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Costa Rica Tourist and Visitor Advisory

May 10th, 2011

Road Closure – Route 32 to Limón

Before I start… Quite nice feedback to last week’s Costa Rica Tourist and Visitor Advisory. Had no idea it would get the response it did.

Anyway… here is a quickie!  Route 32 San Jose to Limón is closed due to landslides. See below why this is important.

Now while these notices apparently are welcome, it now occurs to be I may not be able to update these things on a timely, so my best guess is that it will take a week or so to get it fixed, so best check when you arrive here if arriving soon.

One of the toughest things to get your mind around when living or traveling here is how often you are faced with the odd fact that there are many times few or NO alternative routes to wherever  you are going. In the US and many countries, a road closure is no big deal.  A minor inconvenience. Not here. An example is, in fact, San Jose to Limón. When route 32 is blocked, you are pretty much screwed, especially if you need to get there quickly. There is only one other (practical) route and taking that doubles the drive time to 5+ hours and maybe more as it is now carrying more traffic.
 

Costa Rica Tourist and Visitor Advisory

May 6th, 2011

I know a lot of the visitors to the REAL Costa Rica are folks either planning a trip to Costa Rica or are considering a move here either for retirement or work related. It occurred to me that many of these people are not Spanish speakers and have no idea of some of the issues that may affect them when they arrive here.

With this in mind, I am starting a new Category names TRAVEL ADVISORY. This way, travelers can perhaps learn about some things that may affect them negatively while in country and perhaps better prepares themselves for their visit.

If any of my Costa Rica readers have an idea of other topics (and no, I am not going to revisit crime as it is overworked everywhere), add your thoughts to the comments. I am going to start with two advisories that may or may not be well known outside of the country. The at-times dangerous beaches of Costa Rica and the travel resstrictions around San Jose. If the topic interests you… read on! Continue reading »

The Costa Rica Ley de Transito Verily Sucketh!

April 21st, 2011

I use the words “verily sucketh” as it is Semana Santa (Easter week) and if not for the events of yesterday, I’d be happy about Easter and all the fun stuff…. grrr.

So there I was in town yesterday for a 2 minute stop at the drug store. I will admit that I did park next to a yellow curb, so I guess I am guilty, though there were no signs or warnings about how big a sin I was committing nor what was about to happen to me.

So…I grab my pills and start to chat up the regente (pharmacist) as we are old buddies.  Almost immediately he asks me where I parked.  I pointed and he says “RUN! They wait out there to get you and the ticket is HUGE!!”.  How huge I wonder as I am hauling my non-to-light butt outta his store and across the street.

Too Late.  There were two of them.  One was a municipal cop (generally pretty nice folks where I live)  and the other a much dreaded transit cop, also known as “tourism killers”.  As I am from the 60’s, you have no idea how hard it was to type transit cop and not transit pig… but those days are gone…. I guess…sigh.

So I try to be friendly which seldom works as nearly every “transito” I have ever met seems to express equal opportunity hatred to every living creature. It seems they all suffer from some form of terminal hemorrhoids that makes them the nastiest sourpusses on earth. I have no idea how many tourists these clowns have offended and caused never to return to Costa Rica, but it is a BIG number if I can judge from the many emails I receive complaining about them… but I digress!

Interested? read on!

 

Continue reading »

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 »

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!

Continue reading »

The Road To Caldera

February 7th, 2010

Click photo to enlarge. Dotted line is now completed

San Jose to Caldera HighwayThe 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!

Continue reading »

One Way Airline Tickets to Costa Rica

December 10th, 2009

customerserviceI was preparing another of those “My Readers Write” posts that I do every so often, and this topic came up… again. Maybe it is time to give it its own space as apparently it is not clear to some people.

The question is always something like this: “I have heard I cannot fly to Costs Rica using a one-way ticket.”

My answer is, as always, “No, you can NOT unless you are a citizen of Costa Rica or have in your possession a valid and current residency ID card (cedula) proving that you live here. If you try, you will almost assuredly not be permitted to board the plane. If you do make it on board, you may well get caught at THIS end by immigration. Airlines are required to verify that any person attempting to fly and using a one way ticket is, in fact, a legal resident of Costa Rica. Most airlines (read that as all) try to follow the procedure religiously as they are faced not only with large potential fines, but also for paying for the return flight for the passenger when he is refused entry in Costa Rica.

Now please, before you start composing your comment telling me that you, your friend, your friend’s girlfriend and her auntie, etc flew here on a one-way ticket with no issue, please remember my “job” on this blog and in the RCR Web Site is to deal with facts, not luck or urban legend.

Read on if you wish!

Continue reading »

One Less Way to Get Taken in Costa Rica

December 4th, 2009

taxiFor those of you who have had the pleasure of being forced to use those orange airport (SJO only) taxis and thus overpaying for every trip, your time has arrived.

These taxis have had a monopoly at the San Jose airport for many years, and for many years, they have had free reign to overcharge visitors to Costa Rica.  I say visitors as most of us who live here know the rates are just over the top and we arrange other transportation.  The news today is that they will probably be gone in 90 days.

Continue reading »

American Airlines and How They Handle Latinos

November 25th, 2009

po_dI am really torqued!

Recently, my wife and I flew back to the US and we used American Airlines (AA) for our flight to Dallas. It turned out kinda ugly. It seems AA, or at least their international flight attendants, have an issue if you do not speak English!  Rather than re-write it all, here is the email I sent to AA:

I am VERY upset about American Airlines treatment of Latinos, in this case my wife who is Costa Rican.

While flying to Dallas, a flight attendant named “Sherrill” (or similar) was VERY rude.  There were three of us in the row. Sherrill asked first the man in the window seat what he wished to drink.  After that, she asked my wife in the center seat and I replied, “she would like apple juice”. The flight attendant then states very loudly:  “Sir, I am talking to the woman not to YOU!”  So I replied “that is fine, but my wife does not speak English so you must speak to her in Spanish”.  Sherril then said: “I do NOT have to speak Spanish,  I am an American and I live in Texas!”

This remark was heard by a large number of Latinos seated nearby and was VERY insulting both to them AND the 3 other folks who later told me how bad they felt.

If you do not want Latinos to fly American, SAY SO! I always thought international flights required bi-lingual attendants and were the plum jobs. This rude person insulted MANY people, not just my wife. If at all possible we will NEVER fly AA again and this story will appear on my two blogs (http://blog.therealcostarica.com/ and http://www.hisfault.com/) as well as in Facebook.

You should be ashamed and while I am 99% sure NOTHING will happen to this employee, no apology, NOTHING, I WILL do what I can to spread this story so other Latinos know how AA stands on flying Latin minorities.

That should be clear enough!

As I found out later, AA policy is that only ONE person need speak Spanish on a flight to/from Costa Rica.  ONE person for what… 120 people or more? In this case, that person was the head flight attendant in first class (John) and as we all know.  the first class attendants never associate themselves with the hoi polloi or in Spanish, la chusma.

To the many Ticos and other Latinos who I know read my blog, I would urge you to let your spending show AA that this kind of rude treatment is not acceptable.  Delta, Spirit, Jet Blue, Taca, Lacsa and others all have service to the US.

I am pretty sure I will get the “canned BS” from AA if I get a reply at all.  That flight attendants union is pretty strong so she will certainly be permitted to continue venting her disrespect for Latinos…

If I do get a reply, you’ll see it here.

Swine Flu Arrives in Costa Rica

April 29th, 2009

maskCosta Rica has confirmed two cases of Swine Flu. The infected parties are a 21 year old woman and a 29 year old man, both returned recently from trips to Mexico.  Costa Rica receives daily flights from Mexico. The woman traveled with 92 others on her flight home.  Both persons were treated at Calderon Guardia Hospital.

Incredibly, the infected woman decided to ignore health officials and broke quarantine so she could attend classes at her university.

Thirty-five others are under watch.

A third person, a youngster, has flu symptoms (not yet confirmed as Swine Flu) possible infected by her father who recently returned to Costa Rica from Mexico. If confirmed, that would be the first case of swine flu caught within the borders.

The Ministry of Health this morning asked the passengers of two other flights, TACA LR 631 and Mexicana  387, to call 911 emergency so they may be tested.

Employees at the San Jose airport are wearing surgical masks, and many incoming passengers are having their temperatures taken upon arrival.

I am not going to go into this swine flu deal because unless my readers are living on another planet, you have been deluged with probably more information that you want to know.

I am more concerned though as my wife works at Calderon Guardia Hospital.

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