Feature and Department Links:

Broken News

Economic Drumbeat

Latin America Update

Rumble and Weather Talk

Haiti - Part III

¿Que Es Eso?

All About Bitcoin

Health Stuff

GGC Bookshelf


ROMEO Corner

Use our Archives

Archived Editions

Topical Archives


Search Website

Subscribe to GGC

In This Issue:

1. Broken News (All the News That's Fit to Reprint): a. Costa Rica Has A New Queen; b. Tax Man Closes PUSC HQ; c. Costa Rica Running Out of Guaro; d. The Independence Torch.

2. Economic Drumbeat (Costa Rica Business Happenings): a. More On Digital Nomad Ideas; b. Athleta Brand Opens First Store; c. Covid Effect on "Ninis"; d. Alunasa Leaves Employees Unpaid; e. New 500 Colone Coin is Commemorative.

3. Latin America Update (Major Events in Neighboring Countries): a El Salvador - Bitcoin Program Running Into Problems; b. Brazil - Impeachment Demonstrations; c. Nicaragua - Private Organization Reports Many More Infections and Deaths Due To Covid; d. Venezuela - "Informal" Dollarization.

4. Feature 1: Haiti - A History (Part III: Post Independence).

5. Rumble and Weather Talk: a. Rumble: Nice and Quiet; b. Weather: Typical Rainy Season.

6. ¿Que es Eso?: Is this a Painting?

7. Feature 2: Bitcoin (Future Currency or High Risk Scam?)

8. Health Stuff: a. Vaccination Status; b. The R-Rate.

9. GGC Bookshelf and More: Books from GGC Publications, Golden Gringo T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs as Well as Suggested Books from Local Writers.

10. What's-in-a-Word: a. Answer to Que Es Eso. b. Homographs and Heteronyms

11. ROMEO Corner: Cafe Milagro, Manuel Antonio


Wisdom of the Ages


"Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting."


(unknown author but I`m told it`s in the Bible)

Holidays In Cost Rica in October

Nothing is listed as a regular, country-wide holiday in October. We`ll just have to keep celebrating our 200th anniversary of independence that we started on September 15, then wait for November.

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

Costa Rica Has A New Queen


Valerie Rees Loría

No, not a monarch in a form like a British Royal Family but instead, a new beauty queen. Her name is Valerie Rees Loría (photo) and she was crowned by the owner of the local Miss Costa Rica franchise, Televisora ​​de Costa Rica (Teletica). This is part of the run up to Miss Universe and those rules allow for the franchise to directly choose their representative which was done both in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid concerns.


The franchise elected to choose for themselves a candidate from a field of 10 contestants. "At the beginning of the program, the 10 candidates appeared wearing a comfortable jumpsuit, tennis shoes and the inflatable mask. On stage they were placed apart, later they appeared one by one."


Valerie had an edge in this competition as she was the first runner up in the 2020 contest. The 70th Miss Universe competition will take place in Eilat, Israel, in December 2021.


GG would vote for her. Go for it Valerie!


Tax Man Closes PUSC HQ



With the national elections approaching (February 2022), competition between parties for the Assembly (56 souls) is getting hot and heavy. The latest activity of interest was the closing of the PUSC (United Social Christian Party) Headquarters by the current government headed by President Carlos Alvarado whose party is the PAC (Citizens Action Party). Neither party, of a total Assembly of 10 parties and 56 Deputies has a majority and must rely on coalitions to pass virtually anything (PUSC has 10 Deputies, PAC - 9).

PAC Flag

The political battles are underway and the government (PAC) cites a 2016 tax issue levied on PUSC headquarters that was not paid by the PUSC. The PUSC counters that the bill was paid two days late (maybe there was a penalty but was it paid - who knows?).


The closing of the PUSC office evidently is limited to five days ("according to the penalties for partial closure of businesses" - say what?) but the PUSC notes that the timing is just before district elections for representatives.


C`mon guys let`s cut the harassment stuff and get down to important issues like how do we pay for that $1.75 Billion loan from the IMF that`s keeping the country running this year.


Costa Rica Running Out of Guaro


For the unknowledgeable, or disinterested, Guaro is a distillate of cane sugar and It is produced in quantity in Costa Rica by FANAL (Fábrica Nacional de Licores) or the National Liquor Factory. Yup, that`s right, the government has been engaged in making liquor for sale for decades.


The product, as produced by FANAL is 30% ethyl alcohol (60 proof if you will) and the national brand is called Cacique (kah...see...kay). This product, packaged in pint (500 ml) plastic containers (nicknamed a "pachuga"), is a favorite of street people because a pachuga can be bought for around 1,000 colones ($1.65). Think of it as a cheap drunk.


Supplies have been running short and deliveries to liquor and food markets have fallen behind because the same facility that produces Cacique is being used to produce alcohol-rub and antiseptic gel for fighting Covid. FANAL fears they will have to adjust the number of employees to compensate for lost production. Another concern is that a shortage will encourage the use of illegal brands of guaro that are sometimes cut with methanol. There have been at least 26 deaths by methanol contamination of guaro in the last few years.


Sole 9/11 Tica Survivor


Karla at the World Trade Center (top)
and Today

Karla Pericón, a Tica just beginning her working career at the age of 21, arrived early in the morning of September 11, 2001 at her office on the 11th floor of the World Trade Center North Tower. In the midst of a work team meeting she recalled: “Suddenly, the building began to move quite hard, and everything began to fall.” The first plane had hit their building.


As a Tica, Karla first thought it was an earthquake but other people began running and screaming; so she gathered her belongings and began walking down the emergency stairway. Just before she exited the building the second plane hit the South Tower. Like most people she ran as fast as she could away from the buildings but became covered in soot and dust nevertheless.


Press report: "The dust cloud released by the collapsed structures contained toxic particles. Thousands of people continue to suffer the consequences today; most of them live with respiratory problems and muscular and intestinal disorders. After the attack, Pericón began to suffer from asthma, bronchitis, allergies. In addition, Pericón has had to fight for her life on multiple occasions, because she was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer. And three years ago she had a hemorrhagic stroke and after so many therapies, specialists have noticed that she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)."


Today Karla says she is fortunate in that she can "get up, open my eyes, be able to breathe, stand up, walk, talk, even slowly.”


Wow, what a gal.


The Independence Torch


Last month we noted that not only was September 15 the annual celebration of Costa Rica`s Independence Day but this year is a very special one because it`s the 200th anniversary of Costa Rica`s declaration of independence from Spain in 1821.


One of the traditions in this part of the world (Central America) is to carry a torch from 370km (225 miles) by foot from Guatemala all the way down to Costa Rica and into San José. Running the Torch across Central America is a tradition first started in 1964 by Costa Rican Physical Education teacher and education supervisor, Alfredo Cruz Bolaños. Due to Covid restrictions, the normal run of a large group of young people, along with huge numbers of observers along the way was reduced to small groups crossing the border (with masks on) and then stopping in selected places within the country.


kioThe photo above shows the current Minister of Public Education, Giselle Cruz Maduro, carrying the torch across the Costa Rican border from Nicaragua at the Peñas Blancas crossing. From there, 10 groups of ten students carried the torch through 10 different points on the route to San José. To see the ten places the groups went you can view them on a map showing the entire route in Costa Rica here: https://antorchavirtual.mep.go.cr.


In addition to the traditional torch carry, there were great celebrations of light from the national stadium in San José that consisted of enhanced fireworks and drone light shows (photo above) that lit up the entire central valley. The celebration included a stage presentation in the National Stadium as well.

Of course there`s a comedian in every crowd. The holiday brought out many of them including the witty guy who came up with the cartoon to the left. The caption translated says:


What are we celebrating today?” (in reference to the September 15 independence day).. The man replies, “The day we got tired of being robbed by the Spanish and began to choose our own thieves”.

Proud Costa Ricans value there independence but still have a sense of humor.

¡Viva Costa Rica y feliz dia de independencia amigos!

¡Pura Vida!


Economic Drumbeat
(Costa Rica Business Happenings)

More On Digital Nomad Ideas


Last month`s Chronicles featured an article on the new way and wave of working online for income, i.e., being a Digital Nomad (see Digital Nomads). This month an article in Q-Costa Rica by Carter Maddox suggests even more types of opportunities including Online Casinos, Online Tutoring, Freelancing, Selling Goods Online, App Development, Blogging, Graphics Design, Podcasting, Selling Photos, Ebook Publishing, Virtual Assistance, Online Surveys, Affiliate Marketing and Job Boards. Whew! To read the entire article by Maddox go HERE.


The new world is upon us as we struggle to keep up.


Athleta Brand Opens First Store


The Athleta Brand of Gap Inc. has opened its first store located on the retail strip of Avenida Escazú in San Rafael de Escazú. This is the first Athleta brand store outside North America. The Athleta Brand is Gap's focus on women`s needs and will offer lifestyle and performance garments, as well as products for daily activities, including studio exercises, functional training, adventure tourism and day-to-day clothing.


Congratulations on your location choice Athleta but watch out, this is the way McDonald's started in Costa Rica a few decades ago and now they`re up to some 60 locations. Business is good here; welcome to Costa Rica!


Covid Effect on "NiNis"


NiNi is a term that is used here to describe young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who neither study, nor work -‘NiNi‘ (ni estudia, ni trabaja). A recent study by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) resulted in Costa Rica`s NiNis, at 25% of the population, being the third highest percentage in this category among the more than two dozen OECD members. Costa Rica`s ranking, highest in Central America, was exceeded only by South Africa at 33% and Colombia at 29% and is followed closely by Brazil, Italy and Mexico. The red X on the chart left shows Costa Rica`s position.


The number represents a significant increase from 2017 when NiNis were counted at 17% and 2019 when they were 20%. The total result reflects the number of NiNis in the this age population to be over 300,000, in a country with total population of 5.1 million.


One explanation for the severity of the increase is that unemployment in this group increased because cutbacks in staffing were higher as employment cutbacks in this category were made in favor of older workers. Also, according to some people this result must be considered as having been particularly affected by the Covid experience but the Chief Economist at OECD suggested that "governments must invest resources in human capital, invest in education, give more access to the labor market, hopefully with alliances with firms."


Amen, and get off the damn telephones kids and get to work.


Alunasa Leaves Employees Unpaid


CVG Alunasa is a Venezuelan state owned company making aluminum products locally from a plant in the town of Esparza, in Puntarenas Province. They have been doing so for over 15 years in a factory that employs almost 200.


On September 16 the employees were sent home without pay for the first half of September. On the next day Alunasa started a negotiation process with the Ministry of Labor requesting suspension of all the labor contracts and on Friday September 24 the Ministry held its first "conciliation" process.


Alunasa told the ministry that they have requested money for wages and salaries from their home office but have not yet had a response. Reportedly the company also a is looking for foreign investors. What about Alcoa, this $10.6 billion company might be looking to pick up a cheap plant and they have a pretty good employee pay record.


More to be revealed but this could be another example of the troubles plaguing the Venezuela economy.


New 500 Colone Coin Is Commemorative


All during the month of September Costa Ricans have been celebrating the 200th anniversary of their Independence Day commemorating their declaration of independence from Spain in 1821. Although the festivities were relatively low key as compared to previous years, do to Covid restrictions, the country managed to pull off special festivities in the capital

and across the country.


In honor of the event the government to begin issuing a new 500 Colone coin (photo right). At current exchange rates the coin equates to about 80 cents U.S. As the government is phasing out the 5 and 10 colone coins, that leaves us with four coins: 25₡, 50, 100 and 500. In paper bills we currently have 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 (although I've never seen a 50K colone note in use).


The coin shows its value on the front as well as the central bank (BCCR) with a reference to Independence on the back plus an image of the country including Cocos Island.


¡Solo Bueno!


Latin America Updates
(Major Events In Neighboring Countries)




On the weekend of September 12 there were large demonstrations demanding the impeachment of the country’s President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Sao Luis, Curitiba and other major cities. Demonstrators were demanding the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro because of two problems: 1) the high cost of gasoline and other petroleum products and 2) Bolsonaro`s handling of the Covid crisis.


GG looked up the Covid figures: as of September 18 Brazil ranked #3 highest in the world in total number of Covid cases after the U.S. and India, #33 for total cases population adjusted (US #16), #9 in population adjusted death rate (US #21).


El Salvador

The government of El Salvador, led by President Nayib Bukele, recently announced that El Salvador would become the first country in the world to allow Bitcoin to be used as a currency.


If you don`t know or understand what Bitcoin really is (like GG) welcome to the world of suspicious finance. As best as I can read it, Bitcoin is a payment system in which a Bitcoin can be purchased at whatever the prevailing market value is and then used to make or receive payments through what is termed "blockchain" technology. There are no central banks involved, nor underlying cash deposits like the backing of a bank account and another factor is the high volatility of the traded value of a Bitcoin which could be a real problem when you sell out.


“In El Salvador everything is expensive and
Bitcoin is not the solution”

President Bukele states that this policy will slow down the flow of remittances by citizens to overseas families, currently pegged at $400 million. Señor Bukele is running into stiff opposition nevertheless because of this move. Polls are showing 60-75% of the populace disapproving or not interested in downloading the electronic wallet “Chivo” (the local Spanish nickname for a wallet) necessary to make purchases and sales in Bitcoins. The photo to the right is of recent demonstration.


El Salvador is one of a few countries that use dollars as their primary currency; others include Ecuador and Panama. The $ sign is used in a number of Latin countries, even in regards to local money, followed by a notation like "M.N. (moneda nacional)"; Colombia would be an example as they label their currency COL$.


Bukele says he will continue with his plan; more to be revealed. Meanwhile in Costa Rica, the TSE (Tribunal Supremo Elecciones), our election judiciary watchdog, has prohibited the use of Bitcoins as donations to political parties, I suspect because of the inability to track them - fertile ground for corruption. My guess is heavy regulation will be forthcoming, particularly to assure the government gets its tax cut.




Clarity of who is running Haiti continues in confusion and complexity more than two months after former President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7. Moisi had been ruling by decree without a parliament in session for over 18 months at that point and that has contributed to the confusion now.


The amended  Constitution of 1987 (298 articles) says that, in the event of a President leaving office prematurely in his five year term: "the prime minister should become the transitional chief of state – but only after he had been ratified by both houses of the legislature", comprising the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The problem is there had been no legislature in session the last 18 months, so there was no ability to perform ratification for.


Nevertheless, the prime minister that assumed power had been scheduled to transfer his position as prime minister to a successor one day after Moise`s assassination, which of course didn`t happen. So now the transition is uncertain and who is in charge, the old or new prime Minister? The succession is still being "debated".



A private Nicaraguan organization called the  Observatorio Ciudadano Covid-19 Nicaragua, which states it is made up of a

multi-disciplinary group that includes health workers and doctors, has taken on themselves to report what they believe is the full story of Covid in Nicaragua. The Observatorio recently stated that the number of cases and resulting deaths has recently skyrocketed. Their count for the week ending September 8 for example was 1,865 suspected cases with 329 deaths, nine of which were health workers.


The government`s number that they submit to independent, international organizations like Worldometers listed Nicaragua`s report at a total of 13,025 with a death count of 202 for the entire 18 month history of counting the data beginning in March of 2020. In the latest period the government reported new cases less than 100 with a total death increase of 2.


The Observatorio is a private (and probably secret) organization of collaborators because the current law, passed by the Ortega controlled legislature, could be used by the government to charge them with "cyber terrorism" if their people in their organization were known and published on the internet. "The Observatorio Ciudadano, a network of independent doctors, report there are at least 25,150 suspected cases, of which more than 4,500 ended in deaths."


Private Citizens Buying Oxygen

There has been a run on private citizens buying oxygen by individuals who have sick Covid patients at home. On September 11 the Productos del Aire plant, where many were waiting in long lines had to shut down but a few days later it was restarted. The Observatorio also reported that the hospitals were reaching capacity.


The Observatorio web page recently asked Nicaraguans to voluntarily isolate themselves to help control the disease.




Nicolas Maduro

Venezuela has developed its share of problems recently as the country under the leadership of President Nicolas Maduro has turned more and more into repression. The worst started in 2013 when the then president Hugo Chavez died and Nicolas Maduro, as Vice-President succeeded him. In 2018 a supposed re-election left Maduro claiming himself the winner by 50.6% of the vote but many reports of voter manipulation by opponents were heard. The U.S. and other democracies withdrew recognition leaving China, Cuba and Nicaragua as Maduro`s only friends.


Gradually the country pursued greater and greater restrictions on the populace which caused some five million people, or over 15% of the total population to emigrate. Various international sanctions gradually reduced many of the store bought goods creating shortages and empty shelves. The saving grace currently is that the emigres in large part are remitting dollars regularly to their families and this caused the appearance of an "informal" dollarization of the economy. The government states that over 70% of

transaction are in dollars at this point.


The result of this was to bring some relief to empty store shelves but inflation has not stopped the progress towards the Venezuelan economy collapsing. In the meantime, as reported in the Broken News section above, a Venezuela state-owned company (Alunasa) which operates an aluminum plant in Costa Rica failed to make a recent local payroll.


¡Solo Bueno!


Haiti - A History - Part III
The Modern Period - Post Independence)

Two months ago, in the wake of the Presidential assassination occurring in Haiti, the Chronicles started a two-part series on the history of this Caribbean island country. The first article, in August or Part I covered the Pre-Colombian and Spanish Periods up to the early 1500`s on an island then known as Hispaniola as designated by its original conquistador, Christopher Columbus. Last month, in Part II we discussed the history of Haiti throughout the development of the French Period (1625-1804) in which the island was rechristened by them as Saint Domingue. The end of Part II came about by reporting and describing the slave rebellion and Haiti`s eventual emergence into independence in 1804.


Detail Map of Haiti Today


In the course of researching Haiti, GG discovered so much history in this relatively small country with a land area about the size of the State of Maryland and only about twice its population (12 million in Haiti) that I decided to expand the series to three parts. In this issue, Part III runs from Haiti`s declaration of independence to the present. A native and bloody revolution then ran for 15 years leading up to a declaration of independence from France in 1804.


By the time of independence virtually all of the indigenous Tarawaks (native population) had been exterminated and the rebellion would have to be taken up by the long-mistreated slave population which outnumbered white landowners by about 15:1. In essence they were rebelling against slavery as well as against France.


Hispaniola Today

During the 1500`s and 1600`s the island would eventually be cleaved into two governmental units and two countries by virtue of a treaty between Spain and France. The Western end of the island became Haiti, speaking mostly French and Kreyòl, a dialect left over from the Islands in the Antilles chain. The Eastern part of the island eventually became the Dominican Republic, which continued with their Spanish ties and language until they declared their independence from Spain in 1844. To this day the predominant and official languages in the D.R. are Dominican Spanish (85%), with Kreyòl, French and an English variant called Samana English making up the minorities.


During the 15-year Haitian war of independence many slaves, free blacks and whites fled Hispaniola and in 1809 some three dozen vessels brought as many as 6,000 Saint Domingue émigrés to Louisiana directly or via Cuba, Guadalupe and other Caribbean islands. The exodus sometime later peaked at about 10,000, about one-third of them being white elite, another third free people of color, and the remaining third were slaves who belonged to either the whites or the free blacks. In 1812, one of the biggest slave revolts, called the Deslondes Revolt, occurred upriver from New Orleans. U.S. authorities blamed the revolt on the Hispaniola emigres and Haitian revolution. These emigres had a great cultural influence on New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana.


Julien Hudson

In addition to free people of color, a policy was introduced in Louisiana whereby slaves could buy their freedom by amassing an amount of money equal to their sale value in the market place and petitioning the court for their freedom. The process was called the law of coartación.


At the time it did not take much black blood to be termed a person of color, at least in Haiti. The picture of Julien Hudson (1811-1944) left, described as a free person of color, was the son of an English ship maker and a Louisiana quadroon (a quadroon is a person who is one fourth black). He was respected as a talented painter of that period (that`s a self-portrait left). In the middle of all this rebellion the United States would purchase the Louisiana territory increasing its total land area by a third. Of course they bought the slavery problem along with the territory which they would not resolve until 1865 and the Emancipation Proclamation.


But lets get back to Haiti. With Haitian independence complete, the task turned to who was going to run what and how could the previously productive plantations that now stood devastated regain their production. As mentioned in Part II, the father of Haiti, Toussaint L`Overture, had been recaptured by the French and died in prison the year before their official declaration of independence (1803). That left two of L`Overture`s previous subordinates to fight over the top position, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who was suspected as the one that got L`Overture re-captured by the French, and the other being Henri Christophe.


Henri Christophe and Alexandre Pétion

In 1804 Dessalines declared himself Emperor of Haiti only to be assassinated the following year after persecuting white landowners and killing some thousands during what was known as the 1804 Massacre. After Dessalines` death the fledgeling legislature constructed a new constitution but Henri Christophe proceeded to proclaimed himself King of Haiti (Jacques I). Emperor versus King it would be, creating further division.


Enter a new leader, Alexandre Pétion, who had been head of the legislature, a body friendly to him, would elect Pétion to be President of the Republic of Haiti. After Dessalines death Christophe marched against Pétion`s southern fortress but could not dislodge the new president from his well fortified defenses. So Haiti would itself remain split into two parts for some time, Pétion`s southern republic and Christophe`s northern kingdom.


(Is the reader sufficiently confused yet? I am)


A short time thereafter, in 1807, Pétion would be elected for a second term as president while Christophe would name himself King of Haiti (1811). King Henri`s rule would be harsh and ruthless and historians say as many as 20,000 peasants lost their lives building a palace and citadel for the king. At the same time Henri distributed small parcels of land at cost to his soldiers and low cost to others and the plantation economy began to grow again. One historian put it this way: "In the south, the average Haitian was an isolated, poor, free, and relatively content yeoman. In the north, the average Haitian was a resentful but comparatively prosperous laborer."


Pétion was credited with restoring the production of the plantations, this time based on freeman labor. Sugar and coffee, the original Spanish, then French products were brought back to some degree under Pétion. Some of the techniques for growing and refining sugar were passed on to the emigres in Louisiana, where the U.S. eventually became a major competitor in the sugar business. Pétion also was popular as he gave considerable support to the Spaniard Simon Bolivar who helped liberate much of Latin America from Spain during these years (even in Quepos there is a Plaza Bolivar at the bus station named for him).


Jean-Pierre Boyer

The 19th Century in Haiti would not be kind to Haiti. In 1818 Pétion dies and is replaced by the head of his armed guard, Jean-Pierre Boyer as president for life. Boyer would be overthrown in 1843 (25 years - pretty good run for Haiti!). Between Boyer`s ouster and the end of the century there would be some seventeen (that`s right 17- my count) more presidents, mostly appointed by the legislature. Many of these would be overthrown or flee and in some cases assassinated while a few died in office of natural causes. The constitution would be revised or started from scratch several times and there would be several revolts among the peasants that had to be dealt with.


In 1915 the United States invaded Haiti under Woodrow Wilson`s administration and under pretext of stabilizing the country right after Haitian Vilbrun Guillaume Sam had been assassinated. The U.S. landed 330 marines and tried to help the country by creating a formal gendarmerie to help bring order and several more contingents were added later. They did not depart until August 1934, when Franklin Roosevelt confirmed a disengagement agreement the year after it had been been drawn up by Herbert Hoover. During this occupation Haiti would have three new presidents for life including Sam while the period would see seven U.S. presidents (T. Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover and F. Roosevelt)


The 20th Century would be no better in political violence. By my count (Wikipedia) there were at least 22 Haitian presidents in the last century who were appointed or elected and who departed this mortal coil by various means as described above. Towards the end of the 20th Century tourism became an important part of the economy but growth in this sector was hampered by the perceived (and often real) violence that occurred in the country. One important accomplishment can be cited for this century; people were first allowed to vote for president directly in 1950 (if and how the votes were counted is another matter).


To add to Haitian political problems, tropical storms and hurricanes come to or near the island regularly as the island lies squarely in the flow of Atlantic tropical storms. Water damage from flooding is severe, mostly because this impoverished nation (poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere) cannot afford oil based heating for cooking and living. So they use wood (85% of their need) and as a result much of the hillsides have been deforested as unimpeded rain washed down the hills easily carrying soil with it and causing landslides. It is estimated that the amount of Haiti`s forests has declined from 25% to just over 1% since 1980 alone. Flooding from storms has claimed thousands of lives in just this century and often destroyed over 70% of their crops.


Flag of Haiti

Add to that a penchant for earthquakes, some of which are catastrophic, that have plagued Haiti forever because the island rests on an unstable undersea mountain. The worst tremor in Haitian recorded history occurred in January of 2010 when a 7.0R hit Port-au-Prince, the capital causing 100,000-316,000 fatalities (the variance in this number being actual bodies versus missing never discovered) and an additional 300,000 injuries. Again, because the country is impoverished, much of the construction is of the old adobe type (clay) which easily collapses in a real shaker.


Contrast the above with Costa Rica`s 7.6R shaker of 2012 which produced no fatalities and only minor injuries - Costa Rica has been updating its construction standards ever since their own major disaster in 1910 which nearly destroyed the city of Cartago and produced more than 1,000 fatalities. It helps and works to get away from adobe construction.


So, this ends the three part history of Haiti. I thank the reader for your patience as it took a long time for me to distill the facts behind the history of Haiti. God bless and help the Haitians, their history is an unusually difficult and violent story.

___ ___ ___


Update: A note on the times we live in: While writing this article around September 20, I had the TV on listening to the news. One of the reports, from the Del Rio, Texas border crossing said the U.S. Government had just closed this border due to an extraordinary surge of at least 15,000 immigrants in one day. Said the reporter: "A large fraction of these are Haitian."


¡Solo Bueno!


Rumble and Weather Talk
(Shaky Happenings & Weather Observations From the Pacific Rim)




The quiet was enjoyed by all. Virtually the whole month was free of any significant tremors (i.e., +4.5R). The closest we got to a rumbling was on September 22 when a 6.5R terremoto hit Joquillilo, Nicaragua about 140 km northwest of Managua and 240 km from the Costa Rican border. Perhaps the northern zone of Costa Rica felt something but here in Quepos it was a #1B (lowest level Bob - barely vibrates the bed). It`s about how sensitive you become after living in a subduction zone for 13 years - just didn`t feel it.



Rainfall continues regularly as we head towards the tail end of the season (end of November). The long term average is 100 to 200 inches per year, which I would guess is what we`re seeing this year, and that`s a problem predicting because the amount varies from province to province as well as annually.


But it`s nothing like we experienced my second full year here (2010) - read about it RAIN.



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

¡Pura Vida!


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

So there was ol` GG sitting at his puter one evening trying to write something interesting, or at least provocative. At one point I was rudely interrupted by something flying into the room that began flapping it`s wings strongly and loudly, circling the ceiling light fixture. Then it started making forays towards me.


At first I thought it was a bat as it was flapping noisily and of the right size. I realized that I had probably left the jalousie window in the adjacent bathroom open after dark and that`s how it got in. The creature continued its flapping almost uncontrollably, occasionally lurching towards me.


I ran to the kitchen, got my broom and returned to do battle. It took me three or four minutes to get the best of this tricky fella as it avoided the broom like a bat and continued to run at me every now and then. But eventually I won, to the demise of my antagonist. When it dropped motionless to the floor I was surprised to see it wasn`t a bat but the thing pictured above. It was like it was looking at me from beyond.


Does anyone know what it is?

Answer in

section below.


¡Pura Vida!

Search the Golden Gringo Chronicles Archives for Topics That Interest You


You can use our Archives to search for anything that has been written in more than 310 feature articles of the Golden Gringo Chronicles plus find Broken News items and ROMEO restaurant reviews. Enter your topic or item to search in the Google Search Routine below and follow the links offered from the search results.

Suggestion: Enter only a simple, precise and unique as possible key word or two in order to narrow the number of references retrieved:


Golden Gringo Chronicles - Enter Search Here


Readers: Our publication is open to suggestions regarding future articles and will accept pieces written by others but we reserve the right to decline anything that the editorial staff (that's GG) thinks is inappropriate for this format. Send proposals, comments, suggestions, ideas, meaningless statements and jocular observations concerning the Chronicles to GG here: gg@goldengringo.com.

Future Currency or High Risk Scam?)

Having heard the term "Bitcoin" for some time now (as I`m sure the reader has) I recently began to research it, hoping to find out what it`s all about. Lately ATMs accepting Bitcoin are cropping up all over the world (funny that, as the system originally was founded on the premise of getting the banks out of transactions), Some countries are even beginning to base their currency on the Bitcoin system (e.g., El Salvador - see the article in the Latin America Updates section above). The Salvadorans have yet to learn how to successfully work this system as a national currency but they keep trying.


Satoshi Nakamoto

Currencies like these (often called cryptocurrencies) were originally founded only 15 years ago in 2009 by one Satoshi Nakamoto. While fervently denying in 2014 his relationship or founding of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto is considered the founder of "blockchain" storage technology which is unique (I guess, the definition is actually above my pay grade).


Blockchain, which is supposedly used by all the cryptocurrencies, of which there are dozens, allows encrypted storage by the user without involving central banks, the banking systems and other personal transactions. (Ya think that there might be a potential for fraud here amigos?)


What is Bitcoin? From CBBC Newsround: Bitcoin, often described as a cryptocurrency, a virtual currency or a digital currency - is a type of money that is completely virtual. That explanation alone sent me scurrying for the definition of virtual, which I thought I knew, and found this:


1. Adjective: being such in power, force, or effect, though not actually or expressly such: a virtual dependence on charity.


2. Optics: noting an image formed by the apparent convergence of rays geometrically, but not actually, prolonged, such as the image formed by a mirror as opposed to real. (As opposed to real money? Really?)


3. Temporarily simulated or extended by computer software such as a virtual disk in RAM, virtual storage on a hard disk or a 3D virtual world.


4. Existing, seen, or happening online or on a computer screen, rather than in person or in the physical world.


5. Other samples of its use: a. You can take a virtual tour of the museum before your visit. b. I've started working out with a virtual personal trainer (GG does this in the morning with a YouTube video for sciatica exercises). c. Even with a robust multimedia curriculum, some students struggle with virtual learning and are better served in a face-to-face classroom.


There`s a good degree of smoke and mirrors here folks. So, it`s real, but not really. It would seem to me that "remote" might be a better term than virtual when applied to points 4 and 5 above. It begs the question: If your money is virtual what`s to prevent the source image from disappearing? What are the safeguards?


It seems that you buy a Bitcoin, or a fraction of one as determined by the current market for Bitcoins, and then you can perform almost any kind of purchase or investment using your Bitcoin up to the (net) value of your Bitcoin (and, of course, assuming the other part of the transaction accepts Bitcoin). Just for fun, you never receive a coin. Transactions are (supposedly) private and recorded in a "blockchain" which is encrypted whilst your money is kept (recorded) in a "wallet". I assume that later you can cash in your holding at the current market value adjusted for withdrawals; (you can evidently calculate the value to millecoins (1,000ths) or even microcoins (millionths - I guess that`s for the big players).


Elon Musk Responding to the Question:
Are You an Alien?

It`s kind of like Paypal with a related and added investment capability represented by the current value of the coin. It`s not surprising that someone like Elon Musk thinks cryptocurrency is the future and a good bet (as usual he`s probably right). Musk, who happens to be the richest man in the world right now, is the founder of Tesla Motors, and Space-X (planning a trip to Mars on Space-X anyone? - you can pay for it with Bitcoin). Musk was also one of the original founders of Paypal. GG does use Paypal regularly as it is a lot more convenient for some things, particularly international but my balance on Paypal results from transfering amounts from my own bank account and is real.


And then there is Bitcoin mining. This is defined as follows: "Bitcoin mining is the process of creating new Bitcoins by solving extremely complicated math problems that verify transactions in the currency. When a Bitcoin is successfully mined, the miner receives a predetermined amount of Bitcoin." (Say What?) Mining requires "the use of expensive computers and enormous amounts of electricity". The predetermined amount you receive (by whom?) has recently been established at 6.25 coins which, at current market would be over $300,000. Evidently if you`re a math professor with a powerful computer to back you up (or a rich dude like Musk who can ante up many millions) you should be able to mine Bitcoins which is why Musk talks about Tesla accepting Bitcoins for payment of autos.


Here is a summary of the pros and cons of Bitcoin taken from various internet articles:



  1. Banks, central or otherwise, are not involved with your transaction and therefore clearing transactions is almost immediate. (Sounds like Paypal except Paypal requires a supporting account containing old fashioned dollars)
  2. Potential for high returns. The smart, big money boys have made millions, and in a couple of cases hundreds of millions of dollars profit (the price of a Bitcoin in the open market has gone from about $5 originally to currently +$45.000 today - that`s real, not virtual nor an error).
  3. Protection from payment fraud as no one knows your account number but you.
  4. Immediate settlement, international transactions.
  5. Diversification, greater liquidity.


  1. High volatility and potential for both high gains and losses. The system has one of the highest volatility indices (measured by investment firms) of any investment.
  2. Lack of regulatory oversight. Cryptocurrency laws and taxes differ from country to country and are often ambiguous or contentious. A lack of regulations, unfortunately, can lead to fraud and scams. Unregulated & unbacked it lends itself to Cyber hacking.
  3. Potential for black market activity.
  4. No refund. The system being unregulated means you are on your own; there is no one to complain to.

So here`s GG`s take on Bitcoin: It`s virtual, not real, but the ability to lose a lot of real money should give anyone caution, particularly older people (like me - 77). When I was selling mutual funds for a bank in another life we stressed slowly changing an aging person`s portfolio to more conservative, slow-growth investments as they got older. Traditional conservative types of investment may produce a lower return but have less chance of disappearing or devaluing substantially. For me I think that`s still good advice.


For now I think I`ll leave Bitcoin to the big money boys to play with.

¡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?)


Vaccination Status


The first week in September (August 29 to September 4 and otherwise known as Epidemiological Week 35) did not offer much of a reprieve from earlier results.


New cases jumped and health authorities found themselves fighting a new spike. The latest new cases graph is shown to the left and indicates there has been little improvement in the total case load this month versus last. Perhaps we can take solace in the fact that Costa Rica has demonstrated one of the lowest death rates to cases around the world than many other countries (CR - 1.2%, U.S - 1.6%, World - 2.0%, ) and in Central America (Panama - 1.5%, Belize - 2.0%, Guatemala - 2.4%, Honduras - 2.7%, El Salvador - 3.1%, Ecuador - 6.4%).


Critical Care

Total cases detected in Costa Rica for all weeks since records began was, as of September 29, were 528,077 with total mortality of 6,316 or a mortality rate based on total cases of 1.2%. In August, the capacity of critical care beds in the system exceeded normal capacity (359) and has been that way ever since. Now for some better news:


During the first week in September Costa Rica received another boost to its vaccination program with a donation of 319,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by Canada (thanks Canadians!). This made a record week for receipt of vaccine because when recent direct purchases from Pfizer and AstraZeneca of some 174,000 and from other sources, total receipt was expected to reach 695,000. For the month to date (18 September) the Health Ministry reported that receipts were 1.1 million doses.


The ministry says that the boost will allow them to increase the vaccination rate, particularly on the second vaccination dose. This was good timing as the R-Rate here increased to 1.15, up from 1.07 the previous week. The greater supply will allow the ministry to accelerate the vaccination rate and decrease the time between the first and second shots for many.


The standing at mid-September was that some 40% of all Costa Ricans had received full vaccination, that is, two shots of the various vaccines while about 77% had received at least one shot.


The R Rate


The R Rate Formula (in Spanish)

The engineer blood in me has for some time wanted to find out how an "R Rate" is calculated. So recently, I looked it up and what I got is in the photo shown. Too many variables confuse simple engineers like me (let alone how they derived the formula - stop laughing Sheldon Cooper) so I pass on this - if any reader thinks they can explain it I`d love to understand what everything means and why it`s significant.


That formula looks more threatening that Albert Einstein`s formula for the Space-Time continuum (I did not understand that one either). Whatever happened to formula simplicity like E=MC². But I guess that`s why they called Einstein a genius.


¡Pura Vida!



Travel Quote of the Month




¡A Cachete!


GGC Bookshelf
(skip section)

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 drt 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?


ertThe creature shown above and to the left is a butterfly not a bat. It happens to be an Owl Butterfly, the largest butterfly in Costa Rica having a wingspan up to 20 cm (8"). The unusual markings on its wings that look like eyes give it its name.


In the process of looking it up I discovered the difference between a butterfly and a moth isn't just that butterflies are active during the day (my friend being an exception) and moths are more active at night. Other differences between moths and butterflies:

For more on butterflies of Cost Rica go here: http://www.costaricajourneys.com/butterflies


Homographs and Heteronyms


Every time I blunder through my bad pronunciation of good Spanish words I reflect and give myself some solace from the list of English words that must give non-English speakers, or those trying to learn, some pause. Take Homographs and Heteronyms for example.


Homographs are words of like spelling but with more than one meaning. A homograph that is also pronounced differently is a heteronym. For example:


¡Solo Bueno!




ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

El Patio de Cafe Milagro, Manuel Antonio


Location: Top of Manuel Antonio hill, across the main MA Road from the Promerica Shopping Plaza.
Sunday through Monday, closes at 9 PM.

Parking: Street-side only.

Contacts: Tel.: (+506) 2777-2272; Website: El Patio de Café Milagro

Reviewing ROMEOS: Barry S., Bob N., Dennis R., Duston R., Enoc V., Phyllis C., Roger B., Shari A.


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


This restaurant was last reviewed in November 2018. To see that review go here: Cafe Milagro 2018. The restaurant hasn`t changed much physically since then; it continues to be a pleasant dining experience as the detail below explains.


They seated our party of eight at a table in the rear of the restaurant as shown in the photo below. This area is well removed from the street noise and in the center of a lot of green, like it was in the jungle which, of course, it is. Our group gave Cafe Milagro a composite score for ambiance of 4.6 out of a maximum of 5.0.


The menu we received was fairly limited (two sides of a page) but offered a nice selection of appetizers and dishes based on beef, chicken, fish and seafood. A number of the dishes were prepared with a Caribbean touch to the cooking (using caribe fruits and vegetables).

GG ordered a fish of the day, although I can`t remember the name as I was unfamiliar with it. What I received was a crumb coated filet of tender white fish enhanced with a melange of diced tropical Fruit. It was accompanied by a raw shredded cabbage salad and the requisite Tico mashed potatoes (papas puree always come with fish, right?). The flavor in the meal was excellent and refreshing.


Others ordered 1) steak, 2) pork, 3) calamari&sausage, all pronouncing the food as very good. The composite score for food quality came in at 4.5/5.0.

Value Index= 154


ROMEOs Hard at Work

We were serviced by a young lady named Norma who was very helpful, polite and attentive. The kitchen was a bit slow, considering there were only three other tables occupied at the time, but the food was supplied for all of us at the same time and it was warm. The composite score by the ROMEOs for service came in at 4.3/5.0. That resulted in an average score for ambiance, food quality and service of 4.46/5.


The cost for GG`s Fish Filet Caribe plus one Ginger Ale Michelada (limone juice over ice in a salted glass accompanied by ginger ale) came to just under 7,400 colones (about $12) including legally required 10% gratuity and tax.


In discussing the cost at Cafe Milagro at this time we need to keep in mind that we happened to catch the restaurant in one of its periodic special pricing periods (September - 50% off the price of main courses). I also noticed that most of the ROMEOs elected not to do an appetizer or dessert which enhanced the low cost value. With that in mind the group gave a 2.9 average rating (remember that the lower to rating for cost results in a higher Value Index). That result in a Value Index of 4.46/2.9x100=154, one of the highest values we`ve ever given out. At a more normal Manuel Antonio cost rating of 4 the Value Index would have been in the 115-120 range, still quite good.


The ROMEOs can confirm that Cafe Milagro retains its good reputation for a pleasant atmosphere, quality food at a good value.

____ ____ ____


Comments heard from ROMEOs: "Caribe taste nice touch", "Calamari appetizer was good", "Excellent comida", "Very enjoyable meal", "Excellent food and atmosphere".



¡Solo Bueno!




Opt-In Here to Receive Your Free Monthly Copy Of
The Golden Gringo Chronicles

The Golden Gringo Chronicles is a free newsletter that is non-political, non-commercial and, hopefully, informative and entertaining. By signing up you will receive an email each month around the first of the month giving you the links to the latest edition as well as to each individual feature and departmental section.


or Email me at gg@goldengringo.com, or use our Website at: www.goldengringo.com

Bob Normand, Editor & The Golden Gringo
Pura Vida!

To Contact GGC World Headquarters (yuk, yuk) to makecomments, suggest topics or criticize my bad jokes, just send an email to: gg@goldengringo.com.


Be pithy but kind; I'm sensitive.








Unsubscribe from Golden Gringo Chronicles