Howler Costa Rica May 2023

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Stay Safe:

Travelers and Expats

My editorial this month addresses safety when traveling, and can be applied if living abroad. Costa Rica is said to be safe and the people are friendly. Well, the reality is that Costa Rica is part of the world, and is not sheltered from the many crimes that are prevalent in other countries. This is not bashing Costa Rica. It is a warning to travelers, as well as expats, to be vigilant.

You can't ignore the risk of crime as a traveler, or even expats living here.

When you travel to a foreign country, the last thing you want to think about is the risk of crime. Unfortunately, crime is a reality that travelers must face, and it can come in many forms. From petty theft to violent crime, no traveler is immune to the possibility of becoming a victim. In some countries, like Costa Rica, the crime rate is growing and travelers must take extra precautions when they visit. You can't ignore the risk of crime as a traveler and what you can do to stay safe.

The world is getting more dangerous, not less.

Traveling the world has become easier and more accessible than ever, but with that comes an unfortunate rise in criminal activity targeting unsuspecting travelers. Don’t be a stupid traveler or expat, inviting problems by attracting unwanted attention. Tourists are easy targets for criminals. It’s essential to take precautions and understand the risks associated with travel to ensure your safety.

Tourists are easy targets.

Stupid travelers and expats often make themselves easy targets for criminals. They don't know the area, the customs, or the dangers of the destination, so they can be quickly taken advantage of. Tourists are usually more trusting and have more valuables than the locals, making them a desirable target for pickpockets and thieves. Tourists often carry more cash, wear more expensive jewelry, and don’t understand how to identify dangerous situations, making them easy targets.

Additionally, they are often too trusting of strangers and may not take proper safety precautions while traveling. This makes them an easy mark for people with malicious intent.

Educate yourself on the crime rate before you travel and make sure you know what areas you should avoid. If you're heading to places such as Central America, where robbery is particularly common, be extra cautious when walking around and avoid carrying large amounts of money.

When at bars or nightclubs, never leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers; these scenarios can lead to dangerous situations such as date rape drugs. Don't be foolish enough to think you are not a target for crime. Remember, even seemingly safe destinations can be dangerous if you aren't careful.

While trusting locals is natural when you're in a foreign country, it's important to remember that some unscrupulous individuals may try to take advantage of you. Keep your guard up in busy tourist areas; those areas tend to attract criminals.

Be aware of your surroundings.

When traveling, it’s important to be aware of who is around you and what they may be up to. You should always stay alert and be conscious of your surroundings. Don’t keep your money out on a counter in your hotel room or your home. Be extra careful with your passports and identification cards.

Always take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe from theft and any other crime. Don’t leave your doors unlocked or even open, even if you feel like the area you’re in is safe.

Refrain from posting things on social media that give away your plans, or letting people know where you are going and for how long.

Selling items and giving out your location can make you a target for crime. Taking such risks puts yourself and your possessions in danger.


Recently I heard of a couple that had been coming to Costa Rica for a few months every year for a while. They decided to sell their stuff and started posting online that they would be returning home soon. They gave a date of their departure on their ads listing the items they were selling.

Well, needless to say, they got robbed. They were held at gunpoint and the cash they had laid out on the counter was taken, along with some other small items like a necklace. The vehicle they had for sale was also stolen. My friend who reported the incident to me told me the victims left the doors open at night. Easy targets are created by unawareness and just downright stupidity.

You're more likely to be a victim of a crime if you're traveling solo.

When traveling alone, you become a much easier target for criminals. Without the support of friends and family, you may find yourself in a situation that puts you at risk. Unfortunately, tourists have been robbed in Costa Rica, and elsewhere, by inviting problems and attracting unwanted attention.

As a solo traveler, you need to be extra vigilant to protect yourself. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don't take unnecessary risks, and trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible. Have a contingency plan in place in case of an emergency.

Personal attacks, such as assault and sexual assault, can occur even in the most tourist-friendly areas. Women, in particular, are at risk for such attacks, especially if they travel alone. This means it's important for women to be aware of their surroundings and trust their gut when traveling, especially if they're solo.

Theft is not the only issue.

When you think of crime, theft is usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, theft is far from the only crime travelers face. Personal attacks, kidnapping, and other heinous crimes are all too common in certain parts of the world. Even in Costa Rica, violent crimes are becoming more frequent.

Kidnapping is another dangerous crime that is becoming more common in certain regions. Tourists are often targeted due to their perceived wealth, making them vulnerable to kidnappers who demand large ransoms.

Hate crimes are another issue that travelers must be aware of. There have been numerous incidents of tourists being attacked or harassed due to their race, religion or nationality, and even not being able to speak the local language.

Trust your gut

The best way to protect yourself from crime when you travel is to trust your instincts. If something feels off, it probably is. If you don’t feel comfortable in a certain area, leave.

Finally, always have a contingency plan in case something happens. Have emergency contacts who you can call for help, and keep your valuables secure and out of sight. Don't let yourself become an easy target for criminals. Stay safe, be smart, and don't take unnecessary risks.

Your gut feeling is often the best indicator of danger. Pay attention to any warning signs that you may be in danger and act accordingly.

Don’t let fear hold you back from taking trips and exploring new places, but use caution and common sense to stay safe on your travels.

From petty theft to violent crime, no traveler is immune to the possibility of becoming a victim.

Digital magic with a message is what Howler readers can expect in our May cover story, challenging you to contemplate Costa Rica — and the planet as a whole — without human life. Prepare to be at once captivated and disturbed by what digital artist Sebastian Alba imagines our familiar world would look like in the wake of “too little too late” eco-protection.

In the same issue, you’ll find fascinating facts about humpback whales, jaguars, mariola bees and acorn woodpeckers. Congratulations go out to surfer Brisa Hennessy, the first Costa Rican to qualify for the 2024 Olympics. We tell you about two books honoring Costa Rican science and technology pioneers, and a dementia education program geared to rural expat and local populations. We also provide first-hand highlights of the Costa Rican Fashion Festival.


Sebastian Alba is an awardwinning photographer and digital artist, increasingly well-known for his conservation-themed project “Costa Rica Without Humans.” Starting close to home, but planning to expand the concept to include other parts of the world, Alba seeks to depict the destructive consequences of failing to protect the natural resources that sustain our survival.

The Cartago native now lives in San José, where his photography and digital art projects encompass the gamut of subjects and styles. Specializing in images for advertising and commercial clients, he also does portrait and lifestyle photography, as well

as photo shoots for weddings, graduations and other special events.

Exposed to art and learning to draw at a young age, Sebastian has long been interested in photography, but is self-taught in the specialized techniques that are central to his creative endeavors. He is also a computer engineering student at Tecnológico de Costa Rica


Sylvia Barreto Benites. Writer, teacher, tutor and founding director of IREN Renaissance Institute, a Costa Rican nonprofit organization focused on innovative learning solutions for children and adults.

Terry Carlile. Served as a U. S. Navy journalist for eight years, and is also a workshop trainer and keynote speaker.

Katya de Luisa. Early expat pioneer in Costa Rica. Dementia educator, caregiver coach, freelance writer, and the author of "Journey Through the Infinite Mind, The Science and Spirituality of Dementia."

Marek Nahorski. Howler’s youngest-ever contributor, born in 2011, moved from his Poland homeland to Costa Rica with his family after the pandemic. A precocious entrepreneur who has launched businesses in 3-D printers, vending machines, and most recently, beekeeping.

Photo cover Puntarenas lighthouse and tourist walk by Sebastian Alba.

Valery Turcio. Received her law degree at the University of Costa Rica, with a specialty in judge training. At GM Attorneys, she’s acquired expertise in commercial, corporate and real estate matters.

Tash and JB Vernel. Natives of South Africa and France, respectively, literally building their dream in Costa Rica from the ground up on a jungle property they’ve transformed into a farmstead near Ostional.

Mariajose Viquez. Attorney and notary public at GM Attorneys, with 10 years of experience in real estate and immigration law.

Captain Paul Watson. Globally renowned ocean conservationist and environmental activist, advancing marine ecosystem protection initiatives through the new Captain Paul Watson Foundation. Co-founder of the Greenpeace Foundation and founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Helen Woodhouse. Soon after moving from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Quepos/Manuel Antonio, founded the Facebook group Gringo Gardeners in Costa Rica, dedicated to gardening successes and challenges in this wonderfully diverse country.


Felipe Chavez. Costa Rican photographer and pilot, specializing in photos of animals and wildlife.

Fred Lipsky. Retired New York police officer, now enjoying kayak fishing and nature photography adventures in Costa Rica.


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See new online puzzles on the Howl page, click here Read all current and past articles online #S earch F ind Howl MAY 2023 Vol. 32 No. 5

UP FRONT: Costa Rica Without Humans: An Artist's Creation

Editorial: Stay Safe: Travelers and Expats


• Tuanis Sunset Realty

• Jardin La Torre

• Horizon Pacific

• Sun Real Estate

• Grupo Tropical

• Tres Amigos


• Costa Rica Whale Spotting on Many Bucket Lists

• Check Out These Seven Amazing Jaguar Facts

• My Bee Farm Visit, Part 2

• The Acorn Woodpecker


• Liquor Factory Legacy

• Dreams Come True for Costa Ricans in Science and Technology

• Allan Murillo

Click on the section to go directly to those pages.

CR • Clothes Your • A Creativity
CR SURF • Tide Chart, Sun, Moon Schedule • Brisa Hennessy Confirmed for 2024 Olympics CR BUSINESS • New Law 9996 Regulation to Attract Investor, Annuitant and Pensioner Residents • Increase in Private Flights • Search other articles PURA VIDA • Plant ID Help, Thriving Herbs and Gardening Tips • Protecting Your Digital Devices • Simply Spanish: Financial Terms • Risking it All for a Dream • Bringing Dementia Education to Rural Costa Rica Communities • The Virtues of Piracy CR FASHION Clothes Can Make Your Mood Crowd-Pleasing Creativity Showcase

Earth Without Humans TheAbstractCreations ofSebastianAlba

Imagine a world where the human population vanished. We've seen movies and read stories with different media adaptations about living in a futurist apocalyptic world. “The Last of Us” is a popular video game with an apocalyptic theme.

In fact, that game provided some of the inspiration for a collection of uniquely provocative images challenging viewers to contemplate a planet without humans. "If we don't take care of ourselves, it will take us” was the premise of a creative project undertaken several years ago by Costa Rican photographer and digital artist Sebastian Alba.

Alba’s intention was to create scenes with a hard-hitting message about the need to protect the planet and natural resources for the very sake of human survival.

“We are not important to the planet, the planet is important to us,” he affirmed in an interview with YouTube host Cesar Lopez.

Using a technique known as matte painting, or photocomposition, Sebastian depicts the decomposition of buildings and lands as if humans were no longer here. After grabbing an object or section from an unrelated image — perhaps mold on a wall or a tree vine — he transfers it onto the original photo. Ultimately, the finished image expresses “the collaboration between humans and earth needing each other.”

Photos courtesy of Sebastian Alba Fotografia

In fact, Alba’s starting point for the project was close to home. He sought to capture some of Costa Rica’s most iconic sites throughout the country.

When interviewed for a blog in November 2020, Sebastian said he was inspired by “the need to find some way through art, photography and publishing to be able to impact the conscience of the Tico, to look for an alternative to be able to cause the Tico to wake up and open our eyes to be able to take care of our only home.”

Working initially from a list of renowned Costa Rican locales, aiming to cover at least one per province, Alba gradually expanded the number of images to include places that are meaningful to Ticos.

National Stadium of Costa Rica, San José

Believing that depictions of devastation have the greatest impact on human consciousness, he planned to expand the project throughout Central America, Latin America and the world. “My idea is to have a complete portfolio of the devastated places in each country,” he said.

Regarding the passion for challenges that extends into all of the photography and digital art services he provides for a wide range of clients, Alba says, "I love bringing people's dreams and ideas to reality,"

Basilica of Los Angeles, Cartago

Editor's Note: Without humans, the world would still exist but it would not be the same. All the buildings and infrastructure that we have built over the years would eventually decay and return to nature. The planet would start to heal itself from the damage caused by pollution and deforestation. The oceans would be filled with marine life and the forests would be the habitat for many animals. Eventually, the planet might even reach a state of equilibrium where there would be no more extinction and a balance would be achieved between all life forms.

Friendship Bridge, Guanacaste Fountain of Hispanicity, San José
Click the photo to see more of his creations, videos and social media links. Complete the online puzzle

Why is it Important to Work with a Licensed Real Estate Agent and a Long Standing Real Estate Company?

Buying Real Estate? The Basics

What our Reasons Why Love Living Here?

How Do People Enjoy Life Here? CLICK OR


What are our 99 Reasons Why We Living Here?

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Buy or Build?

• “Trigger-Happy” Laws Expand in Latin America

• Costa Rica lost 16.2% of competitiveness due to the drop in the dollar exchange

• Protectionism does not allow consumers in Costa Rica the benefit of competition

• Bill for the extradition of Ticos avdances in Congress

• 50 years for the rape and murder of Dr. María Luisa Cedeño

• President Chaves announces reversal of decision on working hours for police

• Security Minister asks police officials to “do their part”

• Government of Rodrigo Chaves proposes to stop drug violence

• Less crime, more violence?

• Three years in prison for racists, legislator proposes

• Increase in private flights to Guanacaste boosts tourism with high purchasing power

• Thieves are now stealing cars via a headlight

• President Chaves calls to defend the Homeland from ‘filibusters that still remain’ in a civic act of the Battle of Rivas

• “We are way behind,” accepts the director of Migration in delivery of DIMEX

• Ministry of Health asks the population of Limón to use repellent and cover their skin after detecting an outbreak of malaria

• Gallo Pinto: The Costa Rica breakfast

• CCSS alerts for malaria outbreak in the Caribbean: 38 new cases in two days

the article AND other Q Costa Rica articles. video
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A Crowd-Pleasing Creativity Showcase

Costa Rican Fashion Festival 2023

If you’re considering attending a fashion show, you should know what to expect! Fashion shows are often glamorous events where the latest designs from top fashion houses are unveiled. Generally, there will be a stage with a runway, as well as seating for guests. Depending on the fashion show, you may also witness some demonstrations or other interactive elements.


Before the show starts, you might notice photographers and models lining up to walk in their outfits. There is usually a DJ and other performers to provide some entertainment. As the show begins, you’ll see the models strutting down the runway, with the designer’s collections in full view.

The fashion show usually lasts about an hour, and it’s a great way to get a feel for the designer’s aesthetic. After the show is finished, guests may sometimes be invited onto the runway to view the collections up close. You may be lucky enough to mingle with celebrities and industry professionals, so don’t forget to dress to impress!

I experienced my first professional fashion show with the Festival Costarricense de la Moda (Costa Rican Fashion Festival), April 21-22, 2023 at the prestigious Hotel Barceló in San José. The conference room was darkened except for the spotlights on the center runway. Names of the event sponsors were projected in rotation onto the wall. Then a violinist came out for the prelude as the crowds trickled into the venue.

After several minutes of great music, the welcome announcement was made as fast upbeat music filled the center. Photographers hoisted their cameras, and even the spectators had their cell phones ready.

The models were top of the line as they posed their way down the runway. Reactions could be “seen” over the crowd, ranging from “Wow!” to “No way ... doesn’t work for me.”

I chatted with several people in the crowd to find out what brought them to the event. Accompanied by her mother, Alejandra, 16-year-old Sara wants to study design. She has been designing and making clothes for three years.

“I wanted to be exposed to the wide variety of styles to improve my skills,” Sara stated.

I caught up with her after the show and asked if she was “inspired or tired?” She replied, “Both”.

Another inspiring 21-year-old came for the same reason. She has her own designs and her attempts to intersect with established brands are a challenge. You can imagine with all the young “wanna be” designers and legitimate designers in the funnel of fashion designers, there would be few slots to join in with existing companies.

Another man in his 40s told me he has already completed design schooling in Madrid, and has his own designs to promote. When I asked him if they were good, he avoided answering while his friend spoke up, “He’s too modest — he’s great!”

You may be lucky enough to mingle with celebrities and industry professionals, so don’t forget to dress to impress!
Click for more
Variety of Entertainment Prep and show

Other fashion show spectators were students from a design school in San José, required to take notes as part of the course exercise. Of course, it was an excellent opportunity for them to see first-hand the display of the varied styles and elegance offered by top-of-the-line professional designers. One person told me, “I just love fashion.”

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Hundreds attended, taking photographs, notes and inspiration.

Backstage, the lights, music and lots of action


After each collection shown, the designer joined the models on the stage

A display demonstrating the natural fibers available from vegetation

Diverse fashions ranging from bikinis, ball gowns and casual wear to the extravagant

Sara and her mother Alejandra...a young designer gaining valuable insight

From vision to sketch to design

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Vendors showcasing their creations

Clothes Can Make Your Mood

Clothes can affect your mood in a number of ways. Firstly, the physical comfort of the clothes you wear can have an impact on how you feel. If you're wearing clothes that are too tight, too loose, or made of uncomfortable materials, you may feel distracted or uncomfortable, which can negatively affect your mood.

Secondly, the style and color of your clothing can also affect your mood. Wearing bright colors or clothes that make you feel confident and attractive can boost your mood and self-esteem. Conversely, wearing clothes that make you feel dowdy or unattractive can have the opposite effect.

⃝ Self-confidence

⃝ Calmer

⃝ Less depressed

⃝ More powerful

⃝ Inspired

⃝ Focused

⃝ Persuasive

⃝ Motivation to Exercise


Finally, clothes can also be associated with certain activities or events, and wearing clothes that remind you of positive experiences can elicit positive emotions. For example, wearing a favorite outfit you wore on a happy occasion such as a wedding or party can bring back those positive memories and make you feel good.

Overall, the way clothes affect your mood can be complex and depend on a variety of factors, including physical comfort, style, and personal associations. video

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Wearing clothes that remind you of positive experiences can elicit positive emotions.

"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" Update on the Tres Amigos' Realty Region

When contemplating moving to Costa Rica from Vancouver Island, British Columbia in 1999 most of my friends were ready to have me committed to an asylum. How could you even think about leaving this paradise?

A good friend who I admired (CEO of one of BC’s largest lumber companies sent me a note – Michael: “All men dream: but not equally, those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”

-T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

I moved and have never looked back.

It has been 16 years since we moved our Tres Amigos sales office on the boulevard in Playa Panama to our current sales office in Hacienda del Mar on the Las Trancas Road in Playa Panama. Pretty easy to remember as it was just before the crash in 2008. The seventyacre parcel overlooking Culebra Bay and the Four Seasons Papagayo Resort had been divided up and more than 50% sold as developer parcels. Condos and Villas were in planning stages which quickly came to a halt after the crash. For the next number of years waiting for economic recovery the existing

Michael Mills and Can Somyurek (Hacienda Blu) Casa Club Casa Club Casa Club: pool, gym Casa Club: pool, gym

5000 square foot Casa Club with ocean view pool became my wife and myself’ s private weekend getaway. Not a bad place to wait out the recovery knowing our day would come when this development would break open full scale.

The onsite Jaguar Village Condominiums were completed in 2020 and it was decided in 2022 to take some of remaining “development parcels” and divide them into individual residential lots with a high demand for these with North Americans franticly buying in the height of the COVID pandemic. Our first 10 ocean view lots released sold out along with two development lots with 5 homes now planned. Two more development parcels sold with another 10 homes in the works and 30 more new ocean view lots to be released in the

coming months. Our 30-plus non-ocean view lots within this gated community are set to be released next month starting at $130,000.

Hacienda del Mar has all electric and water to each lot, all internal roads with pavers, tennis court/pickleball, sewage treatment plants, 24-7 security and an operating Casa Club with gym, community pool and with the Peninsula Steak and Seafood Restaurant. The development also owns the land where the Hacienda Blu Restaurant is located on the beach in Playa Panama and will home to our Beach Club in 2024 complimented with the existing restaurant.

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Culebra Bay Mills - Managing Broker Tres Amigos Realty Group Cell 011-506-8867- 6929 Toll Free USA and Canada1-877-293-1456
Jaguar Village at Hacienda del Mar
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Dreams Come True for Costa Ricans in Science and Technology

Books Showcase Achievements at NASA and Female Success Stories

Reaching for the stars can refer to any kind of lofty ambition, but sometimes it can be taken literally. An impressive number of Costa Ricans have launched careers that found them closer to outer space than most of us will ever get. The story of their career achievements is told in a book entitled “To the Stars: Costa Rica in NASA,” published by the Costa Rica Institute of Technology (TEC).

Another inspiring TEC publication focuses on female success stories in diverse spheres of science and technology. “The Intrepids: Costa Rican Women in Science and Technology” traces their career milestones and challenges encountered along the way. Ordering information and an excerpted description for each book appears below,


Hacia las estrellas: Costa Rica en la NASA/ To the stars: Costa Rica in NASA (bilingual Spanish/English) Bruce James Callow, Ana Luisa MongeNaranjo

“This book is dedicated to the new generations of Costa Ricans: children, youth and adults, in the hope that it may expand their knowledge about the legacy of opportunities that has been created by a group of visionary Costa Ricans. … Successfully planning and achieving the launch of astronauts, satellites and space probes to outer space requires the combined efforts of thousands of people, including scientists, engineers, technicians and interns. In this book we document the paths and efforts that exceptional Costa Ricans citizens took to achieve their dreams at NASA.”

The Intrepids: Costa Rican Women in Science and Technology (separate English and Spanish versions) Ana Luisa Monge-Naranjo, Bruce James Callow

“Have you ever wondered what life is like for women involved in science and technology? In this book you will find many answers, as it will take you on the paths traveled by 18 fabulous young Costa Rican women who have excelled in science and technology. … We will visit the present and the past lives of each one of them in order to learn about the successes, triumphs and difficulties that they encountered on their paths to professional success.”


Printed books in Spanish

Hacia las estrellas: Costa Rica en la NASA

Bruce James Callow, Ana Luisa Monge Naranjo

Costa Rica en la NASA

(Coloring book)

Bruce James Callow, Ana Luisa Monge Naranjo

Intrépidas en ciencia y tecnología

Ana Luisa Monge Naranjo, Bruce James Callow

Chicas intrépidas en ciencia y tecnología

(Coloring book)

Ana Luisa Monge Naranjo, Bruce James Callow

MAKING A SCENE Allan Murillo

courtesy of Hidden Garden Art Gallery

Welcome once more to our Artist Spotlight series called “Making a Scene.” In this issue, we feature the selected works of Costa Rican artist Allan Murillo, who was profiled in the January 2021 Howler article entitled Painting What Comes Naturally. Allan is here now to share personal insights into the inspiration and creative process behind some of his selected paintings.


Living in San José is an experience that exposes a lot of contrast: One can observe in an almost omnipresent way the natural beauty of the Central Valley. At the same time, its decay is evident — all for the sake of development. This decay of the ecosystems finds a faithful representative in the rivers that drain the Greater Metropolitan Area (GTA). The Tiribí, María Aguilar and Torres are some of the rivers most affected by human activities.

This piece was created as an allegory to the few natural spaces that we can still access, here in the GTA, that are preserved in their natural state. The Tiribí River is, for me, special. Close to the source of the waters of this river, the original richness of the area is maintained in very good condition. This contrasts with the image of this stream of water being subjected to contamination.

In this part of the river, it is possible to observe quetzals in a place that is very close to the center of the capital. It is remarkable that this type of beauty survives in such a place, considering that only a few kilometers downstream it is transformed into rubbish due to dumping. This painting is to remind us that there are reasons to conserve what still remains.



This piece was conceived in relation to the coincidental state of mind between the observer and the observed, during a random moment.

One day I was quietly strolling and enjoying a very pleasant feeling of fulfillment. Suddenly I had the joy of seeing this very beautiful pink spoonbill perched elegantly in some shallow water, on only one of its legs. You could perceive its tranquility. I felt as if there was a state of peace shared between the animal and myself in that small lapse of time. In honor of that instant of connection, I decided to paint the same bird that gave me that special moment.

Sometimes we witness moments that inspire; that was the case with “Tranquilidad.”


My inspiration for this painting involved some serious retroflection. Faced with the evidence that animals have less habitat nowadays, I also considered that they have begun to absorb some of our human behaviors and characteristics.

Earth's history is characterized by four eons. From oldest to youngest, these are the Hadeon, Archean, Proterozoic, and Phanerozoic eras. There is now what's called an "Anthropocene era."

The “Anthropocene” epoch — coming from "anthropo" for “man” and "cene" for “new” — is an unofficial unit of geologic time used to describe the most recent period in the earth's history. It’s when human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet's climate and ecosystems, causing mass extinctions of plant and animal species, polluted oceans and altered atmosphere, among other lasting outcomes.

It is remarkable that this type of beauty survives in such a place.
Complete the online puzzle


It's strange how from time to time, a project stops being what was intended and ends up being something much better. Time can provide a level of maturation of the concept — from the point where it is conceived to when it is time to take up the brushes.

The prospect of a very interesting project came about when I was asked to do a mural, with references to the flora and fauna of Costa Rica. But at the same time, I wanted the design to be unconventional. I was interested in having more creativity in terms of exposure of the elements and the composition of the final painting. Although the final artwork was approved a few days later, I was informed there was a budget issue and the project was canceled.

However, “Madreflora” refused not to be created, even if this meant going a distance from the original idea. I took the motivation I already had, modified some concepts and it magically appeared in front of me: an ode to biodiversity, with a good amount of personality of its own.


Liquor Factory Legacy

The construction of the building that now houses the National Center of Culture (CENAC) began in 1853, by mandate of then-President of the Republic Juan Rafael Mora Porras, which makes it one of the oldest in San José. The objective was to have a place for the legal distillation of liquors, to comply with the centralization and nationalization of distilled liquors in the country.

When it was inaugurated in 1856, the total area of the National Liquor Factory was 14,000 square meters, of which 11,000 were dedicated to buildings and 2,900 to roads and gardens. The factory operated in the building until 1981, the year in which a new space was set up in Grecia, Alajuela province.

During the Calderón Fournier administration, he suggested the idea of creating a space for artistic disciplines.

This led to the founding in 1994 of the current CENAC building. Since

Original home of the National Liquor Factory for 125 years and one of San José’s oldest buildings

then, spaces Teatro de of Contemporary among others, The building of the Ministry

Information from the National Library System (SINABI)

Source and photo courtesy of Maritza Cartin Cultural Heritage Research Center Museum of Contemporary Art and Design


spaces such as the Teatro 1887, de la Danza and the Museum

Contemporary Art and Design, others, have been created. building also houses the offices Ministry of Culture and Youth.



Over 55 and Searching for a Retirement Community?

In the past two months, we have made tremendous new subdivision, Vista Alta, with land moving shaping. The trade-off is that this has opened which need to be closed and sealed before the earnest, and the workers are focused on exactly the work—sporadically, with crossed fingers and well-positioned for erosion control for the rainy have begun.

Vientos Bajos Apartments

Heliconia, a top-floor walk-in apartment in Vientos Bajos is now available for long-term rent—minimum of six months. Buganvilla, on the third floor, but also a walk-in with no steps, becomes available in late April. Buganvilla and Heliconia are both twobedroom/one-bathroom apartments, fully furnished with utilities, including internet, and both provide covered and secure parking. Heliconia rents for $1,000/month and Buganvilla, which has an expanded deck and a bathtub, rents for $1,100/month. If interested, please call for a showing.

Vista Alta

As mentioned last month, the big news for purchase and joining of the property connecting subdivision with the original Jardin La Torre has been spent cutting and building two roads The goal is to have these streets asphalted are making progress on a caretaker cottage by April. Damage caused during last rainy season Fifteen lots for single residences are now available Lots, beginning at $50,000 USD, include septic potable water to the lots.

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tremendous progress in the moving and lot and road large areas of ground heavy rains begin in exactly that. We continue and the goal of being rainy season—which may




Vista Alta was the connecting the Vista Alta Torre property. The month roads to link the properties. by the end of April. We also cottage which should be finished season was repaired. available and ready for sale. septic and have electric and

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Each month we'll highlight one of Fred's amazing bird photographs. Click lower right for more information.

Bird in Brief

Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)

• Found from northwestern Oregon, California, American southwest and western Mexico, through the Central American highlands into northern Colombia Andes

• Prefers pine-oak woodlands where oak trees are plentiful, but also found in tropical hardwood forests with nearby oak trees

• Medium-sized, black and white clown-faced bird with a red crown, glossy black and white head, white eyes, white rump and wing patches, and usually at least one red or yellow-tipped feather on the throat

• Highly social and usually live year-round in social units, with tropical populations often moving together

• Monogamous mating in some populations and cooperative polygyny in others

• Nest cavities drilled into large dead or living tree limbs may contain granaries, and are lined with fresh wood chips; may be reused for several seasons


This acorn woodpecker was photographed in December 2022, at an elevation over 8,000 feet in the mountains south of Cartago, Costa Rica.

Photo and caption by Fred Lipsky
Complete the online puzzle



Costa Rica Whale Spotting on Many Bucket Lists

It’s About Timing and Luck

Everyone wants to know, "Will we see one?"

Photo by Filipe Chavez

One of the most sought-after experiences in Costa Rica is watching a whale breach the surface of the Pacific. Better yet, a pod of whales gliding on the surface. Everyone wants to know, "Will we see one?"

No guarantees of catching this awesome experience are provided by catamaran operators, or on any kind of fishing or sightseeing adventure. However, there are some prime times of the year and locations that can make your gamble lean towards a higher probability rate.

In general, January, February, August and September are when whales are most active as they come to breed and raise their young. Other sources say June, July and August. You can check local Facebook groups for current information on times or the service provider you are using for your adventure for more precise timing advantages.

The endangered humpback whales that are common to Costa Rica waters are the North Atlantic St. Lawrence, Antarctic and California humpback whales. So why all the excitement to capture the longest migration of any mammal in the world as they surface in Costa Rica waters? Here are just a few reasons.

• Whales are the largest mammals in the world, so the "wow" factor in seeing one is also enormous.

• Observing whales reminds us of the beauty of creation.

• It thrills us, as spectators, to see whales in their natural environment living their "life."

• With limited opportunities to see whales, when we do, it's like "YES!"

Read more, click here

My Bee Farm Visit

Part 2: These Bees Don’t Sting

Unlike My Bee Farm Visit Part 1, in last month’s Howler, this story will not start with, “Owww!” That’s because mariola bees, which I’ll talk about here in Part 2, can’t sting.

You may ask what mariola bees are. Well, they are a kind of bee that doesn't sting. Mariola honey has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It can aid sore throats and coughs, in addition to cuts, burns and other physical wounds. So we can say that mariola bee honey is a kind of medicine, and medicine sometimes is expensive. As you can probably tell, mariola bee honey is very expensive too. A small jar costs about $150 — that's a lot!

But let's skip to the important part of how I first met mariola bees. Two months ago, my mom took me to an organic farm for an ice bath and breathing meditation. When we got there, it turned out to be quite a nice place. But after an hour of lying down and taking breaths, I started to get bored. I opened my eyes, looking around to see if something would interest me. Still while lying down, I noticed a lot of small insects, and for an hour I couldn't make out what they were.

When my parents finally finished the meditation, I asked the owner of the organic farm what all these small insects were. He told me that they are mariola bees and they are very friendly and they don't sting. So then I got the videos of having them at my grade. Because the bees are so small and they don't sting, they would not bother anyone.

So that's how I got my bees.

Mariola bee honey is a kind of medicine.

Howler is delighted to feature this first-hand account of an 11-year-old’s journey in Costa Rica learning about bees. Part 1 of the young author’s two-part story takes place at a bee farm, where everything about his perspective changed. This was the inspiration behind the colony he is now starting on his own at his family home.

Click for more
Mariola bee

Check Out These Seven Amazing Jaguar Facts

Republished with permission from GoEco

Costa Rica’s jaguars are both mighty and mysterious. What we know about these unique big cats is fascinating. What we don’t know might be even more intriguing. GoEco’s Jaguar Research and Conservation program aims to uncover this big cat’s secrets — there is still a lot to learn.

Check out these seven amazing jaguar facts:

1. Jaguars love to swim — and fish

Unlike most other big cats, jaguars love the water. They can swim impressive distances and have been known to cross the Panama Canal. They also play, bathe, and hunt in and around rivers, pouncing on fish in pools and streams. In fact, legend has it that jaguars love fishing so much that they sometimes dangle the tip of their tail in the water, using it like a fishing line to lure in their aquatic prey.

2. Jaguars are famous for their one-strike hunting style

The name “jaguar” comes from “yaguar,” a native American word meaning “he who kills with one leap.” For centuries, jaguars have instilled fear and respect in people due to their powerful hunting tactics. The cats are efficient climbers and happily scale trees before pouncing down on their prey and killing with one skull-crushing bite. The jaguar’s size, along with its powerful teeth, jaws, and claws mean they are efficient hunters who will eat anything from crocodiles to snakes and monkeys. Their hunting style is distinct, as while most other big cats go for the throat when going in for the kill, jaguars will use their mighty jaws to clamp down on their prey’s skull.

3. Jaguars are the third biggest cat In the world

The jaguar’s size is impressive. They are the largest big cat after the tiger and lion, and are the biggest cat in the Americas. Male jaguars can measure up to two meters from their nose to the tip of their tail and weigh up to 95 kilograms. They also stand as high as 76 centimeters at the shoulder. However, their tail is the shortest out of all the big cats, as their sturdy frames are built more for climbing than speed.

4. Black panthers are actually black jaguars

All-black jaguars are more commonly known as panthers. The black coat is caused by a melanistic gene which can also appear in leopards. The great black cats thrive deep in the rainforest, where their dark coats help them blend in with the shadows. Black jaguars are a rare and truly spectacular sight. Only around 6% of jaguars in South America are born with a black coat.

5. Jaguars are classified as near threatened

Once upon a time, jaguars roamed from the southern tip of South America all the way up to the border between the United States and Mexico. Now, these big cats are found only in pockets of rainforest in remote parts of South and Central America. Jaguar populations in the Americas have dropped from 400,000 to 14,000 over the past century.

Click for the rest of the article

They are efficient hunters who will eat anything from crocodiles to snakes and monkeys.


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Hotel Diversion Tropical

• 45 minutes from Liberia International Airport

• Brasilito, Guanacaste

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• 10-12 restaurants and shopping within 1 km

• Built in 2006

• Ten rooms

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Rock Patterson

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29 years in Real Estate. Extensive experience in business related to the area of commercial, tourism and agricultural projects in Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.

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MAY TIDE MOON PHASES How many indigenous groups CR home? VIDEO What a "blue zone"
by Blue Zone Drone Day High Mon 01 Tue 02 12:24 AM Wed 03 1:09 AM 7.43 Thu 04 1:50 AM 7.80 Fri 05 2:29 AM 8.13 Sat 06 3:08 AM 8.38 Sun 07 3:47 AM 8.52 Mon 08 4:29 AM 8.56 Tue 09 5:13 AM 8.48 Wed 10 6:01 AM 8.32 Thu 11 Fri 12 Sat 13 Sun 14 Mon 15 Tue 16 Wed 17 12:41 AM Thu 18 1:33 AM 8.37 Fri 19 2:21 AM 8.56 Sat 20 3:06 AM 8.64 Sun 21 3:50 AM 8.60 Mon 22 4:33 AM 8.46 Tue 23 5:16 AM 8.23 Wed 24 6:01 AM 7.96 Thu 25 Fri 26 Sat 27 Sun 28 Mon 29 Tue 30 Wed 31


Who is the Calypso King?

BY: many indigenous groups call home?

Who helped settle Monteverde in 1951?

What is "blue zone" ?

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Brisa Hennessy Confirmed for 2024 Olympics

First Costa Rican to Qualify

Great news for surfers and sports fans alike! Brisa Hennessy has made history by becoming the first Costa Rican surfer to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The International Surfing Association announced on April 18 that Hennessy had won one of the eight eligible spots on the World Championship Tour.

Excitement for the upcoming Olympics

Hennessy expressed her excitement on social media, saying, "We are in Paris! It is an honor for me to be the first Costa Rican in the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games. I am sure that once again a large group of athletes from my country will be there. I promise to fight with everything for that dream which is an Olympic medal, take it to Costa Rica, and that we surfers continue making history. Let's go Ticos!"

What this means for Surfing

This is a huge moment for the sport of surfing, as it will be making its second appearance in the Olympics in 2024. Surfing was first introduced in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the games were postponed to 2021.

The inclusion of surfing in the Olympics has brought more attention to the sport and has given surfers like Hennessy the opportunity to showcase their skills on a global stage.

What this means for Costa Rica

Hennessy's qualification for the Olympics is also a big deal for Costa Rica. The country has a strong surfing culture and has produced many talented surfers over the years. Hennessy's success will inspire other young surfers in Costa Rica to pursue their dreams and work hard to achieve their goals.

We congratulate Brisa Hennessy on her historic achievement and wish her the best of luck in the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games. We can't wait to see her represent Costa Rica and the sport of surfing on the world stage!

See more about Costa Rica Surfers

“I am sure that once again a large group of athletes from my country will be there.”
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Pura Vida / Living

For Ticos, the term "pura vida" is an expression of happiness, optimism, and living life to the fullest. It is impossible to visit Costa Rica without hearing this phrase continuously.


1. Gringo Gardners in Costa Rica

2. Protecting Your Digital Devices

3. Risking it All for a Dream

4. Bringing Dementia Education to Rural Communities

5. The Virtues of Piracy

Other popular articles:

• Gringo Gardners in Costa Rica, part 1

• Our New War Against Whaling

• Vasomotor Rhinitis

• Tico Expressions

• Assisting the Locals Understand Expats

• The Expat Dementia Dilemma in Costa Rica

• Aquatic ApesLiving a Biocentric Life

• Spanish: Real Estate Terms

• Peptic Ulcer Disease Solutions to the 28 Cons

• Health Tips for Hot Tub Enjoyment

• Fiercely Feminine

• Wisdom from Albert Einstein

• Costa Rica Takes Top Recognition in Coffee International Challenge

• Medical Conditions for Air Travel

See all Pura Vida articles which are translatable into 12 different languages, top 4:

Living English Spanish German

Plant ID Help, Thriving Herbs and Gardening Tips

Gringo Gardeners in Costa Rica

Hola from Gringo highlighting an with the group. This is Kaempferia rotunda, in Costa Rica. It’s often it blooms only once a year ginger family, Kaempferia medicinal properties.

Plant identification

One of the most common for plant ID. The plant need an expert gardener, some of the identifications

Photos courtesy of Gringo Gardeners in Costa Rica

Gringo Gardeners on Facebook! This month we’re amazing plant that Ed, in Atenas, shared The flowers bloom right out of the ground! rotunda, native to China but naturalized often called the resurrection plant because year at Semana Santa. A member of the Kaempferia grows from a rhizome and has many identification

common posts on our group page is a request apps don’t always work; sometimes you gardener, and we have plenty of those. Here are identifications made over the years.

The orange shrimp plant (Aphelandra Sinclairii) is native to Costa Rica, thriving in partial shade and attracting birds and butterflies. There’s also a yellow variety of shrimp plant which is more common.

Leaf cactus (Pereskia Bleo), is an unusual plant in that it’s a cactus with leaves. A native of the Costa Rican rainforest, leaf cactus does well in shady, moist areas.

For those of you who are orchid lovers, the unusual bat orchid species (Mormodes) grows well in coconut shells. If you’re interested in learning more, we have some very knowledgeable orchid experts in the group. Nancy (group moderator) in Orosi has close to 400 different species!

Can you identify these plants?

Costa Rican skullcap (Scutellaria Costaricana) is native to Costa Rica, where it grows in humid rainforests. In “captivity” it requires well drained soil and does well in a container. Skullcap grows into a 2 to 5-foot shrub. Its red blooms, which are rare in the mint family, attract hummingbirds.

Among the 19 types of canna lily (Canna Indica) is one that might look like an orchid. It prefers moist, sunny conditions.

Blue flowered teddy-bear (Episcia Lilacina) is a low-growing plant with fuzzy, vibrantly coloured leaves and flowers. They’ve been seen in La Fortuna, and near Parrita and Manuel Antonio. Native to central South America, the blooms are usually red, making this blue variety quite unique. It prefers a damp, shady spot.

Mexican petunia (Ruellia Brittoniana) is considered invasive. Be careful where you plant them because they spread like weeds and it's hard to get rid of them. They grow wild and tolerate poor growing conditions. You can propagate Mexican petunias simply by rooting stems or letting them self-seed.

Banana passion fruit, or banano maracuyá, is prolific and has gorgeous pink flowers. The inside seedy area is delicious and dense, with fewer seeds than passion fruit. More than one group member has commented that it’s their favorite Costa Rican fruit.

In response to a photo post requesting an ID, quite the debate was stirred in our group: “Is it anona, guanabana, or soursop? Is soursop the same as guanabana? It’s either anona or soursop, depending on which Tico you ask. Either way, the inside white flesh makes a great drink — mix with water in a blender and then strain through a sieve ... it’s very good. Wait! It’s not guanabana — they grow on tree trunks, not branches ... do they? All guanabanas are anonas, but not all anonas are guanabanas!”

Shannon (group expert) would like to add that if this is indeed guanabana, be sure to remove the seeds before making juice, as they’re actually toxic. Good to know, Shannon!

The banana passion fruit, or banano maracuyá, is prolific and has gorgeous pink flowers.
Click for the rest of the story and plant identification


to the fruit of this tree

There’s one element of Costa Rican nature that you should be particularly aware of: the manchineel tree. This notoriously dangerous plant is found throughout the coastal regions of Costa Rica and can be identified by its distinctive greenish-gray bark and wide crown of branches.

The manchineel tree can be deadly - its sap, leaves, and even fruit can cause severe skin irritation and blistering. If ingested, the toxins in its fruits can cause seizures, paralysis, and even death. It's important to be vigilant when exploring areas with manchineel trees, and it’s best to avoid them altogether.

To stay safe, don’t touch any part of the tree, and don’t let its fruit or sap come into contact with any part of your body. If you happen to get the sap on your skin, wash the area immediately with soap and water, and seek medical attention if irritation persists.

The manchineel tree adds a unique and dangerous element to Costa Rica’s tropical paradise, and it pays to be cautious when exploring nature in the country. With a few simple precautions, you can enjoy all that Costa Rica has to offer without putting yourself in danger.

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Dementia has become a global epidemic, and cases are constantly increasing in Costa Rica. Traditionally, in Costa Rica, older adults are cared for by their families. Although most rural families remain intact, the challenges of caring for a person with dementia 24/7 can be overwhelming, especially when an elderly spouse is a caregiver with little or no access to information or support.

Although Costa Rica has developed rapidly over the past 20 years, and there are a few governments, NGOs, and universities offering programs about aging, there are fewer dementia programs available. These are primarily centered close to the capital, San José, and do not have outreach programs to rural areas.

The Dementia Education project is a voluntary initiative focusing on rural areas of Costa Rica. The program provides basic dementia information, resources, and practical home care for those with dementia. Our efforts are also contributing to removing the stigma of dementia by creating community support networks for those with dementia and their families.

I started this program in 2021 as part of the Infinite Mind Dementia Project. Unfortunately, the country went into COVID lockdown that year, and efforts went on hold. However, as soon as the masks came off, the project took off. So far, educational talks have been presented in English for the expats and Spanish for locals in over 25 communities, clubs, and groups.

Working with local organizations in the communities, we offer presentations and training workshops. We have been operating primarily out of pocket, with some expenses funded through gifts from generous individuals. We work primarily through community and volunteer networking.

Several indigenous territories are also included in the projection of the program. We have solid contacts in four indigenous communities: Térraba, Boruca, Ngabe, and Huetar. (I have been involved personally with the Térraba for seven years.)

by Katya de Luisa

During the initial visit to each community, we meet with community leaders to explain the initiative and set dates and locations for talks and workshops, which take place on a second visit.

The projection is to eventually interest governmental organizations like the national healthcare system, CAJA, and the Ministerio de Salud (health department) in providing monthly introductory presentations on the basics of dementia in their rural clinics for the locals in their area.


I am a naturalized Costa Rican citizen who has resided in Costa Rica since 1980. I've been a dementia educator for 23 years, a caregiver coach, a freelance writer, and the author of "Journey Through the Infinite Mind, The Science and Spirituality of Dementia." I reside near the capital city, San José, coordinate the outreach efforts in that area of the country, and am developing the project at national and international levels.

Susana Raine lives near her family in the southern Pacific, Costa Rica, and develops and coordinates the initiative there. She has resided for 35 years in Costa Rica, starting in high school, and worked as a professional translator and interpreter in the country for more than 20 years.

We are both are bilingual, bicultural movers and shakers, passionate about contributing to Costa Rica’s underserved populations.

You can help

We are looking for volunteers to help with the technology of expanding the program nationally and internationally through the creation of online dementia educational programs and workshops.

Our wish list includes audio-visual equipment and covers travel expenses and presentation materials. Click this Go Fund Me link for details. With your help, we can make a difference in Costa Rica and this challenging world!

Working with local organizations in the communities, we offer presentations and training workshops.
Katya de Luisa (Founder, Coordinator) +506 8706-0496 Click for more

The Virtues of Piracy

How 17th-Century Pirates Can Inspire Young People Today

Full disclosure: I am a real, legitimate pirate and quite proud of it. My legitimacy as a pirate was confirmed in 2014 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Federal Court Judge Alex Kozinski, who wrote in his verdict that my actions in defending whales from the unlawful operations of the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean were legitimately the actions of a pirate.

I was not charged or punished for being a pirate, although I was honored that he officially legitimized my status as a genuine bonafide pirate. This same judge was shamefully retired from the bench in 2017 for using court computers to download pornography, along with accusations of sexual harassment.

A person is a pirate if a government or a court declares that a person is a pirate. When pirates were useful, governments classified them as privateers. When they were no longer useful — for example, after the war of

Spanish Succession in 1717 — they were fired as privateers and labeled pirates.

The simple definition of a pirate is a seafarer operating without a government license. The very act of taking a ship onto the high seas without a flag and registration is an act of piracy. Some pirates were traditionally given legitimacy with a Letter of Marque, allowing themselves to be called privateers. The founder of the United States Navy, Captain John Paul Jones, was labeled a pirate by the British government during the U.S. War of Independence. The only reason that he and the American revolutionaries were not punished as pirates, terrorists and traitors was because they were victorious.

Other privateers were Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh (yes, they were also knights). And in France, you had Robert Surcouf, who was given the Legion of Honor by Napoleon Bonaparte.

The pirates of the 17th century were way ahead Their ships were run democratically.

Pirates got things done and they cut through the red tape. Captain Henry Morgan, a pirate who ended piracy in parts of the Caribbean, was rewarded for that with the governorship of Jamaica. England created a fleet of pirates to war against the Spanish in the Caribbean and then dismissed them all when the Crown got what it wanted, forcing the unemployed privateers to take down the Union Jack and replace it with the black flag.

The 17th century, or the Golden Age of Piracy, marked a world defined by criminal and unethical behavior across the board. Slavery, genocide, racism, misogyny, corruption and violence were the norm. Within this context, pirates were remarkably democratic, humane and egalitarian. The life of a pirate was far more comfortable and profitable than the life of a merchant sailor or a member of the Royal Navy.

The pirates of the 17th century were way ahead of their time. Their ships were run democratically. Their captains and officers were elected, and women and non-whites were treated equally. Blackbeard intercepted slave ships and freed the captives and allowed freed slaves to rise in his ranks in accordance with their abilities. His closest friend was a former slave called Black Caesar.

ahead of their time.
For the rest of the story, click here

Risking it All for a Dream

The Story of One Couple's Farmstead Adventure

We are Tash and JB, the faces behind the Salty Palmtree YouTube channel. Currently, we are building a farmstead near Ostional without any prior experience. But how did we end up here?

It all started in early 2017 when we met each other at a bonfire in Qatar amidst the vast desert. Our mutual enthusiasm for adventure and surfing drew us to each other, and as the night progressed, JB held my hand, and since then, he has never let go (cue the romantic music).

Under the starry sky, we pondered what we would become — a question that I think many people ask themselves regularly. With a partner in crime, we traveled and traveled, searching for that answer.

Our brief was simple — a quiet and remote location with good surf and good vibes, and if we were lucky, a place where turtles roamed (which happens to be Tash's favorite animal). We eventually found the perfect spot. In December 2019, we came to Costa Rica for a month's holiday, and we immediately fell in love with the lifestyle and beauty. It felt like it spoke to us and was a home away from home.

Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and we were stuck in Qatar, working from home in a tiny apartment that we couldn't leave for months. It was a tough time. We ended up buying a blow-up swimming pool that we put on our balcony to escape the scorching heat. While lounging in our splash pool, we brainstormed and dreamed about what we really wanted out of life. JB suggested that we build a surf hotel in Costa Rica, and without hesitation, I said, "Hell yes, I'm in."

Story and photos by Tash and JB Vernel

The next two years were dedicated to making that dream a reality. We saved every penny to buy the 2.5 acres of half teak forest and half jungle land in June 2022. Half of the land was inaccessible, and we had no idea what to expect. We didn't even know what our sea view looked like. However, we did discover a beautiful mango tree that seemed to be a sign of good things to come.

For the next few months, we slowly cut back the jungle to see the boundary line and get a glimpse of what lay ahead. We even discovered a monster tree that we decided to build our first house next to, using our storage container to create a container house.

It's now been 10 months since we began working on this land, taking on one project at a time. We've fallen in love with the process, and although it may not look like much yet, we have a plan, and we are dedicated to turning this little spot into our very own piece of paradise.

We invite you to follow our journey every week on YouTube as we learn to farm, build our home, and make our dream a reality. We are excited to see what the future holds and are grateful for every step of this incredible journey.

CLICK HERE for more photos, videos and follow us on social media After video
We brainstormed and dreamed about what we really wanted out of life.

Financial Terms

activo — asset

año/ejercicio fiscal — fiscal year

banco — bank

caja/cuenta de ahorros — savings account

cajero automático — ATM

cambio del dólar — exchange rate in dollars

cheque — check

contabilidad — accounting

contador/contadora — accountant

crédito — credit

cuenta — account

cuenta corriente — checking account

débito — debit

deuda — debt

dinero — money

efectivo — cash

estado (de cuenta) — (account) statement

factura digital (required under Costa Rican law) — digital receipt (electronic invoice)

fecha — date

firma — signature

fondos — funds

hacer un depósito — (make a)


imobiliário — property or real estate

impuesto — tax

impuestos — taxes

intereses — interests


Ministerio de Hacienda tax

office (ministry)

préstamo — loan

saldo (de cuenta) — (account)


Useful phrases

quiero... — I want to …

retirar dinero — withdraw money

transferir dinero — transfer money


here for more Spanish learning

Protecting Your Digital Devices

We’re All Vulnerable to Hacker Attacks

However alarming the cyber-crime statistics we sometimes hear about in the news, the mindboggling numbers of successful or attempted hacks can defy the limits of our imagination. We might pay closer attention when security breaches hit close to home, as occurred two billion times last year in Costa Rica (see the Q Costa Rica sidebar story opposite). But even if there’s an impact on our everyday lives — for instance, a bank or government office being immobilized by hackers — these institutional incidents can be hard to relate to on a more personal level.

But none of this justifies our tendency to be complacent when it comes to our own computers and mobile devices functioning faithfully day in and day out. Where do the risks lie, and what anti-hacking safeguards should we be diligent about?

We reached out to a couple of different sources of advice.

IT consultant Fernando Gomez offered these helpful solutions:

1. Starting with the basics, do not open any email attachment or link in the body of a message when the sender is unknown. One of the most commonly used hacking methods is to gain entry to your system by tricking you into opening a link or attachment.

2. Don't save passwords on your browser, and use different passwords for every website or app that you access. If your system is infected, all of your passwords can be accessible to a hacker. Use an encrypted application like "Keepass" to create and store secure passwords. Save your password database in a synchronized place like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive.

3. If possible, turn on two-factor authentication for all of your log-ins so you will receive a confirmation code on your phone to continue.

4. Use a VPN, which will create a secure tunnel where you can access your bank more safely.

5. Always charge your phone using a personal charger. Don't use any USB charger in a publicly accessible location. That's because a USB power source can have a device to get information from your phone or insert a backdoor.

These recommendations come from PC Solutions in Huacas.

1. We suggest to our customers to buy a well-known anti-virus app online. We like to use Kaspersky.

2. We also recommend being wise and not trusting "friendly" calls or emails, even when they look like they’re coming from official or otherwise authentic sources, such as banks, Hacienda or CCSS. Too often these are very well-fabricated scams.

3. Never disclose passwords or document expiration dates to anybody, nor should you click on any link received from those "friendly" messages.

Always charge your phone using a personal charger.


Hackers attacked Costa Rica two billion times last year

In an average of more than five million vulnerability attempts per day, cyber attackers tried to compromise Costa Rican public and private computer systems at least two billion times in 2022, according to the specialized firm Fortinet.

Despite this, our country is not on the podium of this study, which ranks Mexico as the most attacked country in Latin America, followed by Brazil and Colombia.

Regionally, attempts to damage servers and endpoints totaled more than 360 billion last year.

Among the most damaging techniques used by cybercriminals, is wiper malware, a class of malware intended to erase (wipe, hence the name) the hard drive of the computer it infects, which increased by more than 50%, while cybercriminal supply chains became more complex and sophisticated to counter defenses, the report added.

“To protect against these advanced cybercrime tactics, organizations need to focus on enabling coordinated and actionable threat intelligence powered by machine learning in real time across all security devices to detect suspicious actions,” says Derek Manky, FortiGate expert.

Click here for more

Is Costa Rica Paying Enough Attention to Cybersecurity?

Costa Rica is a small country, but it has been making strides in terms of technological advancements. However, in terms of cybersecurity, the country is still lagging behind. With the rising number of cyber-attacks and data breaches, it is crucial for Costa Rica to pay more attention to cybersecurity.

One of the main challenges facing Costa Rica is the lack of awareness about cybersecurity in the private and government sectors. Many people in the country do not understand the risks associated with using the internet, and this puts them at risk of attacks. This lack of awareness extends to small and medium-sized businesses, which often do not have the resources to invest in cybersecurity measures. As a result, they become easy targets for cybercriminals. The Government has also been the recipient of these unwelcome and devastating attacks. No one is immune.

A major challenge facing Costa Rica is the lack of investment in cybersecurity infrastructure. The government has not been proactive in investing in cybersecurity, leaving the private sector to fend for itself. While the country has some cybersecurity laws in place, they are not enough to protect against everevolving threats.

The government needs to invest more in cybersecurity infrastructure and provide incentives for businesses to invest in cybersecurity measures. Importantly the government needs to create awareness about cybersecurity risks and invest in cybersecurity infrastructure to provide a safe and secure digital environment for everyone.

Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important in today's digital world. Costa Rica must pay more attention to cybersecurity and take proactive measures to protect its citizens and businesses.

Cybersecurity has become an important need, if not the most important tech initiatives. Higher education institutions are making great strides with their cybersecurity programs. It is very important to educate the nationals to take care of their country's cybersecurity as farming it out is not a prudent option.

Click for more

Planning Your 2023 Escape

Brought to you by Deals in Costa Rica

One of the beautiful aspects of Costa Rica is the variety of opportunities for adventures. Literally there is something for everyone. The extremes are real, from being lazy chillin’ in a hammock by the beach to trekkin' a volcano trail to adrenaline rush jumps.

Deals in Costa Rica presents a small fraction of the adventures that await your next vacation/escape. We highlight examples in just five regions to intrigue your adventuresome spirit. Click on the buttons for more information.

There are two major international airports. Check to see which one is nearest your desired locations to visit.


Small and Large Beach & Mountain Properties

Turn-Key Investment Opportunities In Costa

Sun Real Estate specializes in the Guanacaste Real Estate Market.

Huge Dream Horse Farmland with residential community project opportunity with over 100 approved properties close to Monteverde with municipal public interest:

Sun Real Estate always offers you the bestdreamed horse farmland close to Monteverde. This amazing farm is very beautiful and calm. It is located in a small town named Guacimal which is 20 km from Monteverde. Here you will have enough space to build and do everything according to your wishes. Even though it’s not far from the main beaches of the country, its high altitude lets you appreciate a wonderful view from the ocean of Puntarenas and the Gulf of Nicoya. The 505 acres of the huge dream horse farmland close to Monteverde are for sale.

In addition to the ocean views, you will also appreciate a wonderfully wide and long view of the valley and part of the tropical forest of Costa Rica. In fact, at the highest point of this beautiful horse farmland, you have a 360 view of the whole country and its huge oceans. Imagine living in a beautiful house self-built in which the only thing you hear is birds and what you see is a soft image of the gentle hills of Costa Rica. All of this is possible with Sun Real Estate, contact us to get your dream horse farmland.


Properties for Sale Costa

(506) 2668-1133 Skype Facebook Website

New Law 9996 Regulation to Attract Investor, Annuitant and Pensioner Residents

Previous Investor Regulation Revoked

Anew legal regulation applies to the tax exemptions for Costa Rican residency subcategories of investor, annuitant and pensioner. Executive Decree N° 43926 -MGP-H-TUR, the regulation of Law 9996, was published in the official newspaper, La Gaceta, on February 23, 2023.

It stipulates the process for obtaining the tax exemptions granted in section 5 of Law 9996, while the previous regulation regarding the investor subcategory is revoked.

Based on the new regulation, a person seeking residency as an investor must comply with the minimum investment requirement of US $150,000. Previously, the minimum investment was US $200,000.

These are the main requirements for each investment option:

1. Real estate investment

The applicant must purchase the real estate under their name; this eliminates the possibility of purchasing under a corporation.

2. Shares investment

The corporation must be inscribed as a taxpayer and comply with all the requirements of a real-running working business.

3. Stocks

The stock market where the investment is made has to be registered before Superintendencia General de Valores (SUGEVAL) as projects of national interest or production projects

For projects of national interest, the applicant must provide the executive decree that declares the activity a national interest.

CR BIZ Legal Ease

For production projects, the applicant must provide the document duly signed by the competent authority in which the economic activity will be developed, including the investment made on forestry plantations that MINAE must provide.


The company that manages the venture capital fund must be duly inscribed before the National Registry of Securities of SUGEVAL.

The tax benefits can be requested only during the first five years after the publication of this regulation. They will be valid for 10 years, and to be subject to them, you must proceed as follows:

• Create a profile on the digital platform EXONET.

• Be up to date in the payment of your tax obligations.

• Be up to date in the payment of your social security obligations, CCSS.

• Be a resident as an investor, annuitant, or pensioner.

• Submit the list of assets that will request the tax exemption.

The project requires technical approval from the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT).

Tax exemptions

In Chapter III, the regulation establishes the process that must be followed for the tax exemptions approved by Law 9996, published in 2021.

Click for the rest of the story
Venture capital funds 5. Sustainable tourist infrastructure.
A person seeking residency as an investor must comply with the minimum investment requirement of US $150,000.

Increase in private flights makes Costa Rica more

and adventure

QCOSTARICA (4/26/2023) – Private flights from Japan, Australia and New Zealand have recently arrived in Costa Rica, confirming that the country gaining ground on the radar of the business aviation world and is becoming more accessible to the arrival of foreigners.

These are tourists who arrive with the idea of getting to know the Costa Rican paradise that is promoted internationally or come on business, in both cases, they represent a tourist segment to which the country has turned its gaze in recent years: visitors with great purchasing power.

The numbers support this growth in arrivals of international private flights, better known as non-scheduled. Both the Juan Santamaría (SJO) in San Jose and Daniel Oduber (LIR) in Guanacaste, airports have seen an increase in these types of flights during the last two years, after the pandemic, suggesting continued growth.

Arriving on a private flight, in relation to tourists who take commercial flights, the logistics of the aircraft is the key factor.

Hiring a ground service assistance company or “Ground Handler” is the most important step for the arrival in the country, since these companies coordinate different logistics services.

“The management is very automated or normal in that sense, so that the interested party coordinates through a Costa Rican ground service company that provides that support, requests a space at the airport, for such a date, at such a time, indicates how long you are going to stay in the country and receives the response from the airport operator, a go-ahead so to speak, you have a spot at the airport,” explained Fernando Naranjo, general director of Aviación Civil, Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation.

Pre-takeoff support services, flight support, ground support, and passenger arrangements are part of the services offered by ground assistance and facilitate everything from hotel reservations and ground transportation to special meals for these travelers, depending on the contracted company.

BZ BIZ UPDATES Click for the rest of the story and airport links.
attractive for lovers of luxury
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Articles inside

and adventure

pages 99-101

New Law 9996 Regulation to Attract Investor, Annuitant and Pensioner Residents Previous Investor Regulation Revoked

pages 96-98

Small and Large Beach & Mountain Properties Turn-Key Investment Opportunities In Costa

page 92

Planning Your 2023 Escape

page 91

Is Costa Rica Paying Enough Attention to Cybersecurity?

page 90

Hackers attacked Costa Rica two billion times last year

page 89

Protecting Your Digital Devices

page 88

Financial Terms

pages 86-87

Risking it All for a Dream

pages 84-85

The Virtues of Piracy

pages 82-83


pages 79-81

Plant ID Help, Thriving Herbs and Gardening Tips

pages 76-78

Brisa Hennessy Confirmed for 2024 Olympics

pages 70-73

Check Out These Seven Amazing Jaguar Facts

pages 58-60

My Bee Farm Visit

pages 56-57

Costa Rica Whale Spotting on Many Bucket Lists

pages 54-55


page 52

Over 55 and Searching for a Retirement Community?

page 48

Liquor Factory Legacy

pages 46-47

MAKING A SCENE Allan Murillo

pages 42-45

Dreams Come True for Costa Ricans in Science and Technology

pages 40-41

"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" Update on the Tres Amigos' Realty Region

pages 36-37

Clothes Can Make Your Mood

pages 34-35

A Crowd-Pleasing Creativity Showcase

pages 26-33

Earth Without Humans TheAbstractCreations ofSebastianAlba

pages 15-25

Stay Safe: Travelers and Expats

pages 8-14
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