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Editorial Note: Another Merry Christmas is just around the corner. Time to start thinking of turkey & stufďŹ ng, decorations, caroling, family, friends, Santa Claus, gifts.... ah yes, gifts... and just maybe the recollection that the holiday is really about helping others. Just recently the Board visited the Hospice San Gabriel, where many of the terminally ill children of Costa Rica are housed. Of course the situation deeply moved them, and therefore we have decided to try to bring some cheer to the children and their families this Christmas. Please read the articles relating to the visit, and consider lending us a hand with our act of goodwill. ...And a very happy holiday season to you and your family from all of us. - Ryan Piercy

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53!0/"OX !2#23*/ 0/"OX -IAMI &L 

This magazine has been published every two months for 9 years as the official communications media of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica. Our organization provides service to thousands of foreigners who have chosen Costa Rica to reside for short periods or for permanent residence. Over the last 20 years the Association of Residents of Costa Rica has been offering reliable SERVICES, INFORMATION and ADVOCACY to Costa Rica’s foreign residents. We have the experience and ability to help you with your residency application, immigration, business and financial management, real estate purchases and rentals, property management, insurance, pet importation and much more. If you wish to place an ad in El Residente, please contact the ARCR main office.

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Presidents Report by Bob Miller Nothing but good news this time. Theresa Abdey is at home now, recovering from an operation, and from that it will take her some time to recover. The second good tiding is we had a successful Ordinary and Extraordinary General Assembly Meeting at the Hotel Torremolinos. I was late for the meeting, but Earl carried on, and in my absence the elections were held. The new Board members elected were Caroline Reilly who we all know as being very active. Also elected was a newcomer, William Read who had been nominated for treasurer by Earl Tomlinson. Theresa Abdey will take on the key duties of the Charity Committee. Good luck to all! The Board of Directors are the following, with their term expiration indicated after their name (Board members are elected for a two year term)

President: Vice President: Treasurer: Secretary: Fiscal: Vocal: Vocal: Vocal:

Robert Miller Earl Tomlinson William Read Jose Carter Elsa Miller Attilio Gilberti Terry Renfer Carolyn Reilly

1 1 2 2 2 1 2 2

***** Saturday, December is the date of our Annual Christmas Dinner Dance. This year it again will be a joint effort with the Canadian Club. This Gala event is being held at the Hotel Melia Cariari. The only thing I am going to tell you are that there will be Beef Bourguignon with red wine gravy. Complimentary wines, a tango presentation by Maritza Delcore’s renowned Tango Group. For all of us dancers, there will be Grupo Elektra’s entertaining and versatile music. This will include Music from the Sinatra and Beatles periods. Get your tickets now. The price is 12,500 colones. Tickets can be purchased from any of the following. Elsa Miller ARCR staff Vicky Kieke Alan Weeks

228-1250 233-8068 203-3652 256-5848

The ARCR can arrange overnight hotel reservation if required. Continued on page 4...

COVER PHOTOThe White-tailed Deer: Though it is difficult to find much reference that attest to the fact that the White-tail deer is the most recently named Official Symbol of Costa Rica, it is actually celebrating its 10th anniversary as such. Many lists of the countries National Symbols seem to exclude the deer, perhaps because they are old, or perhaps by simple oversight. It was actually in 1995, during the administration of ex-President Jose Maria Figueres O. that this delicate creature became the official symbol of the fuana silvestre of Costa Rica. Decreed by law #7497 of the legislature, Odocoileus virginianus became a special and protected species within the country. Though the main reason was to protect this species, locally in danger of extinction due to excessive abuse by hunters, hopefully having a national symbol over conservation will help the small country to bring greater awareness to the needs of the countries wildlife in general.

November-December, 2005


This is an announcement that may surprise some but shouldn’t. Our Charity Committee has received an offer of a gift of several thousand dollars. There is a stipulation the donor remains anonymous and that the money be used to help children only. We have been in contact with several hospitals. We recently visited the Children’s hospice here in San Jose. This hospice is a short walk from our office. Earl, Terry, Jose, Attilio , Carolina and I visited several weeks ago. What we saw would give even the most hardened individuals a tug at their heartstrings. Here was a structure that I believe only had eight rooms. Each room was designed for four children in each room. What touched you were seeing these children, some couldn’t walk being comforted by the nurses, and some by their parents. Nurses and Staff told us that they treated many children, who ranged in age from toddlers who couldn’t walk to children in their teens. Many that were here would need the touch of God to see their next birthday. Before we went to the hospice we heard from some of the nurses that what the children would like was a CD player so that they could hear music and stories. Needless to say with the help of Attilio we managed to obtain a top grade CD player. Caroline Reilly had a contact from which we obtained CD’s at a reasonable price. It is nice to know that the kids are now having some pleasurable moments thanks to a small effort on our part. As soon as we see the monies from our charity efforts come in we will be able to do much more for these children. Now you readers can help by contributing to our Charity Fund. Remember 100% of all monies raised go to those in need. Also we have decided to have a Christmas Present Drive to obtain gifts for these terminally ill children, as indicated in the following list. Gifts to our charities are tax deductible, Please give.

******* Just before publication we received word of the passing of Helen Marek, long-time Board member. She will be sorely missed by the ARCR and those who knew her.

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ARCR CHRISTMAS GIFT DRIVE FOR TERMINALLY ILL CHILDREN Apart from other items the hospice has requested for daily use, such as clothing or shoes of all sizes, the following list are the gifts hoped for by the 262 terminally ill children at the hospice. Please help us fill their Christmas Wishes. (List of names available at the office with Bob Miller) Animal shape pillows Cap & sport clothes Hanging musical toy Material for oil painting Musical toy Dancing or speaking doll Large remote control car Set of Lego’s Teenagers clothing Children’s clothing Cloth dolls Dolls of all sorts, Barbie’s, etc. Electronic handheld games Book of fairy tales Three-dimensional puzzles Radio walkmans Educational games Toy kitchen utensils Children’s lamps Cd’s for teens or children Bedclothes for babies Colorful bedclothes for kids Big teddy bear Hand Puppets Drums or musical toys Children’s (non-toxic) plasticine Sport shoes (40, trainers) Girls beauty sets Pajamas for children Bath sets Heredia Team memorabilia Funny decorative bedroom items Hanging musical toy/baby clothes CD/taperecorder with headphones Animal toys (teddy bears, cow, giraffes, etc.) Super hero toys (spiderman, batman)

Please help us fill their Christmas Wishes. 4

CHARITY AT THE HOSPICE On Wednesday September 21, 2005 the President of ARCR, Bob Miller, and ARCR Charity Committee member, Attilio Gilberti presented the San Gabriel Hospice for terminally ill children a gift of music. A lovely stereo, radio, cassette player combination was donated by the Gilberti family in honor of their recently deceased brother, PierAngelo of Casal Maggiore, Italy. Mr. Gilberti was a nurse who had a great devotion to sick children and the elderly. The bequest from the Gilberti family included inspirational and spiritual dvd’s and cassettes from composer, Alba Molina, founder of Art and Creative Well being, is the only composer in Costa Rica who does spiritual and inspirational music especially for children. Alba, who is the musical director of Unity Church in Piedades, was in attendance for the presentation.

necessary equipment. “ Some of our funds for basic services come through the Hospital de Niños”, explained director Laura Romero Fernandez, “but we need so many things that their budget cannot provide.” The crying needs of this overworked, and underfunded medical service for ill children came to the ARCR Charity Committee from member Carolyn Reilly. “The San Gabriel Hospice serves children from any country” said staff member Lilliana Rojas. Mr. Julio Alvarado, the lawyer for the Foundation, and Gabriela Masis, the nutritionist on the staff, were present for the ARCR tour of the facility in Paseo Colon. The staff has decorated the walls with beautiful murals; the rooms have recreational activities and toys. There is also a staff psychologist for counseling the devastated families of these ill children.

This Hospice could use a lot of things from crayons to a crises center. The physicians who work in this environment are doing a wonderful job with very limited resources. Any ARCR member who would like to donate or help out, as Christmas is right around the corner, please contact the Charity Committee chair Earl Tomlinson at 233-8068

The hospice, under the supervision of the Fundacion Pro-Unidad Cuidado Paliativo serves the physical and psychological needs of 600 ill children with only a staff of 20. The youngest of these children is only 7 months old. Although the basic needs of staff, beds, and medicines are met by the CAJA the hospice has to spend $2,000 per month renting

November-December, 2005


Association of Residents of Costa Rica December 10th, annual Christmas Event with the Canadian Club Tickets are now on sale and EVERYONE is welcome to the annual Christmas Dinner & Dance with the ACCR & ARCR. This years event with dancing to the entertaining music of Grupo Elektra, with a social hour starting at 6pm. December 10th from 6pm to Midnight at the Hotel Cariari Music, Dinner, Dancing and FUN! Call Bob or Elsa at 228-1250 website

Send us your club news or activities for free publication in this column

Republican’s Abroad The Republicans Abroad of Costa Rica meets the second Tuesday of each month Contact Francis 286-6060, 386-1420

Canadian Club Radio control Sailing Club A non-profit group open to Canadians in Costa Rica. Help us with our Outreach projects, aimed to help the children of our adopted country. website Bird Watching Club The Birding Club of Costa Rica sponsors monthly trips to observe local and migrant birds in various areas of the country. For more information contact us at 282-5365 or at Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (open to men too) Bi lingual group meets in Heredia on the first Wednesday of the month at 10 a.m. in the clinic of Mireya Gonzalez. We work on peace and human rights issues. Call Mitzi 433-7078 or write Democrats Abroad The Democrats Abroad of Costa Rica meets the last Saturday of each month at the Aurola Holiday Inn, 9:30 a.m. to noon, coffee break menu. Visit or call David Sagel 248-0719 for information and reservations. Newcomer’s Club A women’s social organization that meets the 1st Tuesday of each month. We welcome English speaking women who reside in Costa Rica. New and long term residents-contact Carol phone 232-3999 PC Club of Costa Rica This computer Club meets on the third Saturday of each month at Pan American school, in Belen, 9 am to Noon 2 months Free Trial for newcomers For information call Chuck Jennings. Phone 266-0123

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Meets at Sabana Park Lake For information contact Walter Bibb. Wine Club of Costa Rica Please mark your calendars The wine club usually meets at 1 P.M. on the last Sunday of each month. Join us to tantalize your taste buds and expand your education on one of the finer things in life. For more information on upcoming events please contact us Phone 279-8927, 257-2223, 285-1276 Women’s Club of Costa Rica THE WOMEN’S CLUB ANNUAL BAZAAR --- 2005 EDITION Mark your calendars…November 19th is at the Country Day School in Escazu from 10 am to 3 pm. Lots of great activities: the largest used book sale in the country; great value for Already-Loved Clothes; a new Children’s Corner with fun for the kids including face- painting, races, used toys, children’s books and clothes; a new mini international food court; terrific baked goods and tico specialties from our super cooks. Also lots of interesting and new vendors with crafts, plants, and edibles! Watch this news source for details in the coming months, but join with Women’s Club members now by donating books, clothes, children’s toys, books, and clothing. For nearest drop-off center, please contact: Engl 267- 7042/Spanish 268-3748 website

SPECIAL NOTICE: I would like to draw the attention of those readers concerned to the fact that the procedures for acquiring Irish citizenship through marriage are about to change. People married to Irish citizens still have time under the older, more lenient rules if they hurry! All paperwork must be lodged with an Irish Embassy or Consulate no later than November 30, 2005. For more information please contact me by phone at 268-3609. Kathleen Rocchi


November-December,, 2005



Spanish for Domestic Help by Christopher Howard

As you already know full or part-time domestic help is prohibitively expensive in North America. This is not the case in Costa Rica, however there is a big problem when it comes to communicating with the help. If your Spanish skills are not great you will have a hard time giving instructions. Sign language, gestures, and props (like a broom) only work up to a certain point. Knowing some basic Spanish phrases may help you avoid any misunderstandings that arise between you and your hired help. One of the first things you should do is buy a Spanish Dictionary. Some even come with pictures of each room of a house, with pictures and the word beside. Another available book is called “Home Maid Spanish” which is indispensable for those with little Spanish who must communicate with household help. (ISBN 0517-53510-6) please… sweep… wash… clean… wax… change… put away… take out… iron…

...the ...the ...the ...the ...the ...the ...the ...the ...the ...the

por favor… barra… lave… limpie… encere… cambia… guarde… saque… planche

floor wall shelves windows clothes shirt pants dress blouse sheets

polish… dust… vacuum… straighten… water… fold… prepare… bring me… take…

...el piso pared ...los estantes ...las ventanas ropa camisa ...los pantalones ...el vestido blusa ...las sabanas

...the ...tha ...the ...the ...the ...the ...the ...the ...the ...the

sácale brillo a… quítele el polvo a… pásale la aspiradora a… arregle, acomode riegue, pongale agua a… doble… prepare… traígame… lleve…

bedroom bathroom kitchen living room dining room storage room furniture table car dishes

...el dormitorio ...el baño cocina sala comedor bodega ...los muebles mesa ...el automovil ...los platos

Here is your Costa Rican expression or tiquismo for this week: “Rodar” in proper Spanish is the verb ‘to roll’ like a ball, however in Costa Rica also means to deceive or trick.

El Residente


November-December, 2005


El Residente Update Jay Brodell- AM Costa Rica A nation that really embraces Christmas early It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas - in Costa Rica, at least. Oct. 1 was the unofficial start of Yuletide here, and the stores are filled with Christmas goodies. And no one is complaining about the early arrival of holiday spirits. Costa Ricans, of course, have a special interest in Christmas. In addition to the religious aspects, Dec. 25 signifies that the country is well into the dry season, called “summer” here, although some rain lingers for a week or more in the extreme southwest. It’s time to shelve the umbrellas and plan for dry afternoons. December also is the beginning of the high tourist season, helped by the local tradition of heading to the beaches for the holidays. Not to mention the tope horse parade, carnival in Zapote with mob bullfights and the carnival parade in the downtown. There also is the aguinaldo or 13th month pay, which the government requires employers to provide their workers. It is a sure way to guarantee everyone has cash for presents and a jolly holiday. The law stipulated the money must be paid by the second week of December. The night of Saturday, Dec. 11, is the gigantic parade, called the Festival de la Luz. And about the time government work slows. Public employees usually get two weeks off. Officials claim they save money by not having employees come in to work. But anyone who needs a government permit or other paperwork better get it done by Dec. 16. The week of Dec. 19 will be a short one filled with parties and celebrations. Christmas this year is on a Sunday, as is New Year, so workers will be applying sick days and vacation days to get off at least by Wednesday, Dec. 21. Some private businesses will close for a long holiday, but for others, including those in the tourism industry, there’s hard work ahead. Theoretically everyone should be back to work by Monday, Jan. 2. Then it is time to look forward to Semana Santa and Easter!

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Coast guard reports saving turtles and eggs Coast guard officers have reclaimed 6,260 smallendangered turtles from the hands of poachers during the year, they said. In the course of 731 patrols, officers from the Estación Ambiental del Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas arrested 19 persons for dealing in the illegal trade of turtles and turtle products, the officers said. Of those 19 persons, officers said 13 were found digging up turtle nesting sites and six were arrested for hunting turtles. From the hunters, authorities said they seized 249 pounds of turtle meat and 1,717 eggs from animals in danger of extinction. Officers attribute their successes to the residents of the areas poachers prey on most. These residents helped officers guard the beaches from illegal hunting, they said. The coast guard reports it has been actively working to convince the public that a live turtle is worth more to the local economy as a tourist attraction than the $1,142 a dead turtle will fetch on the black market. Scammers take advantage of kind hearts Agents with the Judicial Investigating Organization in Quepos are seeking scammers who took advantage of the goodwill of companies whose employees thought they were helping flood victims. The thieves used stolen checks to buy milk, coffee, rice, beans and other supplies from Dos Pinos and Super 2000 and said the products were for the people affected by last week’s rains, agents said. The scammers called Dos Pinos claiming to be members of a benefit association and said they needed 1,800,000 colons ($3,691) worth of powdered milk for which they had already dropped off a check at the Cruz Roja de Parrita where they collected the merchandise, agents said. When Cruz Roja cashed the check, the bank notified employees that it was from a stolen account that had been closed. The scammers also called the Super 2000. They told an employee that they needed to buy rice, beans, cooking oil, sugar and coffee among other supplies for a total of 2,500,000 colons ($5,127), again for the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias to help the flood victims, agents said. They used a check from the same account to buy these items presumably for resale.


November-December, 2005


Community in a Rural Village by Carol Marujo A Little History We all know the world is changing rapidly. What will life be like ten, twenty years from now? Just one generation ago the people where I live had no electricity. Two generations ago women rose at 4am to wash clothes in the river, and the journey taking the coffee harvest to market by oxcart took several days. In the early 19th century, this area was settled by farmers, mostly descendents of Spanish colonists. Subsistence farming gave way to producing crops and cattle for export. The forest gave way to the demands of agriculture followed by erosion. Fortunately, interest in reforestation is beginning to catch on. For the people living here in small, rural villages, I suspect their way of life has more in common with rural people throughout the world than it does with city-dwellers in other parts of Cost Rica. One of those common qualities is community, which I enjoy observing here because I have always lived in cities. It also interests me because it is a quality which may be lost as global cultural and economic changes reach into life in this small part of this isthmus connecting two continents. The observations that follow are glimpses community in the lives of my neighbors.


Mothers’ Day Mothers’ Day, August 15, is a national holiday in Costa Rica. When we first came here, we lived in Ciudad Colon, a small city about 12 miles from San Jose. Mothers’ Day falls during Ciudad Colon’s noisy, week-long, annual city festival. Therefore, the parade includes Mothers’ Day mascaradas. These are eightfoot high paper-mache caricatures of female human figures with calico dresses which descend over large, wooden frames. The person wearing the costume looks out through a small patch in the middle of the dress while walking or trying to run with the head

towering high above. Young children jump up and poke the “mothers” to provoke them into chasing them. By contrast, Mothers’ Day in my little village is tamer. The teacher of our elementary school of 17 pupils helped the children make invitations for all of the adults to attend a party honoring mothers and fathers. They made the invitations on the school’s two computers, which are equipped with various software but still lack internet connections. On the Friday before Mothers’ Day, about half of the village’s adults of all ages attended the event in one room of the two-room schoolhouse, which was decorated with balloons, crepe paper streamers and a banner stretched across the chalkboard. The program consisted of costumed children performing traditional folkdances to recorded music, pre-teen girls dancing to contemporary Britney Spears-type songs (I am not an expert on North American popular culture, but I think that is what it was.) followed by a few karaoke numbers. All this was interspersed with audience participation games with prizes. What the games may have lacked in sophistication, they made up for in audience enthusiasm. The children, with a couple adult helpers, served the guests a tasty meal of a fruit drink, a chopped mixed vegetable salad, and a beans and rice dish. The program concluded with a gift for each woman in the audience, a wooden stand holding demitasse coffee cups and a bamboo napkin holder with Feliz dia Mama painted on the base. It is precious.

Continued on page 13...

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All of this was a gift to the community from the children under the guidance of their teacher, who, by himself, teaches all six grade levels all subjects, including a bit of performing arts.

left to send some home with each of the visitors. We have also been the lucky recipients of tamales given to us by neighbors.

Virgin of Los Angeles Tamales A salon comunal, as its name suggests, is a space for community activities. Ours has a corrugated zinc roof, a concrete floor, and walls that go halfway up and are open at the top. There are stools and benches, large tables and a wood-burning stove. This is where the older women continue the tradition of making Christmas tamales. This group project produces delicious tamales wrapped in banana leaves. The cornmeal masa has several ingredients to give it a rich flavor, and vegetables and a small piece of meat are placed inside. This activity is especially important to women who have large families of children and grandchildren who visit them for Christmas. Even after several days of holiday feasting, there are enough tamales

November-December, 2005

August 2 is the day of the Virgin of Los Angeles, a day of important religious observation in Costa Rica. Huge crowds of pilgrims from San Jose and other parts of the central valley walk long distances to worship at the basilica in Cartago, the site of a cherished legend in Costa Rican history. Many Ticos walk most of the night on the eve of August 2 as a thanks to the Virgin for blessings received during the year or as fulfillment of a promise made to her for granting a special request. The local media provide extensive coverage of this event. My village lies about 45 miles from San Jose and even farther from Cartago, too far for most people to walk. But in a tiny town in the canton of Puriscal there is another church named for the Virgin of Los Angeles. People from several villages in the area Continued on page 14...


After a couple of hours of merriment, everyone became serious, as it was time to recite the Rosary. A woman who is respected for her knowledge of church teachings and prayers led the recitation. Not being Catholic, I did not know how long the prayers would be. The leader shot disapproving glances at small children who became restless, squirmed out of their parents’ arms and began to run around. I had been caught sitting near the front when the group began to assemble. About halfway through, I slipped over to the outer area as carefully and respectfully as I could.

walk 15 or more miles over hilly, dirt and gravel roads to worship there on August 2. Men, women and older children start out at around 3am to make the journey in the cool of the night. Neighbors and families make the six to seven hour walk together. The church is overflowing with worshippers spilling out onto the lawn during mass. Later, the physically exhausted, but spiritually refreshed, people return home in cars or buses or crammed standing up in the backs of trucks. As if to show the national importance of this event, two oxcarts also waited to take a few people home.


After the prayers, the merriment resumed, and some people began to dance. I was feeling very mellow from the music, the warm night air, the warm camaraderie and perhaps from the warmth of the chicha. I seriously considered dancing, but, having two left feet and little sense of rhythm, I wisely decided to just enjoy watching.

Puriscal Postscript Living in the canton of Puriscal, I have wondered about the origin of its name. A recent story in a local newspaper, Puriscal Hoy, explained that the name comes from the word, purisco, the flower of the bean plant. Purisco is also the name for the flower of the chayote squash and for small bird that eats those flowers. Residents of Puriscal are called Puriscalenos.

Many homes, businesses and communities assemble a portal, a Christmas manger scene. The one in our village is put up by a man who loves to continue the tradition. We donated some pine branches for it last year. Tradition also requires that people gather to recite the Rosary before taking it down in late January. Last year the taking down of the portal was the occasion of a large, outdoor party given by a family for everyone in town plus some out-of-town relatives. A large crowd arrived by dusk and stayed late into the evening. Food included chicharones cooked in a large kettle over a wood fire, boiled yuca and limes to squeeze over the food. I had chicha for the first time and really liked it. It is a mild, homemade, fermented beverage made from sugar cane and corn. A “whitelightning� type of beverage was also circulating, which I declined. A small band of guitar, accordion and rhythm instruments provided traditional Spanish music including, some heart-felt ballads sung by men.

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About the author: Dr. Marujo is a freelance writer and retired psychologist from the United States who lives on a farm in a mountainous region of Costa Rica as a pensionada. These are stories of her early experiences living in a new country.


November-December, 2005









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INVESTING 101 by Alan Weeks People have asked why they should be concerned about the economic, market, and currency trends that are reviewed in my Dollars & Sense articles. Many believe that it is someone else’s job to look after their investments? Really!! Who’s money is it? And who is the only person at risk of an irreplaceable financial loss if their “nestegg” is not invested wisely? Therefore, each of us needs to be totally responsible for our own investments whether we choose to do it alone, through an investment group, or in partnership with a seasoned advisor. A good investment advisor should be recommending a relatively low risk investment strategy for us in order to ensure that our precious “nestegg” is preserved and enhanced. Of course, when the markets are gaining strongly our returns would probably be lower, but they should gain at a steadier pace over the long term. Advisors should also show that the power of compound growth over time is essential to create maximum wealth. Unfortunately however, most of us have not been inclined to follow this sound investment advice. We have all heard that successful investors “Buy Low and Sell High”. This shows the cyclical nature over time in the value of most investable assets, whether real estate, stocks, bonds, or commodities. However, many do not bother to determine this before deciding to buy or sell. In fact, the majority of investors seem to have several traits in common. 1) We tend to be influenced by the apparent investment success of others, and follow their lead into a “hot” stock or market. This can be called the “herd” instinct.

November-December, 2005

Unfortunately, most of the gains are made by the early investors not the “herd”. 2) We tend to be a fickle and greedy bunch. We demand great returns fast, or we take our business elsewhere. 3) We tend to focus far too much on short-term gains and too little on risk when deciding to invest. 4) We also have a very strong tendency to follow the “herd” and sell in a panic after others have already driven prices down. It is during this frantic time that we should stop to remind ourselves of Sir John Templeton’s vivid saying: The best time to buy is when “blood is running in the streets”. And yet, if one was able to reason with investors, the majority would have no trouble recalling the adage that the most successful investors “Buy Low and Sell High”. They would also recognize that it is very difficult to replace investment losses and thus, it would be more logical to invest prudently. Would it not also seem very appropriate for us to acquire a basic knowledge of investing in order to make regular gains with minimum downside risks? One low risk alternative to ‘play it safe’, is simply to put the equity portion of our investment portfolio into a major US index fund, such as the S&P500. However, if this had been done in late 1998, it would have given us a ‘wild ride’ over the last 7 years, without making any net gain. Meanwhile, the purchasing power of our”nestegg” would have declined about 20% over this period. Another alternative, of course, is to invest in a “basket” of noteworthy mutual funds and let the fund managers make money for us. When choosing the funds however, far too many investors overemphasize recent past performance, without taking the time to understand why. The statement that past performance is no guarantee of future results seems to be blithely ignored. Mass investment theory suggests that specialized financial institutions, which manage collectively on behalf of small investors, should provide the following:  professional management based on a fiduciary relationship  greater resources and economies of scale  investment expertise to analyze relevant information  a more diversified portfolio, and  risk control Continued on page 18...


In fact, institutional investors have become the dominant players and the power in the world’s financial markets.

perform as well as the market indices. Only a few, very seasoned investment professionals consistently do so.

Because the investment decisions are being left to managers, one might think that mutual fund investing is being done for the long term. However, it turns out that even here, most of us are still a fickle bunch. We demand great returns fast or we take our business elsewhere. This puts pressure on fund managers to go for short term gains. But, a short term investment horizon means that fund managers are much more prone to ignore economic fundamentals.

Why is it so important to ensure our “nestegg” continues to grow even after retirement? The reason is that many of us should enjoy living a very long time in retirement because of major medical advances in diagnostics and treatments. And, we all crave to be able to keep ourselves in the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed, for the duration. Therefore, we should take the time now to learn how the value of investable assets are significantly influenced by economic conditions as well as by mass buying & selling trends. We also need to remember it is not the sectors, such as energy, nor the markets that have done well in the past, but those most likely to do well in the probable future macroeconomic environment, that should be included in our investment portfolio.

Also, please keep in mind that fund managers are paid to be as good as their peers, and risk their jobs if they do worse. For this reason, there is widespread conformity among managers. The net result is a very concentrated decision making when stock-picking. This “herd” behavior by the majority of managers results in a tremendous flow of money all in the same direction, making it much more likely that financial markets will overreact and thus overshoot repeatedly and substantially. What about their overall performance? Historically over 80% of the fund managers do not even

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I believe that we can use basic economic and investment knowledge to our advantage to buy and sell at more appropriate times and to invest in the most promising assets for future gains. It is never too late to start! For more information please contact Alan Weeks at 256-5848


Book Review: Costa Rica By Bus ARCR member John Robert Wood is an industrial engineer whose multi-faceted career with “Big Blue” included writing, editing, development of Corporate Standards, managing, and representation of the company at meetings of the ANSI and ISO Computer Standards groups. He authored the 758-page IBM Dictionary of Computing, published by McGraw-Hill in 1994. When he retired from IBM and settled in Costa Rica, his confrontation with inactivity was short-lived. On arrival, he had decided not to own a car. Prices, taxes, and operating costs were high, many roads were unmarked and in poor condition, and the percapita accident rate was one of the highest on the planet. Instead, he used the bus system and found that he could travel in comfort, border-to-border and coast-to-coast at minimal cost. But the system was a mystery to most tourists and out-of-towners. Terminals, bus stops, and telephone numbers of bus companies were hard to find and schedules were treated like state secrets, seldom printed except when scrawled on terminal walls. Travel guides gave no help; they assumed that visitors would rent a car. And so, for his own convenience the author began to collect schedules and other relevant information

on his PC. This required a great deal of research, telephone calls, “leg work,” and time. As the hard drive of his old laptop filled, it became clear that legions of budget tourists and residents needed a complete and up-to-date guide that would help them find their way. No such guide existed -until now. The guide is designed to help you find your way anywhere in Costa Rica without detours or delays. If your bus is full, try the alternate routes. No other guide gives you such depth of information. This is the one to take with you as you explore Costa Rica. On the Internet, you can obtain an e-Book version at w w w. c o s t a r i c a b y b u s . c o m and the paperback edition at In Costa Rica you can also obtain it from the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR). John lives in Atenas, CR with Maggy, his rescued street dog; ChicoTico, a proud Chihuahua; and Alfred, son of Felipe, Costa Rica’s Champion Yorkshire Terrier. He remains busy in retirement and would not have it any other way.

NOTICE TO MEMBERS: It has come to attention that for some time members have not been receiving sufficient notice in regards to the expiration of their insurance policies. After much deliberation and searching we have decided to test an another Insurnace Agency, with the intention of directly taking a hand in keeping members informed and their insurance up to date. If any member has a policy they wish to be added to our list to receive advanmce notifiaction of expiration dates, please contact us at the office with the name and number of the policy. For your knowledge, auto insurance is valid 6 months, home insurance and medical insurance either 6 months or 1 year depending on the specific policy. We hope this added service will be of benefit to the members, and will continue to try and improve the services offered.

November-December, 2005


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Wild Side XXVIII Oh Deer me! by Ryan Piercy Though Costa Rica has a limited variety of deer, the Whitetailed deer was chosen as the countries official symbol as the representative of the wildlife of country, for which it is renowned. More commonly known as the Virginia Deer, its alternate name stems from the prominent white underside of its tail. The species is actually found from Bolivia all the way to Alaska. Odocoileus virginianus has tined antlers, with redbrown summer fur that changes to gray-brown in winter months up North. It is one of the largest of the American deer, bucks reaching up to 183 cm in length and 91 cm at the shoulder, at over 136 kilos. Two fawns, born in the spring, comprise a typical brood; the young have red-brown fur flecked with white spots that disappear during their first winter (many will recall young Bambi when he was born un unsteady feet).

This species is a favorite target of American biggame hunters, however through strict conservation laws regulating hunting, the total number of these deer remain almost constant. One of the reasons for their popularity by hunters are the males’ solid, bony antlers, which when full-grown arch forward with five or six points, and also for their meat, known as venison. Other significant predators include puma and other wildcats, but the deer do have the benefit of lithe bodies and long, powerful legs, making them very swift and agile runners. They are also excellent swimmers. Hopefully the continued control of the deer population will help them to thrive in spite of natural dangers and the expanding population of man, especially here in Costa Rica as it would be a shame to have as a National Symbol an extinct species.

In Costa Rica the White-tail can be found in the lowlands and mid-level zones, preferring open forest and pasture like in Guanacaste, where it in fact most abundant. This deer occupies various habitats, specifically open areas with herbal vegetation for its diet. They are primarily active in the early night and dawn and early morning.

November-December, 2005


Exchange rate of the Costa Rican ¢ to the US Dollar 470.41 April 473.72 May 476.91 June 479.97 July 482.76 August 486.40 September Basic Interest Rate April 15.00 % 15.75 % May June 15.75 % 15.75 % July August 15.50 % 15.25 % September Exchange rate of other currencies to the US Dollar Japanese Yen 113.16 Swiss Franc 1.2921 Canadian $ 1.1636 Giro (DEG) 1.4495 £ Sterling 1.7672 Euro 1.2047 Mexican Peso 10.785 Korean Won 1,042.4 Danish Krone 6.1946 Norwegian Krone 6.5526 Argentine Peso 2.9148 Colombian Peso 2291.0 Brasilian Real 2.2170 Libor Rate 1 month 3.8638 % 3 month 4.0650 % 6 month 4.2306 % 12 month 4.4400 % Prime Rate

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6.75 %


Holidays Of Costa Rica November 2nd ‘All Soul’s Day’ December 25th ‘Christmas Day’ January 1st ‘New Year’s Day’ ********************

A Touch of Wisdom “Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches.” English proverb “The old law about an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.” Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) “There’s small choice in rotten apples.” William Shakespeare (1564-1616) ******************** Companies have similar problems when they enter foreign language markets. Japan’s second-largest tourist agency was mystified when it expanded to Englishspeaking countries and began receiving requests for unusual sex tours. Upon finding out why, the owners of the Kinki Nippon Tourist Company changed its name. The company didn’t change the name of all its divisions though. Visitors to Japan still have the opportunity to take a ride on the Kinki Nippon Railway. When Braniff translated a slogan touting its upholstery, “Fly in Leather,” it came out in Spanish as “Fly Naked.” An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope’s visit Instead of “I Saw the Pope” (el Papa), the shirts read “I Saw the Potato” (la papa)

November-December, 2005


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Residente 2005-11  

Did you know you can renew online? ...And a very happy holiday season to you and your family from all of us. - Ryan Piercy Edit...