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(506) 2223-1327                              Published Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 206                      Email us
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Tourism organizations cut a deal on back sales tax
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tourism organizations have made a deal with the executive branch to postpone a 13 percent sales tax on recreational activities until Jan. 1, 2016.

The organizations, the Cámera Nacional de Turismo, the Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles and the Asociación Costarricense de Operadores de Turismo said that the government promises not to collect back sales tax.

The organizations said that the tax agency, the  Dirección General de Tributación, has promised to fast track a bill in the legislature providing for eliminating the tax debt.

The debt comes from tourism activities for which tourism operators did not even know were taxed. That all changed in the last days of the Laura Chinchilla administration when a decree redefined the sales tax law to include typical tourism activities including bird watching. Some tourism firm quickly found themselves on the hook for sales taxes dating back years because the tax law was 6 years old.

An announcement from the tourism organizations said that the tax will be charged on zoo visits, canopy tours and ziplines, nature walks, bungee jumping and bird watching. A key point seems to be if the vendor has a fixed base of operation, such as an office.

Pablo Heriberto Abarca, president of the tourism chamber, praised the executive branch action. However, the approval of the idea by the organizations does not preclude a legal challenge to the law by an individual or firm. The tourism organizations also may continue to seek other legal remedies, but the tourism chamber said that the tax agency does not think it has standing to challenge the law.

In another action related to the sales tax, the  Cámara Costarricense de la Industria Alimentaria announced that it would not accept an initiative or reform that creates new taxes.

The food marketers chamber said that the government should make structural changes that have been the principal cause of budget problems.

The chamber referred to recent disclosures of luxury pensions of former high public officials, the inflated salaries of pubic employees and other abuses.

José Manuel Hernando, chamber president, said any effort to increase the existing 13 percent sales tax is not acceptable. The  government is going to propose a value-added tax, but it may seek a higher percentage.

He said that the government may seek to include categories that are not now taxed, and that every new tax generates an immediate impact on the pockets of Costa Ricans.

Finance committee reports out a trimmed budget
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislative budget committee approved funding for 2015 Thursday that is 3.8 percent lower than the executive branch wanted.

The approved budget is 7.6 trillion colons, about $14 billion. The amount trimmed from the executive branch budget was 297.8 billion colons or about $546 million.

Three of the 11 lawmakers on the committee voted against the cuts. They are Marco Vinicio Redondo of the Partido Acción Ciudadana and Gerardo Vargas Varela and José Ramírez of Frente Amplio, The have expressed concerns about cuts to social programs.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transporte, the Poder Judicial, the Ministerio de Educación Publica and the Ministerio de la Presidencia sustained the bulk of the cuts, according to a legislative summary.

The committee, the  Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Hacendarios, also ordered government agencies to use up their surpluses.

The budget now goes to the full legislature which is supposed to approve a budget by Nov. 30.

Some lawmakers were surprised when President Luis Guillermo Solís submitted a budget request  
for 7.9 trillion colons, $14,5 billion. That's because the country is deeply in debt and paying much of the budget with borrowed money.

Committee Chairman Ottón Solís led the effort to trim the budget, but he also generated strong responses from those affected, including the president. University students, for example, staged a march on the legislature. The Poder Judicial launched a strong public relations effort.

However, revelations dampened the campaigns. For example, some former officials were reported to be received pensions approaching $18,000 a month, and some agencies were found to be giving nearly every employee a merit pay bonus each year.

Still, during debate in the full Asamblea Legislativa, the cuts could be restored or more cuts could be made.

Expats who have been following the budget discussions in the Spanish-language newspapers could become confused by the category  of numbers. Million is the same in Spanish or English. But in Costa Rica, what English-speakers call billion is called here mil millon. The issue is confused further because Spanish speakers use the word billon for what English speakers call trillion.

So 7.6 trillion colons is called  7.6 billones in Spanish.

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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.

Residency experts

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Remodelling and Construction

Real estate agents and services

CR Beach
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Jeff Fisher invites you to see why this 20-year resident of Costa Rica believes the Central Pacific areas of Jacó Beach-Playa Hermosa-Los Suenos Marina & Golf and Esterillos-Bejuco Beaches are the best place to live and invest.
Reason #1:  SJO Int’l Airport and S.J. suburbs are little more than one hour away.
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Dixon family photo             
Mr. and Mrs. Dixon and brother David are flanked by suporters
a Costa Rican visit.

Dixon family has struggled for five years

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Dixon family is not giving up. Five years have past since  Michael Dixon vanished in Tamarindo. He was a British tourist and a journalist.

There is no doubt that the family is carrying a heavy burden. But they also are unhappy with the way parts of the investigation have been handled.

The family's spokesman sent this in Thursday:

Family of missing British journalist marks five years in limbo

The family of a missing British journalist, Michael Dixon, will on Saturday (18 October) mark five years since he vanished in Costa Rica. Michael walked out of his hotel one evening in the seaside town of Tamarindo and never came back.

His brother’s own efforts turned up several leads which indicate he was the victim of a violent crime.

But Costa Rican and British authorities did nothing to ensure a proper investigation, despite the family’s appeals to former Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla and to British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“The British Foreign Office used to send us a monthly, then a quarterly update on the case. But now we don’t even get these any more,” Michael’s brother, David Dixon from Croydon, said.

“Britain has one of the biggest consular and diplomatic services in the world. Its duty is to protect British citizens. But in reality, unless there is a media outcry, the machine doesn’t care,” he said.

Some 45,000 British nationals visit Costa Rica every year.

But in 2009, the year Michael went missing, 12 foreign tourists were murdered or vanished without trace. The authorities have promised to do more to protect visitors. But fresh cases keep turning up.

“Our only hope is that someone comes forward with information. I know it’s been a long time. But Tamarindo is so small that someone must have seen something. If they’re afraid to come forward, we promise that they will be treated in strict confidence,” Michael’s mother, Lynn Dixon, said.

“We will never have peace until we know what happened to our loved one”.

For more information, please visit:

Animal adoption fair in Alajuela Sunday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The rescue group Animales de Asís will have an adoption fair Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at  Pet Cafe en Alajuela a kilometer west of the Alajuela cemetery. A donation is accepted for each dog, cat, puppy or kitten. All animals are castrated and vaccinated.

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 206
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Legislative committee approves financing for new San Ramón highway
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A legislative committee approved and sent to the full body Thursday a plan to create a 30-year trust to build the San José-San Ramón highway.

The project will use local banks and government institutions to put money in the trust.

The highway will be constructed in stages. The first will be making the stretch from the Circunvalación to Sabana Este into six lanes. The second stage will be for eight lanes from the Agencia Datsun to Juan Santamaria airport. The third step will be four lanes from the airport to San Ramón. There also are plans for a four-lane highway from San Antonio de Belén to Santa Ana.

The committee, the  Comisión de Asuntos Económicos, said that the taking of land and expropriation for the jobs should be done as quickly as possible.

Lawmakers on the committee expressed positive opinions of the project and said it should be competed as soon as possible.

In another highway development, the nation's financial watchdog has approved 22 direct contracts amounting to 70 billion colons (about $128.5 million) to allow the road agency to continue extensive repairs of the national network.

The firms getting the contracts are basically renewing what they already had. They include Constructora MECO S.A., Constructora Hernán Solis S.R.L, Quebradores del Sur, S.A., Consorcio Orosi and CONANSA S.A,

The contracts expired in August but the work had not been completed. The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said that the contracts also were vital to provide emergency work for rain and flood damage this month and next.
heredia cliff
Municipalidad de Heredia photo
Heredia officials will open this, Calle el Guayabal, today after extensive work to stabilize the slope for the benefit of those living above. The slope has been covered with concrete and metal spikes driven in to prevent slippage. This is a principal access to Heredia that carries up to 4,000 cars a day. The job cost 300 million colons or about $550,000.

boat patrols
Ministerio de Gobernación. Policía y Seguridad Pública photo

Crew of a police boat patrol checks out an unattended canoe on a bank of the Río Sixaola Friday morning.

Double murder suspect is subject of massive Sixaola search
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted at 1:40 p.m. Friday

More than 200 law enforcement officers were sweeping the jungle between BriBri and Sixaola today seeking the third suspect in a
José García García
double murder.

The Fuerza Pública identified the suspect with the last name of  

There also were a series of highway blockades and boat patrols to prevent the man from leaving the area or entering nearby
Panamá, said the security ministry.

A helicopter and crew from the  Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea also was involved in the search.

Elizondo bolted into the jungle when police stopped a vehicle
Thursday night. Two other persons in the car were detained after a brief firefight, police said.

 "We are not going to let him escape," said  Gustavo Mata Vega, a vice minster of Seguridad Pública.

Earlier story below.

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men have been exhumed from rude graves, and the Fuerza Pública said that two men have been detained in their murders.

One of the dead men is  José García García, 23, who was identified by the Cuerpo de Bomberos because he was a volunteer firefighter.
The second victim was identified by the Judicial Investigating Organization by the last name of  Torres. The bodies were found in  Paraíso de Sixaola in a section called Parcelas, That was where the pair had farmland. They were last seen Monday when they left to tend their land.

The owner of an adjacent parcel of land had a strange story Wednesday evening.

The man presented himself to judicial agents abut 6:30 p.m. and said that he had been abducted by three men who took him to the spot where the two victims were tied to a tree. The victim already showed

signs of stab wounds. The man told agents that his abductors wanted him to kill García and Torres, but he declined and watched as one of the abductors killed both with a blade to the throats and then buried them.  The man told agents he was able to flee.

The two men were reported missing Tuesday, and a number of volunteers including firefighters took to the fields and woods to attempt to locate them. García had been a firefighter since December and worked out of the  Bribrí, Talamanca, station.

Agents are believed to have been led to the grave site by the man who said he was abducted. The Fuerza Pública originally said that this man was detained.

Agents also said that they had a tip that a man wanted for murders in Guápiles was in the area.

Then Thursday evening, the Fuerza Púbica officers reported that two men had been stopped in a car at a checkpoint near  Sixaola. They were identified by the last names of  Gómez and Castellón. The men tried to evade police, a report said. They were identified as murder suspects.

The area of the crime is in southeast Costa Rica in an region that has a high native population. The area also produces a lot of marijuana from hidden patches in the hills.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 206
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Nigerian officials are in talks with Boko Haram to free abducted girls
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Islamist militant group Boko Haram is in talks with the Nigerian government to release more than 200 girls abducted six months ago and negotiate a cease-fire to a deadly insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.

An adviser to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and a man calling himself the secretary-general of Boko Haram said Thursday that discussions are under way in Saudi Arabia, aided by high level officials from Chad and Cameroon.

Boko Haram's Danladi Ahmadu, who is in Saudi Arabia, said the girls are in good condition and unharmed.
Ahmadu would not elaborate on the conditions under which the girls would be freed. Riyadh is not involved in the negotiations.

On April 14, dozens of Boko Haram fighters stormed a secondary school in the remote northeastern village of Chibok, kidnapping around 270 girls. Fifty-seven managed to escape.Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau later threatened to sell the remainder as slave brides, vowing they would not be released until militant prisoners were freed from jail.

The Nigerian presidenthas been criticized at home and abroad for his slow response to the kidnapping and for the inability of Nigerian troops to quell the violence by the militants, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa's top economy and leading energy producer.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

La Fortuna
Comfort of your home in the campo, 5 minutes from Fortuna Centro of San Carlos, in the shadow of Volcano Arenal, Flat screen TV, AC, refrigerator, free coffee. Local area activities like four-wheeling, horse riding, zip lining, hot springs, jungle walking tours. Bring your camera for great photos of nature, fishing and swimming, canyoning and wireless internet. Harry Hart, proprietor.  Call for reservations  (506) 2479-8670   and (506) 8682-9219  Email:

Will Costa Rica Retirement Work For You?
Find out for yourself on Live In Costa Rica Tours

When you visit Costa Rica, you'll want to discover what you need to know to  make the right choice about moving to this tropical paradise.  Our familiarization tours have won hard-earned credentials that prove general excellence and the right focus.  These are the only retirement tours that are licensed and approved by the Costa Rican government and tourism institute  (ICT). In 2006 we were featured on the NBC Today Show and World News.  In 2010, we won the  prestigious Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the Best and Most Unique Tour in Latin America.

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
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   * Tours led by Christopher Howard, 34-year resident, citizen,
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Anywhere Costa Rica plans custom vacations, and has the most comprehensive travel services in the country including travel guides, resorts and vacation homesCosta Rica tours
and car rentals.  
Call 1-888.456.3212 or 2479-8811 locally.

Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.


Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom

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See our listing of real estate brokers on the for-sale page.

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Maneul Antonio
The vacation homes at Manuel Antonio Estates offers luxury, comfort and peace of mind. We have numerous homes to chose from, all within walking distance of the town’s shops and restaurants and just a few minutes to the best beaches and the famous national park. While the homes are secluded and hidden among the rainforest, the surrounding area offers adventures like zip lines, white water rafting, mangrove kayaking and many more. All of the homes are available for short-term rentals, have easily accessible parking, cable TV, and Internet and are fully furnished. We are happy to assist with all your need for the perfect Costa Rican vacation.
Manuel Antonio Estates        TOLL FREE: 1800 346 9724
011 (506) 2777.3339

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80 stations, water, washer
 and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

Beautiful fully furnished two floor house for rent
in La Guacima

Guacima montage
La Guacima, Alajuela. 20 minutes from airport, San José or Alajuela Centro and 30 minutes from Heredia. Near highway 27. $1,200 a month. All services included (Internet, water, electricity, security). Very private, very quiet, green areas, fully furnished. Must like animals (we have three gentle dogs), look at high resolution pics HERE! U.S. citizens or Europeans preferred. No children. Call to inquiry and for appointment to visit. Available for rent in December. Contact phone number:  (506)  8839-4315.

Organic farm home
$800 plus utilities.
Two-bedroom, two-bath house, fully furnished, Internet included, cable TV available. Inside organic farm, safe and secure. In the country but close to town. Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Email for more info and pictures. Long term, NO DOGS.

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.
We are offering homes for every budget and every need.
Please visit our Web page at or contact us at
or call at (506) 2654-5442.

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

HP Cattle rentals
Mountain homes or farm for rent
Barva volcano, Heredia province
We offer for rent a gorgeous two-bedroom mountain chalet and a one-bedroom mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude and within a working horse ranch just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance. From our homes one can hike to the Barva volcano crater-lake.  Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and breathtaking views of the Irazú volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of cloud forest bird species to include the resplendent quetzal.  The homes are incomparable in beauty and attention to detail within the Barva highland area.  We are only 35-55 minutes from Costa Rica’s three principal cities (Heredia, Alajuela, and San José), less than two hours from the central Pacific beaches, and three hours from the Caribbean beaches. Enjoy the tranquility of the mountains while maintaining quick access to the conveniences of the city and rapid access to other eco-tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Additionally, we can board your horses at a reasonable fee.  We can also offer our clients rental of a small and fully functional farm complete with stables, pasture, and office space.
Mountain chalet: $750.  Basic mountain home: $400.
Boutique mountain home: One-bedroom $850. Two-bedroom $1,000.
Small Farm that includes a chalet, basic mountain home, stables, and 8,000m2 of pasture/green areas: $1,500.

Apartments Lemur
Apartment Lemur for rent
San Francisco de Dos Rios, El Bosque, furnished, 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment, quiet area, free cable TV, WiFi. large patio area, swimming pool, parking, security. Close to San José. $440/month. Retired persons preferred. Call 8375-6838.

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A.M. Costa Rica's   Fifth news page
Family home

cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 206
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Texas hospital official says
mistakes were made on ebola

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A senior official of the Texas hospital system that treated a Liberian national with ebola said Thursday "we made mistakes" in diagnosing the man who later died and in giving inaccurate information to the public, adding that he was deeply sorry.

Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer and senior vice president of Texas Health Resources, also said there was no actual ebola training for staff before that first patient, Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, was admitted.

Varga's remarks were part of his prepared statement for a House congressional hearing in the United States where lawmakers grilled the nation's top medical experts to discuss ebola detection and control measures. Varga did not attend the hearing, instead remaining in Texas.

Ebola treatment protocols have come under scrutiny since two Texas health care workers contracted the disease after caring for Duncan, who was hospitalized and died earlier this month in Dallas.

One of the women, nurse Nina Pham, 26, is to be flown to the National Institutes of Health isolation unit in Bethesda, Maryland. While the second, nurse Amber Vinson, 29, who took a domestic flight right before her diagnosis, was flown Wednesday from Dallas to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, where two other ebola patients were successfully treated.

Speaking at the hearing, Thomas Frieden, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he worries that the spread of ebola virus in West Africa will pose a long-term threat to the U.S. health care system.

Frieden said the ebola threat will best be countered by strengthening health care systems and training health care providers.

He acknowledged, however, that there is not yet an effective vaccine for the disease but said he remains confident that Ebola is not a significant public health threat in the United States.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers that work on two ebola vaccines was in Phase 1 of clinical  trials to determine their safety and effectiveness.

“If those parameters are met, we will advance to a much larger trial in larger numbers of individuals to determine if it is actually effective, as well as not having a paradoxical, negative deleterious effect,” Fauci said.

“The reason we think this is important is that if we do not control the epidemic with pure public health measures, it is entirely conceivable that we may need a vaccine and it's important to prove that it is safe and effective,” he added.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said it is sending teams to Mali and Ivory Coast to evaluate the countries' ebola-preparedness measures at their shared borders with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The agency's health security response chief, Isabelle Nuttall, told reporters Thursday that a team of 10 people will leave for Mali  Sunday and another will leave for Ivory Coast within days.

Ms. Nuttall said the key to stopping the spread of ebola lies in controlling its spread in the three West African nations hardest-hit by the disease.

She said this makes exit screening at the borders of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone very important.

The World Health Organization said Nigeria and Senegal appear to have snuffed out the virus.

Nigeria was able to use an emergency command center that was built by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to combat polio.

Senegal, health officials say, did well in finding and isolating a man with ebola who slipped across the border from Guinea in August. The World Health Organization says it will declare the end of the disease in Senegal today if no new cases surface.

Authorities in some African countries have used tight air travel restrictions, tougher than those contemplated by the U.S. or British governments, to stop the spread of the virus.

South Africa and Zambia slapped travel and entry restrictions on ebola-stricken countries. Kenya Airways, the country's main airline, stopped flying to the affected lands.

In Zimbabwe, all travelers from West Africa are put under 21-day surveillance. Health officials regularly visit those travelers to check their condition.

Nigeria initially banned flights from countries with ebola but relaxed the restriction once it believed that airlines were competent to take travelers' temperatures and follow other measures to prevent people with ebola from flying.

Nigeria has teams taking the temperature of travelers at airports and seaports.

In Ethiopia, the main international airport in Addis Ababa screens all arriving passengers, including those from Europe and the U.S. Ethiopia is using body scans to check people for fevers.

European health ministers gathered in Brussels for high-level talks on how to screen for the ebola virus at European borders and airports. France said that on Saturday, it will begin screening passengers who arrive at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport on the once-daily flight from Guinea's capital.

In the past week, new screening measures have been put in place at five U.S. airports. Those airports, all in major cities, receive most of the incoming passengers from the West African nations at the center of the outbreak.

Obama remains opposed to imposing a ban on travel from the ebola-afflicted nations of West Africa. The president also said he may appoint an official to deal with efforts to fight the disease in the United States.

Pressure has been building on President Obama to do more to prevent ebola from spreading in the United States.

Critics say the administration has not done enough to prevent the spread of ebola and have called for the U.S. to impose a travel ban on people coming from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

After meeting with members of his ebola response team at the White House late Thursday, the president indicated he remains opposed to such a ban.  

“I don’t have a philosophical objection, necessarily, to a travel ban if that is the thing that is going to keep the American people safe. The problem is that in all the discussions I’ve had thus far with experts in the field, experts in infectious disease, is that a travel ban is less effective than the measures that we are currently instituting,” said Obama.

Those measures include screening passengers before they board airplanes in West Africa and screening them again when they arrive in the United States. Their addresses are kept on file to make sure health officials can track them.

Obama said a travel ban would increase the likelihood of people evading the system and slipping into the country undetected.

The U.S. leader said the best way to prevent a major outbreak is by keeping up efforts in West Africa.

“The most important thing that I can do for keeping the American people safe is for us to be able to deal with ebola at the source, where you have a huge outbreak in West Africa,” said Obama.

Earlier Thursday, the president authorized the Pentagon to send national guard and reserve troops, if needed, to the region. The U.S. already has committed 4,000 troops to West Africa to help afflicted countries combat the epidemic.

The Pentagon said it had no immediate plans to send reservists or National Guard troops to Africa. It said the order simply allows the military to begin planning for those forces in its overall response.

Responding to domestic pressure, the U.S. leader said it may be appropriate to appoint an official, or czar, to lead the U.S. response to ebola.

Nearly 4,500 people have died from the virus since the outbreak began late last year. The virus causes fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea, and spreads through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.

Apple challenging the FBI
with new device encryption

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

What began as a software tweak by Apple to increase security on devices running iOS 8 has spilled into a heated debate between the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and high-tech corporations over how much personal information law enforcement agencies can demand to see.

That debate that continued to play out Thursday at a forum in Washington at the Brookings Institute attended by FBI Director James Comey.

Apple says its new encryption standards protect users from search and seizure of their iPhones. The FBI says the policy will hurt law enforcement by putting important evidence off-limits to federal investigators.

But one encryption security executive says neither is true – that Apple’s new encryption standard is little more than a public relations move to reassure its international market, and that the FBI already can get access to just about any information it wants already through the USA Patriot Act.

When it released its latest mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads this September, Apple included a security change that it said would make it nearly impossible for police agencies to unlock the devices without the owner’s consent. Previously, the operating system allowed Apple to unlock devices if police or the FBI provided a search warrant.

“Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services,” the company said on its Web site. “It’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Google, which controls the Android operating system popular on many mobile devices, quickly followed suit.

That means that even if law enforcement officers believe a suspect’s iPad or Android phone contains incriminating evidence and present a valid warrant, they still will not be able to access that data without the suspect’s direct cooperation.

The change came just months after a pair of rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court that declared mobile phones to be “…a digital record of nearly every aspect…” of users’ lives, and by and large put them off limits to police except in only the most specific circumstances.

Privacy and civil rights activists, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, hailed the enhanced encryption standards.

“Apple seems to understand that consumers want companies to put their privacy first,” the ACLU’s Christopher Soghoian told the Washington Post, adding “I suspect there are going to be a lot of unhappy law enforcement officials.”

Count among the unhappy Comey, director of the FBI. Soon after the new standards were announced, Comey began criticizing the move as harmful to law enforcement.

“The law has not kept pace with technology,” he warned in his Brookings appearance on Thursday. “There will come a day — and it comes every day in this business — where it will matter a great deal to innocent people that we in law enforcement can’t access certain types of data or information, even with legal authorization.”

Comey said law enforcement agencies are increasingly vexed by bad guys using encrypted data storage and keeping nearly all their information – some of which might be evidence of illegal activity – on encrypted phones, outside the traditional access of wiretaps or database searches. Comey calls this going dark, saying that criminals must not be allowed to turn phones into an unbreakable storehouse of data.

“If the challenges of real-time interception threaten to leave us in the dark, encryption threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place,” he said.

Many on social media were skeptical. This tweet from Twitter user Mike Spinney was typical: “When Comey warns we're headed to a dark place, that's exactly the point. Dark enough that the FBI can't see.”

But Alain Ghiai, CEO of the Switzerland-based secure data service DigitalSafe, said the debate between law enforcement leaders like Comey and high-tech firms like Apple is, in all practical purposes, largely meaningless.

“It just makes people comfortable, but it doesn’t protect them whatsoever,” Ghiai said, speaking about the new encryption policies. And the reason for that, he said, is the USA Patriot Act, passed in 2001 and extended in 2011.

“Very few people think about the USA Patriot Act,” he said. “What it basically means, in a nutshell, is that not just the government but a lawyer with a rubber stamp approval can subpoena your data by going through your Internet service provider, telecomm provider or anybody else, without your knowledge…and basically download all your information.”

Ghiai said that while the new Apple and Google encryption policies make it difficult for police to break open a suspect’s phone, nearly everything on that phone will have, at some point, been transmitted via ISP or mobile provider or another service, and the Patriot Act he says gives federal law enforcement nearly unlimited access to those data sets – all under the cloak of secrecy.

Comey acknowledged that revelations of U.S. surveillance over the past few years – “post-Snowden” he called it – have made many worry about the security and privacy of their information.

“Some believe that the FBI has these phenomenal capabilities to access any information at any time — that we can get what we want, when we want it, by flipping some sort of switch,” he told the Brookings audience. “It may be true in the movies or on TV. It is simply not the case in real life.”

But because technology is evolving far faster than the laws governing surveillance, the new encryption standards he said run the risk of letting criminals go free.

“Justice may be denied, because of a locked phone, or an encrypted hard drive,” Comey said.

Ghiai agrees that the federal government should have some ability to access encrypted information on mobile devices, depending on the seriousness of the situation.

“What about if you really have bad people storing things and communicating and blowing up something?” he asked. “I think the federal government should have certain rights.”

But Ghiai said that’s mostly a theoretical point, given that measures like the Patriot Act already give the federal government access to any data that has ever been stored, shared or otherwise transmitted.

They call it rocket docket
for processing young illegals

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Attorney Elizabeth Sanchez Kennedy rises with the sun to face a day of uncertainties.

“I don’t know if today’s going to be crazy or if I’m going to be sitting around doing nothing,” said Ms. Kennedy, who represents children in Miami’s immigration court where the numbers are only going up.

More than 4,000 undocumented children were sent to Florida in the first eight months of this year. Ms. Kennedy barely has enough time to grab her files at Catholic Legal Services before racing to court .

“It’s an overwhelming number of kids that need representation,” she said.

In July, the Obama administration ordered fast-tracking of court cases for children who crossed the border illegally.  Attorneys call this the rocket docket. 

When undocumented children are caught at the border, they are detained in shelters, then are sent to live with relatives in the United States until their court cases are heard.  Florida received the largest number this year, behind only Texas, New York and California.

In a typical day at the U.S. immigration court in Miami, there were 36 children on the docket in the morning and 30 more in the afternoon -- with just four judges.

The children sit on one side of the courtroom, with a lawyer if they have one. The government attorney sits on the other side. The hearings are brief.

Advocates like Americans for Immigrant Justice train lawyers on how to defend their young clients.

“Our concern is that children who don’t have a reputable attorney to help them with their case, that they’re going to fall through the cracks and that in many instances they could be returned to, you know, terrible abuse or death,” said Cheryl LIttle, director of the immigrant advocacy group.

Wilmer Fernando Lorenzo escaped Honduran gangs with his three younger brothers and made it to the United States.  He now feels misled.

"Everyone said you could stay if you came here to study, but now I'm surprised that it was all lies, because it's really the judge that decides," he said.

Some say the Obama administration is misinterpreting the law that children from Central America cannot be deported without a hearing.

“Our laws are not being enforced," said David Caulkett of Floridians for Immigration Enforcement. "The fact that they are getting over is just more incentive for more to come across.”

But no changes are expected soon, since the U.S. government has delayed action on immigration reform until after November's midterm elections.

So for now, the rocket docket propels the cases -- pushing kids through first and fast.
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For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 4030-5480 or 8339-2112.

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Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
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Costa Rica,

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Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
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Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English calls: (Cristian Arce) Phone: 
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Español calls: (Luis G. Jiménez)  Phone:   
(506) 8707-4016
house 865
Beautiful chalet in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather, 1.040 m2 of land, Price $135.000. Click HERE!
House 868
Beautiful house  in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather, 810 m2 of land, Price $178.000. Click HERE!
House 866
Beautiful large house  in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather,1.006 m2 of land, Price $290.000.  HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

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Maneul Antonio
Manuel Antonio Estates focuses on building vacation homes for clients within Manuel Antonio Estates and Palmas Pacifica. We take care of the details from permits and design to supervision of construction and management of the rentals, if needed. We provide privacy and security, and our gated community offers shared common recreational facilities, beautiful landscaping and parking areas. Our homes and lots are located just minutes from the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. If you've ever considered buying a second home, just minutes from the beach, do not hesitate, if you have any questions or would like to request more information please take full advantage of our Costa Rica real estate services and contact us today!
Manuel Antonio Estates    1 800 346-9724  (506) 8815-9606.

Ciudad Colon
Great Deal!! Apartment in condo with pool and extensive green areas:
Ciudad Colón, San José $112,000
The apartment has a master bedroom with a large ensuite bathroom with bath tub, and a smaller second bedroom/office  with air conditioning. It has a second full bathroom, living/dining room, laundry room with hot water tank and storage area. The kitchen comes with granite countertops, a breakfast bar and new dishwasher. It has 82 m2 of construction. 2 balconies with beautiful views of the river and mountains. Private parking for one car. Elevator and a well presented reception area. Located in a very quiet and private neighborhood just 400 meters from the centre of Ciudad Colón. Within minutes to all major amenities in Santa Ana and Escazú. Easy access to the beach (less than 1.5 hrs).  24-hour security, visitor parking, pool, extensive and lush green areas, BBQ area, children’s playground and its own water treatment plant. Contact (506) 6022-9294 or 6022-9967, for further info or to arrange a viewing.

Suenos montage
Outrageous blowout prices on oceanfront condos in Los Sueños!

Located in the private Bay Residence enclave overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Los Sueños Resort and Marina, there are three gorgeous units available at unbelievable bargain pricing from $589,000.  All of these beautiful units are three bedrooms and two baths, 2,200 square feet, fully furnished and ready to move in.  Development includes a gym, access to 3 pools, jacuzzis, BBQ areas and the Beach Club.  If you’ve always wanted to own in Los Sueños, now is the time!  Contact  or call Nate @ 8635-9320.
From the US call 209-482-1788.
Top floor unit: $649,000   Second floor unit: $675,000  Garden unit: $589,000

Newly available in Roca Verde
Well-built home of 215 m2, 3 bedrooms, two bath on 1,150 m2 of lot, with attractive rock retaining wall, carport, and a pool. Indoors there are high, vaulted hardwood ceiling, bright rooms, a laundry room.  The floor is ceramic tile in pastel shades. $247,000. Photos: 2446-5587.

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya.7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 ft. elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 baths, appliances included. High-speed internet iinstalled, Direct TV via sling box on Internet. $199,000 Contact   Check out slide show HERE!

Condo montage
Cariari luxury condo for sale
This is not an ordinary condo.
Completed one year ago, a $45,000 renovating made it an exquisite dwelling. As soon as you walk in you know it is a special home. No detail has been overlooked, even minuscule ones. The owner has a need to move on, and someone lucky will be the beneficiary of the fine detailed work. The home itself has three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms plus a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom. Also, it has a living room, dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with a kitchenette. There’s also a small outdoor patio. Being the end unit of this four-home condo complex, there’s parking space for three vehicles.  Approximately 240 sq. meters. All this near the Cariari Golf and Country Club and its renowned Tom Facio golf course. The club also has amenities such as a fitness centre, exercise room, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, 12 tennis courts and many other benefits. Tel:  8384-9608 or 2293-9054  Price $214,500.

Two lovely homes on one big lot in Esterillos Oeste, (Central Pacific)
Located on a breezy hill just 4 minutes walk to the beach, surf and tide-pools, only 20 minutes drive north to Jacó nightlife and shopping or south to the rural town of Parrita.

First, a 2-story, 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1½-bathroom house with big kitchen and living room.  Full-width verandah with eating and sitting areas, overlooking lawn, pool and gazebo. Sitting balcony at upper, bedroom level.  Carport and laundry. 

Second, a completely private single-story 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1-bathroom home with big back yard at a lower level on the same, big fully titled 1,100M2 lot. Full security bars at all doors and windows, plus locking vehicle access and pedestrian gates at the street. In a very safe neighborhood, with private and natural surroundings

Well maintained, fully and tastefully furnished and equipped, hot water, local phone, cable TV/DVD and high speed wireless internet.   The houses have been rented for both long-term and vacation for $100/$80 per day and $1,500/$1,200 per month respectively. See this place, you will love it! Then make an offer. E-mail or call (506) 8386-8825.  Rodney, asking $350,000.

house photo
More photos HERE!
Another 'live in the view' home in Puriscal
$179,900 includes:
Lot on river, concrete road, custom kitchen & bath with granite counter tops, PEX plumbing, 2” Styrofoam, sandwiched in steel roof, 4” concrete/recycled Styrofoam & steel walls, laminated, bronzed windows, custom wood doors, appliances and all transfer taxes, and fees.

2, 900 sq feet under roof, 1,250 sq feet inside walls, 2 bedroom, 2 ½ baths, laundry room, three separate patio areas, covered carport, shade trees, in upscale, secure project.  This project has river with protected areas & walkways. It is only 10 minutes on all paved roads to Santiago de Puriscal, 45 minutes to La Plaza Mall/Hospital CIMA and SJO airport, and 1 ½ hours to Pacific Beaches. It has recently upgraded public water supply and dependable ICE electric and high-speed internet.
Please come visit our projects and meet four new homeowners who have recently moved into their new “live in the view” homes to verify how happy they are and that they all came in under budget. CONTACT: George Lundquist  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!


Beach Front Home - Central Pacific Coast
Pristine condition, recently renovated. The best surfing and boogie boarding in the country. The most magnificent ocean and sunset view. New 20-year, fully registered concession on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Easy access from San José (1 hour 25 minutes) located between Jacó and Manuel Antonio, in Esterillos Oeste.  2 or 3 bedrooms. Center room can be living room. House with 2 1/2 baths. Separated rancho with kitchen and large entertainment patio. Landscaped garden with no water shortage. Has both municipal and well water with automatic watering system. Direct access to the beach as no road is in front of property. Protected land on one side of the property for additional privacy.  Alarm system and complete shutters for security while away. Lot approximately 1,725 square meters, Asking price: $385.000.  Contact to Paul at local phone 506- 2637-8858  Cell phone 506- 8823-8550 .  US Mobile 908-400-9772  Emails:  and


Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

ARenal property
Location: Near Arenal        Price: $2.7 million
Size: 113 acres
Web site:

The farm is at the highest point on a stunning ridge bordered by pristine Costa Rican primary forest on all sides of the property, with active wildlife all throughout the area. On each of its gently rolling terraced lomas you get a glimpse of Volcán Arenal from a distance. This property has four different lagunas, a working organic farm and nursery, mature fruit trees, sheep corral, ideal for grazing horses with stunning views from all the hillsides. The Northern Zone of Costa Rica is the country's best kept secret, providing a perfect home base location to travel the country's many destinations while still maintaining the best climate at 400 meters above sea level.

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call center
Call center for rent ready to go !
13 work stations, good equipment, good location, Rohrmoser, two blocks from Plaza Mayor. $4.000 per month. Call Kevin 8366-6861.

Live the dream!
Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 206
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Spain bests Turkey for Security Council

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.N. member states elected five countries to the Security Council on Thursday, each for a two-year term.

Angola, Venezuela and Malaysia were put forth by their regional groups and ran uncontested, easily achieving more than the two-thirds majority of votes needed to validate their victories.

The only suspense in Thursday’s ballot was in the group known as Western Europe and Others.  WEOG, as it is known, is not a strictly regional group as it includes far-flung members such as Britain, Canada, Australia and Israel.

In that group Turkey, Spain and New Zealand vied for only two available council seats. New Zealand captured a two-thirds majority in the first round, but Spain and Turkey had to go through two more rounds of ballots before Spain prevailed.

Analyst and Executive Editor of Independent Diplomat Carne Ross said he expects Venezuela will probably echo its foreign policy opinions inside the council.

“Of course a recurring theme is hostility to the United States and its interference, as they see it, in Latin America," said Ross.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez appeared to seize on that right away, saying his country had won its seat despite a maligned campaign against his country and would seek to defend developing countries from its seat on the council.

“We take up this challenge, determined to continue our fight against the willingness to subject countries to the subjugation, domination, exploitation and foreign occupation and the denial of fundamental human rights," said Ramirez.

In a statement, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power expressed disappointment that Venezuela was put forward by Latin American and Caribbean countries as their nominee. She said council candidates should support the principles of the U.N. Charter, including promoting universal respect for human rights.  She noted that Venezuela has failed to do this and that the United States would continue to call upon Venezuela to respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of its people.

Public employees plan strike

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Public employees are scheduled to strike Monday.

The Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados is calling the strike to protest budget cuts.

The union organization and its  Central Social Juanito Mora Porras said it was clear that the country has a financial problem but this was not the fault of employees. The announcement gave a long list of grievances.

The announcement called cuts to the budget a malicious campaign that neoliberals have launched against public employees.

The protest is supposed to center at Parque Central in San José starting at 8 a.m. Monday.

Police in Quepos detained in beating

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents have detained six man and a woman, Fuerza Pública officers and a traffic officer, as suspects in a case where a man said he was beaten.

A 32-year-old man told the Judicial Investigating Organization that he had been confronted by police officers July 29 in  Inmaculada de Quepos while he was with friends on the street.

The officers accused him of stealing a bulletproof vest and took him to the station, according to the Judicial agency report. The vest belonged to the  Policía de Migración.

While he was at the station, the man said he was hit repeatedly by police who were interrogating him. The next day he filed a complaint

During the investigation, judicial agents said they were able to determine that the man who was beaten did not steal the vest.

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From Page 7:

Travel competition organizers set dates

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Global Scavenger Hunt, the world’s only real-life international travel adventure competition, has set the dates of April 10 to May 2 for the 2015 edition.

The 11th edition of the event will once again pit talented international travelers in a challenging circumnavigation of the globe over 23-days visiting 10 secret countries. Teams will use their acquired travel IQ while trying to earn the rights to the crystal trophy and the 2015 World's Greatest Traveler crown.   

The annual experience is designed to allow travelers to see their surroundings and themselves in a new way. Operating for over a decade, the international event attracts travelers from all over the globe while having visited over 60 nations to date. The 2014 champions, Zoe Littlepage and her partner Rainey Booth, both from Houston, are poised to defend their titles in this world travel championship event that is all about authentic, challenging and participatory travel.

Participants have numerous chances to do good with half-day volunteering opportunities, but the event also serves as a platform to raise funds for interest-free micro loans, the building of remote medical clinics and co-ed elementary schools in places of need. The goal is to build one school for each event; with 10 schools having already been built in places like Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ecuador, India and Sri Lanka.

The 23-day around the world event is limited to 15 teams of two, and the $25,000 per team entry fee includes all international airfare, first class hotels, 40 percent of meals and special event-sponsored travel gear. Single travelers are welcome to apply and all travelers will be interviewed for suitability. Applications are available  online at