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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): a. Figueres is PLN Nominee in Presidential Race; b. Airport Emigration Computer System Fails; c. Record Number of Costa Rican Athletes at Olympic Games.

2. Economic Drumbeat (CR Business Happenings): a Unemployment Improving - 50% is Good?; b. Orange Crop Threatened; c. Expanding Usages of Coffee; d. Exports Growing Again; e. Canada Tourism Sector Since January All But Gone.

3. Latin America Update (Major Events In Neighboring Countries): a. Nicaragua Election Shenanigans.

4. Rumble and Weather Talk: Rumble: a. Medium Sized Jolt from the Cocos/Caribbean Plate; b. Rincon de la Vieja Volcano erupts; Weather: c. Flooding in Quepos.

5. Feature 1: Bridging the Language Gap (Impressions of an English Teacher in Costa Rica)

6. ¿Que es Eso?: Are These Costa Rican Pigeons?

7. Feature 2: Walking Tour of San José (Getting the Best Out of Our Capital City)

8. Health Stuff: a. Goings On In The Vaccine Line; b. "R Rate" Improving

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: a. Answer to Que Es Eso; b. Why is Peru Called Peru?

11. ROMEO Corner: La Luna at Hotel Gaia









Holidays In Cost Rica in July

July 25 - Guanacaste Day is a national, paid holiday and celebrates the day in 1823 when the citizens of the current Province of Guanacaste voted to be a part of Costa Rica rather than Nicaragua. The northern border of Guanacaste today has one of the two busiest border crossings in Costa Rica, Peñas Blancas, into Nicaragua. To read more about Guanacaste Day go HERE.

Incidently, 1823 was only two years after most of Latin America, including Costa Rica declared their independence from Spain.

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


Figueres Is PLN Nominee In Presidential Race


National elections for President and Members of the Assembly (56) will take place on February 6, 2022, only seven months away. This will be Citizen GG`s first election in which he is eligible to vote so I find myself asking enumerable questions about what the parties believe in and how they might bring security and prosperity to the country.


José María Figueres Olsen

The National Liberation Party, or PLN, recently elected José María Figueres Olsen as their nominee. The Figueres family name is very well known in Costa Rica as this particular Figueres served as president from 1994 to 1998 and also because he is the son of José María Hipólito Figueres Ferrer, affectionately known as "Don Pepe". The elder Figueres, Don Pepe, is considered the "father of the peaceful country" because of his work in structuring the Second Republic in 1948-49 and eliminating the military.


Figueres received 37% of the PLN party vote and emerged victorious over four other candidates (a former Minister of Public Works, a former Mayor of Alajuela, a former Legislator from Puntarenas and a political scientist).


The PLN had been dominant in national elections until the last two election cycles when they lost the presidency and control in the Asemblea (PLN is now down to 10 seats out of 56). The last presidential election went to the current incumbent, Carlos Andrés Alvarado Quesada of the Citizens' Action Party (PAC). Alvarado was only 38 years old when he was inaugurated. Presidents under the Costa Rican Constitution are limited to one term and may only run again after waiting out one term; that fact qualifies Figueres since he has`t run for a second term since 1998 but Alvarado must wait out the next term.

Figueres has made it clear that he is running because he is concerned that the PLN and it`s influence is on the decline. The former president, saying that “the rescue of the homeland is at stake”, lists these items as major national issues:


"...the reconstruction of a society devastated by the pandemic, improvisation and lack of direction"

"...one and a half million Costa Ricans living in poverty, almost one million working in the informal sector (paid "under the table" so to speak - Ed.), more than four hundred thousand without jobs, and thousands of companies closed"

"...an education in ruins, with a whole generation of children and young people who have been learning halfway for almost four years (How`s that amigo? - Ed.)"

"...an unacceptable distribution of income, which makes us one of the most unequal societies in the world, a fact that hurts me deeply"

"...a country intimidated by drug trafficking and organized crime".


In the past there have been a number of allegations concerning Figueres` public and private life including:


...that Figueres was not Catholic (the Archbishop of Costa Rica came to his rescue saying that the Church`s records say that he was indeed a baptized Catholic).

...and on a more serious front that he participated in the extrajudicial execution (read: "mob-like hit") of a drug dealer named José Joaquin Orozco, known as “Chemise”.


Eventually the Attorney General of Costa Rica cleared Figueres of various charges including the extrajudicial execution.


GG thinks the political flames have been lit and it`s going to be a warm campaign. I`ll take a seat by the fire to observe and report to the Chronicles as best I can.


Airport Emigration Computer System Fails


Emigration Line Morning of System Failure

As if the delays caused by dealing with Covid were not enough, Juan Santamaria Airport suffered an outage of the emigration computer system on Monday, June 14. The system failure started in "la madrugada" (middle of the night, 3 AM) and continued through the night until 7 AM when it came back online.


That was enough to delay seven early flights of six airlines (American, Avianca, Copa, Delta, United(2) and Volaris) for one to two and a half hours each. The failure in the system, operated by ICE the national telecom company, centered around checking computer data for minors. To leave Costa Rica, minors must have the permission of parents or guardians, information of which is kept in the Immigration Database.


Record Number of Costa Rican Athletes at Olympic Games


The 2021 Summer Olympic Games, delayed by one year due to Covid, will be held in Tokyo beginning July 23 and ending on August 8 of this year. In 1996 the rules for participation were changed to base invitations on pre-olympic performance in the athlete`s home country and continent wide. "In other words, they chose to filter the best athletes in the world through pre-Olympic tournaments and positions in the global rankings".


The effect of the new rule was to reduce the number of athletes performing via this form of selection. In the first year under this rule (Sydney - 2000) Costa Rica brought seven qualified athletes, in 2004 (Athens) there were six, in 2008 Beijing - eight, 2012-London - eight and 2016-Rio de - eight.


Press reports recently announced that there have been nine Costa Rican qualifiers for the 2021 games, a record for the Ticos.


In addition, the International Olympic Committee also may invite others (probably near-qualifiers) and this year Costa Rica will have two in this category for a total of 11 competitors. Their division by competitive area is: Surf (2); BMX Freestyle (1) (that`s bicycle motocross stunt riding for those, like me, that didn`t know) (1); Athletics (2); Cycling (2); Gymnastics (1); Judo (1); Swimming (2). The last two are invites.


Go Ticos!!!


¡Pura Vida!



Economic Drumbeat
(Costa Rica Business Happenings)

Uneployment "Improving"

The current population of Costa Rica is 5.1 million and of this number the population of working age is about 4.1 million. Current employment is calculated for the last quarter at 2.02 million or roughly 50% employment and 50% unemployment. In a recent interview, the Coordinator of the Continuous Employment Survey (ECE), stated that 50% employment is "a pretty good level, compared to the previous quarters". OK, but compared to 2019, when unemployment was 11.9% it only shows how much work (no pun intended) we have yet to do.

Orange Crop Threatened


Oranges are another of Costa Rica`s major crops, chiefly from plantations located in the Northwest quadrant of the country. The juice concentrate market hit a peak in 2010 while Costa Rica orange production hit a record of 252,000 tons (metric, of course or about 550 million pounds). This figure was produced from about 27,000 hectares (67,000 acres), a number which had dropped to about 25,000 hectares by 2020, down 11%.


The production of fruit in the decade ending in 2020 fell from 252,000 fell to 222,000 tons, down 12%, while the market price of fruit solids used in concentrate declined from $1.70 per pound to $1.21, down 29% from ten years ago. That double hit, along with the HLB disease described below, have made orange farming this past two years during the Covid slowdown difficult to say the least..


Orange Tree Half Infected by HLB
Diseased Oranges and Yellow Dragon Fly

One factor in the drop of orange output was the arrival of what is called the "dragon amarillo". This yellow dragon fly is known around the world as the HLB (Huanglongbing) and produces a result called the "citrus greening disease".


The disease is a bacteria carried by the Asian and African citrus psyllids and causes spotting and greening to ripening fruit as seen in the photo to the left. The bacteria will eventually take over and kill the entire bush/tree as shown in the top photo.


Because of this little feller, the cost per hectare has grown by over $500/hectare for insecticides over the last ten years.


Go away, yellow dragon dude.

Expanding Usage of Coffee


GG doesn`t claim to be a coffee aficionado but I do currently, and have for most of my adult life, enjoyed a good cup of strong coffee in the morning (honesty requires me to admit it`s more like 2-3 cups). I`ve have never had blood pressure problems so the caffeine is not something I have to shun as many of my age require; but I don`t drink Coke and other sugar containing products because I`ve been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.


Recently Coke introduced a product made just for me, coffee-flavored coke. To date I`ve only seen it a a supermarket two blocks from where I live and even then only in 250 ml bottles (photo right). That`s just fine with me as I find one small bottle of this is just right with my main meal. If things go better with Coke, coffee-coke, in my opinion, is a double whammy for flavor with food!


The bottle next to the coffee-coke (H2OH!) is a Pepsi product that I enjoy (don`t tell Coke) during the day and essentially is flavored water but with no sugar, a touch of carbonation and having a light lemone taste (Costa Rican lemon juice). Shown is a 600 ml bottle costing 850 colones (about $1.35). I know that`s expensive for lightly flavored water but I like the taste and it`s harmless.


Viva la difference! or is it Buen Provecha!


Exports Growing Again


Roll Those Containers Amigos

Procomer, the State agency in charge of promoting Costa Rican exports (I didn`t know that), recently announced that Costa Rican exports increased by 23% in the first five months of this year compared to last year. That represented a gain of $1.06 billion in a total of $5.77 billion.


"Sales to all markets are growing again" said President of the Republic Carlos Alvarado. Even agriculture, which suffered a decline of 3% in the first quarter of the year, ended up growing by 1% for the five month period. The report pointed out that "the leading exports continue to be medical devices and precision equipment, which reported a growth of 41% for that period".


Only fitting for the Silicon Valley of Central America, eh amigos? - GG Ed.


Canada Tourism Sector Since January All But Gone


Canadian Arrivals First Five Months

Canada was the second largest tourism sector in the Costa Rican market for years as measured by air arrivals. That market virtually disappeared during the first five months of 2021 when a spike in cases caused the Canadian government to bring the hammer down in the way of travel restrictions. That hammer included the cancellation of all flights by Air Canada and WestJet, the two major carriers here and, as a result, the number of Canadian visitors dropped by nearly 94% as compared to 2019 and even 91% as compared to 2020.


That translates to a drop from 132,923 tourists in the first five months of 2019 to 8,664 in the same period in 2021 and a decline of over $150 million in tourism spending as well as a loss of 1.2 million hotel room-nights.


Although the Canadian government removed the air restriction in late May, the requirement for testing still remains strong and an impediment to travel: "Citizens and residents of Canada, on return, must first get a Covid PCR  to fly and then another on arrival to Canada and quarantine of at least 14 days. The antigen test is not accepted by Canada."


Also, as of late June Air Canada and WestJet have not restored their previous flight schedules and are projecting third and fourth quarters for reestablishing connections to Costa Rica.

¡Pura Vida!



Latin America Updates
(Major Events In Neighboring Countries)



General elections will be held in Nicaragua on November 7 of this year. Current President Daniel Ortega and his FSLN party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front, are expected once more to control the presidency and the national assembly.


General Elections for President, National Assembly and Inter-American Council representatives are run approximately every five years. Ortega`s first term as president came in 1985; he then lost his re-election in 1990 but regained the presidency in 2007 and is now in his third term since 2007 which will end in in 2022 but which he is expected to win again. All together he`s been president for at least 25 years and, along the way, he got the term-limitation law cancelled.


Cristiana Chamorro
"Protecting" the Candidate`s Home

Ortega lost his 1995 re-election bid to Violeta Chamorro who became president after Ortega`s first term. His current challenge in the coming election comes from Cristiana Chamorro, Violeta`s daughter. That challenge was cut short recently (the 1st or 2nd of June) when troops invaded Chamorro`s home under the pretext that "money laundering" was going on there. Armed troops are continuing to "protect" the home and Cristiana has been put under house arrest.


Arrested Ortega Opponents as of 20 July

Within the week following Cristiana`s house arrest, three more presidential candidates were also arrested on various charges: Felix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastian Chamorro (cousin to Cristiana) and Arturo Cruz, bringing the total number of presidential candidates arrested to four.


Costa Rica and most of the international community immediately condemned Ortega`s actions as "undemocratic". (Yeah, I guess you could call arresting the major opposition leaders just before an election undemocratic). Carlos Alvarado, President of Costa Rica contacted the OAS (Organization of American States) requesting a coordinated response to Ortega`s action.


Rosario Exhorting Against Los Puchitos

As if that was not enough, three other people, "business leader José Aguerri and two representatives of civil society, the former Foreign Minister José Pallais and the activist Violeta Granera" were later arrested. Saying that these people were being financed by the U.S. government, Vice President and wife of Ortega, Rosario Murillo, went on a tirade about stealing being against God`s commandments, presumably referring to the latest arrests. Said she: "How many of those puchitos (people with little to offer or contribute) can be said to be honest?"


Arrested Political Opponents to Ortega as of 20 June

By late July Ortega`s government had arrested a total of nine political opponents pictured to the left.


Shortly after the arrests a previously scheduled meeting of the InterAmerican Council took place in San José, Costa Rica. Attending were heads of state of Spain Pedor Sanchez, Carlos Alvarado from Costa Rica, Juan Orlando Hernández from Honduras; President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala; John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize; Félix Ulloa Garay, Vice President of El Salvador; Erika Mouynes, Foreign Minister of Panama; and Roberto Álvarez Gil, Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic. Nicaragua did not send its head of state nor the foreign minister but instead sent Duilio Hernández, the Nicaraguan ambassador to Costa Rica.


Perhaps the reason why Ortega didn`t make the IAC meeting was that he was on his way to Moscow to attend the ninth annual MCIS (Moscow Conference on International Security) that started on June 23 and where he requested support and military equipment to counter "potential terrorist activity" in Nicaragua.


I`m sure there will be more to this story forthcoming as we get closer to the Nicaraguan elections.


¡Solo Bueno!



Bridging the Language Gap
(Impressions of an Online English Teacher)

Ashley Haycock is a Canadian expat living in Costa Rica who has been teaching English to non-English speakers full time for almost two years. In 2011 Ashley received a BA With Honours in Anthropology and Refugee and Migrant Studies. After university she worked seven years in the Financial Services industry before moving to Costa Rica. Ashley had volunteered at various times since 2009 in tutoring English online and made it a permanent work effort when she moved here. She quickly realized that English teaching could provide an income while she would be able to travel internationally as she wanted to do.


But let`s read Ashley`s story in her own words:

by Ashley Haycock

We live in an ever-changing world due to the advancement of technology. Even before the COVID-19 Pandemic, working abroad was becoming popular among those who had caught the travel bug and were looking for a way to travel while earning an income.  Dreams of living and working abroad have become more attainable with the improvement of internet connection and accessibility world-wide. The term ‘digital nomad’ has become commonplace and has enabled those who desire a flexible lifestyle with a more even-keeled work-life balance.  Now with multiple employment sectors being affected by the Pandemic and part of the world working from home, many people are seeking out ways to earn an income from their living room. 


Enter the world of online teaching!  A way people can connect with others from all over the world is to teach and learn English.  The industry has grown tremendously with more and more companies emerging to bring teaching English out of the classroom and onto the digital platform.


I can still remember when I was introduced to the world of teaching English as a second language (ESL).  I was 18 years old living in Barcelona, Spain and working as an au pair when I met two British women in my Spanish class who were there teaching English.  I remember thinking -- yes! This is how I can travel and live abroad while earning an income!  I admired their independence and looked up to them like any teenager would after seeing two women living out their dreams. 


Sample TESOL Certificate

After obtaining my Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) certificate, here I am living out those dreams that first started in that classroom in Barcelona.  Having first sought out in-person ESL teaching when I arrived in Costa Rica, I am now happily teaching online and enjoying the flexibility and diversity it offers.  I can make my own hours and work as little or as much as I want -- all without having to leave my house!

As previously mentioned, the ESL industry has changed and evolved over the years, especially with the advancement of technology and the increased internet accessibility among students around the world.  Rural areas who previously may have had difficulty obtaining foreign English teachers are now able to connect virtually and have teaching experiences never before thought possible.  Children who may have gone to a separate private, English school following their regular school day are now able to sign-in online and receive one-on-one personalized, English tutoring from qualified teachers from all over the world. 


An English Conversation Circle

One could say the industry is now "booming" with a variety of different tutoring companies ranging from one-on-one, small group classes, full-sized classrooms, preschoolers to grandparents, blue collar workers to professionals, and the list continues.  It seems the sky is the limit when it comes to the possibilities with teaching online.  Some companies offer a more casual approach which involves small-talk and simple conversation; something also known as 'English conversation circles' where non-native speakers are able to practice their conversation skills including slang, idioms and expressions. 


Then there are more structured lessons which are provided by the company and include new vocabulary, grammar and phonetic exercises.  Depending on your skills, qualifications and type of classroom environment desired, as a teacher you really can have your pick when it comes to who and how you want to teach!


I am blessed to be teaching with two different companies which contributes to the diversity and flexibility I have with my job.  The first company, of which I have been working the longest, is called iTutorGroup and is based out of Taiwan.  Its website boasts as being one of the pioneers in online education and face-to-face interactions worldwide.  This company offers one-on-one teaching as well as small groups to students of all ages and a well-designed curriculum which frees the teacher of any type of lesson planning. 


The pay is quite competitive as far as online teaching goes and is set based on your experience, skills and qualifications.  Since most students are from mainland China, Taiwan and Japan, the working hours aren't the greatest.  I usually teach early in the mornings and in the late afternoons/evenings.  Some teachers will even teach all throughout the night -- again, you can design your work schedule around your needs and lifestyle! 


The second company I work for is one I have just recently started with and it is called Cambly.  An American company founded by two non-native English speakers previously working for Google, it connects both adults and children to native English speakers from all over the world.  Usually a more casual environment, the main goal of Cambly students is to improve their conversation skills. 


Sample Lesson Plan

However, pre-designed lesson plans are provided to provide conversation topics and more structure if the student so desires.  While the pay is considerably less with Cambly, I enjoy the laid-back environment and the flexibility with the hours available to work.  Since students are from all over the world, I am able to teach at any time of night or day and there is no commitment to how many hours I teach or when; unlike iTutorGroup which requires me to schedule classes within mandatory 'peak hour' times.


The possibilities are endless when it comes to the world of teaching English online.  From my experience, not only has it been a fulfilling way to earn an income, it has afforded me a lifestyle I enjoy and the flexibility needed in order to truly work to live, and not live to work.  Just simply search ESL teaching opportunities online and you will find a multitude of companies looking for teachers to connect with students from all over the world.


When GG asked Ashley what is the most difficult thing for students to understand and over come she said: "Students are often uneasy, shy and become embarrassed when they try to speak because they feel their English is not good; they`re afraid to make a mistake. I try to encourage them and make them feel comfortable. It helps to have patience in order to allow them to take their time and think about what they want to say."


Amen, that`s clear, and it holds for GG trying to speak Spanish also.


Thank you Teacher Ashley for telling us about your experience. It must be rewarding to teach new students and help them grow while giving you the opportunity to experience foreign cultures wherever you live... and making an income while doing it.


In an interesting sidelight, on June 28, the Costa Rican National Assembly passed a law to "Attract More Foreigners to Work Remotely in the Country" on a vote of 41 to 1. The term they used for such persons is "digital nomads". The press report that GG read stated that the law would establish a series of facilities, including tax benefits, to promote long-stay visitation in Costa Rica. It also claimed that a digital nomad "can inject up to 15 million colones per semester into the national economy. Might be good news for Ashley and others.


As they say here: ¡Buena Nota!


Rumble and Weather Talk

(Shaky Happenings & Weather Observations About the Pacific Rim)


Rumbling - Medium Sized Jolt from the Cocos/Caribbean Plate

So once more this month, GG was planning to report no action on the rumble front because of at east two months inactivity in that regard. But there I was, perched over my puter writing the Chronicles when on June 10 at 5:27pm in the afternoon my room started to shake. It lasted about 15 seconds and then dissipated. I guessed it to be in the 6R strength range.


The U.S. Geological Survey was quick to report the shaker had an epicenter 10 km south of Samara on the Nicoya Peninsula which would put it about 140 km northwest of Quepos as the rumble travels. USGS pegged the strength at 5.6 on the Richter scale (as usual the local UCR National Seismology Center posted a little higher strength at 5.7 - no big deal). Samara is in the same region (photo right) where the big 7.6R tremor happened on September 5, 2012. You can read about that one HERE.


A couple of days later the National Center warned that this particular area is prone to even larger quakes as the Placa del Coco (Coco plate) slips under the Placa Caribe (Caribbean Plate). Yeah guys, I well remember September 5, 2012 when I was in Puntarenas that day.


Volcano Erupts Northeast of Liberia


Nothing Like Having a Volcano in the Backyard

While the plates were scratching each other`s back, in the northwest corner of the country in Guanacaste, the Rincon de la Vieja volcano, 23 km Northeast of Liberia decided it wanted to get into the action also. Folks near the volcano, historically an active one in the central mountain range, on Monday June 26 awoke (5:42 AM) to the volcano throwing a plume 1,500 meters into the air. The three photos to the left show the volcano in mid eruption. There were reports that three small streams nearby received some volcanic flow material.

Weather - Flooding in Quepos


Front Street Quepos 7 June 2021

Quepos, and much of the country, were visited by heavy rains on Monday, June 7 including a gully washer the likes of which GG hadn`t seen since the 2010 washout. The heavy rains started in late morning and became a torrent in the afternoon, lasting several hours.


Unfortunately, the worst thing that could have happened simultaneously, did; blocking of the large drainage tubes which are meant to carry water away from the town. The high tide happened right in the middle of the rainstorm. The water backed up and the streets quickly flooded causing many businesses with low lying entrances to be flooded also.


In addition, many vehicles were marooned. Only the most adventurous and/or foolish tried to negotiate the flooded streets with a motorized vehicle. A canoe might have offered a better mode of transportation.


And we still have 4-5 months of rainy season left amigos.


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

¡Pura Vida!


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Walking Tour of San José
(Getting the Best Out of Our Capital City)


Nury (walking tour guide), Michael Miller, and Paul Anthony

About ten years ago I met Michael Miller at a writers group in San José. Michael is a bit of an entrepreneur in Florida during the high season there and the rest of the time he resides in our capital city. One of Michael`s contributions to writing was his book (in English) that helps one have a self-tour of the city. The book is called "The Real San José" and can be found at his website given below; it`s also listed on the GGC Bookshelf section below (third row down, first on the left) with links to Amazon.


Michael also has a friend named Nury who is a native, bilingual tour guide who specializes in touring San José by foot.


Recently a British fellow name Paul Anthony visited our capital and "bumped into" (as he put it) Michael, who suggested to him a walking tour of the Capital with Nury. After the tour was over, Paul was so impressed that he sat down and wrote an article about his experience on the tour. When GG read it I asked for permission to reprint it here - GG.


Now lets let Paul tell his story in his own words:

Best Walking Tour Reviewed - San José, Costa Rica
(Fully Customizable with Bilingual Local Guide)


by Paul Anthony

On my recent trip to San José, Costa Rica I had the great fortune to bump into Michael Miller, who is an ex-pat from the USA living in the city. As it happens he is also somewhat of a local expert on San José, and author of the book “The Real San José”, which can be bought from Amazon (it's also in the Bookshelf section below - Ed.) or on his official site here: therealsanJosé.com. That book in itself is a wonderful introduction to this somewhat overlooked capital city of Costa Rica.


Costa Rica National Theater and Skyline

There is, however, another option to explore what San José has to offer while on the ground! During our conversation, he told me that a friend of his offers a walking tour where we could experience the sights and sounds from a lifelong local resident.


A few minutes later after exchanging details, we arranged to meet a few days later, for what I’m calling the “Best Walking Tour of San José”.


The main reason why I’ve dubbed this the best walking tour of San José, is that it is fully customizable as to what you want to see. Nury (our guide) is well aware from past experience that certain groups of people like different activities and sights. For example, many Europeans may not be overly interested in seeing multiple cathedrals, while Americans may be more so. Not forgetting to mention if groups include children.


When planning the tour, you can give Nury carte blanche, or she can help direct you towards attractions that most peak your interests. I’m always a fan of both a nation’s foundation history and local markets, so we decided to focus on that.

Meeting The Walking Tour Guide – Nury

Nury, Michael Miller and a Rather Stiff, Unidentified Chap in the Center

Nury, is a lifelong native of San José and is obviously very passionate about her city and country at large. I was most surprised by just how many people knew her as we walked the streets.


Our tour took around 4 hours, but can be adapted shorter or longer depending on your itinerary and time line. We decided to not explore museums together for example but I wanted to enjoy lunch together at the Central Market. Further, she offers museum tours, as well as, tours outside of the city for example Poas Volcano, Zip-lining through the canopy, coffee plantation tour, nearby rainforest tour

(Braulio Carrillo National Park), and the Basilica of the Angels in Cartago, etc…


Editorial... this might be a good point to break in and mentioned that Paul presents himself as a "Bespoke Unit, A Guide to a Dapper life", and you might want to take a look at his website HERE...GG. Continuing with Paul`s story...

Casa Amarilla (Presidential House)

Where We Began & Our Plan Of Action

As you’d expect from a bespoke walking tour, Nury met me at my hotel, Selina (right around the corner from the Casa Amarilla – right).


I was also delighted that Michael was able to join us.


Major Sights

There is so much to see, and most of the points of interest are in quite close proximity to each other.


High-level points of interest from our route, the day of the tour:



1. Starting point Selina Hotel

2. Aranjuez & Amon Neighborhoods

3. Avenue Central

4. Jade Museum

5. National Museum

6. Metropolitan Cathedral

7. Plaza de la Cultura

8. Gold Museum

9. National Theatre

10. Gran Hotel Costa Rica

11. Post Office

12. Central Market



This is a very short list indeed, there were many many more!


You’ll have to take the tour, to explore them all.


Lunch Like a Local

One of the highlights of the tour for me personally was seeing the vibrant and active Central Market. It is still very much active for locals. Yes, there are some tourist shops around the edge, but you’ll be rewarded with many new sights and smells once you explore a little deeper. It was great to have a local there, who explained what the different spices, fruits, and the like were for.


Best Coffee in the World
Soda Tala
National Museum of Costa Rica


I didn’t do too much shopping as still I had a few more weeks on the road but did pick up some local coffee, which came highly recommended by Michael.


We ended our tour by eating a local lunch at “Soda Tala”.


Parting Ways & Final Walking Tour Thoughts

After we had finished our full lunch of coffee, food, and ice cream we were sad

to say goodbye to both Nury and Michael but felt ready to explore the city for the next two days.

How To Book The Tour & Cost

As you would expect there is no set price for this kind of customizable walking tour around San José and beyond. The best thing to do is contact Nury directly and get some ideas of the price, dates and options. Note: tours typically start in the morning, with a higher chance of rain/storms in the afternoon. Further, no night/evening tours are offered.


My tour started at 9 am, lasted four hours, and was very reasonably priced.  I was more than happy to pay for the experience and service.


The National Museum of Costa Rica is a wonderful way to spend half a day. It’s one of the best museums I’ve been to in recent memory. A must for anyone interested in Costa Rica!

Is it Worth It?

Overall it was a really personal experience that I would gladly do again, and am recommending it to anyone who is reading this post and is intending to hit the ground running while in San José. Pura Vida!


Paul Anthony



Paul Anthony is the founder and creative director at Bespoke Unit. He has

had a life long affair with design, watches, fragrance and clothing. Originally from England, he now lives in the USA splitting time between NYC & Philly. Favoring "British Style", but has an overall eclectic taste.



Nury Mora


Phone and Whatsapp number: +506 6063-9350
Email: nurymoracr@gmail.com


Michael Miller


Phone and Whatsapp number: +506 6029-0568
Email: TheRealSanJosé@gmail.com
Website: TheRealSanJosé.com


Thank you Paul for a very interesting assessment of San José by foot. I suspect from what you reported that you had the same feeling on first entering our capital city that I had, namely that it was a busy hub but doesn`t impress one on first sight. You were fortunate to run unto Michael and Nury as they can quickly change one`s mind on that. I`m not a big museum guy myself but when I finally took myself to the National Museum I was not only impressed by the history displayed there but a bit overwhelmed by the most interesting entrance to a museum I`ve ever seen; a two-story-high butterfly garden replete with untold numbers of the little fellas fluttering about. Now that´s Costa Rica.


There are many hidden riches in San José as you`ve found and especially if you take the time to see them. The walking tour is a great way to do so.


Thanks again Paul and I hope to meet you in person the next time you`re in Costa Rica.


The Golden Gringo

¡Solo Bueno!


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



Pretty Boy, Pretty Girl (perhaps; the one on the right looks pregnant).



Maybe these are Costa Rican pigeons?




Answer in

section below.




¡Pura Vida!



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?)


Goings On in the Vaccine Line


Supplies of vaccines from various sources (Pfizer, AstraZeneca and sharing from other Countries supplies) have been accelerating. As of June 6 the country`s health system had received just under two and a half million doses (chart-left).


A very rough estimation by GG would be this: 5.1 million people x .85 (those willing to receive the vaccine) x 2 doses (this might be significantly effected by a one-shot vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson which has not appeared in Costa Rica as yet) = about 8.7 million doses needed to fulfill total vaccination which puts us at 2.4/8.7= about 28% complete. (N.B. That percentage almost doubled by June 30).


The good news is, of course, that the vaccination program is accelerating. That`s particularly important as the country fights the latest spike in cases shown in the graph above, right. The other good news is that 7 of 10 people over the age of 58 have been fully vaccinated against the disease (GG`s group - thanks guys).


One person of significance yet to be vaccinated is our President (left), Carlos Alvarado. Carlos, 41 years old and reported to be in excellent health, has listed himself with the Health Service for the vaccine but currently he falls into the lower priority (Group 5 of 5) because of his age and health. Carlos says he is listed and waiting for the call and that his doctors are "considering the possibility that he is part of one of the risk groups with priority vaccination against Covid-19, affirming that it is a matter up to them and not him".


Kudos from the GGC Señor, for not thinking you`re first (but listen to the doctors amigo).


"R Rate" Improving


Costa Rica R Rate

The "R Rate", which, when over 1.0, indicates (according to health authorities) the likelihood that the disease is spreading, went high in late April/early May across all of Costa Rica reaching a peak of 1.45 in early May. That level was alarming to a health system nearing capacity particularly in the ICU wards.


So the hammer came down once more and the country returned to severe travel and group restrictions. By early June the R Rate had dropped below 1 indicating a probable decline in new Covid cases which is what eventually occurred. By June 10 the R Rate had declined to =.93.


GG would still like to figure out how the R Rate is actually calculated but every time I try to research that calculation I get much explanation as to what it means but nothing about how it`s actually calculated. Sorry, it`s the engineer in me that wants to know the formula.


¡Pura Vida!



Travel Quote of the Month


It didn`t say but I gotta believe this was Southwest Airlines.


¡A Cachete!


GGC Bookshelf (skip section)

A new book appears on the GGC Bookshelf this month; Tribune Man by Michael Miller (last row on the shelf). Michael is a talented writer and, I suspect, the story has some personal experience aspects to it. A more detailed description and an Amazon link are provided.

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:


lop uio cvb jio
Costa Rica`s Mystery Spheres Mariposa - English

Mariposa - Español The Chronicles as a Narrative

Read More Read More Leer más aquí Read More
gty ikl dft drt
Small Business Guide Making Time Count Overcoming Drinking Murder or Suicide?
Read More Read More Read More Read More
ser kio fty
Getting Around the Capital Retiring in Costa Rica Avoiding the Pitfalls What's the Sleuth Up To?
Read More Read More Read More Read More


awe There's Room for
More on the QMA Writers Group Bookshelf

Keep Writing Amigos!
Spiritual Love Connection World War II True Story Wildfire and the Tribune  
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?


King Vulture
Waddaya Lookin at Amigo?

The bird depicted is the King Vulture, the largest of three vultures in Costa Rica.


As an adult, the King can be up to 81 cm (32 inches) long, weigh as much as 4.5 kg (10 lbs) and have a wingspan as much as 2 meters (7 feet).


This vulture, like other species, feeds on carrion and in that way keeps our forests clean. The King`s colorful head has orange, yellow, blue and white. It`s head and neck are featherless as an adaptation for hygiene as this lack of feathers prevents bacteria in the carrion it eats from reaching the vulture`s body.


I wonder if feeding on carrion makes you cross-eyed like the dude above..


Why is Peru called Peru?


Pizzaro Conquering the Incas

In the early 1500`s the Spanish began their conquest of the land of the Aztecs in the north and began exploring lands to the south including Panama. One conquistador was told of a land to the south of Panama that was known by the natives as Tawantinsuyu. The Spanish developed a variety of names for this new territory where they found a predominance of Inca tribes; records at the time offered several names, to wit: PerúBiruVirúPirú and Berú.


There were a number of encounters between Spanish Conquistadores and native peoples. The names used above were in practice 10 years before Pizarro conquered the Incas and, as time went on, Peru was used more often than the others to describe the region.


¡Solo Bueno!



ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

La Luna Restaurant, Hotel Gaia, Manuel Antonio


Location: Next bus stop after the Mono Azul heading to the beach from Quepos.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Sunday through Saturday (note: daily lunch service has been cancelled until after Covid).

Parking: Limited parking at main gate, more available across MA road from the main gate.
Contacts: Tel.: 2777-9797; Website: http://www.gaiahr.com/; Email: from website.

Reviewing ROMEOS: Bob N., Leslie K., Lori T., Roger B., Steve M.

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


The location and ambiance has not changed since our last ROMEO Review at the Gaia, namely, as I wrote then: "The Gaia is located at the peak of Manuel Antonio hill and offers one of the most spectacular views of the tops of the rainforest, of the Pacific and of the coast running north." That last visit was in mid-December 2017 when the rainy season had passed and the coast could be easily seen all the way up north.


La Luna Restaurant - Hotel Gaia

Unfortunately this time we were in mid-rainy season and the panorama was obscured by a heavy overcast, an overcast that also obscured the sunset.


The dining room is still sleek and modern (photo left) and easy on the eye with relatively (to most places in Manuel Antonio) comfortable, somewhat padded seats.


The ROMEO Group gave Gaia Restaurant 4.3 out of a maximum of 5.0 for ambiance.


The menu is still rather comprehensive with a broad variety of meat and fish options as well as creative soups (e.g., sweet roasted squash and papaya) and salads (Apple Salad with Spinach & Blackberry Vinaigrette). For those interested in choosing vegetarian or vegan, the items that qualify as such are so indicated on the menu.


We were first served a platter of small pieces of four different breads accompanied by olive oil and wine vinegar. The bread was so tasty that we asked for another platter which was quickly forthcoming.


GG and two other ROMEOS chose, from the list of main dishes, a Plantain & Coconut Crusted Mahi-Mahi, the fish being coated with those dried and ground fruits and then baked. The dish that came consisted of two or three small (maybe 3-4 ounces each) pieces of the breaded fish presented on a plate with a base that had been striped with what tasted like honey and raspberry sauces.


GG felt that the breaded coating combination taste with the raspberry sauce was unusual and exceptional. Some of the ROMEOs thought the portions were small. The fish was accompanied by yucca puree and rolled vegetables served with an anise mango sauce.


Three ROMEOs went on to dessert and tried the Cinnamon Scented Churros - filled with blackberry, chocolate & dulce de leche sauces. Sweet and not too filling (they called them churros here).

Value Index= 105


The composite score for food quality came in at 3.3/5.0.


All the ROMEOs agreed on one thing; the service by two different waiters (Jonathan and Johnny) was excellent and the composite score for service came in at 4.9/5.0.


The cost to GG for a ginger-ale michalada, the baked mahi-mahi and the churros dessert came in at ₡23,600 colones or about $38 for food, taxes and required gratuity. The composite score for cost came in at 4.0/5.0.


That made the average score for ambiance, food quality and service 4.2/5.0 and the Value Index = 4.2/4.0 = 105.


La Luna restaurant at Hotel Gaia remains an interesting restaurant option, particularly for creative food but be prepared to pay for the creativity.



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Pura Vida!

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