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Cocal for Jan. 20
Loma Verde
(506) 2223-1327                        Published Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 256                                   Email us
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;ale Arenal

Cruz Roja photo
A physician at the Zapote bull ring examines a torero improvisado who ended up at the wrong end of a bull at the toros a la Tica. The individual was one of 37 persons treated for bruises and injuries from horns at the fiesta. At
the competing Pedregal event, the rescue agency reported treating 44 more who were injured by bulls.  22 of the injured were hurt badly enough to go to local clinics or hospitals. The bull bating continues through Sunday.

'Tis the season to keep an eye on the luggage
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Plenty of tourists have had their visit marred by bus terminal crooks. Every San Jose´terminal and similar locations in other communities are hunting grounds for baggage thieves.

Sometimes the theft degenerates into armed robbery.

The biggest targets are females and travelers with large amount of luggage.

One technique is for a crook to engage a tourist in conversation while a confederate quietly steals a piece of luggage. The luggage may be passed off to a third crook and then speedily put in a waiting vehicle.

This happens frequently at the Coca Cola bus terminal at Calle 16 and Avenidas 1 to 3 on the west side of San José. But travelers at all terminals are vulnerable as are those in tourist communities.

There are a handful of terminals in San José, each with buses headed for their own destinations.  Gran Terminal del Caribe, another hot spot, is at  Avenida 9 and Calle 12, and, as the name implies, provides service to the Caribbean coast.

All of these are crowded during the holiday seasons, and bus managers add extra vehicles to accommodate the travelers.

The Judicial Investigation Organization is trying to make a dent in terminal robberies. Tuesday agents were on the alert early in the morning when one crook struck up a conversation with a  tourist who was waiting to purchase a ticket.

The time was about 5:45 a.m.

While the tourist was distracted, according to agents, an accomplice lifted a bag and began to flee.

Agents eventually collared both individuals and remanded them to the flagrancy tribunal. Still such thefts are not considered high crimes here, and the accused are likely to get off with a light penalty. The agency has yet to report the judicial outcome.

That agents are on patrol at bus terminals suggests that there have been a number of complaints. The crooks have steady jobs, and usually end up with a smorgasbørd of personal
terminal loot
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Agents managed to recover this.

effects. These are then exchanged for money at the local pawn shops.

The evidence for this is the great variety of electronic items and cameras that the shops have for sale. Some of the best collections of Nikon cameras and lenses can be found at downtown pawn shops.

There also have been periodic complaints that luggage handlers have gone through checked luggage at the airport and helped themselves to valuable items.

Bus terminals are not the only spots where tourists are in jeopardy of losing luggage. Thefts have taken place outside of terminals like Coca Cola. In one case a crook took the suitcase of a woman tourist. When she gave chase, she ended up at the wrong end of a revolver as the crook put her suitcase in a car and left.

In addition, some bold thieves have been known to lift a suitcase while visitors are checking  into hotels. A tourist usually thinks the crook is a hotel worker until the luggage is determined to be missing.

Even once on a bus, the luggage is not completely safe. Crooks have been known to steal from tour buses while passengers are eating a meal or taking a rest stop. At other times crooks purchase a bus ticket and grab luggage while the bus makes a stop. They are picked up by a vehicle that is following.

Some online travel sites have written extensively about theft possibilities in San José and Costa Rica.

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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

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José offices
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California Licensed Psychologist
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Lic. Pablo Mata Ferreto, MBA.

Legal – Financial Adviser

Real Estate and Business Transactions

Avoid Real Estate scams, get independent advice and have due diligence performed before signing or making a deposit.

Phone number: (506) 8853-0000


Marco Cavallini & Associates
Dental Implants and Crowns

Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini has placed and
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Dr. Marco A. MuÏoz Cavallini
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Remodelling and Construction

Real estate agents and services

CR Beach
Jaco Beach Central Pacific Real Estate
CR Beach Investment Real Estate Broker & INT’L
NAR certified Realtor Jeff Fisher is famous for being “Brutally Honest.”
See why he still believes only the 100% titled land of the Jaco beach & Central Pacific areas of Playa Hermosa/ Jaco-Los Suenos Marina & Golf and the Esterillos-Bejuco beaches are the best places to live, invest and enjoy. 
Reason #1:  SJO Int’l Airport and S.J. suburbs are little more than one hour away.
#2: The Jacó area has everything you need, from KFC to Gourmet Organic;  from zip lines to bank lines, from a movie house to a fire sale house…. 
#3: BUYERS’ MARKET: Many properties are at their lowest price ever
           *$179,900 Hermosa Beachfront Community with Ocean Views !
Yes we know Costa Rica: Jeff (21 years here), Frances Winborne (23 years), and Junior Diaz (Jacó born & bred),  and we chose the Central Pacific!

Member of the N.A.R., the Costa Rican Real Estate Board CRGAR and the Central Pacific Chamber of Commerce.
Toll Free: 1-888-782-1119 or  2643-4334, 2643-3672
JACO Office: IL Galeone Center by BAC, #14, Costa Rica

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   • Specialized in the Central and South Pacific.
   • Great network of realtors, to find your dream
   • Homes, condominium & luxury homes
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Telephone: +506 2643-4065   
cell: +506 8825-6556   US:  626 548-3909
skype: ecorealtorscr  Facebook: ecorealtorscr
In front of Subway at Plaza Herradura, Jacó
Green NAR designee, member of the CCBR, CRGAR

Jim Day, representing Colinas del Sol
del Pacifico, S.A.


* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
* Mountain areas with great views.
* Gently sloping level areas ideal for hobby farms, gardening, fruit tree orchards.
* Quiet place to get away from the busy city and beach crowds.
* All lots have gravel roads to them, water and electricity at each.
* Lots are 5,000 sq. meters or larger, starting at only $39,000 USD , and many can be combined for those wanting a larger area for their chosen passion, be it a hobby horse farm or retirement haven.
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* Electricity and water to each of 79 clear-titled lots.
* 20 minutes to the Liberia International Airport
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* 25 minutes to the Liberia Hospital
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Contact Jim Day
or Phone:  001 517 484-3675.
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Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo         
    A woman in Tibás directed police to these two fragmentation
    grenades and three gas canisters that she found while cleaning a
    storage area. The  Fuerza Pública said the war materials belonged
    to a man who died recently of natural causes.

Press group calls for Cuban freedoms

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Inter American Press Association has urged that respect for freedom of expression and of the press in Cuba be a key part in the talks between the governments of Raúl Castro and Barack Obama following the announcement of normalization of diplomatic relations after 53 years.

Association President Gustavo Mohme declared, “This good gesture between the two governments carries with it the great opportunity for Cuba to be required to respect human rights, freedom of expression and press freedom, that it release jailed independent journalists and comply with what is stipulated about these issues in international treaties.”

Mohme warned that “the initiation of new relations cannot remain in just a political agreement on the exchange of spies, but involve all human rights, which makes necessary the release of journalists and everyone jailed for their way of thinking.”

The Castro government is keeping imprisoned three journalists: Yoennis de Jesús Guerra García, Ángel Santiesteban-Prats and José Antonio Torres. Juliet Micheleba Díaz, arrested on April 7, was released on Nov. 14. “To them we express our deep solidarity and we will work on insisting on their release,” Mohme added.

“Any attempt at dialogue will be doomed to failure if there does not exist a will to guarantee individual and collective freedoms and transparency nor respect for the work of journalists and the public’s right to information,” declared Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República.

“In this dialogue freedom of expression and of the press should be an essential part. The government of Cuba must assume great responsibilities at this time of opening.”

Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo         
Supermarket robbery suspects are cuffed and grounded.

Chase leads to robbery arrests

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four men held up a Palé supermarket in San Sebastián Saturday evening, and police caught four suspects after a car chase through the capital to Tibás.

The stickup took place about 6 p.m., said the Fuerza Pública. Three crooks entered with guns and took money from cash registers. A fourth crook was in a vehicle.

At the end of the chase, police said they captured four men in their 20s and that each has a record of such crimes.

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 256      
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Police keep up the pressure on vendors of fireworks, legal or illegal
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

New Year's will see another night of shock and awe, but the Fuerza Pública is doing its best to prevent that.

The police agency said that it is aggressively enforcing the firework laws and conducting inspections of where they are sold.

Some fireworks are legal in Costa Rica as long as they do not explode. Still, the really impressive fireworks are sold under
the counter or in unregistered establishments.

Police have been conducting routine inspections of all the

 retail outlets that sell fireworks. Generally most are in order and have their permits from the Dirección General de Armamento and the Ministerio de Salud.

In one case Saturday, police found an underage individual tending the shop while the registered owner was not present.  Allowing a minor to sell fireworks is a violation, so police shut down the store and confiscated the fireworks. They said there were 1,500 units. The store was in Alajuelita.

Police have been confiscating fireworks that enter the country from both borders, but the amounts have been relatively small. The amount confiscated, according to police reports is around 150 kilos.

New guide book features the sights and attractions of San José
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new guide book focuses on downtown San José. The book, available in paperback and electronic format is "The Real San José."

Author Michael Miller said in an announcement that he wrote the book to introduce new arrivals to Costa Rica's capital.  It tells visitors what they need to know to get their feet on the ground and to start enjoying this exciting city, he said.

In addition to being the nation's capital and its largest city, San José has a rich history and is a thriving center for culture, the arts and entertainment, he notes, adding that the city is the home to live theater, the national symphony orchestra, and scores of art galleries. 

It features world-class museums, cathedrals, universities, fine public buildings and beautiful vintage homes, he said.

"The Real San José" has 25 photographs along with a foldout map of downtown.

Miller said he believes that the more one knows about San José, the more someone will see the tremendous variety of attractions it has to offer to anyone here for a couple of days or to someone thinking about relocating here.

 Miller said he has been visiting San José since the 1980s and has
book cover

made it his mission to discover all that the city has to offer.  He served in the U.S. Navy and is a Vietnam veteran.

The book is available at Amazon/Kindle and other popular E-book vendors and in Costa Rica, a printed paperback version is available at the office of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica and in hotel lobbies, restaurants and other locations, Miller said.

green kid
Hotel Cocal & Casino photos
Young Anthony Caballero picks out a toy while other youngsters await the rain of goodies from a piñata at the Hotel Cocal & Casino Christmas party for needy kids in Jacó. Around 125 kids were invited, and they enjoyed the
snowman piñata, rice with chicken, ice cream and a bag of apple, grapes and candies, said Allan Umaña, general manger. The firm also has a similar party at its Sebaco, Nicaragua, facility.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

Del Rey nightlife

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 256
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Social media services under pressure to control harassment, threats
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Social media services came under fire recently for not being more proactive in addressing online harassment and violent threats and for removing offensive comments only after being reported. Now some believe the role of social media in overseeing online behavior should change.

“Whoever is in charge of these spaces — that includes the people who are hosting the site, that includes the users on the site, that includes the social media platforms — they have a responsibility to actually try to make their environment such that they are not aggressively targeting and attacking and driving away certain groups of people,” said Mary Anne Franks of Miami University’s School of Law.

She recalls that in its early days, social media “transformed our lives and made available things that were not possible a decade ago.”

Now she asks why the creativity and resourcefulness that made that possible are not being dedicated to getting the most from online communication without the damage that it can do.

Elaine Davies of California’s Chapman University agrees that social media companies should have a more responsible role. But she says the problem is that “if one person creates a fake account or they clone someone’s account, they don’t know until somebody brings it up, and there should be a rapid response.”

Professor Franks argues that social media sites can be creative about dealing with abusers hiding behind anonymity or similar tools that foster greater freedom of expression but also have what she calls a darker side.

She points out that Twitter, Facebook and many other services already have policies in place to curb spam, for example, and suggests that they can address abusive behavior “without having to fundamentally alter the kinds of beneficial instruments and ways that people can talk to each other online.”

“And people will quibble about whether that is a violation of free speech or whether it is a positive factor in reducing harassment,” added Johns Hopkins University’s Patricia Wallace, senior director of the Center for Talented Youth and Information Technology.

Professor Davis, who believes the Internet should be for free speech, questions whether it is even possible for social media companies to proactively police abusive behavior.

Both Professor Davies and Professor Wallace accuse social media companies of being more concerned with making a profit, although Professor Wallace concedes that Twitter and Facebook, for example, have taken down abusive posts and comments in the past.

Twitter and Facebook have clear policies against abusive behavior. While declining an interview request, a Twitter spokesman shared the following statement:

Our rules are designed to allow our users to create and share this wide variety content in an environment that is safe and secure for our users. When content is reported to us that violates our rules, which include a ban on targeted abuse, we suspend those accounts. We evaluate and refine our policies based on input from users, while working with outside organizations to ensure that we have industry best practices in place.

After a recent spike in cyberharassment, Twitter refined its blocking and reporting tools to make it easier for users to report harassment on their mobile phones.

In an interview with TECHtonics, Facebook’s communications manager, Matt Steinfeld, says the company’s community standards state clearly that “harassment, abuse, bullying — things like that — direct attacks from people, are not allowed on Facebook.”

But the abusive behavior needs to be reported to the Web site administrators.
Online abuse

“We have like 1.3 billion people using Facebook … So it’s really a large neighborhood watch,” he said.

“So if somebody is being bullied or harassed, they are really in the best position to tell us that,” he said, given that “as a third party reviewing things, it’s not always apparent based on the language that that person is using whether they are truly bullying or harassing someone else.”

Because of the difficulty of proactively looking for abusive content, Steinfeld says Facebook makes it “as easy as possible for people to report it to us” and make sure when they do that, that Facebook has “someone looking at it and responding to it. That’s where we put our priority,” he said.

“If it is abusive, if it is harassment, we remove it,” he stressed.

But Jayne Hitchcock, president of Working to Halt Online Abuse, says the victims her organization helps often say they went to Facebook or Twitter or other Web sites and their complaints were not taken seriously.

“They’ve had friends or relatives file complaints and nothing is being done,” she said. “And the person stalking them or harassing them continues. And then it does get to the point where they do have to go to the police and then hope that the police will believe them and do something. And then it just goes from there. It’s like one big giant snowball.”

Ms. Hitchcock argues that social media companies are not doing a good job in addressing online abuse. She says victims who filed repeated complaints with Facebook — and their grievance was not addressed — came to her group for help. She questions if the people tasked with reviewing user complaints are qualified.

“It’s one of these things where you wonder, not only in law enforcement, but the so-called abuse people at these Web sites — if they are properly trained,” she said. “And I don’t think they are.”

She says responding to complaints isn’t enough if they are not taken seriously or if they are passed off without action. She suggests that social media sites might consider “live chat support, post tips on staying safer and being proactive.”

Change is possible, says Professor Franks, although it has to take place on all fronts — legal, social, in the workspace, and on online forums.

She describes harassment and abuse as fundamental design flaws and says tech and social media platforms should make structural changes to inhibit harassment and guard against abuse.

“To do this, they — and all of us — must reject the tendency to treat social media and technology as though they are natural forces rather than the product of human choices and value judgments,” she said. “Once we recognize this, we can make choices and value judgments that do not merely guard the interests of the privileged, but serve the interests of equality and democracy.”

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
   * Find out how to live affordably
   * See how other expats live. Meet other expats who have made
          the move.
   * Access the country's affordable health care system
   * Informative two-day seminar given by local experts in their
          relevant fields.
   * Tours led by Christopher Howard, 34-year resident, citizen,
          and the author of "The New Golden Door to Retirement
          and  Living in Costa Rica – the Official Guide to Relocation”
Click HERE  to learn all about our Association of Residents (ARCR)  approved tours at

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.
Every Saturday - Vendor Fair!

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

Need a book about Costa Rica?

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A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
Real estate for rent
Real estate wanted

Real estate rental services (paid category)

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

Real estate for rent (paid category)
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:

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.

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2014 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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A.M. Costa Rica's   Fifth news page
Family home

cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 256       
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AirAsia jet is search object
with 182 aboard feared dead

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The search for a missing AirAsia jet with 162 people on board has resumed in the Java Sea as anguished relatives look for any sign of hope.

Flight QZ 8501 was about halfway through its flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore when it disappeared Sunday morning.

The pilot had asked air traffic controllers for permission to ascend about 1,800 meters to nearly 11,600 meters (38,000 feet) to avoid stormy weather. An Indonesian transport ministry official says permission was denied because another plane was flying in the area.

After that, communication went silent. Controllers did not receive any distress call from the pilot. The last transmission from a crew member on the Airbus reportedly came at 6:12 a.m. local time.

Australia, Singapore, and the United States are among the countries offering to help with the search.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes, speaking to the media in Surabaya, said everyone was devastated.

"We are very devastated about what's happened, it's unbelievable, but we do not know what's happened yet, so we'll wait for the accident investigation to really find out what's happened," said he.

"Our concern right now is for the relatives and for the next of kin, there is nothing more important to us for our crew's family, and for our passengers' families, that we look after them. That is our number one priority at the moment to make sure that we take care of them. And to fully cooperate with the investigation,” Fernandes added.

Fernandes said he did not want to speculate as to what might have happened to the plane.

The passengers include 149 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one each from Britain, Malaysia, and Singapore. There were seven crew members, all Indonesian nationals, except for the co-pilot, reportedly a French citizen.

The Java Sea is one of the world's busiest waterways and is relatively shallow.

The plane's captain is described as experienced, with about 20,500 flying hours, according to a statement from the airline. Roughly 6,000 of those hours were with AirAsia Indonesia on the Airbus A320.

The six-year-old aircraft had last undergone maintenance Nov. 16.

The low-cost AirAsia family of airlines, serving more than 100 destinations in 22 countries, has had a good safety record with no fatalities since beginning operations 18 years ago.

Malaysia Airlines, which saw its flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappear in March, posted a message of support on Twitter on Sunday, encouraging the loved ones of AirAsia's passengers to stay strong.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all family and friends of those on board," Malaysia Airlines tweeted.

MH370 has never been found.

Plane disasters in 2014
claimed 900 lives worldwide

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nearly 900 people are dead or missing following air disasters around the world this year, with Southeast Asia taking a particularly heavy hit. Three major events involved weather, two planes were shot down in eastern Ukraine, and one crash was attributed to mechanical problems.

Hundreds of passengers and crew remain unaccounted for in the case of a Malaysia Airlines flight that vanished in March.

Feb. 11: An Algerian Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules transporting 78 military passengers and crew crashes on an internal flight from Tamanrasset to Constantine. One person survives. The Algerian defense ministry attributes the crash to storms and snow over the mountainous Oum El-Bouaghi region.

Mar. 8: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard. No confirmed wreckage of the plane has been found despite a search of more than 23,000 square miles.

June 14: A Ukrainian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 carrying troops and equipment is shot down by anti-aircraft fire in eastern Ukraine on its approach to the Luhansk Airport. All 49 people aboard died. Ukrainian military forces were engaged in a conflict with pro-Russia separatists in the area at the time.

July 17: Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur is shot down over a rebel-held area of eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia for what he called overwhelming evidence of complicity in the airliner's downing.

July 23: Taiwan domestic flight TransAsia Airways Flight 222 crashes in heavy rains and wind on Penghu Island after traveling from Kaohsiung International Airport. Of the 58 people aboard, only 10 survive. A preliminary report released by aviation officials Friday indicates the pilots could not see the runway after a failed first landing attempt.

July 24: Air Algérie Flight 5017 disintegrates on impact after encountering rough weather in the skies over Mali en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers. All 118 passengers and crew are killed.

Aug. 10: Iran's domestic Sepahan Airlines Flight 5915 from Tehran to Tabas crashes shortly after takeoff, killing 39 of the 48 passengers and crew. Iran's aviation chief said those on board survived the crash but died in the ensuing fire. The state news agency cites engine failure as the cause.

NATO alliance finishes
Afghanistan combat mission

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The NATO-led military alliance in Afghanistan formally ended its 13-year-long combat mission, leaving a relatively under-trained Afghan national security force to fight the deadly Taliban insurgency largely on its own.

A special ceremony was organized at the Kabul headquarters of the coalition Sunday to mark the conclusion of operations by the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force.

The commander of the International Security Assistance Force, U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell, said the U.S. and NATO are not abandoning Kabul.

"Our new resolute mission means we will continue to invest in Afghanistan's future. Our commitment to Afghanistan endures," Campbell said.

NATO’s Resolute Support mission will consist of about 13,000 mostly American personnel that will continue advising, assisting and training Afghan national security forces in their fight against the Taliban.

In a statement from the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama said, "Today's ceremony in Kabul marks a milestone for our country. For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan.

"Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion," Obama said.

However, "Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and the Afghan people and their security forces continue to make tremendous sacrifices in defense of their country," he said.

Campbell said the road ahead remains challenging.

“There is no turning back to the dark days of the past. Insurgents are losing, they are desperate. It is time for the enemy to heed President Ghani’s call, lay down their arms, come to the peace table and help to rebuild the Afghan nation," he said, said President Ashraf  Ghani.

Whether the Afghan forces can contain the insurgency remains an open question, with militants regularly launching deadly attacks against Kabul's security forces.

In a statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the coalition's war against the insurgents "made our own nations safer, by denying safe haven to international terrorists. We have made Afghanistan stronger, by building up from scratch strong security forces."

New Afghan President Ghani has pledged to seek a political solution to the insurgency and has called on the Taliban and its allies to engage in peace talks with his national unity government.

Instead, the militants have intensified attacks, citing Ghani’s move to conclude security agreements with the United States and NATO and allowing an enduring foreign military presence in the country. 

Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar, while addressing the ceremony, expressed his gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices coalition forces have made to secure Afghanistan. 

“Nearly 3,500 NATO personnel have been killed in action and over 30,000 NATO personnel have been wounded in action. The Afghan people pray for your fallen, wounded and their loved ones,” Atmar said.

This year has been the deadliest for Afghan security forces in their decade long battle against the Taliban and insurgents have made gains in parts of the country to extend their influence.

Atmar said Afghan forces have successfully led security operations for the past nearly two years in most of Afghanistan but underscored the need for continued international help to ensure their long-term sustainability.

“We are not yet able to do everything alone. We have made tremendous progress, but we recognize that your continued support will be key in ensuring that our collective gains will be enduring,” he said.

At its peak, there were about 140,000 troops from 50 countries taking part in the operation in Afghanistan.

It was launched under U.S. leadership to invade Afghanistan 13 years ago to remove the Taliban from power for sheltering the al-Qaida network that plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Washington has since spent more than $100 billion on Afghan reconstruction in addition to its estimated $1 trillion war effort.

N.Y. police shun mayor
at murdered officer's rites

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Midway through one of the most heavily attended funerals in the New York Police Department's history, Mayor Bill de Blasio walked past U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and other dignitaries to give his eulogy Saturday for Officer Rafael Ramos.

As the mayor started speaking, thousands of uniformed officers outside Christ Tabernacle Church silently turned their backs on him in a pointed display of protest as his image filled the large screens broadcasting the service.

Angered by the mayor's qualified support for nationwide demonstrations against the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police, some New York police officers had similarly shunned de Blasio as he arrived a week ago at the hospital where Ramos and his police partner, Wenjian Liu, were declared dead.

Saturday's funeral for Ramos drew more than 25,000 officers from across the United States. Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio eulogized Ramos in speeches to hundreds of people inside the church in the New York City borough of Queens. Members of Ramos' family, including his widow and two sons, were in attendance.

Biden said the slayings of the two police officers touched the soul of an entire nation. Cuomo said New York lost a hero in Ramos, and de Blasio said the officer would always be remembered.

Ramos and Liu were gunned down in their patrol car in the borough of Brooklyn Dec. 20 by a man who had indicated he was planning to avenge several recent incidents in the United States in which police killed black men who were carrying no weapons.

The man who shot the New York officers, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, hours earlier had shot and wounded an ex-girlfriend in Baltimore, about 200 miles (nearly 320 kilometers) away. He later killed himself. He had a history of mental problems and had been arrested multiple times.

Ramos was being laid to rest later Saturday. Funeral arrangements for Liu have not yet been announced.

The U.S. airline JetBlue offered free flights to at least 700 police officers from other parts of the country who wanted to attend the rites in New York for Ramos.

The deaths of black men by white policemen in suburban St. Louis and New York City after confrontations have sparked enormous controversy and a series of rolling anti-police protests across the United States. Violence erupted after grand juries in Missouri and New York declined to bring criminal charges against police involved in the civilian deaths.

Describing New York City as incredibly diverse, Biden told mourners Saturday that the city can and will show the nation how to bridge any divide.

Sony faces another attack
in its PlayStation network

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Sony Corp. worked for a third day Saturday to restore services to its PlayStation network as the FBI said it was looking into the disruption.

"We are aware of the reports and are investigating the Sony PlayStation matter," Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jenny Shearer said via email. She did not elaborate.

Sony said the attack had prevented some people who received consoles for Christmas from using their new machines on the PlayStation network, which lets gamers compete with people around the world via the Internet.

"If you received a PlayStation console over the holidays and have been unable to log on to the network, know that this problem is temporary and is not caused by your game console," Sony executive Catherine Jensen said on the company's U.S. PlayStation blog.

Some customers posted complaints about the outage on the blog. "Three days without PSN. That's absurd,'' one said.

"We understand your frustration," Ms. Jensen responded early Saturday afternoon. "Our engineers are working to restore service as quickly as possible!"

Later in the day, she said the company had restored access for some users and would keep bringing more back online.

Sony declined to say how many of PSN's 56 million users had been affected by the attack.

The blog said the problems were the result of "high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online game play," otherwise known as a distributed denial-of-service attack.

It was Sony's second recent high-profile encounter with hackers after an unprecedented attack on its Hollywood studio, which the U.S. government attributed to North Korea and linked to the release of the low-brow comedy "The Interview."

A hacker activist group known as Lizard Squad said it was responsible for the PSN outage as well as delays on Microsoft's Corp.'s Xbox network. Microsoft quickly fixed the problem.

The group has claimed responsibility for previous attacks, including ones on PSN in early December and August.

The August attack coincided with a bomb scare in which Lizard Squad tweeted to American Airlines that it had heard explosives were on board a Dallas-to-San Diego flight carrying an executive with Sony Online Entertainment.

Sony has been the victim of some of the most notorious cyberattacks in history. Besides the breach at its Hollywood studio, hackers stole data belonging to 77 million PlayStation Network users in 2011.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.
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, the Pacific coast expert

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,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English calls: (Cristian Arce) Phone: 
(506) 2494-0016 
(506) 8309-0173
English calls :  (Luis David) Phone: 
(506) 6154-1940

Español calls: (Luis G. Jiménez)  Phone:   
(506) 8707-4016
Grecia 884
Beautiful large house in Grecia, Costa Rica, with the best fresh natural weather. The property includes 9 challets and 12.000 m2 of land,  1,000 m2 of construction. Price $498,000. Click HERE!
Grecia 881
Beautiful house in Grecia, Costa Rica,  2 kilometers from the city.   340 m2 of land.
Price $135,000. Click
Grecia 898
Beautiful house in Grecia downtown. Full security cameras. Land 250 m2.  Price $400,000.  Click HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

Heredia montage

Cariaria  Los Arcos.
    Lot inside Los Arcos Residence. Absolutely gorgeous right in front of the coffee plantation. The lot is 326.50 meters. Includes the corporation for an easy transfer and the plans for a 170 meter house. Open to all offers.   Architect  plans included (the blueprints). Cost to the seller $4,000 this is included!!   Original Price $97,000 just reduced to $86,000

Also I am selling an Audi A6  2008, 2.0 twin turbo. Full loaded power. Back leather. Full service records at the agency in Costa Rica.  52 kms.  Silver with black. Full computer iPod interface power. Electric moon roof. Everything's a beauty!!  Incredible history and full service at the agency, Costa Rica Audi.

It's a package deal $104.000.  Must sell.  I am moving back to U.S.  Contact me  at my phone:  2260-6979 or cell phone:  8893-8672.

La Fortuna Distress Sale
Divorce forced wife to return to the U.S. with bills to pay. Just wants to get out from under. Modern 2-bedroom home on over 1100m2 intended for apartments or condos. Easy walk to center of town, great volcano view. $140,000 with 50 percent financing arranged. On vacation rental program now producing nice income, but Costa Rica no longer in her future. For details contact

Ringle resort
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-storey, 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-storey. 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.

Condo montage
Cariari luxury condo for sale
 PRICE REDUCED FROM $235,000 to $195,000
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 $195,000.

Atenas home
This developer's prime lot with super house is being offered in Roca Verde, 7,006 M2 of gentle grade, all landscaped for tropical effect, 3 bedrooms 2 baths with tile floors and hardwood kitchen, near the entrance of the neighborhood. Great floor plan on this one! There is a double carport, and a large patio and pool, wheelhouse style living room and many other features. View, large usable lot, close to town, nice, oh yeah. $495,000.

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!

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 8702-0778.  From U.S. 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 installed, Direct TV via sling box on Internet. $199,000 Contact   Check out slide show 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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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 256
Real Estate
About us

News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
If treasure trees could talk . . .

Have you seen one of the great trees?  The old trees, the trees of history?  Some of them are preserved on hotel properties, like the Guanacaste trees in Liberia.  Others are preserved by local families, like the 500 year old ceiba tree in Nuevo
Victoria torley
Arenal.  Still others are protected in national parks and private preserves.  Wherever they are, they are national treasures.

We have a great tree on our farm, not as old as some, a mere 350 years or so, but still a piece of history.  Another tree, nearly as old, was struck by lightning long before we arrived and was hollowed out by insects, rain, and bacteria.  Still, there was enough left
that we were able to harvest and use it.  Think – the tree was young before the American Revolution and fell as men walked in space. 

The older trees are an even greater wonder.  They grew as the Maya and Aztec warred.  They grew as the Melecu built their villages around the rivers we now call the Aguacate and Piedras.  Their branches built the cook fires and kilns for the pottery whose shards we find around the lake and in deposits of clay around the rivers.  They grew before Columbus landed on the shores of the Caribbean and before the conquistadors sweated their way across Central America to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

People come as tourists to Costa Rica and take home, as a souvenir, a placemat or a carving from a tree root and never think about it as something to be treasured.  We know better.  We know it is a fragment of a silent witness to history. 

I run my hand over the wood in the bench outside my front door and marvel at the strength of it, the complexity of its colors, the movement I see in the grain.  I wonder what it would say if it could speak.  In death, it sheltered bats and bugs and snakes.  Perhaps a tayra or a river otter sheltered in it or a rabbit nested in a hollow branch and raised its young.  So much history in a single tree, now a bench, a table, a carved piece for the bedroom.  The wood is hard and strong, it will last a long time.

Look for the great trees.  Look with admiration.  Look with wonder.  These trees are our history.  They are national treasures.

Plant of the Day

The allspice is a simple tree with upright trunk and branches.  Bark is very light and smooth making it a lovely accent tree.  And then there is the scent – first of the flowers then the berries. 

Pick the berries when they are green and let them dry in the sun for best flavor, grind them for kitchen use or put them in a sachet.  Chew the leaves as a breath freshener or make a tea from them.  Allspice is a beautiful tree with an amazing number of uses.

Victoria Torley photo

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit the Arenal Gardeners Facebook page.

Costa Rican News
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