Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Whale Watching in Costa Rica

amy Whale, breaching, Stellwagen Bank National...Image via Wikipedia Costa Rica is a great place to watch whales. These humpback whales travel from both the South and the North Poles to the warm Pacific waters off southern Costa Rica. Here they have their babies and watch them spend the first few hours of their lives in warmth. They also mate here. The humpback whales from the North Pole come between December and April. The Whales from the South Pole come between August and October. Plenty of dolphins can also be seen in the area. The August to October season has just started and excursions are going out now.

Costa Rica Family Vacation

If you want to see the whales in Costa Rica and plan an amazing family adventure with one of Costa Rica's most recognized family travel companies contact http://www.crrtravel.com/ or info@crrtravel.com. Or you can call US: 352 694 3462 We are always available to answer your call.
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Rainforest Radio

RainforestImage via Wikipedia Down on the Osa Peninsula, where it is hot and humid, a new AM radio station has come on the air. It sits high above the rinforest and broadcats a casual message. People call in and the broadcaster describes the wildlife as it passes by. People in the villages around the station love having their own media. They call in and interact. The real message of the rainforest radio is to take care of the environment. That is the main message, and it is one that the people of this area believe in, but it is also a message for visitors to take home with them.
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

2,000 Trash Cans

View of San José from the Museum of JadeImage via Wikipedia Costa Rica is doing the best it can to clean up litter in the country. San Jose, the capital, is installing 2,000 new trash recepticals in the city. They wil be near parks and bus stops. City Hall says that there is no excuse for litter.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010


Tortuga Lodge on the northern Caribbean coast has its guests teaching English to students of a nearby village. This is very much like the plan of Costa Rican Resource. This touring company has its guests, if they wish, teaching recycling in schools and helping to spruce up buildings in small towns.

Friday, August 27, 2010

One of the Nicest Species on the Planet

Jonathan Naturalist GuideImage by Costa Rican Resource via FlickrUS companies are finding out that one of Costa Rica's prime assets are its people. They are well trained, well educated, kind, gentle and bilingual. They can provide service to Spanish speaking countries as well as the English speaking countries, and they do it for a competitive salary. Chile attracts business because of its minerals. Costa Rica attracts business because of its human capital.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Costa Rica's Top Honeymoon Spots

empty beach at Manuel Antonio National Park - ...Image via WikipediaLa Paz Waterfall Gardens is one of Costa Rica's best places to honeymoon. Yes, it took a pretty big hit from an earthquake one and a half year ago but it has made quite the come back. It is not on the beach but located at an elevation of around 6,000ft in the lush majestic cloud-forest. This is one of the most romantic places you can imagine when it comes to a honeymoon in Costa Rica. If you want something almost as nice but to bring the price down a bit you can still relax in the comfort  of the cloudforest in a small hoetl called Villa Blanca. This is a hotel that is located in the San Lorenzo Cloud Forest on the way to the Arenal Volcano. This would actually be a great area for a wedding but also a excellent spot for a few days of a honeymoon to just relax.

Arenas del Mar Resort

Another place of interest might be the beach of course. When thinking of the beach in Costa Rica you might want to go to the less crowded beaches but you also want to make sure you are at some of the more beautfiul beaches. When it comes to beauty the beach of Manuel Antonio is hard to beat. This a a beach can be very crowded but if you find the right spot you can find a hotel that fits just right for a honeymoon and the one we suggest is the Arenas del Mar Resort. This resort keeps you away from all the traffic and busy touristy areas of the Manuel Antonio areas but still allows you to enjoy the amazing beauties of the area.

Hotel Casa Turire

Another hotel area we often use for honeymoons for couples that enjoy a little of adventure is the Turrialba area. there are two hotels in this area that are very small and we have had excellent reviews from our honeymoon couples about them. One is the Caaa Turire which only has 16 rooms and one is a honeymoon suite which is absolutely spectaculuar. This particular hotel would actually make a great place for the actual wedding ceremony if you were interested in doing a destination wedding. The second hotel is called Hacienda Tayutic which is nearby but at a bit higher elevation. It is just as nice but a bit more rustic and also very beautiful grounds for the actual wedding ceremony with a small chapel. There are two hotels that if you are in the area are definately worth staying the night at. If you are interested in planning your honeymoon just contact us http://www.crrtravel.com/ or info@crrtravel.com.
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Origin of Spheres

Coat of arms of Costa RicaImage via Wikipedia The pre-Columbian stone spheres found in the south Pacific region of Costa Rica have had all kinds of guesses made about their origin. They are so big and heavy, the heaviest 15 tons, that one of the guesses were that they were put there by aliens. Wrong! Archaeologist Ifigenia Quintanilla has put an end to speculation. The spheres were made by the indigenous people of the region.They were carved with hatchets, and they were a sign of power. Quintanilla says it is a way to make a statement. 15 tons says a lot.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The President's Plan

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton...Image via Wikipedia Costa Rica's first woman President, Laura Chinchilla, unveiled her four-year plan. She wants to reduce poverty, increase security for citizens and create economic growth. They all sound like admirable goals, but they hinge on tax reform. Ticos are like everybody else. They do not like to pay taxes, but if you have to, you at least hope you get something for your money. I know some North Americans here who do not mind paying taxes. They are used to it in the US. However, they too hope that they get something in return for their money.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How teachers.net has Helped a Costa Rican Village

This is just a short blog on how teachers.net and social media has affected a small village in the mountains of Costa Rica. I moved to Costa Rica 10 years and all I wanted to do was to live in a rural village and raft the rivers of Costa Rica. The life is very relaxed and income is low. I wanted to start a business and had a little cash to invest. The families around the village I was in were some of the most nicest people you could imagine. We wanted to bring student groups down and show them Costa Rican culture and adventure offering an income to the families and fun for the kids.

Many business plans go through years of how they are going to market. I got on line one morning and googled "teachers websites" because I wanted to market to teachers and teachers.net came up. I contacted them and they were quick to guide me in the direction of the steps I needed to take to make the email blast happen. We were offering a Free Trip to Costa Rica for educators if they were interesting in bringing a group of students back the following year. We recieved 150 emails the first day after the email blast. The reality of this is that all that was done is that I got up, got on google, sent an email, and then teacher.net with their amazing network of teachers sent out all the emails which has resulted in 15 groups for our company this year.
Girls from the Village of Sitio de Mata, Costa Rica

Not only did teachers.net give our company 15 groups but they gave 20 rural families that live in a mountain village over a years salary for housing the 15 different student groups they have had this year. Its amazing what social media (now you can follow teachers.net on twitter) has done and I even have some of the kids in the village using my cell phone to stay intouch with some of the kids that have visited on a facebook account that we use. Just a short note of appreciation from a village that I know is extremely grateful for teachers.net.

University March

Variant flag of Costa RicaImage via Wikipedia Once again Costa Rica showed the world it was a democracy. 10,000 students, faculty and administrators from Costa Rica’s public universities marched to president Chinchilla’s house. They set up a stage with loudspeakers and gave the Costa Rican president an earful. They want more funding for the universities. More scientific equipment, more field study and more scholarships.

Chinchilla had in mind an increase of around 5% for university budgets. The marchers were thinking more along the lines of at least 11%. Will they get it? Time will tell. But it is nice to see people so concerned about higher education. I might add, that as usual Costa Rica did all this peacefully.
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Monday, August 23, 2010

The New Ambassador

Costa Rica (orthographic projection)Image via Wikipedia Who knows the name of the Costa Rican ambassador to the USA?

She is Muni Figueres, daughter of former Costa Rican President José “don Pepe” Figueres and his first wife. She will serve as Costa Rica's ambassador to the United States, after being nominated by her government on this past Tuesday morning.

Muni Figueres was born in Costa Rica but was also a U.S. citizen because of her mother's nationality. In order to accept the ambassador’s post in Washington, D.C., she was forced to relinquish her U.S. citizenship. She admits that it was not easy to do.

Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla said she sees Figueres' former U.S. citizenship as an advantage to Costa Rica because she will have “fluid access” in Washington.
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Costa Rica's Early Influence

Coat of arms of Costa RicaImage via Wikipedia The Old and the New World met in Costa Rica when Christopher Columbus landed here in 1502. In the years that followed, the largest city in Central America was Guatemala City. Costa Rica was so far from this city that it was difficult to develop trade routes. But there was an upside to this. Because Costa Rica was so far removed from the center of Spanish activity, it was allowed to develop without supervision from the The Crown. This was a blessing in disguise. Isolation meant the Spanish did not enslave the people to work on their land. Although the Costa Rican people were separated from the “big money” in Guatemala City, it certainly did not hurt them.

Today Costa Rica is no longer isolated, but sought after as a vacation land and a permanent home to people from all over the world. Those years of isolation did not hurt the people either. Few countries are as well known for their “nice people” as Costa Rica. While Costa Rica was considered by the Spanish as one of the poorest places in Central America, today it has one of the most stable economies in Latin America. The Conquistadors left Costa Rica alone, and Costa Rica certainly made the best of it.
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Interesting Costa Rica Information

Heliconius doris Linnaeus butterfly in the Cos...Image via Wikipedia Here are some facts about Costa Rica that you might have missed:

1. Costa Rica abolished its army permanently in 1949.

2. It is the only Latin American country on the list of the world’s oldest 22 democracies.

3. It is among the top Latin American countries on the Human Development Index.

4. On the Environmental Performance Index, Costa Rica is number three in the world and number one in the Americas.

5. The Costa Rican government plans to be the first carbon neutral country.

6. Costa Rica ranks first on the Happy Planet Index, which measures long and fulfilling lives.

7. Costa Rica is the greenest country on the planet.

Thank you, Wikipedia

Family Adventure Specialist
The Costa Rican Resource
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to Live to 100

Dawn in the remote wilds of Costa RicaImage by joiseyshowaa via FlickrIn the AARP magazine (May & June, 2008) there was an article on the people of the Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. This is one of the places in the world where people live the longest. They shared their secrets for living healthy to 100.
Here they are:

1. Have a strong sense of purpose. Centenarians of Costa Rica feel needed and want to contribute.

2. Drink hard water. The water in the Nicoyan Peninsula has a high calcium content.

3. Keep a focus on the family. Most centenarians live with family.

4. Eat a light dinner.

5. Maintain social networks and this includes visiting and receiving visitors.

6. Work hard.

7. Get some sun in moderation.

8. Embrace your roots with others.
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Costa Rican Astronaut

Ad Astra, Summer 2008 issue. ON THE COVER: Spe...Image via Wikipedia Did you know that Costa Rica had an astronaut? His name is Franklin Chang, and he is a real hero here. Chang has made seven voyages into outer space. Not only has this inspired a nation, but it has made this agricultural economy of Costa Rica, where only 6 to 7% of the university students study science, start thinking more about science.

Chang is the astronaut and co-director of Ad Astra Rocket Lab. He has plans to use plasma-fueled rockets to rid space of obsolete satellites. Currently there is no way to retrieve satellites once they cease to function. Chang was not expecting Ticos to invest a lot of money in his project, but he has been overwhelmed by their support of this project. One man makes a difference.
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Monday, August 16, 2010

A Man of Courage Visits Costa Rica

Reon Schutte, a motivational speaker, has been traveling through Costa Rica recently telling his life story and explaining his philosophy of life.

Reon Schutte was a young South African who joined a gang in Cape Town at the age of twelve. By the time he was sixteen, Schutte was in prison for killing a police officer. Prison officials gave Scutte the chance to join the South African army. He did, and at age thirty-two while he was on a mission along the border for the South African Defense Force, Zimbabwean forces captured Schutte. He was thrown into prison and sentenced to twenty-six years.

Like so many other down and out people, from addicts to political prisoners, Schutte realized the need for a higher power. He attributes his survival as an act of God. Attitude means a lot to him. No matter how bad your situation is, Schutte believes you can make it worse or better with your attitude.

When he first went into prison, he was like any other person. He wanted more food, clean clothes, blankets. After five years of struggling against reality, he accepted his circumstances. This made all the difference in his life. He told himself that he was no longer hungry, except at lunchtime. He even started skipping meals. The food he did not eat he used to bribe guards to mail letters for him.

He shared a cell with 49 other people. He started cleaning the toilet in the cell himself. Soon others were chipping in to help. He even took the daily beatings for granted. He had lost all his teeth so he thought he had nothing else to lose. When the guards saw that he was not afraid or trying to hide, they left him alone. The only thing that did bring him down was the cancer. He asked for surgery to remove the tumor, but no response came.

Then when he felt death was near, he received the news that President Robert Mugabe was pardoning him. It took years, but one of the letters Schutte sent out from prison was published in a magazine. A young boy read it and began lobbying for Schutte’s release. It took time for the support group to get notice, but they finally got Schutte out. The Zimbabwe prison was basically a death camp. Only ten percent of the inmates survive. Yet Schuute survived not only his sentence, of which he served 12 years, but he also survived his cancer.

Schutte started out in prison asking “Why me?” and the real turning point came when he asked “What for?” The “What for?” has been realized in Schutte’s life. He travels the world telling his story now. He has told it over 800 times, and everyone seems to identify with it, from billionaires to men in prison.

Our lives might not be as troubled as the life of Reon Schutte, but we all have problems, and we all need help in coping. Perhaps we can take a lesson from the life of Schutte and examine our attitudes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Costa Rica-China Relations

Variant flag of Costa RicaImage via Wikipedia Michael Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue, does not think that there is anything unusual about Costa Rica’s recognition of China, nor is it odd that China is Costa Rica’s number two trade partner. After all China is the third largest economy in the world right now. He thinks that the conspiracy talk about China wanting to control Central America is unfounded. Most likely China just wants to make money.

China does consider Costa Rica’s recognition as a feather in its cap, and it hopes that other countries will follow suit. China has tried to show appreciation by furnishing Costa Rica with gifts. China’s most elaborate gift to Costa Rica is the 83 million dollar soccer stadium, soon to be finished. The former US ambassador to Costa Rica, Frank McNeil, who also served some time in a post in East Asia, thinks such gifts are legitimate, but he does suggest that in the future Costa Ricans be allowed to work on projects, even if they are gifts. No Tico labor was used in the construction of the stadium. The Ambassador feels that the gift did not help Costa Rica develop because it offered no jobs.
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

No, Not my Address!

Location of San Jose in Costa RicaImage via Wikipedia The one thing you do not want to hear in Costa Rica is the question: “What’s your address?”

Addresses in Costa Rica are basically the directions to your house. Giving someone your address is like writing an essay. For example, my address is San Jose de la Montana, the main road out of Barva, 200 meters before the church, on the right, with the wooden gate. That is what you write on the envelope of you letter, in Spanish. Other addresses are even more involved than that. A couple that Mary and I met at immigration started to give us their address on the back of an envelope. They ran out of paper. We settled for their phone number.

We moved recently, and I do not even know my new address. It has something to do with so many meters passed the two bars and around the bend, the first right. That’s why I got a P.O. Box.

However, this address system, as convoluted as it sounds, is amazingly efficient. I have had to find several people using this address method, and I always found them without a problem. If you can’t find them, then all you have to do is ask once you have gone as far as the address will take you. It seems like all the people in Costa Rica know one another. They even know me, and I do not speak the language very well. An American friend of mine could not quite get to my house using my address. So after he got to my village, he stopped in the grocery store, which also serves as a welcome center, and asked if anyone knew me.

“Si, he is the gringo hombre,” the clerk replied. “He lives back there.”

San Jose, the capitol, is going to spend over a million dollars to put numbers on streets and houses. Taxi drivers love the idea, but will it work for the general public? I’m not so sure. I still think people are going to say, “I live a hundred meters past the Shell station on the right, next to the Dairy Queen.”
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The Dying Art of the Marimba

MarimbaImage via Wikipedia The marimba, a deep-toned xylophone, is the national instrument of Costa Rica. It came to this country by way of Africa. The name marimba is actually a Bantu word meaning “wood that sings”. The problem is that the marimba is dying out. Antonio Ortiz, a Tico, is trying to keep the art alive. He makes marimbas by hand. It takes him three months to make a marimba. The US seems more interested in buying his marimbas than his own country. Ortiz says that a lot of the old men who used to play marimbas at parties and celebrations are not around any more. He calls the marimba “the piano of Central America.” Ortiz will keep trying to save the marimba tradition, but he worries whether he is already too late.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Classical Music Festival

From August 7 to 22, musicians from all over the world will be coming to Costa Rica to participate in the twentieth annual Credomatic Festival. Performances will be held in twenty-five different sites throughout the country. The Credomatic Festival is sixteen consecutive days of classical music in venues that range from small town auditoriums to the grand stage at San Jose’s National Theater. Choirs, pianists, composers and a cappella groups will all be there. Thousands are expected to come out from all over the country to listen to this year’s offering. This is an extraordinary opportunity for classical music lovers.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

They are Waiting for You

Juan Santamaría International Airport.Image via Wikipedia Costa Rica's Juan Santamaria airpot is so neat and compact that I often wish Newark and Miami were just like it. But in order to serve you better the airport operators have just finished 30 million dollars worth of work. They have doubled the immigration area, and they have expended the departure hall. Interesting enough, it is still neat and compact. With all the new additions, you can still very easily find your way around. They expect to finish up another 10 million dollar piece of work by the end of the year. When all four expansion phases are completed, the airport will have the capacity to handle an increase in passengers from now until 2029.

So come on down!
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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bird Watching

Male Resplendent QuetzalImage via Wikipedia Costa Rica is on one of the world’s great bird migration routes. The Cloud Forest Reserve of Monteverde is a popular place to see many kinds of multi-colored birds. One of the birds that everyone wants to see is the Resplendent Quetzal, which has been called by some the most beautiful bird in the world. If birds were celebrities, the Quetzal would be Lebron James. What makes Monteverde such a great place for bird watching are the mountains and dense vegetation. You can view birds in the hummingbird gardens at the Park entrance and in the garden of your hotel.

If your stay in Costa Rica does not allow you to get outside the city, you can still see plenty of birds. Take an early morning walk and go to a park or just walk the garden of your hotel. You will probably see a Blue-gray Tanger and a Clay-colored Robin. The latter is the national bird of Costa Rica. If you are just a beginner in the bird watching department, you probably could use a guide. The trained eye of a guide can point out birds that a beginner would miss. For a beginners and veterans the more birds you see the more fun it is.
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A Hidden Cemetery

Just east of San Jose in the suburb of Tres Rios, a construction company was digging to build the foundation of a condominium. A neighbor noticed something and called the Chief Prosecutor’s Office who in turn called the National museum. By law if builders find something that may be archaeologically significant, they must cease digging and wait for experts to evaluate the site.
In this case the Tres Rios neighbor was correct. The building site contained an indigenous burial ground that dated back to 1100 AD. So far they have found 32 graves and the remains of 26 people. The tombs have an elaborate design, and they are made of river rock. Maritza Guiterrez, the lead archaeologist, says that the discovery is important because the remains are in “drawer tombs” made by indigenous people.
The bones and artifacts found here will be sent to a laboratory for carbon dating. The construction should resume in three weeks.

Friday, August 6, 2010

50 Verbs

I stil have a long way to go in learning Spanish, but the day after I arrived in Costa Rica my son had a Spanish teacher waiting to give my wife and I some lessons. I studied French in school so I had to start from scratch, learning how to pronounce the alphabet. After a few weeks our teacher gave us fifty verbs to learn, and we learned how to conjugate them in the present tense. I still remember the feeling of power I had with my fifty verbs. I set out talking to everyone I could about whatever topic would fit into my fifty verbs. Sometimes I would talk about the oddest subjects because I wanted to use one of my verbs. I would turn a sentence on its ear until I found a way to say it with my fifty verbs.
All I can say is that I have some pretty patient friends who put up with my broken Spanish and ridiculous subjects of converstaion. Three years later I still have a long way to go in learning Spanish. My greatest strength is my ability not to get embarrassed. I do not mind corrections or people commenting, "Do you know what you just said?" Now I can have simple conversations - in the present tense. And I owe it all to my patient friends who quietly listened to me for three years.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ticos Don't Want a Gold Mine !

US Under Secretary of Commerce Christopher A. ...Image via Wikipedia Up by the Nicaraguan border in Costa Rica, a Canadian company works the Crucitas gold mine. The problem is that 80% of the Costa Rican people are against the gold mine. Why? It is an open mining project, and it is wreaking havoc on the environment, and don’t forget this is a very ecologically conscious country. They are proud of their natural beauty. The gold mine is destroying trees, scattering wildlife and making a general mess. The previous president Oscar Arias permitted the mining. Now people want the sitting president, Laura Chinchilla, to stop it.

Opponents of the gold mine are pushing the president to close the mine. Protesters walked from San Jose, the capitol, to the gold mine by the Nicaraguan border. In good conditions this is a five hour drive. To walk it is quite a feat. In mid-July the group handed Chinchilla a written request to close the mine. Chinchilla said in a press conference that she would “analyze” the decree. It was later decided to leave the future of the mine in the hands of the Judicial branch of government. They will decide on the legality of the decree issued by former president Arias, permitting the mine.

This shows three things about Costa Rica. One, they are really serious about the environment. Two, this is a true democracy, where people can disagree, protest and demand. Three, Costa Rica is truly a land of peace. Everything is done without fighting, mayhem and most of the time without raised voices.
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Plazas, Plazas Everywhere

San Jose Costa Rica 1993Image by Wha'ppen via Flickr In Costa Rica every town has at least one church and across the street from the church is a plaza, or square or in American parlance a park, the size of a square block. The plaza is all grass with sidewalks through it. Trees are scattered around it, and benches sit in shady spots and in the sunshine. People utilize the benches. Young couples sit holding hands. Old men play chess. Young mothers chat while children romp in the grass. I usually sit in the shade and read. All around the square are shops. You can get a hamburger, an ice cream or your dog groomed.

You can sit in these parks without feeling self-conscious because everyone does it. If you sit in the park long enough, you will meet someone you know. The plaza are a throwback to another time and an imitation of European style. Nevertheless they are a reminder to slow down, sit down, think, pray and maybe even make a friend.
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Monday, August 2, 2010

Hoops on the Equator

Basketball in Costa Rica is making a big push to become the nation's number two sport. Soccer still reigns as number one. We have eight teams in our Costa Rican first division basketball league. We have good players, some from the US, who can drive and dunk, like Rohel Wilson. The three point shooting is improving too. They play in sports complexes that accommdate one to two thousand people, ready to make noise and cheer their city's team on. People really seem to love it, and I find going to the games a fun time. The arena I go to is nearly full for a good game.

This league is semi-pro. Some of the players do not get paid. Yet, I judge them to play at the level of a Division II college team. Right now the league’s biggest problem is the lack of parity. The four top teams dominate and there are a lot of blowouts. They are working on that problem. Also funding is a problem for many teams. The team from the city of Barva is last year's champ, and they are 16-1 this year. They are well funded because of their popularity, but businesses are not as generous with struggling teams. If Costa Rican basketball can overcome these problems, we should be in for some good family entertainment for years tsso come.

No Third World Here !

It makes my skin crawl when I hear someone refer to Costa Rica as the Third World. It is usually because of something minor, like their steak was overdone, so they figure they are in the Third World. Anyone who has traveled at all knows that Costa Rica is way up there among first world nations. It is a stable democracy in the midst of many troubled governments. Their economy is among the best in Latin America. Because of the US commitment to protect them, Costa Rica has no army - and consequently no enemies. The money saved on an army is put back into education and health care. Everyone in Costa Rica has access to health care. The World Health Organization ranks Costa Rica's health care right next to that of the USA. Everybody has a home in Costa Rica. There is no homeless problem. Everyone eats. The middle class does not live in the style of the US citizens, but here it is not necessary to live that way. They seem content with what they have.

Costa Ricans think beyond themselves. Their land is so beautiful that twenty-five percent of the country is protected in National Parks. They have a woman president here. Discrimination is not allowed, nor is the mistreatment of children. Signs in the airport remind visitors that it is a crime to have sex with any Costa Rican under eighteen. Costa Ricans are making movies, running day care, teaching in universities and a former president won a Nobel Peace Prize. Parliament has just passed a bill with specific laws regarding solid waste management. Everybody here recycles. Public transit is convenient and inexpensive. So the next time your steak is overdone, remember that you are in Costa Rica, a classy, First World country.