Broken News (Drama at MA Beach, New Coporate Tax
Coming, Platina Problem Promises Pickle, Nica/Tico Border Spat Update)
Rumble Talk (Little in the Way of Shaky Problems,
Country Still Dealing with Aftermath of Hurricane Otto)
¿Que Es Eso? Department: Is That Who I Think It Is?
Feature: Teatro Nacionál
(Culture at the Center of Things)
Feature: Valentine's Day (A Rose By Any Other
Health Stuff: Sticky Placque and Prickly Pears
What's-in-a-Word (Answer to Que Es Eso, Piripo,
ROMEO Corner (Picador, Manuel
Wisdom of the Ages
I am a
Seenager. (Senior teenager)
I have everything that I wanted as a teenager, only 60 years later.
I don’t have to go to school or work.
I get an allowance every month.
I have my own pad.
I don’t have a curfew.
I have a driver’s license and my own car.
I have ID that gets me into bars and the whisky store (and provides
free local buses - GG).
The people I hang around with are not scared of getting pregnant.
And I don’t have acne.
Life is great.
subscriber Jacques C.)
A GG Selfie
If you would like to read a
version of the Golden Gringo Chronicles in a narrative format, as a hard copy
or an e-book, check it outHERE
RELEASED! Mariposa, A Love Story of Costa Rica
NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM!
Five hundred years before the
Spanish found the American continent, around the end of the first
millennium, Native Americans lived and prospered in Central America,
including the land now known as Costa Rica. Truly a natural wonderland
then and now, the natives were able to employ their farming skills and
prosper from the rich soils, the forests filled with game, herbs, and
spices, and the lakes and two oceans rich with fish and crustaceans.
Mariposa, or butterfly, is a story about two young
Native Americans, each a favored child of a chief, but of different
tribes. These two tribes, historically hostile to each other, lived a
few days march apart in the mountains north and east of Costa Rica’s
The two natives meet by accident, fall in love and
begin to plan a life together only to be frustrated by events beyond
their control. The lovers are eventually drawn to a mountain volcano
which is thought by many to be the home of the gods, particularly
Sib'ö, the Great Spirit, who they believe had created the world.
The story as written incorporates the classic
ending of Costa Rica's Legend of Zurqui, one that reflects the beauty,
mystery and spirituality that is Costa Rica.
Mariposa is available in both English and Spanish
Preview the Book (English) on Amazon.com at: Mariposa Preview (This is Chapter 1 in its entirety)
the first day of January of the new year GG had just finished a two
hour stint at Manuel Antonio beach, having been properly ensconced in a
chair with an umbrella, celebrating the new summer just arrived. Air
temperature in the sun was around 90F but a cooling Pacific breeze
under the umbrella overcame the heat of the sun. The water temp was
around 80F, maybe 82 and a calm ocean with small waves was perfect for
older dudes like me. The prevailing emotion for GG was gratitude.
I caught a bus on the
downswing into the beach center and we reversed direction at the oval
which is the last stop, near the national park. As we came back onto
the main drag where the several beach shops and restaurants line the
main street, we were stopped cold by a car surrounded by a large crowd
of people. The driver of the car was the crowd's center of attention. I
took the photo to the left from the bus while standing next to the bus
driver. The top of the small, green compact is barely visible in this
The few police who had
gathered (both Turisticos and Fuerza Publicas) were having difficulty
controlling the crowd. They seemed to be trying to protect the driver
from the crowd and were yelling instructions at the driver not to move.
As the crowd milled around I caught a better look at the vehicle and
noticed that both driver-side passenger windows had been broken out as
well as there being a big hole in the rear window. The crowd seemed
quite angry and some of them were throwing liquid from their drink
containers at the driver and all over the car (a bit of a waste of
Imperial, eh what?).
What could these guys have done to warrant such treatment,
All of a sudden the car
lurched forward about 30 meters scattering the crowd on both sides and
provoking strong yelling and screaming from the crowd. Two cops
immediately ran full speed trying to catch up with the car and driver
on foot. When one actually did, he thrust himself through the broken
driver window and seized the keys from the ignition turning off the
engine. He yelled a couple of "maldiciones" at the driver. The cops
then spent most of their time restraining the crowd as some of the
larger, muscled boys (probably blown up with courage from an Imperial
or two) wanted at the driver.
about fifteen minutes the bus driver was getting concerned that he'd
never be able to negotiate his vehicle through the crowd. A
considerable number of vehicles were backed up in both directions
including another bus coming south. In good Costa Rican bus driver form
our driver laid on the horn and was soon joined by a chorus of car
horns from both directions. As he did this, he crept the bus forward
hoping the crowd would move aside as he passed. In good Costa Rican
crowd form, they eventually did. As we passed the vehicle I caught a
photo of the driver (right) and realized he had a friend in the back
seat. Note that not only were the side and rear windows punched out but
the front windshield safety glass had been smashed in with something
like a big rock.
I ran into my landlord's son José who happened to also have been in the
crowd. He made a video of the car being harangued by the crowd (2 mins
- left - be sure to click on the TV expander to get the full benefit of
the video). After the bus freed itself from the crowd and about two
thirds of the way back to Quepos we heard a siren behind us and were
passed by a police van that contained two dudes handcuffed behind their
The story that came out
later was that there had been three men; perhaps there had been another
one in the car that I didn't see or perhaps he had run away by that
time. These three attempted to rob a foreigner in broad daylight near
the end of the road where the only way out of the area was back through
the main street (even in the Robbers Manuel that's gotta be under
"estupido"). Bystanders saw the confrontation, became angry and started
pummeling the would-be thief's car with rocks and bats and whatever
they could find. Enough of the onlookers crowded around the vehicle to
stop its progress, yelling more "maldiciones" (see the What's-in-a-Word
section below for the definition of maldición).
We learned from press
reports later that no charges had been brought against these
punks because the foreigner who had been the object of their desire
declined to file a complaint; therefore under Costa Rican law no crime
had been committed! Dude, what about attempted robbery or at
least driving endangerment from racing through the crowd?
After hearing how the
slow wheels of justice turned (or didn't even rotate) I began to feel
more empathy with the crowd's hostile action. The only loss the bad
guys suffered was that their car was beaten up - is that enough for
New Corporate Tax Coming
For varied reasons, Costa Rican citizens, foreign
residents and anyone owning property of different kinds, find it
convenient or necessary to cover those assets legally with a
corporation. The net result is that the figures say there is a
corporation for about every 8 people in Costa Rica. In the U.S. that
number, including all "S" and "C" type corporations is one for about
every 55 people.
The Costa Rican Asamblea (legislature) has
been working on a new version of a corporate tax that revises one they
put into effect a few years ago; this one being more severe in
penalties for not paying it. This tax is not related to sales or
profits, those are taxed additionally and separately; this one is
basically an annual fee for just having a corporation whether
it's active or not.
The fee schedule is variable depending on 1) whether
the corporation is active or not and 2) what the annual revenues of the
corporation are. Inactives need pay 64,000 colones (~$115). Actives
start at 106,000 colones ($193) and max out at 212,000 colones ($385)
after revenue reaches 119 million colones annually ($216,000). Looks
like with that progressive structure an awful lot of small businesses
including B&B's and local stores get to pay the maximum.
Platina Problem Promises Pickle
(OK, so I love weird headlines)
The Current Bridge and the Plan
There have been numerous problems for quite a while
now in an attempt to rebuild a key bridge in the central valley. This
bridge, popularly known as the Platina Bridge, spans the Rio Virilla
and happens to be part of the busiest highway in Costa Rica, the
General Cañas expressway. The road is said to carry over 100,000
vehicles per day between San José and Alejuela including access to the
major airport, Juan Santamaría, which is in Alejuela.
The Platina is already a bottleneck as the six lane
highway drops to four lanes at the bridge. Beginning in late January
and lasting at least six weeks until at least March 7, in order to
finish the rebuilding project, the road will be constricted further to
one lane in each direction. A monumental clusterf...k is likely to
ensue as the alternate routes through the local streets of Alejuela and
Heredia are already clogged each workday.
The only other alternative might be to find a back
road (Turucares, west of the airport for example) and cross over to the
Caldera Autopista which is south of the airport and come into San José
that way. Nevertheless, the Autopista, which was opened less than seven
years ago already backs up easily east of Atenas coming into Escazu.
It was not long into the
closyre period, just a few days, when a horrendous accident occurred on
this highway killing two people. The accident scene is shown in the
photo to the right; that's a car squashed beteen the bus and the van.
Ironically, the two men were on their way to work at the Alejuela
Hospitla. In addition another fatality occured when a man made a "mad
dash" across the pista and was struck by a vehicle.
Proceed with caution and patience amigos; take no
Late Update: By late January the
traffic jams had developed as expected and some travelers were
experiencing two hour commutes between. the capital and Alejuela. The
buses and commuter trains could not handle the overflow and some were
even hiring $50 helicopter rides between Pavas Airport (West side of
San Jose) and Juan Santamaria, the main airport, in Alejuela.
Nica/Tico Border Spat Update
Camp Nica at Isla Calero
(Troops in Full Rain Gear)
The Chronicles has been watching and reporting on
the fallout from a Nicaragua/Costa
Rica border incident that occurred back in 2010 when Nicaragua
forcibly took over a small island called Isla Calero in the northeast
corner of Ticoland which happened to be owned by Costa Rica. After a
couple of years of complaints and adjudication at the World Court,
Costa Rica won it's case.
The ruling was that the island belongs to Costa Rica
and the two countries should sit together and negotiate reparations,
which Costa Rica placed at $6.7 million. But Señor Ortega, the
President of Nicaragua said long ago he would not honor the World
Court's ruling, and so far he's kept his word.
A new incident occurred in December of 2016 when
Nicaragua decided to make a military camp on the island. Diplomatic
complaints directed directly to Managua from the Costa Rican foreign
minister had no effect, so here we go again. I've noticed that in times
like this, the loud boasting among Ticos about having no army fades
into a murmur.
For more on the history of this dispute, go HERE. And HERE.
Rumble Talk (Shaky Happenings
On or About the Pacific Rim)
Nothing major happening here in January in either
the weather or the earthquake front. Summer is upon us and it's
disgustingly beautiful almost every day now. Don't remember one shower
in the afternoon throughout the month of January.
The northern border area of Costa Rica is
still cleaning up the mess caused by Hurricane Otto, a Category II
storm that made landfall here in November and cut a swath across the
northern edge of the country from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Many
trees and power lines were felled and the storm caused 12 fatalities
and created flooding and general havoc in many places. The central and
southern parts of the country escaped serious damage and in the Quepos
area we didn't even feel an increase in the breeze.
The government recently announced it would cost an
estimated $3 million just to repair water lines that were damaged by
Shortly after that announcement, a second
announcement from Casa Presidencial (the Costa Rican equivalent of the
White House, only it's not white, it's grey and not the president's
residence, just his office) said that the United Arab Emirates has made
a grant of $10 million to Costa Rica to help with the reparations
needed from Otto's damage.
Thanks folks! Salaam Alaikum.
Check Out Recent Earthquakes Around the
World Posted by the U.S. Geodetic Survey:Today's
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Eso? Department (What is This?)
Naw, that can't be what I think it looks like, can
Answer in What's-in-a-Word section below.
Teatro Nacionál (Culture at the Center of Things)
From time to time, the Chronicles has published
articles or excerpts from a city guide by Michael Miller; articles such
as these: Statuesque San José, Barrio Amón. For more references,
simply search Michael Miller in the Google Search Routine above.
Michael is a friend and co-writer who has produced the best English
downtown guide, The Real San José, about our capital city. (I
dislike even using the language qualifier but I can't judge what's
available in Spanish)
Michael's most recent article is about a national
heritage building right in the center of San José, the National Theater
or Teatro Nacionál. The theater was completed almost 120 years ago and
opened to the public on October 21,1897. But let's have Michael tell
Theater of Costa Rica, The Nation’s Cultural Treasure by Michael Miller
National Theater of Costa Rica
is an architectural/cultural gem in the heart of Downtown San José,
If you ask the average Costa Rican, what feature
of San José is he or she most proud, you will get two possible answers.
Some will point to the national football (soccer) stadium, which is
located in Sabana Park, about two miles west of the Downtown area. Others will say without hesitation, that it is the National Theater
(Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica).
When you visit the National Theater, you will
understand why everyday Costa Ricans are so proud of it. It is an
architectural and cultural gem. And it is a vital part of the country’s
history.The story of Costa Rica’s National Theater, and how
it came to be, is a fascinating one. To understand this, you need
to keep in mind that San José was not the original capital of
During the Spanish colonial days, the country’s capital was
the city of Cartago, about 15 miles to the east of San José.When
Costa Rica became an independent country in 1821, the capital was moved
to San José. At that time it was a small, dusty, ramshackle town,
whose economy was based on the hardscrabble agriculture that took place
in the surrounding area.
The lobby of the National Theater, with
marble floors and columns, offers a stunning first impression.
Then, in the middle of the 1800’s, something
amazing happened: The world discovered Costa Rican coffee!
Once that occurred, money started pouring into the Costa Rican
countryside. Within a couple of decades, Costa Rica’s farms and
plantations that had, for centuries, been barely surviving, suddenly
The successful coffee farmers, now flush with cash, typically did
two things with their newfound wealth: 1. They built beautiful
town-homes in the new capital city of San José, mostly in the area
known as Barrio Amon. And, 2, they sent their children to Europe to be educated and to
tour the continent.
The rise of the plantation owners (known
collectively as the “coffee barons”), created a class of sophisticated,
educated and well-traveled residents of Downtown San José. As their
numbers grew, these residents became keenly aware that their city was
an economic and cultural backwater, especially when compared to the
artistic and intellectual centers of Europe. They yearned for the finer
things in life.
After many years
of talk, persistence paid off, and the nation of Costa Rica finally
decided to build a national theater. Initially, it was to be funded by
a tax on the exported coffee. Later, a general tax was imposed to cover
construction costs. Historians tell us that this is an important point,
since it meant that all Costa Ricans helped to pay for the new National
Ornate marble staircases are
decorated with paintings and gold leaf detail.
Construction began in 1891. After three years of
mis-steps, cost overruns, and missed deadlines, Costa Rica hired a
famous Italian architect who was an expert on building theaters. Under
his guidance, the nation created a masterpiece.
When you visit the National Theater today, the
first thing that will strike you, will be the beauty and elegance of
the lobby. The floors and the columns are made from Italian marble,
there are statues from Italian and Costa Rican artists, the ceiling
panels are hand painted, the doors to the interior feature etched
French glass. The effect is breathtaking.
You can visit the lobby for free. From there,
you can go to the gift shop on the right or the coffee shop to the
left. If you want to see the rest of the theater, you must either take
a guided tour or attend a performance.
The most famous painting in
Costa Rica, titled “The Allegory of the Coffee and the Bananas” was
supposed to be a composite of typical scenes in the country.
When you walk through the French doors, into the
interior, you will continue to be enchanted. Majestic marble staircases
go up either side of the interior lobby. The walls are adorned with
gold-leaf details. There are antique bronze lamps, which your tour
guide will be sure to inform you, were electric lamps since the
Theater’s beginning. (Ticos are very proud of the fact that San José
was the third city in the world to have electricity, after New York and
Take the stairs to the second level and you will
see the most famous painting in Costa Rica. It is “The Allegory to the
Coffee and the Bananas,” by Italian artist Aleardo Villa. This image
has been reproduced in several places, most notably on the back of the
5 colones bill (that’s right, a 5 colones bill) that was in circulation
in the 1980’s.
Ticos have a love/hate relationship with this
painting. It is supposed to be a composite of typical scenes in Costa
Rica. But your guide will point out that the artist never set foot in
Costa Rica, and that there are a number of “mistakes” in the painting,
including the bunch of bananas that the artist portrayed upside down.(Note plaque below the painting reads
The Foyer, which is on the
second floor above the lobby, is an elegant room used for receptions
At the top of the stairs is The Foyer, an
elegant room that has been used for meetings, receptions and recitals.
Here are more classical statues, elegant ornaments and angelic ceiling
art. You will also see that the ceiling has a coat of arms for each of
the seven provinces of Costa Rica.
the angelic ceiling art
in the Foyer.
Finally, there is the
auditorium. This is laid out in the style of European opera houses,
with seating in a horseshoe shape, that will accommodate just over 900
theater-goers. This is a small theater, compared to the grand concert
halls of Europe and the U. S. But it’s small size assures you that
there is not a bad seat in the house. No matter where you sit, you are
close and intimate to the performers.
The auditorium is designed in
the classical horse-shoe shape, so that virtually every seat has a
The best way to visit the
National Theater is to see a performance. I can tell you about a
concert I attended a few months back. I was the guest of Jerry Ledin, a
fellow member of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica. Jerry is
an expat from San Diego who has season tickets to the National Symphony
Orchestra performances. We sat on the second level balcony, not far
from the Presidential Box, and had a sweeping view of the entire room.
Costa Rica’s National Symphony Orchestra,
along with a chorus and soloists, bask in the applause after a fabulous
performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
During that concert, I watched
as two symphonies were performed. The first was an exquisite piece by
Joseph Haydn that required only strings. That was just the warm-up act
for the main event: Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
After an intermission, the
entire orchestra assembled, along with a fifty-voice chorus and four
soloists, to perform Beethoven’s last symphony. From the powerful first
movement, to the triumphant final Ode to Joy movement, it was clear why
this work has inspired millions for nearly two centuries. I found
myself shaking as Costa Rica’s National Symphony Orchestra brought the
work to its exciting conclusion.
U. S. President John F. Kennedy, makes his
way through a cheering crowd and arrives at the National Theater,
The National Theater of Costa
Rica hosts more than classical music. During any month, you may find
performances of Japanese music, plays, folkloric dance numbers done by
Costa Rican school children, or conversations with noted speakers such
as Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias. The Theater has been the venue
for meetings with U. S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
On the evening of October 21st,
1897, thousands of citizens of San José crowded the dusty streets and
sidewalks near the new National Theater of Costa Rica. This was the
night of the grand opening.
It was a glittering event that
was attended by the city’s elite citizens, by visiting diplomats, and
by military men in full dress uniform. Costa Rica’s president, Rafael
Iglesias, and his wife, decided to walk from their house to the
theater, and they were cheered by the crowd.
The performance that night was
an opera version of “Faust” by the renowned Aubry French Opera Company.
By all reports, it was a great success. . . . the first of many great
successes at the National Theater.
Members of the Costa Rican National Symphony
Orchestra pose in front of a statue of Ludwig von Beethoven.
The National Theater is one of
the most treasured buildings in the country. Costa Ricans of all
classes take great pride in it. For visitors to the Costa Rica and for
expats living here, I will tell you this: If you care about Costa Rica,
if you want to learn about the people, if you want to learn a little
about their history and about their culture, the National Theater of
Costa Rica is a must-see.
The National Theater of Costa
Rica is located between the Plaza de la Cultura and Avenida Segundo
(2nd Avenue). The Theater faces Calle 3 (3rd Street) which is a
pedestrian walkway at this point. It is open to the public from 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m. Guided tours in different languages are scheduled throughout
the day, and cost $10 U.S. To learn about upcoming performances, visit
the Theater’s website at: teatronacional.go.cr
_ _ _
Michael mentioned the restaurant at
the Teatro. It's called the Alma de
Café (Soul of Coffee) and is an excellent restaurant. It's a good
place for lunch or to reconnoiter after taking the Teatro Tour or after
just walking around San José. Here you can have a full lunch or just a
great cup of Costa Rican coffeewith one of their dynamite desserts.
Section of the Main Curtain
in January some press reports were released stating that the collection
of curtains at the Teatro, some 38 of them including the main curtain
and each 10x12 meters or 33x40 feet, were being evaluated for
restoration. These drapes were brought to Costa Rica from Italy and
France in 1897 when the Teatro was first finished and are, in and of
themselves, excellent representation of European art work, so much so
that it is expected to require ten people for one year to restore
one curtain properly.
like a budget problem to me. The Teatro is now seeking recognition by
the U.N. as an international historic site which might raise enough
support to accomplish the restoration.
Many thanks to Michael Miller for sharing his
article with us. Michael does an excellent job of taking San José out
of the ordinary and bringing it up close and personal. If you really
want to understand the culture in the Costa Rican capital and the
country better, get a copy of Michael's walking guide at Amazon/Kindle
Real San Jose or at any of the major booksellers in San José.
I believe that I've mentioned, a few hundred times,
that Costa Ricans love fiestas. So, what could be more enticing to a
Tico than a good reason to party while heating up their Latin blood to
an emotional high on romance. Both of those come together on
Valentine's Day, celebrated here like in most places, on February 14
doesn't seem to be a single name for this widely celebrated, working
holiday in Latin America. In Costa Rica it's often called El día
de los Enamorados (Day of the Lovers). In other parts of
Latin America it may be called “Día de San Valentín” or “Día
del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship). On this day
Ticos, like Gringos, give each other many greeting cards expressing
amor or friendship. GG saw a report recently that said there will be as
more than 200 million cards exchanged in the U.S. alone, making
Valentine's Day the second largest card exchange day of the year after
The story of Valentine's Day is nearly 2,000 years
old but is as mysterious as Saint Valentine himself. The history of
this day goes back even to pre-Christianity periods in ancient Roman
times when a "festival of fertility" called Lupercalia (I can imagine
what went on at those fiestas) was celebrated by the Romans in
mid-February from the 13th to the 15th (love those 3-day Bacchanalias).
Enter Christianity. By the third century the
struggle between the new religion and the tottering Roman Empire was in
full conflict. Many of the early saints were martyrs as a result but
the public records from that period were understandably vague and
incomplete, as were the Church's. Apparently the early Church records
do reveal, however, that there were three different men designated as
saints who were named Valentinus and who were martyred by the Romans.
The legend that developed may be a composite of at least two of them.
Actually there were as many as a dozen
martyred saints in the Roman Church records with the name Valentinus so
it might be forgiven that it was not clear as to who the character in
the legend was. There was even a Pope Valentine but almost nothing is
known of him as he reigned for only 40 days back in the ninth century.
The most popular legend has it that Valentinus (a
Latin word meaning worthy, strong or powerful) was a priest
in the third century who defied Emperor Claudius II by helping people
escape the torture that was often administered in Roman prisons. Beyond
that, Valentinus also married Roman soldiers against the will of the
emperor. Claudius evidently believed that soldiers who didn't marry
made better soldiers (well, at least that should make them angrier
soldiers). The story goes that Valentine was executed in one of the
Roman prisons after falling in love with the daughter of one of his
captors and that he sent her a note just before his demise that ended
"From your Valentine" (at that time priests as suitors were common as
Church-imposed celibacy didn't come about until almost 1,000 years
But the romantic celebration of Valentine's Day
really didn't start until the 14th century (1375 to be precise) when
Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem for King Richard II who was in love with
Anne of Bohemia. Evidently some Europeans have long held that February
14 is the day that birds begin the new spring and summer season by
getting together to mate. Geoff believed it anyway and he referred to
it in the poem "The Parliament of Fowls", which he wrote in
honor of the marriage of Richard, the boy king (It's good to be King)
to the beautiful Anne.
Heavy duty public celebration of Valentine's
Day, i.e., exchange of cards and flowers and gifts and romance-speak
and public adornment of stores and restaurants, didn't come about until
the mid-1800's. Yet flowers have been a common expression of love on
this day for centuries. Chocolates and other candy, as well as stuffed
animals also are important as gifts.
Roses predominate as the
flower of choice on Valentine's but GG didn't know until recently (I've
led a sheltered life) that the color of the rose should be chosen
carefully, to wit: red roses say you love her as a lover (probably not
a good choice for your landlady especially when the landlord is
around); pink is a lighter form of admiration; white roses signify
purity, innocence, sympathy or spirituality; yellow roses are
"platonic" and are intended for a good friend. Orange roses supposedly
express stronger romantic ideas like passion and desire (hmmm, even
more than the red?).
Did a Romantic Tico Crab Do This
(I see no footprints)?
But flowers and chocolates and stuffed animals are
sometimes not enough. Many Ticos and other Latin Americans send flowery
text messages that are quite ardent and even sometimes border on the
risqué. Here are some examples:
"I lived without knowing you and when I met you
I understood that I had not lived."
"You are my dream, you are my illusion, you are a rose sprouting in my
"Do not be afraid to be naked because I will clothe you with love."
"I would like to be a butterfly to fly to you, and tell you, beautiful
life, that I am dying for you."
"I would like to be wine to be with you, I would like to be a glass to
kiss your mouth."
When the sayings become overly ardent or even
risqué, they are known as piripos, a term used widely across
Latin America but not always appreciated, rightly so, by many women
(see What's-in-a-Word section below).
So I guess I'll be careful of the color of the
roses, especially those orange ones all the while refraining from the
Better yet, a bouquet of more common flowers for the
landlady will keep me out of trouble.
material given in this section is offered as news information only and
does not indicate GGC confirmation or denial of the accuracy of the
treatment or of the efficacy of the product nor a recommendation to
pursue it, nor can we or do we guarantee the efficacy of the results
nor the validity of the conclusions proffered. (How's that for a
Sticky Plaque and Prickly Pears
I hope I can remember enough of the facts to write
them into this article.
It is a truism to say that people's memory
changes as they become older. No kidding Dick Tracy. GG for one can
verify the loss of short term memory. It's sometimes, not always,
rather humorous to realize I can still remember what I had for lunch at
La Tour D'Argent in Paris in 1973 but not what I did with my house keys
ten minutes ago (of course, the former was rather memorable and the
latter just frustrating).
Medical science continues to do research on why this
phenomenon occurs and they now attribute it to the formation of a
"sticky plaque" that deposits on the memory parts of the brain with
age. Rather an unscientific term don't ya think. And no further
explanation of what it is and how it got there has yet been proffered,
e.g. tar from smoking or caramel from too much sugar etc. Well,
actually, they did mention the presence of an abundance of beta
amyloids, whatever they are.
Nopal, Chumbera or Prickly Pear. Growing
(top), Ripe Fruit (center), Pared (bottom)
This sticky plaque affects brains in both
Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients. But the good news is that a
recent study by the Universities of Malta and Bordeaux suggests that
the buildup of the plaque can be retarded, perhaps reversed, by the
chemicals occurring in a couple of naturally growing foodstuffs, namely
brown seaweed and prickly pears.
Of course studies like this aren't normally
conducted right off the bat with humans and this one wasn't either.
Enter the humble fruit fly. Researchers genetically modified fruit
flies to have Alzheimer's symptoms and then treated the brewer's yeast
with extract from the two plants. The brown seaweed increased the lives
of the fruit flies by two days and the nopal increased it by four days.
Evidently one day in the life of a fruit fly is equal to one year in
the life of a human (but how in the hell do you monitor the life of a
fruit fly, do you tag 'em)?
Brown seaweed, something I used to curse as a boy
fishing in New England because of losing fishing lures and bait in the
sea grass, doesn't strike me as interesting on a dinner plate; but then
I've never really had brown seaweed prepared by a knowledgeable chef
and I presume there are dudes who are knowledgeable in this regard.
The other fruit mentioned in the study was the
prickly pear, also known in Latin America as chumbera or,
more commonly, nopal. Nopal is named after the cactus upon
which the fruit grows. This fruit is indigenous to the Americas and is
common in dessert type environments from the U.S. Southwest all the way
down to the desserts of South America. It also can be grown in tropical
areas in direct sun such as Costa Rica and is reported in the
literature as being grown here.
Like brown seaweed I can't say as I've ever
knowingly tried prickly pear either but the article sent me scouring
Quepos for a sample. I first tried the feria (outdoor fresh market) but
no luck there. There were none to be found in the supermarkets either
so I went to the owner of a local fruit and vegetable store (Tienda
Cosecha) that has a wide variety of vegetable and fruit products and he
told me... "no se amigo", he doesn't know either.
So while the fruit is reported to be grown in Costa
Rica, no one in Quepos seems to know of it. Sounds like a trip to one
of San Jose's larger markets is in order. I'll report more later (if I
can remember to).
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many
of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome,
charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in
one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” ― Mark Twain
Answer to Que Es Eso
No, your eyes aren't fooling
you, that is a nun fighting a bull. Of course, the "fighting"
that is going on is harmless (at least to the bull) and you might
notice that the bull is young, very young.
Injuring the animal in any way has been outlawed in
Costa Rica for a long time but getting into the ring with a bull and
teasing it in a mock fight is still a popular activity at many fiestas
including the annual Fiesta de Quepos.
The nun's name is Hermana
Aracelly Salazar and the occasion of her fight was the 2016 Zapote
Christmas Festival. Teletica, a local TV station had issued a challenge
to the general public to participate in the bull fighting and Sister
Fearless signed up.
When not "doing pastoral and religious education
work at the Oblate Sisters of Providence, in Siquirres" sister is an
avid futbol (soccer) fan. When not kicking the ball around, Sister
Aracelly hosts a TV show on a religious channel to relive the national
(soccer) team’s best moments, with thousands tuning in every Saturday
to hear her analysis.
"Vamos sele..." (that's kinda like "let's go
national team" which is called the selection or sele).
A flirtatious remark, flattery. Echar piripos a,
make a flirtatious remark to.
This is a favorite word used to clean up bad
language. If you watch local TV in English with Spanish subtitles, this
is the word almost exclusively used to translate the f word as well as
other nasties. The official Spanish to English translation is "curse"
or "damn it", but that doesn't due justice to the tenor of the typical
script coming out of Hollywood these days.
Location:Top of Manuel
Antonio Hill, Promerica Shopping Center Second Floor Next to Emilio's
Rest. Hours:3-10 PM Daily Parking:Ample Around the Base of the Building. Contact:Tel.: 506-2777-9334, Email: N/A Website: N/A, Facebook: Yes
Reviewing ROMEOS:Alma L., Jerry C.,
F., Lucius H., Bob N.
This is a new restaurant in Manuel Antonio that
builds itself as a tapas bar but actually offers considerably more.
The view, which is of the Manuel Antonio rock islands is as good as it gets
with the exception that the angle excludes the sun itself at sunset
(it's behind Punta Quepos out of view). But the panorama of the jungle,
Punta Catedral at the National Park and the Pacific Ocean is always
stunning from whatever angle (see photo right taken from their Facebook
page - our ). We came early and captured the prime table in the
protruding corner of the room with the best overlook.
The decor at Picador is plain, with wooded tables
and simple seating (but seating that is more flexible than the
stereotypical hard wood chairs offered in restaurants here) and little
in the way of table decorations or adornment about the room. The words
that come to mind are modern, sleek, functional.
The ROMEO Group voted a composite score of 4.0
sloths for atmosphere.
The menu is also sleek and simple with a series
appetizers (tapas) and a list of maybe a dozen or so entrées, much of
it offered parillada (grilled) style. Several of us started with
appetizers, three of us choosing a small tapas breadboard with about
four different cheeses (I recognized a hard Parmesan, Brie and a soft
cheese of the Camembert family). Also included were a couple of small
pieces of ham like prosciutto. The board was served with small, warm,
soft bread rolls - all was delicious. (A second bread was served after
the main course and we noted that both breads were not standard Tico
fare - they either make them themselves of get them somewhere special)
The only disappointment with the menu was a
of missing items - there was no lamb for the souvlakia (lamb is hard to
find in Costa Rica) and when one ROMEO asked for the lobster parillada,
there was no lobster to be had either.
GG and two others selected a grilled
seafood entrée and what came was a bowl full of assorted items like a
piece of blackened fish, whole small calamari, clams, mussels, a crab
(one of those small ones from which you can never extract any meat -
must be there for flavor) and a couple of very large shrimp (unpeeled -
another Tico ritual practice). The herb sauce that basted the seafood
was excellent, especially when the excess was absorbed with the bread.
One of the pleasant surprises we received
during the course of our meal was a finger bowl (photo left) after the
grilled seafood course. A common practice among many fine restaurants
of the world, I can't remember ever being offered one in this area or
even in San José for that matter. This finger bowl was laced with mint
and lime slices.
The dessert menu was a bit limited but
we did manage to test a reasonably good crème brûlée.
The ROMEOs gave Picador 4.5 sloths for
Value Index = 118
Our two waiters, Andre and Ignacio were very friendly, attentive
and helpful. We thought the music a bit loud (it may be a generation
thing) and they turned it down immediately. We came up with a composite
score of 5.0 for service, the highest possible. That yielded an average
score for atmosphere, food quality and service of 4.5 sloths out of a
maximum of 5.
For my tapas board appetizer, the grilled seafood
entrée, the crème brûlée, a soft drink and an espresso coffee my bill
came to 29,214 colones (about $52) including the legally requisite 23%
tax and service charges. The ROMEOs gave a composite score for cost of
3.8$ which yields a value index of 4.5/3.8x100= 118
Individual comments from ROMEOs: "Creative and
decorative in their food presentation", "Service is fantastic!", "Food
well above MA average", "Excellent Value", "Comfortable chairs" (Amen -
GG), "Fantastic view!", "Disappointed in no lobster".
The ROMEO Group has no reservations in
Picador for an excellent meal at a reasonable price in a very pleasant
Chronicles Novel and E-Books Now Available!
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