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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 234                          Email us
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Jo Stuart

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Bad day
for birds

Chef Ariel Escorcia was one of the individuals who helped U.S. expats remember Thanksgiving Thursday. There also were a number of private dinners where turkey was the featured main course.   Escorcia works at the Sportsmen's Lodge in San José where waitresses dressed as native Americans to serve the meal.

Jo Stuart recounts her Thanksgiving experiences in her column today

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson

Tourism firms just have to work harder, chamber says
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Leaders of a tourism business chamber said Thursday that the economic crisis has actually benefited the tourism industry by making businesses aggressive in competing for customers.

That is the implication that the Cámara Nacional de Turismo is getting from a survey that it conducted of 120 businesses that are its members.

The survey shows that while businesses are not doing as well as they were in 2008, the picture for the tourism industry is not as bleak as many believe, chamber leaders said at a press conference.

“The study is an official response on the part of the chamber to indicate the real situation for businesses,” said Walter Valverde, vice-president of the chamber. “They said 'We're not doing so bad.'”

This survey, conducted in October, is the first of its type for the chamber. It was administered to owners, managers and directors of 120 businesses that are affiliated with the chamber. These businesses included primarily hotels and tour operators, but there were also some car rental businesses, restaurants and travel agencies.

The survey focused on three topics: profits, employment and perceptions as to whether business was better before the financial crisis or now.
Despite 70 percent of respondents saying that times were better before the financial crisis, the chamber president, Juan Carlos Ramos, said that these results still show that the industry is recuperating better than most people thought.

“We are improving little by little,” said Ramos.

In an interview after the conference, Valverde explained that results from the study give credence to the adage “What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.”

“The industry is more dynamic,” he said. “Tourism demand is growing, but supply is growing faster.”

Valverde said that this means businesses have to work harder to attract customers than they did before the financial crisis. He said that this has strengthened the industry as a whole.

Overall, respondents said that business was better before the crisis, but profits and employment are holding at a stable level. Some 47 percent of participants said profits were normal, 39 percent said profits were “good” or “very good,” and 14 percent said profits were “bad” or “very bad.”

As for hiring, although only 18 percent of managers said that they plan to hire, only 13 percent said they plan to lay off employees. The other 69 percent said they planned to maintain their current staff and payroll.

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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.

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Christmas play is a parody
of old time shows on radio

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Little Theatre Group will present it's Christmas production, "Live Radio Christmas 2012," beginning next Friday.

"Live Radio Christmas 2012" is a parody of radio shows from the 1930s and 1940s. The variety show comedy will feature a series of songs and skits related to Christmas, said Annette Hallett, Little Theatre Group president.

Ms. Hallett plays the station manager of WLTG 97 and is the director of the show.  Other cast members play various parts of the radio company staff.

According to Ms. Hallett, the radio shows of the past were held in front of live audiences and sponsorships are what kept the shows running.

Claus and Kringle, makers of an organic high octane fuel called reindeer nuggets, are the sponsors of WLTG 97.  They are threatening to close their account if the radio station does not meet their standards.

The station crew must work to put together the best Christmas show.

"Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong does," said Ms. Hallett.

The audience of the show will have the chance to hear a day in the life stories from Mrs. Claus and learn the truth behind the Bethlehem barn and manager scandal from investigative reporter Holly Green, a release said.

Patrons can also hear Christmas carols and get Christmas recipes.

The Little Theatre Group is using the Christmas production to also collect items for orphans and abandoned children in Costa Rica. 

Audience members are asked to bring a toy to the theater, wrapped and labeled with the suitable age group and gender of the toy recipient.

A representative will be there to collect these gifts which will be donated to the charity Open Arms Costa Rica.

Also, all the proceeds from the final show will be donated to the Angel of Love Foundation Tom and Norman Home in Guápiles.  Angel of Love provides shelter and care to abandoned adults and senior citizens.

Performance dates are Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 1 and 2 at 2:30 p.m. in the Teatro Laurence Oliver on Avenida 2 at Calle 28.

Adult tickets are 6,000 colons and student tickets are 2,500 colons.

Reservations are available at or by calling 8858-1446.

Trio held in plot to help
applicants pass driving test

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents arrested three men Thursday who they suspect helped people cheat on their written driver's tests for a profit, a judicial bulletin said.

The scheme helped people pass only the written part of the driver's test by placing clients in the same testing room as an evaluator who was part of the conspiracy, according to investigators in the Judicial Investigating Organization.

One man recruited people and got information on when and where they were taking the test. Another brought that information to the test monitor.

A judicial spokesperson identified the men by their last names. The alleged recruiter has the last names of Moya Badilla. The middleman has the last names of Vargas Rodriguez, and the test monitor has the last names of Cordero Rojas. The three men are between the ages of 51 and 56.

All three men were arrested between 8:30 and 9 Thursday morning either at their homes or workplaces.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 234
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Chkristmas promotion
International Baptist Church

An A.M. Costa Rica guest editorial
Crimes are not reported because investigators are ineffective
By Judy Griffith Gill*
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Is it any wonder theft goes under reported in Costa Rica?

Last year, people we know who own and operate a small hotel in Cahuita on the Caribbean coast were physically attacked in their beds by thieves who broke into their house in the night. The couple, asleep in an upstairs bedroom, were chloroformed.

She luckily got a smaller dose than her husband and woke up while the robbers were in the process of stripping out the hotel's electronic office equipment. She raised the alarm, and the thieves departed, largely empty-handed, though one had sustained a cut when they escaped with some bottles of liquor they'd grabbed on their way out.

The hoteliers immediately called the town police who did not bother to attend the scene. In the morning, however, judicial agents did come to investigate — but that is all they did. Yes, they could see that one of the thieves had left a hat and a shoe behind, both easily identifiable as belonging to a well-known member of the community.

The house and its contents were not dusted for fingerprints and neither was a bottle of booze the ladrones had dropped outside, though it had both blood and fingerprints on it. No, none of the evidence left at the scene would be of any value, not admissible in court, so nothing was to be done. Very sorry but —  (Insert helpless Tico shrug of indifference here).
Two months ago, when we returned from a trip to Canada, we found that, while we were away and the man who has cared for our small house during our absences over the past six years was in the hospital, our home had been burglarized and a good many items stolen. I had brand names, serial numbers and other identifying information for most of the stolen items and turned all that in to judicial agents, who were very polite and totally useless, again with the pseudo-apologetic shrug and a "Well, what can we do?" attitude.

"Are you going to check pawn-shops in Limón?" we asked. The answer, another shrug and "Even if we found your things, they'd be used as evidence should the thieves ever be found and prosecuted." 

So, do we get our possessions back when and if all the above happens? "Oh, 'evidence'  doesn't get returned to its rightful owners. No, no. It now belongs to the court."

In this country, where theft and the acceptance of it are viewed as a way of life, there appears to be little if any point in bothering to contact any branch of the police force because it, and the much vaunted court system are as thieving as the druggie on the corner wanting his next fix.

That, in my opinion, is why only about half of such crimes are reported. One either learns to accept the loss or get out.

* Ms. Gill is the author of over 50 published novels and lives on the Caribbean coast.

The kindness of strangers evokes feelings of thanks
I do believe I have come of age.  Tuesday I was standing across the street from Saretto’s in Escazú hoping to hail a taxi, and a young woman came up to me and asked if I would like her to help me cross the street.  I said “No, thank you.”  Then Wednesday I left the AutoMercado in Plaza Mayor with two bags full of sugar and cream to make my Christmas chocolate, worried about how I was going to manage to get home.  I had nothing smaller than a 10,000 note in my bag and couldn’t even tip a bag boy to help me, and I knew, that taxistas usually will not take anything larger than a 5,000-colon note.

Kilos of sugar and the same of cream weigh a lot, so I took a cart to the edge of the plaza where the ATM was.  After getting some smaller bills, I saw a taxi leaving the plaza and tried to wave to it to no avail.  A young woman passing me said, “I will get you that taxi.”  And off she went.  After some maneuvering, the taxi came back, and, as I picked up my two heavy bags, a grey hair, bespectacled gentleman who was about to limp past me, immediately picked up one and helped me put them both in the front seat of the taxi.

When the taxi stopped in front of my apartment building, and as I was getting out, the taxista said, “I will help you.” (How often does that happen?).  I said, “Thank you, they are heavy.”  Picking them out of the taxi, he said, “They are heavy for me, too.” 

This comment made me feel a little less decrepit.

After I deposited my bags in the kitchen of my apartment, I realized how concerned I had been, and the universe must have been listening because someone had appeared at every step of the way to give me a hand.  So often, in our own busy lives, we don’t even notice someone who could use a little help. I was already thankful the day before Thanksgiving for the kindness of strangers who had noticed me.
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

More was to come. John and Cathy, two people who are related to two dear friends of mine as well as friends of mine themselves, invited me, along with about 20 other persons for Thanksgiving dinner.

The trip on the highway past the airport was a driver’s nightmare of gigantic trucks and long stops and longer lines of cars.  How much everything has changed in the past 20 years, I thought.

But once in the country and in the house where there already was gathered a circle of new friends talking like old friends, I forgot the drive – although I am sure that Harry who did the actual driving, may not have felt quite the same – poured myself a glass of wine, and became part of the group.  During the course of the afternoon I met people from Germany to Alabama to Costa Rica.

When we all gathered around the buffet of some 15 different platters of the pot luck Thanksgiving feast (the best way to have a Thanksgiving dinner), someone said grace, and someone else suggested that anyone who felt like it could say what they were thankful for or what they were looking forward to this Thanksgiving.

One guest raised his glass and said, “I think all of us here already are the lucky ones. We’re in Costa Rica together aren’t we?”  Or at least that is what I heard and felt.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 234
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Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Frontier police confiscated these fireworks in Tablillas, Los Chiles, when a man tried to bring them into the country. A report said there were about 3,000 units of the explosives. They are illegal in Costa Rica but still a Christmas tradition.

Five quakes in 20 minutes
rattle Nosara residents

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents around Nosara on the far Pacific coast got another wake-up call from Mother Nature Thursday morning. Five earthquakes took place in less that 20 minutes.

The magnitudes ranged from 3.3 to 4.1, said the  Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

The first quake took place at 7:36 a.m. The last took place at 7:55.

The Laboratorio said that this kind of geological activity was normal and a reaction to the 7.6 magnitude quake that took place south of Nosara near Sámara Sept. 5.

The epicenters of three quakes were right at the community of Nosara. Two epicenters were estimated to be just offshore.

Six persons become victims
in flurry of four accidents

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four separate traffic collisions across the country killed six men Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, judicial investigators reported.

Two of the accidents happened within 10 minutes of each other in Tres Rios, according to a bulletin from the Judicial Investigating Organization. The other two were in Guápiles and Abrojo de Corredores.

The first collision occurred in the southern Pacific community of Abrojo de Corredores at about 5:30 p.m. The victim, 31-year-old Junior Carmiol Abarca, died when he tried to pass another vehicle and his motorcycle collided head-on with a four-by-four vehicle, according to the report. Emergency responders said that he died at the scene.

The next victim was Hugo Martin Segura Calvo, 47. Investigators said that he walked along the Florencio de Castillo highway near San Diego in Tres Rios late Wednesday night.

The report cited witnesses who said that at around 11:55 p.m. the man suddenly turned and walked onto the highway and into oncoming traffic, where he was struck and killed by a car.

The judicial bulletin said that another fatal accident occurred about 10 minutes later on the same highway.

Investigators said that Issac Bermúdez Carvajal, Luis Gregorio Hernández, both 22, and an 18-year-old with the last name Villareal had just passed the toll station on the way to Cartago, when the driver lost control of his vehicle, and it flipped several times.

Bermúdez died on the scene, Hernández died minutes after being admitted to Hospital Calderon Guardia, and Villareal is in delicate condition at the hospital, the bulletin said.

The Judicial Investigating Organization reported a final fatal traffic accident that occurred Thursday morning near Guápiles.

According to the report, a 25-year-old man with the last name of Monge was driving a pick-up truck near the Santa Clara gas station when a car suddenly stopped in front of him. Monge swerved to his left and collided head-on with two men on a motorcycle.

The two men on the motorcycle died on the scene. A judicial spokesperson said that their names were Marvin Corrales Lopez, 44, and Oldemar González Araus, 40. Monge was taken to a hospital in Guápiles and was in stable condition.

Four-day event to promote
concept of carbon neutrality

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Planificación Nacional y Política Económica will launch their program, SW!CH 2012, to raise awareness and educate persons on ways to be carbon neutral.

The program, which lasts from Dec. 12 to 15, is themed “For Peace with Mother Earth.” It is the first event by the Fundación Pro Energías Renovables, and is one the foundation hopes to make an annual occurrence.

Participants will be given information on renewable energy forms in order to create an awareness for the 2021 goal of Costa Rica to be carbon neutral.

Year 2021 will also be Costa Rica's bicentennial of independence.

“It is a program that aims to raise awareness and propose framed actions to contribute to the national goal to be carbon neutral by the government,” said Silvia Hernández, vice minister of Planificación.  “SW!CH 12-21 will begin in a moment of great national importance, being the commemoration of the bicentennial of our country as an independent republic and a time where the definition of our country's development model must be aligned with the strategy of environmental protection.”

SW!CH 2012 will consists of a fair at Estadio Nacional with concerts by national artists, “green” documentaries by the Criterio Ambiental Film Festival, the signing of a peace agreement and an international concert on Dec. 14 by Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas from Argentina and the Mexican band Molotov.

Woman held in pimping
of 13-year-old near Golfito

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators arrested a middle-aged woman Thursday whom they suspect took money in exchange for allowing sex with a closely related 13-year-old girl.

A bulletin from the Judicial Investigating Organization said that the 56-year-old detainee charged up to 100,000 colons or $200 for an unspecified amount of time in cabins located near Golfito.
Your links to a great vacation
or retirement

Periodically we like to feature our tourism and retirement experts on the news pages for the benefit of our overseas readers.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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An evening View from George’s Puriscal home
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Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 234
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                vacations in Costa Rica

Two historical projects
seek to recall Civil War

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As the U.S. commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a new project is underway to honor the more than 620,000 soldiers who died in the conflict. It’s called the Living Legacy Project.

Cate Magennis Wyatt said Americans must not lose their sense of history.

“You can’t erase our past. We can’t just take for granted that the stories of those who came before us will be remembered. And if you lose the beginning of your story, you certainly have a much more difficult time bringing the original ideals of America to fruition,” she said.

Ms. Wyatt is founder and president of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

​​“The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership is a non-profit organization that we created in 2005 to raise awareness of the unparalleled history, heritage and culture that’s found in the swath of land from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, down through Maryland and culminating at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia,” she said.

Monticello is the name of the home of the third U.S. president.

Ms. Wyatt said the nearly 290-kilometer, or 180-mile, stretch of land is like no other.

“There’s more American history and heritage in this swath of land than any other place in the country. And in 2005, the same region was declared one of the 11 most historically endangered places in the country by the National Trust. It lies just on the edge of Washington, D.C., and in measurable terms, on a daily basis, we were seeing so much of it lost. Not intentionally and not maliciously. Just because people were not mindful of what was here,” she said.

It may be a small slice of the country as far as distance goes, but a very large chunk of history.

“In this swath of land we found that there are nine presidential homes, from Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, straight through to Eisenhower. There are sites from the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the largest concentration of Civil War battlefields in the country,” she said.

And it is the Civil War that’s the subject of the Living Legacy Project. The goal is to plant one tree for each of the soldiers – both union and confederate – who lost their life.

The first of the trees have been planted at Oatlands, Virginia, a National Trust site. It’s the geographical center of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway. Some 400 trees are being planted or dedicated at Oatlands with many more to come.

Native trees are being used, including red bud, red maple, red cedar evergreen and red twig dogwood. Each displays its best colors at a different season of the year.

A growing number of historians say the death toll actually was much higher, perhaps 750,000.  They base that on census figures and the fact that many soldiers may have died long after the battles from the wounds they suffered.

Spielberg casts Lincoln
as a cunning politician

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Steven Spielberg’s "Lincoln" deviates from the traditional portrayal of the 16th U.S. president by fleshing out the mind of a person willing to risk everything for the abolition of slavery. Spielberg based his film on parts of "Team of Rivals," a book by Doris Kearns Goodwin. He makes Abraham Lincoln relevant today by presenting a cunning political mind navigating Washington's all too familiar divisions, gridlock, and power plays.

For about a century, Lincoln was portrayed as a monumental figure. In D.W. Griffith’s "The Birth of a Nation," he is statuesque. In John Ford’s 1939 film, "Young Mr. Lincoln," he is folksy and robotic.

Spielberg’s Lincoln is different. 

“I was determined to make a movie about a working president not a posing president," Spielberg said.

In the museum at Ford’s Theater, where the 16th President was assassinated, historian Eric Martin explains how Lincoln's thought process evolved.

“His first and foremost objective when the war began was not the freeing of the slaves but ultimately the preservation of the Union. Lincoln realizes that in order to attain his military goal of ultimately preserving and saving the Union, the question of slavery will have to be addressed,” Martin said.

The film focuses on the last four months of his presidency.

In the movie, the jockeying for votes in Congress to pass the amendment feels eerily similar to today’s wrangling on Capitol Hill.   The arguments in the House of Representatives were bitter.

The film turns to Lincoln’s relationships with his wife and kids, his convictions and constant self-examination. Daniel Day-Lewis offers an Oscar-worthy performance as the 16th President. Not only does he bear an uncanny resemblance to the president, he inhabits the character.

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We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

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.

Playa Zancudo is located in the southern Pacific side of CR, out of Golfito and across from Puerto Jiménez.   Beautiful, long, sandy beach with a tranquil community of Ticos and expats. Phone and fast Internet.  Prices vary from length of time, to size of house. A one-month house rental might be $1,400, and reduced to $900 per month for 3 months.  Cabins, which have Internet and bi-weekly maid service are considerably less, and have kitchens and internet and other services. For info:

Some of our other titles:
A.M. Panama
A.M. Colombia
A.M. Guatemala
A.M. Honduras
A.M. Havana
A.M. Nicaragua
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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 234
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Latin America news
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
This was part of the crowd that gathered Thursday for what judicial spokespersons called a march for dignity and justice. The judiciary workers are protesting a vote in the legislature to stop the reappointment of a supreme court magistrate. Participants dressed in black.

Highway safety agency plans
a vigil at downtown plaza

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's traffic safety agency plans an unusual remembrance tonight on the Plaza de la Cultura in the heart of San José.

A number of agencies and religious figures will join safety officials to commemorate those who have died this year on the nation's highways.

The event starts at 6 p.m. and is scheduled to end at 10 p.m.

Fire fighters, physicians, police and even a musical group are scheduled to attend. The purpose is to raise the public consciousness to their obligations as users of the highway, said the Consejo de Seguridad Vial, the organizer.

Mobile phones are far more
than fixed-line devices

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A demand generated in part by access to the Internet has caused ownership of mobile telephones to reach about 2.1 million in the country, according to data released at the legislature Thursday.

Meanwhile, the fixed-line service provided by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad has shown a modest increase to something less than 500,000 lines, said the data.  In January 2011 there were about 690,000 mobile telephones and about 375,000 fixed lines. That was when private companies began operation here and when the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad began promoting a service that could provide Internet access for small wireless devices.

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details