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June 30th, 2012
I generally do not write op-ed blog posts, but today Costa Rica has lost a fine man who more than any other, has changed the face of professional law enforcement in Costa Rica. His name is Jorge Rojas Vargas, pictured left, and while I have never met him personally, (or professionally thank God), I would consider it a high honor if someday I might make his acquaintance and shake his hand. He is to me a hero in a land where heros in government are hard to find. I have delayed writing this post because I thought that just maybe… someone in the government might come to their senses and not permit this man to retire from public service. I mean all he really wanted was enough funding for he and his staff to do their jobs. Sadly, that has not come to pass. For shame.
Should you like more info on Mr Rojas and his importance to Costa Rica, read on…
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Crime in Costa Rica, Jorge Rojas, Living in Costa Rica, OIJ, Opinion, Organismo de Investigación Judicial, Rants | Comments (6)
October 10th, 2011
In this post you will find both emails and comments asking me questions are generally not covered in The REAL Costa Rica or this Blog…. or maybe they are answered, 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.
I do correct grammar where practical and some spelling of the various emails/comments, but I do not change the content other than maybe a swear word.
If this interests you, please read on.
Filed under Banking in Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Costa Rica Tourism, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Real Estate, US Embassy, Visas to the USA | Comments (13)
June 19th, 2011
Before we begin, the graphic left shows three sets of letters. Most of my readers know all three, but for those who do not, LOL = Laugh Out Loud. OMG = Oh My God, and WTF= ummmm, well best to ask your kids or grand kids about WTF.
Very handy though!
In Costa Rica, we only have two types of gas, Regular (OMG) and Super (WTF).
Prices in Costa Rica have been sliding up for some time. Food, of course is one, but that seems to be a world wide issue. I have already ranted about the transit laws and how much a parking ticket can cost, but the thing that really frosts my twinkle is the ridiculous price of gasoline and the seemingly never ending increases.
We just had another increase a few days ago, and now I am paying about $85.00 to fill my tank (Nissan Xtrail, a small SUV).
It has been a while since I actually calculated the price per gallon in dollars. As we use liters here and pay in colones, it takes a couple of calculations to convert to dollars but I have done so here as many of my readers are from North America and are more accustomed to price per gallon.
Below is a little chart showing the prices. If this topic interests you… read on!
Filed under Cost of Living, Cost Of Living Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Expatriate Life, Gas Prices, Gasoline, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Opinion, Rants, Travel Advisory | Comments (38)
April 14th, 2011
I must have received certainly no less than 1,000 emails from people very upset about a very misleading (I call it fraudulent) email they received showing a number of photos of “Costa Ricans” happily gathering up what appears to be every turtle egg ever laid in this country.
I am STILL receiving these emails regularly.
They call for boycotts of Costa Rica. They say “SHAME to the people of Costa Rica” and I can assure you, much worse. One advocated violence!
The problem? This whole thing is 100% crappola!
If this topic interests you… read on!
Filed under Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Opinion, Rants, Turtle Eggs | Comments (5)
April 7th, 2011
I am sure one of the jobs of any United States Embassy regardless of location is to constantly evaluate the host country in terms of law, infrastructure, political persuasion, stability, attitude towards the USA, geographical considerations and probably a bunch of other stuff of which I have no idea…. like maybe the cool spy stuff! They likely collect info in many ways, but I am not at all sure of the accuracy of their sources.
In fact, one of my favorite sources for pretty excellent info regarding Costa Rica is the good ol’ CIA! Their World Factbook Costa Rica is handy and is quite accurate. A lot of the info can be really useful to folks studying Costa Rica, planning to move or relocate here, considering opening or moving a business operation to the country and for many other reasons.
Costa Rica newspaper La Nacion recently made a deal with those idiots at Wikileaks to get copies of various cables sent by various US diplomats to the State Department that pertain to Costa Rica. If you wish to download a copy of the cable I will be discussing, just click here. Now when you do that, you will supposed see the actual document submitted 4 April 2007, by Laurie Weitzenkorn, an official of Public Affairs U.S. Embassy, but other news sources (La Nacion etc) have published lists of comments that do not appear on that document and while I am pretty sure they are accurate, I have not been able to track down the actual Wikileaks document. All have been published in various online or actual newspapers. The comments by Weitzenkorn and others are a few years old, and perhaps my readers would like to know my thoughts as to whether some of these issues are still valid. Cables like these give the viewpoint of a single person whom we do not know. Did they live here for a a few weeks. months or years? Where did they get their info? Was/is it biased? Quien sabe?
Anyway, here are excerpts… some topics I think might be of the most general interest. If interested, read on!
Filed under CAFTA, Costa Rica, Driving in Costa Rica, Free Trade Agreement, ICE, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, TLC, Travel, Wikileaks Costa Rica | Comments (7)
August 21st, 2010
I 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 »
Filed under Costa Rica, Disabled Vets, Health, Living in Costa Rica, Moving to Costa Rica, Veterans in Costa Rica | Comments (33)
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!
Filed under Bugs and Critters, Cost Of Living Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Pets, Veterinarians | Comments (17)
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!
Filed under Banking & Finance, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Currency, Living in Costa Rica | Comments (5)
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!
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Costa Rica Tourism, Driving in Costa Rica, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica | Comments (5)
February 7th, 2010
Click photo to enlarge. Dotted line is now completed
The long awaited (30+ years) highway from San Jose to Caldera opened a couple of weeks ago. I had a hunch that anything that long in the making would draw the curious and traffic would be a disaster. Turns out that I called it, and the touted 45-60 minute trip to the Port of Caldera (Puerto Caldera), Costa Rica’s only commercial and cruise terminal on the Pacific coast, took up to three hours for much of last week
Not so yesterday!
Yesterday, I thought it might be worth a chance, so my wife Maria Luisa, my sister Pamela and I jumped on the new highway and found ourselves pretty much alone with pretty minimal traffic. Better yet, we were in Orotina in 45 minutes and in Caldera in 60. Another 15 minutes put us in Puntarenas and walking on the beach. this is a big deal to expats and Ticos and will certainly have a positive commercial effect in all those locations.
Thirty years or not, this was worth the wait. Interested? Read on!
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Tourism, Driving in Costa Rica, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Tourism, Travel, Travel to Costa Rica | Comments (15)