Thursday, June 28, 2012

NatureWalk launches new CD Investment Program

NatureWalk launches CD Eco Mortgage Program. The highlights of this Investment are:
  • - Pays 12% / 12.75% pa interest
  • - Funds are lodged in a CD account in the largest bank in Latin America
  • - Chicago Title are trustees
  • - Term is 12 months or 18 months
  • - Program is underwritten by real estate held in trust by Chicago Title at 63% loan to value
  • - You can convert your investment into the underwriting real estate at a pre-agreed value if you wish.
  • - This investment can be used to gain residency in Costa Rica

To find out more visit:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ernst and Young ranks Costa Rica in the top 20 countires in the world for outsourcing and offhsoring

Ernst and Young in a recent publication 20 issues on outsourcing and offshoring has ranked Costa Rica as the 19th best country in the world for outsourcing business to and setting up an offshore business in.

Quite an achievement for such a small country and particulararly a country which many might regard as a third world Central American country.

Further Ernst and Young rank Costa Rica as first amongst the top 20 countries for People Skills and Availability. This is a reflection of the expenditure that the Government on education with in excess of 25% of the national budget spent on education every year.

Costa Rica ranks 8th amongst the top 20 countries for Financial Activity.

Another feather in the cap for Costa Rica.

You can download the full Ernst and Young publication here

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Good eats: Costa Rica’s best bar food

Posted: Friday, June 15, 2012
For when beans and rice just aren't cutting it, there's chifrijo, ceviche, morcilla and more.
Bar Food 1
Chifrijo. Photo by Jack Donnelly
Costa Rican cuisine has an unfortunate reputation for being bland, boring and uninspired. Some Gringos think that Tico food is just rice and beans, fried chicken and starchy plantains. This is unjustified and unfortunate, and in fact, there are many traditional dishes that are unique and enjoyable. Comida típica (traditional cooking) which includes such dishes as olla de carne, tortilla aliñada and pescado entero (pot of meat, cheese tortilla and whole fish) is not only delicious, but also intriguing. These typical foods are more laborious to prepare and are not as commonly found on menus. They may also be suffering from competition with Gringo fast food.
A good way to explore the more interesting and varied side of Costa Rican cooking is to start with bar food. Tantalizing and unusual, small dishes (bocas) are there for the tasting in countless small establishments around the country. You don’t even have to commit to a large meal to try them out. Remember that part of the fun is that they are a little different every place you go: Be adventuresome! You should consider your research into this topic a service to culture and humanity.
The offerings are endless and varied. Many bar-restaurants offer very complete menus, including half portions of regular meals along with standard side dishes. Following are a few of my favorite bocas:
Chifrijo – In my humble opinion, chifrijo is the king of Tico bar food. A good chrifrijo will attract a steady crowd of eager patrons. Even confirmed teetotalers will sneak into a disreputable gin mill to enjoy the culinary delights of this dish.
It is the only boca that I am aware of that has had a patent taken out by its inventor, Miguel Ángel Cordero. He developed this heavenly recipe in the 1990s at his bar and restaurant (Cordero’s) in Tibás, just north of San José. Chifrijo is uniquely Costa Rican.
The name was suggested by one of the first customers to try it and is a composite of “chi” and “frijo,” the first three letters of three ingredients (chicharrón, chile and chimichurri) and frijo, from frijol. 
It is a layered dish, so proportion and structure are important. Harmony among the component layers is critical. Chifrijo is constructed in a bowl as follows:
A foundation of white rice is laid down on the bottom of the bowl.
Next comes a thick layer of cooked savory beans. Originally frijoles tiernos, or red beans, were used, but frijoles cubaces (large beans) are sometimes used as well. The beans are cooked in spices and are the heart of the dish. 
The beans are crowned with a portion of chicharrón. Commonly, this is the Costa Rican version of chicharrón, small, cooked pieces of meat (chicharrón de posta). Chicharrón crocante (or chicharrón de pellejo) is the crispy pork skin which may also be used.
The meat is then smothered in chimichurri or pico de gallo, a chopped blend of tomato, cilantro, onion, sweet pepper and lime juice.
Tortilla chips are served on the side or tucked into the sides of the bowl.
Additionally, there may be a topping of jalapeño pepper or slices of avocado. Along with this plate, you will invariably be offered a chilera. This is a homemade concoction of chopped hot peppers, carrots, cauliflower, onions, green beans and sweet peppers that have been pickled in vinegar for several weeks. Don’t let an unattractive, well-used container put you off this treat. Use the spoon in the jar to scoop out some chunks of spicy vegetables. Tabasco sauce is also commonly used. Chifrijo itself is not picante (spicy hot), but you are free to turn up the temperature.
As with all bar food, variety in ingredients, size and presentation is the norm. Commonly, a bar will offer two sizes of chifrijo, a smaller bowl as a boca and a larger version that makes a decent light dinner. 
Bar Food 3
Gabe Dinsmoor
Ceviche – Chifrijo may be king, but ceviche is the standard by which Tico bar food is judged. It is a dish popular over a wide area of the world, especially Central and South America. Perú considers it part of its national heritage and has a holiday in its honor. Costa Ricans are very passionate about their ceviche and it is sold in almost all bars, on the street, at roadside stands and in bulk at seafood outlets. You can even buy ceviche in sealed plastic bags in liquor stores and supermarkets. If you find yourself in an establishment that does not offer it, you may want to reconsider your choice of watering holes. 
The serving dishes and portions vary widely. Some places offer a small glass while most serve it in a small bowl. Some even have the option of a medium-sized dish that, with chips or crackers, will prove a heartier snack.
Essentially, ceviche is chopped up raw fish and spices that are “cooked” or pickled in the citric acid of lemon or lime juice. A rough standard recipe:
Cut fresh white fish into small cubes. Many species are used including sea bass, tilapia, marlin, shark, etc. A variety of shrimp, octopus, squid, clams and other seafood can also be added making it mixto. Ceviche made of just shrimp is also popular.
Mince some onion (red is elegant), sweet pepper, cilantro and garlic.
Combine the ingredients and cover them with lemon or lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep refrigerated for at least two hours, longer for mixto.
Ceviche is served with tortilla chips or soda crackers. For picante lovers who usually do not like the vinegar base of Tabasco, this is an exception: the vinegar blends wonderfully with the citric base.
Tacos and Gallos – Tico tacos are hard tacos and almost always use a wheat-flour tortilla. They can hold anything in the way of meat, chicken, fish, cheese, beans, etc. Most are made with the tortilla completely rolled around the contents, while others are partially open like taco shells. They are generally fried along with the filling and may have an additional topping of ground beans, cheese, sour cream or salad. Some bars offer fried mini-tacos using corn tortilla wrappers. If you are not a big ketchup and mayo fan, you should stipulate that you would like them on the side.
A boca that generates considerable confusion among visitors is the gallo. This is simply a soft, warm corn tortilla with pieces of chicken or meat inside. Many foreigners make the mistake of thinking that the Costa Rican gallo is a taco. Any Tico will quickly set you straight that the tortilla used in a taco wraps all the way around and overlaps itself, while the tortilla in a gallo folds like a slice of bread; the edges come together evenly and must be held upright between the thumb and the forefinger. It resembles a tortilla hammock or sling.  If you have a fondness for losing arguments, try telling a local that it’s really a taco. In truth, only one thing matters regarding gallos: they’re delicious.
Huevo de Tortuga – The consumption of huevo de tortuga or turtle egg is controversial. There is a legal harvest of Olive Ridley turtle eggs on the Pacific coast. Only the early nests are raided on the premise that these eggs do not survive the heat of dry season and subsequent waves of nesting females. Another argument for this practice is that it reduces the price of turtle eggs and discourages poaching. It provides income for local residents and has contributed to town improvements. 
In fact, demand far exceeds the legal supply and there is a thriving black market for poached eggs. Recently, there was an armed robbery of eggs from a turtle conservation station on the Caribbean coast, where all harvesting is illegal. There are regular reports of poachers being caught transporting large quantities of contraband eggs. 
Turtle eggs are traditionally seen as enhancing male virility, so they are consumed almost exclusively by men. The main market also seems to be the Central Valley. Normally, they are served raw with sangrita, a tomato-based drink that may also include orange juice, hot pepper, other fruit or ginger ale. The egg is then swallowed in one gulp.
My opinion: buying illicit drugs supports cartels and terrorism; buying turtle eggs promotes illegal poaching and threatens turtle survival. Until they are truly regulated, I will not partake of the leathery little globes.
Patí – Patí is a small pastry filled with a mixture of ground beef, onion, spices and a touch of hot pepper, often the hot Panama chile, all cooked in oil. It is not really very hot, at least not to my picante-loving mouth. You will find them in rectangular and half-round shapes. They are very oily and you will quickly see evidence of this if you buy them in paper.
Patí is another snack like enyucados and burritos that you may have to find near a bar, rather than inside. They are very common street food on the Caribbean coast and you can find them there well into the evening, in small stands with glass cases. Any festival in Limón province will have multiple patí venders. Central Valley bakeries also sell them, usually in small paper bags of two.
Vigorón – Vigorón is a dish centered around a mound of cabbage salad. The cabbage is dressed with a sauce of tomatoes, onions, cilantro and lime juice. Salt, pepper, sugar and cumin may be added to the dressing as well. Arranged around it, usually in a nice star pattern, are long pieces of cooked yuca (cassava) and chicharrón crocante, or crispy pork rinds.
This is a very different plate that can make a fairly good meal. In some countries it is used as a late dinner or a very early breakfast.
Chalupas – This is a messy delight that you should attack with fingers, fork, knife and several reserve napkins. The foundation of a chalupa is a crispy, fried corn tortilla. The superstructure is varied, but often consists of a hearty first layer of ground beans, refried beans in Gringo-speak. The beans are followed by a tier of meat, chicken, cheese or chicharrón. This is crowned by a big pile of lettuce or shredded cabbage, and it will likely be slathered with ketchup and mayo. 
Interestingly, the term “refried beans” is a mistaken translation, one that will never be remedied. In fact, the beans are only fried once in the process. The prefix re- in Spanish means a repetition, just as in English. However, the word re is a modifier that means very or well. The proper translation from Mexican Spanish for frijoles re fritos (three words) is really well-fried beans. This problem is moot in Costa Rica as here they are called frijoles molidos or ground beans. 
Morcilla – Morcilla is blood sausage, blood pudding (British), moronga (Mexican) or blutwurst (German, older German-American). It is not as popular in Costa Rica as in Spain or Mexico, but you will find it on many bar boca menus. Any source of blood can be used, but pig is by far the most common.
Tico morcilla is milder in taste and less aromatic than other varieties, but still very good. It is usually served chopped up and fried with onions, sweet peppers and other flavorings. You can have it served on rice or in gallos. It is a rich, dark mixture that makes for a comforting and filling meal. 
Many people cringe at the thought of eating blood, but travel eating is supposed to be an adventure: Try splitting a plate with a companion or ask for a very small serving. It cannot possibly be worse than the unmentionables that go into hot dogs.
Yuca – Yuca, or cassava, is a common component of bar bocas, as it is in vigorón. However, it warrants some special attention as probably the best belly ballast for imbibing you can find. A little yuca in your system will help you soldier through the toughest pub crawl. 
Yuca frita is simply small chunks of yucca, deep fried. It does not take up the oil like French fries and sits very comfortably in your stomach. It is also far tastier, and a small plate can easily be shared by two or more people.
Enyucados are not always sold inside bars, but can often be found nearby in small sodas or stands with glass cases on the street, even well into the evening. This is a fried ball of cassava dough that may have a meaty center. It’s not very greasy and is quite substantial. This delicacy gets my vote for the best street snack or finger food in Costa Rica.
Bar Food 2
Costa Rican burrito.
Gabe Dinsmoor
Burritos – A burrito is a fried envelope or packet of wheat tortilla stuffed with beans, meat, cheese, chicken, chicharrón, etc. It can be a bit greasy, but makes a good medium-level snack. Often you will have to satisfy a burrito craving from a stand near the bar of the same sort that sells enyucados. 
Condiments – Mayonnaise and ketchup are universally offered and used, liberally, on almost everything. Two things to remember: The yellow squeeze bottle is mayo, not mustard; Costa Rican ketchup is much sweeter than the U.S. version. Homemade chilera is common, as is Tabasco sauce. Chilero (hot sauce) is often available as well. Salsa Lizano is a ubiquitous table sauce that is made from “natural spices and vegetables” according to a secret family recipe. Lizano is a little sweet and sometimes compared to Worcestershire. You may have to request salt or pepper.
Costa Rica may never have the reputation for its small dishes that Spain does for tapas, but it’s time for Tico bocas to step out of the shadows and let the world k

Monday, June 18, 2012

Costa Rica the Happiest Country in the World

A new report released Thursday finds that Costa Rica and Vietnam are the ‘happiest' countries in the world based upon the health and happiness produced per unit of environmental output.
These findings come from the Happy Planet Index compiled by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) which ranks 151 countries around the world based upon their "efficiency [and] how many long and happy lives each country produces per unit of environmental output."
The Happy Planet Index rank is based upon global data of life expectancy, happiness and environmental sustainability and is calculated as follows (Experienced well-being X Life expectancy) / Ecological Footprint.
The data for well-being is taken from the Gallup World Poll, ‘life expectancy' is based upon the 2011 United Nations Human Development Report and ‘ecological footprint' is calculated from data provided by the WWF.
For Costa Rica, this is the second year in a row at top of the list. The list seems to have be slanted toward Central America countries. Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua all made the list. El Salvador, ranked 5th, has the second highest murder rate in the world.
Typically the report found that high-income countries, such as the UK (ranked 41st) and the US (ranked 105th), received a low overall score due to the large per-capita ecological footprint. Norway placed in 29th position while Japan came in 45th.
The unhappiest places in the world were Botswana, Chad and Qatar.
According to the Happy Planet Index the top ten ‘happiest countries' are:
01. Costa Rica
02. Vietnam
03. Colombia
04. Belize
05. El Salvador
06. Jamaica
07. Panama
08. Nicaragua
09. Venezuela
10. Guatemala

Visit the Happy Planet Index Website at

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Own a business and have your dream life in Costa Rica

Many clients of NatureWalk plan to start businesses in their new homes in NatureWalk.

This is an important part of building the NatureWalk commuities and here are just just some of the joint venture / partnership opportunities that are available in NatureWalk:

- Holistic therapy center

- Beekeeping

- Eco Lodge Bed & Breakfast

- Birdwatching Tour Guides

- Botany Tour Guides

- Equine Center partner

- Fresh water fishing guides

- Salt water fishing guides

- Botanical Gardens management partner

- Petting zoo partner

- There will be a number of piloting  / teaching / management opportunities available at the NatureWalk gyrocopter, ultralight and microlight airport.

 Not sure what a gyrocopter is? You can see a short video here:

Costa Rica is a small country but it has over 150 airports and airstrips and gyrocopters / microlights and ultralights are the perfect transport to get around

Many of our other clients plan to run existing phone / internet based businesses from their homes in NatureWalk and the infrastructure will be in place to ensure that they can do this efficiently.

If any of these are of interest to you, don’t miss your opportunity to have your dream life in Costa Rica, contact us at Europe +353 1 272 3013 or USA +1-866-990-1123 or e mail us at and we can discuss the opportunity that is of most interest to you in more detail.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Phone App for Tourists to Costa Rica available

A new phone application called Toditico has been launched in Costa Rica. 
It provides information on  tourism related offers and services throughout Costa Rica and also publicises special offers.
Available for Android and IOS operating systems, it is available through the Apple Store and Google Play.
It works as a classified directory of  goods and services relevant to tourists and the tourism industry - tour operators, agencies, airlines, rent a car, restaurants, transport, medical tourism and many other services.
The application is available as a free download and is ideal for tourists visiting Costa Rica, whether on their first or a repeat visit.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Costa Rica Celebrates World Environment Day

 by The Costa Rica News

June 5 marked the World Environment Day; a special date that recognizes the value of natural resources. This day has becomes a global call to preserve natural environment around the world.

Costa Rica is one of the most amazing places in the world, with 5% of the Earth’s biodiversity. Acting as a migrational land bridge between Central America and South America, Costa Rica is truly one of the world’s riches natural environments
A study by the National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) of Mexico, the rate of animal density per 1,000 square kilometers in Costa Rica is 256.2, that is, by far the highest Central America, followed by El Salvador with a rate of 201.

In addition, a status report on the Conservation of Biodiversity in the Region of the National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio) states that Costa Rica has 135 species of freshwater fish, 226 reptiles, 239 mammals, 857 birds and 183 different types of amphibians.

Approximately 50% Costa Rica is covered with tropical jungles, divided into 116 protected areas or bio-reserves.

Unfortunately it’s not all positive news for the number of species that live in Costa Rica. The total number of plant and animals threatened or endangered is1,828.

There is already concern the golden toad (Bufo periglenes) is now extinct. In Central America there are 10 different toad and frog species not seen for over ten years but have not yet been declared extinct.

Their main threats are habitat loss, over exploitation of resources, gaps in conservation and climate change.
Deputy Minister of Environment Ana Lorena Guevara called for more responsibility for both government and individuals saying “We want to make a call to citizens to continue preserving the environment”.

Read the full story on the Costa Rica News

Monday, June 4, 2012

Costa Rica Projects Promote Carbon Neutrality

In order to get Costa Ricans to achieve a significant reduction in their carbon emissions, two programs were presented last Thursday which seek to compensate for the environmental damages caused by these emissions.
On of these programs is Think Blue, a project sponsored by Volkswagen and which directly involves the owners of these vehicles.
Each owner will make a contribution between $170 – $200 for each twenty thousand miles driven or for every year of use of their vehicles.
These contributions will in turn help set in motion the second program, launched by the Neotropica Foundation. This is the Blue Carbon Community.
Volkswagens Think Blue Beetle Art Crafted from scrap

The goal of both projects is to reforest mangrove areas located in the South Pacific (Golfo Dulce – Serpe) and the Central and North Pacific (Golfo de Nicoya – Puntarenas).
Neotropica program also involves local communities by engaging residents in the process of tree planting.
Blue carbon is stored in coastal and marine ecosystem holding vegetation such as plankton, seagrass, bacteria, mangroves and others.
“Mangroves have a high carbon sequestration because of their vegetation and mud. Recent studies have shown that mangroves sequester five times more carbon than tropical forests,” said Bernardo Aguilar, Executive Director of Neotropica.
“Here we think of a blue horizon, in a blue sky, and in blue seas too. We have a serious problem in the deep ocean, since there is no regulation there. Taking these steps requires us to be bold, but we can do it,” said Rene Castro, Minister of Environment and Energy.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Costa Rica Economy has Momentum

Despite low consumer confidence, the Central Bank reports this week that the country's production figures are better than expected. That's good news for the economy.
Costa Rica Economy
The Central Bank’s Index of Monthly Economic Activity, or IMEA, helps policymakers track up-to-date figures on the country’s growth.  The most recent index shows Costa Rica’s economy is stronger than expected. Courtesy of Central Bank
From the print edition
Laura Chinchilla’s administration of National Liberation Party leaders has thrown in the towel on a proposed tax hike and serious deficit reduction. Will Chinchilla now preside over a big decline in the Costa Rican economy? Not according to the Central Bank’s economics department. 
Growth in gross domestic product – the sum of all production by every person and company in an economy – is the standard measure of economic good times and bad times. In good times, GDP grows, while in bad times it shrinks. But there’s a problem in measuring GDP. It takes a long time to add up everybody’s economic activity. So, GDP figures are generally published three to six months after a quarterly closing. 
Costa Rica’s Central Bank has the greatest need for up-to-date information on GDP. After all, the institution is in charge of the country’s money supply, and needs to know how much money the economy needs. Since Central Bank officials can’t wait three to six months to find out how the economy is growing, they have developed a short-term predictor of GDP, which they call the Index of Monthly Economic Activity, or IMEA (see graph). 
The IMEA is a weighted average index of production for most large companies in the Costa Rican economy. The Central Bank gathers the information by calling companies for their monthly production data. IMEA results in the chart have two parts: a monthly bar graph showing growth or shrinkage from the previous month, and a solid trend-line tracking the current month’s results versus the same month in the previous year. 
It shows that 2010 was a tough year, with the monthly production-index bars consistently dropping, and the solid-line average declining steadily. But the economy recovered nicely in 2011 – not to the high-growth pace of 2009, but steadily positive for 11 out of 12 months. 
For 2012, data is available up to March. Though monthly growth flattens, the moving average remains steadily positive.
Even with production numbers dropping recently, the economy has built up good momentum, and the moving average is holding at 7 percent over decent 2011 results.
Chinchilla’s administration argues that its failed tax hike was an exercise in fiscal responsibility, an attempt to quit kicking the can down the road and face up to the problem of unsustainable 5 percent government deficits.
Opponents criticize the tax-only approach, and say more spending reduction is needed. The odds are that this argument is now academic, as any significant fiscal reform will fall to the next administration, which takes office in 2014. 
The good news from the Central Bank’s IMEA numbers is that Costa Rica’s economy is nonetheless doing well. Economist Gustavo Feoli, who works in the Central Bank’s Economic Statistics Department, where the IMEA is calculated, is cautiously optimistic as to Costa Rica’s medium-term prospects. He points out that the country’s 7 percent moving-average IMEA is the highest in Central America at the moment; the average for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Salvador and Honduras is 5 percent. 
In the Central Bank’s January economic projection for 2012, the institution forecast 4 percent GDP growth this year, if the tax package was passed. Growth was projected to drop to 3.8 percent without the tax package, under the assumption that without it, the government would have to sell bonds in the local currency financial market, competing with and putting upward pressure on interest rates banks must pay to attract deposits.
With the tax package now dead, the basic colón deposit interest rate has risen 2.5 percent, from 7.25 percent a year ago to 9.75 percent. In spite of this, Costa Rica’s stronger-than-expected production momentum, as measured by IMEA, should keep 2012 economic growth more than satisfactory. 
“At the growth rate shown by the IMEA at the present time, Costa Rica’s economy will easily exceed the Central Bank’s optimistic GDP growth projection of 4 percent for 2012,” Feoli said.
The Central Bank official attributes this unanticipated economic resilience to stronger-than-expected demand for Costa Rican export products in the United States. Leading sectors of the incipient export-driven mini-boom are manufacturing and general and financial services. 
A sectoral breakdown of IMEA also shows a modest reactivation in construction as an important growth contributor. Construction, though still slow, has seen small but positive growth since August 2011, recovering from 19 months of uninterrupted shrinkage in 2010 and the first half of 2011.