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(506) 2223-1327               Published Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 254            E-mail us
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Christmas greeting


testing the carnival ride
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Once you have the ride set up, everything must be tested before the public can enjoy the thrill. That's what these men are doing at the Zapote
fair grounds in anticipation of the Fiestas de San José, which opens at noon Christmas Day. See story and more photos HERE!


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 254

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

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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.


Legal services

Burke Fiduciary, S.A.
Registered Escrow and Legal Services
Thomas A. Burke, LL.M, Glenda Burke, LL.M
Gloria Burke, manager
Burke law firm

We offer real estate law, due diligence and escrow services,residency status, business corporations, estate planning. English, Spanish, German and French spoken.
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The registration of Burke Fiduciary S.A., corporate ID 3-101-501917 with the
General Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF) is not an authorization to operate. The supervision of SUGEF refers to compliance with the capital legitimization requirements of Law No. 8204. SUGEF does not supervise the
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Hearing consultant

English-speaking hearing consultant
We can professionally evaluate your hearing problem at Clinica Dinamarca off Paseo Colón or at Hospital CIMA.
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Accountants

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US Income Tax,  US GAAP Accounting
& Business Consulting

• US Tax return preparation  for
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• eFile returns: secure with faster refunds
• Assist with back reporting and other filing issues
• Take advantage of the Foreign
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• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
• Accounting for US and International Financial Reporting


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4401-6/9/09v


Spanish Christmas songs
exists alongside translations


By Saray Ramírez Vindas
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff


This is the time of villancicos, Christmas carols. The First World media dominates even in Latin America, but there are some traditional Christmas songs that appear to have come from Spain.

In fact, some Costa Ricans argue that true Spanish Christmas songs all come from Spain one way or another.

The translation of Christmas songs has a long tradition. After all "Silent Night," the carol in English originally was in German. It can be found in many variations in Latin America as "Noche de paz:"

Noche de paz, noche de amor,
Todo duerme en derredor.
Entre sus astros que esparcen su luz
Bella anunciando al niñito Jesús
Brilla la estrella de paz
Brilla la estrella de paz

The rest of the song and a recording can be found HERE.

"Adeste Fideles," called "Venid fieles" in Spanish, goes much further back. The original lyrics is in Latin, although it is best known in English as "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful." Here is a sample in Spanish:

Venid, venid fieles
ha nacido el Niño
Jesús, nuestro Salvador,
venid a Belén.
The rest of the Spanish lyrics can be found HERE or at many other sites on the Web.

The strong North American influence can be seen in the translation of modern Christmas songs like "Rodolfo el reno." He is the reindeer with the red nose. The song begins:

Era Rodolfo un reno
que tenía la nariz
roja como la grana
con un brillo singular.
Todos sus compañeros
se reían sin parar,
y nuestro buen amigo
triste y solo se quedó.
Look for the rest HERE.

There is no surprise that the pure Spanish songs are closer to the earth where the majority of those doing the singing worked. There is "Hacia Belén" about the burro who is carrying Mary who is heavy with the Christ child. Another song in this category is "Los peces en el río" in which the very fish in the river are excited about the arrival of Christ.

Another song that is well-known to nearly every Spanish speaker is “Campanas de Belén,” meaning the bells of Bethlehem.

For Costa Ricans the emphasis on the birth of Christ is far stronger than in the north. Although Santa Claus, called Santa Clós or Colacho, may dominate the store advertising, for many it is the Christ Child who brings the presents on Christmas Day.  Colacho is an abbreviated form of Nicolas.

And children in Spanish countries expect a present or special consideration every Jan. 6, which is the Día de los Reyes Magos celebrating the three kings or wise men who brought gifts to Jesus. This tradition is far older than Santa Claus, and this day, too, has its traditional songs. In some parts of Spain children visit the department store to sit on the lap of one of the three kings instead of Santa.

There also is a custom here of the Noche de Harras, which is Christmas Eve into Christmas morning. Some children seek small amounts of money that they stash away. The money reappears on their wedding days when in the Catholic tradition here, the bride and groom exchange what could be considered symbolic dowries.

Learning the Christmas songs in Spanish is another way of fitting into the culture. Plus singing is recognized as a way to improve foreign language acquisition. And some of the phrases can get easily integrated into everyday conversation, such as:
Santa Claus esta por llegar

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

Old pages

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

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

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

Searching

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

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

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 254


fiesta grounds
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
A new, dramatic ride awaits . . . and so does the beer tent
Zapote festival nearly ready for Christmas Day debut
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Zapote Fiestas de San José is famous all over the world because the television feed of bulls beating up Ticos goes all over the world.

The festival opens at noon Christmas Day, but none of it is as photogenic as the Costa Ricans who risk their life to be in the same ring with a fighting bull. Organizers charge money for spectators to watch the mayhem, and, of course, there are the television rights.

Channel 6 will be carrying the event live through much of the holiday. Most of the participants are not aware that many spectators are rooting for the bulls. The participants, called informal bull fighters, seek fame. Some wear distinctive garb like a red hat with Devil horns. Some get more fame than they wanted when they are carried out of the ring.

One fact is that a bull can propel a full-grown man 25 feet into the spectator seats.

Another fact is that sometimes one of the toreros improvisados is killed. Many are seriously injured. The bull ring has its own clinic and a small window through which the body of battered bullfighters are passed through.

For anyone who does not understand, here is the concept:

A normally intelligent individual gets in a ring with 150 or 200 other persons and tries to stay alive while bull after bull is released into the crowd. These are not like Ferdinand, the children's book bull last seen sitting under a tree and sniffing flowers. These are the real deal: hardened, bad-tempered creatures who really do not like Ticos running up and slapping them on the rump.

Those in the ring have to be fast afoot, although bulls do not have a long attention span and are easily distracted. The audience cheers as participants are propelled through the air
GEtting soda tent ready
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Food tents prepared for the crush of people

or cringe on the ground under the sharp horns of an unhappy bull.

Many leap to temporary safety over the interior walls of the ring. Sometimes so does a bull.

Eventually a rider comes along, ropes the tired bull and makes way for a new one.

For those not in the mood for bulls, the carnival has a number of rides, food stands and dance halls for the adults.

There is an emphasis on beer, and the Policía de Tránsito will be keeping an eye out for drunk drivers.

The Ministerio de Salud gave the fiesta a green light Wednesday, but health inspectors plan to make four rounds a day to check on food stands and the various rides.



A hidden vineyard in Santa Ana and the elusive fish shirt
My friend Alexis and I decided it was time to go to Santa Ana to revisit the Charleston (an unlikely name for the  floor store that sells recycled clothes from Italy.) The racks of clothing are pretty orderly, the people are nice and so are the prices.  After leaving there, pleased with our purchases, we decided to have lunch.

Alexis suggested that TexMex would be fun.  It looked deserted.  I mentioned I had heard about a new restaurant on an estate or a finca near the Bacchus Restaurant.  We decided to venture down the dirt road into the trees that ran behind Bacchus.  The sign said "Private Property," but we figured they wouldn’t do anything but turn us around.  So we continued on.  At the end of the dirt road was a large, cleared space and a house, more a mansion than a farmhouse. 

The front door was open, so we parked the car in what was designated “parking” and headed for it.  A gentleman of middle height and build appeared in the doorway and greeted us with a smile and regret that the restaurant was closed.  He could have been Antonio Banderas’ country-grown older brother, but he was Señor Zamora.  He explained that his home is now a hotel and a restaurant and that his wife is the chef, but that reservations are necessary, whether for two or 20.

However, he offered to show us around.  We accepted and enjoyed the grand tour of all of the public rooms, the Zamoras’ private quarters overlooking the pool, the back garden and the cottages that are for rent.  We even met his attractive unfrazzled-looking wife, who was, of course, in the kitchen, surrounded by delicious smells.

Then Señor Zamora mentioned that he was growing grapes with the purpose of making wine

I have often wondered whether anyone has tried to grow grapes in Costa Rica, but I did not expect a successful vineyard or vintner in the heat of Santa Ana.  He asked us if we would like to see his vineyard – just a five-minute walk away.  Alexis was more eager than I was because I was tired and hungry, but we had ventured this far. We walked along a rock strewn narrow road (again, lined with tall trees) and at the end lo, spread out practically as far as the eye could see, were row upon row of grapevines – no grapes because it was between harvests. He is still visiting and studying vintners in other parts of the grape-growing world. 
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

 
I look forward to tasting the first harvest that will become wine.

But that is not my only adventure for the week.  Still in hot pursuit of the elusive fish T-shirt for my son, I bit the bullet and joined the crowds on the bus downtown in search of Señor Manolo.  Following a clue from Jennifer and the comment from Alexis that the artisans row on the Plaza Democracia was still occupied, I headed to the city center.

It was a healthy trek, but the vendors at the beginning of the block-long row of kiosks directed me towards Señor Manolo’s stand.  There he was, a short, balding man sitting behind his display of T-shirts.  None had a fish. 

I explained to him my quest, and he said he was down at the moment and not making them anymore. 

When I told him about the small company that could duplicate it for me, he said, “Go ahead, let them make it.”  I said they would pay a commission, buy a license or put his name on the artwork.  He waved away all my suggestions repeating that they could go ahead with making the shirt.  He was a very sweet man, but seemed depressed.  I thanked him, telling him he was generous and kind. 

I want to thank everyone who has written with suggestions, especially Jennifer, Berta, Sally, and Ellen. And for those of you who wanted a T-shirt if I found it, you can get one from Charlene Golojuch at www.thevanstonegroup.com.  Check their Web site.  They make all kinds of personalized shirts and other items and are a delight to deal with.

So the week before Christmas I have had an adventure (interesting word – like if you dare to venture, something will be added to it).  And completed a countrywide quest for a mythological fish.  To top it off, my son knows to what lengths I will go to to make him happy.  It is Christmas, after all.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 254

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IMAX theater opens Friday in Escazú commercial center

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a lot of excitement about the new IMAX theater going in in Escazú, and no one is more excited than Repretel, the theater operator.

The firm also runs a television network, and viewers have been bombarded with lengthy, supposed news stories about the new theater. It is the sixth in Latin America but the first in Costa Rica. México has two, Guatemala has one and Colombia has two.

Both Channel 11 and Channel 6 ran segments on the theater Wednesday, including discussions about the 
popcorn. The news presenters on the 7 p.m. Channel 6 show were visibly embarrassed by the lengthy and glowing report from the theater.

The theater opens Friday in the Avenida Escazú commercial center east of Hospital CIMA. This is part of the new multi-use development that is going in there.

Some expats have expressed interest in seeing the movie "Avatar," a science fiction fantasy in 3D.

IMAX theaters are designed with larger screens and with digital sound. Just like in the 1950s, customers wear glasses for the 3D experience.



Four held in investigation of many thefts from tourists

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four suspected members of a San José-based gang that stole luggage from more than 100 tourists have been detained.

The arrests took place Tuesday in San Carlos when agents stopped a vehicle. Investigators said they found inside an assortment of backpacks and other items believed to be from tourists.

There are more than 20 formal complaints in the case, but the majority of tourists do not make formal reports.
The car was headed to San José from the La Fortuna area. It was in La Fortuna that the latest theft from a tourist took place.

The gang is suspected of taking items when tourists were not aware of what was happening. The bulk of the thefts involved bus passengers. Frequently someone on the same bus took the belongings of a tourist.

Some of the men detained Tuesday had just gotten off a bus and then got into the car that was stopped.

Investigators are seeking more suspects.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 254

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Farmers are left outside
climate pact in Copenhagen


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In the run-up to the Copenhagen climate conference, many experts said agriculture should be a central issue in the discussions. After all, farmers are directly affected by climate change, they contribute up to a third of all man-made greenhouse gases, and they can also mitigate their impact by capturing excess carbon dioxide in the soil.

Many farmers worldwide hoped that negotiators in Copenhagen would devise a way to shield them from the heat waves, droughts, floods, and other unpredictable weather predicted under climate change, and reward them for activities that trap greenhouse gases. But agriculture wasn't mentioned in the final accord signed Dec. 18 by the United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa.

"So it's basically back to the drawing board as far as agriculture is concerned," says Ajay Vashee, president of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers.

Vashee says at least negotiators agreed on a framework for a possible future agreement that could include farmers.

Experts note that agriculture is a newcomer to climate negotiations. By comparison, it took several years of talks before reducing emissions from deforestation received a pledge of financial backing in Copenhagen.

The details of that deal — how countries can earn credit for preserving and restoring their forests — are still sketchy, however. And the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation's largest farmers' organization, warns that incentives to grow trees could backfire if they lead farmers to plant fewer crops.

"People need to understand that there are going to be some trade-offs here," says Russell Williams, the Farm Bureau's director of regulatory relations. "If you're taking this much land out of production, what's that going to do to food prices? They really need to find a way, if they're going to move forward with this stuff, to have these forestry and agriculture offsets harmonized so you don't have a perverse incentive to forest land that's going to feed people."

David Waskow, climate change program director at the advocacy group Oxfam America, says there are circumstances in which the pro-forest and pro-farming camps could be in opposition. "But I think there are also ways in which they can be very mutually beneficial." He says in some cases, introducing trees into cropping systems can improve yields while storing carbon.

"We've seen that in areas like the Sahel where farmers have increased tree cover, that's really been beneficial in terms of natural fertilizers, in terms of water retention," he says. "So there's actually quite a bit of synergy there."

Waskow says Oxfam is one of several organizations that prefer these kinds of ecologically-based solutions to the Western model of intensive agriculture using pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

There is a deep philosophical rift within the agriculture community on this issue. Those who say organic agriculture is the only way to go drew fire in Copenhagen from the Farm Bureau's Williams.

"You just have to stand up and say, 'Hey, wait a second. It doesn't do anybody any good to denigrate Western agriculture,'" he says. "And no matter what you think, and no matter what you say, Western agriculture has become the most efficient land use for food. The United States feeds a whole heck of a lot of people."

And the world will have to feed a whole heck of a lot more people in the coming decades, experts say, even as a changing climate makes growing food more challenging. As climate change negotiations move forward, expect to see more sparks fly over the best way to reduce greenhouse gases while continuing to feed a hungry planet.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 254


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Police thwart two crimes
and capture suspects

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers captured suspects in two separate robberies minutes after the crime this week.

The first was Tuesday in Oreamuno de Cartago when two men and a woman stuck up a cellular telephone store. They managed to get the drop on a guard and stole his firearm, too.

The store was in the center of Cartago. Police and representatives of the guard's security firm gave chase. Three suspects abandoned the vehicle a short time later and were detained. The guard's firearm was found in the vehicle, the Fuerza Pública said.

Wednesday police received a report of a holdup of a jewelry store in the center of Heredia. A taxi with three suspects was stopped at a checkpoint police had erected. Police said one of the men held had been released on his own recognizance as a suspect in another crime. Officers said that jewelry was found in the vehicle.


91 passengers in hospital
after airliner leaves runway


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Jamaican officials say 91 people were taken to the hospital after an American Airlines jetliner overshot the runway in the island's capital of Kingston late Tuesday.

The Boeing 737 was carrying 154 people when it skidded off the runway at Norman Manley International Airport after landing during a heavy rainstorm.  The plane went through a fence and skidded over a road before coming to rest on a beach.

The injuries included broken bones.  American Airlines says all but two of those hospitalized have been released.  

The flight originated from Washington's Reagan National Airport, and stopped in Miami before heading to Kingston.

A spokesman for American Airlines says part of the plane's landing gear collapsed, and one engine on the right side fell off the wing from the impact.





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