Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New US Ambassador to Costa Rica Announced

The US Senate has announced the appointment of Anne Slaughter Andrew, a lawyer specializing in Corporate and Environmental Energy Issues as the the new US Ambassador to Costa Rica

Co-founder, owner and Director of the Anson Group LLC from 2004 to 2007, a medical bio-tech consulting company, Andrew has also been active in support of environmental and conservation organizations.

Andrew is currently the Principal of New Energy Nexus, LLC which provides a range of environmental consultancies, including consulting on biofuels. Given Costa Rica's emergence as a leader in the biofuel research and industry (especially Jatropha), this makes the appointment avery interesting one.

Read the more on this story on the Tico Times Website

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Amway to move hundreds of jobs to Costa Rica

The Costa Rica News reports that privately owned Amway Corporation, which reported a record turnover of US$8.2 billion dollars plans to move hundreds of currently US based"back office" finance jobs to Costa Rica.

Amway corporation is a multi level marketing direct seller of health, beauty and home care products and there are hundreds of thousands of agents worldwide.

Amway is one of the largest privately owned companies in the USA and one of the largest retailers in the world.

Read the full story in

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How is Christmas celebrated in Costa Rica

Costa Ricans have their own special way of celebrating Christmas or “Navidad”. Most of the traditions are based on popular religious beliefs, and many are similar to those of other Latin American countries. Of course, Costa Ricans always like to do things their way….the Tico way.

December is probably the most festive month of the year, as the Ticos look forward to vacation from work or school, eating traditional foods, meeting up with friends and family and, of course, “mucha fiesta”! Costa Ricans get together with their families to prepare for the birth of Baby Jesus and the New Year to come. Along with intense religious celebration in this predominantly Catholic country, there is another reason for an exciting atmosphere – money! Every working Tico is required by law to receive an “aguinaldo” from their employer, a Christmas bonus established by the government equal to one month’s salary. The streets become full of people spending their aguinaldo at the “chinamos”, small seasonal street vendors only around during the holiday season. Items for sale range from manger scenes called “Pasitos”, to decorations like lights and ornaments, to cheap toys for children. Also for sale in markets and street stalls are piles of gleaming apples and grapes. Visitors may wonder where all this fruit grows in Costa Rica during December. While many tropical fruits grow all year round, these are actually imported for the holiday season, as apples and grapes are a considered a special Christmas treat for Ticos.

December is also special in Costa Rica because the season changes from rainy to dry, and the days are cool and sunny. You can hear the Ticos say that it feels like Christmas or “pura Navidad” when the cool wind comes. The nights are clear and starry, and the air is crisp compared to the muggier months of the rainy season. Ticos celebrate Christmas by decorating a tree, usually a cypress, with a gold star on top and bright lights and ornaments, much like the U.S. Ticos generally prefer “louder” light decorations with plenty of odd flashing patterns. Every house in Costa Rica has a Christmas tree, specially cut to be big and round, and presents are placed underneath for adults to give to each other near midnight on “Noche Buena”, Christmas Eve. The gifts for children come on Christmas day. Instead of Santa coming to bring presents, Baby Jesus is credited with the wonderful gifts. However, as more and more foreigners influence Costa Rica, Santa is starting to make stops there! That being said, in Costa Rica you still ask the niños “What did the Baby bring you?”

Another very important tradition is “el portal”, the portrayal of the manger scene with Mary, Joseph, animals, the three Magic Kings, and all the shepherds and their sheep. Construction of each family’s portal is a well-planned event, usually culminating with inviting friends and family over to show off the decorations. Portals are filled with crafted wood, decorative papers of different colors, plant mosses, ramps to create different levels, multi-colored sawdust, glitter, and lighting.

On December 24th at midnight, not before, Baby Jesus is born and is placed in the portal where he stays until the three Magic Kings come to see him on January 6th. Ticos have a late night Christmas Eve dinner with a pork leg and tamales. Costa Rican tamales are made from corn flour and can contain potato puree, chorizo (a spicy pork sausage), a special achiote rice, shredded pork or chicken, and other vegetables wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. For a really fancy tamal, expect olives and capers in the mix. Eggnog, heavy with rum, is drunk, while people visit friends and family to give presents before midnight.

Then, the midnight mass or “Misa del Gallo” is attended. It’s a long service, and often Ticos are too tired to make it all the way through the two hour mass! With the Tico traditions of food, fun and family, Christmas is definitely the happiest time of the year

Thank you to for this great article on Tico Christmas traditions and you can read the full article here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Costa Rica Tops Happy Life Years Index.

Erasmus University, Rotterdam has developed an index which combines life expectancy with satisfaction with life to produce the Happy Life Years Index.

This Index is published on the World Database of Happiness and this years findings were presented at the world OECD World Forum in Busan, Korea in October of this year.

And top of the pile in the Happy Life Years Index was - Costa Rica with a score of 66.7 happy life years, followed closely Iceland (66.4) and Denmark (65)

The USA came in the middle rankings with a score of 58 happy life years.

Click here to see the full listing and see how Happy your country is.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How about your own Tree House in Costa Rica!

I came across this video on building your own tree house in Costa Rica and was quite taken by it.

Lots of hard work - but the end result was a four floor, rainforest tree house.

Even Better you can actually rent it out and stay there!

Here's the video.......

And you can book the rainforest house by visiting site

Monday, December 14, 2009

Festival of Light

The Costa Rican Festival of Light (Festival de la Luz) is a traditional carnival parade held at the beginning of December in San Jose,

A great family night out, it features brightly lit floats, interspersed with celebrities, marching bands and much much more.

To read the Tico Times Coverage of this years parade, just click here

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Costa Rica's Answers to Fight Climate Change.

Costa Rica will propose a carbon capture plan at the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held next month in Copenhagen.

According to Costa Rica's Minister of Economy, Industry and Commerce, Eduardo Sibaja, Costa Rica was the first country to suggest a Carbon capture program where a mechanism was put in place to exchange clean air produced by Costa Rica's rain forests for CO2 emissions produced by industrial nations.

Additionally, there is a mechanism to measure the chemicals in the industrialized countries air versus Costa Rica's clean air.

At the conference Costa Rica will also propose a reclassification of countries incomes to reward countries which spend more on areas like peace and environmental protection.

Under the current simple classification poor countries receive the most international funding irrespective, in many cases, of what the funding is spent on. Whilst successful countries making positive global contributions receive little or no international funding.

Costa Rica will propose a reclassification of the assessment of countries incomes to reward those countries making positive global impacts with additional funding.

The Full story can be read in The Costa Rica News: Costa Rica’s answers to fight climate change

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vic Reeves's Heaven on Earth is Costa Rica

The comedian Vic Reeves describes his most memorable holiday: two weeks spent in the jungles of Costa Rica

" I had the most fabulous holiday in Costa Rica. It's the most amazing place to go if you're into wildlife: a real animal paradise.

My wife, Nancy, and I travelled to Corcovado National Park ( for a couple of weeks, forgot about the world outside and lost ourselves, so to speak, in the jungle's rich and diverse animal and bird life.

We stayed at a rangers' station in the middle of the park, which you reach via a boat trip down a river and a jungle trail; there's nothing for a couple of hundred miles around.

Being plunged into this other world was such a revelation: every time I looked out of the window there was something to see – a tapir (a big, pig-like creature), a spider monkey, a hummingbird… and I'll never forget being woken at four in the morning by the howler monkeys… boy, can they howl.

And strange as it may sound, the three hours I spent trying to get a half-decent picture of a hummingbird – which is harder than it sounds – were three of the best hours I've spent in my life.

Staying in the middle of the jungle might not be to everyone's taste. The food was pretty basic – consisting of a lot of beans and rice – and the camp itself was one of the most unsanitary places I've ever stayed. We even had a cockroach or two for company in our cabin… but in a weird way, that just made it all the better.

Of course, you have to go prepared, have all sorts of injections and resign yourself to being bitten by the odd mosquito, regardless of the amount of repellent you use. Indeed, Nancy, poor thing, got bitten on the leg by some kind of spider that left a rock-hard egg-sized lump on her neck. So, yes, there are things out there… but you really don't want to worry about them."

Read the full story in the Telegraph and you can read about Vic's trip in Vic Reeves's 'Vast Book of World Knowledge' is published by Atlantic Books (19.99).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Free Trade Deal very Lucrative for Costa Rican Coffee Growers

* Free trade deal would open China to Costa Rica coffee
* Coffee drinking growing fast in tea-drinking country
* Some growers want high-quality beans protected

By Leslie Josephs SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Nov 12 (Reuters)

A planned trade deal between Costa Rica and China might bring a bounty to coffee growers in the Central American country which has an advantage over its neighbors who are still allied with Beijing's rival Taiwan.

If a text is agreed for the trade pact, currently in the last round of negotiations, Costa Rica could become the third Latin American country after Chile and Peru to reach such a deal with China.
The tiny Central American nation is seeking "immediate access" of its high quality beans to the Asian giant, Costa Rica's chief negotiator, Fernando Ocampo said. China is Costa Rica's second-largest trade partner after the United States.

Last week, the two countries concluded a fifth round of free trade talks, but will draw up norms on coffee, sugar and other agriculture products in a sixth and final round of negotiation in mid-February.

On Thursday, coffee industry leaders from around the world are gathering in the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste for the annual Sintercafe three-day coffee conference.

Coffee demand in traditionally tea-drinking China has risen in recent years as the country's fast economic growth means a growing class of young, upwardly mobile consumers could be next to adopt coffee drinking habits.

"It's such a big market that there are always opportunities for different kinds of coffee," said Juan Carlos Vargas, general manager of Coopetarrazu, which groups 250 small producers in the lush Tarrazu region of western Costa Rica.

Vargas said the Chinese market is developing a taste for Costa Rica's fine coffee, not just cheaper, lower-quality Vietnamese robusta or domestically-grown coffee.

"They are going to be interested in our coffee. In fact, Starbucks is already there," he said.
Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O), a top buyer of Costa Rican coffee, has nearly 700 cafes in China now and sees the potential for thousands of new stores. China has seen double-digit growth in coffee sales in the past couple of years.


Costa Rica ended a 60-year diplomatic ties with Taiwan and forged relations with mainland China in 2007. China shuns commercial relationships with governments like Guatemala -- Central America's No. 1 coffee producer -- that recognize Taiwan as a country.

But an untapped market of China's size is not enough to win the immediate support of all farmers, who have called on the government to protect the high-quality reputation of Costa Rican coffee with a certification clause in the trade pact.

Ronald Peters, executive director of the government-funded Costa Rica Coffee Institute, said local farmers worry Chinese importers could mix their specialty beans in blends and pass it off as Costa Rican, diluting the brand.

"We have a clear position in terms of demanding a strict origin norm to inform (buyers) that the Costa Rican coffee was produced in Costa Rica," Peters said.

Costa Rica's small-scale coffee farmers, who grow the famed beans on parcels of just 5 hectares or less, comprise more than 90 percent of the country's production.

Click here to read the full story by Leslie Josephs on Reuters

Sunday, November 29, 2009

10 Great Reasons to Take a Trip to Costa Rica now

10 GREAT Reasons to Visit Costa Rica Now by Victor Krumm

Tired of the humdrum? Need to get away and relax? I have just the place for you. Costa Rica. Here are 10 terrific reasons to take a Costa Rica vacation.

1. You’ll find great airfares and travel bargains to Costa Rica right now.

2. There are 780 miles of pristine coastline with hundreds of great Costa Rica beaches. Uncrowded beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

3. Like critters? Costa Rica has more species of butterflies than the entire African continent iincluding the only butterfly in the world that makes a sound. Not to mention almost as many different species of birds as on the entire continent of Europe or in all of the continental United States.

4. In a country about the same size as West Virginia, youll find nearly 5% of all the kinds of plants and animals on the face of the planet. Think about it. One of every five species of plants and animals in the world.

5. Visit mighty Irazu volcano that saluted John F. Kennedy by erupting on the day he visited Costa Rica. Or go to Arenal Volcano, another of the Seven Wonders, and luxuriate in magnificent hot springs, drink in hand while the monster spits out glowing lava far into the night sky.

6. Thousands of Americans travel to Costa Rica for cosmetic surgery, dental, or other medical care because the quality of care is world-class but often only about a one-third of the price in the States.

7. Some folks come to take Spanish lessons in schools that also teach them how to surf! Or yoga. Or sexy latin dancing. Or all of the above.

8. How about fantastic weather year-round? If you get too warm, drive a few miles into the lush mountains. Swim in warm waters every day of the year.

9. Like a good fish story? I do. This will not be the story about the one that got away. Bring your camera or video camera. You will have proof! You can fish every day of the year for an unimaginable variety of fish. The Caribbean is filled with huge tarpon. Sailfish and marlin (I hooked a 450 pound, 13 marlin recently) are common. Not to mention whales and sea turtles.

10. You will be just a short trip away from a place where there is a stable democracy. Costa Rica abolished its army more than 70 years ago and you will find lots of friendly, smiling courteous people who really like Americans and Europeans.

And, for being a good sport, I have your first Spanish lesson as a bonus. Remember the words Pura Vida! It means the great life and you will hear and use it every day.

About the Author:
Victor Krumm writes from Costa Rica. His popular website about Costa Rica Vacations. Ever imagined tropical surfing? Check out www.costarica-discCosta Rica Surfing for world-renowned beaches and incredible waves. See the original article here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Costa Rica and Turkey consider Free Trade Agreement

Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica is currently on an official visit to Turkey, the first Costa Rican President to visit. Costa Rica plans to open an embassy in Turkey in 2011 and on Wednesday the Turkish and Costa Rican leaders announced that they intended to to sign a free trade agreement to boost bilateral economic relations and also enhance political ties.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul told a joint press conference with his Costa Rican counterpart Oscar Arias that Turkey wants to sign a free trade agreement soon with Costa Rica, which has a sound economy with increasing foreign investment, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The two countries have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a political consultation mechanism between their foreign ministries.

Read more on China View

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Costa Rica and Panama Strengthen Ties

Panama and Costa Rica further strengthen cooperation by signing a bilateral agreement on the 29th of October 2009.

The agreement signed by Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and his Costa Rican counterpart Oscar Arias pledges to expand and deepen political and social dialogue on bilateral and international issues of mutual interest, the commercial ties, and cultural exchanges and to achieve integration between the two countries.

Both countries share the same democratic and social freedom values and the agreement aims to expand the cooperation between the countries beyond just economic ties.

You can read more on this in the Panama Guide

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Monthly Economic Activity for Costa Rica Improves

The Tico Times reports improvements in the Costa Rican Economic indices and further evidence that the Costa Rican Economy has begun to recover:

Over the past year the the monthly average decrease of the monthly Economic Activity Index (IMAE) was 3.6%. During the month of September this improved to a 0.1% contraction.

The Manufacturing Sector, in particular, showed improvement mainly due to to increased exports by businesses located in free-trade zones.

Other increases in economic activity during the month of September included sales of electrical energy and hotel revenues which have improved with increased tourist spending.

Read the full story in the Tico Times here

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cemetery dating from 300AD-800AD excavated in Costa Rica

A pre-columbian cemetery dating from 300-800Ad has been found in Guapiles during ground preparation works for building a new schoool.

The cemetery was constructed by the Huetares tribe and the design is not a standard Huetares cemetery construction which has puzzled archaeologists.

59 ancient artifacts have already been found during the excavation.

Read the full story on

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stone Spheres of Costa Rica

Stone Balls or spheres have been discovered throughout the world. Those found in Costa Rica are the subject of many books and papers, with some authors identifying themselves as the discoverers.

However, they were actually found in 1940 during agricultural activities by the United Fruit Company. They were clearing land on the Diquis Delta to be used for banana plantations. An archaeological investigation was underway shortly afterward along with the first scholarly publication about them appearing in 1943.

Hundreds of these balls have been documented all over the country of Costa Rica. Although some have been destroyed, dynamited by treasure hunters or cracked and broken by agricultural activities. Only six are believed to be in their original locations. They range from a few centimeters to over two meters in diameter. Almost all of them are made of granodiorite, a hard, volcanic stone, possibly taken from a Talamanca mountain range about 50 miles from their location. Unlike the stone balls in Jalisco, Mexico, they are not natural in origins but monolithic sculptures made by human hands.

No one knows exactly how old they are. Costa Rica has no recorded history before 1502 when Columbus made his fourth transatlantic voyage. Archaeologists used pottery and other artifacts found near the balls to make their best educated guess. They believe the balls could have been made anywhere between A.D. 200 and 1500. Old but not as old as the pyramids or Stonehenge.

How or why they were created remains a mystery.

Thank you to the paranormal stories blog for this excellent article

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Does Pura Vida Mean to You?

I asked the question on our Facebook Page - What does Pura Vida Mean?

Kevin Peterson came back with the following response which I really enjoyed and I hope you enjoy it too…..

“Pura Vida in practice has many meanings and is used in many different contexts. It is as much an expression of a way of life as it is a commonly used phrase. Hawaiians use Aloha in a similar way, but Aloha has a different connotation. One of my favorite things is to see the huge grin on a Ticos face when you use the expression after there has been some sort of mistake or delay. It is like the Universal excuse. Anything that goes wrong can be absolved by the use of those two little words.

The other thing that I find interesting is that Pura Vida is the ultimate expression of "living in the moment". I remember in the 70s there was the whole "Be Here Now" philosophy that was going around the West. But for Westerners it really just an idea. We never really lived it. For Costa Ricans it is a way of life and Pura Vida is ... Read morethe ultimate expression of that.
Sometimes the "living in the moment" aspect of Costa Rican culture can be maddening for us westerners because we like to make plans and create a structure for our future events. But you have to give the Ticos credit. It may be difficult to make future plans with Ticos but they sure are a happy lot ........ Pura Vida.”

Kevin is the founder of the Eco-Preservation Society.
You can connect with Kevin on facebook here and on twitter at (over 80,000 followers follow Kevin’s Tweets!)

The Ecotinteractive website is

Thank you for the fantastic and enjoyable comments Kevin and Pura Vida

Monday, November 9, 2009

Costa Rica's 2020 Vision

Costa Rica's Ambassador to the UK, Her Excellency Pilar Saborio, talks about Costa Rica's 2020 vision, Costa Rica's environmental vision and how small countries can have a global impact:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pura Vida

Pura Vida – Costa Rica, Central America
By: Lisa Lubin

Pura Vida

In Costa Rica there’s a saying that permeates everyday life. Pura Vida literally translates to "pure life". It’s also used to mean "it’s all good". Here are a few examples.

“How are you?” “Pura Vida.”

“How’s the weather?” “Pura Vida.”

A pretty girl or cute muchacho is “Pura Vida".

Pura Vida is an attitude, a feeling. It’s all good. It’s relaxing, taking it easy. In the States we don’t have this outlook in everything we do.

It makes me think about how we say we want to live life to the fullest. It's so hard to do when we are preoccupied with working, making more money to buy more things, commuting, running on the treadmill, falling into bed exhausted. How do we have time to really "live life", pura vida?
We say “stop and smell the roses”, “work to live, don’t live to work.” It takes five seconds to say these words, five seconds to think about the meaning before our own daily thoughts, responsibilities and to-do lists crash into our brain.

I'm no expert. If I figure how to make "life" better, I'll let you know. Do the same for me.

Pura vida!

Thank you to Lisa Lubin for this excellent article and to read more about Lisa Lubin's travels, go here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

There's an i-phone App for that (a tour of Costa Rica)

There seems to be an i-phone app for everything nowadays and here is one for visitors to Costa Rica, an i-phone tour guide to Costa Rica App.

It promises:

General information about the Costa Rica: Etimology, History, Geography, Climate,Architecture, Monuments and landmarks, Culture, Economy, Demographics, Administration, Transportation;

Travel tips on: How to get in there, how to Get around and local traffic, major language and habit, what to see there, major attractions, what you can do, event in the year and time frame, local special to buy and where, local food, price level and where to try, tips for learning or working there, where to drink and how to get there, how to choose hotel, how to stay safe, rules to follow for being polite, who to come to when in emergency, way to get out.

Photos slide of Costa Rica provide a virtual view to you to feel and smell, besides text, what you are heading to.

Shake to know:Shake your iPhone/iTouch will present topics randomly, it is designed to make your reading as a fun, and help you to know in topic by topic way when you do not have time to read a long section.

You can see the app here (cost US$0.99)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Costa Rica is the most Prosperous Nation in Latin America

Costa Rica has emerged as the number one amongst Latin American countires in the world’s only global assessment of wealth and well being: The Legatum Prosperity Index.

Other studies rank countries by actual levels of wealth or development, but the Prosperity Index produces rankings based upon the foundations of prosperity: those factors that drive economic growth and produce happy citizens over the long term. As the Index indicates: prosperity is security.

The Legatum Prosperity Index asseses countries in 9 Costa Rica surpassed regional heavyweights Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia in 9 key areas:

Economic Fundamentals: a growing, sound economy that provides opportunities for wealth creation. (rank 55th)

Entrepreneurship and Innovation: an environment friendly to new enterprises and the commercialization of new ideas. (Rank 33rd)

Democratic Institutions: Transparent and accountable governing institutions that promote economic growth. (ranked 28th)

Education: An accessible, high-quality educational system that fosters human development. (ranked 61st)

Health: The physical well being of the populace. (ranked 37th)

Safety and Security: A safe environment in which people can pursue opportunity. (ranked 44th)

Governance: An honest an effective government that preserves order and encourages productive citizenship. (Ranked 38th)

Personal Freedom: The degree to which individuals can choose the course of their lives. (ranked 12th)

Social Capital: Trustworthiness in relationships and strong communities. (ranked 47th)

Costa Rica surpassed regional heavyweights Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia and all other Latin American Countries to rank highest in the region at 32 of 104 countries included in the survey.

Costa Rica scored highest in Personal Freedom, surpassing countries like Japan, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Belgium at the international level. "Costa Ricans enjoy excellent freedom of movement, religion, and speech, and 91% of respondents were satisfied with the freedom to choose in their daily lives.* Tolerance of ethnic minorities and immigrants is above the international average, with 72% of people believing Costa Rica to be a good place for both immigrants and minorities.*"

Whilst ranking highest amongst its neighbouring Latin American Countries is an impressive achievement, Costa Rica has work to do in other areas (particularly education). The Costa Rican Govenrnment is making efforts to address these areas already with almost 25% of the entire National Budget to be spent on education in 2009.

Click on the link to read the full The Legatum Prosperity Index

Related Stories: Costa Rica Ranks Number 1 in the Happy Planet Index.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Costa Rica to become a Carbon Neutral Tourist Destination Right Now.

Costa Rica announced plans to become the world's first carbon-neutral tourist destination.

At a sustainable tourism conference, the country's ecotourism organization (CANAECO) and the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications signed an agreement that puts in place a system to cover the offsetting of tourists' flights.

Visitors to Costa Rica will not be asked to pick up the costs of the carbon offset for their flights (approx. US$10-$30 per tourists) and offset costs will be raised from those businesses who benefit from a tourist visit to Costa Rica - from international tour operators down to the small lodge housing visitors during their stay, making the ecological effort more affordable.

This is just part of Costa Rica's commitment to become carbon-neutral over all by 2021.

While the tourist receives a carbon-offsetting certificate and the money raised will go to the nation's forestry financing fund (FONAFIFA) to plant what will basically be carbon-absorption forests. Most of the trees to be planted will be indigenous, and will have a 20-year lifespan – at that point, the trees pass their maximum carbon-absorbing ability and will be harvested, with the local farmer receiving the profit.

Full and excellent coverage of this story can be seen at the Globe and Mail

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Synthetic Trees - an update

Of the various geoengineering schemes being proposed to cool an overheated planet, one approach — extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using “artificial trees” — may have the most potential. But both questions and big hurdles remain before this emerging technology could be widely David Biello in Environment 360, Business and Innovation section.

A tiny pinwheel spins in the desert breeze atop the roof of the Global Research Technologies headquarters in Tucson. For seven months, the pinwheel has endured the blazing Arizona sun, blistering heat, wind, dust, and — finally — torrential rains. At the end of it all, the synthetic resin that makes up this seeming child’s toy has pulled carbon dioxide from the air that flowed through it and, with the rains, released it again. The pinwheel is one of the first demonstrations of a technology that may one day be in great demand this century: devices that can extract from the air some of the billions of tons of heat-trapping CO2 being generated by industrial society. Known loosely as “artificial trees” for their ability to mimic a plant’s own uptake of carbon, such “air capture” technology has been touted as one of the most promising of the many proposed geoengineering schemes that could be used to cool an overheated planet.“If we really do get into a situation where we realize that we’ve changed the atmosphere too much for our own well-being, there are at least ways to back off of that,” argues climate scientist Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution of Washington at Stanford University, an expert on geoengineering.

“There’s no fundamental limit on how much you could scale those activities up. It’s mostly a matter of how many resources you throw at it.”Recent reports from the U.K.’s Royal Society and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers singled out air capture as the safest and potentially most effective of proposed geoengineering technologies. Even if the technology is successful, scientists face the problem of what to do with the CO2. Although air capture is certainly not without its environmental impacts, the two groups noted that other geoengineering schemes — such as seeding the oceans with iron to stimulate the growth of CO2-absorbing algae, mimicking a volcanic eruption to shade the planet, or launching mirrors into space to deflect the sun’s energy away from Earth — could have far more unpredictable and potentially destabilizing effects.

Proponents of air-capture technology acknowledge it is far from a perfect solution and will not enable humankind to continue spewing CO2 into the atmosphere with impunity. First, although it has been successfully tested on a small scale, air capture is at least five years away from being tested on a larger scale and, after that, could take at least two decades before it could be widely deployed. Second, to set up enough artificial trees to make a dent in reducing the vast amounts of CO2 being produced by humanity would require massive production at enormous expense.“The cost estimates for capturing CO2 from ambient air are gross underestimates,” says principal research engineer Howard Herzog at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s actually still a question whether it will take more energy to capture CO2 than the CO2 associated with [fossil fuel] energy in the first place.”

Even if artificial trees do prove capable of pulling large amounts of CO2 from the air, scientists then face the problem of what to do with that carbon dioxide. Underground sequestration — one possible solution — is still in the experimental stages. And deploying such artificial trees on a mass scale will have significant environmental costs, including producing the electricity needed to run them, the large land area the air capture devices would occupy, and the manufacture and installation of devices using resins, plastics, and other substances that could release air pollutants.As the Royal Society report notes, air capture could “require the creation of an industry that moves material on a scale as large as (if not larger than) that of current fossil fuel extraction, with the risk of substantial local environmental degradation and significant energy requirements.”In short, to extract enough CO2 from the atmosphere to begin to lower temperatures would require decades of building millions of air-capture devices that have been refined to minimize their environmental impact.

Political scientist Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado-Boulder estimates that 650 billion tons of carbon will need to be disposed of by 2100 to keep atmospheric concentrations of CO2 around 450 parts per million, a level that could easily lead to temperature rises of 2 degrees C (3.6 F) or higher.“You need 30 years of development time and 100 years of deployment before you start to see the effect you’re looking for,” says oceanographer John Shepherd, who led the Royal Society study of air capture and other geoengineering technologies.That said, if humanity fails to rein in its greenhouse gas emissions, the need for air capture technology could be urgent. If emissions are not reined in, the need for air capture technology could be urgent.After all, concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide have reached 387 parts-per-million (ppm), more than 100 ppm higher than pre-industrial levels and quickly moving beyond what some consider to be a safe level of 350 ppm. Since the establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, fossil fuel CO2 emissions have grown by more than 30 percent and overall human-caused emissions have now reached roughly 30 billion tons per year.“Unless future efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are much more successful than they have been so far,” the Royal Society wrote in its September report, “additional action may be required should it become necessary to cool the Earth this century.” Pulling CO2 from the air is simple chemistry. After all, a bottle of sodium hydroxide — also known as lye and a primary constituent of everything from soap to pulp and paper — must be kept carefully sealed. That’s because the strong base — the opposite of acid — will be neutralized if exposed to air by rapidly sucking up the CO2 and then transforming the lye into sodium carbonate and, ultimately, baking soda. The captured CO2 can then be extracted via the industrial process of heating the compound above 900 degrees C in a kiln, releasing the CO2, and enabling the sodium hydroxide to regenerate its ability to suck up yet more CO2.The process works, but as physicist Klaus Lackner at Columbia University’s Earth Institute — one of the scientists behind the GRT pinwheel — explains, “The energy to pry out the CO2 is very high.” So-called “artificial trees” mimic a plant’s own uptake of carbon.That’s why Lackner has moved in the direction of finding a strong base resin, such as Dow Chemical’s Marathon A, typically used to produce purified water. The synthetic resin in the pinwheel absorbs CO2 to form bicarbonates when dry, but then spits out the CO2 when exposed to water. “Basically, we can swing between being dry and wet,” Lackner says. “Let the resin sit in air, because air will dry it, and it will absorb CO2, taking an hour to load up. Make it wet, and it’s an hour to unload.”This type of device could be housed in an “oversized furnace filter,” about three feet wide by eight feet long, loosely filled with sheets of the resin, constituting the leaves of this artificial tree. Such a device could capture CO2 for less than $300 per metric ton, though it wouldn’t function in cold climates or the humid tropics.

A number of experiments involving air capture technologies are underway, ranging from efforts to use solid amines — ammonia transformed into compounds capable of bonding with CO2 — to technologies now used to capture some flue gases from exhaust at fossil fuel-fired power plants. Scientists also are attempting to use algae — the workhorses of the Earth’s natural carbon cycle — to cleanse the air of excess CO2. That could have the benefit of creating a new source of fuel or power, since algae incorporate nearly as much energy per kilogram as coal. But as the U.K.’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers put it, algae bioreactors “are a fledgling technology and at the moment are too expensive to be commercially viable.”Artificial trees, on the other hand, could be available as soon as next decade.

The mechanical engineers believe a demonstration could occur as soon as 2014, followed by a full-scale “artificial forest” by 2018 and global deployment by 2040. In the long term, such air capture theoretically has the potential to cancel out human emissions of CO2, according to earth system scientist Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia.Assuming that CO2 can be pulled from ambient air, that still leaves the other half of the problem: storing it safely somewhere. Efforts to capture CO2 from coal-fired power plants have seized upon geologic sequestration as a potential solution.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the continental U.S. alone has room for 3.9 trillion tons of CO2 underground, more than enough room for the 3.2 billion tons emitted every year by large industrial sources. Still, major questions remain about underground sequestration, including its impact on groundwater supplies, subterranean pressure, and the potential for the CO2 to leak back into the atmosphere.Certain geologic formations may offer a solution by mimicking the chemical transformation of air capture itself. Basalt formations — a residue of volcanic activity — can absorb CO2 and, over decades, transform it into minerals. An experiment by Reykjavik Energy to prove the concept by injecting the CO2 from a geothermal power plant into basalt beneath the surface is underway in Iceland, which is primarily composed of the igneous rock.Even if technology and storage issues are resolved, CO2 air capture will require significant amounts of new electricity to power the devices. Lackner proposes a new fleet of nuclear reactors or widespread solar power.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimates that it could take as many as 10 million air-capture devices sucking up one metric ton of CO2 per day to absorb just 3.6 billion tons — about one-tenth of current global emissions. The costs of deploying these devices could be staggering. Climatologist James Hansen estimates it would cost roughly $20 trillion per 50 ppm of CO2 removed. “It’s on the scale of the global military effort,” the Carnegie Institution’s Caldeira says. “The tragedy is there’s no reason to be considering these options at all if we could just learn to cooperate [on reducing emissions], but the evidence that we are learning to cooperate is not very strong.”Still, Lackner remains undeterred. By the end of the year, he hopes to have a small demonstration of his resin-based artificial tree — looking more like a mobile home with a large pinwheel on top — running at Columbia University.

Physicist David Keith of the University of Calgary will launch his air capture company, which uses amines to extract CO2, in October.“If we had lots of money and things went really well, we could build a pilot plant in five years,” Keith says. “I’m not saying we will be. This field is filled with people’s overconfidence.”The Royal Society’s Shepherd said that, given the expense of air capture technology, “the first line of defense would be carbon capture and storage and taking it out at the point of emission.” But air capture could be effective in offsetting emissions from sources such as airlines, Shepherd said.The challenges — and expense — of air capture also serve as a stark reminder to policy makers that the best tactic for combating climate change is to pursue energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and avoid emitting CO2 in the first place. As the Royal Society report notes: “The safest and most predictable method of moderating climate change is to take early and effective action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. No geoengineering method can provide an easy or readily acceptable alternative solution to the problem of climate change.”Not even artificial trees.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Are you a Facebook or Twitter fan?

Costa Rica has an active Facebook page, covering stories about Costa Rica, Investing in Costa Rica, Land in Costa Rica, Eco, Environment and much more. Our Facebook Page has almost 1,000 followers and you can see it (and become a fan) here.

Costa Rica also is active on Twitter with 2,500 followers and covering a similar range of stories you can follow james on twitter by following @invest_james

Have you any stories you would like us to highlight on facebook or in twitter, just let us know.

Costa Rica is the Safest Country in Latin America

The third annual Latin Security Index developed by FTI Consulting Ibero America for Latin Business Chronicle has ranked Costa Rica as the most secure country in Lain America for foreign multinationals and their executives.

The Latin Security Index measures the danger level in Latin America based on a number of factors affecting corporate security and the safety of foreign business executives. These ratings are based on official numbers from public security secretariats, local police, governments, NGO's and institutes of criminal investigations.

Each country receives rating from 1 to 5 with 1 representing a non-dangerous country and 5 representing a very dangerous country.

Full coverage of this story is available in Inside Costa Rica.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shameless Plug

Andrea Kirkby wrote an excellent extensive article on Costa Rica Invest and the opportunities in Cost Rica and Finca Di Pacifico Dos in the Overseas Property Professional Magazine and you can download the article here

Shameless self promotion!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nature Air Ranked Number 1 Eco Friendly Airline Worldwide

According to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, the CO2 from aviation accounts for 1.6% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and is set to reach 2.5% by 2050. IATA started the environmental movement for airlines by setting an important and semnificant goal – creating a zero-emissions airplane within 50 years.

Last month, the airline industry also made a pledge to halve emissions by 2050 to force the development of a new, greener technology they can use. Some airlines have went further by pioneering new eco-friendly technologies that really make a statement. The Airline Post's picked the 5 most eco friendly airlines in the world and at number 1, they placed Nature Air, Costa Rica's national airline.

The airline is built on a 100% carbon neutral aviation program. Nature Air, Costa Rica’s national airline, engages passengers in a carbon offset scheme and a commitment for fuel reduction, both on the ground and in the air. They operate 74 daily flights with 8 aircrafts and improved fuel efficiency by 7% by training their crew, reducing aircrafts’ weight and focusing on flight planning. Nature Air has developed Costa Rica’s only bio-diesel fueling station and aims to become climate neutral by 2021, when the country will celebrate 200 years of independence.

To read the full story on The Airline Post's website just click here

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What is the cost of living in Costa Rica

I am often asked about the cost of living in Costa Rica and I came across this excellent article by Jerry Minchey which gives a good indication as to just how cheaply you can live (and live well) in Costa Rica.

Can You Live in Costa Rica on Your Social Security? - Five Facts and Techniques to Help You Decide

Just to see if it could be done, I lived in Costa Rica for five months last year on my Social Security check. And I didn't just get by, I lived very well.

Before I get the to five techniques that will allow you to live in Costa Rica on your Social Security, let me give you a few real-life examples from my experiences.

To start with you don't need a car. You can go anywhere on new modern buses. (The roads are rough, but the buses are nice.) Buses pass most points (even in rural areas) every hour and most of the time every 30 minutes. The fare to anywhere is about one US dollar an hour.

Food is inexpensive IF you buy things that are grown or processed in Costa Rica and this includes about everything. For example Heineken beer and Oreo cookies are cheap, (but don't try to even find fig bars). Beer is cheap, but wine is about the same as in the US because they don't produce wine - at least, not much. A good meal at a restaurant (bar-b-que ribs, or steak and all trimmings) will run you less than $3 and that includes dessert, tax and the tip.

Costa Rica orange juice is about $1 for a half gallon and Florida orange juice is about $7 for half gallon. In other words, watch prices and buy local products. Farmer's markets are a great place to get fresh produce at extremely low prices. For example pineapples are four or five for a dollar depending on the size.

I lived in an almost new (less than a year old) house for three months and the rent was $600 a month for everything - utilities, phone, high speed Internet and cable TV. Then I stayed in a new apartment (I was the first person to live in the apartment) and the same things were furnished. The rent for the new apartment was only $450 a month and again this covered everything.

I think you are beginning to see that it's quite possible to live well in Costa Rica even with a small Social Security check each month.

By the way, medicine and first rate health care are both inexpensive. Many people go to Costa Rica for dental work and cosmetic surgery because the prices are extremely cheap and quality is first rate.

Yes, you can drink the water. Costa Rica is rated as the cleanest country in Central America. I ate and drank in restaurants all over Costa Rica for five months and I never got sick.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same for eating in the US. The first night after I arrived I got sick as a dog (from food I had eaten in the Ft. Lauderdale airport). I know this was the case because I had not had anything to eat or drink in Costa Rica before I got sick.

Since I was so sick that night, at 9:00 p.m. friends took me into town to see the local pharmacist. He lived behind the pharmacy and he came in from his home, checked me over and gave me some medicine and gave me a shot (yes, pharmacists can prescribe medicine and give shots in Costa Rica).

He also gave me his home phone number and his cell phone number and told me to call him if I needed him during the night. I was well the next morning and never got sick again for the next five months I was in Costa Rica.

So yes, you can live in Costa Rica on a small monthly Social Security check. And you will not be just surviving, you can live very well.

Here are the five techniques that will help you to live in Costa Rica on your Social Security check.

#1. Rent a small apartment -- $400 to $500 a month. (Remember, this includes everything - electricity, Internet, Cable TV, phone, water, etc.)

#2. Buy locally produced food and get a lot of it from one of the many farmer's markets. $100 a month per person is easy to do.

#3. Yes, you can eat out some. Just don't over do it.

#4. Travel by bus.

#5. One last point -- Check out Spirit Airlines' $9 club. They have $9 fares (each way) from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Costa Rica almost every month. Just be flexible with your travel dates.

This covers the basics and for many Social Security budgets this will leave a reasonable amount for extra things you want to buy, see and do.

Will these techniques allow you to live in Costa Rica on your Social Security check?

The answer depends on the size of your Social Security check and your definition of "living" verses "existing."

Jerry Minchey is an engineer, author and researcher. He cuts through the hype and gets down to the bare facts to reveal secrets that are easy to understand using non-technical terms. He has written several books and produced DVDs as a results of his research.

To see what people are saying who have moved to Costa Rica (or are considering moving), check out the Costa Rica Forum.

To see examples of new apartments you can rent for $450 a month (completely furnished with utilities, phone, cable TV and high speed wireless Internet included), take a look at some Costa Rica Apartments.

Article Source:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Costa Rica Festival Calendar

Thank you to Adventure Costa Rica, specialising in Costa Rican Vacation Packages for this excellent article. They can be contacted on

Festivals are a vital part of any culture, and provide insight to the country you are visiting as few other activities will. This guide to Costa Rica festivals will guide you if you wish to plan your visit around festivals in Costa Rica or if you wish to know if there’s a festival going on while you’re here. From the Fiestas de Palmares in Costa Rica to the Limon Carnival and many Costa Rica fiestas in between, take advantage and view the cultural festivities of Costa Rica throughout the year. Festivals comprise a wide range of activities that fall under that one name. From religious celebrations for Catholic Saints, carnivals, topes and fiestas to artistic and musical international events, there’s plenty to be excited about.

January is the month for the Palmares fiestas for the first two weeks of the year. Dancing, concerts, carnival, tope (horse parade), music and tico style bull-fighting. Tico style bull fighting doesn’t injure the animal: what it consists of is a bunch of daredevil ticos attempting to touch the bull as it runs around the ring, armed with nothing but the clothes on their back and a bandanna. The Fiestas de Alajuelita are also in January, the week of January 15th. An ox-cart parade to honor the “Santo Cristo de Esquipulas”, a turno (food, arcade games and music) with a religious procession to the top of the mountain, where the big metallic Alajuelita cross shines above San Jose. This patron saint is also honored in Santa Cruz of Guanacaste with bull fights, dances and marimba music. The Copa del Café is an international tennis tournament for players under 18 years of age, and takes place for a week of this month.

February is known for the Fiesta de los Diablitos in the indigenous village of Boruca in Rey Curre. This festival revolves around a dance dating back to the conquest of Spaniards to America, and you’ll be able to participate in this tribal dance which reconstructs the struggle between the indigenous tribes (the diablitos, or devils) and the Spaniards, represented by a bull. San Isidro del General also hosts its festivities with cattle shows, bullfights and flower expositions. The last week is for the Puntarenas Carnivals: music, dances, games, food and more under the sunny Puntarenas sky.

March and April are varied as well. March is for the Oxcart parade. The second Sunday in March in San Antonio de Escazu you’ll see colorful handpainted oxcarts roll out on the street. This artistic world patrimony is honored with blessings by the parish priests over the competitions, the oxcarts and the produce they help carry. San Jose is also celebrated on March 19th, and in smaller locations with the same name. Orchid expositions and the Ujarras procession to the oldest church in Costa Rica are also highlights of this month. Easter or Holy week takes place in either of these months, and most Ticos will flock to the beaches and parks, celebrating the holidays. Processions throughout the country and most of the businesses and stores close on Thursday and Friday. Juan Santamaría day is on April 11th. He is a national hero used to showcase the power of the humble Costa Rican peasant against the imperialist power, represented by a young boy who dared to burn down the house where Filibuster William Walker was hiding. Parades throughout the city with student bands and music.

May June and July have calmer celebrations such as the Día del Trabajo or work day on May 1st. If you are in Limón, cricket games, domino and dances will entertain you. On May 15th San Isidro Labrador is celebrated with blessings over fields, animals and harvests. The San Juan race takes place on May 17th, a 22.5 Km marathon. July heats up with the celebration for the Virgin of the Ocean, (Virgen del Mar) on the Saturday closest to the 16th. Decorated boats and dingies flock the gulf of Nicoya in this colorful celebration. July 25th is for the Anexion de Nicoya day, when Nicoya, an independent land, decided to join itself to Costa Rica. In Alajuela, enjoy the delicious Mango at the mango festival.

August is the month for Santo Domingo de Heredia, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Costa Rica, dating back to the colony. August 2nd is the day of the Patron Saint of Costa Rica with a religious pilgrimage to the Cartago Basilica. San Ramon day takes place on August 30th with parades from many different towns towards San Ramon, where images of 30 different saints from different locations will meet. September is the Independence day for Costa Rica and several other countries in Central America. A torch is brought running from Nicaragua by school children in relays, arriving at 6 pm, time when all ticos stop and sing the National Anthem, representing the arrival of the news of Independence. The night before there is a light parade by schoolchildren holding lanterns and singing songs.

October and November, is when Costa Rica is at its rainiest, but the Caribbean Coast has its mini dry season, so the Limon Carnivals take place on October 12th. Corn festivals in Upala and Tres Rios de la Union also take place on this auspicious date. November 2nd is all saints day, mandatory visit to cementeries all around the country, and the International Arts Festival starts in San Jose with street theatre, dance, music and many cultural activities for all ages. December is the Fiesta de los Negritos on the week of December 8th. In the indigenous village of Boruca, an ancient ritual is combined with honors to the virgin of the Immaculate Conception with music, inspiring costumes and dances. On December 25th, the Zapote fiestas begin and mark the end of the year with amusement park rides, food, drinks and Costa Rican bullfights, as well as the Tope, the Carnival and much more. Enjoy Costa Rica through its festivals, and learn about culture in a fun and entertaining way.

Carnaval in Limón Limón’s pleasant Caribbean-ramshackle appearance will be tranformed this October when the essence of the province’s unique culture is boiled down into ten days of history, culture and celebration during Costa Rica’s largest Carnaval. Limón’s pleasant Caribbean-ramshackle appearance will be tranformed this October when the essence of the province’s unique culture is boiled down into ten days of history, culture and celebration during Costa Rica’s largest Carnaval. During Carnaval, throngs of revelers mix with the curious and line the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of brightly attired comparsas, which are colorful, coordinated dance troupes specializing in Brazilian samba and other tropical rhythms. The penetrating percussive rhythms and daring dances are all Limón: colorful, sultry, flamboyant. The late Alfred King first brought Carnaval to Costa Rica in 1949, starting with a couple of friends and a common idea. The celebration became a symbol of unity in Costa Rica, where relations were at times strained between the mainly black peoples of Limón and the chiefly Spanish descendants in San José. Today, King’s small celebration has become one of Central America’s most recognized civic parties. While most Latin American countries celebrate October 12 as Columbus Day or Day of America’s Discovery, Costa Rica celebrates not Europe’s arrival in the New World but rather “Day of the Cultures.” The Tico version of the holiday recognizes the contributions of the many different peoples who have contributed to Costa Rica’s varied culture today.

What is it: Limón’s Carnaval in celebration of Culture Day When: Friday, October 7th through Sunday, October 16th How to get there: From San José, take Highway 32 towards Limón. Carnaval takes place throughout downtown. If you go: Make reservations at hotels near Limón, Cahuita, or Puerto Viejo early and be ready to join the party.

Carnivals, parades and festivals Calendar

Palmares Civic Fiestas - first two weeks of January
Folk dances, carnival, music, rides, and bullfighting.
Alajuelita Fiestas - week of January 15
Honors the Black Christ of Esquipulas, Alajuelita's Patron Saint, with ox-cart parade, procession to huge iron cross on the mountain and more.
Santa Cruz Fiestas - week of January 15
Folk dancing, marimbas and bullfighting.
Copa del Cafe - Middle of January
Week-long tennis tournament held at the Costa Rican Country Club (San Jose) - international participants are under age 18.

San Isidro del General Fiestas - First week of February
Cattle Exhibit, agricultural and industrial fairs, bullfights and flower exhibition.
Fiesta of the Diablitos - late February.
South of San Isidro del General in Boruca Indian Village of Rey Curre, it's a recreation of the fight between Indians (diablitos) and the Spanish (a bull), where colorful wooden masks and costumes create the scene, dances, fireworks. Sale of crafts and the Fair of National and Imported Products.
Puntarenas Carnival - Last week of February
Week-long fun in the sun.

San Jose -
Cattle Show with bullfights, rodeo and horse races.
Escazu - Dia de los Boyeros (Oxcart Driver's Day)- Second Sunday of March
In San Antonio de Escazu, don't miss the colorful parade of oxcarts, competitions and the blessing of the animals and crops by local priests.
Bring your camera.
National Orchid Show - Mid-March.
over 500 local and foreign species and hybrids are on display.
Saint Joseph's (San Jose) Day - March 19
Religious celebration in all the neighborhoods with that name, with fairs and special Masses.
Ujarras - Middle of march
A religious procession from Cartago to ruins of first church in Costa Rica.

Holy Week - March or April
Huge processions in all parts of country during Easter week. San Jose virtually shuts down Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday.
Juan Santamaría Day - April 11
Commemorates Costa Rica's national hero, the barefoot soldier who gave his life in the battle against William Walker's troops in 1856. Week-long celebrations with marching bands, parades, concerts, and dances.

Labor Day - May 1
marches, President gives annual "state of the union" address to Congress, election of Congressmen.
Puerto Limon - May 1
picnics, dances, crickets matches and dominoes.
Escazu - San Isidro Labrador's Day - May 15
In San Isidro all over the country, celebrations honor the Patron Saint of farmers and farm animals with blessings of animals and crops, parades and fairs.
Carrera de San Juan - May 17
San Juan Day, the biggest marathon of year, with runners covering tough 22.5 km. course.
Corpus Christi Day - May 29
Religious celebration.

Saints Peter & Paul Day - June 29
Religious celebration

Puntarenas - Virgin of The Sea - Saturday closest to July 16
Celebrations include colorful regatta of decorated fishing boats and yachts in the Nicoya golf, carrying Puntarenas' Patron Saint, La Virgen del Monte Carmelo. Special Masses, parades, concerts dances, sports events, fireworks.
Guanacaste Day - July 25
Celebrates the annexation of the "Partido de Nicoya" in 1824, known today as the province of Guanacaste, with fiestas, folk dances, topes, cattle shows, bullfights, and concerts.
Alajuela - Los Mangos Festival, parades, music, craft fairs.

Cartago - Virgin of Los Angeles - August 2
Honors Costa Rica's Patron Saint , "La Negrita" with nationwide pilgrimage and religious processions to the Basilica in Cartago.
San Ramon - San Ramon Day - August 30
A religious procession of 30 Saints from neighboring towns come to visit the Patron Saint, who lives in the town of the same name - San Ramon goes dancing through the streets, and locals love the parades and fun.

Costa Rica's Independence Day (and the rest of Central America's) - Sept. 15
The Freedom Torch is brought from Nicaragua by student relay runners the day before, arriving in Cartago with Costa Rican relay teams at 6 p.m. on the 15th,
when everyone country-wide stops what they're doing and sings the National Anthem. Kids in every town have "lantern parades" where they carry their home-made "faroles". Parades, marching bands, parties, and celebrations.

San Isidro del General - October 9
Celebrates anniversary of San Isidro's founding.
Puerto Limon - Limon Carnival - October 12
Columbus Day is celebrated in style in the port city with week-long street dances, parades, concerts - it's "Mardi Gras" to a Caribbean beat.
Corn Festival, Corn Queen contest.
Tres Rios
Virgen del Pilar's Day - Oct. 12
Fair in Tres Rios celebrating their Patron Saint with parade and costumes made entirely of corn husks, grain, and silks.

All Souls day - Nov 2
Day of the dead is observed with family visits to cemeteries to put flowers on loved ones' graves.
Central Valley
Coffee picking contest, music and dancing
San Jose
International Arts Festival, plays, street theater and other entertainment.

Fiesta de los Negritos - week of Dec. 8
Held in the Indian village of Boruca, and ancient Indian ritual is combined with honoring the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception - extravagant costumes, music of drum and flute, dance.
Immaculate Conception - Dec 8
Fiesta de la Yeguita (Little Mare)- Dec 12
Processions, bullfights, fireworks, concerts.
Zapote (San Jose)
Festejos Populares (Year-end Festivals) - Dec 25-31
The fairground is transformed into amusement park with tons of rides and food, bullfights, fireworks.
San Jose
Tope - Dec. 26
The horse parade to end all horse parades is held downtown San Jose.
San Jose
Carnival - Dec 27

Once again, downtown San Jose is the scene of a huge wonderful parade with incredible floats and music.
Nationwide Christmas Celebrations - Begin early in December
With homes and businesses putting up "Portales" (Nativity Scenes) which are always unique. Competition for best Portal runs through Dec. 22. Season's foods include coconut "melcochas" (candy), "chicha" (heady brew from corn), tamales, "rompope" (egg-nog), imported apples and grapes. Las Posadas begin December 15 - carolers go from house to house and are treated to refreshments. At midnight Dec 24, Catholic Churches celebrate the Misa de Gallo (literally, Mass of the Rooster).

Thank you to Adventure Costa Rica, specialising in Costa Rican Vacation Packages for this excellent article. They can be contacted on

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Offshore Companies in Costa Rica

Offshore companies in Costa Rica are useful for many reasons. One of the main benefits is that tax free interest many be earned by cash assets held offshore. Individuals and corporations use offshore companies to protect and hold assets like stocks, bonds, cash etc.Offshore companies in Costa Rica provide privacy, potential for tax free income on investment and rarely have fees encountered with traditional finance institutions.

Taken in whole, all these benefits add up to more available cash for investment. Offshore venture capitalists register trademarks in Costa Rica. This gives them the legal right to make franchise or license agreements utilizing the rights world wide. Income earned from these arrangements accumulates in offshore companies where the tax structure allows for low, if any taxation. Any patent, copyright (intellectual property including computer software and technical knowledge) or trademark can be assigned to or owned by an offshore corporation. Another creative use for offshore companies in Costa Rica is the trading of goods. By buying at low cost from one country, an offshore company in Costa Rica can resell the goods at a higher price. The tax free profits are deposited into offshore companies in Costa Rica.

Real estate holdings offshore companies are useful to avoid local inheritance taxes and to eliminate capital gains tax. Real estate holdings offshore companies in Costa Rica neutralize succession laws in force in countries where law dictates heirship.

Obviously, offshore companies in Costa Rica are a very complex, intricate subject. Most of us are not sophisticated enough to venture into this arena without benefit of a tax lawyer in Costa Rica to help us effectively and legally make use of Costa Rican offshore companies.

It is interesting to note that many of the websites found when searching for tax lawyers in Costa Rica, are actually based in the US. The US tax structure has resulted in large amounts of Americans utilizing the tax structure of Costa Rica and taking advantage of the benefits of incorporation and offshore incorporation in Costa Rica. Face it, it is much more profitable to deal in offshore investments in Costa Rica than to have capital gain and inheritance tax on top of income tax as in the US.

One purpose of the tax lawyer in Costa Rica is to help set up offshore trusts, corporations and individual accounts. Other responsibilities of the tax lawyer in Costa Rica are to set up and help implement strategies both short and long term and to pursue every legal avenue available to exploit tax savings.

You cannot effectively operate with offshore companies in Costa Rica with out a tax lawyer in Costa Rica to guide you every step of the way. Without benefit of a tax lawyer in Costs Rica, chances of avoiding tax trouble are slim.

Author: Thank you to for this interesting and informative article

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Car Rental in Costa Rica

The Travellers Zone has some good tips on renting a car in Costa Rica and how the Costa Rican "car rental game" is played - enjoy the tips and hopefully save some money at

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banks in Costa Rica

Whether you’re planning to settle in Costa Rica for the long term or simply looking for a safe place to exchange a few dollars, an important decision you will need to make is "What Bank Should I Use?" Costa Rica offers a wide range of banking and financial services catering to personal as well as business banking. Recent government reforms and the introduction of private banking have also made Costa Rica an attractive choice for investing.

Costa Rica’s banking system consists of the central bank; three state-owned banks, which account for nearly half of total banking assets; a state-owned mortgage bank; 18 commercial banks; four mutual house-building companies; 12 private finance companies; and 27 savings and loans cooperatives. In addition, there are 30 investment and retirement funds or trusts run by both state and private commercial banks and the state insurance company.

The Central Bank of Costa Rica is in charge of establishing banking policy. It is then up to the SUGEF (the General Supervisory Agency of Finance) to enforce compliance with Central Bank policies. All banks (both public and private) are subject to the policies dictated by the Banco Central de Costa Rica.

When choosing a bank, take into consideration both personal convenience and what fees the bank charges. Get information on the types of accounts available and their associated fees from several banks. Internet services offered by both state run and private banks have improved in leaps and bounds over the past couple of years.

Most banks in Costa Rica now offer savings and checking accounts in Dollars and Colones. Banks do differ, however, on the amount of time it takes to cash foreign checks and the availability of ATMS. It is also very important to note that while interest is much higher on colón accounts, there is a monthly devaluation of the colón to the dollar, so you might not be earning as much as you expect. Many also offer Credit or Debit cards, if you meet the requirements (but not all are internationally accepted). All banks will also have different requirements for opening accounts or obtaining credit cards, possibly including banking or personal references, identification, and most likely minimum deposits. Opening hours for most banks are from 9 am to 3 pm.

State run banks are backed by the Costa Rican government and are therefore usually considered safer. They are also located in practically every town in Costa Rica. On the down side, long lines are frequent and bilingual staff is not always available (especially outside the central valley).

Private banks usually offer quicker and more personalized service, shorter lines and English speaking staff. However, they may have fewer branches available outside of the central valley. The great majority of private banks are connected with banks outside the country so that transfers can be done relatively quickly.

The following is a list of state run and private banks:

State Owned Banks

Banco Nacional de Costa Rica

Established in 1914, the Banco Nacional is the largest state commercial bank in both assets and number of branches.

Tel. (506) 212-2000

Fax. (506) 255-2436

Apdo. Postal: 6714-1000 San José

San José

Banco Central de Costa Rica

Regulates Costa Rican banking policies.

Tel. (506) 243-3333

Fax. (506) 243-3011

San José

Banco de Costa Rica

With branches throughout the country, Banco de Costa Rica is considered the most profitable and probably best-run state commercial bank.

Tel. (506) 287-9000

Fax. (506) 255-3316

Apdo. Postal: 10035-1000 San José

San José

Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago

Is the smallest of the state run banks.

Tel. (506) 223-8855

Fax. (506) 222-1911

Apdo. Postal: 5572-1000 San José

San José.

Private Banks

Scotia bank

Scotiabank offers a wide range of personal, commercial and retail, corporate, and trade finance services. With 13 branches across the country, and 1 more to be added to the network by the end of 2003, Scotiabank offers an extensive range of retail and commercial banking services.

Banco San José

The bank is part of the BAC Credomatic Network, comprised of eight banks in Central America, the Caribbean, and Panama, and Credomatic, the largest credit and debit card issuer and processor in the region. BAC Credomatic Network is the financial branch of Pellas' Group, a corporation with over 125 years of history.

Tel. (506) 256-9911

Tel. (506) 222-8208

Apdo. Postal: 5445-1000 San José

San José

Corporación Banex

BANEX offers customers advanced on-line banking services as well as a en línea le ofrece un avanzado y poderoso sistema de tecnología financiera que lo provee de información las 24 horas de día los 365 días del año, permitiéndole de manera ágil y segura, administrar eficientemente sus fondos, realizar sus transferencias electrónicas y efectuar, mediante una novedosa plataforma, diversas consultas sobre sus cuentas, inversiones, créditos y otros aspectos financieros.

Tel. (506) 257-0522

Fax. (506) 256-0210

Apdo. Postal: 7983-1000 San José

Av. 1, C. Ctrl, Edificio Banex, San José

Banco Cuscatlan

Corporation UBC International is the holding company that owns the Cuscatlan Groups in the region. This Group has duly regulated operations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and the United States of America, by means of family remittances. Corporate shareholders include partners such as the International Finance Corporation, IFC, in addition to the Central American partners of the most prestigious business groups of the region.

Tel. (506) 221-2845

Tel. (506) 220-2140

C. 28 y 30 P. Colón, San José

San José

Banco Interfín

Established 1979, Corporación Interfin S.A. is dedicated to providing international financing and business services for industrial as well as commercial companies.

Banco Cathay

Offers a wide range of banking services but relatively few branches throughout the country.

Tel. (506) 290-2233

Tel. (506) 296-5721

Pavas, San José

Banco Promerica

Established in 1992, Promerica offers a wide range of financial services. Branches are available only in the central valley.

Tel. (506) 296-4848

Fax. (506) 232-5727

Pavas, San José