Feature and Department Links:

Broken News

Economic Drumbeat

Latin America Update

Strawberries of Costa Rica

Rumble and Weather Talk

¿Que Es Eso?

Masquerade Day

Health Stuff

GGC Bookshelf


ROMEO Corner

Use our Archives:

Archived Editions

Topical Archives


Search Website

Subscribe to GGC

In This Edition:

1. Broken News (All the News That's Fit to Reprint): a. "Back to Our Roots" Festival in Limón; b. Cruise Season Begins; c. Costa Rica Added To U.S. Global Entry System; d. BCR Tech Platform Down for 12 Hours; e. Costa Rica Visa Now Good For 6 Months; f. Costa Rica Gets Tough on Migrant Law Breakers; g. Independence Day 2023.

2. Economic Drumbeat (CR Business Happenings): a. Car Property Tax To Be Reduced But By How Much?; b. Intel Signaling Strong Expansion in Costa Rica; c. Costa Rica Reports Three Consecutive Months of Deflation; d. Dollar Exchange Rate Hits Lowest Level in Nine Years; e. Bus Cost Trends Downward by Pennies.

3. Latin American Update (Major Events in Neighboring Countries): a. Ecuador - Election Violence Continues; b. Guatemala - Guatemala Has A New President; c. Nicaragua - Government Confiscates Another Historical Landmark; c. Peru - Army And Rebels Clash - 6 Dead.

4. Feature #1: The Strawberries of Costa Rica (Big, Juicy, Healthy and Plentiful).

5. Rumble and Weather Talk: a. Rumble: Rincon de la Vieja Activity.

6. ¿Que es Eso?: A Fruit, But What´s Different

7. Feature #2: Masquerade Day (Costa Rica Version of Halloween).

8. Health Stuff: Little to report here this month.

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.

11. ROMEO Corner: Falls Garden, Manuel Antonio.

Wisdom of the Ages

"When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look,
it’s a sure sign you’re getting old."
- Mark Twain

Holidays in Costa Rica in October

There are no public or paid holidays in Costa Rica in October. Don´t see why you can´t make one up though - let´s celebrate!

But there is a relatively new tradition now celebrated here called Masquerade Day, which is actually a return to an old tradition. Not an official holiday but definitely a fun day. It´s practice is explained in the article below entitled Masquerade Day.


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

"Back To Our Roots" Festival In Limón

August 31st saw a return to the Festival de la Cultura Negra Limón 2023 “Back to Our Roots”, a heritage day more properly known as Día de la Persona Negra y la Cultura Afrocostarricense (Black Person and Afro-Rican Culture).


The latest national census indicates that 8% of Costa Ricans are of African descent, half of whom live in the province of Limón, on the Caribbean coast. By my imperfect calculation that represents about 200,000 of this heritage in Limón Province.


Press reports were that the main streets of Limón were filled with floats, traditional costumes, color, music and dances. This was the first time in three years that the festival was held as the last two years were canceled due to the pandemic.


Historically the origin of the multicultural ethnicity found on the East Coast of Costa Rica is a result of Christopher Columbus’ arrival there in 1502 which brought about the settlement of Jamaicans of various backgrounds, including Asian, Indian, Chinese and Italian cultures.


This year, once again, the main streets of Limón were filled with floats, traditional costumes, color, music and dances. Pura Vida amigos!


Cruise Season Begins


QCOSTARICA — The 2023-2024 cruise season began in Puntarenas with the recent arrival of the Queen Elizabeth the first week in September, coming from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with more than 1,900 passengers and almost a thousand crew members.



Queen Elizabeth in Caldera

Said Braulio Venegas, president of the Instituto Costarricense de Puertos del Pacífico (Incop) or Costa Rican Institute of Pacific Ports: “The arrival of cruise ships like the Queen Elizabeth has a significant impact on the chain of tourist services that is activated with these visits, generating income and jobs both directly and indirectly.”

Between August 2023 and July 2024, a total of 199 cruise ships are expected to make a visit to Costa Rica’s five Pacific ports: Puntarenas, Caldera, Quepos, Golfito (all located in the province of Puntarenas) and Playas del Coco, Guanacaste. According to Venegas 75% of these cruise ships are in the expedition and luxury category and generate higher income due to the high-end services and experiences they offer their passengers, which represents a significant impact on the economy of coastal communities and businesses.

From Puntarenas passengers can visit nearby tourist attractions such as Monteverde, Esparza, San Ramón, Naranjo, Tárcoles, Sarchí and downtown Puntarenas.

Costa Rica Added to U.S. Global Entry System

Costa Ricans may be able to enter the United States more quickly, after their inclusion of Costa Rica in the ‘Global Entry’ system.


Global Entry is a program offered by the U.S. State Department through its Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) division that: "...allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to receive expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports (some 85 airports - Ed.) and via the SENTRI and NEXUS lanes by land and sea. In the case of Costa Rica, it will only be by air."


Costa Rican Minister of Security Mario Zamora and CBP Commissioner Troy A. Miller signed a joint statement of cooperation (photo) on August 29 to make available the Global Entry system to Costa Ricans who apply and are accepted. Said Mario Zamora: “Basically we will have a corridor that will be the fast lane through which Costa Ricans will be able to enter North American territory. While the world closes, the United States opens up to our country, thanks to the security that we have managed; We will also have support to digitize our immigration systems and we have a biometric passport.”


This is not only a help for tourists but may be even more important for entrepreneurs and business people in providing quicker transit through U. S. Airports to get their work done.


Bank Tech Platform Down for 12 Hours


Did you ever feel that the Electronic World was again ya. Sometimes I think we are we all going to be sucked into the MATRIX and spin incessantly, like purposeless electrons.


GG got this feeling again recently when I had another adventure in the electronic world. Sometime late Saturday morning, September 2, I decided to pay by monthly Caja (health) fee online. I fired up the computer, navigated to my bank site (BCR/Banco de Costa Rica) and immediately knew something was wrong when the contact page was totally different than it used to be. Some voice in the computer background was bragging about all the new pages BCR was going to provide - yet I couldn´t even find the login page.


I gave up looking for the login page and searched the browser for BCR´s customer service number and called it. After a flowery recorded message on the auto-answering system about how happy they were that I called, it said an agent would be with me in a minute. An hour and five minutes later I was still getting the flowery message followed by the promise of service still undelivered, so I hung up.


So as not to waste the day any further I walked downtown and stopped at the supermarket - guess what - my debit card reported "Insufficient Funds" on the cashier´s screen. No way that was possible, but fortunately I had enough cash with me to settle the purchase. Late Saturday afternoon I retried my puter connection and it worked to the extent that I was able to check my balances. Since the next day was Sunday I knew I would have to wait until Monday to visit the bank about the card (or wait an impossible time on the help line).


On the way to the bank on Monday I casually tried the debit card in the ATM outside the bank and it worked! That same day the bank issued the following statement:


"The Bank of Costa Rica (BCR) informs all customers and users that our technological platform was restored, therefore, all our channels and systems operate normally.  We offer our apologies for the inconvenience this situation caused and we appreciate your understanding. It is important to reiterate that what happened was due to a failure in our technological platform without any relation to a cyber-attack." Evidently their systems were down over 12 hours beginning late Saturday morning and GG just happened to be in the middle of it.


I´m not sure the knowledge that it was the bank itself rather than cyber-attackers that screwed things up, is comforting. Can´t wait to see how much value AI platforms will add to bank systems failures like this.


Costa Rica Visa Now Good For 6 Months


All it took was a change in the Reglamento para el Otorgamiento de Visas de Ingreso a Costa Rica (Regulation for the Granting of Entry Visas to Costa Rica) and it finally happened on June 15. The tourist visa, previously limited to 90 days was increased to 180 days. Yeah, that´s right, tourists can now stay in the country six months rather than three without having to renew their passport visa.


Here are some of the 60 countries qualifying for the extended tourist visa: United States, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Mexico, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Australia, and Japan, among others. The full list is on the immigration website. (GG notes the particular absence of our neighbor to the north, Nicaragua, in this list.)


A brazen and smart attempt at increasing stays (and expenditures) by tourists - yes, of course, but there are other important effects of this change. For example, I lived here for over three years before I finally got my cédula (residency permit) and had to do at least 10-90 day visa renewals at the border(s). After doing a number of these I learned how to combine travel to other countries (Nicaragua - three times, Colombia, Panama etc.) with the need to renew my visa but having a six month visa would have cut the number of those runs, and the expenses required, in half.


Another advantage is to the tourist who decides to stay longer than 90 days, no longer will they need to interrupt their stay to run to the border for a new stamp or leave early.


The idea of extending the visa duration came from the National Tourism Chamber of Commerce (Cámara Nacional de Turismo or Canatur) and the government acted on it - they all deserve credit for an improvement long overdue.


N.B. The need for a visa to operate a car in Costa Rica has not been extended. The limit on that still is 90 days.


Costa Rica Gets Tough on MIgrant Law Breakers


Costa Rica as well has been experiencing a surge in migrants passing through Panama on the way to the U.S. Recent numbers show that 386,000 have passed over the border since January 1 of this year. Recent numbers are running 3,000 to 4,000; on a population adjusted basis, that would be equivalent to 195,000 to 260,000. As a further example, officials noted that over 60,000 have passed over the Panama and Costa Rica border at Paso Canoas, a town with only 20,000 residents.


Said President Rodrigo Chaves: “We all know that throughout the Americas there is a migration crisis.” Chaves plans on a state visit to Panama in October to discuss handling the crisis. He went further to say: “If someone crossed the Darién Gap, arrived in Costa Rica and behaved badly, disrespecting our authorities, causing riots, the message is: they are returned to their country of origin because we are not going to tolerate it here; those who are thinking of coming to Costa Rica should begin to meditate.”


After a recent visit to the area by Germany´s Human Rights Commissioner, Luise Amtsberg, she had this to say: “We are dealing with a region in a state of crisis, Costa Rica is reaching its breaking point here,” Amtsberg told DW.com (DeutscheWelle). “There is still space and protection, but recently there has also been a debate about a more restrictive asylum policy.”


Independence Day 2023



One of the things I love about Costa Rica is that people include children in just about every festivity they do (running the bulls may be the exception). This holds for toddlers all the way up to teenagers as seen in the photos above. The little people are so cute!


As usual, the little town of Quepos, with a population of around 22,000, and the canton (county) of Quepos about 29,000, just loves to celebrate their Independence Day which they did on September 15 as usual. This year was the 202nd anniversary of Costa Rica´s Declaration of Independence from Spain and as usual the Ticos were out to show their red, white and blue colors in profusion.


For more on Costa Rican Independence Day go HERE.


¡Pura Vida!


Economic Drumbeat
(Costa Rica Business Happenings)


Car Property Tax To Be Reduced But By How Much?


The "Marchamo" is an annual tax on vehicles that might be thought of as a registration fee if it weren´t for the fact that 2/3 of it is, in essence, based of the current sales value of the unit, which makes it essentially a property tax. There has been discussion for some time now that the Marchamo in Costa Rica should be reduced to reflect the substantial increases in value that vehicles have encountered in recent years and also to offset the negative effect the tax has on budgets.


Currently there is a gap between the legislature, who purport to speak for the people and who are proposing the largest reduction, and the government that is concerned with the need of using the income from the Marchamo to fund infrastructure projects and who propose a lower reduction. Here´s a summary:


1. Vehicles valued at less than ₡3-10 Million($5,700-$18,800): Tax proposed by Legislature: ₡26,000($49); by the Government: ₡67,000 ($126).

2. Vehicles valued at ₡10-22 Million ($18,900 - $41,500): Legislature: ₡144,000($272); Government: ₡265,000 ($500).

3. Vehicles over ₡22 Million($41,500) defined as a "luxury" vehicle: As yet but it is expected that an undefined increase is coming.


Sounds like a political battle royal is likely. GG is still happy with his earlier decision made when he came here to retire; no car. Its hard to believe the tax numbers above actually represent reductions by both the legislature and the executive.


UPDATE The version of the bill put forth by the Partido Liberal Progresista (PLP) was accepted unanimously on Monday, September 25 after the first debate (legislative bills in Costa Rica require two debates and approvals). Shortly there after President Rodrigo´s Partido Progreso Social Democrático (PPSD) announced that he will not veto the bill. Estimates are that the marchamo will decrease 5-50% for car owners as the amount is based on the tax value of the car and the more expensive will receive the smallest reduction making the tax even more progressive. Another estimate placed the loss of income to the national treasury at 52 Billion Colones (about $98 Million) and compares to a total national budget that runs at about $12 Billion or about 6.4 Trillion Colones.


Intel Signaling Strong Expansion in Costa Rica


Intel, the behemoth chip manufacturer, has a history of operations in Costa Rica that goes back to before the turn of the millennium (1997). Intel Costa Rica currently employs 3,300 directly as well as over 5,000 contractors. The company has 26,000 square meters (about 280,000 square feet) of manufacturing space and 17,000 square meters (≈ 184,000 square feet) of laboratories for multiple operations in software, hardware, and platform engineering, all located in Belen, in the central valley.


In July of this year the U.S. State Department announced that the U.S. government would partner with the Costa Rican government under something called the CHIPS and Science Act, more formerly known as the International Technology Security and Innovation Fund (“ITSI” Fund), created by the (U.S.) CHIPS Act of 2022.


Through this mechanism Intel is expected to fund operations by another $1.2 Billion in the next two years. That computes well for Costa Rica.


Costa Rica Reports Three Consecutive Months of Deflation


A recent press report noted that: "At the end of August, Costa Rica not only reported three consecutive months with a negative index but also recorded the lowest inter-annual inflation in the last ten years: -3.28%". To get an idea of what deflation looks like, the photo right shows an example of what happened in the States in the 1920´s and 30´s - of course it took a depression to do that so I´m not sure it´s the best example.


The financial atmosphere being that positive, some CR financial analysts are suggesting people may want to wait awhile before taking out a loan to be sure they don't miss an even greater opportunity. GG, a non-analyst for sure, wonders that if many keep waiting and there´s a surge when a bottom is detected, won´t that fuel a meteoric rise in rates?


Dollar Exchange Rate Hits Lowest Level in Nine Years


The current dollar to colone exchange rate at the banks was reported yesterday at BUY: ¢521 to ¢525 (meaning that if you buy colones with dollars you receive 521-525/$) and SELL: ¢535 to ¢547 (meaning that if you buy dollars with colones you must put up 535-547/$). That is the lowest reference rate since February of 2014. A year ago the Buy reference rate was ¢637.


For the uninitiated or uninformed this kind of trend was described simply as follows: "Not so good for someone who earns in dollars, but good if they have debt in dollars."


Bus Cost Trends Downward by Pennies


GG noticed the other day that the local bus cost to Manuel Antonio from Quepos was reduced to 385 colones from 410. That only amounts to about a nickel U.S. but it also means it actually decreased for the first time in many moons. Of course we aging expats don´t even pay that on locals if one is 65 or over and possesses a cedula; we wrinkled ones pay zero on locals and get 25% off on long hauls across and around Costa Rica.


¡Pura Vida!



Latin America Updates
(Major Events In Neighboring Countries)




Election Violence Continues. In the wake of an unfinished election process and a presidential candidate being assassinated last month, social unrest continues in Ecuador. Senor Fernando Alcibiades Villavicencio Valencia was gunned down at a rally on August 9 despite his large security contingent consisting of both police and military. The national election went ahead on August 20 but resulted in two primary candidates, Sra. Luisa González, of the Movimiento Revolución Ciudadana (Citizen´s Revolutionary Movement) and second-place finisher Daniel Noboa who will face each other in a run-off election in October.


During the first week of September much of the unrest and violence continued. The government department called the National Service for Attention for People Deprived of Liberty (SNAI), who are responsible for the prisons system but apparently have lost much of the control thereof, encountered hostage taking in those prisons and bombings around the country. Over 50 law enforcement officers at several prisons were taken hostage and their were four explosions in various districts around Quito, including the bomber-out truck outside a prison shown in the photo.


Law and order was and still is precarious in this Ecuadorian election cycle.



Guatemala Has a New President. César Bernardo Arévalo de León is a Guatemalan diplomat, sociologist, writer and politician who now is the president-elect of Guatemala. He defeated former First Lady, Sandra Torres, in the second round of the 2023 presidential election on 20 August 2023 and will be inaugurated as the 52nd president on 14 January 2024.


César Bernardo Arévalo

Arévalo is the son of former Guatemalan president Juan José Arévalo, a member and co-founder of the political party Semilla (Seed), and has served as a deputy in the Congress of Guatemala since January 2020. He previously served as Ambassador to Spain from 1995 to 1996, and as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1994 to 1995.

Arévalo's electoral triumph makes him the first son of a former Guatemalan president to also be elected president, the second president not born in Guatemalan territory as well as Guatemala's most voted-for candidate in the 21st century, surpassing former president Jimmy Morales (2016–2020). Karin Herrera is his vice-president-elect.


Congratulations Señor.





Ortega Government Confiscates Yet Another Historical Landmark. Victor Hugo Vicuña Ortega, who holds a PhD in History from the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris (1978) and is a well known author of books relating to the History of Nicaragua and Central America (IHNCA) of the Central American University of Managua. He also is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Costa Rica. His awards include a National History Prize in 1993, as co-editor of the six-volume work titled Historia General de Centroamérica. 


Former Institute of History of Nicaragua

GG can´t find any info that says Daniel Ortega and Hugo Vicuña Ortega are related. Acuña Ortega credits the availability of information from the Institute of History of Nicaragua and Central America as the source of information that allowed him to published his history books.


As part of the crackdown by the Daniel Ortega Government the History Institute was recently closed and seized by the government, freezing the university’s accounts, while a judge declared the university a “terrorist center”, ordering the confiscation of all its property. The institute was quickly renamed “Casimiro Sotelo” State University and an inauguration ceremony held.




Army and Rebels Clash - 6 Dead. Señora Dina Boluarte has been president of Peru since December of 2022 and has promised a crackdown on drugs and drug trafficking by gangs. On Monday, September 11, in the heart of Peru´s largest coca-growing area, a clash between police and Shining Path gang members resulted in the death of four policemen and two Shining Path gang members.


President Dina Boluarte

The soldiers were attacked at dawn while on patrol in the south-central Andes region of the country, an area that has been fought over for more than two decades. Those two decades left some 70,000 dead in the struggle for control, "including almost all of the Shining Path leaders who are now dead or imprisoned, with only a few hundred members operating in remote areas."


Press reports noted that Peru is the world´s second-largest coca leaf producer after Colombia with 95,000 hectares (235,000 acres) planted with the substance.


¡A Machete!


Strawberries in Costa Rica

Helen Dunn Frame

Helen Dunn Frame is an author of a number of books of various topics that include her traveling experiences as well as novels about interesting characters. She currently has two books on our GGC Bookshelf below (#10 and #11) where links are provided for more detailed information, as well as links to Amazon for purchase.


Helen, a long-time member of the Costa Rica Writer´s Group, recently discovered a tour of a strawberry farm in Alajuela that surprised and delighted her. The following is a report of the experience with that tour as told by Helen in her own words:



Can You Eat Strawberries Year-Round in Costa Rica?
(Big, Juicy, Healthy and Plentiful)
by Helen Dunn Frame


You have heard of coffee farm tours in Costa Rica, but have you heard of strawberry farm tours, which last at least two hours?

A farm owned by Eliecer Viquez, who has many outstanding qualifications, is located in Poasito de Alajuela. He guides the tour that features a ride in a painted wagon and claims to be the first farm to offer this opportunity to tourists and residents.

Called the Corso Lecheria Farming tour, it offers an opportunity to view a working dairy and strawberry farm. This farm comprises nearly 550 acres of rich soil. The farm's promotional data suggests you will be impressed by the size of Heredia Hill strawberries. Taking the tractor tour is recommended if you have seniors or young children in tow rather than walking. The farm offers spectacular views of the Poás and Barva Volcanoes. Visitors have a choice of milking a cow or picking strawberries.

There is another farm and tour by The Gutierrez family at a 6500-foot elevation in Llano Grande near Cartago that grows strawberries. The farm is owned and operated by Daniel, his brother Carlos, and his father, Carlos Sr. There you can tour the farm and see the marvelous Cathedral in Cartago, La Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles.

How did my particular interest in strawberries develop?

A few months ago, my friend and I bought strawberries at different grocery stores, surprised that they were so fresh. We didn't think this was the season. After two weeks, the plastic boxes contained a mixture of red berries with several green-tip berries. A few weeks later, they once again were worth buying. We concluded that we need to check the fruit each time we shop.

I tried to learn when the actual season is in our area of the country. One farmer told me, "Strawberries are grown year-round, especially in the Poás and Irazú regions because we are in the tropics." Eventually, I learned that it depends on where you live in Costa Rica when the berries are at their best., Various sources provided no definitive information about seasons in different areas.

Strawberry production in Costa Rica should increase by an average of 0.3% annually to 4.560 metric tons annually by 2026 when it will begin to decrease again.

A friend who lives in Florida told me large strawberry fields are in Plant City near Tampa, where he lives. In addition to a Strawberry Festival each spring, on the road to Plant City in eastern Hillsborough County, you have places to pick berries and shops where you can buy them during February and March.

Years ago, a friend since Junior High School and I picked strawberries in California, a backbreaking endeavor. Thinking you might like this experience in Costa Rica, I did a Google search but found no place to experience this except that you might do the tours mentioned above.

Can´t Just Pick ém Mom, Gotta Eat Some

While researching the subject, I learned that eight berries make a cup with about 50 calories. Strawberries contain a large amount of vitamin C. Each serving provides up to 160 percent of the recommended serving of the vitamin. They have no cholesterol, two grams of fiber, and also offer a source of potassium. These nutrients help maintain heart health and lower the risk of some cancers. All this, and they taste so good.

Growing this fruit is possible if you are at the right altitude and have at least 8 hours of sun daily. They need 1 to 1.5 inches of rain each week. If there is insufficient rain, water early in the day. If you try to grow strawberries, research for instructions so the crop will be great.


Incidentally, the last weekend this July, a farmers' market in Varablanca, Heredia, had an event called the Feria Nacional de las Fresas (Strawberries in Spanish). It included many activities in addition to focusing on strawberries. Maybe you can attend next year, provided this is an annual celebration.

Contacts and Links:


Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tourdefresacr, and...


Tel: 506-4002-1430


For even more information on strawberries in Costa Rica, the following link is to the Guiterrez farm near Cartago and gives an overview of the business:




¡Viva Fresas!



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

Rumbling - Rincón de la Vieja Activity


Rincón (Foreground), Peaceful, then...

The Rincón de la Vieja volcano in Northwest Costa Rica, and one of our six periodically active volcanoes (the others being Poás, Irazú, Miravalles, Arenal, and Turrialba) was busy spewing steam and gas during the late August to Early September this year. The second photo left shows one of those eruptions. And, of course, even though it´s only steam and gas, their is also the inevitable tension that it could get worse.


A local electronic newspaper recently published a summary of the legend behind the name of this volcano which I share with you here:


The indigenous legend "...is about Princess Curabanda whose lover Mixcoac, chief of a neighboring enemy tribe, who was thrown into the crater by her father Curabande, when he learned about their affair. She went on living on the side of the volcano, giving birth to a son. To be with its father, she threw her son into the volcano, too. She continued to live on the volcano and became a recluse living on the mountain, and was credited with powers of healing."


Why does it seem that all the legends in Costa Rica are about love affairs going awry?


Check Out Recent Earthquakes All Around the
World Posted by the
  Recent Quakes


¡Pura Vida!


Search the GGC Archives for Topics That Interest You


You can use our Archives to search for anything that has been written in more than 320 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.

Feature: Masquerade Day
(Costa Rican Version of Halloween)

Celebrating Halloween was not part of Costa Rican or Central American culture until the Spanish conquistadors brought it ashore in the early 1500´s.


Boruca Mask

After they left in the early 1700´s the practice continued to largely fade away with the exception of some of the indigenous peoples who retained and expanded their mask-making arts, such as the BriBri and Boruca.


The story goes that the first proper masquerade was organized in the city of Cartago by Rafael “Lito” Valerín, on August 2, 1824, for the occasion of the celebrations in honor of the Virgin of the Angels (Virgen de Los Angeles), Patroness of Costa Rica, called affectionately “La Negrita” by the Costa Rican people.


But Ticos love to have a reason to celebrate and recently, i.e., October 31, 1996, a new day called the National Day of the Masquerade was instituted to celebrate the heritage and traditions at this time of year. This is not a public or paid holiday but simply a way to celebrate the season as well as to show off artistic capabilities represented by indigenous culture. So the tradition of masquerading is coming back to life in Costa Rica!


Even in Front of the Cathedral
Just a Group of Friends
Maybe the Bridge Club

Masquerade Day’s tradition stems from carnival historically. In Costa Rica the tradition rarely includes knocking door to door for a trick-or-treat like in the States but instead each community is likely to have a schedule of festivities throughout the day that includes marches, parades, fiestas and just plain partying. Of course this makes it a really interesting day for the kiddies as well.


The costumes often represent the well known legends of Costa Rica, also known as Mantudos while a number of them are ghosts like La Llorona or La Mona.


Costa Rican masks used in these festivities are usually oversized papier-mâché heads that depict prominent and popular characters from politics, mythology (in this case, devils and animals are popular). Popular current characters from sports, films and even politics are not excluded.


Producing a mask can be a time-consuming affair:


1. The craftsman starts with a hand-made mold made from clay and the mold is left to dry for about a week.


2. The mold is then carefully and meticulously covered with strips of paper attached with glue produced from flour and water. This process is duly followed until the fifteenth layer of paper has been added.


3. Once the layers of paper are added and the clay is dry, the mold is removed leaving a perfectly shaped paper mache face. Much of the face art goes into making the face exaggerated, provocative or amusing. They range from the comical to the grotesque.


Musical groups known as Cimarron Bands are usually very much involved to support the parades and marches. Here is a breakdown of the instruments in a prominent Costa Rica band (don´t think you need the translation, which is good because GG doesn´t have any at this time), but the types are obvious:


La cimarrona en Santo Domingo de Heredia tradicionalmente ha utilizado los siguientes instrumentos según su función:

The antique photo right of a cimarron band shows a strong mix of wind instruments.


This holiday, coming up on October 31, is celebrated across Costa Rica but is particularly strong in Central Valley areas surrounding San José such as Cartago, Escazu, and Barva de Heredia where artisans have developed their mask-making skills longer.


Bring a horn amigos!

¡Pura Vida!


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




Is it a flower?


Looks like a fat bird of some type attacking the plant (right).


OK, you´ve probably already guessed it; it´s a fruit or vegetable.


But what´s different about it and where do you get it?



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?)


It is amazing how much the flow of new information has slowed down since the Pandemic has slowly dissipated. Let´s hope it stays that way and we can concentrate on the occaisional tidbit of new information about health.



¡Pura Vida!



Travel Quote of the Month

¡A Cachete!


GGC Bookshelf

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


Here are the books currently on our bookshelf:


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

Mariposa - Español The Chronicles as a Narrative

#1 Read More #2 Read More #3 Leer más aquí #4 Read More
gty ikl dft drt
Small Business Guide Making Time Count Overcoming Drinking Murder or Suicide?
#5 Read More #6 Read More #7 Read More #8 Read More
ser kio fty
Getting Around the Capital Retiring in Costa Rica Avoiding the Pitfalls What's the Sleuth Up To?
#9 Read More #10 Read More #11 Read More #12 Read More


awe drt
Spiritual Love Connection World War II True Story Wildfire and the Tribune World´s First Crypto Caper
#13 Read More #14 Read More #15 Read More #16 Read More
Costa Rica´s Capital      
#17 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



This fruit is called Pitaya or Pitahaya, known also as dragonfruit (maybe it´s the scaly sides that got it that moniker). GG has been buying this fruit in twosomes lately just to give it a try. Each one easily slices in half from top to bottom and reveals the purple colored flesh inside (there are species that are white inside also). The flesh is easily scooped out with a spoon and can be eaten without further preparation or included with other tropical fruits in fanciful or irregular form (it certainly adds color to any fruit plate). The taste of Pitahaya is very lightly sweet. The fruit claims healthful benefits especially for the digestive system.


A word of caution; the juice of the fruit is a liquid purple in color, probably something the ancient Egyptians would make into a dye and be proud of. It easily gets on everything including your hands but just as easily is washed off with soap.




¡Pura Vida!




ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Falls Garden Restaurant, Manuel Antonio

Location: The Falls Hotel, top of the mountain, across the street from "the airplane" (El Avion Restaurant) and 50 meters towards Quepos.

Hours: Breakfast (opens at 11 AM), Lunch and Dinner, Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.

Parking: Limited (in season, due to the hotel) in front of the restaurant.

Contacts: Tel.:2777-1115; E-mail: info@fallsresortcr.com;

Website: http://www.fallsgardencafe.com/


Reviewing ROMEOS: Alma L., Annie C., Barry S., Bob N., Christopher B., Glen N., Lawrence L.


It´s been one month shy of three years since the last time we reviewed this restaurant. It´s situated almost at the very top of Manuel Antonio. The restaurant is set off the main beach road at the back of the hotel, which helps reduce the noise from that road to a whimper. The dining area is surrounded by shrubbery and trees and a pool.


The dining room is decorated simply, but comfortably including some padding on the chairs which overcomes the typical hard wooden chair standard for the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area. The composite score for ambiance came in at 3.9 out of a maximum 5.0, the highest for this restaurant for the three values that we score on (Ambiance, Food Quality, Service).


The menu, at least for lunch is somewhat limited but did offer a good smattering of dishes that included meats, seafood and several creative uses of different grains like quinoa. GG selected a dish of steamed quinoa with a variety of seafood such as mussels, clams, shrimp and fish; but I passed on two small bits of octopus that I found a bit rubbery. The rest of the seafood and the combination were delicious.


Other ROMEOs ordered versions of pork tenderloin, tuna steak and even veggie fajitas, balsamic chicken and even chaufa rice (Peruvian rice with meats or seafood).


GG was able to try a new taste also. Having first come to Costa Rica 20 years ago, and living here now 15 years, I´ve seen fried ice cream on the desert menu many times but had never tried it. I finally struck out and ordered this interesting combination and was delighted by receiving a beautiful plate with the pastry enclosed vanilla cream cut in half and treated with a sweet passion fruit sauce, and accented with strawberry slices. Outstanding! At least two other ROMEOs went for the MA Standard . brownie with ice cream.


Value Index= 112


One of the other things I noticed was that the presentations on most plates were artful and colorful. The composite score for food quality came in at 3.8/5.0.


We were served by a young man who was polite, friendly and helpful. Several of the ROMEOs did note that the service (kitchen time) was a bit slow - I guess making all those plates pretty takes a little extra time. The composite score for service came in at 3.4/5.0, yielding an average for ambiance, food quality and service of 3.69.


GG´s quinoa with seafood, a michalada with ginger ale and the fried ice cream came in at ₡16,400 colones or about $31. The composite score for cost came in at 3.3/5.0 making the Value Index 3.69/3.3 = 112, a little above average for restaurants that we´ve reviewed in this area. While a little above average, this rating was down somewhat from the last review done in October of 2020.


The ROMEOs can once more attest that the Falls Garden continues to offer a good experience at restauranting but at a typical Manuel Antonio price.




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