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Broken News

Rumble Talk

¿Que Es Eso?

Expats in
Costa Rica

Amigos & Enemigos

Health Stuff

What's In A Word

ROMEO Corner

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Archived Editions

Topical Archives

Restaurant Archives

In This Issue:

  1. Broken News (Motorcycle Accidents Up, Tanks...You're Welcome Danny, Unbelievable Headlines Dept., Quepos Quickies - Good Eyes, Futbol is Back!, Memorial Day Once More)
  2. Rumble Talk (It's Still All About Turrialba)
  3. ¿Que Es Eso? Department (Bet Ya Can't Guess This One!)
  4. Feature: Expats in Costa Rica (Counting the Uncountable
  5. Feature: Amigos & Enemigos (Two Things Out of the Past)
  6. Health Stuff (Trends in Unusual Transplants, Local Disease Stats On Dengue, Eggs Against Diabetes)
  7. What's-in-a-Word (Answer to ¿Que Es Eso?, Groingoization of Español definitions)
  8. ROMEO Corner (Barba Roja - Manuel Antonio)

Wisdom of the Ages

“When we age we shed many skins: ego, arrogance, dominance, self-opionated, unreliable, pessimism, rudeness, selfish, uncaring ... Wow, it's good to be old!”  ― Stephen Richards







A GG Selfie


If you would like to read a version of the Golden Gringo Chronicles

in a narrative format, as a hard-copy novel or an e-book

check it out HERE



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

Motorcycle Accidents Up


On a per capita basis (or per 100,000 capitas), motorcycle ownership in Costa Rica is higher than in the States at 3,065 per 100k versus 2,689 in the U.S. On a land area basis the difference, or density, is even more startling at over three times the U.S. rate: 7.2 million cycles per million square miles in Costa Rica versus 2.2 million per million in the States (yeah, I know, Costa Rica only has 20,000 square miles while the U.S. is 3.8 million; that's why we're talking density). Any way you measure it, population or land density basis, their is a greater "presence" of motorcycles in Costa Rica. And, unfortunately, the accident statistics are beginning to show it.


This One Was a Fatality

In the first three months of 2016, there were 4,976 motorcycle related injuries in Costa Rica and through May 13 of this year there were 81 fatalities. That fatality rate is almost double that of 2015. Analyzing both these figures as annual incident rates per 100,000 population and comparing it to U.S. experience we get the following for injury rate: Costa Rica = 433, U.S. = 29; and the following for fatality rate: Costa Rica = 177, U.S. = 1.4. Just for comparison, not necessarily a meaningful one, the murder rate in Costa Rica is 8.4 and in the U.S. it's 3.8 (2014); at least that stat is in the same order of magnitude.


Some of the problem is simply a lack of respect for driving rules on the part of the cyclists combined with a seeming inability, or disinterest, on the part of the police to enforce them. For example, keeping their place in line is by far the exception for motorcyclists rather than the rule. Jumping the line, riding in between cars, passing on the right, not wearing a helmet (even though the law requires one) are, unfortunately, common place practices.


juiThe photo to the right shows how some cyclists negotiate traffic. That particular photo is from San José but the illegal and dangerous techniques are just as common in Quepos, perhaps even more so.


Some times the problem hits home. I recently inquired about a certain store clerk who used to work at one of our supers here but who I hadn't seen in weeks. "Oh no, senor, he won't be back, he was killed by a truck while riding his motocycleta a few weeks ago". This very nice, very friendly young man in his twenties left a wife and two small kids. Tragic.


Tanks...You're Welcome Danny


Daniel Ortega has been president of Nicaragua for the last nine years, his second term. He was also in control of the country from 1979 to 1990, first as "Coordinator" of the Junta of National Reconstruction after the Contra war from 1979 to 1985 and then as president from 1985 to 1990. He was elected again as president in 2007. In recent years he got the national assembly to re-write the constitution to allow him to run again. Essentially, after ruling Nicaragua for over 30 years he's become president for life.


True to form and plan he was recently nominated once more by his party, the FSLN, to be their candidate for president. It appears there is little effective opposition at the presidential level in the general election set for this November. The election also includes selection of the 90 members of the national assembly in a complicated, multi-level process that virtually assures assembly members friendly to Ortega.


Russian T-721B1 Tank

In a separate report, the press noted that Nicaragua recently purchased, for $80 million, 50 new Russian T-721B1 tanks like the one in the photo right. These are the same tanks currently being used in Venezuela to maintain order in the face of the collapse of their socialist government. To put this purchase in perspective, the $80 million purchase is more than 50% greater than the entire current annual military budget for Nicaragua. Here's another way to look at it: on the basis of relative GDP's, this would be like the U.S. spending, in one single purchase, $119 Trillion.


The fact that we have tanks to the north of us and tanks to the south of us (Venezuela) is making some Costa Ricans nervous. Tanks Danny, tanks?


Unbelievable Headlines Dept.


A recent daily electronic newspaper offered this headline: "U.S. Taxpayers to Fight Bovine Flatulence". And they're going to do it in Costa Rica yet. Now that the U.S. has gotten the annual budget deficit down to a bit less than a half trillion dollars a year (yes, I'm being cheeky) and has stabilized the national debt to a bit less than 20 trillion, evidently there is room once more for funding creative projects.


Cow-Fart Gate
("We're Just Trading Emissions")

In this case the U.S. is giving $1.1 million (augmented by another $400,000 from the U.N.) to be distributed to some 40 farms and ranches in Ticoland to come up with ways to reduce methane gas emissions from cows (i.e., direct flatulence plus gas release from their excrement). Bovine stomachs process grass and feeds in such a way as to generate considerable methane in their emissions, as both direct gaseous output and more that is entrapped in the solids.


The details of why it is that studying cow flatulence will help us has not been purported or disclosed (more greenhouse gas mania methinks) I guess the "study" is intended to change what the moo people eat. Or perhaps Ticos need to stop feeding them gallo pinto?


Has anybody asked the question as to what happens to the taste of milk or meat when the feed is changed? Nyah, let's leave that to another study.


Quepos Quickies


Good Eyes. A fairly new reader of the Golden Gringo Chronicles sent GG an email pointing out a typo in the email link at the bottom of the Chronicle. Instead of it being gg@goldengringo.com, it was written as gg@gorldengringo.com with an extra "r" in the golden. That, of course, made the address unusable. It turns out the error came from an accidental and unintended modification of the template I use and it was found to have been in error for four months. It has now been corrected in the archives.


Many thanks to reader David J. who picked up the error. David attributed his many years as a lawyer for seeing: "'Typos' as radioactive in my eyes, making them easy to find". If GG was still in the market for an attorney to review a major contract or document or protect me from an avaricious opposing attorney, David would be the kind of guy I would want to have on my side.


Futbol is Back. The Chronicles reported on GG's great disappointment at the neighborhood futsal, the indoor futbol arena, being put out of commission for two weeks to replace the floor (see Futbol Tremors). Six weeks later the games have restarted (Tico time my friends, Tico time).


The new floor (artificial turf) looks great and some additional sprucing up was accomplished including painting the arena and installing a new scoreboard that includes a minute timer - now the refs don't have to keep checking their wristwatches. The old, much smaller electronic scoreboard is now used solely to keep track of team fouls.


The indoors version of "soccer" played here consists of two teams of five players for two thirty minute periods. When a team gets five fouls in one period, the sixth one turns into a one-on-one penalty shot against the portero (goalie). The clock now keeps running during the two minute half time break.


It's fun to be back in the stands again. ¡Pura Vida!


Memorial Day Once More

Memorial Day Once More. GG has become accustomed to attending an annual pig roast thrown by U.S. military service veterans on U.S. Memorial Day, May 30 and this year was no exception.


This year's event was just as nice. Held at Rancho Leon in Paquita, a suburb of Quepos (stop laughing), the U.S. flags flew, the music blared and the fellowship permeated the hall. The fellow sitting next to me in the photo to the right is Bill Gannon, a very long-time resident here, like +40 years. His son Kevin recently graduated as a medical doctor and set up a mixed practice in Quepos; that means he has CAJA duties (National Health System) as well as a private practice. Thanks go to Anita Myketuk, another 40+ year resident of the area for the photo.


The Embassy in San José sent two of its decorated marines to compliment the occasion and complement the affair. The roast pork and accompaniments were great, as usual. Not being a service veteran myself I listened in on the friendly jabber that went on between branches of the service and learned for the first time that ARMY means "Aren't Ready for the Marines Yet" (just reporting). It was another great Memorial Day.

Last year I wrote a more extensive article on this event - to read about it go here.



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

The action in this part of the world continues to center around Volcan Turrialba which is still rumbling and spewing ash.


In one three day period near the middle of the month there were at least nine ash eruptions. On Tuesday, June 21 alone there were eruptions at 1:18 a.m., 1:59 a.m., 3:42 a.m., 3:47 a.m., 6:43 a.m., 6:53 a.m., 11:57 a.m. and 2:42 p.m. The photo to the left shows what a typical ash eruption looked like. Needless to say, parts of the central valley to the west and north of Turrialba were again covered with a thin coat of dusty ash.


While this was going on, a conference was in progress at the Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel. The attendees were a group of Latin American earthquake and volcano experts. How's that for timing.


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

¿Que Es Eso? Department
(What is This?)


This is not a toy, it's real.


You're job is to give it a name. What am I?


Clue: I live in the ocean.


Answer in the What's-in-a-Word Section below.





Expats in Costa Rica
(Counting the Uncountable)

"Results from the 2011 Census showed that 15,898 U.S. citizens live in Costa Rica, according to numbers released by the National Statistics and Census Institute." So said the Tico Times back in 2012. Since then, the number of U.S. expats here bandied about by various sources hovers in the 16,000 to 20,000 range. The table below is an estimate of the number of expats from various home countries currently living in Costa Rica (and the emphasis is on "estimate" for reasons to be explained).


The largest number of expats here is from neighboring Nicaragua as might be expected. The situation between Costa Rica and Nicaragua is analogous to that between the U.S. and Mexico in one important way: both the U.S. and Costa Rica offer better economic attraction and employment opportunities to their neighboring populations. The U.S. and Costa Rica share another commonality - no one is really sure exactly how many illegals there are. It's quite easy to walk over the Tico/Nica border, most of which is heavy forest. There's also a significant length of the border along the San Juan river which a small boat can traverse in a few minutes.


The real number of Nicaraguenses in Ticoland is probably significantly higher than the estimate above. A number of other sources put the figure at close to double that shown but, again, that's "unofficial".


The second biggest expat group is the Colombians who come in at a number quite close to the number of "estadosunidenses" (people from the U.S.A. - USn's). I use the term USn's here to be locally politically correct as I was reminded once (by a Colombiano) that all people from the continent of the Americas are "Americans" including Canadians, Central Americans and South Americans.


Casually, most Ticos don't mind us using the term Americans in place of USn's and often do so themselves. When combined with Canadians, however, whether you're talking about each country separately or Canada and the U.S. combined, we become "norteamericanos" (North Americans). Of course Mexico is technically norteamericano by geography as it's not really a part of Central America; at least it's not normally considered part of Central America so, by default it must be norteamericano.


Now that we've made all that perfectly clear...


The Caption Reads: "Outrageous! Osborne's (British Chancellor of the Exchequer) Stopped the Winter Fuel Allowance for Us Expats!"

Almost no one I've talked to believes the number shown above of USn's living in Costa Rica is accurate. The real number of U.S. expats "living" here is likely to be higher, perhaps significantly higher, for a couple of reasons.


Firstly, there are a number of people who own property here who use it less than six months per year and don't necessarily have an official residency document. I recently learned that you can own a home here and not have a residency permit. Are these people counted as expat residents? Probably not, but they do split the time between here and "home" or elsewhere, in effect living here at least a good part of the time. (sounds a bit like Florida, doesn't it?)


Likewise, there are a significant number of expats, particularly USn's, that actually live here but have never obtained an official residency document. Some of this group are people who are in the process, i.e., "en trámite", of getting an official residency document (called a cédula). This process might take 6 months to 1-1/2 years depending on the astuteness of the person applying in getting all their proper docs together and/or depending on the whims of bureaucracy in the immigration department at any given time. Although, theoretically, those that are "en trámite" are theoretically exempt from having to renew their passports every 90 days, in practice it's safer to do so. Once, despite having an "en trámite" status and the document to prove it, I was refused a new 90 days visa when I was 11 months en trámite: see Gullible Travels.


Panama Border Crossing
at Paso Canoas

There are also a significant number of people that, for one reason or another, just don't get around to applying for or getting a cédula. You can spend anywhere from $700 to $2,500 to get one of these things, depending on how much outside help you pay for (the lower number is closer to the actual government fees). A reticence in getting a cédula may happen because of procrastination, financial difficulty in handling the fees mentioned above, or a possible blot on the stateside police record of the applicant that might disqualify them (a friend once said that some people that come to Costa Rica are unwanted while others are wanted).


Most (but not all) of those not pursuing the process as well as the en trámite group simply make a trip outside the country, usually to a border like Panama or Nicaragua, every 90 days. They step outside for as little as a few hours then get a new 90 day lease (visa) stamped on their passport as they come back in. The common term for people who do this over and over and over again is "perpetual tourists". It's not uncommon for an expat here to know several people in this group who have been practicing this game, some even for years.


Norteamericano in Full Drag

For the Canadian expat figure in the table I contacted the Canadian Embassy directly. They were very nice and responded quickly, giving me the number shown in the table. That nice round figure of 10,000 leads me to suspect that the Canadians, like the USn's, don't really know for sure how many of their citizens are really living here, probably because of the same reasons listed above.


Many people believe, despite the relatively insignificant numbers of norteamericanos in relation to the total population of Costa Rica, that the culture is slowly undergoing a certain degree of “agringamiento” (gringoization). Of course there is no doubt that the influx of burger joints like McDonald's and other USn companies like Walmart, Office Depot, Intel and others have helped this.



But there is even more evidence of this phenomenon when you look at the Spanish corruptions of new and old words that have crept into the local language. A recent article in QCostaRica listed these examples: Feisbuk; Magdónal; Blac Fráidei; Tenksguibin; Guatafoc; Ishiu; Guaréber; Plis; Fon; Mitin.


You might be able to figure out what the meaning of these words are in English by employing Spanish pronunciation on the above and thereby approximating Spanish phonetics? Then again you may not be able. Go ahead, try it; it's fun and and you can check yourself against the real definition of each word in the What's-in-a-Word Section below.


¡Bwaynah Sweartah Ahmeego! y Bwen Deeah!


¡Solo Bueno!



Amigos and Enemigos
(Two Things Out of the Past)

After living here awhile, two things became readily apparent to the most casual observer (one of my favorite phrases, stolen from an old calculus professor when he was nailing down a theorem). These two things are: 1) the country does not produce automobiles and 2) Costa Rica does not have an army (or air force or navy), i.e. there is no military.


But did you know that the country once had both, although not at the same time.


The Costa Rican BTV - The Amigo

Back in 1972, General Motors, then the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world (now number two after Toyota) initiated a program to help under-industrialized countries throughout the world establish vehicle manufacturing. They undertook this venture with the philosophy that it was the "moral obligation of industrialized societies to help less industrialized countries". The world needed basic transportation said GM to help local economies grow.


The program was designed to produce what they called a BTV or Basic Transportation Vehicle (photo left). With the BTV, assembly could occur in a building about the size of a barn, and would use the simplest of techniques. The body would be formed from sheet metal "nipped" or cut out of sheets, not bent or formed, eliminating curved metal and the need for expensive equipment to make it. The emphasis was on manual labor rather than capital investment, the former being what small countries needed the most at the time (jobs) and the latter being largely unavailable (that's why they were called "underdeveloped"). The "power plant" was based on a small (1.2 liter) engine from the Vauxhall U.K. division of GM. The basic investment in the technology on the part of any owner would be $50,000 and GM would provide technical assistance through start-up.


In Costa Rica, the vehicle was name the "Amigo" as it was in a couple of other Spanish speaking countries. Now that's a damned good name for a Costa Rican car, certainly better than the Chevrolet Nova. "No va" in Spanish means "doesn't go" - seems GM missed that one in their naming process. I also heard it meant something nasty about your mother in Japanese. My (ex) wife had a Chevy Nova when we got married - the Nova was discontinued in 1978.


The Costa Rican Amigo was less than 12 feet long (3.5 meters), weighed about 2,600 pounds (1,200 kilos) and had a hauling capacity of a half-ton in it's flat bed rear end. The 1.2 liter engine was complimented with a four gear (Vauxhall) manual tranny. The look of the vehicle was similar to that of the Toyota Land Cruiser during that period. The cost of a "fully loaded" (yuk,yuk) Amigo in the '70's in today's values was about 980,000 colones (slightly over $1,800). The low purchase cost, moderate fuel consumption and the flat bed rear design made it a favorite of Costa Rican farmers for hauling off their produce. The cab had room only for the driver and a passenger. (why do I believe Ticos could get at least three in that cab not to speak of two to three more on top of the yucca and cabbage in the back?)


It's not clear why the Amigo stopped being produced by the end of the 1970's, around the same time as the Chevy Nova, but now the both of them are only memories to those who lived through the period, like GG. My guess is that the advent of cheap, well built Japanese vehicles during that time sounded the Amigo's death knell.


Jose Maria Figueres

The second thing that Costa Rica had at one time was an army. There were various military organizations and armies existing in Costa Rica for the 127 years between the Americas-wide declaration of independence from Spain in 1821 and the founding of the currently existing republic, the Second Republic in 1948. The military was abolished by President José Maria Figueres Ferrer at the conclusion of the country's civil war in 1948. The formal establishment of the Second Republic in 1949 included a no military clause in the constitution.


So Costa Rica has had no military since 1949, right? Well, not completely right.

With the elimination of the army in 1949, a Civil Guard was formed, basically for border security. With a force of only 1,200 (later expanded to 2,000) it was obviously not a threat to neighboring countries and only established to be a defensive unit. It was later expanded further and converted to the Fuerza Publica, a sort of national police force that retains responsibility for border safety and control today.


So that's that; no more national guard or army, right? Well, not exactly.


Costa Rica UEI in Training in Colombia

Many people don't know that Costa Rica maintains a military type unit called the Special Intervention Unit (Spanish abbreviation is UEI or Unidad Especial de Intervención). The UEI is only 70 strong but trains as a military unit including sniping and combat techniques. They recently participated in the Americas-wide Fuerzas Comando training games put on by the U.S. MIlitary Southern Command in Colombia and and took 10th place ahead of Paraguay, Chile, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and Suriname. Colombia took first place ahead of the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces Group.


The main charge of the UEI is to intercept narco traffickers, in addition to rescuing hostages and acting as a high-intensity counter-terrorist unit. It is rare to hear of them being used and their size would not suggest they be used for military defense, which is probably why they were not deployed in 2010 when Nicaragua decided to annex a small part of northeast Costa Rica. Deploying the UEI then could have easily resulted in a conflict. Instead, Costa Rica has been pursuing a resolution of the conflict through the World Court but the leadership in Nicaragua has already stated they won't abide by any decision from the court that reverses the Nica action. And Danny's got the tanks, remember?


With a strong military to the north that now includes 50 new Russian tanks, allowing Nicaragua to take over a small piece of disputed land might be the price Costa Rica has to pay to maintain demilitarized. Let's hope the price does not get any heavier.


¡Pura Vida! 



Health Stuff

This is a new department in the Chronicles and comes about because GG found himself writing something related to health or medical advances every month either as an item in the Broken News section or as a Feature. Let's see if this works as a better organizer.


Note: The information given in this section is offered as news reports only and does not indicate GGC confirmation of the accuracy of the treatment or a recommendation to pursue it nor can we nor do we guarantee the efficacy of the results proffered.

(How's that for making up a disclaimer!?)


Trends in Unusual Transplants


In the June 2015 issue, GG noted that at least one doctor believes that a full body transplant is a distinct possibility in the not too distant future. Several people have signed up for this procedure, if and when it becomes available, discussion and arguments on ethical and moral issues notwithstanding. Renowned Physicist and Professor, Stephen Hawking is one of them.


Now comes word of another advance, this time in penis transplants (just reporting amigos, I don't make this stuff up). The first transplant of this type in a human being was attempted by the Chinese a decade or so ago but the organ was later amputated because of psychological considerations, primarily with the patient's wife (details not offered). This, the unkindest cut of all, twice, c'mon; I think I might have amputated the marriage instead - Ed. Two years ago the procedure was done again, this time in South Africa and the patient appears to be enjoying full restoration of his faculties as well as psychological acceptance.


Most recently, the first successful penis transplant in the U.S. was reported last month as having been done at Mass General in Boston for a man who had lost his personal organ due to cancer. Remember, these are transplants from deceased donors, they are not implants. The Boston patient seems to be doing well both physically and psychologically.


I'm sure readers are pleased that GG didn't show illustrative diagrams or photos in this particular article.


Update: While the above was going on, the Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) in Costa Rica announced a contest. People are being encouraged to come up with an "inspirational phrase" to encourage organ donations of all kinds. In light of the transplant news above, I dare you to come up with a name that fits the challenge of the Ministerio de Salud and includes this new technology!


Local Disease Stats On Dengue


On a recent visit to our local hospital to obtain my monthly allotment of medications, GG found an old friend that had been missing for some months, a chart that hospital management puts together that keeps an annual running count of treatments they dispense, classified by disease, injury or problem. The photo at the left is of the chart and this one shows the totals by case for the years 2012 through 2015. I know it's hard to read but don't feel bad, it's also hard to read standing in front of it as it's hand written with less than perfect penmanship.


I took special note of the mosquito-borne disease section. That would include dengue and zika, There were no cases of zika treated at Quepos hospital last year and at press time only two cases had been reported in the Quepos canton so far this year. In Garrabito Province (Jacó) the year to date count of zika cases was reported at 86 by the end of June so the bad skeeters may be working their way towards us but have yet to reach us in force.


Dengue trended upward in the two years following the major rain events we had in 2010, leveled off and was on a decline until this year. In 2015 the total number of cases totaled a low 147. To get the current count on dengue for 2016 required referring to another chart that is posted outside the director of the hospital's office. It said dengue cases through mid-may of this year have been 208, which at an annual rate, if the trend continues, would be over 400 for the year. It is somewhat surprising that dengue has spiked because until recently we had very little rain.


Watch out for the skeeters amigos, while zika and dengue are on the loose. If any one cares, the bat count at the hospital was only six.


Eggs Against Diabetes


One of consequences of a country becoming more affluent seems to be an increase in diseases of the affluent, like diabetes. As a Type II myself, I watch for news of what's developing to fight it.


The rate of diabetes (I & II) in Costa Rica is 8.6% of the population and in the United States is closer to 10%. That difference might be explained alone by the difference in average age between the two countries (about 5 years higher for the U.S.) and the fact that diabetes is much more prevalent in older age groups (like the one the GG dude is in).


Now comes a press report which states that, in order to get your blood sugar down, do this: Boil an egg in the afternoon, then peel it and pierce it several times with a fork. After that, put the egg in a larger container, pour vinegar over it and leave the egg overnight. In the morning, eat the egg with a glass of warm water. Repeat the procedure for a couple of days, then visit a specialist and compare your blood sugar test results before and after the procedure – they should be far lower than before!


Doesn't sound like a long term solution but I do like hard-boiled eggs, even with a little vinegar flavor, Waddayatink, does this procedure come under the heading "How to Trick the Doc" or maybe "Who Do You Think You're Fooling?"




Travel Quote of the Month

"Foreigners cannot enjoy our food, I suppose, any more than we can enjoy theirs. It is not strange; for tastes are made, not born. I might glorify my bill of fare until I was tired; but after all, the Scotchman would shake his head, and say, "Where's your haggis?" and the Fijan would sigh and say, 'Where's your missionary?'"  Mark Twain


For the uninitiated, Haggis is defined as: "a Scottish dish consisting of a sheep's or calf's offal mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning and boiled in a bag, traditionally one made from the animal's stomach" (I had this delicacy once in Edinburgh and will probably never have it again, thank you very much - I guess what bothered me was that it tasted like cattle offal mixed with suet, oatmeal and seasoning and boiled in bovine's stomach).


And I have no idea what a Fijan missionary is; the only reference I can find about it concerns natives killing a missionary in 1867 and eating him. Anybody out there know this one?

I think I'll stick to Gallo Pinto with Lizano Sauce.



Answer to ¿Que Es Eso?


The answer to the question of what this is, is: No one knows!


It washed up from the ocean onto a Costa Rican beach. It's not the first thing that has done so and failed to be identified. There are still many species in the ocean that remain undiscovered and apparently this is one of them.


If you have any information that can help authorities identify it, speak up. (I wonder what it does with those mandibles; crush crabs perhaps?)


Gringoization of Español


Answers to the quiz above: Feisbuk (Facebook); Magdónal (McDonald's); Blac Fráidei (Black Friday); Tenksguibin (Thanksgiving); Guatafoc (WTF); Ishiu (Issue); Guaréber  (Whatever); Plis (Please); Fon (Phone); Mitin(Meeting).

Mae! (Dude!)




ROMEO Corner
(Retired Old Men Eating Out)

Barba Roja, Manuel Antonio

Location: At the top of Manuel Antonio hill near cafe Milagro, Salsapuedes, Emilio's, Agua Azul and others.
Hours: Monday to Sunday, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Parking: Limited in front of the restaurant, there is a parking attendant.
Contact: Tel.: 2777 5159 / 2777 0331; Email:
info@barbarojarestaurant.com; Website: http://www.barbarojarestaurant.com/home.html

Reviewing ROMEOS: Anita M., Bob N., Brian M., Lance M., Mary M. Pam, Chris, Sheri, Cari, Sean T., Tom O., Anna

To Review Our Rating System and Procedure, go here: R.O.M.E.O. Rating System


When It's Not Raining

The physical plant at Barba Roja has not changed much since the last ROMEO Review in March of 2014. Unfortunately we were hindered by a rainy afternoon and were deprived of the spectacular sunset view normally offered in this setting (see photo right).


The restaurant is an open-air setting with very much use of local woods in the construction of the dining room and the tables and chairs (this is the point at which GG complains about how sensitive his back is sitting on hard wood chairs). The tables are plain with absolutely no decoration or place mats. The restaurant is truly a classic example of the Tico eat-in-the-rough motif.


We hit the restaurant during their Friday night happy hour and were sitting less than ten feet from the band (a good group of local talent that we often see around town). The proximity to the loud music made conversation difficult (when I was in my 20's and 30's, this was the perfect setting; now that I'm in my seventies I'm going a little Lawrence Welk on the world).


The composite score for ambiance from the dozen ROMEOs attending was 3.5 sloths out of a possible 5.


The menu was limited to the front and back of one sheet plus a couple of specials but there was a good mix of seafood and non-seafood items. With so many ROMEOs attending, we virtually ordered all kinds of food from sushi to burgers to shrimp and chicken main courses.


Two of us ordered Caribbean Chicken. GG received a piece of flattened chicken breast mounted over a pile of gallo pinto and bathed in a spicy red sauce. It was accompanied by a couple of patacones (you know, those flattened and deep fried slices of plantain) and a few slices of fried squash having a small dollop of spiced mayonnaise on top of each slice. The food was, if not creative, substantial and tasty.


ROMEO composite for food quality was 3.8 out of 5.

Value Index = 104


The gentleman serving us was efficient and friendly. The place was packed and, by norteamericano standards, the food came fairly slowly, but we had grown to a party of 16 (four friends added to the group after the original 12 were seated). The rest of the dining room became full within 45 minutes of us being seated. The composite score for service came in at 3.5 out of 5 possible.


One service item that was below average had nothing to do with the wait staff and that is what I would call the cafeteria style pay system. The bills are not presented or cleared by the wait staff, when you're ready to pay you go to the caja on the way out and the cashier does her best to try and come up with a check that matches your order, mostly by relying on the customer's input. This system brought a crooked smile to GG's face as he remembered the old treatise he once read entitled "101 Ways to Lose Money in a Cash System". And from the customer viewpoint, standing in a line with a party of 16 waiting for your turn to pay is not conducive to good customer relations.


GG's caribbean chicken dish, a slice of lime pie, one coke and one coffee came to about 16,500 colones or just under $31. This puts Barba Roja in the top 10% of local restaurants for cost in GG's opinion but the composite cost score from the group was a bit more generous at 3.5 out of a possible 5.

The overall composite score for ambiance, food quality and service was 3.6. This yields a Value Index of 3.6/3.5 = 104.


Written Comments from ROMEO attendees: "Service isn't everything; not as good as before.", "Drinks were great.", "Service was slow but we were an unusually large group; did not enjoy the loud music.", "Good music, good burgers, good company", "Great Margaritas.", "Service was poor at best but the bread pudding was great.", "Music was a little loud - unable to talk with friends", "Fun atmosphere! Good Food.", "Caribbean Chicken - it was fantastic."

Golden Gringo Chronicles Novel and E-Books Now Available!

GGC Book Cover


The story of the Golden Gringo Chronicles is also available as a hard copy novel of 192 pages available through Amazon and all major online retailers. ($9.95)


Amazon link: GGC, the Book. (Kindle Edition available)


Follow GG through the first six years of his odyssey in making the decision to retire in Costa Rica, overcoming the trials and tribulations of moving and obtaining residency there and the fun and experience of actually living in Ticoland.


Ride along with the Golden Gringo as he learns about the rich, varied culture of Costa Rica, the incredible bio diversity, the charming nature of the Costa Rican people and the ease with which a sometimes clueless ex-pat can assimilate into a small southwestern town on the Pacific coast.


Whether you are already a Costa Rican resident, someone contemplating a move here or just a traveler who enjoys different cultures, you will find the Golden Gringo Chronicles interesting, entertaining and informative about Costa Rica.

Part 1-150 Part 2-150 Part 3 Light

A narrative version of the Golden Gringo Chronicles is now also available as a trilogy of E-books in formats compatible with virtually all electronic platforms.

Part 1: (FREE!)
Leaving the Homeland

Part 2: ($3.99)
The Early Years

Part 3: ($3.99)
Becoming Tico, Maybe


Click on Part Number above for E-book sample downloads or click the price above right for purchase. (The best price is on Part 1; it's FREE)


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The Golden Gringo
Pura Vida!

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