Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nampi Growing in NatureWalk 3

Alberto, Farm Manager, NatureWalk inspects Nampi (Tempisque / Taro) growing on NatureWalk 3
NatureWalk 3 consists beautiful development lots, to be planted with an intercrop of hybrid fast growing teak and nampi. The Teak provides a lump sum return at harvest and the nampi a yearly return. The lots are laid out with a building platform and are ready for immediate building.

Many of these lots have incredible river views.

Beautiful River View Lots in NatureWalk 3

For more information visit our website or drop us an e mail to

Chinchilla asks UNESCO to recognize Costa Rica’s stone spheres

For a decade, Costa Rica has tried to place the stone spheres of Diquís on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
stone spheres
Mónica Quesada
Costa Rica's stone spheres could be added to UNESCO's list by next February.
President Laura Chinchilla met with the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last Friday to ask the group to include Costa Rica's stone spheres of Diquís, located in the south Pacific, on its World Heritage List.
During her European tour, Chinchilla met with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bakova in Paris. The World Heritage List includes 936 items, both natural and cultural, that are deemed to have “outstanding universal value.” Costa Rica has been trying to put the huge stone spheres on the list for a decade.
During the meeting, Chinchilla was accompanied by Jorge Jiménez, an archeologist and sphere expert. Chinchilla asked Bakova for advice on having the spheres approved for the list.
Costa Rica must present a proposal in September on why the artifacts deserve to be recognized as a world heritage site. If approved by next February, the stones would be added to the list.
While in Paris, Chinchilla and Jiménez visited the Quai Branly Museum, where a pre-Columbian stone sphere was on display – a gift from Costa Costa Rica’s National Museum.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

NatureWalk launches new project NatureWalk Paradise

NatureWalk brand of developments has launched NatureWalk Paradise, a fully masterplanned, serviced development close to Quepos in the Central Pacific.


PRLog (Press Release) - May 25, 2012 -

NatureWalk brand of developments has today launched NatureWalk Paradise.

This is an existing development and NatureWalk will bring its development expertise to the relaunch and future success of this project.

Located close to Quepos this project consists 280 fully serviced lots.

There are a number of homes on site already, as well as gate lodges and other essential infrastructure.

NatureWalk has a special offer in place of a 25% reduction in the normal pricing for the initial launch of 20 lots.

These lots range in size from 1500m2 and upwards and with the launch discount prices start at an incredible $36,750.

Many of the lots have beautiful seaviews and there are a number of lakes and rivers on site, making NatureWalk Paradise a gem for Nature Lovers in Cost Rica.

But not to be outdone, the mountain and valley view lots are not to be missed.

The sea is just 2 miles away and you are just a short drive from some of the best beaches in Costa Rica.

Tim Alexander, NatureWalk, said "we are delighted to have NatureWalk Paradise amongst our offerings. This is a beautifully located project, ideal for clients wanting to build now and be close to the sea and amenities of Quepos and Manuel Antonio."

Read the full press release on PRLOG at

Friday, May 25, 2012

More Controls on Bank Transfers

Starting July 1, foreign nationals will need to present proof of immigration status to make transactions between Costa Rican banks.
Foreigners will be required to present the Immigration Identification Card for Foreign Persons (DIMEX), when making bank transfers using the National Electronic Payment System. Nothing will change for current legal residents, but beginning in July, foreigners in the country on tourist visas will lose the ability to make transactions between local banks with only a passport as proof of identification.
Immigration Administration General Director Kathia Rodríguez said obligatory use of the DIMEX card in banking transactions is an effort to put Costa Rica’s “house in order” in terms of the immigration status of the roughly 382,000 foreign nationals currently in the country.
Besides consolidating identification and immigration status in one card, the new requirements will allow security officials to track bank transactions by foreigners in the country – a key step in combating money laundering.
It is a way to see “who does what in the banking system,” said Public Security Minister Mario Zamora.
Immigration Administration General Director Kathia Rodríguez and Public Security Minister Mario Zamora present an image of the new Immigration Identification Card for Foreign Persons (DIMEX). The DIMEX card will be required of foreign nationals conducting inter-bank transactions after July 1.

Carlos Melegatti, director of financial services at Banco Nacional, said DIMEX requirements will bring to the foreign population in Costa Rica the same oversight in financial transactions that Costa Rican citizens have had to follow for years. Ticos must present their cédulas (ID cards) to make banking transactions.
Until now, Zamora explained, foreigners could complete financial transactions with just a passport, independent of their immigration status.
“This requirement is important because in this process, a foreigner has to submit to the Immigration Administration information that includes their immigration history, and in the case of future investigations of their banking transactions, … it allows for a study of financial transactions over a long period of time, and it also includes fundamental information about the person,” Zamora said.
Costa Rica is classified as a “major money laundering country” by the U.S. State Department in its 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. According to the report, it is a country “whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotic trafficking.
”Mauricio Boraschi, Costa Rica’s antidrug commissioner, said “only a crystal ball” could pin an exact number on the size of the problem.
“We are confronting a global business,” Boraschi said. “We can go along more or less approximating what [amount of drugs] is going to pass through the Central American corridor, but … it is difficult to establish how much of that stays here or how much circulates through.
”Boraschi added that estimates of the illicit flow of drug proceeds filtered through the Tico financial system are based on regional drug-production estimates and then estimates of how much of that product is moved through Costa Rica.
Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington, D.C.-based economic think tank with a focus on illicit financial flows, pegs the amount of cash transferred out of Costa Rica annually from 2000 to 2008 through corruption and trade-based money laundering at approximately $4.5 billion – the highest in Central America.
Panama’s illicit money transfers for that time period, by comparison, are estimated at approximately $3.9 billion. In Nicaragua, the amount is pegged at $774 million.
Clark Gascoigne, GFI’s communications director, said those calculations – released in a January 2011 report – don’t account for illicit proceeds from criminal activities smuggled into or out of a country as cash.Calculations paint about “two-thirds of the picture,” he added.
“Know your customer” laws, including strategies like requiring DIMEX cards for banking transactions, are steps in the right direction in terms of increasing transparency in financial transactions, Gascoigne said, but those laws need to be followed up with efficient enforcement.
“That $4.5 billion [transferred out of Costa Rica] could have been put into developing the local economy, investing in infrastructure, investing in education or health care,” Gascoigne said. “That’s $4.5 billion that’s just gone from the economy.
”Laura Chinchilla’s administration, as a reference, is operating with a 5 percent fiscal deficit – that is, the government is running roughly $2.1 billion short of it’s projected expenditures.
The Immigration Administration will issue DIMEX cards to foreign residents, temporary residents and students who meet requirements for residency. Rodríguez said foreigners currently in the process of establishing their residency will still be allowed to open bank accounts and handle banking transactions, but will need to register with the Immigration Administration and present their DIMEX card within one year of the date they opened their account.
After July, the DIMEX card will become the only way to handle inter-bank transactions in the country. Foreigners lingering in the country on perpetually reset tourist visas will not be able to make local transfers.
An online version of this story posted Wednesday incorrectly stated that proof of immigration status would be required to open a bank account. An immigration spokeswoman clarified that the new requirement is only for transfers between Costa Rican banks.The Tico Times regrets the error.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

PolyOne to open facility in Costa Rica

PolyOne Corporation a premier global provider of specialized polymer materials, services and solutions, has announced it is expanding its successful distribution business into Costa Rica.
PolyOne's presence in this new market will initially focus on healthcare applications and could broaden to serve other industries. Operations and logistics, as well as sales and customer service functions, will be located in the city of San Jose, an ideal location in close proximity to many key customers in the region.

"Our operations in Costa Rica will provide value to global healthcare device manufacturers, processors and suppliers by helping them to streamline logistics and simplify inventory management," said Kurt C. Schuering, president, PolyOne Distribution.

Costa Rica was recently ranked by a World Bank study as the top high-tech exporter in Latin America. The medical industry in Costa Rica is expanding rapidly, with more than 30 medical device companies manufacturing locally.

"Serving the healthcare industry is a core area of expertise for PolyOne, and this recent investment expands our ability to better support customers in this market," said Robert M. Patterson, executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer, PolyOne Corporation. "Further, adding sales and customer service capabilities in Costa Rica is entirely consistent with our proven strategy to grow our business through global expansion in high-growth markets and regions of the world."

New banking requirements for foreign residents aim to combat money laundering

Foreigners opening bank accounts or making transactions between banks will be required to show new identification starting in July.

Starting July 1 foreign nationals will no longer be able to use their passports to open bank accounts (Ed. note -this is incorrect, please see clarification by the Tico Times here) or transfer funds between banks in Costa Rica.
After the beginning of July, foreigners will be required to present the Foreign person Identification Document (DIMEX)—a new identification card that will contain a 12-digit identification number for each cardholder and information about that person’s immigration status.
Security and Immigration officials announced the new requirements Monday at a press conference at the Ministry of Public Security.
Immigration Administration general director, Kathia Rodríguez,
said they're trying to put “house in order” in terms of the immigration status.
Immigration Administration general director, Kathia Rodríguez, said obligatory use of the DIMEX card in banking transactions is an effort to put Costa Rica’s  “house in order” in terms of the immigration status of the roughly 382,000 foreign nationals currently in the country.
Besides consolidating identification and immigration status in one card, the new requirements will allow security officials to track bank transactions by foreigners in the country—a key step in combating money laundering.
It is a way to see “who does what in the banking system,” said Public Security Minister, Mario Zamora.
Carlos Meleguetti, Director of Financial Services at Banco Nacional said the DIMEX requirements will bring to the foreign population in Costa Rica the same oversight in financial transactions that Costa Rican citizens have had to follow for years. Ticos must present their cédulas (identification cards) to make banking transactions.
Costa Rica is classified as a “major money laundering country” by the United States Department of State in its 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.
The Immigration Administration will issue DIMEX cards to foreigner residents, temporary residents and students who meet the requirements for residency. Current legal residents should contact Immigration to obtain their card.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Investing in Teak

A recent story about Tropical American Tree Farms in the Tico Times and reports of unhappy investors, has prompted me to write about the risks associated with investing in teak or agricultural commodities in structures where you do not own the land.

A plantation manager inspects a stand of teak trees
in the northern region of Costa Rica.
Many teak and other agricultural commodity investments are structured under deals where the investor owns the crop and leases the land for a period until the crop is harvested.

This appears to have been the Tropical American Tree Farms model and according to the report in the Tico Times, many investors are unhappy as they have not received their promised returns.

There are a number of risks associated with this type of investment structure:

- Teak maintenance is essential and you may be restricted to using the promoters teak maintenance company. As a "captive audience" investors may be forced to pay excessive teak maintenance charges.

- You may be required to renew the lease during the growing period and again may have to pay "over the odds".

- In the event the landowner / promoter encountering problems you may end up in the invidious situation of owning a crop growing on an "unwilling participants" land.

- Fundamentally, land is more valuable than crops and is the most potentially valuable part of the investment. That is why, in these structures, the promoters retain land ownership.

So the best advice, if you are considering an agricultural investment, ensure you own the land. This gives you full control.

To read the full story on the Tico Times click here

Thursday, May 17, 2012

IBM to invest $300 million in new Costa Rica IT center

President Laura Chinchilla said "Costa Ricans
will be able to showcase their talent at these
state-of-the-art facilities". 
Courtesy of Casa Presidencial

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) on Thursday opened a new Costa Rica Delivery Center in the province of Heredia, north of the capital.
The company announced it will invest $300 million over the next 10 years and intends to employ up to 1,000 people by 2014, affirming the country's position as a strategic services hub for the technology giant.
The new facility will support clients in the areas of IT security, data storage, business analytics, cloud computing and other services in demand. Additionally, the center will provide technology capabilities that can anticipate and help prevent fraud and IT hacking.
“With IBM’s state-of-the-art facilities, thousands of Costa Ricans will be able to showcase their talent, pushing Costa Rica further down the path of innovation, knowledge and technology; a path that we have bravely undertaken with courage and commitment, but most of all, with great confidence in the talent of our people,” President Laura Chinchilla said during an opening ceremony held at the America Free Zone.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Honduras and Costa Rica Propose Protections for Hammerheads

Fish News EU - The governments of Honduras and Costa Rica have today proposed protections for scalloped hammerhead sharks under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

According to the Pew Environment Group, who have praised the initiative, CITES is widely considered one of the best-enforced international conservation agreements. “It’s time for strong international protection for endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks,” said Maximiliano Bello, senior adviser to the Global Shark Conservation Campaign of the Pew Environment Group. “Other governments should join Honduras and Costa Rica in supporting a sustainable future for these sharks.”

Scalloped hammerheads are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are in high demand for shark fin soup and account for about 4 per cent of all shark fins in international trade.

Government delegates from the 175 CITES member countries, including Honduras and Costa Rica, will vote on the hammerhead and other possible shark proposals at next year’s meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). During this meeting, which will take place on March 3-15, 2013, in Thailand, governments will determine the fate of scalloped hammerheads as well as many other threatened and potentially threatened species. The proposal also includes smooth and great hammerhead sharks because of their close resemblance to the scalloped hammerhead.

“The decision to propose a CITES Appendix II listing for these hammerhead species sends a significant conservation message and builds upon shark conservation efforts under way in Central America,” said Rigoberto Cuellar, the Honduran minister of natural resources and environment. “We hope that other countries will agree and will co-sponsor our proposal.”

“The time has come to regulate international trade of endangered hammerhead sharks,” said Ana Lorena Guevara, vice minister of environment for Costa Rica. “The loss of these top predators would be detrimental to the health of our oceans.” (5/10/12) (photo courtesy Internet)

Read the full story on the Costa Rica News Here

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bill Clinton delivers speech on sustainability in Costa Rica

At the 2nd annual Sustainability and Happiness Business Forum, the former U.S. president selected the six people who could “save the world.”
Former US President Bill Clinton and
Costa Rican President Laura Chincilla
meet prior to the conference
Every one of the 650-plus seats looked filled during Bill Clinton’s presentation at the Hotel InterContinental, in Escazú, in west San José. Tickets for the two-day congress, known as the Sustainability and Happiness Business Forum, cost $750
Clinton did his part by delivered a message on environmental sustainability. He cited statistics and gave colorful anecdotes, while relying on a practical theme – green economies save the environment, and money.
“My advice to everybody is to do something [so] that other people can see that the only economics that can make sense in the long run are sustainable economics,” Clinton said.
Clinton, the president of the United States from 1993 to 2001, spoke for a little less than a half-hour before joining event organizer Javier del Campo for the sit-down interview for another half-hour.
He gave the typical platitudes about Costa Rica. The former U.S. president praised the country’s protection of jungles and use of hydropower, and he lauded Costa Rica as an example for the rest of the world on how green economies can succeed.
Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla met with Clinton before the speech. Clinton said he suggested Costa Rica could be a leader in clean energy technology. He suggested the country find investors so it can manufacture cheap, electric cars for the isthmus.
Clinton hoped to boost Chinchilla’s low approval rating by extolling her governing and attempts to push a tax reform during difficult times. Clinton called Central America an “innocent bystander” of a financial crisis that began in his own country, a swipe at the economic troubles that started under his successor George W. Bush.
Clinton apologized for the crisis and for the effects of global warming on Costa Rica, adding that Central America has taken the brunt of the effects of climate change. The region has seen a drastic rise in the number of hurricanes and floods, disasters often associated with global warming.
Clinton also recalled his first visit to Costa Rica for the 1997 Summit of the Americas, where he joined Latin American leaders in pledging commitments to sustainable development. During that trip, Clinton and his vice president, Al Gore, joined then-Costa Rican President José María Figueres on an electric bus tour into the Braulio National Park Rainforest near the Caribbean coast.
Gore was the keynote speaker at the event last year. Figueres – who returned from a seven year self-exile at the end of 2011 – spoke at this year’s forum, as did special guests former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva and Bhutan’s director of the Center for Bhutanese Studies, Dasho Karma Ura, among others.
But the best way to sell a ticket was to snag a major headliner, and organizers one-upped last year’s guest star by bringing in his former boss.
While Clinton has less obvious environmental credentials than Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2006 for the climate change film “An Inconvenient Truth,” the ex-president has contributed plenty to environmentalism movements.
Clinton talked of these achievements along with successes and failures he’s witnessed in developing countries like Haiti, Brazil and Rwanda.
He said he’s witnessing a change of thinking in third-world countries, where they’re beginning to realize an economy can “get healthy without putting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
A campaign launched by his Clinton Foundation called the Clinton Climate Initiative attempts to address climate change by working with governments to reduce emissions, utilize clean energy and prevent deforestation. He touched on all three of these issues during his speech, heaping on abundant accolades on Brazil and Costa Rica.
The night ended with del Campo asking a question to Clinton that the host said was written by his 11-year-old son. The kid didn’t go easy on the ex-president. He wanted Clinton to select six people who could save the world.
Clinton made his choices:
Nelson Mandela (the South African leader who helped topple apartheid), the Dalai Lama, (the Tibetan leader and Nobel Peace prize winner), Bill Gates (Microsoft founder and philanthropist) , Muhammad Yunus (the Nobel Peace Prizer winner who invented microloans), Edward O. Wilson (a Pulitzer prize winning author), and the women of Rwanda (who survived brutal massacres in the country).
The most affecting anecdotes described Clinton’s time in Rwanda, talking to survivors of the genocides of the mid-1990s. He listened as women who lost their entire families and were betrayed by friends showed the fortitude to carry on, start new lives and forgive.
Still, Clinton cautioned the audience to not focus too much on looking for the next hero or rock star. He said, “I think sometimes we make a mistake looking for saviors.” The reason people tend to search for them is because we’re hoping to find that type of courage in ourselves.
“Nothing elates us more than seeing a free spirit,” Clinton said. “We love Mandela because we’re afraid we couldn’t do it. We love those women because we believe couldn’t do it. But if we want to save the planet in our own way. We have to do it.”

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Costa Rica secures $670 million loan for hydroelectric dam

The Inter-American Development Bank (BID) approved $670 million in loans to finance the Reventazón Hydroelectric Dam – the most complex hydroelectric project ever built in Costa Rica – near the Caribbean slope town of Siquirres.
The 305.5 MW project is expected to provide energy for some 525,000 families and comes with an estimated price tag of $1.1 billion. It is slated to start generating energy in 2016 (TT, April 15, 2011).
Funding for the project will go to “the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a 305.5 MW hydroelectric plant and its associated facilities including transmission lines, substations and access roads,” according to the bank’s website.
Costa Rica currently generates about 90 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, namely hydroelectricity. The country aims to reach 95 percent renewable energy generation by 2014, and by 2021 – the same year it hopes to become the world’s first carbon-neutral country – Costa Rica wants to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Things to See and Do in Costa Rica

By the Encyclopedia Britannica Blog

Costa Rica is one of the most visited countries in Central America. American tourists have been flooding the company for years and it has become a hot spot for retirees and expats due to its cheap living, great weather, and friendly locals. And why wouldn’t it be? It has many amazing things to offer:
Puerto Viejo – Located on the Caribbean coast, this city is popular with young people and backpackers because its great beaches, surf, and party atmosphere. The town is very lively, and you’ll find something going on every night. For those looking for a quieter place, there are many quiet beach hotels around. If you are looking for some great surfing, come here.

Cahuita – Cahuita, a tiny town situated right next to a stunning national park with the same name, is about an hour north of Puerto Viejo. This, like Tortuguero, is a place to relax. There’s one bar that gets lively on some nights but for the most part, after a day of hiking, swimming, or surfing, most people just sit and read.

Tortuguero – Tortuguero, the Costa Rican version of the Amazon Rainforest, dominates the northern coast. This massive area is a series of rivers and canals that criss-cross the jungle. The biggest draw to this area are the large numbers of turtles (hence the name Tortuguero) that come to nest along the shoreline. The best time to see them nesting visit is in April and May, but even if you come in off-season, Tortuguero still offers few places to go hiking, lots of canal cruises, and lots of wildlife to see.

Corcovado – Corcovado National Park is on the remote Osa Peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica. It’s more popular than it used to be but still offers a very rugged, quiet, and off the beaten path destination. Here you’ll find pristine jungles, dolphins, and diving away from the much more developed northern western coast of Costa Rica. The peninsula is still not easy to get too (which helps keep tourists away) but your efforts will be greatly rewarded.

Arenal – In the middle of the country is one of Costa Rica’s many volcanoes. This one still erupts though, and visitors get to witness a night show sometimes. If the clouds aren’t around the volcano, you’ll be able to see the lava flowing down the volcano. (It just oozes and it’s safe!) The are has a great waterfall (La Fortuna), a national park with great hiking and sunset views over the lake, outdoor activities, and famous hot springs. With so much to do, it is no wonder it is one of the most visited places in the country.

Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio – A popular beach destination on the pacific coast, you’ll find yourself on people filled beaches most of the time. The wide, white sand beaches and warmer blue water attract people for a reason. There is a nearby national park with great hiking, a few secluded beaches, and three different types of monkeys. It remains one of my favorite parks in the country for that reason.

Monteverde – The nationals premier cloud forest offers your chance to see the elusive Quetzal bird. Sitting right on the continental divide also means you’ll get crazy winds and weather here as the clouds just sit around. The area is very green and wet. Around you’ll also be able to zip line through the canopy or do a sky bridge. The fertile land also means there is a lot of good coffee grown.

Poas Volcanoe
Poás Volcano – A great day trip from San José, Poas volcano is a dormant volcano with twin calderas filled with sulfur lakes. The lakes are so still that you’ll look at your picture and think you painted the color on. There are some small trails around the area too. Arrive early in the morning or risks the clouds coming in and hiding the view.

Montezuma – At the bottom of the Nicoya coast is Monetzuma. This used to be a quite surf side town and in some ways it still is, especially when compared to cities higher up in the peninsula. You’ll find lots of expats and hippies here as well as a high number of yoga retreats and spas. This is still a good place to relax.

Tamarindo – High up on the Nicoya coast is the uber popular destination of Tamarindo. If you are looking for resorts, spas, and luxury, look no further than here. It used to be a quiet beach town is now the Cancun of Costa Rica. But if that is the vacation you want, you found the perfect spot.

Everything in Costa Rica is a bit tourist but despite the crowds, Costa Rica is a land filled with diverse wildlife and great natural beautiful. I’ve been here twice and when I came back the second time, I fell in love with it all over again. For Americans, it’s lush tropical paradise that’s only a short and cheap flight away. If you are going, use this Costa Rica travel guide as you source on places to see.

See the full story on the Encyclopedia Britannica Blog here