Friday, November 30, 2007

Picture of the day

Miss World contestant Wendy Cordero Sanchez of Costa Rica leaves a hotel to head to rehearsals for the Miss World pageant at Yalong Bay in Sanya, Hainan, China, Friday, Nov. 30, 2007. The pageant will be held in the southern resort city of Sanya on Dec. 1. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Twins continue to recover from separation surgery

Costa Rican conjoined twins Yurelia and Fiorella Rocha continue to recover well from their separation. Both girls have now been extubated and are breathing on their own in preparation to moving out of the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) and into a regular room the week of November 26.

Fiorella had a minor surgical procedure on November 19 to modify her chest reconstruction and repair her skin closure. During the one-hour procedure, Gary Hartman, MD, and H. Peter Lorenz, MD, trimmed and resutured the skin flaps used to cover the area exposed during the separation. The surgeons also replaced two bars used to stabilize Fiorella’s chest after the separation with a plate similar to the one used in Yurelia. The modification was made to make it easier for Fiorella to breathe on her own.

For more information on the twins click here. To access a photo gallery and watch videos released by the hospital click here.

Information and photo provided by the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Visitors from certain countries will require yellow fever vaccination

Entry to Costa Rica may be denied if they don't comply

(Inside Costa Rica) - Beginning on Friday November 30 Costa Rica's immigration service will be requiring visitors arriving from a select group of countries to have a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever before they can step on Costa Rican soil.

The countries affected by the regulation are Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and French Guyana from South America and from Africa, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, and Nigeria.

Affected by the regulations are Costa Rican residents who travel to countries on the list, requiring a certificate to re-enter Costa Rica.

The certificate has to be obtained at least 10 days before arriving or returning to Costa Rica, as this is the incubation period for the vaccine, according to Costa Rican immigration officials.

Residents in Costa Rica can get vaccinated in Costa Rica before they leave for a visit to a listed country. The problem is that the vaccine is not currently available in Costa Rica. Pharmacies and hospitals do not have a supply of the vaccine and health officials say it won't be available at least until next January when a shipment is expected.

For residents in Costa Rica it will mean they will need to obtain a certificate of exemption prior to travel since there is no vaccine available, otherwise they will have to obtain one in the country of origin and may have to extend their visit to wait for the incubation period.

Mario Zamora, director of Migration, said that the measure will be strictly adhered to and his officials will refuse entry to anyone who does not present the certificate.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cancer center may go global

Dr. Silas CharlesDoctor eyes site in Costa Rica

By Susan Jenks
Florida Today

Dr. Silas Charles, the founder of Cancer Care Centers of Brevard, said he recently met with the president of Costa Rica to discuss the creation of a regional cancer treatment center in that nation's capital.

"He's a phenomenal guy," Charles said, referring to Oscar Arias Sanchez, the Costa Rican president, who is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Albert Schweitzer prize for humanitarianism.

Charles said Arias expressed an interest in the San Jose project, whose estimated initial cost would be $50 million over five years, or $10 million annually - a cost to be met largely through donations.

The center, which would offer comprehensive cancer care from medical and surgical oncology to diagnostics and radiation therapy, may be up in running in about 11/2 years, according to Charles.

It would employ between 75 and 100 people, and involve oncologists, or cancer physicians, from Brevard County as well as across the United States.

The goal is to serve cancer patients from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama.

"These are all dreams," Charles said, stressing the preliminary nature of discussions. "But it is a good thing, and I am happy about it."

The Cancer Care Centers of Brevard has three locations throughout the county, with a fourth center under construction in Titusville and another site outside Brevard in Sebastian.

Charles opened the first center on Merritt Island in 1990.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

CAFTA becomes law in Costa Rica

A CAFTA supporter waves a sign that reads 'CAFTA YES' in San Jose Costa Rica, October 7, 2007. Photo by ReutersSan Jose, Costa Rica - Costa Rica's president on Wednesday signed into law a free trade agreement with its Central American neighbors, the United States and the Dominican Republic.

At the signing ceremony, President Oscar Arias called on lawmakers to pass a package of 13 complementary laws that need to be approved before March 2008 for the Central American Free Trade Agreement to take effect.

Since a thin majority of Costa Ricans backed the pact in a national referendum on Oct. 7, "the country is asking Congress to respect its choice made at the polling booths," Arias said.

Protests had been expected outside the president's residence, but only a small number of people gathered nearby holding anti-pact signs.

Costa Rica was the lone holdout among the six Latin American nations now party to the agreement. The pact has already taken effect in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

The White House fought a bruising battle to get the deal ratified by the U.S. Congress in 2005, when it passed the House of Representatives by just two votes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mana rocks Costa Rica

Mexican rock band Mana performed in San Jose, Costa Rica on Tuesday, Novermber 20 as part of their tour "Amar es Combatir." The concert took place at the Ricardo Saprissa stadium and lasted for over two hours. Despite a light rain and low temperatures the band's fans warmed themselves singing and dancing to the hits of the Mexican group. Here are some photos of the event:

(REUTERS/Monica Quesada)

(REUTERS/Monica Quesada)

(REUTERS/Monica Quesada)

(REUTERS/Monica Quesada)

(Mario Rojas/La Nacion)

(Mario Rojas/La Nacion)

(Mario Rojas/La Nacion)

(Mario Rojas/La Nacion)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lining up for work

Nicaraguan construction workers line up to register for work in Costa Rica in Managua, Monday, Nov. 19. 2007, after Costa Rica's Chamber of Construction announced that private Costa Rican construction companies were looking for 10,000 workers for tourist projects. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Formerly conjoined twins doing very well

(AP Photo/Packard Children's Hospital)SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Formerly conjoined twins have "excellent" chances of survival after a grueling separation surgery, and one of the toddlers is even breathing on her own, doctors said Friday.

Two-year-olds Yurelia and Fiorella Rocha-Arias of San Jose, Costa Rica, were conjoined at the chest and abdomen and shared an oversize liver until Monday, when doctors in Palo Alto separated them during a 9-hour surgery.

Fiorella - who has always been slightly larger and stronger than Yurelia - was taken off her ventilator Wednesday and has been breathing on her own for two days.

"We are very happy with the outcome so far," said lead surgeon Dr. Gary Hartman of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. "These are two very strong little girls."

Although Yurelia is still on a ventilator and heavily sedated, the twins' cardiovascular intensive care physician said chances for survival are higher than the 50-50 odds doctors gave them earlier this week.

"Current chances for survival are excellent," said Dr. Gail Wright, who would not provide a specific odds for survival.

On Wednesday, surgeon Dr. Frank Hanley performed a six-hour surgery on Yurelia to correct a life-threatening congenital heart defect that prevented enough oxygen from getting to her tissue. Doctors then reconstructed her chest wall.

The girls' parents, Maria and Jose Luis Rocha-Arias, have requested privacy and declined to comment.

The girls arrived in San Francisco on July 25 and received weekly injections of sterile saltwater into balloons placed under their skin. The procedure stretched their skin to compensate for the holes surgeons cut into their abdomens.

Packard doctors are donating their time to treat Yurelia and Fiorella, who have nine older siblings. Mending Kids International, a faith-based nonprofit based in Santa Clarita that helps sick children, arranged transportation and housing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Costa Rica's Ramirez wins La Ruta for fourth time

Costa Rica's Federico "Lico" Ramirez (BCR-Pizza Hut) and American Susan Haywood (Trek-Volkswagen) took overall wins at the 15th annual La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain-bike stage race in Costa Rica.

It was Haywood's first visit to La Ruta, while Ramirez, also an accomplished road racer, became the only person to claim four La Ruta titles. Both riders took three stage wins en route to overall victory.

After the race Ramirez said he would be back to try for number five.

Central America's largest bike race concluded on Saturday with the 125km fourth stage from the mountain hamlet of Aquiares to the Playa Bonita beachfront in the coastal town of Limon.

To read the whole article click here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Costa Rica's Wanchope calls it quits

Costa Rican international striker Paulo Wanchope retired from football Friday, ending a 12-year career plagued by injuries after completing the Major League Soccer season for the Chicago Fire.

Wanchope, 31, has played for nine teams in seven nations but said his body can no longer handle the punishment.

"I always gave 100 percent to do things as well as possible," Wanchope said. "Sadly, my last performances were far from good enough and I have taken the decision to retire.

"It was a difficult decision to take, but it has to be taken. The truth is that in the last six months, I had to make a great effort to recover after games and training."

Knee injuries slowed Wanchope, who scored 45 goals in 75 caps since starting his pro career in Costa Rica in 1994.

Wanchope played for Derby County starting in 1997 before shifting to English Premiership rivals West Ham United and Manchester City. He also played for Malaga, Al-Gharrafa, FC Tokyo and Rosario Central.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chinese, Costa Rican legislators conclude first official exchange

Chinese and Costa Rican legislators concluded their first official exchange in San Jose yesterday since the two countries established diplomatic ties in June.

A Chinese legislators' delegation led by Jiang Enzhu, director of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), paid a four-day visit to Costa Rica, and held talks with congress president Francisco Antonio Pacheco (pictured) and Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno.

Speaking highly of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez's October visit to China, Jiang expressed his appreciation for the Costa Rican government and congress's decision to establish diplomatic ties between the two countries.

He said China is willing to make joint efforts with Costa Rica to promote their practical cooperation and implement the consensus reached between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Arias and the agreements signed by the two countries.

The NPC attaches great importance to developing friendly exchanges with the Costa Rican congress at all levels and in all fields, he said.

Pacheco said the Costa Rican congress firmly supports the government's decision to open diplomatic ties with China, saying the move is in the interests of both countries and peoples.

Stagno, on his part, expressed his satisfaction with the development of bilateral ties, saying President Arias' successful China tour, which has attracted wide attention both in and out of the country, bore out the fact that establishing diplomatic ties is the right thing that should be done.

Both Pacheco and Stagno said the Taiwan issue is China's domestic affair and the trend of China's reunification is irreversible.

They said the Costa Rican government and congress will stick to the one-China policy, vowing not to have any official exchanges with Taiwan.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hard-to-swallow hooks saving turtles

A fisherman measures a Ridley turtle caught off Costa Rica's Pacific coast in Puntarenas, the west of the capital San Jose, November 12, 2007. The turtle was returned alive to the sea because of an innovative hook being introduced to long-line fish fleets to reduce the by-catch of turtles, birds and marine mammals. Picture taken November 12, 2007. (Miguel Imbach/WWF/Handout/Reuters)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bush picks Costa Rica ambassador to run presidential library

By TODD J. GILLMAN / The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON – President Bush has picked a former Dallas neighbor – now his ambassador to Costa Rica, Mark Langdale – to run the presidential library being planned at Southern Methodist University, the library foundation announced Friday morning.

"Ambassador Langdale brings strong leadership skills to the library effort," Mr. Bush said in a statement issued Friday morning.

Mr. Langdale will serve as president of the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation starting Jan. 1, overseeing daily operations, hiring staff, managing construction and coordinating with the National Archives.

He and Mr. Bush met more than two decades ago when they lived near each other in Dallas. The president called him a "good friend" and said his experience in business and real estate development will prepare him for the complexity of the project.

Mr. Langdale has served as ambassador to the Central American nation since 2005. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston law school, he has worked as a lawyer in Houston and co-founded CapRock Communications Corp., a satellite communications provider.

During Mr. Bush's second term as Texas governor, he served as chairman of the Texas Department of Economic Development.

"I look forward to overseeing the library foundation as it develops a presidential library that will provide historians access to important documents and information about the American presidency and our 43d president," Mr. Langdale said in the statement issued by the foundation.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

L.A. Times takes notice of Costa Rica's messed up address system

Postal carrier Roberto Montero Reyes, a 27-year veteran, chats with a resident of Tibas, Costa Rica. Delivering mail means deciphering addresses that read like treasure-hunt clues. (Maria Dickerson/L.A Times)Back in March I told you that Correos de Costa Rica (Costa Rica's Postal Service) was planning to implement a new address system. Yesterday the newspaper Los Angeles Times published an interesting article about our traditional address system (where it comes from and why we use it) and the struggles of changing the mindset of the Ticos to accept a new system.
I advise you to read Maria's Dickerson article if you want to have a better understanding of how to find your way in our country.

Monday, November 05, 2007

China plans to build refinery in Costa Rica

China National Petroleum Corp. plans to build a refinery in Costa Rica to supply Central American markets, according to Chinese state media.

The official Shanghai Securities News, citing CNPC sources, said the agreement was concluded during a visit of Costa Rica President Oscar Arias to China.

Before his trip, Arias told Costa Rica's La Nacion newspaper that one of the most important goals of his visit would be to reach a refinery agreement.

Arias said the refinery proposal would allow Costa Rica to meet its own fuel needs and to export products.

The Shanghai Securities News report said the proposed refinery will process heavy oil from Venezuela.

Arias told Mexican Reforma newspaper, in an interview that the agreement with China means the chances for completion of an earlier Mexican refinery project in Costa Rica "have now been significantly reduced."

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox was planning to build an oil refinery in Costa Rica as part of a regional energy program during his six-year tenure that ended in 2006.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

President Arias gains momentum in Costa Rica

Photo by Reuters(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Costa Rican president Oscar Arias gained a significant amount of public support last month, according to a poll by CID-Gallup. 60 per cent of respondents think Arias has done a good or very good job leading the country, up eight points since July.

On Oct. 25, Arias and Chinese premier Wen Jiabao agreed in Beijing to bring bilateral relations "to a higher level." Arias, who recently severed his country’s long-standing ties with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with mainland China, declared: "The successful visit proved to me once again that we have made the right decision."

Arias —a member of the National Liberation Party (PLN)— won the February 2006 presidential election with 40.92 per cent of all cast ballots. Arias headed the government from 1986 to 1990, and was able to run again after the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly opted to bring back presidential re-election in 2003. He was sworn in for the second time in May 2006.

In 1987, Arias was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation in a peace deal that ended years of bloodshed in Central America.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Day of the Dead in Costa Rica

On November 2 Costa Ricans celebrate the Day of the Dead, however they way they do it differs from the way Mexicans celebrate it. In Tiquicia the Day of the Dead is when family members visit cemeteries to make flower offerings to their deceased loved ones, which is very similar to what Brazilians do. Here are a few images:

A man visits a cemetery during celebrations of the Day of the Dead in Atenas, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 2, 2007. The Day of the Dead honors the deceased, a tradition which coincides with All Saints Day and All Souls Day celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

A couple visits a cemetery during celebrations of the Day of the Dead in Atenas, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 2, 2007. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Family members place flowers on the grave of a relative at a cemetery during Day of the Dead celebrations, in Tierra Blanca, Cartago, November 2, 2007. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Iron Maiden's summer tour to include Costa Rica

The British heavy metal band Iron Maiden announced their visit to Costa Rica for the first as part of a massive 21 city tour that kicks off in India and ends in Canada.

The show in Costa Rica will be on February 26, 2008 at Ricardo Saprissa stadium in Tibas. Ticket prices have yet to be announced.

The band is known for their outlandish shows that requires a Boeing 757 to carry the 12 tons of equipment and the 70 person crew.

The tour (Somewhere Back In Time) will open in Mumbai, India on Feb 1, and continue through Australia, Japan, Los Angeles and Mexico, followed by the band's first ever concerts in Costa Rica and Colombia, and then on to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rica and New York, before finishing in Toronto, Canada, on March 16th.

Over the 45 day period it is anticipated that Maiden will play to well over 400,000 fans in 21 cities in 10 countries, flying close to 50,000 miles in the specially refitted plane.

Map of the tour

Iron Maiden's plane

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