Friday, January 26, 2007

Tico Tarzan tames croc

Gilberto Shedden Graham feeds 'Poncho', the crocodile that he cured and tamed after it was shot by a farmer, in Limon, Costa Rica. (Photo by Rafael Pacheco/Al Dia)(ITN News) - A dog is usually described as a man's best friend, but in Limon, Costa Rica a man has become best mates with "Pocho," a huge 16.5 foot crocodile weighing almost 1,000 lbs.

Gilberto Shedden Graham has seemingly domesticated the croc, and has even started his own show in which he cavorts with the beast in a swimming pool and gives it commands.

During the performance, Gilberto, known also as the Tico Tarzan, gets up close to the open jaw of the crocodile, and even bites one of the animal's teeth.

An Italian tourist came away from the show shaking his head, saying: "I've never scene a show like this. It's the first time I've seen a person tame a crocodile."

Tico Tarzan said he found the reptile wounded by a bullet five years ago after it had been shot by a farmer who wanted to keep it from eating his cattle.

He claims he cured and fed the crocodile - and little by little he got to know the croc and gained its confidence.

Photo credit: Rafael Pacheco/Al Dia Newspaper. To see Al Dia's complete gallery of Pocho and Gilberto click here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Russia Signs Trade Deal With Costa Rica

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia signed a trade agreement with Costa Rica on Wednesday, one of series of bilateral deals it had to conclude on its path to membership in the World Trade Organization.

A Trade Ministry spokeswoman said Russia signed the agreement with Costa Rica in Geneva on Wednesday, two months after it struck a milestone deal with the U.S. on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Russia, the only major economy outside the WTO, now has only to reach agreement with its tiny ex-Soviet neighbor Georgia, to meet requirements for membership in the 149-member group, which sets global trade rules. Any member can demand a bilateral deal with an applicant.

Georgia withdrew its signature from an earlier deal after Russia imposed a ban on its wine and mineral water last spring.

Relations between Moscow and Georgia worsened in the fall as Moscow slapped a sweeping transport and postal blockade on the country in retaliation for the brief arrest of four Russian officers in Tbilisi accused of spying.

The ministry spokeswoman did not suggest when a deal with Georgia might be made, but said trade officials expect to finish separate multilateral negotiations in July.

The final document sealing Russia's accession can only be signed after ratification by the Russian parliament.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Spirit Airlines expands to Costa Rica

Spirit Airlines said it will start service in April to its first Central American country - Costa Rica.

Spirit said the San Jose, Costa Rica, nonstop service will start April 5. At first, it is to run Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, increasing to daily service by May 23.

The locale is Spirit's 16th destination in Latin America and the Caribbean and 33rd overall.

Subject to Costa Rican government approval, Spirit said it plans its service to be:

Flight 335 to depart Fort Lauderdale at 11:15 a.m., and arrive in San Jose at noon
Flight 339 to depart San Jose at 12:45 p.m., and arrive in Fort Lauderdale at 5:30 p.m.

Monday, January 22, 2007

U.S. Coast Guard rescues migrants off Costa Rica

Picture property of the U.S Coast GuardThe U.S. Coast Guard rescued a disabled boat that was carrying at least 57 illegal South American immigrants to the United States, Costa Rican officials said Monday.

Heidi Bonilla, Costa Rica's immigration spokeswoman, said the U.S. Coast Guard was patrolling for drug smugglers Saturday when it came upon the boat drifting about 55 miles from Costa Rica's Cano Island, a biological reserve popular with deep-sea divers.

She said the boat, which had suffered mechanical failure, was being towed to shore by the Costa Rican coast guard. Most of the immigrants aboard were from Peru or Ecuador and were in good health, Bonilla said.

Jesus Urena, a spokesman for the Public Security Ministry, said the immigrants would held in a detention center at Puntarenas until authorities determine whether they should be deported.

In October, 128 immigrants — including 71 Chinese and 57 Peruvians — were rescued off Costa Rica's Pacific coast when the motor of their boat failed before they reached the U.S. Their smugglers were believed to have escaped in a smaller boat.

Friday, January 19, 2007

$15 million terminal to be built at Liberia airport

(La Nacion) - The Government of Costa Rica plans to improve the facilities for visitors at Liberia Daniel Oduber International Airport, by building a new $15-million terminal. The arrival of passengers, 85 percent of them on vacation, via Liberia increased 18 percent from 2005 to 2006.

According to pre-departure surveys, 99 percent of the tourists said that they would recommend a friend to visit Guanacaste, while 98 percent of them said they expected to return. The airport is the perfect gate to the Pacific beaches of Guanacaste.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Picture of the day

Tourists visit 'The Butterfly Farm' in Alajuela, Costa Rica, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2007. The farm not only functions as a tourist destination but also as a butterfly breeding center to export thousands of them in their pupal stage to Europe where each is sold for about two dollars. (AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Boston's Big Dig tunnel where Costa Rican motorist was killed to reopen

BOSTON (AP) - The tunnel where a woman from Costa Rica was crushed to death in a ceiling collapse last summer will reopen Sunday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said.

Patrick said Saturday he has "full confidence in the repairs" after touring the Big Dig tunnel where 39-year-old Costa Rican native Milena Del Valle was killed July 10.

Workers have installed and tested a new bracket-and-hanger system to support the concrete ceiling panels along a half-mile (800-meter) stretch of the tunnel, Patrick said.

The decision to reopen the tunnel came after inspections of the system by state and federal officials, he said.

"Every single one of those bolts has an inspection paper trail, ... has its own record of who inspected it in what conditions, what tests were used, what the outcomes were, even what the torque was in terms of how they were tightened," Patrick said.

Concrete ceiling panels crushed the car in which Del Valle was a passenger. Her husband, who was driving, survived and the family has filed a lawsuit.

Inspectors believe that bolts that held ceiling panels in place came loose because of failures in the epoxy resin designed to glue them in place.

The $14.6 billion (€11.32 billion) Big Dig project buried Interstate 93 and opened new connections to Logan International airport. It is the most expensive highway project in U.S. history and had been plagued by cost overruns and leaks before the fatal tunnel collapse.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Costa Rica, Jordan restore diplomatic ties

Costa Rica and Jordan signed documents in New York on Wednesday to re-establish diplomatic relations, the Foreign Ministry said.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno (pictured) said the resumption of ties was conducive to his country's political approach to Arab nations, which would provide new opportunities for Costa Rican enterprises to seek new export markets and attract foreign investments.

Some Arab nations severed diplomatic relations with Costa Rica in 1982, when the Central American country moved its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

After Costa Rica announced the embassy's return to Tel Aviv last August, Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen and Bahrain restored ties with the country.

The ownership of Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive factors regarding the Palestine-Israel issue.

For Palestinians, the ancient city is the third Holy Site of Islam. But the Jews, who believe that their ancestor, King David, founded Jerusalem as the capital of "the Kingdom of Israel" some 3,000 years ago, have said it belongs to their Jewish country.

Source: Xinhua News

Monday, January 08, 2007

Picture of the day

Israel , 10, helps Olive Ridley sea turtle hatchlings emerge from their nest on the beach at the Ostional Wildlife Refuge on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2007. The Olive Ridley hatchlings that survive will return to the same beach to lay their eggs when they are mature adults. Approximately 12 percent of the hatchlings are expected to survive and become adults.(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Costa Rican fishermen rescued after six weeks at sea

Costa Rican fisherman Roger Quintero, 15, embraces his sister Juana Mercados, 10, left, and his mother Mercedes Mercados, right, while speaking to the Associated Press about the 6 weeks he was adrift at sea in his home in Coco Beach, Costa Rica, on the northern Pacific coast, Thursday, Jan. (AP/Kent Gilbert)San Jose, Costa Rica (AP) - Five Costa Rican fishermen, all but one teenagers, were rescued off the coast of El Salvador after spending more than six weeks adrift on the Pacific Ocean surviving on rain water and sea turtles, Costa Rica's security department said Wednesday.

The fishermen, one of whom is 15 years old, had set off in a small fishing boat from the town of Playas del Coco, 150 miles northwest of the capital of San Jose on November 16.

A few days after it departed the fishermen's 37-foot (11-meter) boat sustained mechanical problems and was blown into the ocean by fierce winds the department said in a news release.

On New Year's Eve, a Polish cargo ship spotted the fishermen burning plastic bags 115 miles off El Salvador's coast and alerted authorities. The fishermen were rescued by the Costa Rican coast guard.

The boat's captain, Gregorio Collado, said he and his crew survived on fishing skills and self-discipline.

"The blood and meat of the turtles kept us strong and when water was scarce, we decided to only drink half a cup. Nobody complained," Collado said.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Costa Rican bullfights in La Guacima

Las corridas de Toros a la Tica (Costa Rican bullfighs) took place this year in La Guacima of Alajuela instead of the traditional location of Zapote. Despite the change there was a lot of excitement as Costa Rican bullfighters (which are nothing but the average Ticos you see on the street) entered the ring to try to touch the bull's horns without getting killed. The Costa Rican bullfights have the peculiarity that no bulls are injured or killed during the celebration, as opposed to the Mexican and Spanish versions. Here are some photos that I hope you will all enjoy.

A Costa Rican man runs from a bull during traditional bullfights to celebrate the New Year in La Guacima of Alajuela, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 1, 2007. Dozens of young men enter the ring to show their courage by trying to touch the bull's horns without getting gored. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Costa Rican bullfighters throw a woman into the air during a break in traditional bullfights to celebrate the New Year in La Guacima of Alajuela, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 1, 2007. Dozens of young men enter the ring to show their courage by trying to touch the bull's horns without getting gored. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Costa Ricans run from a bull during traditional bullfights to celebrate the New Year in La Guacima of Alajuela, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 1, 2007. Dozens of young men enter the ring to show their courage by trying to touch the bull's horns without getting gored. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

A Costa Rican man tries to grab money tied to a bull's horns during traditional bullfights to celebrate the New Year in La Guacima of Alajuela, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 1, 2007. Dozens of young men enter the ring to show their courage by trying to touch the bull's horns without getting gored. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

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