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(506) 223-1327             Published Friday, Nov. 11, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 224                   E-mail us    
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 A.M. Costa Rica/Joe Taylor
Bernardo Lelchuk and Gloria Waissbluth 
Monteverde embraces arts and new center

Would you believe a 250-seat theater in Monteverde? And performances will be free!

The recent standing-room-only crowd for the opening of the Galerón Cultural in Monteverde was just a continuation of Gloria Waissbluth’s quest to promote the arts in a community that she loves.

Ms. Waissbluth, at left with her husband of 46 years, was one of the many residents who mourned after the robbery of a local bank and murder of nine persons in March. She realized that she had to do more to “help people get out of their trauma.”

The full story and more photos are




Agents catch up with U.S. citizen on the run
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents finally caught up with fugitive Brett K. Lurie Thursday. He is the New York property manager who was convicted in July 1994 on a range of charges involving his management of real estate properties.

Unofficial sources said that investigators caught up with the former Jacó resident in Cañas, Guanacaste. No details were available.

Chasing Lurie, a disbarred lawyer, has been a continual task for local investigators.  They arrested him in March 2003 at what they said at the time was a luxurious dwelling facing the beach in Jacó. Involved were the Judicial Investigating Organization, Agents from the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública and representatives of the International Police Agency (INTERPOL).

When Lurie appeared in court in June 2004, a judge let him go, despite his expired immigration status and the fact that he was facing extradition to the United States. At the time a court spokesperson said that a legal representative of the U.S. Embassy had missed the hearing, which is why the judge let Lurie go. Embassy spokespersons disputed that claim at the time.

Lurie appears to have had plenty of money. Agents nearly caught him a short time later when he visited a $700,000 property they said he owned in Heredia.

Unlike many U.S. citizens who are arrested here, Lurie already has been convicted of his crimes and skipped out on his sentencing.

According to court filings:
In 1989 and 1990, Lurie was the sponsor,
manager and majority shareholder of five cooperative apartment buildings in Queens County, N. Y. As financial officer for the buildings, Lurie failed to make monthly payments on the mortgage, failed to pay for building maintenance, water, heating oil or taxes (with the exception of a $15,000 maintenance payment to himself), wrote

Brett K. Lurie
checks to himself from the buildings' accounts in the amount of $435,000, ran up debts and obligations to the cooperatives that by October 1990 exceeded $1.8 million, and filed with the state an amendment to a real estate offering plan that contained materially false information.

On April 25, 1996, Lurie was convicted by a jury in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, which is a trial court there. He faced sentencing on eight counts of conducting a scheme to defraud in the first degree, nine counts of intentional real estate securities fraud, three counts of grand larceny in the second degree, three counts of grand larceny in the third degree and one count of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

When he was disbarred by the N.J. Supreme Court in March 2000, he did not appear at the hearing, the court said. He was listed as living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., then. Police said he turned up in Costa Rica a short time later.

He faces consecutive prison terms for from one to four years on a number of the counts, according to court records.


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The New York Bar
honors our veterans Friday
Veteran's Day

Blue Desert Band
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from 7:30 p.m. on


Calle 9 just 25 meters south of Avenida 1












 



A.M. Costa Rica

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Click HERE for photo tour of 526 properties for SALE or RENT in Escazú, Ciudad Colón, Santa Ana, Rohrmoser, Curridabat, Heredia
and the Pacific Coast.

 
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 11, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 224


Costa Rica Expertise
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Click HERE for great hotel discounts

 
Dry seasons delayed,
weather institute says


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The arrival of the dry season will be delayed this year.

For the north Pacific, the first area to experience the benefits of winds from the north, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said in a statement that the rains should stop sometime next week, perhaps one or two weeks later than normal, with infrequent rain until Nov. 30.

For the central Pacific, the rain is expected to taper off by the second half of December, the weather experts said.

The bad news is for the southern Pacific where rainy conditions are expected to continue through December into January with rain ending the last week in January.

In the Central Valley, too, there is a chance of rain into December, but the bulk of the rainy season is predicted to end by the last week of November or the first week of December.

The northern zone and the Caribbean coast is out of step with the rest of the country. Rain begins there this month and continues through February. The weather bureau also said that the Caribbean hurricane season is not yet over and there is the possibility of yet another storm. The number of storms set a record this year. Although they do not touch Costa Rica, the indirect effects can bring torrential rains and severe flooding.

A low pressure system between Panamá and Colombia is expected to influence the weather in the short term. The weather institute expects rain in the northern zone and the Caribbean today with some rain possible in the Central Valley. But the institute reports that Saturday will be better.

Dog fatally wounds
suspected burglar


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Firemen had to use a high-pressure hose Thursday to drive a rottweiler guard dog away from the burglar he caught and delivered fatal wounds.

The dog would not let go of his prey even though his owner arrived at the scene and tried every way to drive the dog away including firing shots into the air.

The incident unfolded in Lima de Cartago early Thursday when two men tried to burglarize a mechanics shop. An unarmed guard heard them and released a pair of rottweilers, a breed known as strong protectors of home and turf. One man escaped, but a 25-year-old man suffered multiple bites from the dog. The animal maintained the burglary suspect in his jaws for more than an hour and a half until firemen arrived. Death later at a nearby hospital was attributed to excessive loss of blood.

The operator of the shop declined to shoot the dog during the lengthy attack on the suspect.

Mayors from El Salvador
will visit Desamparados


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A delegation of five mayors and five other civil servants from El Salvador is scheduled to visit Desamparados to meet with Carlos Padilla Corella, the mayor.

The delegation is hoping to understand and learn more about the municipality's initiatives in regard to environmental management as well as water transportation. 

The meeting is the result of the Corporación de Municipalidades de la República de El Salvador soliciting support from the Fundación de Desarrollo Municipal Centroamericano to organize a meeting with Costa Rican municipalities to understand this country's local experiences with natural resource protection, mainly water. 

Suspected cocaine haul
falls into police hands


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers seized a total of 98 kilos of cocaine from two men traveling along the Interamericana Sur early Thursday morning, officers said. 

The two suspects, a 43-year-old Tico identified by the last names Ledesma Ledesma and a 47-year-old Panamanian identified by the last name Arosemena, also had two youths of 12 and 17-years-of age in the car, officers said. 

The car, which officers stopped at a roadblock at kilometer 53, had the stash hidden in a fake lining fitted over the rear seat in the vehicle, officers said. 

The two youths were placed under the control of the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, officers said. 

Intel wireless technology
going around the world


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Thirteen carriers from around the world are now deploying the world’s first fixed WiMAX networks based on Intel Corp.’s WiMAX technologies, delivering high-speed broadband access to businesses and residences from Germany to Guatemala. Eleven more carriers are preparing to deploy additional Intel-based WiMAX networks by year’s end.

WiMAX is a wireless network that can connect to computers in an area up to miles in diameter. Intel makes chips in Costa Rica.

Building on WiMAX trials worldwide, carriers are now rolling out full commercial deployments in cities as well as suburban and rural communities, allowing broadband wireless networks to reach locations where previously they were either impossible or too costly for carriers to pursue, the company said. Included are México and the Dominican Republic.
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.

Real estate agents and services

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Member of
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samargo@racsa.co.cr
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fax (506) 296-6304   (506) 382-7399 cell
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Accountants

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e-mail:
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E-mail: lawyer@CRTitle.com
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More on the Caja, and some questions are answered
Along with attempting to share some information last week about the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social and the talk about the health situation in Costa Rica, I seem to have managed to spread some confusion. 

I did not check Professor Garnier’s figures for accuracy.  My 1996 World Almanac showed that for 1995 the life expectancy in the U.S. for men was 73 and for women 80, while in Costa Rica the figures were 76 and 80.  Thus I made the dangerous assumption that things would have improved here and, given reports of the inroads on life expectancy obesity is having in the States, (and, as my editor pointed out, war casualties must be taken into consideration), that things had not improved there.  Once again, one learns the dangers of making assumptions.  Besides, obesity is a growing problem in Costa Rica, as well. 

But there is even more confusion, or perhaps I should say, there are questions that have arisen.  First of all, there is good news for the reader who asked how much $700 would get him and his wife in health coverage.  The $700 on health care is what is the estimate that the Costa Rican government spends per person.  The cost to the individual is far less.  It is based upon one’s income.  I understand that the Association of Residents of Costa Rica will help you get your insurance card and has an agreement with the Caja that their members pay about $40 a month.  This may have changed.

Many pensionados, who must guarantee an income of $600 a month, pay accordingly.  My own health insurance costs run under $200 a year. (But go up with inflation.) However, I secured the insurance myself. 

The other question was regarding the process of becoming a member of the Caja once one has attained the status of a resident.  I can only base my information on what I did.   I went to the Caja building on Avenida 2 (kitty corner from the Teatro Nacional).  At the information desk I asked the
receptionist where I should go to register for health insurance.  She told me I would have to go to my

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

neighborhood clinic and get an ID card.  (If you are 65 or older, the Caja is where you apply for a cuidadano de oro – a “golden age” card that has certain privileges.) 

Know the barrio in which you live so that the receptionist can tell you where your clinic is.  Of course, if you live in a small town with one clinic, or already know where yours is, you may go directly to the clinic without passing the receptionist.  At the clinic you will be given a temporary ID and appointment card (after taking a ficha and waiting in line, of course).  Don’t lose either of these items!

Returning to the Caja, I went, as directed, to Window 1, which was for asegurados voluntarios.  After taking another ficha and more waiting, a clerk will ask you questions and fill out an application called inscripcion asegurados voluntarios.  I was told to come back Monday to make my first payment.  There are always people to answer questions and direct you to the correct line.  You can pay for as many as six months’ premiums at one time. 

Keep proof of payment with your clinic ID. From then on you are covered for any doctor’s visit to your clinic or for an emergency to any of the Caja hospitals.  If you are in need of an ambulance, call 911 and a Red Cross ambulance will come to where you live,  The medics will give you emergency treatment and take you to the hospital for free.  If you are really ill, you will be taken care of immediately at the hospital.  Making appointments with a doctor in a clinic or hospital may take time. 

The secret is to get into the system, acquire a personal doctor, and never forget to take a book or a friend with you.



Yes, a lobster without claws is pretty good, too
My mother lived into her late 80s despite an arm’s length list of maladies that made her chronically depressed and anorectic — except for lobster.
Place a pair of one pound or a single pound and a half specimen(s) of Homarus americanus on a platter in front of her with drawn butter, and she would exert more negative pressure than a TV commercial vacuum cleaner as she sucked the meat out of every nook and cranny, all the while, smiling. My wife, Joan, insists that I inherited the same crustacean sucking gene. Guilty.

Growing up in New England, we were the seafood variants of Pavlov’s dogs, salivating at the mere mention of  lobster, clams, oysters and scallops. Alas, the family migrated south and west. One of our sons and my sister now live in Maine; he, all year, and she, during each summer. So, is the green that I wear from envy? No, it is from hummingbirds and parrots, palm fronds, banana leaves and new growth on the mango tree outside my window. We have our own Tico langostas, clawless, but very nice.
 
When I first ate spiny, rock, red rock, South African, Floridian, Australian, warm water, lobster tails or clawless lobsters, or crayfish as they are known in the Southern Hemisphere (Palinurus argus), I was disappointed only in comparison to the North Atlantic variety. These were less juicy, less sweet, less tender and devoid of all the tiny hiding places for discovering an extra morsel, which in my youth was more fun than finding the toy in the Cracker Jacks box.

Two reasons that spiny lobsters may have missed the mark of excellence were that they were inevitably deep frozen and then grilled or broiled when defrosted. How could they compare with the live fresh captives plucked from a saltwater pond in a town with an inscrutable Algonquin name, boiled or steamed  just enough to cook thru, bathed in melted butter and served with fresh-picked corn and ice cold watermelon?
 
To avoid confusion, crayfish in southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand are the same genus as our Costa Rican lobsters. Crayfish in the warmer climes of North America are unrelated although they look like miniaturized Maine lobsters. They are fresh water dwellers also called crawfish, crawdads, ecrevisses, or mudbugs. Another species is also called mudbug (or Belmain bug, shovelnose, Moreton bug or Spanish lobster) but it is a saltwater, flat-nosed crustacean usually called by the more appealing menu name of “slipper lobster” all over the southern Pacific from Chile to Australia.
 
This is my first column written since we returned from two months circling the Southern Hemisphere. We got to view extraordinary flora and fauna, meet great people, expand our understanding and appreciation for different cultures and sample seafood from Easter Island to South Africa by way of New Zealand and Australia.

In a superb restaurant called High Tide in Christchurch, New Zealand, I had a pair of large juicy lobster tails steamed and drizzled with Pernod flavored butter. They were delicious. Kiwis extolled the uniqueness of their lobsters from deep icy fjords like Milford Sound on the west coast of the south island.  In Rapa Nui, I had my first slipper lobsters prepared under the aegis of a chef from Normandy. Not quite French hommard, but quite satisfying with a splash of Calvados (apple brandy).
 
In Sydney’s fish market they sold three different crayfish (lobster) varieties. The local New South Wales type which they chauvinistically described as the sweetest and most delicate, was admittedly a little small. From the deeper and colder waters of Tasmania came the largest, considered the best to south Australian palates. East and south alike disparaged the lobsters from Western Australia as too tough for anything other than sauces and bisques, probably because they arrived, frozen solid from a few thousand miles away.

In Western Australia’s capital, Perth, the local spiny 
Dr. Lenny Karpman

On 
the 
food
we eat

 

is considered the best and is exported all over the world. In Cape Town, locals insisted that cold Antarctic currents were the reason that theirs were the best. Namibians preferred their own from the pristine waters of Walvis Bay. Our best come from the Gulf of Nicoya by way of Puntarenas, and to my taste buds, they are fine.
 
In my hometown of La Guacima, the local seafood restaurant and bar, Anthony, gets a fresh shipment of langostas every Friday from Puntarenas and keeps them cold, but not frozen solid. They usually last until Monday or Tuesday, but are best Friday or Saturday. If you don’t specify, the chef will grill them a little dry and firm but tasty. If you ask for “al vapor” they will be steamed.

A little garlic butter on the side does the trick for me. Depending on the size, an order contains four to 24 halves, comes on a platter with patacones and salad and costs less than ¢ 5,000 ($10), a fraction of the price in upscale seafood emporia. Their menu also includes the standards, ceviche, seafood soup, corvina and shrimp at very affordable prices. Their clientele is local. The service is friendly.
 
Should you wish to serve lobster tails at home, I suggest that you go to the largest wholesale and retail food market in the country, Cenada. If you exit the autopista at Cariari Mall and head east towards Heredia, the road forks just past the mall entrance. Less than a mile down the right fork on the right side of the road is the entrance to Cenada. At the gate you will be asked where you are going. The seafood and fish markets are down the end of the main drive off to the left. Frozen headless lobster tails are always available (closed on Sunday) from well before dawn until mid-afternoon.  The average price for a typical serving is about ¢ 1,000 ($2). Please remember to defrost them, and all frozen seafood, in the refrigerator.
 
To grill, cut the tails lengthwise, remove the central vein and grill until the shells are bright red. Served with sauce of your choosing or simply with melted butter and lime wedges.
 
To boil, add deveined halves to a covered pot with a few inches of boiling salted water and steam for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size and number of halves in the pot.
 
For pomp, you can shell the tails, slice the meat into medallions, sauté in a little butter and bring to the table. Then pour a little warm brandy over the top, ignite and serve flambé.
 
For lobster Cantonese, cut the tail lengthwise, then into medallions with the shell intact. Stir fry for only about two minutes in a little hot peanut oil, until the shells are bright red. Lower the heat and simmer for another five minutes in a black bean sauce (from the jar, it is strong and salty so start with a teaspoonful and increase according to your taste) enriched with minced cooked pork, sliced green onions, a little grated ginger and beaten eggs.

Anthony is just north of the church on the same side of the road in La Guacima Centro. 438-0143. Open for lunch and dinner every day.

2&½ stars.  $-$$.



IS REAL ESTATE IN COSTA RICA OVERPRICED?
Many of the national publications are claiming that real estate in Costa Rica is grossly overpriced and that the time has come and gone for the land of Pura Vida. True or False?

Well, if you read the classified ads in the English-speaking countries it would seem that a small lot on the beach can run easily in excess of $250,000 and a home in the mountains of trendy Escazú can run well over $500,000. And even a basic home in Heredia can quickly top $300,000.

So . . . has Costa Rican real estate become too expensive?

Can the average "Gringo" still afford to retire here?

The truth? . . . . Take a look at the pictures that are featured here . . . .

Could you retire on a property with views like these?

The properties featured here at CR Home Realty have views like the above . . . and can have a custom home built of top grade quality of between 1,300 and 1,800 sq. ft. . . . and CAN BE PURCHASED FOR BETWEEN $80,000 AND $150,000.  (yes, that includes the land)

. . . minimum lot size almost two acres.


 
. . . private . . . not a gated community . . . in a secure and safe area
. . . within 45 minutes of the country's major airport and an hour of the country's best shopping

. . . within 15 minutes of a larger town with all amenities including a hospital

. . . utilities close by

. . . all homes are custom built and designed to your specifications. . . . these are not "run of the mill" standard design homes. These are custom-built, top-of-the-line homes. You can even get a totally "no risk," financial guarantee with your purchase and design, if you choose.

ALL OF THIS SOUND A LITTLE TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

Well, we don't blame you for being skeptical. Five years ago we would have said the same thing. BUT . . . . SEEING IS BELIEVING.

CR-HOME REALTY . . . a small firm which over the past two years has gained literally an international reputation and scores of satisfied clients and "believers."

We specialize in helping those seeking to retire in Costa Rica and want to stretch their dollars as far as possible. And we are small enough to offer the best of personalized service and the very best in results.

SEEING IS BELIEVING. CALL OR E-MAIL FOR AN APPOINTMENT.

WE WILL SHOW YOU THAT COSTA RICA IS STILL AFFORDABLE.

CR HOME REALTY WWW.CR-HOME.COM

RANDY@CR-HOME.COM or 011-506-444-1695 or e-mail us for our toll free number.


 
A.M. Costa Rica

Fourth news page

Good grief!

Are you still spending 70 percent 
of your advertising budget on paper?

You need to fill this space ASAP!

Home Calendar Place a 
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 11, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 224

 




These young performers entertained a packed house on Saturday with their skillful dances and traditional, colorful dress.


A.M. Costa Rica photos/Joe Taylor


Monteverde enjoys the results of its theatrical labors
By Joe Taylor
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The standing-room-only crowd for the opening of the Galerón Cultural in Monteverde was just a continuation of Gloria Waissbluth’s quest to promote the arts in a community that she has loved since leaving her home in Chile more than 30 years ago.

Standing in the newly renovated structure that used to be the community recycling center, Ms. Waissbluth’s husband, Bernardo Lelchuk, introduced the show entitled “Recycling Culture.” For the next three hours Saturday night, Ticos and Gringos of all ages were thoroughly entertained by short plays, singers, storytelling, and video clips.  One of the highlights of the evening occurred when Lalo Rojas, a Grammy Award-winning saxophonist from San José,  performed several songs with local youth on guitars, drums/percussion, bass, and violin.

Cristina Bruno, a well-known technician for Teatro La Polea in San José, operated the lights and the impressive sound system. Her husband, César Melédez, one of Costa Rica’s most well known actors who wrote and starred in "El Nica,"  was unable to attend the performance. Currently, he is playing the part of Othello in a production  at the Teatro Aduana  until Dec. 4. Melédez, however, has made the difficult trip to Monteverde on several occasions to help Ms. Waissbluth work with the young actors from the area.

Ms. Waissbluth has compiled an impressive resume in her long career in the arts community in Costa Rica since relocating from Chile in 1974. She was a professor of music at the Universidad de Costa Rica, the founder of the Costa Rica Youth Orchestra, and the executive director of the Sinfonía National from 1990-1997. During this time she managed to teach private lessons, and raise three sons with Bernardo, her husband of 46 years. In 1999, Ms. Waissbluth and her husband moved to Monteverde permanently.

Ms. Waissbluth knew that the process of turning the recycling center into the Galerón Cultura was going to be a major undertaking and that it would require her calling on her numerous connections in the arts in Costa Rica. She admitted that she has never been afraid to contact patrons when she has needed their support.

“The Banco Nacional has been very generous with its financial support,” she said. “They truly care about Monteverde.” Ms. Waissbluth was thrilled to learn that 12 Banco Nacional executives were in the audience Saturday night.

She also said she appreciated the financial support of John Aspenall, the owner of the complex which contains the Galerón and the Flor de Vida restaurant. “He cares very much about our vision for Monteverde. He has paid for many of the renovations, and he does not charge us any rent for the building.”

Long-time friend Victoria Haller, owner of the Flor de Vida, has also been instrumental in bringing the theater project to fruition. She believed so much in the location of the new theater that several months ago she moved her restaurant from its old location
near the Hotel Heliconia to its new home next to the Galerón. Lately, she has either been serving up creative, vegetarian cuisine, or working diligently on the new theater. Ms. Waissbluth pointed out that Ms. Haller, a former architect in Argentina, applied her architectural skills in the renovation of the theater.

Ms. Waissbluth and the other volunteers of the Galerón plan to pass the generosity they have received to those who attend theater performances in the future. “We do not plan on charging an admission,” she stated. However, they do “plan to ask for donations to help pay for the utilities and other costs associated with running the theater which holds nearly 250 people,” she added.

Hotel El Establo has agreed to provide rooms for all performers and teachers who will be donating their time and talents to the Galerón. In addition, Selvatura Park has agreed to allow these same individuals enjoy its vast array of activities, all free of charge. “The community support has been amazing,” Ms. Waissbluth said.

The quiet, mountain town of Monteverde has never been associated with the word drama until last March 8 and 9 when armed robbers stormed the Banco Nacional killing nine people in the process. The effects of the shootout and standoff still haunt this community that has always valued its peaceful setting in the cloud forest.

Ms. Waissbluth was one of the many residents who began a period of mourning after the horrific robbery. She realized that she had to do more to “help people get out of their trauma.” This is when she put her vision of a permanent, independent theater in Monteverde on the fast track. “Our community has been hurt by this event, “ she stated.

Once again she turned to the arts for solace and strength. While she will never forget the tragedy of last March, she now can look to a more positive future ahead, especially for the youth.

“My vision,” Ms. Waissbluth said, “is to expose this community to as much theater as possible because Monteverde is not like San José. Many people here do not have the exposure to the theater because it is not easy to get to the theater.” With a smile she added, "We are going to bring the theater to them.”

She plans on developing a series of workshops for people of all ages to learn more about the theater as an occupation or simply to experience the joy of watching others perform on a stage. In addition, there are plans for three major productions in the year ahead. “One will be a children’s production, the other will consist of high school age students, and the last will be designed more for adult actors and performers,” Ms. Waissbluth said.

The Galerón will also provide the stage for an upcoming production "Guys and Dolls"  Dec. 9 and 10. The cast consists of students from the Creative Learning Center and the Monteverde Friends School.
More information about upcoming performances is available at the Galerón, 645-6078, or the Flor de Vida restaurant, 645-6328.



These young  Monteverde residents will not forget the night they performed together with famed saxophonist Lalo Rojas






Toothy croc dominated seas 135 million years ago
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Argentine scientists have discovered the remains of a fierce sea monster that terrorized Pacific waters in the age of the dinosaurs. The researchers are calling it Godzilla after the legendary movie monster, but it really was an ancestor of modern crocodiles.

What has a head like a meat eating dinosaur and a tail like a fish? An ancient sea reptile called a dakosaur.

Millions of years ago when dinosaurs ruled the land, these early crocodiles dominated the oceans, but they never seem to have caught the public's imagination as dinosaurs have.

Perhaps this will change with the discovery of a 135- million-year-old dakosaur skull and two lower jaws in the Patagonia desert of southern Argentina. The researchers who describe it in the journal Science call it Dakosaurus andiniensis, the Andean Dakosaur, to contrast it to those that swam in other parts of the world at the time. What a contrast it is.

"At first glance, it was evident that Dakosaurus andiniensis was truly unique among marine crocodiles," said Diego Pol, an expert on ancient animals at the Ohio State University.

He took part in the research and says the creature was distinct from its crocodile cousins of the Jurassic era because it had a tall, short head shaped like a bullet and large, powerful, serrated teeth that seem to belong in a dinosaur's mouth.

These features indicate that it was a predator capable of gobbling reptiles and other large sea life, filling a niche eventually taken over by large sharks.

In contrast, other dakosaurs and their modern crocodile descendants have long, thin snouts and many thin teeth suitable for feeding on smaller, more agile prey such as fish.

"We find these results extremely interesting because
they indicate that the diversity of crocodiles back in the Jurassic was much greater than expected," he added.

Based on the size of the skull, Pol and his colleagues from the National University of La Plata, Argentina, estimate that the creature was four meters long, about 13 feet. They infer its body shape based on a computer program that analyzed the fossils and found that they most resemble the early crocodile branch that had flippers and a fish-like tail instead of four feet and a tail like modern crocodiles.

"This analysis revealed that the anatomical changes along the evolution of the Dakosaurus lineage were clearly the most drastic evolutionary change in the history of marine crocodiles. This places the 135-million-year-old Dakosaurus andiniensis not only as one of the most recent members of this family, but also as the most bizarre marine crocodile known today," he explained.

The National Geographic Society in Washington, which sponsored the research, says dakosaurs were only one of the monsters that cavorted in the world's oceans between 250 million and 65 million years ago. Back then shallow seas and a lack of significant marine predators created new opportunities for many reptiles that had first developed on land. They included such beasts as giant ichthyosaurs that might have reached 25 meters in length and plesiosaurs with seven-meter-long necks reminiscent of the fabled Loch Ness monster in Scotland.

Pol said that all dakosaurs became extinct by the end of the Cretaceous era 65 million years ago, leaving us with only a fraction of the crocodile diversity of that long ago time.

"This pattern of extinction is what we see in the fossil record of all species. It is fairly common to see that a species or family has its own moment where it diversifies and later goes extinct. The most famous case of this is the large dinosaurs that disappeared by the end of the Cretaceous," he said.


Candidate and supporters invade radio station and beat up reporter
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An international media watchdog group says a Mexican mayoral candidate and dozens of his supporters have beaten up a radio reporter in retaliation for broadcasting an unfavorable report about the politician.

Reporters Without Borders said in a statement Thursday that Ricardo Bravo, the candidate of the
opposition Democratic Revolution Party and his supporters, burst into the studios of radio La Divertida and attacked Jorge Zamacona Ramirez as he presented a live program.  The group says Zamacona was seriously injured.

According to the media watchdog group, Zamacona said the attack was reprisal for his having broadcast details of documents that related to alleged fraud committed by members of Bravo's family. 


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