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The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

December 25th, 2010

I guess every family has their own traditions regarding Christmas and the holiday season. Certainly reading Clement Moore’s poem “Twas the night before Christmas” also known as “A Visit from St. Nicholas” is read on Christmas Eve in homes all over the world in many languages.

In our family, we read aloud both “Twas the night before Christmas” and another special short story, The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry. To me, it symbolizes all that is Christmas… all that is embodied in the giving of gifts, regardless of ones personal beliefs.  I offer it here to my readers. Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays as you please.  Enjoy!

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Same Sex Unions (Gay Marriage) in Costa Rica

September 11th, 2010

Same Sex Mariage in Costa RicaJust as in the US, the issue of same sex unions (gay marriage) is in the forefront of the news in Costa Rica.

It should be interesting to see how this all shakes out. Costa Rica is quite socialistic in its leanings, especially insofar as human rights are concerned.   That would seem to bode well for those in favor of same sex marriages. It is just not that simple.

All things being equal, and they are not, it would seem to be  a distinct possibility that this issue could end up in the SALA IV, the Costa Rica constitutional court where it just might be favorably considered.  All things are not equal however.

If this topic is of interest, read on!

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US Veterans in Costa Rica

August 21st, 2010

Costa Rica US veterans medical services availableI receive a fair number of inquiries from US veterans who are considering a move to Costa Rica. We also have a fair number of US vets living down here now. I do not have a handle as to exactly how many, but is has to be a few thousand or so with many more coming every year. I know this as I have met many on my private tours.

One vet who has lived here for a while is reader Rick Deahl who asked me if I would like to publish some information regarding medical and hospital services available to United States veterans living here in Costa Rica.

I jumped all over that, and this post is the result. If this topic is of interest to you, read on! Continue reading »

Stats ‘N Stuff – Who Reads The REAL Costa Rica?

June 21st, 2010

Stats interest me.

I don’t push advertising on the main web site or Blog, but I do put up a few ads to sort of cover some of the costs. It is always fun, though, to see just who visits The REAL Costa Rica during the month.

The Real Costa Rica gets a bit less than 60,000 new visitors every month making it one of the most popular Costa Rica web sites on the Internet.

Here is a summary of the basic stats!

Interested? Read on!

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Bird Saves Dog – No Film at 11

June 13th, 2010

One of the things about living in the tropics is that here we have animals, insects and reptiles that can hurt our pets… and people as well. This is not to say that this is not true in the US, but our threats are a bit different. I know friends who live in the Southwestern US who have lost pets to snakebites, and I know others living in the foothills around Los Angeles who must constantly be on guard against coyotes who will snatch a dog or cat if the opportunity presents itself.

We live in the central valley not far from San Jose  so we are not troubled by snakes or wild animals. We do get the occasional scorpion (venomous but not life threatening), the occasional tarantula, but not much more. Killer bees live here, of course, and once in a while there are news reports about an attack… seldom fatal. The poison darts frogs of Costa Rica are quite famous and we can see them all the time near the river on my wife’s property in Limon Province, but they are not found in the central valley. Folks living near the beaches or in other truly tropical areas have told me of brushing against or handling certain varieties of caterpillars that can cause amazingly serious and painful injuries.

Here though, and right in our back yard, we get toads.  Big fat fellows that emit a serious poison through their skin when threatened. I must say I completely underestimated the danger of this reptile, and my lack of understanding almost cost the life of our dog, Piro. She would be dead if not for our parrot (lora). a yellow naped Amazon.

If this story interests you, read on!

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Easy Money!

June 6th, 2010

For many years, the largest currency denomination in Costa Rica was the 10,000 colon bank note (billete). At today’s exchange rate, that is a bit over $18.00.  Thus, carrying just the equivalent of $1,000 required you to carry FIFTY-FIVE  10,000 colon notes… quite  a wad.

That will soon change as the Costa Rica Central Bank, Banco Central de Costa Rica, does a complete do-over of the country’s national currency.

Changes to all bills (including the existing currency!) are drastic. Changes will include not only the standard anti-counterfeiting techniques standard on the Euro and the new US bank notes, but also two new denominations; the 20,000 and 50,000 colon bills. That is a Godsend!  Additionally,  the new bills will come in different widths… from 125 mm to 160 mm… truly important for the visually challenged.

If this topic interests you and you would like a peek at the new bills, read on!

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ICE Pulls a Fast One and Tim Switches to 3G – Big Time!

March 26th, 2010

OK… I give up!

As many folks know, I have been a staunch proponent of the old TDMA cell phones for… well forever! They worked and worked well.  Real workhorses. I hated the GSM phones and I still do.  However, my wifey switched to the new 3G system a few weeks ago, and I was so impressed (we actually had cell phone service in my office between San Jose and the SJO airport!) that I went out and bought one for me.

Now, after testing it and playing with it, I am ready to endorse the new 3G system. I did not order the Internet option as 1. is it too expensive and 2. My Ipod Touch does a far better job and has full wireless. Still… the 3G service is far better than the old GSM system.

If this topic interest you… read on! Continue reading »

My Readers Write

March 24th, 2010

Good day faithful readers.

Here is another addition of “My Readers Write” Here you will find a few emails asking questions not covered in The REAL Costa Rica or this Blog…. or maybe they are but there is some other twist that I think might be of interest.

As some of these were sent more than 5 weeks ago, I do appreciate your patience. I am just bombarded with email, especially now that readership in The REAL Costa Rica and this Blog is exceeding 63,000 new visits per month.

If this interests you, please read on.

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Ley de tránsito – Results Day One

March 2nd, 2010

Typical of Costa Rica, news reports differ as to how went day one following implementation of the new ley de tránsito (traffic laws). One English language online stated that more than 300 fines were handed out in San José  alone. This was kinda amazing as the transit officers union stated in pretty clear terms that their membership would not be handing out tickets except for violations that could be dangerous to other drivers.

I normally only read La Nacion or some other Spanish language newspapers as they tend to get it right… and as I suspected, the information reported was not quite accurate.  The actual number of tickets was far less.  By 4 PM yesterday,  218 tickets had been handed out nationwide.

These tickets were for:

Using mobile phones without a hands free device or failure to use seat belts. (¢ 220,050  or $400.00)  (Yeah!!)

Driving in San José in violation of vehicle plate restrictions (¢ 29,340 –   $53.00)

Driving with polarized (darkened) rear window (¢ 117,360 – $213.00) and finally,

two people who were caught driving without a driver’s license (¢ 293,400 – $533.00 ) and whose cars were impounded on the spot. Wow!

Also, La Nacion staffers apparently did a bit of reconnoitering around the country and found that many transit officials had apparently not even been on duty, prompting the response “Promise Fulfilled” by Joselito Ureña, secretary of the Unión Nacional de Técnicos y Profesionales en Tránsito the transit officers union.  Interestingly…. Those officers did give out tickets  were officers who were working directly  under the supervision of Marin Germain, transit director aka the big cheese. Guess that confirms who is the real boss.

So the verdict?  None of the big cheeses (transit bosses nor the diputados) are thrilled about the officers not obeying orders and  handing out those tickets…  still it would be wise to keep your foot under control, not talk on your cell phone,  use your seat belts and generally be good little boys and girls!

Cops Won’t Enforce New Transit Law

February 28th, 2010

I have been waiting patiently for many months for someone in the government of Costa Rica (ummm – that would be the diputados),  to realize just how idiotic is the new ley de tránsito (traffic law) that goes into effect tomorrow, March 1, 2010.

In fact I have re-written this post about 3 times, the last time being Friday when they decided not to enforce some laws requiring everyone carry fire extinguishers, those reflective triangle thingies, and a couple of other items (like child seats)  that they probably should have left in! I was running out of time… but my guardian angel told me to wait until Sunday…

So I did wait, only to learn last night that the least likely group of all (that would be the transit police officers union) voted overwhelmingly to not enforce the new laws, but will enforce really tough drunk driving laws and those regarding reckless driving!  Sadly, those are the laws the courts are ignoring with only eleven convictions in over a year. I am thinking now that the police officers (that would be the group with the brains) should perhaps trade places with the diputados!

Interested?  Read on!

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