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"Doing Latin America, Mostly by Luck"

Episode 24 - August 2010

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In This Issue: Broken News (World Cup Futbol Wrap-Up), Of Bridges and Cameras, Rain Update, Cuatro de Julio

Broken News

World Cup Futbol Wrap-Up

On Being a Republic for Ninety Days, Miscellany (Tenors Redux), R.O.M.E.O. Corner (Joker Pizza - Quepos)

CORRECTION. The Chronicles reported last month that the world's leading futbol player, Lio Messi, who normally leads the Barcelona team, led the Spanish team into the World Cup. A friend in Argentina pointed out that Lio is originally from Argentina and captained the National Argentine Team into the World Cup. Sorry, mis amigos to the south. My friend was very generous and said not to worry as Argentines will forgive a foreigner almost anything (with the possible exception of being Margaret Thatcher).

FLASH - Argentina lost horribly, 4-0 to Germany in the quarter finals. Que triste.

The U.S. Team, after tying England and Slovenia and beating Algeria, was eliminated by Ghana in the second level of eliminations called "octavos" (because the 16 teams play 8 games - clever these latinos). I'm told that this is the second time Ghana has spoiled the U.S. Team's aspirations. It's little solace that Ghana went on to get badly whacked by Uruguay in the quarter finals, 4 to 2 in overtime.Then Uruguay got trounced by Holland putting the Dutch into the finals.

Meanwhile, Germany was steadily marching along beating Australia, Serbia, Ghana, England, and then Argentina. But after those triumphs it had the unfortunate luck of meeting Spain where los espanoles eeked out a 1-0 victory sending the huns back to der fadderland. The Germans returned home with some face saved after playing a consolation game with Uruguay, beating them 3-2 and securing third place in the tournament for the Deutsche.

Spain, of course, emerged victorious over Holland in the finals with a 1-0 win, for their first world cup ever.

Having spent a good deal of time in Amsterdam in the '70's, I suspect the Dutch people back home were passing around the "kopstodts" (Dutch gin with a beer chaser, known as a "kick in the head"). I remember those Dutch versions of a boiler maker well; that is, from what I remember of the '70's.

I wonder what the Spanish celebrated with. Perhaps a good Amontillado...

Spanish Team Victorious - Excelente Amigos!

The Record for Spain versus:
Switzerland 0-1; Honduras 2-0; Chile 2-1, Portugal 2-1; Paraguay 1-0; Germany 1-0; Nederlands 1-0

Jonge Genever
Dutch Gin Version of Kickapoo Joy Juice - Hic!

Of Bridges and Cameras

Remember the piece our hero wrote recently about the new bridge in Quepos (Episode 22) which our editorial staff (are you kidding, that's me dudes) christened the Monge Memorial Bridge? This bridge is named after our illustrious mayor who is currently in the latter months of his four-year tenure; which terminates in 2011. The previous report was tongue in cheek, of course, but the saga that is our mayor continues.

Only a week or so after the bridge was dedicated (picture right) with Oscar standing by the Costa Rican flag next to his memorial plaque, the OIJ (Costa Rica's version of the FBI) tried to find Oscar at his Mayor's office for the purpose of arresting him. This is how one reporter summed it up:

"Judicial agents entered and searched the Municipalidad de Quepos Thursday and later said an arrest order would be issued for the mayor, Óscar Monge.

Prosecutors from the Fiscalía de Aguirre y Parrita and agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization were involved in the search. They said they were investigating a case of conversion.

Later the Poder Judicial said that the mayor was suspected in the sale of six cameras that are the property of the municipality. The mayor is suspected of keeping the money from the sale of at least one digital camera, the Poder Judicial said."

Smile, Mr. Mayor, you're on Candid Camera.

Oscar Monge - Mayor of Quepos
(at least for the moment)
Wazzup, Mr. Mayor?
The Monge Bridge Dedication
Oscar's the Thin Dude Near the Flag

Rain Update

We're having an atypical year in the rainforest. They said the same last year but then it was all about a drier than normal season. (Do you ever wonder who "they" are? Some dudes smoking pot in a hot tub in southern California I'll bet)

This year, they say we're in for an abnormally high rainfall. For the Central Pacific Region where gg lives, the prediction is for 5,070 millimeters (about 200 inches) of rain, some 1,450 millimeters (57 inches)  above the annual average or 40 percent more. That's 200 inches or 5 meters or 6.5 yards or 16.7 feet. (Once an engineer, always an engineer)

With about four months to go in the rainy season, our experience so far supports the forecast. We had another heavy rainstorm recently that was a real gully washer but not as severe or as wet as the brutal tormenta that hit here on June 1 (Episode 23). Nevertheless, it did increase the carving out of the landscape started by the first storm (see pictures).

Our friend Paluca (Episode 21)has christened the new gully which drains the area up wind of the crossed palms the "Rio Paluca". For our part the ROMEOS have some concern that our tans are fading.


The Uprooted Palm Tree as First Depicted Last Month in Episode 23,  The creek where the kids are playing wasn't there two months ago. The severe storm that hit earlier formed the creek and uprooted the palm. Note that the tree to the right of the slanted one has a white ring and is standing upright. Now look at the picture to the right where the tree with the ring now forms a cross with the other.
Same Place This Month

                                                                                                   Cuatro de Julio

Tio Sam Leads the Kids Parade

The ex-pat community in Costa Rica holds a 4th of July picnic each year and this year marked
the 50th anniversary of this tradition. The picnic is organized by a group of private citizens called the American Colony Committee. Several thousand Gringos and Tico guests enjoyed a good, old fashioned outing replete with beer, soft drinks, hot dogs, bagels (yes!) and other goodies, all for the modest entrance fee of 2,500 colones or $5.

Our chronicles reporter even got to meet the new U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, the Honorable Anne Slaughter Andrew, who seemed a bit overwhelmed by the whole affair but was cordial nonetheless. Here are some other images of the event:

The University of Costa Rica Band Provided Excellent Renditions of American
Patriotic Songs as Well as Both National Anthems
at the Flag Raising Ceremony
Ya Gotta Have a Water Balloon Toss on the 4th
U.S. Ambassador (Anne Andrew) at Work
(She's the Dudette in the Red Dress)
Marines Officiating at the Flag Raising Ceremony
Officials Officially Officiating

We had a great time. Perhaps it was me but there seemed to be a higher level of emotional vibrations in the crowd when the national anthem was played than I've experienced in the past in the States. The Star Spangled Banner can be just a little more meaningful for an ex-patriot than would ordinarily be the case back in the old country.

On Being a Republic for 90 Days

Speaking of (or alluding to) being a republic, here's an interesting tidbit I came across in the press; a Republic that lasted 90 days. No, we're not talking about Honduras or another Central American country, we're talking about an interesting historical aspect of our own gringo land development.

Back in the early 1800's virtually all of Central and South America was under the control of Spain. Many of what would become the Gulf States (Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Texas) had been claimed and fought over by the European superpowers (Great Britain, France, Spain) since long before the American revolution. At the turn of the 19th century, Senor Jefferson was president and it was obvious that the young country was in an expansionist mood and had designs on the panhandle and peninsula of Florida (often called "East Florida" then) as well as the lands between the modern Pensicola and the Texas border, known then as West Florida. The ports along the Gulf were looking mighty tempting and strategically important in the long term. Old Tom would probably be chastised today by the know-nothings of our time as an imperialist war-monger but he was certainly a key factor in developing the country as we know it today.


In 1803, the fledgling United States (constitutionally 16 years old) got into the picture by making the Louisiana Purchase from France. Part of the territory was right in the middle of West Florida.

In 1810, rebels from Baton Rouge to the Florida panhandle rose up against the King of Spain, declared their independence and formed the Republic of West Florida, which stood for 90 days as a nation before being annexed by the United States. The president at the time (Madison had succeeded Jefferson) declared that the territory was a part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Big Bully.

For $15 Million We Got This from France (Good Deal,eh?) La mauvaise vente, mes amis
"Bonnie Blue" Flag of the Republic of West Florida

In the short time that the fledgling nation existed, it came up with a neat flag shown on the right above (although they might have first consulted with the lone star state on the design).The Constitution of West Florida was based largely on the U.S. Constitution, and divided the government into three branches: executive (with a governor at the head), judicial, and legislative. The legislature consisted of a Senate and House of Representatives. The Governor was chosen by the legislature. According to the constitution, the official name of the nation was the "State of Florida".

The first and only governor was Fulwar Skipwith (really), a former American diplomat who had helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. In his inaugural address, Skipwith mentioned the possibility of annexation to the United States:

"…wherever the voice of justice and humanity can be heard, our declaration, and our just rights will be respected. But the blood which flows in our veins, like the tributary streams which form and sustain the father of rivers, encircling our delightful country, will return if not impeded, to the heart of our parent country. The genius of Washington (the first prez methinks, certainly not the current town - ed.), the immortal founder of the liberties of America, stimulates that return, and would frown upon our cause, should we attempt to change its course."

The marching song of the West Floridian army, a force slightly larger than the current Costa Rican army, included the lyrics:

West Florida, that lovely nation,
Free from king and tyranny,
Thru’ the world shall be respected,
For her true love of Liberty.

Too bad it didn't last, the Capitol of of the Republic of Florida might have been Sarasota and the White House built on Siesta Key. Why I might have been Secretary of Public Recreation, concentrating on best use of the sugar sand there. I coudda ben a contendah...

The revolt along the Gulf inspired further rebellions across the hemisphere, including those in Venezuela, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico and Chile. In the 15 years following the West Florida Revolt, many of the present geopolitical boundaries of Latin America began taking shape.

And to think it all started in Florida.



Do you remember the Three Tenors from last month's Chronicle, the young men who sang O Solo Mio (Episode 23 - Miscellany)? The nerd looking young man is named Piero Barone (Pete Baron to the Rio Lindans), a 15 year old Italian dude with a Pavarotti-like voice. He 's at it again, this time singing "Granada" at : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4aIYJlxzpo and "Un Amore Cosi Grande" at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JKkvB6psGk&NR=1. What an incredible voice. These YouTube pages also provide many links to other songs by these youngsters, both as a trio and individually, as well as links to many other artists. The Chronicles Editorial Board (yeah, right again, that's just me) thanks our reader, Bob Childers of San José, for first putting us onto these three prodigies.


R.O.M.E.O. Corner (Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Joker Pizza (Quepos) (N.B. this restaurant has been CLOSED since this review)

Speaking of Italian artistry, let's talk pizza.

Everyone needs an anchor or two in their dining repertoire and Joker Pizza in downtown Quepos fits that need for many, including the ROMEOS. Joker has been voted unanimously by the founding members (fathers?) of the Club as the best pizza place in town, and that includes all the places in Manuel Antonio, some of which offer very acceptable pies.

The ROMEO Club meets at the Joker regularly after we have been wandering around aimlessly in Quepos or attending some event in the area.

Sometimes life in the city or jungle is not all about unusual cuisine or elegant surroundings or a buena vista but just a matter of good quality, fair price and consistency. That's Joker. And if you're going to eat pizza, it never hurts to have a real Italian dude make it.

David, the owner of Joker Pizza hails from Milano and fits the bill. He is simply a basic and good, real Italian cook.

Joker Pizza
Just Across from Farmacia Economica on Main Street
in Downtown Quepos
Joker Staff in the Kitchen: David the Owner Right, Jessica
- a Great Server and an Unidentified Assistant
Four Sloths ROMEO Rating
to Joker Pizza

And it's not all just about pizza either. The restaurant offers more than a dozen forms of pizza that range from cheese to hawaiian (Ticos love pineapple and ham on their pies) in four sizes from personal to family. In addition, there usually are a few forms of pasta on the specials whiteboard such as lasagna (vegetable or meat), tagliatelli or tortellini.

David also makes a very respectable Osso Buco. For those from Rio Linda, be advised that these are veal shanks, braised in stock with vegetables and finished in a reduction of the stock enhanced by a tomato sauce. That one is my personal favorite - yummers.

Four sloths to Joker Pizza.

The ROMEO Below is Contemplating His Next Dining Adventure in Accordance With Club Tradition

Just to set things straight, ROMEOS are not all work, work, work to find another fine restaurant to rate. Oh no, we also find the time for recreation (example left) and sight seeing (example right).


I'd like to tell you that the surfing dude above is yours truly but these days I refrain from activities that show the potential of breaking one's back. The pic above right is Elephant Island at Sunset; the one in the middle is the porch at Cabinas Jacaranda in Puerto Viejo (see Episode 18).

Tuanis, mae!

El Trabajo de Los ROMEOS es Nunca Termine
(The Work of a ROMEO is Never Done)
While the ROMEO on the Left was in Dreamland, GG Took Just One More Picture of Elephant Island. What, You See Something Else Here? Oh Yeah, the Ladies Did Ask to Have Their Picture Taken and I Snapped a Second Photo With My Cell Phone. Would You Believe They're from Miami.
Pura Vida!
Don Roberto de Quepos,
El Gringo Dorado
Pura Vida!

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