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 niƱos “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

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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