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¿Que Es Eso?

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In This Issue:

1. Broken News (All the News That's Fit to Reprint: 1. Church of San Blas Open Again; 2. Costa Rica Takes Home Five Medals from Pan-American Games; 3. Uber Suggests Ride Verification; 4. "Sticks" Disappearing; 5. Walking to See La Virgen; 6. Guaro Death Toll Rises.

2. Economic Drumbeat (CR Business Happenings): 1. Gasoline Price Up (Then Down); 2. Unemployment Up; 3. Fallout From the New Tax Law (Health Workers Strike, Debit Cards Decline); 4. Airports Development; 5. Boston Scientific Success Story.

3. Latin America Update (Major Events In Neighboring Countries): 1. Argentina - Peso Plummets; 2. Brazil - Like Daughter, Like Father; 3. Colombia Exchange Rate Record Low; 4. Nicaragua - Danny's Ditch Not Yet Dead

4. Rumble and Weather Talk: 1. Rumble - A Minor Bump.

5. Feature 1: Independence Day (Nearing the 200 Year Mark)

6. ¿Que Es Eso Department: Weird Fruits Department.

7. Feature 2: Why I Love Quepos (Let Me Count the Ways)

8. Health Stuff: Inquiring Minds Want to Know (more on the book Grain Brain) Chapter 2 The Sticky Protein (Gluten).

9. GGC Bookshelf and More: Books from GGC Publications, Golden Gringo T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs as Well as Suggested Books from the Quepos-Manuel Antonio Writers Group.

10. What's-in-a-Word: Answer to Que Es Eso + Another Weird Fruit.

11. ROMEO Corner: Raphael's Terrazas, Manuel Antonio

Wisdom of the Ages

“And there was this sweet-looking little old lady with her white hair in a bun and everything, the typical grandmother type, and she was swearing her head off. I guess Alzheimer's had brought out her inner sailor.”
― Vivian Vande Velde, Remembering Raquel

There are eleven official holidays in Costa Rica that occur in nine different months. One of the most important is Independence Day on September 15 when the country celebrates its separation from Spain in 1821.

The Costa Rican flag was first adopted in 1848 some 27 years after independence from Spain. It was designed by Pacifica Fernandez, the wife of the then president of Costa Rica.


The design was heavily influenced by the French Tricolor at that time which was the symbol of the French Revolution.


More on the flag below.

¡Feliz Día de Independencia Amigos!

Broken News
(All the News That's Fit to Reprint)

Church of San Blas is Open Again


San Blas - Top - In 1950; Center and Bottom - The Renovated San Blas

One of the oldest structures in Costa Rica, dating to the early days of the Spanish occupation of Latin America, has recently been renovated and reopened.


The Church of San Blas which dates back to the mid-1850's, has been severely damaged by fire and earthquakes and then reconstructed at least three times. The latest reconstruction restored the church from the severe structural damage it incurred in 2012 as a result of the big one, the second biggest earthquake ever recorded in Costa Rica. It occurred in Samara on the Nicoya peninsula and only about 35 (road) miles from the church (less distance as the vibrations travel).


The church came about as a result of two Spanish missionaries visiting the area in 1523. They convinced the local natives (Chorotega Indians), particularly their King, a fellow named Nicoya (now also the name of the town and province where the church is located) that the church would help "guide the souls of his people".


The new church in 1544 was dedicated to San Blas (Saint Blaise, an Armenian Bishop and martyr of the fourth century), an appropriate name considering it's history.


The original structure, with thatched roof, was destroyed by fire not long after its construction and suffered two other serious damages from earthquakes between 1827 and the 2012 disaster. After the latest restoration the locals put together a fitting reopening fiesta to celebrate their history (photos above left - that's an orchestra at the bottom of the room).


Costa Rica Takes Home Medals


The 18th Pan American games were held for two weeks ending August 11 in Lima, Peru. These Inter-American summer sport games have been held every four years since 1951.


Costa Rica came away with a total of five medals including a gold won by Tica Andrea Vargas in the 100 meter hurdles. The four bronze medals were one each in men's and women's Racquetball, one in women's futbol and one in women's taekwondo. It's not unusual for the larger countries to dominate the medal taking and this year the top four medal grabbers were: United States (293 medals), Brazil (171), Canada (152) and Mexico (136).


The next games will be held in Santiago, Chile in 2023.


Uber Suggests Ride Verification


The transportation service known worldwide as Uber has taken strong hold in Costa Rica. Recently it scored the highest rating of all public transportation modes available to Ticos, including licensed taxis, pirate taxis as well as bus and train services. GG has used Uber half a dozen times in San José and never been disappointed. The cars are newer, cleaner and the drivers friendlier than average. Friends tell me the service is also now available in the Quepos area although I've not had the occasion to use it here.


The Uber Verification Screen

The system is a natural for the modern age. You call up the app on your cell phone and it automatically locates you. You indicate a destination by name. You know exactly how much you're going to pay before you order the taxi because it calculates, via their GPS based system, the shortest distance between your pickup location and your destination. That also eliminates (or makes irrelevant) the unplanned tour that some regular taxis like to give you to run up the meter.


When you finish your ride the cost is confirmed on your phone and an option offered you to tip the driver by any amount you wish or nothing. The total cost is then charged to the debit or credit card you had put on file when you opened the account. Voila, the process is clean and easy, no need to carry extra cash.


Uber's success has, of course, attracted imitators of all kinds, both valid competitors and also some crooks, so Uber recently announced an improvement in security measures. When you contract the car you will not only be given the make of the car that is coming for you and the driver's name but also a picture of the driver and the license plate on the car. Check these and there's no question that you've got the right car.


The screen-print above right is what you'll see, not only the minutes away your vehicle is, but also the verification details mentioned above.


"Sticks" Disappearing


Most of those Uber cars mentioned above have automatic transmissions. So do almost any other type of automobile these days. A recent article in a local electronic newspaper focused on the fact that there are very few manual shift cars sold anymore and the old ones are dying out quickly.


I read this article recently just after taking a very pleasant two-hour trip to southern Costa Rica to do a little more research on the Mystery Spheres for an upcoming book. My good friend offered his car, which he long ago named "Honigan" (a 1993 Hyundai Excel) in proper deference to that ages-old tradition that states that all things mechanical have hidden personalities and must be named.


No Mas, Amigos

Then my friend suggested I drive Honigan. Honigan has a "stick" or manual transmission. I only emphasize the word with quotes for the benefit of the younger readers who may never have seen a stick shift.


GG had a ball with Honigan - it was like being 16 again. What a blast. It brought my mind back to my first car (1959, I was 16 and I bought, for $90 in a junk yard, a 1952 Studebaker with a column-mounted three-speed-plus--reverse stick shift. I loved that car, it's still part of me - it was a rite of passage thing.


The article further stated that some major brands here are now offered, in all models, only with auto trannies; these include Porsche, BMW and Subaru. And even the others are now selling a higher and higher percentage of autos: Volkswagen (90%), Ford (80%), Audi/Nissan (75%) and Hyundai (65%).


The Chronicles last month noted that the last VW Beetle had come off the assembly line in Mexico. Now we see the stick shift disappearing - is there no respect for nostalgia anymore?


Walking to See La Virgen


August 2 was once more " La Virgen de Los Angeles" day, a national holiday in Costa Rica that pays tribute to a believed miracle, the miracle of "La Negrita" that is described HERE. She's also the country's patron saint.


This is the day that a national pilgrimage of anywhere from one to two million people march to Cartago to pay homage to this image. The pilgrimage is called "la romeria" and is the result of a tradition that goes back to the year 1635 or 384 years ago.


The romeria terminates, not surprisingly, at the Basilica Virgen de Los Angeles in Cartago (photo).


Guaro Death Toll Rises


Last month the Chronicles reported that 23 people had died as a result of drinking guaro liquor contaminated (denatured) with methanol. This month the authorities updated their statistics to say that 26 people have now died, 19 men and 7 women, as a result of this poisoning. The total includes 23 Costa Ricans, one Nicaraguan, and two homeless with undetermined nationality.


The police also reported that there have been so far some 74 people registered in hospitals with guaro-methanol poisoning (including the 26 fatalities).


What this reporter is still waiting to here is how does that much product, sold under nine different brands, all get contaminated by the same chemical? What was the source of the methanol or ethanol/methanol mixture? What's the mechanism by which it was added to the guaro (i.e., who did it) and how did it get used across nine brands?


¡Pura Vida!




Economic Drumbeat
(Costa Rica Business Happenings)

Not all the economic news every month is good every month. For example, take a look at the first two items below. On the other hand, things could be much worse (for example see the sections on Colombia and Argentina in the Latin American Update section below).


Gasoline Prices Up


Neither crude oil nor products refined from oil are produced in Costa Rica and the price of gasoline here reflects that.


ARESEP, the government organ that regulates pricing and distribution of these products, increased the price of gasoline in August. Super went up 4.7% to 690 colones per liter (at 570 colones per dollar that calculates to $4.55 per gallon), "regular" (91Oct+) went up to 664 ₡/liter ($4.38/gal) and diesel went up 2.7% to 541₡/liter ($3.57/gal).


Just for fun I looked up the current price of those commodities in my old stomping grounds, Florida, and got the following: Super: $3.16; Regular: $2.55 and Diesel: $2.88. Although I understand that gas prices have been increasing over the last year in the U.S. Tranquilo amigos, it could be worse.


Update 29 August - Oops, the price changed again - it went down to 632 ₡/liter ($4.17/gal) for Super, 609 ₡/liter ($4.02/gal) for Regular and 526 ₡/liter ($3.47/gal) for diesel. That's almost 10% up and down in less than a month - wazzatallabout?


Unemployment Up


The second quarter 2019 unemployment figures are in for that period, April through June, and unemployment in Costa Rica was measured at 11.9%, up from 11.3% in the first quarter. What was that about reactivating the economy here?


Fallout from the New Tax Law


Health Workers Strike. Last month's edition noted the implementation of the new VAT tax law on July 1. In early August the union representing some 57,000 health care workers called a forty-eight hour strike to protest the law which changes how the bonuses are paid from a percent of salary to a fixed amount in order "to avoid the exponential growth of that remuneration amid the deficit affecting the Treasury".


The strike was extended to eight days after which the government and the unions came to an agreement that the issue would be settled by the Tribunal Contencioso-Administrativo (Contentious-Administrative Court). That's a new court to me. Both parties supposedly agree that whatever the court decides both would accept. One press report said it might take as much as five years (!) for the court to resolve the problem. Is that anything like kicking the can down the road? More to be revealed.


Debit Cards Decline. If the economy is slowing down, as the unemployment rate in the article above would suggest, then it's reasonable to expect that people are tightening their collective economic belt in response. So it was no surprise that another recent press report noted that the number of debit cards in circulation in Costa Rica has dropped 5% in the first four months of this year to about 5.7 million (not bad in a country with 5.0 million people). The money balance in the accounts to which these cards were associated was 4.237 trillion colones ($7.43 billion) which also was down by about 3%.


At the same time, also not surprisingly, the number of credit cards within the last year or so has increased by almost 15% to about 3,000,000 and the total outstanding debt on those cards showed a similar percentage increase to about ¢1,233,037 million colones (about $2.16 billion).


Airport Development


Artist's Rendition - New Quepos Airport (QXP)

The government recently updated the projects underway, or at least committed to, that are an effort to continue upgrading local and international airports in Costa Rica. Just for definition purposes, a local airport here (like Quepos-QXP and several others) is called an Aeródromo while an international airport, of which we have three; Juan Santamaria in San José (SJO), Daniel Oduber in Liberia (LIR) and Tobías Bolaños in Pavas near San José (SYQ) is called simply an airport.


The government announced some $158 million in projects underway including about $15 million in several Aeródromo projects including Quepos. It will be nice to see the Quepos project finished (runway is now usable but taxi ways and the new terminal are not complete) after more than three years in the works and a contractor change. The expected finished project is shown in the artist's rendition above. Quepos airport is important for at least one reason. It's a major feeder for tourism to the country's most visited national park, Manuel Antonio.


Boston Scientific Success Story


Boston Scientific is one of the companies mentioned in a recent GGC article about the technical renaissance going on in "Costa Rica's Silicone Valley", an area we know as the Central Valley. In fifteen years operation in Costa Rica Boston Scientific has developed two plants with an employee count of 4,500. The company hired more than 1,800 in 2018 and expects to augment that by a few hundred more this year.


The company has now achieved the status of being the largest medical device manufacturer in Costa Rica. It's products are used in medical areas such as: Endoscopy, Urology and Pelvic Health, Peripheral Intervention, Electro-physiology, Interventional Cardiology and Neuromodulation. Among the job opportunities it offers are: engineering (mechanics, electromechanics, electronics, materials, electrical, industrial, chemical and mechatronics), finance and accounting.




Latin America Updates
(Major Events In Neighboring Countries)

Argentina - Peso Plummets


The Argentine Peso recently hit an all-time low against the U.S. dollar at 60.3P/$. I seem to recall a conversion rate in the mid-teens some five years ago when I was in Buenos Aires for nearly a month that was around 15P/$. To get an idea of how bad it's going recall that in 2002 the Peso was at a parity with the USD: 1:1.


There are elections looming and the current president, Mauricio Macri, a non-Peronista came in second in a primary after his rival, Alberto Fernandez, a Peronista with a running mate named Christine Kirchner (yes, the former president and Peronista that has been indicted for corruption) took #1 position. Macri and Fernandez will compete for the presidency in October.


The falling in the value of the peso prompted a rush to buy dollars. Devaluing of the currency is expected to cause inflation.


Brazil - Like Father, Like Daughter


A Brazilian drug cartel chief, Clauvino da Silva - also known as "Shorty", recently tried a clever way to get out of the Gericinó prison near Rio de Janeiro where he was incarcerated. He put on a lifelike mask and posed as his own daughter so he could walk out the door after a visit by the daughter.


Evidently his 19 year old daughter brought him the mask and he donned it, as well as a wig and her clothes in the attempt. The guards were tipped off by his nervousness and he was apprehended (photo left as hewas handcuffed - yes, that's him not her). The daughter is being investigated by authorities as an accomplice.


Shorty should have gone into acting; the curtain calls are easier.


Colombia - Record Low Exchange Rate


Keeping right up there (or maybe right down there) with Argentina, the exchange rate for the Colombian peso also hit an all-time low last month at 3,480 COP/$ (yup, that's right, one Colombian Peso is worth $.00029).


Said one press report: "After one year in office, President Ivan Duque appears unable to boost economic growth while exports, as well as the domestic market, struggle to take off." In the meantime press reports also said that Duque's controversial finance minister, Alberto Carrasquilla: "...legalized a tricky investment plan for the municipalities when he was the minister of former President Alvaro Uribe. He then created a company to enrich himself with this same plan, while ten percent of Colombia’s municipalities nearly went bankrupt."


Corruption is, unfortunately, all too alive and well in Latin America.


Nicaragua - Danny's Ditch Not Yet Dead


The funding for the proposed canal (Danny's Ditch) linking the Caribbean and the Pacific through the center of Nicaragua disappeared recently. The project was projected to cost at least $50 billion (and maybe as much as twice that). The whole project was premised on the financial resources support of one Wang Ying, a Chinese multi-billionaire (GG didn't know they had those in a communist socialist republic) who ended up getting ditched by the Chinese equities market and losing 85% of his net worth. Ying withdrew his support and the government concession ran out of time. End of story, right?


Uh-uh. Not to be set back by minor inconveniences, Sr. Daniel Ortega, the President of Nicaragua recently announced that “We have not renounced the great interoceanic canal. “Environmental studies, which had already been submitted, are being prepared again.” I guess it's hard to give up on such a project. Might it be because in a $100 billion dream project, might it be easy to siphon off a billion or so, let's say, for family use?


Costa Rican relations with its northern neighbor have not been good lately. The CR government recently refused to accept a new Nicaraguan ambassador prompting Managua to send the ambassador to Turkey for now (GG suspects there were few countries that would accept this honor). Adding fuel to the fire, the Nicaraguan army pursued a man of Nicaraguan nationality into Costa Rican territory and reportedly killed him. San José issued a strong protest which Managua blew off.


¡Solo Bueno!




Rumble and Weather Talk
(Shaky Happenings and Weather Observations On or About the Pacific Rim)

Rumble - A Minor Bump


It was just about 3:15 PM on Tuesday, August 6. GG had just grabbed a snack, (mamones and a soft drink - Pepsi's H2OH) and was settling into his Sarchi rocker in front of the TV to take a break from the grind of writing the Chronicles (yuk,yuk). The TV was showing some movie depicting a major earthquake and buildings falling down. At the same time I felt the rocker begin to shake in that familiar way that tells you it's going to get worse. It did, but not severely and it didn't last but 10 seconds. A relatively minor bump in the history of quakes.


UCR RED Map - Red Star is Epicenter

When this kind of thing happens I'm in the habit of running to me puter to check out the USGS (United States Geological Survey) website as it's a good bet these boys and girls will have the tremor identified within minutes, which they did again in in this case. I also checked the "RED", i.e., the seismological center at the University of Costa Rica. Both systems located the epicenter at a depth of over 100km near a town called Pital, about 35 miles north of San José (i.e., as the bump travels). The RED reported originally that the Richter level was 5.4 but later reduced it to 5.1 while the USGS meter came in at 4.8.


Somebody needs to re-calibrate their machine amigos, let's get together on this stuff.


From the Press later: "...no reports of casualties or damage" - that's the kind we like.


¡Pura Vida!

Check Out Recent Earthquakes Around the World Posted by the U.S. Geodetic Survey: Recent Quakes



Search the Golden Gringo Chronicles Archives for Topics That Interest You


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¡Pura Vida!



Costa Rica Independence Day
(Nearing the 200 Year mark)

As mentioned in the header section above, September 15 is an important holiday in Costa Rica, the equivalent of July 4th in the States. But Ticos can't be expected to limit their celebration to one day and GG can forecast with certainty that the red, white and blue flags, bunting, hats and anything else that can be color-modified to be patriotic will be in full force throughout the entire month of September. This is the country's 198th anniversary of Costa Rica's independence (can't wait for the 200th blow-out in two years - 2021).


Costa Rica Flags Over the Years

The history of Costa Rica's national flag is presented in the photo to the right. It includes the early periods in the country's history when there was an attempt to form a United States of Central America (it dissolved about 27 years after independence in 1848). The National Coat of Arms was added to the flag after that change. The flag series also represents the periods before a republic was founded. The current constitution for the Second Republic was established 71 years ago (1948) after a difficult civil war; it was at that time that the military was abolished.


The flag with the red, white and blue stripes has essentially been the same for 171 years with the exception that the National Shield, also called the "Pabellón" or Coat of Arms, on the flag was revised in 1964 to eliminate weapons on the shield. The National Shield (below left) has been described this way:


"The National Seal of Costa Rica features three green volcanoes representing the nation’s three principal mountain ranges, a distinct Central Valley, the two oceans of the Pacific and Caribbean that border the nation, and merchant ships that symbolize commerce and the country’s maritime history. A rising sun represents Costa Rica’s prosperity, and the seven stars in the sky are for the country’s seven provinces. Two myrtle branches, above the words “Republica de Costa Rica”, symbolize Costa Rica’s peaceful nature. The seal is framed in gold with small circles that represent coffee, known in Costa Rica as “golden beans”.



The colors of the flag can be construed, like similar flags in other countries, as the blue meaning the designation of the two coasts that border the country, Caribbean and Pacific. The white might be thought of as the land in between the two seas and the red, like in many flags, could represent the blood of patriots upon which the democracy was founded.


But Costa Ricans see a deeper meaning in this flag, described by one patriot this way:


Let the Parades Begin
Desfiles de Faroles (Lanterns Parade)

"The blue color stands for the sky, opportunities, idealism and perseverance. The white color stands for peace, wisdom and happiness. The red color stands for the blood spilled in defense of the country, as well as the warmth and generosity of the people."


And fear not amigos, there will be a parade. Actually there will be dozens and dozens of them in virtually every community of size all over the country. One of the things GG finds so appealing about this time is the Tico practice of dressing up their kids in the country's colors (photo right - I think Costa Rican kids are the cutest kids in the world).


Also, notice the little sign being carried by the boy in the background that says: "RESPETO" or RESPECT; not a bad idea to instill in a youngster.


There is another kids activity that is special to this holiday, a lanterns parade. The original notice of the country's independence was carried by torch from Guatemala to Costa Rica and south by men who ran that distance in a kind of relay. It didn't arrive until almost a month after the actual independence date, i.e., October 13, 1821 (I guess the roads weren't any better then). The torch run is repeated each year with honorary volunteers meeting at the borders to transfer the torch. (see Torch Ceremony link below for more on this)


The kids celebrate the occasion of the lanterns (known in Spanish as Desfiles de Faroles or Parade of Torches) the night of September 14 by constructing sometimes intricate lanterns. They have their own parade and the kiddies receive prizes for the best and most interesting lanterns.


Happy Birthday Costa Rica!


For more on this holiday and Costa Rican history check out these links from our archives:


Independence Day Torch Ceremony

History of Costa Rica: The Modern Era


¡Solo Bueno!


¿Que es Eso? Department (¿What is That?)


jikOK, I'll Give You a Hint, It's a Fruit
but One You're Unlikely to Find
in a U.S. Supermarket


And, Oh Yeah, It's Not an Avocado,
It's Too Small for That


Answer in
section below.


¡Pura Vida!


Why I Love Quepos
(Let Me Count the Ways)

Over the last two and a half years GG has written some two dozen articles for International Living Magazine's several editors. Recently they asked me to write an article on why I liked living in Quepos. What follows is the article I wrote for them. I apologize if you find it a bit smarmy - then again, no I really don't, it's the way I feel about the place. Just accept it as the meanderings of an old, sometimes romantic fool.


(Note: I've edited this version from the original article to adjust for and add whimsical thoughts that came to me when re-reading the original."



Living in Paradise and Loving It
(Why I Love Quepos - Let Me Count the Ways)

I am a 75 year old retired, single, former businessman who in the course of my career, has lived in five U.S. States (Massachusetts, Delaware, Pennsylvania - 2 times, Ohio - 2 times and Florida) and three countries (USA, Belgium and Costa Rica). I retired in 2008 at age 65 and moved from Sarasota, Florida to Quepos on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica where I have lived now for eleven years.

I first encountered Quepos in 2003 because of a recommendation, a suggestion by a couple of Sarasota buddies who raved about the fishing off Quepos. So I sport fished on my first trip and got two sailfish to the boat; very exciting it was indeed. (No permanent harm to the fish because bill fish here are always catch-and-release, no keepers). I have caught Tarpon in Florida when I lived there and catching sailfish is at least as exciting as that. For the seriously inclined fisherman (and woman), more knowledgeable and perspicacious of the sport than GG, there are at least half a dozen game-fish tournaments a year based out of the Quepos' Marina Pez Vela to test your skill.

From 2003 to 2008 I used up over a quarter of a million frequent flier miles, much of which (8 trips in 5 years) was used for visits to Costa Rica. Although I was impressed with the entire country, I always seemed to end up in Quepos and felt particularly comfortable there and in its well-known contiguous neighbor, Manuel Antonio. Being on a beach that was rarely crowded or even busy yet offered a view of the jungle that ran all the way down to the shore, along with glimpses of white-faced monkeys and sloths, had a lot to do with my initial attraction to the place.

I was completely sold by the biodiversity here. The last two times I visited I found it difficult to leave and go back to my home in Florida. That’s when I knew this is where I wanted to be for retirement and I have never regretted the decision to move here.


On a whim I decided to initially try it without a car (after 50 years of continuous car ownership in the States). I told myself: ‘probably just for a few months’. But, to this day, I have never felt the need to own another car in over ten years here. I have valid Costa Rican and Florida driver’s licenses and occasionally I rent a car to explore other parts of Costa Rica but I love being without one and walking around my town.


I can walk to do most of my errands (my doctor likes that) and for longer hauls I simply take the bus or taxi. Local buses are free to those 65+ and long hauls are discounted 25% (e.g., San José, about 100 miles by air conditioned bus, is $6 for me). The money I save on transportation costs has gone into “mad money” that has so far allowed me to visit five other Latin American countries (Colombia-2x, Argentina, Uruguay and several times each to Nicaragua and Panama). I have enjoyed the cultural differences in these other countries very much but none of these other places so far has attracted me as a place to live full time like Costa Rica and Quepos did in the beginning and still do now.


One of the concerns I had about moving to Costa Rica and particularly to a rural area was the ability to get good health care (we septuagenarians have to think about those things). I learned over the decade I've been a resident here that the country offers a good blend of private and public health care. Does the private system have the highest level of technical sophistication that can be found in the U.S.? Probably not but to date, I have not had to use anything that fancy.


Is the public system (called the Caja) limited in its offering (generic drugs for example) and is it burdened by a strong level of bureaucracy? Yes, but I've learned how to work around the bureaucracy. I've been lucky to have been assigned two Caja doctors (Dr. Mojarro, then Dr. Fallas) since I joined in 2012 and they both have been competent, caring individuals who have guided me through three serious problems including two different week-long hospital stays related to congestive heart failure, a badly infected leg from a fall on a mountain trail and pneumonia.


What I love most about living in Quepos is its small-town, laid back friendly atmosphere. I can’t walk three blocks in Quepos without running into someone I know, Tico (Costa Rican) or another expat. Friendliness and exchanging pleasantries is a well-known custom and characteristic of Costa Ricans; Quepoans excel at it (a Quepoan, as you may have guessed, is someone from Quepos).


People ask me “What do you do all day?” Well, there is a seemingly unending variety of things to do such as going to the beach (15 minutes by bus), para-sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, whitewater rafting, catamaran tours, hiking mountain trails, visiting national parks (including the most visited one in Costa Rica – Manuel Antonio) and many tours to waterfalls or a variety of organic farms (things like vanilla, spices, chocolate). Actually, it’s difficult keeping up with all the offerings; tourists always seem to find some I've missed.


But, after doing most of the touristy things more than once, then what?

Read More

Costa Rica has also brought out the writer in me. I wrote my first book about business in 2006 and followed it with two books about Costa Rica and it’s legends in 2013-2016. I’m currently working on a third book about Costa Rica, a tale of Pre-Columbian native life here and some mysterious stone spheres that are peculiar to the southern part Costa Rica that apparently were formed over a thousand years ago. Interestingly enough no-one knows exactly how they were formed from mountain rock into nearly perfect spheres.

I also write a monthly newsletter about living here called the Golden Gringo Chronicles (golden because of my age and also because I was lucky enough to find this place). I’m in the middle of the 133rd GGC monthly edition as I write this. Add to this the fact that I chair a local writers group that has monthly meetings in Manuel Antonio and you can believe I have plenty to keep me busy.

I could not have planned a better, more fitting lifestyle for retirement if I tried, and I am very grateful that I can enjoy it in such a naturally beautiful part of the world.


Yes, I'm sold on Costa Rica and Quepos as the perfect place for retirement. I even put together a t-shirt that says "Quepo en Quepos". "Quepo" is the first person singular form of the Spanish verb "caber" meaning to fit or fit in. Quepo en Quepos means "I fit in Quepos".


That's me, amigos.  


P.S. Both the book and T-shirt are available in the GGC Bookshelf below.


¡Solo Bueno!




Health Stuff

Note: The information 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 a recommendation to pursue it, nor can we or do we guarantee the efficacy of the results nor validity of the conclusions proffered. (How's that for a disclaimer amigos?)



Inquiring Minds Want to Know


Because of a recent, sad experience in losing two of his siblings to Alzheimer's, GG has been doing a little research on the disease and reading a book called Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter. The book claims a startling relationship between carbohydrates and brain dysfunction, particularly dementia and Alzheimer's. I promised to review the book here in the Chronicles chapter by chapter.


The reader might think GG has a monetary relationship with Perlmutter but I don't (he's sold over one million of these books without my help); I just think his cutting edge work, which seems to be collaborated more and more by other independent studies year after year, is important to our understanding of what's important these days that will lead to a healthier life as an older person.


What I do here is simply condense the chapter involved into a list of bullet points in my vernacular; where the good doctor is quoted verbatim I use " " marks. Hope you enjoy them. In the first three months we covered:


a. May - Introduction section.

b. June - Self-Assessment (What Are Your Risk Factors?).

c. July - Chapter 1, Part 1: The Cornerstone of Brain Disease (About Inflammation).

d. August - Chapter 1, Part 2: The Cornerstone of Brain Disease (About Inflammation)


This month we review Chapter 2 - The Sticky Protein (Gluten) and here are the points I extracted:

Has mister Doctor Perlmutter got your attention yet? He's got mine. More on Grain Brain next month.


¡Pura Vida!



Travel Quote of the Month

¡Solo Bueno!


GGC Bookshelf

drfGGC Publications Group is the parent organization that publishes the Golden Gringo Chronicles as well as a number of books and paraphernalia related to the Chronicles and Costa Rica. The GGC Bookshelf also includes works from a number of other authors that belong to the Quepos-Manuel Antonio Writers Group in which GGC has been a founding member.


Here are the books currently on our bookshelf:


jio uio
The Chronicles as a Narrative

Mariposa - English

Mariposa - Español Small Business Guide
Read More Read More Leer más aquí Read More
Overcoming Drinking Making Time Count Spiritual Love Connection Murder or Suicide?
Read More Read More Read More Read More
There's Room for
More on the QMA Writers Group Bookshelf

Keep Writing Amigos!
Getting Around the Capital Retiring in Costa Rica World War II True Story  
Read More Read More Read More  


All of the above books are available on Amazon.com and the "Read More" links above will lead you to them. You can find more detail on all of them on our GGC Publications Page.


GGC Products Store


GGC Publications also offers some accessories and paraphernalia related to the Chronicles and with Costa Rican themes, to wit:






a. Golden Gringo Chronicles with Logo,

b. Official Golden Gringo with Monkey on Banana Hammock,

c. ¡Quepo en Quepos! ("I Fit In Quepos!") with Photo of Quepos,

d. Wanna Monkey Around? - Come on Down! (shown) with Photo of White Faced Monkey,

e. It's OK to be Slothful with photo of Three-Toed Sloth.


The t-shirts are available in several themes, colors, styles and sizes. See them all HERE.


Coffee Mugs:


a. Golden Gringo, b. Wanna Monkey Around?, c. It's OK to be Slothfulgty

See them all HERE:

What's life without a great cup of Costa Rican coffee? And it tastes even better in a Golden Gringo Chronicles mug!


To see ALL the products available in the Golden Gringo Store go here: GGC Store.


¡Solo Bueno!


"Tell me and I forget; teach me and I remember; involve me and I learn"
Benjamin Franklin


Answer to Que Es Eso?


The green fruit in the Que Es Eso section above and the ripe version left is called jocote (ho-ko-tay) and is prevalent around this time of year in Costa Rica, let's say July to September. The jocote goes by many names around the tropical world: purple mombin, red mombin, hog plum, and sinigwela to name a few.


The fruit is about the size of a small plum, has a large inedible nut at it's center and is a member of the cashew family. Just grab one, dust it off and start munching the outside, eating the skin and all and being careful not to crack a tooth on the large nut. The unripe ones can be bitter but they gain sweetness as they ripen (the green ones will turn ripe in a few days on a kitchen counter).




Speaking of seasonal fruit, this time of year brings out another favorite here. Officially their name is rambutan but locals call them mamon chino or mamones. These are basically lychee nuts introduced to Costa Rica by the Chinese laborers that were employed a hundred years ago to build the railroad between Alejuela and Limon. Now you'll find them growing all over the country.


Mamones are sweet and delicious but, like the jocote they have a large, inedible nut at the center.


To read more about mamones go HERE.




ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Raphael's Terrazas, Manuel Antonio


Location: On Manuel Antonio road heading towards the beach just 50 meters down from La Cantina restaurant on the right, next to the Hotel Arboleda.

Hours: Daily: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Parking: Ample on site at the restaurant.

Contact: Tel.: 2777-6310; Email: raphaelsterraza@gmail.com; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/raphaelsterraza


Reviewing ROMEOS: Bob N., Cristina E., Glen N., Julia S.


To Review Our Rating System Go Here: R.O.M.E.O. Rating System


Sunset at the Mogambo Bar

This is the third ROMEO review we've done on this popular eatery during the last seven years. It has not changed much physically doing that time. The restaurant is perched on Manuel Antonio hill and has the classic view of the pacific and the islands guarding MA beach.


The spot also contains a lively night spot called the Mogambo Bar. The view from that perch at sunset is shown at the left.


The dining room is decorated simply (i.e., in the Costa Rican manner) but pleasant and the view is first class Manuel Antonio. The composite score from the ROMEOs for ambiance came in at 4.8 out of 5.0 max.


The menu offered was for lunch only and contained a good selection of seafood dishes, burgers and some classic Latino items such as burritos. I asked to see a dinner menu and that document confirmed there is a more elaborate offering of platters for a bigger meal.


GG decided on a chicken burrito that was very ample and tasty. The only thing I personally knocked a point off for was a small salad on the plate consisting of shredded lettuce, sliced jalapeño and sliced avocado. I like to be warned when the kitchen decides to put heavily spiced items on my plate when I haven't ordered them.


Other ROMEOs had fish dishes including a sauced whitefish in one case and a pescado entero in another. Both were pronounced good. We sample their banana split and tres leche creations for dessert and they also were good.


The composite score for food quality came in at 4.3/5.0.

Value Index= 124


ROMEOs at Work

We were served by seasoned (not with spices but time in his position) gentleman named Paolo who was polite, attentive and friendly. The composite score for service came in at 4.5/5.0. That yielded an average score for ambiance, food quality and service also of 4.5/5.0.


For my chicken burrito and the banana split (God forgive me) plus a gin michalada (ginger ale, limone juice and salt on the rim of the glass) my bill came in at a little over 10,000 colones or about $18. The composite rating for cost came in at 3.6/5.0 (recall that 5 is the most expensive) and gave a Value Index of 4.5/3.6x100=124 which puts Raphael's squarely in the top 1/3 of value for restaurants we've reviewed in the area.


Raphael's Terrazas continues to be an excellent option for a good meal in a beautiful setting.



¡Solo Bueno!



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Pura Vida!

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