Guanacaste, Costa Rica News Clips May 2013


 

Playa Hermosa Costa Rica

 

“BLUE FLAG” Award and What It Means

I have written about the “Blue Flag” award before but here is a maybe a better understanding of the whole program or what the goal is.

Since 1995, the Blue Flag program has helped Costa Rica clean up polluted rivers, beaches, oceans and to mitigate the effects of climate change. It has convinced business owners and communities and consumers to use less electricity, fossil fuels, water and paper. And it is constantly expanding with new environmentally responsible initiatives.  The members of the National Blue Flag Commission, which oversees the coveted Blue Flag award program, announced goals for broadening the program in the next five years.

By 2017, the commission hopes to increase the number of local committees participating in the program by 66 percent, from 2,216 to 3,681. They hope to boost the number of beaches flying the Blue Flag from 114 to 124. And they plan on registering 290 homeowners in a new category – sustainable housing – which represents a 700 percent increase in the next five years. The commission already has awarded 40 Blue Flags for sustainable housing since the category was created.

“The Blue Flag program has shown in its 18 years that it is an excellent tool for development, and improving public health and well-being in harmony with nature,” Blue Flag National Commission coordinator Darner Mora said

The Blue Flag program awards beaches, communities, like Playa Hermosa Guanacaste, and schools that uphold certain environmental standards. According to the commission, the program helped reduce electricity consumption in 2012 by the equivalent of 33,996 tons of carbon dioxide. Also, fossil-fuel use decreased by 942 tons, water consumption by 112,920 cubic meters, and paper use by 5.7 tons, the commission said.

As the tourism industry grew in Costa Rica in the 1990s, beaches became popular destinations for tourists, real estate speculators and hotels hoping to cash in. The result was increased pollution and degradation at some of the country’s most precious coastal areas. This happened because the Costa Rica government opened the door for all the above but was not ready for the influx that actually happened. They also failed to properly trained or set guidelines for the local municipalities to make sure there were not bad effects to the environment.

Blue Flag Costa RicaCosta Rica Blue Flag Award

 

“The program’s philosophy is to award those who do things well, and to make them an example for others to follow,” commission member Alberto Quintana said.  It started with beach-protection efforts, but today, the Blue Flag program has several award categories that include communities, schools, protected nature areas, watersheds, climate-change mitigation, sustainable homes and special events.

A commission administers the program and is composed of various government agencies, including the Costa Rican Tourism Board, Environment Ministry, Health Ministry, Costa Rican Electricity Institute, Education Ministry, and several others.

Some 1,500 schools in Costa Rica proudly display the Blue Flag. The commission hopes to boost that number by 1,000 in the next five years.  The commission also hopes to train more municipal officials in environmental conservation, so that they can guide their communities through the process. This is where it really needs to start but with guidelines as to not cause harm to growth at the same time.  “Local governments should participate in the Blue Flag program to improve public health in their communities,” Mora said.

Another major goal of the commission in the next five years is to clean up the heavily polluted Virilla-Tárcoles river basin. The Tárcoles River, which originates in the Central Valley and empties into the Pacific Ocean, is the most polluted river in Central America. It flows through five of Costa Rica’s seven provinces – San José, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago and Puntarenas. One More reason to be in Guanacaste.

The [Virilla-Tárcoles] watershed is the most polluted in Central America. Although there is liquid waste, it’s mostly polluted with solid waste. The only way to clean it up is through education and getting people involved in the project. To win a Blue Flag, communities must form a committee, register with the commission and present an annual plan with specific steps to protect natural resources. At the end of each year, candidates must demonstrate progress to commission members, who issue the awards. Companies also use the program to meet social responsibility goals through waste-treatment and water and energy conservation

For more about the Blue Flag program, visit: www.banderaazulecologica.org  but be ready you will need a good translator program or be able to read Spanish

 

 

Investors Cashing In on “Must Sell Real Estate” Opportunities

“Fire Sale” is a term you hear and have read often when investors are talking about the best, hottest real estate deals. Unfortunately the fire sale market tends to be a hidden market because they sell so fast, usually by word of mouth. A true “FIRE SALE” hardly ever gets advertised. Many if not all realtors or people in the know of real estate, have call groups, or list of investors that want to be called when there is a real and good value. Most of these investors rely on expertize, experience and most importantly the trust of their realtor and will act immediately.

Here in Costa Rica it’s the same, local investors and expats are buying these deals, snapping them up before they hit a national or international marketing. Costa Rica has become ripe picking ground for Must-Sell-Now opportunities. For those smart investors looking to take advantage of these opportunities, they already have a comfort level with Costa Rica and have done their due diligence previously.

There are many properties listed and advertised as must Sell or emergency sale, and if the price truly reflects a value then it won’t be listed for long even in a down market. Many of these must sell listings are not what I call a fire sales or emergency sales. It’s more like they want to sell but don’t want to take a financial hit.

Personally I have a special list of investors that I call immediately when a real fire sale comes up, but they expect to see significantly reduced prices, at around 40% off the market value or original purchase price. I have one example of one that came up two weeks ago, a very nice ocean view, easy to build on lot, almost an acre in size, in a gated expat community with all utilities in place with paved roads and within one mile of the beach.  This property was perfect for a hold it and land bank or to turn and put back on the market or even build a reasonable spec. home. The property was originally listed for $195,000, the listing agent called me and made me aware that the seller was going to drastically lower the price to $110,000 and had to sell or he would lose it, pretty amazing price! So I called the people on my list and explained the details of the property and the location and recommended offering as a starting point $75,000 and not go above $90,000 in the negotiations. Low and behold an offer was written and presented before the listing agent could even make the changes to his marketing and web pages.

            When I am asked how a potential investor might tap into this hidden market, I tell them to first do their homework, come and spend a week doing nothing but looking at properties, investigating the locals and select the area you and others believe will have good growth over the next few years. Then work with a trusted local professional agent in the area that is very tuned to the local market, a social butterfly that knows everyone in the area, and tell them what you are looking for .The really great deals, I mean really great deals are out there coming and going all the time, you just have to find them when they show up.”

So the bottom line for investors looking for the hottest deals is to be tapped into the local markets of high growth areas through local an agent, get on the call list and be ready to move fast when a real fire/emergency sale hits the market. If you are lucky enough to get on this list be ready to move fast, if you hem and haw and waste the advisors time and never make a move, you can be rest assured you will be removed from the list.

Quick Snap Shot of the Costa Rica Real Estate Market

According to the most recent statistics in Costa Rica, and these are hard to get a hold of since there is no officially registered MLS, almost 80% of the sales are going for an average of $200,000 to $350,000.

The high value real luxury home market has seen an uptick over the past year because more high net worth individuals are investing in Costa Rica those from the US are looking to move money out, but the inventory of these types of properties in the Guanacaste area is getting slim.

Condo sales have also risen but primarily in the metropolitan San Jose and surrounding areas in the Central Valley. At the beaches only reasonable priced units are selling and a good number of sellers are finally adjusting their prices to sell.

Farm and agriculture properties have started to see more movement in late 2012, not only for their income potential over the short term but investors are also keen to invest in land that could be re-tooled into residential, industrial or commercial projects in the future.

One of the reasons the Costa Rica real estate market has seen some positive growth signs in the last year, is that Costa Rica’s GDP growth rate was at 5% in 2012 and is expected to close out 2013 between 4% and 5%; this has been attracting a growing number of European, Canadian and Chinese buyers.

TO LEAR MORE ON HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY just email me for more information Jaaechef@gmail.com

 

 

Blue Skies Helps Prevent Cabin Fever

Gray days may have more impact on mental state than most people believe or really care about.  There is not a lot of research from tropical sources on the effect of weather on the brain, even though the rainy season days are part of life here in Costa Rica. But elsewhere in the world, researchers have linked something called seasonal affective disorder to 7 percent or more of the population. I have heard about this for places like northern Washington State where it seems to be cloudy all the time and drizzling, at least that was how it was the three times I visited there. Nice place but not enough sun and warm weather for me.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional ( The Costa Rica National Institute of Meteorology) said we are starting to see weather than represents the transition into the rainy season. Hot mornings will give way to gathering clouds and downpours in the afternoon. Althought this has happened only once so far and Playa Del Coco, received a good soaking for about an hour.  During this transition the heaviest rain will be in the central and south Pacific.  That is because the rainy season is moving from south to north. Yes the southern part of Costa Rica has a dry season, what that means is it just rains less but still rains all year which means higher humidity, more bugs and lots of mold. 

sunny day in Costa Rica

Costa Ricans know that this is the time to get up early and enjoy the morning sun and get their butts to work. As the Costa Rica government is aware of the effects of sunlight, too. In part, that's why the official workday is from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

They may not realize it, but they are self-medicating in more ways than one. I won’t mention some of the other self-medicating ways as that could lead to a whole other subject, not bad just another subject.

The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association in the United Kingdom, sounds like a group of pot smoking hippies to me but what the heck they actually formed an association, estimates that about 7 percent of the population suffers from winter depression from September to April there. Here in Playa Hermosa, it would have to be only two months, September and October as this is our rainiest time of the year. The association claims 900 members, That’s not that many, I wonder how many are perpetual stoners?

Most of the research has been done in areas where there is winter weather. The condition used to be known as cabin fever. The symptoms include sleep disturbances, a tendency to overeat, lethargy and depression, said the association, the overeating must be just a bad case of the munchies.

Researchers at Columbia University in New York, now these guys I might believe, said that short days, winter skies and shadows of sunlight not only make humans blue, limiting the amount of sunlight in their life may also affect how their brains work, they said. Investigators used weather data from satellites to measure sunlight exposure around the United States and linked this data to cognitive function in depressed people. Cognitive function of the brain describes how a person thinks and was assessed by measurement of short-term recall and how aware one was of where they were and what time it was, called temporal orientation.

Light has been shown to regulate the hormones serotonin and melatonin as well as affect brain blood flow. Brain blood flow is in turn linked to how well a person thinks, they noted. Some people, of course, have a tendency to magnify the situation of Cabin Fever by making the gray late afternoons a time for alcoholic excess, AKA HAPPY HOUR!!

 

Costa Rica Central Government Readies another package of fiscal reforms

READ BETWEEN THE LINES-----MORE TAXES!

The Laura Chinchilla administration is making an effort to create new taxes and increase government income before the president leaves office in May next year. Édgar Ayales Esna, the minister of Hacienda, promises an open and consulted effort in three steps. The effort will be designed to include input from the presidential candidates that are starting to champagne for the presidency that will take place in February 2014.

The project is just another way to institute a value-added tax and other taxes that failed to pass the legislature earlier in the present president's term. No matter where in the world, governments have been spending wildly and now it is time to pay, unfortunately it is the common people that end up footing the bill.

The feisty Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados (National Association of Public and Private Employees) already has checked in with an opinion.  The government should do something about the more than 1,000 public employees who make more than 5 million colons a month, the union said. The amount is more than $10,000 or more than $120,000 a year.

In fact, the central government is proposing changes to public employee salaries, but the issue is controversial.  The government already has floated $1 billion in bonds at a 4.5 percent interest rate to reduce some of its expenditures. And, as Ayales notes, the central government has instituted a job freeze. At least they are starting in the right direction as the government is the largest employer in the country.

Ayales said that by June the first stage of designing a proposal will be completed and that it will be published for comments. Then the government will enter into more discussions on specifics with various sectors of the economy. The third stage will be to send proposed legislation to lawmakers with the hope that they can pass the measures by May 2014. Notice the word HOPE this will be tied up for years.

From a political perspective such a move will absolve an incoming president of responsibility for the proposals, AKA Pass the buck, which certainly will try to include more taxes.  Ayales said the goal would be to give the country a balanced and comprehensive solution to its financial problems. I call it the Robin Hood Effect!

All the expats from the US that have retired or decided to make a living in Costa Rica are a bit concerned because the President of the United States is visiting Costa Rica the first week of May. Although it is for a Latin American Conference, I am willing to bet, he talks to the president of Costa Rica on the side to allow the US IRS have more access to US expats dealings. Only Time will tell, here is a link to the local paper about President Obamas visit http://www.amcostarica.com/032813.htm#31


Guanacaste, Costa Rica News Clips April 2013


 

Environmentalists Seek to Prevent “Mutilation” of

National Park for Geothermal Project

A dozen environmental organizations say they reject the proposed “mutilation” ( I just love the drama environmentalists use to spread their agenda) of over 1,000 hectares of Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Guanacaste for a geothermal energy project. They are a little late in the game this project has been going on for over four years now on private land that borders the park.  A bill in the Legislative Assembly, #17680, seeks to remove an area of over 1,000 hectares (About 2,400 acres of over 34,500 acres which is less than .07 of the total park) of primary natural forest for the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), to develop a geothermal energy project in the park.  

Although the current bill refers only to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, ICE (National electric company) studies indicate that there is the potential for geothermal production in nearly every national park that has a volcano.  As such, some say that the passage of the bill would represent a precedent, and could be the first of a number of possible proposals to exploit the country’s national parks for energy production, which environmentalists warn will inevitably lead to the fragmentation and deterioration of the parks’ ecosystems.

Ok I can agree that if there are no controls damage can and will happen, as has happened in the past and the environment needs to be protected but you also have to look at the other side as well as protection can go too far and cause more harm to People then animals and plants. Electricity is only going to get more expensive and if a country has to depend on fossil fuels to generate electricity, especially if that country, like Costa Rica, has to import all of its oil. Geothermal processing is a fully renewable source of energy (isn’t this what the environmentalists scream about as well? Use renewable resources) and once up and running it is less expensive to generate electricity.

Those opposed to these plans point out that the country’s national parks are an important part of the economy since they draw eco-tourists from around the world, and the decision to disrupt the ecosystems of the parks should not be taken lightly. Sure the national Parks do drew tourists, and they spend money. But what they are not seeing is if the cost of electricity goes even higher that the hotels, restaurants, tourist sites or anything that needs electricity, will have to raise their prices as well, in order to make a profit and when those costs get out of hand then the tourist will not come. To me it is basic economics of supply and demand.

The funny thing to me is the components that make up the word Environmentalists, especially the middle part.  The definitions below were taken from the Random House Dictionary.

Environmentalist:  A noun / Originated between 1915–1920

1) An expert on environmental problems.  2) any person who advocates or works to protect the air, water, animals, plants, and other natural resources from pollution or its effects. 3) a person who believes that differences between individuals or groups, especially in moral and intellectual attributes, are predominantly determined by environmental factors, as surroundings, upbringing, or experience. 4) someone that disrupts the progress of man and causes millions in damage to businesses.

Environment: A noun / Originated between 1595–1605;

1) The aggregate of surrounding things, conditions, or influences; surroundings; milieu. 2) Ecology, the air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time. 3) The social and cultural forces that shape the life of a person or a population.

Mentalist: A noun / Originated between 1780–1790

1) A person who believes in or advocates mentalism. 2) a person who believes that the mind and its functions are a legitimate area of psychological research. 3) A mind reader, psychic, or fortuneteller.

Mental: A adjective / Originated between 1720–1730

1) Of or pertaining to the mind: mental powers; mental suffering. 2) Of, pertaining to, or affected by a disorder of the mind: a mental patient; mental illness. 3) Providing care for persons with disordered minds, emotions, etc.: a mental hospital.

 

 

One way to get real U.S. television in Costa Rica,

But why would you?

Are you living in Costa Rica like me or considering it? But don’t want to miss your favorite shows or news broadcasts from the U.S.?  Well, here is one possible solution I found and it doesn’t involve Amnet, Cabletica, or SKY TV.  All you’ll need is an internet connection.

A little-known company called US TV Now provides a great service – US television for US expats, beamed right to your home.

If you are content simply watching on your computer, just head over to their web site and sign up for an account.  The service costs about $20 per month, and in return you will be able to watch live broadcasts of ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, A&E, Animal Planet, CNN (the US version, not international!), Discovery Channel, FOX News, National Geographic, History, and a ton of other channels that you’d expect on a basic cable package if you were back in the US.  For quite a bit more money, they offer an ‘HD’ plan of 200 channels + HBO and Showtime.

So, you’re happy now because you can now get real, live US TV.  But, if you’re like me, a small computer screen doesn’t cut it – I like my 42 inch flat screen TV and like to watch TV on a TV.  So, on to the next step.  Note that you’ll need your internet connection connected to a Wifi router for this to work. And I have to be honest with you, if you are not techy it can be frustrating as it is for me. Hell I had problems just setting up the DVD player

You will need a Roku Player. Ok so you are think what the heck is a ROKU and where do I get one. Well stop you complaining, you sound like the little brother I never had, here is the link. http://www.roku.com/roku-products

When you order a Roku player, just get the cheap ‘LT’ model for $49 – due to the internet speeds in Costa Rica you won’t be able to stream in high definition 1080p so the other models have no advantage over the LT and why spend more than you have to.  By the way, don’t worry about Roku’s “channel” lineup, which sucks in my opinion– the important thing is you are going to be connecting this little box to your US TV. I know what you’re thinking “Well I live here in Costa Rica how am I supposed to get it here?

OH come on you never had a friend be a mule for you, just buy it and send it to a friend to bring down when they come or check with some of your friends here that may have someone coming. I do it all the time.

Now if you are just getting ready to make the move to CR or already have a place in paradise you can just bring it the next time you come down. Once you have your Roku player in hand connect it to your TV and follow the easy instructions for connecting the player to your Wifi network and activating it for the first time. Once your Roku is up and running, select the ‘Channel Store’ from the main menu and find (it’s in there somewhere)  the US TV NOW icon, select it, and choose ‘install channel.’  You should now have US TV NOW on your Roku home screen.  Select it, put in your username and password for your US TV NOW account that you created earlier, (Remember first part of this article) and get ready to get live US cable TV here in Costa Rica!

Now that you have everything you need for your viewing pleasure, you may be considering cutting the cord to Amnet or Cabletica – but perhaps you think you need them for your internet connection. Wrong.  DSL service is available from ICE, the government run phone company, in most areas of the country, and if it isn’t, you can also go completely wireless by getting a 3G ‘data card’ from ICE that gives you a 2mb (good enough for the setup above under most circumstances) internet connection anywhere there is cellular service.  The data card can then be inserted in a 3G router (ask your local computer guy because this is way beyond me) to produce a Wifi signal that will power all of your internet and television-viewing needs.

So if this is too complicated you as it was for me (I had to hire someone to set it up for me) Then the reality is you don’t need TV, the basic cable package here is really enough you get about 12 US speaking channels and let’s face it, the main reason why so many people come to Costa Rica is to get away from the over saturation of media and are looking for a calmer life style so how really needs 200 channels. I bet you spend more time channel surfing than watching, so just go sit outside and watch all the wonders that Mother Nature has given us.

 

Is Costa Rica prepared for a tsunami?

  I had a client this past month that was hell bent and scared of Tsunamis that I had to spend close to an hour explaining that the house she wanted to purchase, sitting over 580 ft. above sea level and approximately 1 mile from the ocean would never be affected by a tsunami. So I did some investigating to help reassure her.

A tsunami drill that was scheduled for this past month helped local officials evaluate emergency response.  Officials from emergency response agencies participated in a simulated tsunami drill in the Caribbean province of Limón, along with authorities from other Central American countries, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean islands, and coastal areas of the United States and Canada. The objective of the exercise was to assess mechanisms of information management and response to a tsunami threat, including the response to warnings issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), (Since I live on the Pacific I have booked make this site to check any time there is a major earth quake just to make sure I am well informed and you should to if you live in a coastal area. Here is the link http://ptwc.weather.gov/) and also the Costa Rica National Emergency Commission (CNE) reported on its website http://www.cne.go.cr/ but you better be able to read Spanish. In Costa Rica, the drill took place for four hours, beginning at CNE headquarters in San José, as soon as the PTWC alert was received. The CNE Communications Center then activated all internal and national protocols. I am still trying to find out what these are. I do know that when we had the 7.6 earthquake last year, on the public broadcast system in Costa Rica there were tsunami warnings broadcasted, but one never happened. The information must be transmitted to all operational levels – political, technical and scientific – starting with CNE top officials who will decide appropriate actions to follow. Possible measures to be ordered include the activation of the Technical Coastal Marine Advisory Committee, all municipal emergency committees in the Caribbean region and the entire Operations Department at CNE.

With all the earthquakes happening worldwide it is not bad idea no matter where you live to have this information especially if you live on or very close to a coast.

 

 

Starbucks Purchased Coffee Farm near Volcán Poás

for Coffee Research

Starbucks has purchased a 240-hectare (593-acre) Costa Rican farm to convert to global agronomy research and development center, the coffee firm said Tuesday. The center also will conduct research on climate change mitigation and long-term crop stability programs. The center also will conduct research on coffee rust that is affected more than half of the country's coffee farms.

The Seattle, Washington, firm has been a big buyer of Costa Rica premium coffee. Too bad they over price it in North America because a pound of good local mountain grown Costa Rica coffer cost a mere $4.00 US per pound. The coffee farm is on the slopes of Volcán Poás, said the firm, although the exact location was not given. The deal is expected to close in May. The firm also will be developing coffee variety that can result in new blends, it said. "The work happening on this farm will enable the company to expand its coffee and farming equity practice, the industry-leading ethical sourcing model developed in partnership with Conservation International which ensures coffee quality while promoting social, environmental and economic standards," said the firm in a release. Starbucks bought 545 million pounds of coffee in 2012. Starbucks already has a farmer support center which opened in San Jose, in 2004. The firm also has retail outlets here.

 

 

Voter Registration Low Among Tico Expats

Voter registration deadline for Costa Ricans living abroad is Oct. 2,2013. Records from the Immigration Administration indicate that more than 300,000 Costa Ricans live abroad, but if elections were held today, only just over 6,000 of them would be ready to vote. The latest report by the Costa Rica Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) shows that only 6,418 Costa Rican expats are registered to vote for the 2014 presidential elections. Close to 4,000 of the registered Ticos live in the United States. TSE authorities said that the 54 Costa Rican consulates worldwide are currently are prepared to handle expat voting. Presidential elections are scheduled for Feb. 2, 2014, and 3,011,866 voters are currently registered.

Foreign expats that live in Costa Rica can only vote if they have gone thru the process to become a citizen.  All other expats that have their residency have every right as a Costa Rica citizen except the right to vote and own a gun. Personally I could care less if I have the right to vote and I do not like guns, they scare me in the hands of the wrong people. Politics worldwide has gone crazy, in my opinion and we all know what opinions are like, everyone has one, the real reason most people today get in to politics is to fatten their wallets. Yes many very good people start off with good intentions to help their country or and fellow citizens but as soon as the they start and realize that most are in it for themselves it is very easy to just follow suit and not buck the system. If Politicians really wanted to help their country and fellow countryman, they would do it free. HA, that will never happen!


Guanacaste, Costa Rica News Clips March 2013


 

Some People say Costa Rica is not Cheap Anymore

The people that make these claims just do not look at the whole picture. These are usually the folks that have come to Costa Rica on vacation over the years and have seen prices go up. Or some older expats that that thought they could live on 500 dollars a month and never properly planned for the future. The reality is YES prices have gone up, but they have gone up all over the world. They also have to remember they are most likely in a place that many tourists go to and tourism is a big draw. Just like the Florida Keys, or the Cayman Islands, in the winter or other warm places.

Some things are ridiculously out of line like cars, but you have to know that Costa Rica does not manufacture any here and all are imported and the import tax is high. But these same folks just do not see the whole the picture as they are just here on vacation.  They go to the grocery store and see Budweiser beer their favorite beer and are shocked at the price. Duh it is imported so of course it is expensive. Drink the local brew, isn’t that why you came to a forging country to experience a different culture along with all the other things you go on vacation for? Another great example is the Butter Ball brand Turkey. An 18 pound frozen bird will cost you about $75.00 US. I am sure at Thanksgiving time in the US and Canada, the prices are maybe $50.00 for the same size bird, if not bought on special sales price. What these people do not understand it that the turkey needs to stay frozen all the way here (you don’t want a defrosted and then refrozen bird, do you?) so the transport costs are high and we all know the price of fuel, Right!  This past year instead of buying that frozen bird and having it in the refrigerator for 6 days to thaw out, I went to a local butcher and ordered a fresh killed turkey. It was 22 pounds and I paid $52.00 for it. I know some of you are thinking “well heck that is pricey to” but Costa Rica is not the US and Canada, turkey is not a big staple here so the cost are a bit higher.

            I was just in Las Vegas for a convention, another destination vacation spot, Sin City I believe it is called. Hell it is a sin what they get for a beer here. I paid $8.50 for a Bud Light. I had 2 slices of Pizza and soda and the bill was $21.00. I could have bought an 18 inch whole pizza for that back in Costa Rica.

One night we went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. I about had a heart attack when I started to read the menu. I thought it was a joke, a plain cheese quesadilla appetizer $18.00, Fried Pork Carnitas with rice beans and guacamole 29.00 bucks, and I almost choked on my drink when I saw the fajitas for $35.00.

            What people do not see is the whole picture; property taxes as an example are incredibly low, .25% of the assessed value. My pool guy comes to my house 2 times a week brushes the sides, vacuums the bottom, cleans out the filters and checks the chemicals that he supplies and adds if needed. This cost me only $80 a month. What do you pay to have your pool cleaned? Medical costs are more than half of what they are in the States. My poor wife needed orthoscopic reconstructive knee surgery. The entire bill came to $3,000.00 that included the doctor, the hospital all the drugs, the bandages and the follow up care. Personally I needed 2 new crowns on my lower teeth. Hold tight you ready? I paid $400.00 for both and it went perfectly. One of my clients just had the same procedure done in Ohio and paid $3,200.

            So when I hear people say Costa Rica is not cheap any more, I just tell them to stay home and go shop at Wal-Mart!

 

 

Costa Rica firms ready for new U.S. Tax Law

Starting in January 2014, the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act will force Costa Rican financial institutions to supply financial information to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service about their U.S. clients. Costa Rican financial organizations are getting ready to comply with the demands of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which went into effect this year. The law obliges foreign financial institutions to supply information to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about their U.S. clients, with the aim of combating tax evasion through the use of overseas accounts. During the coming year local agencies ( banks) will be modernizing their systems so that, starting on Jan. 1, 2014, they will be able to locate U.S. taxpayers who have accounts with them and compile the information, So Uncle Sam can get more $$$

According to Manrique Blen, a tax specialist with the Deloitte accounting firm, the institutions will be seeking to identify which of their clients might be U.S. taxpayers. In January 2014, they will start contacting those clients requesting more information to confirm their taxpayer status. Then the firms will decide which clients should be reported to the IRS. Are you Kidding me if the IRS wants to know about a US citizen the CR banks will fold like like a house of cards so they don’t get wacked!

In 2010 the United States passed the HIRE Act, which grants incentives to employers who contract persons who have been unemployed for a certain period of time. To cover the cost of these incentives, the government created FATCA, which institutes a series of controls over international financial operations. The information about these operations is provided by financial institutions outside the U.S. that manage the investments of U.S. taxpayers.

The law doesn’t force, but does invite, financial organizations all over the world to provide this information to the IRS. Nonetheless, according to Blen, there are sanctions for those who fail to comply. IE Blackmail!

“Being a U.S. law, it shouldn’t be able to force Costa Rican financial institutions,” he said. “However, those that don’t comply with these processes will be sanctioned by U.S. financial institutions with retentions of up to 30 percent on any payment made to a foreign financial agency that does not have an agreement with the IRS.” Like I said before comply or pay, I believe this is called blackmail?

Starting on March 31, 2015, local financial institutions will have to start reporting to the IRS information about their U.S. taxpayer clients who conducted transactions during 2013 and 2014. Starting in 2016, personal accounts containing more than $50,000 and corporate accounts containing more than $250,000 will be reported.

According to Blen, Deloitte is advising a large number of banks and has spoken with 90 percent of Costa Rica’s financial organizations. “All are aware of FATCA and a large number are already implementing it,” he said. “During the rest of this year all will be making the changes to be up to date.”

“FATCA is an important development in U.S. efforts to combat offshore noncompliance. At the same time, the IRS recognizes that implementing FATCA is a major undertaking for financial institutions,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in a communiqué issued in July 2011.

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Blen also acknowledged that one of the advantages of the law is that it allows for greater transparency in the destination of funds and the tax obligations of persons who maintain financial operations outside the U.S. Sound Like he is on the take for the IRS, I wonder when Revenue Canada will do the same thing?

Blen added that the IRS also offers countries the possibility of signing intergovernmental agreements, in which foreign governments send the U.S. information about the financial operations of U.S. taxpayers in their countries. Mexico was the first Latin American country to sign an agreement of this kind. 

 

 

 

 

Costa Rica Government turning into a Liquor Store?

 Costa Rica’s Congress has a stockpile of booze – more than 1,140 bottles – that has been stored in its cellars for years.  Legislators, due to a decree, are only allowed to drink wine and no other form of liquor during ceremonial activities, so it would seem the stash won’t be consumed anytime soon. As a result, Yolanda Acuna of the opposition Citizens Action Party (PAC) has proposed an auction to dispose of the booze and raise money for a charity. Acuna stated the auction would be a step to “hopefully say once and for all ‘no’ to the consumption of liquor in the Legislature.” Duh don’t you think? Who wants drunks running the legislature? It is bad enough that most, not all, but most politicians are in just for themselves and this is not just a Costa Rica thing.

In Congress’s cellars there are 520 bottles of scotch and fine whiskey, 88 bottles of champagne, 82 bottles of rum, 58 bottles of vodka, 7 bottles of cognac, and 305 bottles of wine, amongst others.

“Let’s get rid of once and for all the liquor that has been in the cellars for years and could generate funds for a charity,” Acuna said. The liquor in the congressional cellars was purchased tax and duty free, and initial estimate put its value at about $14,000, which Acuna proposes be donated to a shelter which looks after children whose parents are incarcerated. What is a great idea!

The auction, for which no date has been set, was approved by legislators.  The inventory contains bottles that have sat in the cellars for more than 15 years.  I will make a bet that the inventory slowly starts to disappears before the auction even starts. Trust me their politicians. Then they will claim

 

Expats and medical tourists should do their homework first

Never does the phrase "you get what you pay for" apply more strongly than in seeking medical care in Costa Rica or anywhere for that matter. A medical tourist, who looks only for the best price, is bound to end up in trouble.

Costa Rica has a range of medical practitioners. Some are graduates of prestigious U.S. and European universities and medical schools. Others have the equivalent of a four-year undergraduate education at a Costa Rican school. The term banana docs is thrown at graduates of Latin American institutions because they have not completed the many years of study and internships required in First World countries.  That really is unfair because there are some Costa Rica-educated physicians and surgeons who are highly respected and highly capable. Some Cuban-educated physicians are among the world's best.

Yet there are continual claims of students failing to study and then buying a passing grade. The main point is that the medical tourist and even expats have to shop around. The same is true for dentists. Most First World visitors would be surprised to see an unlicensed individual practicing dentistry out of his garage. But they do. On the other end of the spectrum are highly sophisticated operations with the most modern equipment.

The medical tourist must have some knowledge that enforcement of medical laws is not as rigorous here as, say, in the United States and Canada

Although accidents can happen in the best medical facilities, would-be visitors should look to the local professional associations first to make sure the persons to whom they are talking to are members. These associations are legally

 

 

 

 

Road to Monteverde to be paved

Government to invest $16 million to pave an access road to one of Costa Rica's most famous destinations.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve has over 10,500 hectares of tropical rain and cloud forests.

A main access road to Monteverde, one of the most popular tourist sites in Costa Rica, will be paved in its entirety, Public Works and Transport Minister Pedro Castro confirmed. All I have to say is Great! Have you ever been on the co-called road? It is a kidney killer.

Once permission is granted by the government agencies, (Take note: the repairs are announce but not approved yet so it could be another 10 years before it actually happens) workers will replace 18 kilometers of gravel road with asphalt, from Guacimal to Monteverde, in the province of Puntarenas. Residents and businesses in the area, which is famous for its cloud forest, will benefit from the project, officials said.

President Laura Chinchilla and Presidency Minister Carlos Ricardo Benavides joined Castro at the announcement, attended by local residents and business owners who gathered for the inauguration of a new fire station. The current gravel road to Monteverde is narrow and difficult to transit because the original Quaker founders from Alabama have fought to keep it that way to limit the number of visitors. They just want to keep the place for themselves. The area’s most prominent landmark is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, consisting of some 10,500 hectares of tropical rain and cloud forests, visited by some 75,000 tourists a year. The Cloud Forest is a really spectacular place to visit, I highly recommend it when you come to Costa Rica.

The reserve has attracted many scientists over the years, as it has more than 2,500 plant species (including the most orchid species in a single place), 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, and thousands of insects.


Guanacaste, Costa Rica News Clips February 2013


 

Costa Rica Information You Can Use

 

Costa Rica Fights Back Against Worldwide Economic Downturn

Most of the time Costa Rica is overshadowed by its larger Central American and South American compatriots, there is no doubt that Costa Rica has weathered the storm of the worldwide economic downturn better than most in the region. Despite the fact that the World Bank has issued a reduced growth forecast for the Costa Rican economy during 2013 there are still many reasons to be positive.

For those that do not know, this is an area of the world which is very often overlooked by investors despite the fact that 98% of citizens graduate high school and nearly 80% graduate college according to official government statistics. This is a great building block on which to grow the economy, expand the reach of Costa Rican companies and also fight the ongoing economic winds currently blowing through Europe.

Costa Rica Bank NotesGuanacaste Costa Rica

            The Costa Rican economy grew by 4.6% during 2012 which was well above the worldwide average and indeed one of the better performers in Central America. Initially there had been expectations of a 4.8% increase in growth during 2013, as forecast by the Costa Rican Central Bank, but recently this forecast has come under scrutiny.  The World Bank has stated that in its opinion Costa Rica will not see growth in excess of 4% during 2013.

A long-term approach to the Costa Rica economy is now paying dividends, investment in education has been paramount to this return and the economy is still growing at a rate which many European leaders can only dream of. Despite uncertainty about the exact rate of growth expected in 2013 rest ensured that Costa Rica is in a far stronger position than many of us give it credit for.

 

Local Fires, A Every Year Occurrence, It is Nothing to Sweat About

                Well it is that time of the year again when the hill sides of the local area and the sugar farms to the east are ablaze with flames and smoke. Now I am not trying to scare anybody these are not like the fires of Southern California that happens every couple of years. These fires actually happen every year during the January / February time frame. As I have written many times before about the local weather, this region of Costa Rica gets no rain at all from Mid-December until sometime in May and the average humidity drops to 35-40%. Hence all the low level grasses dry out and become a fast burning fuel source. The Sugar Cane fields are at their peak for harvest and the easiest way for them to be cleared and cut is to first set them on fire. These are a very controlled burn. The problem is that some times when they do the burn the winds kick up and actually carry hot embers over the hills toward the ocean and when the land, the dry and brittle grasses ignite.

            In all the years I have been here, I see this every year. Sometimes the fires are started by a smoker, that throws their lite cigarette butts out of a car window and this can start the fire. Some visitors freak out over it, “Oh my God the hotel is going to be engulfed”. Well keep you shorts on it does not happen.  Since this event happens every year, and because there is not a good source of long burning fuel on the ground just the grass, it can look intimidating to those that do not know the history of fire.

            The really neat thing is to watch this at night when the breezes pick up and add oxygen to the fires and they make their way up the hills sides, and then burn out once they reach the top or a clearing. I have never seen or heard of one house being damaged by these fires. The reality is it is a good thing it happens every year as to prevent a large amount of natural debris build up as in what happens with wild fires

 

Have an old fridge? Want a new one? CR Government subsidizes new one

Costa Rica residents who have a refrigerator that is more than 5 years old will soon be able to exchange it for a new, more energy-efficient model with up to a 25% discount on the price of the new unit if they turn in their existing refrigerator, as part of a government-funded program.  The Minister of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (Minaet, in Spanish) will resume its refrigerator replacement program this year, which carries an approximate cost of $9.5 million. The objective is to decrease the consumption of electricity in the country and comply with the goal signed in the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty signed by 187 countries, including Costa Rica. The agreement sets goals to decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases.  As part of those goals, Costa Rica eliminated Hydroflourocarbon (CFC) gases in 2010, present in many aerosols.

 

The replacement program was first attempted in 2008, but failed, as the government had no methods of safely disposing of the older units that were exchanged. This is a very typical thing in Costa Rica, the government comes up with some great Ideas, implements a new law/program or tax and then does not think about or plane for the consequences of what they want to accomplish.

This time around, the government has already negotiated with several suppliers for the proper disposal of the old refrigerators. Yahoo !!! They got it right this time. Under the plan, exchanging your old fridge should be a pretty straightforward process.  Notice the word “SHOULD”, In my mind and experience I know what will happen, I will show up to buy a new frig tell them about the one I want to trade in and they will say OK, I will pay for the new one, then I will haul the old dam thing to the store and then they will look at me like I am some kind of moron. Once the agreements with retailers have been finalized, the consumer will simply take their old unit to the retailer, select a new unit which best meets their needs, and receive the exchange credit on the new unit.  Grupo Monge and Gollo appliance stores have both agreed to participate in the program, ( again notice the word “AGREED”, that does not mean they will follow thru on it) and have already held meetings with the Ministry regarding the logistical details.  The old refrigerators, and their refrigerant gases, will be properly disposed of in a way authorized by the Ministry of Health.  The new efficient refrigerators, which qualify for the 6% to 25% subsidy based on size and type, will be identified with a seal provided by the Institute of Technical Norms of Costa Rica (Inteco, in Spanish).

 This program is really a good thing for the consumer as well as the environment as less electricity will be used over all. The program would produce a savings of $2.68 million to $7.05 million in energy production, and reduce the country’s carbon dioxide output by 5,437 tons, according to those involved. Let’s just hope it works!

 

Want to own or Buy a Business in Costa Rica

Many people looking at real estate in Costa Rica often also look to purchase or start a new business and a new life. Starting or buying a business in Costa Rica can be a daunting task, as it is anywhere because of the language issue and both have their up and down sides. The up side is if you have a great concept or service you can do really well financially the down side you could lose your shirt. But if you do things right from the get go it can be a very rewarding and profitable experience.

If you’re interested in purchasing an existing or starting a new business in Costa Rica, this article will give you important information on some of the processes. The Most important thing is to have a good legal consultant that understands the process. In other words do not use an attorney that deals primarily in civil matters or just real estate, use one that deals with business and corporate law. Trust me I know being a small business owner.

There are tons of advantages to starting or purchasing a business in Costa Rica. First it is a very foreigner friendly country with long established democratic rules, policies and procedures, and most important the rules are the same for foreigners as they are for locals. Don’t let anyone tell you differently! Another reason to start from scratch is that often a product or service that is developed and successful in North America is not yet available here. Costa Rica tends to be a few years behind the times in certain categories of services.  In general most cases, buying or starting a business in Costa Rica is a lot less costly than the North American market.

If you are going to buy an existing business the first decision is whether to buy the corporation’s stock or just the assets.  Watch out and be careful for hidden liabilities if you buy the stock and take over the corporation business, there may be liabilities not on the “corporate” books which could jeopardize your investment. Or offer to buy the business out right and form a new corporate entity ,while doing the same business.  This is done by buying only the assets of the corporation and not the corporation itself this is the best way to protect yourself. The Costa Rica commercial code shows the steps and procedure for purchasing assets of a business, including tangible as well as things like copyrights, trademarks and clients lists.

In regards to getting permits and licenses, buying an existing business has obvious advantages by bypassing all the bureaucratic red tape and processes that are time consuming and often frustrating when starting and forming a new business especially with the language barrier.  Existing businesses also short cut a great deal of start time in terms of entering the market and subsequent barriers as they have established themselves already, in most cases.  Make sure your legal team carefully reviews the following information sources when buying a business in Costa Rica and have them explain each in detail so you are thoroughly knowledgeable and understand.

Public Corporate Records – have your corporate law attorney carefully check articles of incorporation, bylaws, type and amount of capital stock, and powers of attorney.

Private Corporate Records – Check current stock ownership, and stockholder and any resolutions not on public record.

Accounting Records – Have a certified accountant check these records investigate the actual income and expenses, fixed and liquid assets, short-and long-term liabilities and taxes

Tax Obligations – Have certified accountant check these records including yearly income, sales, corporate stamp, property taxes, monthly sales taxes, and travel and hotel lodging taxes, road taxes and commercial license fees.

Permits and Licenses (Municipal and National) – Every business needs the health department permit and a municipal business licenses called a Petente.

Employment Records – Check written contracts specifying employment and employee particulars with responsibilities and salaries, along with up-to-date social security and worker’s compensation insurance payments, mandatory vacation, Christmas bonus, and severance pays.

Property/Real Estate Title – Check for the presence of liens, encumbrances, mortgages, and judicial claims, details such as measurements on the property title should agree with the actual measurements on site.

Lease Contracts – Confirm all names on the contract, conditions for use of the property, and the rental payments and potential legal increases, as well as any other terms and conditions. Confirm with a lawyer any terms or special conditions for transfer of names.

Customer Satisfaction – Although not a legal obligation, check customer complaints and customer satisfaction can yield important information for going forward with your business.

Create your checklist before you present any offer to purchase agreement and of course, before any money changes hands. Again make sure you have a qualified legal representation, accountant, and expert available regarding human resources for Costa Rica.

Costa Rica seeks to further control gun ownership

The Costa Rican government is hoping to strengthen its gun laws, and encourage citizens against gun ownership.  I guess after the all the crazy shootings you read about and hear on the new from North America, it is no wonder.  A new bill being sent to Congress is looking to punish anyone who has a firearm without a permit with up to 8 years in prison, (I have heard about the prisons here they are not like the country club types in the US and I know I would not want to be in one) as well as to make the requirements for firearm possession much stricter.  President Chinchilla said the goal is to “promote more regulations,” for firearm ownership.  In addition to changes in the law, the government is launching what it describes as an “awareness campaign,” throughout the nation’s communications media. With messages such as “32 women were killed in 2011 with firearms,” the government hopes to wage a battle against the possession of firearms.

 

The campaign is being supported by the Funcadion Para La Paz y Democracia (Peace and Democracy Foundation), the Canadian government and other “private organizations”. Read between the lines, these are the “ORGANIZATIONS” that really want to control more than gun ownership. No conspiracy theories from me there are enough nut jobs out there.  The campaign makes heavy use of statistical data, which is complemented with messages such as “A gun will only bring problems, do not allow firearms in your house.”  During a presentation, President Laura Chinchilla also stated that the government would be taking other measures such as the destruction of 3,675 guns that have been confiscated.  Good thing, I read last month that armed robbers broke into the facility where these guns were and made off with about 50 firearms. The vice minister of Government, Marcela Chacon, also said the government hopes it create better systems for the marking and tracking of firearms and ammunition.

 

Unlike in the United States, possession of firearms is not a guaranteed right in Costa Rica as it is in the US under the Constitution. Since the there is no Military here in Costa Rica, there really is not a need to own guns to protect yourself from a military takeover or some nut job President.  Personally as a US citizen, If were living in back in the states I would apply for a legal firearm to protect myself and family from any outside force that would harm them in my home.  There are just a whole lot more nut jobs up north than down here.


Guanacaste, Costa Rica News Clips January 2013


 

Joseph Emanuelli Your Guanacaste Costa Rica Connection

Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Re/Max Tres Amigos January 2013

Happy New Year!!!

 

 

Costa Rica Information You Can Use

 

Somebody find me a Doctor In Costa Rica! Please

Need a doctor in Costa Rica and don’t know where to look? Want to know if the doctor you chose is recommended and trustworthy? These are very important questions to ask, I did! Sometime most people will ask friends for recommendations but how do you know if they got it right? And really what do they know about a doctors qualifications and expertise? Well now there is a better source.

The digital company HuliHealth, provides patients help with choosing the best doctors and specialists in all areas of health in the country. Visit www.HuliHealth.com to check out their page. This web site provides the tools necessary for both Costa Ricans and expats to find the best health professionals based on personal criteria. You can find a doctor by specialty, treatment, cost and location, and then view a doctor’s profile and comments from other patients.

Costa Rica Doctors

HuliHealth began as an idea over a year and a half ago, when the founder Alejandro Vega realized that Costa Ricans and foreigners living or visiting here had difficulty finding information about specific doctors and specialties. He selected the country’s best doctors and added them to the online database. To find them, Vega worked with what he calls “leaders of opinion” in different specialties. They in turn recommended the best doctors. “We met with the heads of post-graduate studies in cosmetic surgery, dentistry and other fields at the University of Costa Rica, and they helped us choose the best doctors. Once doctors are part of the HuliHealth network, they can recommend other doctors. “We only accept doctors through references from other members.”  I personally checked out this web page, as I am a skeptic about these things, (it is the old New York street kid in me coming out) and I was pleased to see that a doctor I utilized 3 years ago for knee surgery was on the list of recommend doctors. I also noticed that a lot of the doctors are associated with the best private hospitals in the country. Not some back woods clinic that looks like a chicken coop.

In addition to reading up on doctors, making appointments and other useful tools, users also can ask doctors questions to help narrow their search. After an appointment, they can rate care and leave comments. To date, 125 doctors are registered at the site.  Mr. Vega said it’s also important to him that HuliHealth only accepts the most recognized and respected doctors, which ensures trust between patients and doctors. 

 

Oh My GOD, Costa Rica and The World is Still Here

The end of the Long Count in the Mayan calendar that occurred on December 21, 2012 was a complete bust! Except for the scammers that made a lot of money off of people that really believed it. It had become the subject of countless books, websites, television shows, articles and blogs in the last few years about the end of the planet as we know it. Please give me a break!!! Now, as the date has passed, and the speculation as to what was going to happen had reached unbelievable heights for some, we are all still here and no great tragedy happened that could be attributed to the end of the Mayan calendar.

          Mayan calendar and Guanacaste     

For residents in Central and South America, whose cultures were impacted by the Olmec, Aztec, Mayan and Incan civilizations the importance of this event was even greater. Here, in Costa Rica, both Tico and non-Tico alike wondered what that date will hold for the land of Pura Vida leading up to it. Well I am happy to write absolutely nothing happened, except for the same old thing, Pure Life!!!

Guanacaste Rock formations

So here is a little and I mean little, history of the native indigenous people of Costa Rica. Although Costa Rica was not part of the Mayan empire, many of the pre-Columbian tribes who called Costa Rica home certainly had exposure to the influences of that culture. The Chorotegas, who settled in and around Nicoya, had a social system very similar to the Aztecs and Mayans of their former home in Mexico. The Nahua people, also from Mexico, were actual descendants of the Aztecs and became known in Costa Rica as guatusos. The mysterious site at Guayabo may one day reveal a stronger connection to these empires of antiquity. Olmec and Mayan artifacts that have been found in Costa Rica were probably trade items showing that communication between the Mayan world and the Land of Pura Vida existed in some level.

 

Time to Pay the Annual Corporation Tax and others

If you own and Costa Rica Corporation be aware that the one year old corporate tax is due by January 15, 2013. As expected, the base judicial salary on which the tax to be paid on corporations is based on, has increased.  If you are an owner of active corporations (one that actually conducts business and takes in income) you will have to pay 189,700 colons by Jan. 15 to avoid interest and the freezing of the company. That is about $380. Those people owning inactive corporations (those that hold vehicles and or real estate in Sociedades Anónimas or limited liability corporations) which include many expats and foreign residents the tax bill will be half that for active corporation or 94,850 colons, about $190.

Costa Rica law sets many fines and taxes on what is called base salary. It is the base salary of an auxiliary administrative assistant who works in the Poder Judicial or the Judiciary. When the president signed the bill for the new tax in 2011, the base salary was 316,200 colons or about $622. Per month, So the tax on corporations, which went into force this April 1 was half that, $311. But before the ink was dry, judicial workers got a raise up to 360,000 colons a month, or $88 to raise the basic salary to $710  so the tax increased as well.

 Costa Rica Tax Man

This is the first year that owners of corporations will pay the full tax. The base salary affects many other aspects of daily life. The base salary system is used so that taxes and fines keep pace with inflation. Judicial officials are generous to employees as most government agencies are worldwide. The 19,400-colon raise to the auxiliary administrative assistant represents an increase of about 5.4 percent. That is more than the annual increase in the nation's minimum wages and for salaries elsewhere in the government. So the reality is every year this tax on corporations will be going up as the base salary will be going up as well.

January 15th is also the dead line to pay the Solidarity Tax or Luxury home tax as most call it. This tax was instituted 3 years ago, (to help eradicate slums in the central valley of Costa Rica, but just like every other government the funds are going somewhere else), and it is based on the value of the construction on a property. Every 3 years a property owner has to have a re-evaluation of the property to see if they meet the requirement to pay the tax.

Costa rica luxury tax

January is also the time that property can start to be paid to the local municipality. Here in Costa Rica we pay the property tax in the forward for the year. Now you can pay quarterly, semiannually or annually. If you choose the option of quarterly you will be charge a very small interest fee starting in the second quarter.  Since property taxes are so low it is best to just get it over with in one lump sum and you have till the end of the first quarter to make the payment without any penalty.

 

Drinking in Public will Now Carry a Stiff Fine in Costa Rica.

Oh my god, I can’t believe it!! I can no longer enjoy a cold beer on the beach. While residents and visitors to Costa Rica are still free to smoke on public beaches this holiday season, this year, for the first time, you can forget about bringing a cooler of cold beers or having a refreshing cocktail on the beach. The fine was established in the new “Law for Regulation and Commercialization of Beverages with Alcoholic Content,” and municipalities around the country will begin collecting the fines. The law states that consuming alcohol in any public place with the exception of a carnival, civic festivities, or other events specifically sanctioned by a municipality is now prohibited.  I can just imagine the look and response from guest at the Four Seasons Resort, when they are told they cannot have a cocktail on the beach after paying $500 and more per night!

Guanacaste Beahes Playa Hermosa Beach

The law was passed very quietly this past October, and prohibits drinking of alcohol in any public place, including the beach.  Get caught with a cool mojito or cold beer on the beach, and you’ll be facing a fine of 180,000 colones (about $360 USD).

Jonathan Espinoza, a public affairs official, said: “The law does not allow consumption of alcohol in public locations, and the municipal police (who the heck are these guys, as I have never seen one?) and inspectors will ensure compliance with the law. The municipalities, under the law can arrest the violator, confiscate the alcoholic beverages, (which no doubt will be consumed by the “municipal police”) and issue a fine as well as coordinate with the Fuerza Publica (the public police force)  to transfer the person to the Court of Minor Offenses.”

Guanacaste Costa Rica Beach

Now I am all about obeying the law and respecting the police, but this is absolutely nuts in my opinion. Not to worry, I have already thought of a way to avoid the ticket? When you come down just contact me and I will show you how! And it does not include bribing the cops.

 

 

Air Canada’s New Discount Airline brand Comes to Costa Rica

                                

Air Canada announced the launch of its new, inexpensive ( read cheap, no service no drinks ) leisure travel airline brand, “Rouge,” which will begin service in July 2013 and will provide service to both the San Jose and Liberia airports in Costa Rica, departing from Toronto, Canada.  With the introduction of Air Canada Rouge, the company enters the growing leisure travel market. As part of a special introductory rate, flights to Costa Rica will begin at just $389, according to the statement. So if you are from the Toronto area, hurry up and get those reservations before the price goes up! Air Canada currently operates one non-stop flight per week to Costa Rica.

 

Security officials Seek New Law to let Police Investigate

 

Here in Costa Rica we have five types of police departments. There is the Tourist Police force, the Transit Police force, the Public Police force, the Municipal Police and the Judicial Investigating Organization. Top officials at the security ministry are drafting a bill to present to the legislature that will give Fuerza Pública officers (Public Police force, see above article, same guys that will give you a ticket for drinking a beer on the beach) the ability to investigate crimes. All I have to say it is about time!!!  If passed, a new law would mean that victims of petty crime could simply report the incident to the police that are constantly on patrol, but only react to a situation and are not proactive to situation such as if your cooler on the beach gets lifted while you are in the water and the cope was there. The current system which make notr sence at all ( welcome to an emerging country, but I still love it )requires that the victims of such crimes go to the offices of the Judicial Investigating Organization (also known by the Spanish acronym OIJ similar to the US FBI) hours or days after the crime and file a report. Like this will really help by the time you report it it has already been fenced and sold to someone else.

“The law in Costa Rica doesn't permit for the regular police, the Fuerza Pública, to conduct investigations,” said Vice Minister Celso Gamboa. “That's the problem.” (No Kidding! When did the light bulb just go on??) Minister Mario Zamora Cordero said that this will allow the judicial police to follow up on more serious crimes like murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking and government curruption.  “In order to make this change, we need a change in legislation that permits an increase in the investigative capabilities of the police to have the power to investigate small crimes,” said Zamora. Both Gamboa and Zamora off-handedly announced the project at a press conference. The conference was focused on the successes of the Fuerza Pública and the ministry this year, (and there have been many, I do have to say they are at least trying more and it shows) and what the plans they have for next year.

  

If passed, the law would make Fuerza Pública officers more like police officers in the United States, who can record testimonies from victims and witnesses minutes after the crime occurs. Now if we can only get them to be more proactive like in the US and Canada that would be great!  Right now, this police force can only make arrests if they personally witnessed the crime despite them being on patrol where these crimes are occurring.  For all other cases, the victims must go to the Judicial Investigating Organization offices and file a report, usually long after the trail has gone cold.

This is actually a good thing and if they can give some real power to the tourist police as well there would be less petty crime. Not that there is a major problem, but there is crime everywhere in the world, even in this paradise. One of the reasons I chose to live in the Guanacaste area of Cost Rica is because there is very little crime, but there still is as there is everywhere in the world. At least we don’t have nut jobs that walk into a school or a mall and kill innocent children and teachers with semi -automatic weapons.


Guanacaste, Costa Rica News Clips December 2012


 

Re/Max Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

December 2012

Happy Holidays! May You and Yours be Healthy, Happy and Safe this Holiday Season

 

Costa Rica Information You Can Use

 

Some Expats (I call them the “crybabies” ) Feel Blindsided by Caja Rate Increase

Some expats are unhappy because the fees they pay to the Costa Rica government for health insurance just went up by as much as 43 percent in some cases.  I know mine did, I was paying a whole whopping $32 a month for me and my wife for total health care.  This means doctors, drugs, hospitalization, surgery and rehab if needed.  That comes to $0.526 cents a day for each of us. The insurance with the Caja Costarricensee de Seguro Social is mandatory for foreign legal residents in Costa Rica. Most pay out of their own pockets as asegurados voluntaries (voluntary insured). That’s what I do. Some pay as trabajadores independientes (independent worker). Unaffected are those expats who have full permanent residency without restrictions and work and contribute to the Caja along with their employer. Expats who are pensionados (Retirees’) or rentistas (Renters) usually opt for the asegurado voluntario status in which the monthly premium or fee is based on income. The Board of Directors at the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (the Costa Rica Social Security Department) decided last month to increase the rates for the independent workers and volunteer enrollees. This was done because those who are self-employed or volunteer enrollees were paying less than those who worked under an employer, so the change makes the rates fair for all. The institution seeks to close the gap that exists between the different types of policyholders and represents the first step toward achieving the goal that all workers contribute the same rate percentage.

The new rate structure now has five levels instead of the previous seven. Premiums are collected based on a minimum monthly salary of 131,760 colons, about $264.  The previous base was 116,500 colons or about $233.   Even if an independent worker earns less than the minimum, the premium still is computed from that amount. The average increase is supposed to be about 12 percent, said the Caja.

Some expats are reporting increases of between 10 and 20 percent when they visited the Caja office to make their monthly payments. Knowing a good number of expats that have been here for a long time they are really upset because they probably, on purpose registered with a lower income as to not pay as much and have been cheating the system for years.  I see this all the time, an expat will even tell his attorney to register his property value lower than what it is supposed to be just so they pay less property taxes. For gods’ sake the property tax is only ¼ of 1%, how much lower can you expect!! Then they complain about some of the services they get. I wish these people would go back to where they came from. The great thing about Costa Rica, the US and Canada is, that if you don’t like it where you are, you can always leave!! Nobody is making you stay in Costa Rica

Some expat crybabies complained that they were being soaked just to retain their residency because they never intend to use the Caja medical or hospital services. That is until they have a real emergency and they need to be brought to the hospital then it is all good. Again, they knew when they applied for their residency that this was a requirement, so stop complaining! Most things in life always go up in price. have you checked you insurance premiums lately? I myself have never used the system as I do not have the time or patience to go thru the entire process. It is just like a HMO, go to the clinic first, see the doctor and if needed he sends you on to another specialist. Me I just go straight to the specialist as it is 1/3 the cost than in the US.  Again these are the ones that just want to get anything they can on the cheap. I gladly pay my amount every month because if I need it, it is there for me.

Ryan Piercy of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica said that he has heard of people having increases as high as 43 percent. However, based on what he had seen, most persons were paying lower than they should in the first place, he said. “It depends on what they were paying and for how long,” he said, adding:  “I've seen people paying as low as 5 percent.”  For me, when I paid my Caja bill on line this month it went up as well! Now hold on to your chair, I don’t want you to fall over and need the services of a doctor. My increase was $0.012 pennies a day for 2 people for free health care.  I say to the crying expats “If you don’t like it LEAVE”!!!!

 

Costa Rica Motor Fuel Prices are Going DOWN!!

The ever-changing fuel prices in Costa Rica are changing again. The price regulation agency announced that gasoline and diesel prices were going down to reflect changes in the world oil markets. The change for November was small, but a much larger price cut is estimated for December, personally the change really only affects me a few dollars to fill the tank! Gasoline prices already are more than $5 a gallon.  I know what you are thinking, Holy Molly that’s high. Well read on there is an explanation below. The Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos (the Public Services Regulatory Authority) said that super gasoline would be going down 17 colons per liter when the new prices are published. That's about 4.3 U.S. cents per liter or about $0.16 per gallon. That’s a big drop! Plus or super gasoline will drop 12 colons or 2.4 U.S. cents per liter or about $0.09 per gallon. Again that is a pretty good drop. Diesel will have a negligible reduction of 2 colons per liter, this is not even worth doing the math it is about 1 penny drop per liter. Of course that is what I use in my car. A better scenario is painted for December when super will drop 79 colons or 16.8 U.S. cents per liter or 63 cents per gallon and plus/super will drop 69 colons or 13.8 U.S. cents per liter or 52 cents per gallon. Diesel is expected to decline 25 colons per liter or about 5 U.S. cents per liter or 16.2 cents per gallon. Now that I can live with!

                                                  

Costa Rica imports all its petroleum products so we are held captive to the world market. This is the reason the fuel is higher hear. China and Costa Rica as you may have read has signed a free trade agreement, the Chinese are donating $24 million dollars to build another refinery here in Costa Rica. As it stands now there is only one in the whole country and fuel needs to then be transported by truck everywhere. Also Costa Rica does not produce any oil so we are stuck buying on the open market.

                                                  

 

Surviving a Snakebite in Costa Rica, The Pain that even Morphine Can’t Kill

Let me tell you the reality is, that snakebites are few and far-between so I do not want to scare you.  I felt it was important to tell you about this. On average in all of Costa Rica, roughly 500 people are bit every year and that number could be higher as some victim, unfortunately some may not have received help and hence not reported.  Now that may sound like a lot of people but in the US alone, over 7000 people get bit by snakes every year. Thanks to the development of powerful and very toxic antivenins, most if not all snakebite victims survive the scary and painful experience so long as they get help. I saw a news artical of such an incident recently and thought this would be a good topic to discuss as I just killed a Coral snake in my front yard this past week. Now remember this is the tropics so you have issues like this. Just like Texas with rattlesnakes or Colorado with black bears or Florida with alligators that eat stupid golfers going after a golf ball that is in the canal!!! If you happen to worry about things that are out of your control, you need to live in a rubber room.

A local expat was arriving at a friend’s house when she felt a light touch on her baby toe, and recognized the sensation of two teeth biting her. A friend of hers drove her to the hospital in Nicoya, where a doctor was able to determine that she was bitten by a Coral snake, based on the small bite marks and her symptoms. The Coral snake is one of the most venomous snakes known, but also a very small snake of about 10-16 inches long and not very thick, that in most cases recoils when provoked instead of biting.

“I could follow the pain spreading,” recalled the victim, tracing the origin of the pain along her leg. “I started to feel intense, terrible pain, like birth contractions; it was so horrible. They even gave me morphine, but it didn’t work.” What followed was a course of antivenin, an effective, but extremely powerful concoction of snake venom and sheep serum, shots of penicillin to counter infections, and she suffered from leg paralysis for days after the first antivenin treatment. It took three weeks of treatments, allergic reactions, and hospitalization before she was back to normal.

So, if you do not want to endure this experience, try to avoid circumstances in which bites are more likely. A local expert explained that dead foliage, fallen trees, and other things which create a shaded and damp area, are typically enjoyed by hungry snakes as a hiding place from which to observe and catch prey.

It is recommended that you don’t get too close to rivers or dead trees and extreme foliage. Try not to touch trees without looking. Open your eyes. If you see a snake and it is very close, don’t try to step on the snake, just calmly walk away.” Hell if it is me I would be out of there in a heartbeat. Wearing heavy-fabric pants during treks and hikes in areas of dense foliage is also a necessity and a smart precaution, as most of the smaller snakes can’t bite through leather, thick denim and other sturdy fabrics. It is also recommended that if you are hiking in an area like this, carry a machete or go with a reputable guide that will be prepared.

What to Do If You Are Bitten

What if the unimaginable actually does happen? “Keep calm”!! I know this is hard to consider, as you would be freaked out, Me To! If you are bit, get to the nearest hospital immediately. Do not try to suck out the venom or apply pressure to the bite. Only hospitals keep antivenin in stock because the antidote can have bad side effects and it has to be administered in a facility that can monitor and control the effects. Snake bite victims have a six-hour window in which to get care after being injected with the venom. If you can bring the snake, alive or dead, ( Like I am really going to try and catch the snake) this is a benefit because the specialist at the hospital will know what kind of snake bit you and will know which antivenin to give. If you can’t bring the snake, take out your fancy IPhone, IPad or camera and get a picture of it, so you can show it to the doctor. But remember don’t get to close!

The fact is, snake poisoning from a venomous bite or sting is very rare. In 13 years of practice, A Local Dr. stated that she’s only seen five cases of venomous snakebites. Three of the victims were people trying to grab the snake when they were drunk. Now how stupid was that? This is like when there is the rodeo here; drunken locals and even some crazy foreigners’ climb in the ring with the bull after the rider has been tossed off the bulls back, just to slap the bull and say they did it. As you would figure a good number of them get trampled. One victim was trying to be brave and grab the snake to kill it, boy this is really stupid too, like trying to feed raw meet to a lion in a cage at the zoo. One was actually a gardener who was working and was bitten by a snake and another was walking over a bridge and was not paying attention and he stepped on a snake, which bit him.”

A List of Local Poisonous Snakes to Avoid In Costa Rica

Costa Rica coral Snakecosta Rica Fer-de Lance Costa Rica Eyelash Viper

                   Coral Snake                                  Fer-de-Lance                                        Eyelash Viper

                     Costa Rica Tropical RattlesnakeCosta Rica Bush Master

                                    Tropical Rattlesnake                                                 Bushmaster

Coral Snake– Black, yellow and red banding across the body, extremely venomous. It’s very small teeth and meek disposition mean that it rarely bites, and it cannot bite through leather and other tough materials. There is also the false coral snake which is black with only yellowish bands. This is the one I killed.

Fer-de-Lance– French for “spearhead.” It has black, brown and green mottled colors with dark patches along its back. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous snakes in Costa Rica.

Eyelash Viper– Also called the “Bocaraca” in Spanish. The eyelash viper can have several color variations and combinations of red, yellow, brown, green and pink. It is a small, tree-inhabiting snake, averaging about 2.5 feet in length, but don’t let the size fool you— its bite is still dangerous.

Tropical Rattlesnake– “Cascabel” in Spanish, for its rattling sound when disturbed. This rattlesnake is one of the larger species of venomous snakes in Costa Rica. Its venom is neurotoxic, very strong, and has effects on the operation of the eyes– some bite victims go permanently blind from late or inadequate treatment.

Bushmaster– The king of venomous snakes in Costa Rica can reach lengths of up to 8 feet. It is easily the largest venomous snake in the country and has an added danger of being able to strike with multiple bites. Luckily, it’s a nocturnal predator and usually will be avoided by people for this reason.

 

So Just in a nutshell be careful, Costa Rica has unparalleled beauty but there can be hidden danger as well just like in your own back yard. Just like my old back yard in Kentucky, the day I was spreading new mulch in the spring and uncovered a nest of baby copper head snakes, boy did I jump!!

 

Mandatory Vehicle Insurance Fee Increasing for Next Year

The agency that regulates insurance fees has approved an increase in the mandatory premium that is collected along with the road usage tax. The Superintendencia General de Seguros authorized the increases for the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, (INS for short or in English “National Insurance Institute”) the former government monopoly that is still the only issuer of road tax stickers. The tax is called the marchamo. This is the annual tax that must be paid for your vehicle every year in December, the deadline to pay the marchamo is Dec. 31. If not the MOPT police will be out looking to write tickets or taking brides (trust me they hope you do not pay it on time, it is like a second Christmas bonus for the bad cops).  The tax is basically your road usage and registration fee that you would pay in many North American States and Provinces. The tax is based on the registered vale of your vehicle. So the longer you have or the older your car, truck, motorcycle, scooter or ATV is the lower your tax is supposed to be. As an example, for my 2006 seven passenger SUV last year, the tax was $490.00 USD and this included the mandatory insurance. This year even with the increase of the insurance part, my road usage and registration tax will actually be higher than last year as the increase in the insurance part will be a 9% hike for private vehicles and a 24 percent increase for motorcycles. In addition, the tax administration decided that this year instead of lowering the value of vehicles, they actually raised them for certain types of cars. Of course, my car falls into this category. It seems like I never catch a break with the taxman here and in the US. This photo below is the 2102 sticker, I wonder what the 2013 will look like as they change them every year.

Costa Rica Marchamo Sticker  Vehicle owners will have to pay ₡17,374 (about $34.00 USD) for ₡6 million colon (about $12,000 USD) coverage, and motorcycle owners will pay between ₡60,000 ($120) and ₡78,000 ($156), depending on the coverage amount. The requirements of the new traffic law, that I had written about 2 months ago, were cited as one reason for the increases. The maximum benefit for injury this year will be 6 million colons (about $12,000.USD) that is why most expats purchase additional insurance as you do not want to be taken to court over an accident you caused. Owners of motorcycles have the option of paying 78,147 colons (about $156) for 6 million colon coverage (about $12,000 USD) or 60,713 (about $121) for 3.5 million colon coverage (about $7,000 USD). The option resulted from protests by motorcycle operators last year. The reality is that a good part of the accidents that happen are caused by motorcycle drivers and the pass on the right, swerve thru traffic and hardly ever obey road signs. Some of you have been here, you know what I am talking about, the off road dirt bike, that drives around at night with no head or tail lights and at the last second before you made a pancake out of them your lights hit them and you slam on the breaks.

To find out much you owe, see the INS website at:

http://marchamo.ins-cr.com/Marchamo/Marchamo/Default.aspx

 

New Solar Park Opens in Guanacaste

Costa Rica Solar Power Plant Guanacaste

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) opened the first ever solar park in the country, located in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. The construction was made possible thanks to a $9 million donation from the Japanese government. I wonder what we will have to give back in return? Nothing is ever free. Miravalles Solar Park is the first large-scale solar electric generation plant in Central America. The operation will produce 1 MW of capacity and will be able to provide electricity to some 800 homes. The 6.75 acre park is located at the foot of the Miravalles Volcano, and has 4,300 photovoltaic panels used to grab the solar radiation from the sun. Each panel is capable of generating 235 watts. The opening ceremony was attended by President Laura Chinchilla, Japanese Ambassador Yoshiharu Namiki, Environment Minister René Castro and ICE Executive President Teófilo de la Torre. Miravalles Solar Park is located in an area that has become a corridor of renewable energy, including geothermal energy processing, windmills and hydropower from Lake Arenal.

Costa Rica Hydro Plant          Costa Rica Wind Farm

 


Guanacaste Costa Rica News Clips November 2012


Costa Rica’s Cerverceria, Purchases U.S. independent beer company for $388 million

The enormous Costa Rican beer producer and distributor bought the brewery that makes brands like Magic Hat, Pyramid and Labatt.  Cerveceria Costa Rica bought North American Breweries, one of the largest independent beer companies in the United States, for $388 million. It's now one of the fastest growing beer companies in the US. But years before that, the Genesee Brewery was on the verge of bankruptcy. North American Breweries produces the brands Labatt, Genesee, Seagram's Escapes, Magic Hat, Pyramid, the Original Honey Brown Lager, Dundee and MacTarnahan's expect to see some of these products in Costa Rica very soon. They also sell Costa Rica’s Imperial brand in the United States. The brewery is headquartered in Rochester New York, but also produces beer in other parts of the US as in New York, Oregon, California and Vermont.  Cerveceria Costa Rica, is a subsidiary of an ever bigger corporation, Florida Ice and Farm Company which distributes all the major beer brands in the country including Imperial, Bavaria and Pilsen along with other beverages as well. Now you may actually be able to find Imperial all over North America.

 

Donald Trump to develop a hotel in Costa Rica?

Trump's son Eric said "The Donald" could select Costa Rica, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil or Argentina for a new hotel. The U.S. billionaire business magnate, reality TV host and one time aspiring politician,  could expand his brand into Costa Rica. Trump is looking to develop hotels in Latin America, according to Bloomberg. The company’s first hotel outside the U.S. opened in July 2011 in Panama City. The Trump Ocean Club, the tallest building in Latin America, has been a success, said Eric Trump.   

 

Huffington Post Lists Costa Rican coffee as one of world’s best

Arabica coffee from Santa María de Dota is considered crème de la crème by the online paper.  Costa Rican coffee is known by Ticos as their “golden bean” because of its high dividends to the local economy. Costa Rican coffee appears in the list of the World's Best, for Coffee Lovers cited by the online newspaper The Huffington Post. In the list of 11 cities, Santa María in the canton of Dota – south of the capital – appears as one of the best cities in the world for those who enjoy top-quality coffee.

In no particular order, the online newspaper lists the top 11 cities where premium coffee can be found: Istanbul (Turkey), Paris (France), Tel Aviv (Israel), Kailua-Kona (Hawaii, United States), Seattle (United States), Melbourne (Australia), Havana (Cuba), Lisbon (Portugal), Santa María (Costa Rica), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Rome (Italy). “Since the 18th century, this Central American enclave has cultivated the popular Arabica coffee bean, which is generally thought of as the crème-de-la-crème of the crop,” the paper stated. Regarding Santa María de Dota, the article says that “this small mountain town sits amid leafy coffee fields, and it might just be the most peaceful place to sip a local cafécito (black coffee).”

 

Process to start a Costa Rica business to be faster and digital

Instead of the current 90 days, the process to register and activate a company will soon take 20 or fewer days. The change took place due to the implementation of the second phase of the digital platform called “Crear Empresa,” designed by the government as part of a strategy to simplify the process. Do you see something wrong with this article? Government and Simplify is this not an oxymoron!! Sorry I had to add my 2 cents.  As of November 1st, the registration of a new company will be made via the Internet, by filling out a single form, according to the Director of Digital Government, Alicia Avendano. The system will also centralize the location of all permits and documents needed to start a business. For example, users will be able to locate digitalized blueprints, health permits, commercial business licenses, environmental feasibility documents, and register as a taxpayer with Hacienda, among others. The program will be applied first in the municipalities of Alajuela and San Jose, and is expected to be implemented throughout Costa Rica in the first 6 months of 2013. Costa Rica was recently recognized as one of ten countries that made changes to improve its business environment in the “Doing Business 2013” report. The report compares 185 economies and in the most recent report, Costa Rica moved up 12 positions, placing itself at number 110. We will see how this really helps. It should.

 

With international support, Mostly from China, Costa Rica
sets forth infrastructure upgrades

With a new public works minister taking office and announcements of new highway investments last week, Costa Rica’s infrastructure plans seem to be full speed ahead. Due to a 13 percent reduction in capital expenditures and a 2.4 percent cut for the public works ministry next year, the Costa Rican government has looked abroad for credit and investments to beef up the country’s infrastructure. “The strategy to sacrifice investment has us 30 years behind in terms of infrastructure,” Stated Vice President Luis Liberman.  President Laura Chinchilla declared expanding infrastructure as one of the main goals of her administration. Using funds from sources including the Chinese government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Costa Rica has billion-dollar plans to expand its infrastructure. Some of the work has already taken place as the expansion of the Inter Americana highway is being widened from one lane in each direction to two lanes. This new expansion is from Canas to Liberia and should be completed sometime first quarter of 2013.

In the middle of October, President Chinchilla swore in Pedro Castro as the new minister of public works and transport, MOPT as it is called here. He plans to prioritize a number of highway projects including Route 1856, a new road that runs along the country’s northern border and that has seen a lot of sticky issues, ranging from corruption scandals to diplomatic tensions with Nicaragua. Indeed, highways account for an important part of the government’s infrastructure goals; Chinchilla’s administration intends to invest $2 billion to upgrade roads, in part using IDB funding. Last week, the Costa Rican government announced it would invest $40 million on bridge construction and repair in 2013, in addition to the record $56 million already invested over the last two years in road infrastructure.

China is a key partner for Costa Rica’s construction plans. Firming up the country’s relationship with the Chinese—which officially started in 2007 when Costa Rica cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan—Chinchilla traveled to Beijing in mid-August. She signed an accord in which China agreed to donate $25 million to construct a police academy, as well as send Chinese workers to build the facility. After Liberman traveled to Beijing in late September, the Chinese government said it would provide $400 million to expand the country’s Route 32 highway, a road that is very critical to transporting international containers from the port of Limón, which receives 80 percent of the country’s exports and imports. In addition, China’s state oil company will invest in modernizing a $1.8 billion oil refinery near the port.

In fact, ports are another area the government intends to upgrade, as well as railroad infrastructure. On August 6, a Costa Rican court upheld a $1 billion project by Dutch company APM Terminals to modernize the outmoded country’s ports and to construct the Moín Container Terminal. During a trip to Madrid this week, Liberman said the Spanish government expressed interest in financing $300 million for an electric train to connect three of Costa Rica’s provinces.

What does this all mean for Costa Rica? Better roads, means faster times for import and export items to reach consumers. I wonder if we are going to have to learn to speak Chinese soon?

 

Local Playa Hermosa Weather

 Earlier this month, I decided to do a daily blog of the weather. I have to clarify that I am not a a meteorologist, just a guy that is interested in what mother nature is going to sned my way when I get up in the morning. I have some tools that the pros use like a barometer, rain gauges, digital thermometer and a device used to measure humidity which is called a psychrometer or hygrometer.  The equipment is not the highest grade stuff but it gives me a pretty good idea. Soif you have an interest lik I do and are just a bit curious check out my blog by just clicking HERE

Thanks and as always my the sum be shining  upon you and the temperatures are just the way you like them.

 

Daily Currency exchange

Central Bank Reference Rate SAME AS LAST MONTH WHEN I POSTED IT.

Buy ₡ 493.00
Sell ₡ 503.00

 


Guanacaste Costa Rica News Clips October 2012


Costa Rica Information That You Can Use

 

Guanacaste Costa Rica Driving, Beginners Guide to some of the Craziness and the new Traffic Fines

In the past month the Costa Rica legislature, on its second and final readings finally passed the nation's new traffic law. Many fines in the 2-year-old law had been thrown out as disproportional by the Sala IV constitutional court (the Costa Rican Supreme Court). The rewrite cuts many of the fines in half. Now fines range from 280.000 ($560) to 20,000 colons (about $40). The original law has a top fine of 416.000 colons, about $832. The new measure retains the provision that can send a driver to prison with more than .75 grams of blood level alcohol. The law also has a system of points whereby a motorist who accumulates from 6 to 12 points can lose the right to drive. Motorists with a six-year long license can lose it with 12 points. If the license is for four years, it can be lost with eight points. Drivers with a three-year license can lose it with six points. Points are only assessed for major violations under the rewrite.

Driving in Costa Rica can be a fun and challenging adventure depending on your attitude as it can be in any foreign country. The key word here is ATTITUDE. If you do not have a good attitude let someone else do the driving. One of the biggest reasons is the language barrier; of course all the signs are in Costa Rica are in Spanish. Many of the signs symbols are the same as in the yield and stop sign. Depending on where you are going the roads can be in really good shape or they can resemble a bombed out air strip that has been abandoned for the past fifty years or a good gravel road, which there are many. The most important thing to remember is if you are the driver, drive and don’t let all the beauty and grandeur of this lovely and spectacular country lull you into day dreaming. Best thing to do is take turns driving so you can be the spectator once and while. This of course if the person with you has a great attitude as well. In the 5 years I have been living here I can honestly say I have never been in any type of car accident with another vehicle or moving object or person, but that’s not to say that a tree or a rock wall all of sudden moved in right behind me . Some that are reading this have been in the car with me, some have been scared to death, especially when we need to go four wheeling to view some farms or building lots up a mountain dirt road where you can barely see over the hood of the car, but I have never lost one person yet. One person did wet themselves but hey accidents happen!! What can I say; she wanted to see the view so I took her there.

Thank God the law contains traffic education programs. The change includes plans for a high school course in the upper grades. This is really needed as Ticos tend to be some of the worst drivers I have even witness except for maybe the Chinese when I was in China. Sometimes I think some of them get their license from a crackerjack box. Let me give a few examples. If you have ever driven here in Costa Rica, you for sure have seen some of these. Just today coming back from Liberia on the main highway I was cruising along at the legal speed of 80 kph, about 50 mph, the car in front of me started to slow down. This guy got slower and slower, than he decided to put his hazard lights on. So I figured he had an issue with his car, right? Well I was unable to pass him as there were double yellow lines, hard to see as the paint is almost gone, but they were there. All of a sudden he comes to a complete stop!  So I make the move to pass him and realized while I saw him as I passed, that the reason for him stopping was so the he could make a phone call. A few minutes later he was right behind me, so close that he was almost in my back seat, so I know his car was ok as it was a 2012 Toyota Prado. Just so you know it is illegal to talk on the phone while driving in Costa Rica. This type of thing happens all the time, most will pull over on the side, not enough but they still pull over. Another great example that happens all the time is a driver will put his directional blinker on to turn left, I was behind him and of course I started to slow down right?  Well, this guy then moved his car on the other side of the double yellow lines and continues driving another 100 yards or longer until he could make the left turn. I have to be honest the first time I saw this I was in shock, I was thinking what the hell is he doing? Do I speed up and get out of there or do I slow down and be really cautions, because now this person is driving in the same direction as me, at the same speed, BUT on the wrong side of the road, and to top it all off another car starts to come from the other direction before he reaches the turn. This nut case then just pulls even further off to the left and continues driving on the shoulder till he was able to make the left turn. Just one more and I will get back to the meat of this article, which is what the new traffic fines will be. While driving on the highways here the speed limit can change at any given time from 80 kph down to 30 kph,( a snails’ pace of 18 mph, my 88 year old dad drives faster than this, Sorry Pops) and even down to 25 kph ( 15 mph) in a school zone, now that you should understand as you should because you never know when a soccer ball is going to be coming across the highway with a kid chasing it. So you are driving down the highway, you are doing the speed limit and you come upon a car that is moving about the speed of molasses pouring out of jar on a cold winters day, so you turn on your blinker to notify the guy behind you that you are making the move to pass and then all of sudden snail man in front you becomes Mario Andretti or Richard Petty and speeds up as fast as he can so you cannot pass him. You know the type right? So to make sure you don’t kill yourself, you pull back behind this same idiot and all of sudden he goes back to being snail man again. This is when I wish I was driving a tank, BOOM!!! One blast and it is free sailing.

Since Guanacaste is still very much a cattle producing area, you have to be ready for the cows. This is what I call a Costa Rica traffic jam up here at the beaches. You will be driving along and the road will be completely blocked by a small heard of maybe 20-40 cows making their way to another pasture to graze. The funny thing is there will be one to two guys either on horseback, real sabaneros (cowboy or plainsman) or guys on bikes or walking along with sticks to swat the cows to keep them in line and moving forward.

If you get pulled over by a traffic cop, be respectful and courteous. Be prepared to be able to at least say a few words in Spanish as most of the police do not speak English. They usually like hide on the side of the road under a nice shady tree. If they are going to pull you over they will step out onto the highway and flag you down. Be prepared to show your driver license; if you are in the country for less than 90 days your license from home is ok and no need to get an international drivers’ license. Make sure you always carry a copy of your passport and a copy of the date stamp showing the day you entered Costa Rica, I can almost guarantee they will ask for this as well. Sometimes they pull you over just to check paper work other times they will use a radar gun and get you for speeding. This actually happened to me one day coming back from Jaco with a friend in the car from Canada. So I pulled over and the officer approached the car, I gave him my license and cedula (my residency card) and he proceeds to tell me that I was speeding. I asked him “how did you know” in my poor Spanish, as he was just standing on the side of the road. He walks away from my car and comes back with a radar gun. He proceeded to tell me, in Spanish, that I was going 135 kph. I know darn well I was only going 90 kph and said so. Then to prove his point he showed me the digital display on the gun. I just about died laughing when I saw it. The display was showing 135 kph and right under it flashing in perfect English was ERROR!! SPEED NOT REGISTERED. So I proceeded to ask officer what can be done about this situation. He looked at me turned around and started walking back to his car.  At this point my friend in the front seat starts to get a little nervous and says to me in all seriousness “oh please Joseph take the ticket I don’t want to die in a Costa Rican jail, I will pay it, he going to call for more cops or he is going to shoot us”. I looked at him and told him to just be calm nothing is going to happen as the cop is just going to ask for a bride and all will be fine.

 At this point my friend really freaked out, he got out of the car and started to walk away down the highway rather fast throwing his arms up in the air in disbelief. I just let him go as I knew what was coming and what to expect as this has happened before to me. The officer came back to my car without the radar gun, no ticket book and looks at me and then looks at my friend walking away turns back to me and starts laughing.  At this point I already had a 10,000 colon bill in my hand folded up, I offered my hand to the officer as in a hand shake, he knew exactly what to do. The officer shook my hand and in perfect English, this is the first time he spoke any English, he says to me, “Don Joseph, have a nice day, slow down and go get you friend” and he handed me my license and cedula back.  About a quarter mile down the road, there was my friend looking like he saw a ghost. When he got in the car he proceeded to call me every name in the book and was in total disbelief, he really thought he was going to jail for life. Do not be surprised if this happens to you, some of the traffic police in remote areas make practically nothing as a salary and propose a bribe in return for not writing the ticket. If he does tell him you only have 10,000 colons or $20, and that usually works every time. To be 100% honest with you, I do not recommend this practice, just take the ticket and pay your fine at any local bank.

Here are the new traffic fines and the cost associated with them:

Category A, the most expensive fines are 280,000 colons (about $560)

Speeding 120 kph (74.4 mph) or more, Driving under the influence, Driving with an expired or suspended license, Passing in a no-passing zone or on a curve ( just so you know ticos do this all the time so be careful), Passing on the right, (to do this you have to go off the road as 95% of all the roads hear are 1 lane in each direction), Crossing into the oncoming lane ( kind of like my first example above), Making an illegal U turn and making an unauthorized left turn.

Category B, the fine is 189,000 colons (about $378)

Driving without safety seats for children 12 and under or those shorter than 1.45 meters (4’ 9”) I guess short adults are going to have to drive from a kids safety seat, that should be interesting to see. Doctoring a license plate and failing to heed a traffic signal.

Category C, the fine of 94.000 colons (about $180)

Driving without a license or with a suspended license and speeding more than 25 kph (14.5 mph) over the limit.

Category D the fine of 47,000 colons (about $94)

Failing to heed traffic signs, failing to yield, I wonder if this counts when there are cows in the road. Driving a motorcycle without reflective clothing, ( this one should be in category A because many ride motorcycles and scooters at night and most do not have rear back lights. Driving 20 kph (12.4 mph) over the posted speed limit.

Category E the fine of 20,000 colons (about $40)

Driving without required documents, have a license plate in an incorrect position, using a loudspeaker within 100 meters of hospitals, schools, clinics or churches. This last one sounds strange but it is a common practice here in Costa Rica to make public announcements because not all people have TV’s or radios or internet  and some companies do it as a form of advertising and special promotion.

Thanks for reading my news letter.  If you have a comment or would like information about Costa Rica just send me an email to jaaechef@gmail.com

If interested at looking for that dream property or investment Click Here

 

Local Weather

Some People Still Think I Am Strange

Last month I gave a pretty good, at least I thought it was good, overall description of the weather patterns of the Guanacaste Area and Costa Rica in general. A got a lot of feedback from people saying “THANKS, now I know what to expect” I did get a few notes back saying “Yes you are strange but keep sending the information”  Well I am here to tell you that I will continue talking about the weather as it intrigues me and others as well. This rainy season has been very dry as I have written before. As of writing this it is pouring monkeys and alligators! I know the saying is dogs and cats but what the heck I am in Costa Rica and it is just a one of a few places in the world were both Monkeys and Alligators occurs naturally and were not deposited here by man. Sorry I digressed!  As of the 30th of September, I have recorded 31.75 inches of rain so far this year. September was very dry with only 9.95 inches of rain. Compared to past years that averaged 16.97 inches of rain in September. Lest see what October brings as it is the one month that gets the most rain.

If you are interested in seeing the weather daily, check out my blog Click Here

 

 Central Bank Reference Rate

Buy ₡ 493.00
Sell ₡ 503.00

 


Guanacaste, Costa Rica News Clips September 2012


Costa Rica Information That You Can Use

This month I decided that instead of sending just some news clips and properties for sale, I would put together information for anyone that is considering making the move to own a second home or vacation condo. Also for those thinking about relocating and joining me full time in this paradise of Costa Rica that I now call home and have for almost the past 5 years. I left the US because I wanted a simpler life style, a place where life is more important than possessions, and less expensive place to live overall, but I did not want to deprive myself of many of the comforts of living the US affords. I was able to find what I was looking for right here in Playa Hermosa and the neighboring areas. If you are interested in properties just click this link and it will take you my web page of listings. See something you like just drop me note @ JAAECHEF@GMAIL.COM  

http://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Featured_Listings/page_2527088.html

 

 

Relocating to Costa Rica? Guanacaste and Playa Hermosa

Some simple things to help out.

When considering relocating to Costa Rica there are many steeps that you need to look into before making this life changing experience. Here are a few items to keep in mind before you actually leave your home country for the paradise of Costa Rica. I know, as I made the move almost 5 years ago and I had to do a lot of investigating myself. Luckily, I did a really good job of it and I am happy I did to make the move to live in this paradise of Costa Rica. For some of you this is already old news, but to many this can be good and useful information.

Take a Vacation: Make sure you have first visited Costa Rica and traveled to many different areas of the country to find what area works best for you! A couple of days will not do the trick you should travel the country for a couple of weeks. If you cannot take the time all at once take a few vacations and visit different areas each time and at different times of the year. This is very important, there are many different microclimates in Costa Rica, you need to really see what the weather is like all year long in an area that you think you would love to be. I personally did this, and decided that the Guanacaste area, especially Playa Hermosa, this was the place for  my wife and I. The main reason for us is this is the driest area in all of Costa Rica with an average of 40-60 inches of rain a year and over 300 + days of sunshine. In addition it is only 20 minutes to the international airport and 10 minutes to the newly opened CIMA state of the art hospital, plus lots of services and amenities very close by in Playas del Coco to the south. We have no regrets at all. Work with Real Professionals: There are many people in Costa Rica that will try to sell you something, from handmade artifacts to time share units to all sorts of things. It is not like Mexico or the Dominican where everyone is hawking something and chasing you down the street to get you to buy something, but you will run into an ex-pat sitting in a beach bar and he will try to sell you something.  I recommend that you work with real professionals, people that really are dedicated to what they do and do it for a real living, not just a quick buck. If you are looking for real estate, work with agent affiliated with an international brand, like RE/MAX. Working with a dedicated professional will be you best option. Ask them if they actually own property in Costa Rica, ask how long they have been living here and ask if they have their residency, this is sure way to make sure you are NOT working with a fly-by-night scammer. A real professional should be able to help you with all sorts of information from recommending you to a reliable immigration attorney; you will need this if you decide to live here full time, to a doctor that speaks English, to a dentist and of course a good handy man that won’t rip you off and the list goes on.

Meet Lots of People: Talk to everyone, locals, ex –pats, bartenders, shop owners and even the guy that sells Pipas (fresh coconut water in the shell) on the street, and you better be able to at least say a few words in Spanish as it is the official language of Costa Rica. Do not be intimidated, the Ticos (an endearing name the locals call themselves, Tico for a man, Tica for a woman) are very warm and welcoming people and if you at least try to speak some Spanish you will be meet with a warm smile and someone that will try to help you and appreciate that you are trying.

Do Your Home Work: I have met many people that do NOT do this. These are the ex-pat nags, as I call them, of Costa Rica. They came for a 1 week vacation, stayed in one area and fell in love and left their brains on the plane. They do nothing but complain about the roads, the police, the banking system, how hard it is to get things done. Well these nags did not do what they should have. READ READ READ, TALK TALK TALK, and most of all LISTEN to those that have been down the road already, this is the best way of learning the ins and outs and again work with a professional and someone that has been here for a long time and knows the ways things are done.  IT WILL MAKE YOUR TRANSITION SO MUCH EASIER, trust me I know!

Remember this is not North America or Europe:  Costa Rica is still an emerging country. Not quite first world but definitely not third world either. Costa Rica has a culture that is very different from what you are used to. Want to get your Costa Rica driver’s license? Not very hard but be ready to drive to San Jose and spend the whole day there just to get this accomplished. Need to get your cars annual RTV inspection? Be prepared to fail if you do not ask someone what the requirements are beforehand. Want to open a bank account? Be ready to be really frustrated if you do not have all your paper work in order when you go to the bank. Dealing with the local municipality is like pulling teeth some times. The most important thing for any GRINGO (this is not a derogatory term, but used for any foreigner from North America) or a foreigner to know is that when dealing with any government employee or any service provider in Costa Rica, you get better results with honey instead of vinegar. What I mean is always be polite and even though you may be frustrated like never before, do not raise your voice or show anger, Ticos will just shut down and you will never get anywhere. These are just some of the things you need to know.

If you have a desire to relocate to Costa Rica, or are just starting to think about it, send an email to me Jaaechef@gmail.com ( that my personal email address) and I can help with all your questions. If I do not have the answer I will not blow smoke at you, but I will find the answer for you.  If you want a short read about the requirements of residency, just follow this link below

 http://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Requirements_to_Retire_In_CR/page_2141941.html

If this is not for you, but know someone that may be interested in relocating please to forward to them as I would be forever grateful, Thank!

 

 

Costa Rica Central Bank Reference Rate and the Colon

Buy ₡ 497.00

Sell ₡ 507.00

Every month I put the latest daily exchange rate for the colon against the USD the day I send this out. Anyone interested in living here and has funds still based in the US Dollar, Euro and Canadian Dollar, this is a important thing to know. The exchange rate fluctuates every day and does not change drastically from day to day. I have seen the colon be has high as 582 to the USD and as low as 487 to the USD in the time I have lived here. The best average is to just use 500 to one as it makes it very easy to get an approximation of price and what something will cost you. If the colon is higher than 500 you get more bang for the buck, if the colon is under 500 it will cost a bit more. I see folks getting confused when shopping and they see something priced for 50,000 colons and spend 5 minutes to try to make the conversion to see how much it really costs. I am a great example of this. When I first moved here I was shopping for a new car. I just about had a heart attack when I was told the cost of the truck I was looking at was 12,000,000.00 colons, once I finally did the conversion, and slowed my heart rate down, the price of the truck was $24,000.00. So here is a quick and easy way to do the conversion, it is NOT EXACT but can make it easier to get buy on the fly if math is not your thing and no need to carry a calculator. Take the first 2 numbers in the price listed in colons, multiply by 2 and then drop off the 3 zeros before the decimal point. So using the example above an item priced at 50,000.00 colons X 2 equals 100,000.00. drop the 3 0’s = $100.00 Last month I placed an article about the new bank notes / bills that are now in circulation in Costa Rica. Here they are again. The 50 MIL = $100. 20 MIL = $40. 10 MIL = $20. 5 MIL = $10. 2 MIL = $4. And a 1000 note = $2. Of course this is based on a 500 to 1 conversion.

Costa Rica Real estate-- Local Currency

 

Costa Rica Gets Its First Electrical Code

Hard to believe it, but finally it is here, the first ever electrical code in the country as presidential executive order number 36.979 takes effect in August 2012.

The document is a safety manual for professionals and trade workers. The code aims to eliminate the sale of inferior quality products and ensure electrical installations are safe. From August moving forward, all electrical installations must be done by a professional or a professional to oversee the work, stopping the practice of any handyman passing himself as an electrician. The code empowers the Ministerio de Economía to preform regular review of the quality of materials used in electrical installations in buildings where more than 100 people gather, such as churches, hospitals and schools, and are considered a high risk buildings and subject to inspections every five years. A sizable number of fires are due to electrical faults associated with wiring or with wiring devices. Hector Chaves, head of the Bomberos de Costa Rica (Fire Department) noted that more than a 1000 people on average each year are left homeless due to fires caused by faulty electrical connections. Poor electrical wiring can cause many different problems. One of the most common problems in electrical wiring is loose connections. From the electrical panel all the way into the home's lighting and outlet circuits, poor or improper connections cannot only be a waste of power but can actually be dangerous. Other problems with electrical wiring can range from improper installation of the wires themselves to worn out or damaged electrical panels. Another problem is the use of poor quality or inferior products. Using cheap or inferior products and opting of a cheap installation will only end up costing more in the long run. As an example many connections are made with just electrical tape instead of using electrical nuts to connect to wires together. If purchasing a property make sure you have an inspection  as part of the contingencies of any offer to and make sure your agent utilizes a reputable inspector. As An example, Just this week I was doing laundry and my wife said to me” do you smell something burning?” “Sure do” I said so I started checking things out in the house and it turns out it was my electric clothes dryer that was smoking like a chimney. So the first this I did was shut down the dryer and then turned off the breaker in the electrical panel. I pulled the dryer and found that the cord to the dryer was melted.  Once it cooled down, I investigated and found out that one of the 3 wire supposedly connect to the out came lose and hence over heated and started to burn. Luckily, my house is all cement so nothing really happened. 

 

Guanacaste, Costa Rica Local Weather

Some People Think I Am Strange!

I get asked all the time what is the weather like in Costa Rica, “bet it is really hot and humid”! Well that all depends on the area of the country you are in. Costa Rica has so many different micro climates due to the vast contours of the land from sea level low lands to mountains as high as 12,000 ft. I chose the Pacific Northwest and Playa Hermosa especially because it is the driest area in the country. I know, I have been in other parts of Costa Rica during the “Dry Season” and have seen rain like I have never seen before. In Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, our average daily temperatures at the beaches from mid-November thru March are around 840 and always sunny with a breeze and with relatively low humidity around 40%. April it starts to get a bit hotter with average temps. Around 900 and the humidity begin to rise. This is the beginning of the transition period between summer and winter or dry season and rainy season. Sometime between mid-April and late May is when the first rains will happen, it is always a crap shoot as to when it will happen. Usually just an afternoon thunderstorm that blows right over and you can still watch the sunsets over the ocean. The rest of the “rainy” season is pretty mild and sunny almost every day. From June to the end of August the average temps are in the mid 80’s and the humidity will be about 65-75%. Come September and October is when this area of Costa Rica gets most of its rain. Now it does not rain every day, but when it does it is hard and steady for a couple of hours and it could happen a couple of times throughout the day. The rainy season usually lasts until mid-November and the average temperaturs are in the low 80’s and the humidity hovers around 65-80%. Once in a while we get an occasional rain fall in the first week of December, the humidity goes way low around 40% and then not another drop until the following year. My favorite time of the year is from November thru March, then June thru the end of August. I have a hobby of measuring rain, I have done this ever since 5th grade as a summer science project. I have rain gauges and track it every day. Some people think it is strange, but hay there are stranger hobbies. Anyway, as writing this Playa Hermosa as received 28.2 inches of rain to date, well below our average. The great this is we do get hurricanes so not to worry about having your roof blown off. I wonder what the next 2 months will bring!

Rainy Day Costa Rica-Guanacaste real estate 

 


Guanacaste, Costa Rica News Clips August 2012


Local Guanacaste News

New ₡5,000, ₡10,000 and ₡50,000 Costa Rica Colon Banknotes to circulate in August

The reverse of the ₡5,000 banknote displays a White-faced Monkey, the ₡10,000 shows a sloth and the ₡50,000 a blue morpho butterfly.Costa Rica’s Central Bank announced that it will circulate three new banknotes in August for the following bills.  ₡5,000 ($10), ₡10,000 ($20) and ₡50,000 ($100) (US dollar amounts based on a 500 to 1 conversion rate). Once the new bills are out, the old ones will need to be exchanged in banks. Beginning in December, only the Central Bank will exchange them. All new banknotes display images of former presidents: The ₡5,000 note is yellow and has the image of Alfredo González Flores, the green ₡10,000 bill shows three-time President José Figueres Ferrer and the ₡50,000 – purple – portrays the image of another three-timer, President Ricardo Jiménez Oreamuno. Following an introductory campaign for the new bills, Central Bank authorities explained that these also include security features to prevent counterfeiting, for example, translucent watermarks, color-changing shapes and textured images.

 

Monkey Bridges, Saves Animals and prevents Electrical outages In Guanacaste

Often new visitors are shocked to see such wildlife outside of the Costa Rica rainforest, but living with the wildlife is just part of living in one of the world’s most Eco-rich environments. After a study reported that 50% of electrical faults were cause by animals, monkeys, opossums squirrels, iguanas…etc., the University of Costa Rica, and Coopeguanacaste Environmental Management, teamed up to come up with innovative solution to solve the problems. One includes the construction of “monkey bridges”. The bridges are made of mesh and ropes, usually green to blend in and look more natural for the monkeys to utilize.The bridges are constructed  of parallel ropes that are tied and hung between trees and power lines, as well as electrical line transformers. The intention and location of the bridges are for not limiting their natural movements and to help prevent electrocutions. More work will be needed in the study of animal movement habits, and routes, as well as longer term solutions that may include policy on infrastructure project.

Costa Rica Congo Monkey, also known as a Howler

Costa Rica has only .01% of the earth’s surface, yet contains 5% of earth’s biodiversity- making Costa Rica one of the world most bio-regions in the world. Animals and humans constantly interact here in Costa Rica, its landmass is so small and so rich in flora and fauna, interaction is inevitable. Thanks to innovative program such as the ‘monkey bridges”, keep Costa Rica as one of the best places in the world for eco-living. The Playa Hermosa Association of Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, has its own monkey committee in place, spearheaded by a committed and passionate local ex-pat resident. This committee has been responsible for helping Coopegauanacaste locate numerous locations for bridges within the town to help prevent the unfortunate death of wildlife and especially the beloved Howler monkey community we share this great part of the country with.

CIMA Hospital Guanacaste Officially Opens

Click this link to a YouTube Video of the inauguration event

http://youtu.be/44FBoUFJpKg

 

Local Guanacaste Weather
Experts: El Niño is coming

Due to the weather phenomenon, El Niño, Costa Rica’s rainy season will be one of the driest in years, according to weather experts. The Costa Rica National Meteorological Institute announced that the final six months of the year will be drier than average in most of the country. The most significant decrease in precipitation will occur in the Central Valley and the northern Pacific coast. Only the Caribbean coast will see an increase in wet conditions. The El Niño climate pattern has been expected to build in 2012. Meteorologists said in recent weeks that the pattern, which causes a heating of the Pacific Ocean’s surface, is going from a “neutral stage” to an active one. The result means less rain and warmer temperatures for the Pacific coast. “These conditions will be maintained for at least the next three months,” The experts expect some slight variations in El Niño’s behavior, but overall the phenomenon will bring warmer than average temperatures and little rain to the Pacific, Central Valley and Northern Zone until the rainy season ends in November. By contrast, the Caribbean may see a surplus of precipitation of 20 percent above average. El Niño also is associated with a decrease in hurricanes on the region’s Atlantic coast. So far, four tropical storms have formed at a frightening speed this year. Meteorologists predict that El Niño will slow the formation of hurricanes in upcoming months, during the peak of hurricane season. Experts predict 13 tropical storms or hurricanes in total for the 2012 season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. While hurricanes rarely cause major damage in Costa Rica, increased heat could harm farmers on the Pacific coast. The Central American Agricultural Council alerted regional authorities about El Niño in the area and its potential effects on agriculture and livestock. The northwestern province of Guanacaste is already the driest part of the country, and the Costa Rica National Meteorological Institute predicts 20 percent less rain for that region. The El Niño will not make Costa Rica’s rainy season into an arid, desert-like atmosphere. When rain does fall, it will be more intense than average. These sporadic rains are brought on by trade winds known as the Pacific breeze. Playa Hermosa only had 3 days of measureable rain in the month of July, totaling on 2.6 inches of rain 

 

Costa Rica Celebrates Guanacaste Day!

 

Costa Rica celebrates the 188th anniversary of the annexation of Guanacaste, when on July 25, 1824, under the leadership of the villages of Nicoya and Santa Cruz, the Partido de Nicoya voted to annex the area to become part of Costa Rica.

‘Guanacastecos’ have always been well identified with Costa Rica and take pride in being a part of this country. Proof of this is their famous slogan ‘de la patria por nuestra voluntad’, which means ‘part of this country by our own choice’.  This annexation by choice celebrates Costa Rica’s core values of democracy.There is big historic fact that many people myself included were wrong about. Many people made a mistake thinking that Guanacaste was part of Nicaragua, but it wasn’t true. The “Partido de Nicoya” Party of Nicoya, was a major part of what is now the Guanacaste province in Costa Rica. Originally the territory was bounded on the northeast by the La Flor river and Lake Cocibolca, or Lake Nicaragua, on the south by Costa Rica (Gulf of Nicoya, Tempisque River, Salto River), and on the east by a line that joins the northernmost part of the Gulf of Nicoya to the mouth of the San Juan River. The name Nicoya is thought to derive from the Nahuatl words Nicoa and Necoclau, the latter which seems to mean peninsula; necoc meaning both sides and lau meaning sea. The Nicoya region was organized in 1554 as a Corregimiento or Alcaldía Mayor, (a municipality or township) under the direct control of the Captaincy General of Guatemala. In 1787, the Corregimiento was added to the Intendencia (quartermaster) of the León of Nicaragua. Nicoya was considered a Subdelegado of the Intendencia,( sub-delegate of the quartermaster) and a subalterno of the Intendente (junior of the quartermaster) of León. In 1812, the Spanish Constitution divided the territory of the Kingdom of Guatemala into political parts. One of these was the Partido de Nicoya. In 1820, upon the administrative division of the Province of Nicaragua y Costa Rica, Nicoya became one of its Partidos, ruled by a Junior Political Chief, in turn ruled by the Superior Political Chief resident in León. In 1821, on the division of Spain and the dissolution of the province of Nicaragua y Costa Rica, the Partido of Nicoya came under the primary authority of the governor of Granada de Nicaragua and then, in 1823, the governor of León. The people of Nicoya, in a public event called "cabildo abierto" or  town meeting, the equivalent to modern referendums, decided to annex the Partido de Nicoya to the Republic of Costa Rica. On July 25, 1824, Nicoya was formally annexed to Costa Rica. Since then, the coat of arms of Nicoya states the words: "De la patria por nuestra voluntad" which could be translated as "part of the homeland by our own will". Because of Nicoya’s location, argued area residents, it would be easier to join with Costa Rica than continue under the relationship with Guatemala, which was much further to the north.

 


Guanacaste, Costa Rica News Clips July 2012


Local  News

Costa Rica Ranked 19 in the Top 20 Emerging Economies

When you hear about Costa Rica, the first thoughts that come to mind are exotic vacations, incredible beaches, wild adventures, and tropical rainforests. Though these all are true, more and more people are looking to Costa Rica as a hotbed for foreign investment. This has recently been supported in a study undertaken by accounting giant, Ernst & Young ranking countries in an emerging economies index. The company brings another level of legitimacy to the already growing reputation that Costa Rica is a global competitor in the emerging market sector and becoming very attractive for direct foreign investment. In this study, Costa Rica has ranked 19 in the Top 20 emerging economies and is 5th in Latin America behind the behemoths such as Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Argentina. Often referred to as “The Switzerland of Central America”, Costa Rica from an investment and business standpoint is rapidly becoming newly known as the “Silicon Valley of Latin America”. Investing in Costa Rica is becoming increasingly appealing due in part to its foreign-investment friendly government policies, and social and economic climates. With many global companies deeply impacted in 2009 by the financial crisis, Costa Rica became an attractive option for moving elements of business units and operations for cost-cutting, offshore purposes to this fertile ground of skilled workers and a highly educated population. Companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Western Union, Intel, GE and more are continuing to make sizeable investments in this country. The World Bank has tipped its hat to Costa Rica’s political stability and robust democracy as one of the best in Latin America. With a conservative central bank, a real estate market that came out of the U.S. housing crisis practically unscathed, and a healthy economic growth rate, there are several positive points when weighing up Costa Rica against other emerging markets. Organizations such as CINDE offer gateways to foreign investors looking for assistance in participating in various sectors such as; services, manufacturing, life sciences, clean technologies, and more. Free zones offer security beyond the government incentives. Often these office parks are nestled in beautiful, safe, and accessible areas of the Central Valley. As China leads the rankings in this index, followed by India, Russia, and Brazil, small markets like Costa Rica have become increasingly competitive on the global business playing field. With low-cost labor, highly skilled and educated workers, all supported by a universal health care system, Costa Rica is becoming less dependent on its natural resources and agriculture, and stepping up to go toe-to-toe with multinational giants in services and manufacturing. These emerging markets are projected to constitute 50% of the world’s GDP by 2020, and foreign investors are driving that growth. The index is compiled using 13 variables within 3 categories: overall integrity, global image, and global integration. These 3 criteria are practically taken out of the Costa Rican government’s playbook on political strategies and economic incentives to attract further foreign investment. With estimates from Ernst & Young predicating 70% of global growth to come from emerging markets such as Costa Rica, these nations are attracting just short of 50% of global inflows of FDI (foreign direct investment), representing 25% of FDI outflows. With numbers as impressive as these, and a “rising tide raises all boats” foreign investment strategy, small markets like Costa Rica are on for the ride and showing that this small country has big potential

 

Costa Rica and Canada to Expand Trade Agreement

Canada’s trade minister, Ed Fast, on Monday announced the successful conclusion of a fourth round of negotiations to modernize the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement. Negotiations took place in San José. To create new opportunities for Canadian workers, businesses and investors, we are working closely with our Costa Rican partners to modernize our agreement by removing more barriers to trade,” Fast said. The original Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement entered into force in 2002 but did not include provisions in such areas as cross-border trade in services, financial services, investment and government procurement. An expanded agreement will create new opportunities for Canadian businesses and provide them with a competitive edge in many sectors, including construction, manufacturing, financial services and telecommunications, officials said. Since 2006, Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with Central America has risen by 16.7 percent. Costa Rica accounted for 11.8 percent of Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with Central America in 2011.

                                           

                                                                        Mountian Grown Coffee

 

Local Weather

The Rainy Season is here, but not like normal!

The weather in Playa Hermosa has been just spectacular this year. Our average rain fall for this time of year is 16 inches. Last year by this time, we had already received over 22 inches of rain with some heavy thunderstorms. So far this year it has been mild with mostly sunny days and temperatures in the mid 80’s. Only 13.35 inches have been recorder and the heaviest rain fall was June 17th with 2.2 inches measured. Now this is not to say that Playa del Coco or Ocotal have received the same. Actually they may have received even more rain due to our many and vast micro climates in the area. As an example last week I was in Playa Del Coco, having a cold beer by the beach and a unbelievable thunderstorm came over the far east hills of Coco and it rained so had I could not even see the waves on the beach. This lasted for almost 20 minutes. When I returned to Hermosa, NOT a drop had fallen.

 

 

Rain Over the Ocean Just off Playa Hermosa 

           

La Nigüenta. The gift of luck

Are you searching for a special gift? Do you want something personal and imaginative that will stand the test of time? Have you given any thought to a plaster cast of a naked girl fighting a parasitic infestation? If not, you are missing out on an intriguing bit of Costa Rican folklore, not to mention some minor witchcraft. La Nigüenta is an unusual ceramic or plaster figurine and folk icon that is unknown outside of Costa Rica. It may have originated with a French curio, but that remains uncertain. It portrays a young naked girl sitting with one leg on her knee, picking parasites out of her feet. The bothersome critter in question is a nigua, hence the name la Nigüenta. Niguas are parasitic arthropods called chigoe fleas or jiggers in English. They are the smallest of the fleas and should not be confused with chiggers, found in more temperate climates. Niguas were a very common pest in Costa Rica when many rural people walked around barefoot. They dig into the skin on or between the toes, and the skin reaction can range from mild irritation to serious swelling. The advent of near-universal footwear eliminated niguas as a common human affliction. La Nigüenta was traditionally used as an all-purpose household agüizote, or good luck charm. Offerings were left for her to ask for good fortune or a particular favor. Today, she is seen as primarily an enchantment to bring economic prosperity. It helps to tuck a few bills under her base, or to prime the pump, if you will. A Nigüenta received as a gift is a far more potent charm than one purchased. According to one Costa Rican saying, “There is no escaping luck or death.” Escape may be impossible, but it is altogether human to try to bend luck in our favor. Although the practice of owning and displaying la Nigüenta is dying folkway, many years ago, many Tico households had a reverent space for her. How this figure came to represent good luck is anybody’s guess. I can’t see how the child with the parasites is all that fortunate. And the fleas she is digging out with her nails are not likely counting their blessings, either. One of the joys of folklore is that you simply have to take it as it is, and run with it. These make fantastic gifts for any Costa Rican with a connection to cultural heritage or older relatives. I have given them to a number of Tico friends, and they have all rushed to display them prominently in their homes or businesses. They are also perfect for Gringos maxed out on beer T-shirts, iguana hats and toy oxcarts. These folks may need to have the story laid out for them, but what’s not to love about blood-sucking vermin and serious juju?

 

 

 

Costa Rica is still the Happiest Country in the World

A new report released Thursday finds that Costa Rica and Vietnam are the ‘happiest' countries in the world based upon the health and happiness produced per unit of environmental output. These findings come from the Happy Planet Index compiled by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) which ranks 151 countries around the world based upon their "efficiency [and] how many long and happy lives each country produces per unit of environmental output." The Happy Planet Index rank is based upon global data of life expectancy, happiness and environmental sustainability and is calculated as follows (Experienced well-being X Life expectancy) / Ecological Footprint. The data for well-being is taken from the Gallup World Poll, ‘life expectancy' is based upon the 2011 United Nations Human Development Report and ‘ecological footprint' is calculated from data provided by the WWF. For Costa Rica, this is the second year in a row at top of the list. The list seems to have be slanted toward Central America countries. Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua all made the list. El Salvador, ranked 5th, has the second highest murder rate in the world. Typically the report found that high-income countries, such as the UK (ranked 41st) and the US (ranked 105th), received a low overall score due to the large per-capita ecological footprint. Norway placed in 29th position while Japan came in 45th. The unhappiest places in the world were Botswana, Chad and Qatar. GO FIGURE!!!

According to the Happy Planet Index the top ten ‘happiest countries' are:

1st Costa Rica, 2nd Vietnam, 3rd Colombia, 4th Belize, 5th El Salvador, 6th Jamaica, 7th Panama, 8th Nicaragua, 9th Venezuela and 10th Guatemala

 

 

Central Bank Reference Rate

Buy ₡ 492.55
Sell ₡ 503.58

 


Costa Rica News Clips June 2012

 

Local  News

Costa Rican astronaut becomes first Hispanic member of U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

Costa Rican astronaut Franklin Chang was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on Saturday afternoon. Chang, 62, is the first Hispanic astronaut to enter the hall of fame. “To be recognized by those who you admire is even more powerful than just to be recognized at all,” Chang said, at his induction ceremony. Chang spent more than 1,600 hours in space. In 2005, Chang left NASA to start his own business, Ad Astra Rocket. The technology company is working to create a plasma engine, which could revolutionize space travel and make it easier to travel to far off places like Mars. During his induction speech, Chang thanked in Spanish his mother, who was in attendance, and his wife, Peggy, among others. He showed his appreciation for Costa Rica and the United States for supporting his dreams. “I am the product of two cultures,” Chang said. The 11th class of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame also included Kevin Chilton, the military’s highest-ranking astronaut, and Charles Precourt, former chief of the NASA astronaut corps. Chang, Chilton and Precourt all logged hours on the Russian Mir space station. The hall of fame counts 82 astronauts among its inductees including Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Alan Shepard.

 

A Perfect Sunset

China OKs Costa Rican meat exports

Costa Rican officials say meat and dairy exports to China will help boost the economy in the province of Alajuela, northwest of the capital. Costa Rican beef and other dairy products will soon be sold in Chinese markets, following the approval by the Chinese government of exports from three Costa Rican meat processing companies. The three meat processing plants meet China’s import requirements and have obtained certification to export to the Chinese market. Two more plants expect approval soon. Costa Rica’s beef and dairy industries face a horizon full of opportunities. The government will also support three new projects in the region, including the construction of a dairy plant, the creation of a fund to finance small and medium producers and the reactivation of agricultural machinery services in San Carlos. Costa Rica and China signed a free trade agreement in 2010, paving the way for the elimination of tariffs on exports of Costa Rican coffee, meat, juice and other products.

 

Local Weather

Conditions again ripe for afternoon thunderstorms

There is no winter in Costa Rica, only the rainy season but the locals call it Winter. This week, with the inclusion of Guanacaste, Instituto Meteorológico Nacional (IMN) - national weather service - declared the rainy season in Costa Rica to be official. In Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste there has already been over eight inches of rain recorded as of the writing of this newsletter. The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that humidity from the Pacific coupled with high temperatures will prepare the way for a new round of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Once again, the rains will be variable with some areas getting more rain than others. The Central Valley, the Pacific coast and the mountains of the Caribbean and northern zone are likely to be the regions where the heaviest activity takes place. The weather institute issued its usual warning about possible flooding and slippery road conditions and possible fog. It also issued a reminder about staying indoors during lightning storms and the need to keep metal objects out of the weather. Each year there are lightning deaths in Costa Rica, frequently of golfers who fail to heed weather warnings or people on the beach. Sometimes dozens of cows are killed because they sought refuge from the rain under a tree. During a lightning storm, if outside, take cover inside. Stay off of corded telephones, computers and any other electrical equipment in the home. Use surge protectors for all electrical equipment to reduce the chance of fires starting due to lightning strikes. Lightning is serious; use caution during thunderstorms no matter where you are!

Cashew Nuts and the Fruit

A Costa Rican touches the top of Mount Everest

Warner Rojas is the first Costa Rican to scale the world's highest peak.   Warner Rojas and the other climbers in his team have all returned safely to Camp 4 on Mount Everest's south face, after reaching the highest point in the world. Rojas is climbing with the Jagged Globe expedition company.  It took these guys 9 hours and 45 minutes since leaving camp 4 and they climbed nearly 1000m in elevation. Warner Rojas is the first Costa Rican to have reached the top of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak. Rojas’s Facebook page erupted with congratulations after reported that a member of the 7-member expedition team carrying a satellite tracking device had reached Everest’s 8,848-meter-peak. Navsat, the company monitoring the team’s progress, posted on its Facebook page that the team reached the summit at 6:52 p.m. Thursday night, local San José time, which would have been just before 7 a.m. in Nepal. According to the report Rojas reached the peak second, behind team leader David Hamilton of the Jagged Globe expedition company. After reaching the summit Rojas and the rest of the team face a long descent – what many consider to be the most dangerous part of the climb.

The CNE Declares "Green" Alert At Three Volcanoes in Costa Rica

Costa Rica's Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias (CNE) has declared a "green" alert for the Poas, Rincon de la Vieja and Turrialba volcanoes, as a preventive measure and to empower communities in the event of an emergency. The alert allows CNE officials to restrict access to the national parks of the three volcanoes, and the installation of real-time monitoring equipment and organize, train and prepare the surrounding communities, by way municipal committees. The alert also maintains a constant flow of information of the conditions of the volcanoes. Currently, the Turrialba maintains a high level of volcanic and seismic activity, while at the Poas experts have notices a drop in lake levels that are in anticipation of an increase in the release of gases and at the Rincon de la Vieja there has been a significant level of fluid movements and volcanic activity. The Turrialba is located southeast of San José, while the Rincon is in Guanacaste and the Poas looks down on the Central Valley. The CNE recommends that people living in communities adjacent to the volcanoes keep emergency supplies handy, items like non-perishable food and water, always have fresh batteries for flashlights and radios and to report to the 911 any abnormalities on the volcano's behavior. The alert is no cause for alarm, just a preventive measure assures the CNE.

Central America Taking Center Stage in Investment and Growth

Latin America is now being hailed as the fastest growing economic structure in the world and has experts calling this century the “Century of Latin America”.  With Costa Rica and Panama well established in many industry sectors that bridge Central and North America other Central American countries are also staking claim to investment growth stimulated by Free Trade Agreements with USA, Canada and other countries. Costa Rica is seeing growth in every sector. Medical Tourism is expanding faster than controls, medical manufacturing is on the rise, demand for luxury homes and property investment are growing, the energy sector is under the microscope with large firms looking for political capital for more exploratory drilling on and off-shore as well as doing more geothermal drilling, and as well, a massive variety of products are streaming into North America from Latin America. As an example, Costa Rica was recently ranked by a World Bank study as the top high-tech exporter in Latin America. Tourism continues to grow in all of Latin America.  And of course Costa Rica leads the way in terms of forward movement, industry growth and investment, middle and upper class, and Central America small business growth. Costa Rica is suffering an exodus of what I call “old school” expatriates and thank god for that!!!!. These are first generation expats, the kind of expats that sit around the bar most of the day and reminisce of the days of old when a beer was 40 cents, rent was $100 per month for a ok place, and the police could be bought off for $2, with unpaved roads and when Tico’s were expected to slave for a $1/hour. What they don’t talk about is how the electricity would go off for days at a time, water would stop running in the dry season and good luck finding some basic products in a grocery store. Well, sorry to say for you old school expats, those days are gone, new regulation and oversight has changed all that which is good because the new waves of expat baby boomers have a much higher expectation of life and living abroad. And while some current residence cry about the changes brought on by Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and in some cases for good reason, the $2 – 3 billion in foreign investment has upgraded infrastructure, opportunity and standards of living across the board in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has gone on a PR marketing spree in North America and as result the wealthy, new wave baby boomer expats, business developers and investors large and small are going to reap huge rewards and have a tremendous impact and help shape this emerging region over the next decade. This will truly be the Century of Latin America, especially for Costa Rica.

For more information on relocation, business start-up, and/or investment opportunities contact me and I will assist you with qualified experts that will be able to help you with your goals and life adventure here in Costa Rica. Visit my personal web page for useful information on many topics, Not Just Real Estate.

www.costarican-american-connection.com

 

Central Bank Reference Rate for US Dollars

As posted on June 1, 2012

Buy ₡ 496.50
Sell ₡ 505.00

 

 


Costa Rica News Clips May 2012

Local  News

Costa Rican Volcanoes, due to recent activity, Caution is advised!

Friday night, a vapor release at least 300 meters high at the Poás Volcano, in the northwestern province of Alajuela, deposited a large quantity of ashes and rocks in the southeastern sector of the volcano’s crater. National Seismological Network (RSN) experts on Monday visited the crater to collect water samples from the volcano’s lagoon and sulfur and sludge from inside the crater’s lake. Earlier this month, National Emergency Commission (CNE) officials urged caution for tourists visiting volcanoes, as five Costa Rican volcanoes are currently in various states of activity. According to the CNE, the active volcanoes are Rincón de la Vieja and Arenal (in the northwestern province of Guanacaste), Irazú and Turrialba (in Cartago province, east of San José) and Poás.  Poás’ activity is what experts from the RSN call a phreatic eruption, also known as a phreatic explosion or ultra-vulcanian eruption, which occurs when magma heats ground or surface water. The extreme temperature of the magma results in an explosion of steam, water, ash, rock and volcanic bubbles.  It highly advised if visiting any volcano the check with local rangers at park entrances as to recent activity and to stay on the designated paths within the parks.

 

Costa Rican exports, substantial gain over 2011

Costa Rica's exports increased in the first three months of the year, according to data released Monday. Total exports were about $2.9 billion, some $403 million higher than the same period in 2011, said the Promotora del Comercio Exterior de Costa Rica. The promotional organization said the increase was 16.1 percent. The promotional organization said that exports from the so-called free zones were responsible for much of the increase. Exports in the first three months of 2012 were $1.5 billion compared to the $1.23 billion in 2011, the organization said. The manufacturing sector, including Intel Corp. chips, showed an increase of 19 percent, said the data. Some 41.9 percent of the exports went to North America and 18.8 percent went to Europe

 

Local Weather

Guanacaste is now in a transition period from summer to winter. Humidity is on the rise but is not stifling. Daily High temperatures are in the high 80’s to low 90’s The first rain of the season fell on April 4th measuring 0.7 inches in under 2 hours. There were an additional three occurrences of rain with a total of 2 inches recorded to date. It is so amassing how with just a little rain, everything starts to green up. Costa Rica meteorologists are predicting a average rainy season this year.

 

Costa Rica: A leader once again

In many ways, Costa Rica has been a laboratory for new ideas and new ways of doing things for Central America, and for developing nations in general. This has been true in politics, business, economic development and the environment. Part of the reason for this is that Costa Ricans are well educated and adept at developing and applying new ideas; another is that Costa Rica has been a magnet for people  from other parts of the world seeking to try out new ideas or ways of living. The newest important trend in which Costa Rica is becoming a leader and laboratory is in the art of living sustainably; that is, with a low or positive impact on the natural environment, while respecting local culture and traditions. This art encompasses all aspects of living, from food to transportation, from energy to housing, from clothing to furniture, and from water supplies to waste disposal. The Costa Rican government’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality by the year 2021, while veryambitious, is an indication of the country’s commitment to this ideal. Sustainableliving is based on information and commitment in equal measures, and relies both on traditional knowledge and leading-edge science and engineering. It also poses a clear, over-arching challenge: Whereas it’s easy for individuals to attain incremental improvements toward sustainability, reaching the ultimate goal of ecological sustainability on a society-wide basis is an enormously difficult task.  In Costa Rica, both the government and businesses are trying to lessen their environmental impacts on a larger scale, while throughout the country individuals and families are making a concerted effort to do so as well, aware that many small advances will equal a big impact. On both levels, sustainability is above all about sharing information and know-how

Central Bank Reference Rate

Buy ₡ 498.50
Sell ₡ 508.00

 

 

Banco Nacional Implements New Security Measure for Online Banking

When it comes to online banking, security is the main concern. In Costa Rica, the online banking platform of Banco Nacional is known for its strong security measures like security certificates, virtual keyboards, password policies, and physical tokens. For account holders who want an even stronger chain of trust between their computers and bank accounts, Banco Nacional now offers Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC). At the recent Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers conference (ICANN 43) in San Jose, one of the most sensitive topics of discussion was security and what the domain registration industry can do to improve it, particularly with regard to phishing and spoofing attacks. One of the functions of ICANN is to establish good practices for the safe operation of root Domain Name Servers (DNS). These servers are the primal link in a chain of trust that keeps online banking clients safe from phishing and spoofing attacks. These attacks aim to fool people into surrendering their personal account information through deceitful emails, pop ups, search results, and cloned web sites. In the past, sophisticated phishing and spoofing schemes have tricked web surfers into entering their information on nefarious web sites that looked exactly like their banks’. DNSSEC for Banco Nacional is a security protocol that lets account holders know they are actually navigating to the www.bnonline.fi.cr online banking platform. According to a detailed article written by Pablo Fonseca in La Nacion, DNSSEC issues a security certificate that is only issued to trusted institutions right from the root DNS, thereby insuring that no phishing, spoofing or questionable third parties are involved. Implementation of DNSSEC by Banco Nacional for all online banking users will probably roll out in the days to come, but its functionality can be tested now by users of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome browsers. The DNSSEC Validator browser extension is now available from download from CZ NIC Labs and can be installed and used with Banco Nacional accounts. Once DNSSEC is installed in your computer, you can safely conduct online banking transactions, knowing that Costa Rica is the first Latin American country to implement this new security measure.

 

 

Shipping a Car to Costa Rica – What Should I Do?

What should you do, bring your car or buy one already here?  That is the dilemma for many of us living in Costa Rica or soon to be living here. Anyone looking to purchase a vehicle in Costa Rica soon find out that used vehicle and new one for that matter, are a lot more expensive here than what you would pay in the US for a similar vehicle. Import duty is the culprit, current year and three years back pay 52% import duty, four and five year back, 63 % and from six year on, 79%, no matter the mileage or the general condition of the vehicle. The vehicle that you will bring from the US or Canada has a lot more safety features, because the laws in those jurisdictions require car makers to incorporate them in the vehicle sold in US or Canada. In Costa Rica, consumer’s protection is very weak and warranties very short or nonexistent. Because labor is so much cheaper here, used car dealer often buy insurance write offs for very cheap, fix them and sell them as perfectly good used car. By the way a wreck pays the same amount of import duty a perfectly good car would pay, for many used car dealer it’s just too good to pass. Imagine, you buy those write off for a few hundred dollars, pay the import duty and shipping, fix them up and sell that vehicle for double your investment and if you are financing, at 2 or 3% a month, this is customary in CR, you have a good thing going. After many days of pondering and tire kicking in used car lots you have decided to stick with the devil you know rather than taking a chance with one you do not know; you are going to ship your car. There is two ways to ship a car to Costa Rica, on a Roll On / Roll Off or in a container. The RO/RO is the most economical way and the only RO/RO service from continental USA is from Florida. On the other hand there are perfectly good cars in Costa Rica with reputable dealers. Another good option is to talk to people that live here are already, they may know a friend that is moving or upgrading to a new car. Always ask if you can take it to a mechanic to have it checked out first. Anywhere in the world buyers have to do their homework, compare and refrain from being impulsive. Still even when doing all the right things you could end up with a lemon just like back home. Good luck!

 

 

 


Costa Rica News April 2012


U.S. firm invests $50 million in new medical devices plant

Covidien, a U.S. firm specializing in the manufacture of medical products has invested $50 million in the opening of its 18,000 square meter plant in the free trade zone Coyol in Alajuela. The company employs over 40,000 employees in 65 countries, and is expected to add 350 people to payroll in Costa Rica.

 

Latin America to grow 3.6 percent despite the global crisis

Latin America expects to record a growth rate of 3.6 percent for by 2012 as a result of improved economic policies despite the global recession. Both the Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank are predicting continued growth for what is being regarded as a good ten years for Latin America.

 

Wildlife spotting, guaranteed, in Costa Rica

With its amazing biodiversity and impressive species count, and with 26 percent of its territory under conservation, Costa Rica is the place to come and observe wildlife. Right? Well, yes and no. The country’s national parks and reserves provide protected habitat for all these animals to feed, roam and just “be.” However, some people come away disappointed not to see tapirs, jaguars and anteaters as shown in many a TV nature program. Spotting animals in the wild can take patience, the right time of day and weather conditions, and a slice of good luck.

 

 

Central Bank Reference Rate

Buy ₡ 500.50
Sell ₡ 510.00

 

Registro ( National Registry) still mum on how to pay new corporate tax

Expats and Ticos are impatient to pay the new corporate but tax have to wait a little longer. The Registro Nacional ( national registry) has yet to outline the steps to take to make payments. A popup window on the Registro Web site tells Internet visitors that the new tax takes effect April 1 but that a directive on how to pay will be published soon. The popup window also contains a link to the text of the law, No. 9024 Impuesto a las Personas Jurídicas. The measure covers all corporate entities, including subsidiaries of foreign corporations and limited liability companies. Corporations only pay 75 percent of the tax this year because that is the proportion of the year that remains. Next year, the tax is due in January.  The amount to be paid is tied to what the government calls a base salary. This year the base salary is 360,600 colons, and a working corporation is assessed 135,225 or 37.5% for 2012. For subsequent years the working corporation will be assessed 50 percent of the base salary. Owners of inactive corporations pay half that amount or 25 percent of a base salary. Corporate owners have three months to dissolve the entity to avoid the tax, and persons named as responsible for a corporation can renounce their position during the next 24 months. Some expats plan to fold a corporation that may contain a house or a car, but that would expose them to expensive probate if they die while still owning the property. Several firms are offering seminars on the tax. At least one is offering instructions on how the operators of a corporation can submit the paperwork to obtain status as a small- or medium-sized corporation with the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio. Such entities are exempt from the tax, according to the law. To do so requires that the corporation has been engaged in commerce and there are limits on income and size. Ministry workers said they expected a flood of applications. The income from the tax is dedicated to law enforcement purposes.

Presidenta Nixes Bill To Give Supreme Powers Lifetime Immunity

Presidenta Laura Chinchilla confirmed on Thursday that her government intends to remove the bill that would give lifetime immunity to members of the supreme powers.  The confirmation came by the way of the ministro de la Presidencia, Carlos Ricardo Benavides, after talks with the presidenta. The bill was introduced by 12 legislators of the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN), which would protect members of the supreme powers even after they left office. Benavides said that the government will begin the procedure to remove the bill from the Legislative Agenda.

 

Local  News

Hotels and Resorts Preparing For National Tourists For Semana Santa
• 80% occupancy is expected this year

Semana Santa or Easter Week is a time when Costa Ricans tend to vacation away from home. Proof of that is the prediction by the Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles (Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels) of an 80% occupancy rate for the week.   Last year the occupancy rate was 75%, but according to preliminary date by the Chamber this year is expected to be a better year. Among the factors influencing the increase is the improved purchasing power of Ticos and the number of promotion by hotels and tour operators, adding to that the announcement by the central government that all public sector employees will have the entire week off.  Another aspect is the influence of conventions, associations, unions and other groups with promotional packages for their members during the holiday period.  The president of the Chamber, Flora Ayud, said that during Semana Santa there is high level of occupancy by the "national' tourist even though we are still in the high season.
And taking into account the figures of last year, the Chamber expects the trend to continue.  A survey by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) - Costa Rica's Tourism Board - reveals that 86.3% of Costa Ricans are tempted by the beach during Semana Santa, looking for sun and sand, while 54.9% are more inclined for the volcanoes and mountain resorts.  Another interesting point by the survey is that in 87.7% of the cases, Costa Ricans finance their Semana Santa holiday.

Rodrigo Arias Launches His Presidential Aspirations For 2014

It's official, former ministro de la Presidencia and brother of former president Oscar, Rodrigo Arias, wants to be president of Costa Rica in 2014. The decision was formalized in a presentation of principles to a group of leaders of the Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN), detailing the plans to lead the party in victory in the next presidential elections.  Rodrigo had his big brother Oscar at his side. Oscar, who openly supported the efforts of his younger brother, also thanks the grop for heir support of the "Arismo" within the party. The event was held at the Crown Plaza Corobici hotel in La Sabana, where Rodrigo introduced his strategic advisor, Spanish journalist Antonio Sola Reche, a partner in the Spanish firm Ostos & Sola. Sola was an advisor to Felipe Calderon in Mexico and Mariano Rajoy, Spain and has been linked to the Partido Popular in his country. The Spaniard also advised candidates in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Argentina and Guatemala. During the event, "Don Oscar", a two time president and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was very clear and openly gave his brother the support and encouragement for the campaign. The theme of the campaign for the party leadership will be "Pensar en Grande" (Think Big).

 The theme was reinforced in the social media where the potential president said "Today we face new challenges. Today Costa Rica needs, again, men and women that make a path to national development". The road for Rodrigo to be president may be blocked by the possibility of former president Jose Maria Figueres Olsen, who has yet to announce if he will seek the party nomination for the 2014 campaign.  Figueres returned to Costa Rica last December after a seven year absence and though he down played his intentions for 2014, many are counting on his running against Arias. Possibly to join in the race is San José mayor, Johnny Araya, who lost the nomination for the 2010 race to current president Laura Chinchilla

Playa Hermosa awarded “ Bandera Azul”

 Blue Flag Award

A total of 105 communities have applied for evaluation, with the majority of the Blue Flags awarded to communities in North Guanacaste with 25 Blue Flags, followed by the Central Pacific with 13,  Southern Guanacaste with 12, Puntarenas with 11, Caribbean with 10 and South Pacific with 9 flags. The Blue Flag Ecological Program was created in response to the imminent dangers of beach pollution, its repercussions on public health and the tourism industry. It has reached its twelfth year of operations, with a marked increase that began in 2002.  The Ecological Blue Flag is granted annually to those communities and local schools that have reached, at a minimum, 90% of that which is required by the end of the year. In the case of coastal communities that belong to the Blue Flag program, additional efforts will be recognized for two and now even four stars if they make efforts in other considered areas to achieve overall development, within the proposed focus. As part of its BAE program objectives that recently began within the coastal communities, and those maritime areas affected by institutions, the Costa Rica Tourism Institute defines the program goals that designate personal technicians and economic resources to support the initiative and take on related field work in order to verify that the program’s promoted lines of action are fulfilled by the communities. Criteria for Coastal Communities: Microbiological quality of the ocean’s water =35%. Quality of potable water = 15%. Quality of coastal sanitation areas: Garbage and garbage containers = 10%. Treated industrial waste = 5%. Treated run-off water = 15%. Environmental education = 10% and Security and administration = 10%

 


Costa Rica News Bits March '12


 

 Joseph A. Emanuelli - Jaaechef@gmail.com

Cell: 011-506-8358-6617 Office: 011-506-2672-4100

www.Costarican-American-Connection.com

         

 

Tres AmigosPlaya Hermosa, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

             March 2012      

 

Local  News

Anti-tobacco law gets first approval in legislature

Smoke 'em if you got 'em because soon you will not be able to do so. In public, that is. The legislature suspended discussion of the president's proposed new taxes Monday to discuss and vote on an anti-tobacco law. The measure passed overwhelmingly, 46 to 4. This is the legislation that Costa Rica has agreed to pass to bring itself into conformity with an international treaty against tobacco that the country has signed and ratified. A second and final vote is likely this week. The proposed law, prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants, office, shopping centers, public and private schools, automatic tellers, workplaces and, at bus and taxi stops. The proposed law also prohibits advertising related to tobacco products. Cigarette packages have to have 50 percent of the outside space dedicated to health messages. Also prohibited is the Costa Rican tradition of selling cigarettes one at a time. The measure also provides for health services to help those addicted to tobacco. Also covered are smokeless tobaccos, such as snuff. The measure also imposes a special tobacco tax, which is 20 colons for each cigarette, cigar or other type of tobacco. Some 60 percent of the tax will go to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social to support anti-tobacco programs and cancer treatments. Some 20 percent will go to the Ministerio de Salud to support its obligations under the law. And 15 percent is earmarked for the Instituto sobre Alcoholismo y Farmacodependencia. The Instituto Costarricense del Deportes y la Recreación gets 5 percent. The average citizen or resident who is caught smoking in a prohibited place will face a fine of 15 percent of a base salary, which now is 316,200 which equals, depending on the conversion rate, is approximately $95.00

Costa Rican exports up nearly 20% in January

Costa Rican exports in January topped $836 million, the equivalent of an 18.6 percent increase over the same month in 2011, the Foreign Trade Ministry reported Monday. Exports in January 2011 totaled $705 million. “January’s export numbers were excellent. As in 2011, we are continuing to see growth in many sectors and an increase in export markets," Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González said. “If this trend continues, 2012 will be a great year for the export sector and for the Costa Rican economy.” North America remains Costa Rica's biggest market, with 43.4 percent of Costa Rica's exports, a total of $363 million. The European Union follows, with 17 percent of Tico exports, or $142 million, followed by Central America with 14.6 percent, or $122

 

 

How Costa Rica Is Saving The Environment

What would you say if we told you there was a country that used 99.2% renewable energy, has kept is GDP growing for decades, disbanded its military, and transformed itself from one of the most deforested nations in the Western hemisphere to one with forest cover over half its area?  It’s not a trick question. It’s Costa Rica. Amid news of global environmental degradation, the country has shone a spotlight on how certain economic policies and favorable governance can turn a country ( a small country in Central America) into a relatively sustainable, modern democracy within a few decades.  A review published by the United Nations University suggests Costa Rica’s example can pave the way elsewhere for initiatives such as payments for environmental services (PES) as a tool for poverty reduction, achieving carbon neutrality by 2021, and the Pax Natura (peace with nature) Initiative announced by Costa Rica’s President in 2007 as a basis for ethical environmental commitment.

So how did Costa Rica do it? "The answer seems to lie in a combination of ethics, environmentalism and effective policymaking. After 63 years without a military, such a seemingly unconventional decision has proven both brave and useful in channeling additional investment into the country’s social and environmental programs.  But as with all major national shifts, multiple factors muddy the waters. It probably wasn’t all enlightened governance. There is plenty of evidence (PDF) that macroeconomic shifts and other policies made cattle ranching and forest clearing less profitable and they might have faded even without the 1996 National Forestry Fund that has doled out about $230 million USD  to conserve as many hectares of forest as possible. Disbanding the military is also not an option for most countries.  But Costa Rica’s track record as both one of the most prosperous and environmental responsible countries in the region speaks for itself: Its 6% unemployment rate and robust economic growth coexist with a conservation policy that has placed one-quarter of its land under protection and constitutional protection of the right of every person, to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment. Costa Rica now ranks fifth in Yale’s global Environmental Performance Index. Perhaps Costa Rica’s model truly is exceptional, and only feasible in small, well-educated enclaves that can offer attractive environment. But as the world transforms its economies from mostly industrial to something else, perhaps everyone can learn something from its success.

Central Bank Reference Rate for US$

Buy ₡ 506.50
Sell ₡ 516.50

 

If an expat has a valid foreign license, getting one here is easy

For extended tourists looking for an official form of identification besides their passports, a Costa Rican driver's license may be the painless solution. Apart from driving purposes, a driver's license is accepted as proper identification in many other circumstances, such as credit card transactions in stores, for entering certain night spots and many government buildings and hospitals that require proper identification to enter. Although national officials sometimes say tourists should always carry their passports rather than a copy that is not always a good idea because replacing one if it is lost, damaged or stolen can be a major hassle. Having a local driver's license can save one the hassle of always leaving with the passport, especially if going out for the night or running small errands.  Also, by law, visitors can only use a foreign driver's license in Costa Rica for up to three months before they must obtain a national one.  For about $50, including the vision and blood tests, expats with an up-to-date immigration status and a valid driver's license from their own country can obtain a Costa Rican one. The entire process takes about three hours and it can all be done near the Departamento de Acreditación de Conductores del Consejo de Seguridad Vial in La Uruca.  The one in Uruca is the only office in the country where a foreigner can obtain a driver's license, and the hours are from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. only for foreigners.The required documents are a passport and driver's license, which must be a valid one from the applicant's country of origin and must not be expired. One should also bring three photocopies of the passport and the license as well as three photocopies proving a legal immigration status in the country, this meaning a valid in date passport stamp. A driver's test is not necessary. All the proper medical tests can be done at a clinic about 50 yards from the license office. The vision and very brief health exam cost $30 and no appointment is necessary. The blood test to determine blood type to place on the license costs $10. Other documentation of blood type can be used to save the $10. The clinic will also make the necessary photocopies of the passport and license for $3. The actual license only costs $8 and is good for three years.

 

Series of eruptions reported at Rincón de la Vieja

Volcano experts from the Red Sismológica Nacional were at the Volcán Rincón de la Vieja Thursday to study the site where neighbors reported an eruption between 4 and 4:30 a.m. The Red Sismológica said that it appears that the eruption was contained inside the volcano's crater. An earthquake sensor 3.5 kilometers from the crater says that there were other eruptions. One was Sunday at 16 minutes after midnight and one was Monday 46 minutes after midnight. They were small, said the Red Sismológica. The last major eruption at the mountain was in September when material came out of the crater after explosions and polluted nearby streams. Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja is about 25 kilometers or about 15.5 miles northeast of Liberia in Guanacaste. The volcano is 1,916 meters high or about 6,286 feet. It is part of the mountain range that is the spine of the country

Travel insurance is usually a good bet

Medical evacuation flights costing tens of thousands of dollars, emergency surgeries and unplanned doctor visits are all reasons any vacationer or expat should have some sort of medical coverage before living or traveling abroad in Costa Rica. But for both short- and long-term stays out of country many people are left either unprepared before leaving home or confused by the complicated landscape of international medical coverage. When Elissa Merritt, a vacationer from Minnesota, prepared for her birthday trip to Costa Rica Feb. 8 with her husband, one of the last things on her mind was how to pay for astronomic hospital bills in a foreign country. That is until she drove her all-terrain-vehicle over the edge of a cliff near Jacó two days after her arrival. What resulted was not only a dangerous battle for the preservation of her health but an international medical insurance nightmare for her and her husband, Ron Merritt, as they struggled to cope with a $25,000 hospital bill and thousands of dollars more for a medical evacuation to the United States. An example of a medical travel insurance plan in Costa Rica, through the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, costs $84 and would cover a vacationer for two weeks and up to $20,000 for a sudden illness or accident-caused medical expense. That same plan can be extended to 26 weeks for $272 and other travel insurance plans, such as those offered by one of the 23 companies brokered through Squaremouth, can provide coverage for up to three years. Certain extreme sports and dangerous activities are not covered under certain plans.

 

 

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 Joseph A. Emanuelli , Cell: 011-506-8358-6617

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