Friday, March 30, 2007

Tiquicia's mask fair

The National Mask Fair, where artists from all around Costa Rica parade masks created around traditional themes or personalities from the political and sports scene, was held in Barva de Heredia, 30km (18 miles) from the capital San Jose, March 29, 2007. (All photos by REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate). Here are a few images for you to enjoy:

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Taxi drivers to strike in April

(Inside Costa Rica) - Without giving many details, the leaders of the Costa Rican Taxi Union said yesterday that there will be a taxi drivers strike sometime near the end of April. The strike is to protest the unfulfilled obligations of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT).

"We are here because we do not have the financial income to maintain our vehicles in good working condition and notwithstanding they are obligating us to change our cars", said Javier Cortes.

Another union leader, Lorenzo Hernandez, added that the MOPT is insisting that by the end of this year all taxis are to be less than 10 years old, meaning many taxi drivers will be obligated to get newer cars. Hernandez that getting a new car is too difficult for most most drivers because with the new higher taxi rates and declined taxi ridership, taxi drivers cannot meet the requirements to buy a new vehicle.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Costa Rica 4 - New Zeland 0

Costa Rica's Alonso Solis celebrates his goal against New Zealand during the first half of their friendly soccer match at Ricardo Saprissa stadium in San Jose March 24, 2007. Costa Rica won 4-0. (REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Queen Noor celebrates UWC opening

Queen Noor of Jordan celebrated, with 120 young people from 68 nations, the establishment of the first United World College in Latin America, located in Santa Ana, west of San Jose, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 20, 2007.

One of 12 of its kind around the world, the school is dedicated to training leaders for peace. In her inauguration speech, Queen Noor said that in a world under siege by conflict, violence, and environmental disaster, more and more colleges that dedicate to peace, protection of the environment and cultural tolerance are necessary. The daughter of a U.S. Arab and his Swede wife, the Queen, 52, captivated the audience. (Photo by Reuters/Juan Carlos Ulate)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Postal service implements new address system

(Inside Costa Rica) - The mailing address on all correspondences has changed as the Correos de Costa Rica (Costa Rica's Post Office) implemented its new postal code system, it announced Monday.

Now, every piece of mail sent inside and out of Costa Rica must include this new system, which Correos de Costa Rica is using to begin to standardize addresses.

To read the entire article click here.

Wow, folks in Costa Rica this is a big deal! If you live or have visited Tiquicia you know that we Ticos have a very unique way of giving addresses. It is a very confusing one to say the least, and even though I think that we have to put an end to it, it is a fact that it has become part of the identity of the Costa Rican people.

In short, we don't use the numbers and names of the streets and avenues to indicate the location of a place, we instead use landmarks, parks, or simply, well-known buildings. Why? First, because our streets aren't clearly and properly signalized, and second, because we are used to do things the "Tico" way.

So, if for example you ask me for the address of the high school I used to attend I would answer you with the following: 100 meters north from the National Gymnasium in the east side of La Sabana Park. Or if you really know the area I would simply say. "Right in front of La Tapia eatery."

This of course has caused chaos among tourists who, when not on guided tours, often get lost while trying to find a place of interest, and thus the imminent necessity for the change. Although I have serious doubts that most of the Ticos will start using the names and numbers of streets and avenues even if they are properly signalized (old habits are hard to break) I welcome this plan and I hope it becomes a reality in the short term.

Uri R.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ticos undecided about CAFTA

A demonstrator sits in front of a wall painted with anti-government slogans during a protest in San Jose February 26, 2007 against the proposed free trade pact between Costa Rica and the U.S. (Photo: REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate)Four in every ten Costa Ricans are undecided about the Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). According to a survey by UNIMER for the daily La Nacion, 39 percent of the Ticos would rather have further discussion on the issue, 35 percent are in favor of approving it, and 26 percent are totally against it. Meanwhile, the positive appreciation of the CAFTA is also decreasing. This is confirmed by the fact that, in September 2006, 51 percent of the citizens expected positive effects from the agreement, while the figure is now down to 37 percent. In the meantime, the CAFTA is already under way in the other Central American nations and the Dominican Republic.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

UN: Costa Rica a reforestation success

(La Nacion) - Forests around the world decreased 3 percent between 1990 and 2005. However, Costa Rica was one of the very few countries that can boast of a recovery of tree coverage. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization included this fact in a report on the world’s forests printed in Rome. The survey acknowledges that Costa Rica recovered a forest area amounting to 10 percent of its land in the last 20 years. Julio Calvo, from the Costa Rican Institute of Technology, added that a survey by the University of Alberta, Canada, confirms the Costa Rica success in increasing the forested areas. (Photo: Carlos Hernandez/La Nacion/FILE)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tico Tarzan video

A couple of months ago I shared with you the story of Gilberto Shedden Graham, a man known in Costa Rica as the "Tico Tarzan" because he seemingly has domesticated a huge crocodile named Pocho and now performs a weekly show in Limon. Well, I finally was able to find an internet video of Gilberto to share with all of you. The video is property of but was posted in by one of its users. I hope you enjoy the Tico Tarzan video.

Note: A high-speed internet connection is recommended to watch the video

FRIENDLY CROCODILE...SEE WITH A BEATEN HEART - For more of the funniest videos, click here

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bank of Costa Rica detects phishing scam

Officials said that about 150 Bank of Costa Rica account holders fell for the scam

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) - About 150 account holders of the Bank of Costa Rica fell for an Internet phishing scam and gave their personal information in response to a fraudulent e-mail that originated from China, officials said Friday.

The bank posted a warning on its Web site on Friday after detecting the scam late Thursday, officials said.

The bank told its customers not to respond to e-mails asking them to send their personal bank information and clients should always go to the official Web site.

Security expert Christian Vargas told the newspaper La Nacion that the e-mail, which had lifted code from the bank's Web site, originated from China.

La Nacion also reported that by Friday noon the bank had invalidated all the login information of its electronic account holders forcing them to choose a new password to access the bank's Web site.

Bank manager Mario Rivera said that they have not received any complaints from people who responded to the e-mail, but he said his institution was looking into any possible damage it may have caused and will compensate those affected.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Protecting tourists by air, land and sea

A police helicopter flies over the port of Limon as cruise tourists disembark. (Photo: Mario Carvajal/La Nacion)Police tightens security in the city of Limon after mugger attack

By Johan Umana and Marvin Carvajal
Translated by Uri Ridelman

Limon (La Nacion) - A helicopter, a small plane, two speedboats, four patrol cars, eight motorcycles, four mounted police officers and three officers on bikes are being deployed to protect the visitors to the port city of Limon.

These deployments, which include 62 police officers in total, are a result of the promises made by the ministers of tourism and security, Carlos Ricardo Benavides and Fernando Berrocal respectively, to safeguard the arrival of international cruises.

The operation involves the participation of the Public Force and the Tourist Police along with other services of the Security Ministry.

Luis Hernandez, regional director of the Public Force, said that police protection has been emphasized in some of the most attractive places for tourists, including the cities of Limon, Puerto Viejo, Cahuita and Siquirres, along with Playa Bonita and the area of Moin.

On Sunday three new cruises arrived to Costa Rica with at least 1000 tourists and yesterday another one disembarked. The arrival of cruise ships is vital to the economy and commerce of this Caribbean port.

On February 21, three armed assailants tried to rob a bus full of cruise tourists in Limon but one of the muggers was killed by a U.S. military veteran in his 70s while the other two flew away and haven't been captured yet. The tourists had arrived in the ship Liberty of Carnival Cruise Lines.

After the incident the arrival of the cruise ship "Legend" was canceled, but after meeting with government officials, and promises of improved security, Carnival representatives said the company has agreed to continue operations in the country.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Oscar Arias on a date

Costa Rican president Oscar Arias arrived on Saturday night to the National Theater with his girlfried, Geovanna Mendiola. Like any other Costa Rican Arias stood in line and waited his turn to enter the show. (Photo: Carlos Leon/La Nacion)

Note: Mendiola is a 45-year-old executive, divorced and mother of four. She lives in San Rafael de Escazu and has been seen in public with the 66-year-old Arias in several occasions, four of them at the National Theater. On February 20, 1996, Arias divorced his first wife, Margarita Penon, after 22 years of marriage.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Alunasa: Oscar Arias applauds Chavez' decision

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Tuesday branded as "wise" President Hugo Chavez decision to keep in Costa Rica the operations of Venezuelan-owned aluminum processing plant CVG Aluminios Nacionales S.A. (Alunasa).

"I believe this has been a very wise decision by the Venezuelan Government. As a Costa Rican and in behalf of Costa Rica, I thank him," Arias said, and conceded that he heard of Chavez' decision in the press, rather than receiving an official communication.

However, Arias commented it was "really wonderful, because not only the jobs of 400 very humble Costa Ricans were at stake, but also 2,500 people depending on them. The truth is this has been the right decision," AP reported.

Hugo Chavez formally announced the continuing operations of the plant, located in Esparza, Puntarenas, in his T.V program "Hello, President."

Arias also welcomed the idea of Venezuela opening more plants in Central America.

"I hope he does open other plants, specially in a country as poor as Nicaragua"

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