tell where corruption is by seeing only monopolies and no open commerce. (cable TV/Internet, cell phones, water, liquor, exports/imports, etc.). For those of you who love it, and live here for whatever reason,(?) God Bless you.

For me, I would rather live in the good ‘ole’ USA in a trailer park where at least the police come when called, the politicians abide by the open  “Sunshine” law and legal matters get handled in months, not years.

CR is still a backwards country and as long as the mindset is one of  “take or be taken,” then tourists and potential investors like me, get what we deserve if we are dumb enough to invest here.

Obviously, I will not talk about the beauty of CR to my friends, as that was so over-shadowed by the corruption and lack of basic services, that we will never be back, but will extol the non-virtues to whomever may listen.

Mark Adamson
Los Angeles, Calif.

EDITOR'S NOTE; Mr. Adamson said that 40 persons were detained by the immigration police the night he was there. Some spent the night in a Puntarenas jail despite having a copy of a passsport and a copy of the page with the entry date stamp.

Jo Stuart
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