Page 1

The Howler

Volume 16, No. 12 Issue No. 183

December 2011 Founded 1996

TAMARINDO COSTA RICA THE HOWLER Ced. Juridica: 3-101-331333


Publisher, editor and production David Mills

8 Dining Out Tel: 2-653-0545 Howler • Mono Congo

A new idea: Costa Rican comida tipica served in a fine dining ambience at La Laguna del Cocodrilo in Tamarindo.

14 Around Town




Deadline for January: December 15 Howler advertising

The Howler offers a wide range of advertising sizes and formats to suit all needs. Contact David Mills •

Advertising rates & sizes Size 1/8 1/4 1/3 1/2 Full

Dimensions (cms) Width Height 9.4 9.4 19.2 6.3 9.4 19.2 19.2

x x x x x x x

6.15 12.70 6.15 25.80 25.80 12.70 25.80

Price $

Openings, closings, parties, music. The Gold Coast has it all, and bar-hoppin’ David is in the groove.

15 Stop and Wait

The important cattle industry in Guanacaste has a wide variety of cattle from all over the world, interbred to survive the harsh conditions.

16 Gallery - Hallowe’en 2011

Our very popular annual photo spread from a variety of Hallowe’en parties around Tamarindo.

18 From Ice to Fire

On his epic journey from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, we follow our cyclist as he spends three months crossing the vast country of Peru.

30 Surviving Costa Rica

Our columnist reveals his penchant for cock-fighting and, even worse, his compulsion to steal - even from his editor!

31 Investing in the Future

With the financial world falling rapidly to pieces, our writer describes some rural methods of financing debts.

75 120 150 210 400

Discounts For 6 months, paid in advance, one month is deducted. For 12 months, paid in advance, two months are deducted. Ads must be submitted on CD or e-mail attachment, JPG or PDF format at 266 dpi, at the appropriate size (above).


26 Yoga

11 Book Review

28 December Forecasts

12 Word Puzzle

29 Parents’ Corner

24 August Odysseys

32 Sun & Moon

25 Slice of Life

32 Rain Gauge

25 Doctor’s Orders

35 Tide Chart

All comments, articles and advertising in this publication are the opinion of their authors, and do not reflect the opinion of Howler Management.

Cover Caption: Summer is back, and Karin and Julia, visitors from Germany, enjoy Tamarindo Beach. Cover Photo: David Mills Cover Design: David Mills

This month sees the very popular Hallowe’en spread, two full pages of your ugly, scary and beautiful faces, and some great costumes. A plethora of parties – Bill Nevins’ birthday, Sharky’s, Bar One (twice), Voodoo, Diria Sports Bar, El Garito, Witch’s Rock. And that was just Tamarindo! Sorry if I didn’t fit you all in; I had to cut 300 photos into about 70.

Well, the dreaded 11/11/11 came and went and the world is still here, to the amazement of the doomsayers. Another biggie next year, so spend all your money now. A few years ago the electric utility CoopeGuanacaste informed us of their new program of scheduled outages, for six hours twice a week “to ensure reliable service in the future.” Well, this is the future, and the service is worse, not better, with up to 15 short outages a day. Let’s hope the cessation of thunderstorms will make an improvement in service. The Fuerza Publica tell us that the best way to fight crime would be to get an OIJ office in Tamarindo. The feds say they will open an office here if we convince them there is a need. To do that we have to go to Santa Cruz and make a report of every crime to OIJ. Reporting to Fuerza Publica won’t do it. Please take the time (three hours should do it) and help reduce crime in our community. What a lovely job they have done on the road into Tamarindo. Thanks, Conavi. Now, what about the road to Langosta? The Wall Street Journal published an article comparing Costa Rica’s financial situation with that of Greece and criticizing President Chinchilla’s new tax plan. It mentions a video on YouTube “RepublicadeCostaRisa” which laughs at the government plan with phrases such as “drug dealers live happily”, “a lot of stealing and poverty”, and “a corruption paradise”. The Howler wishes you all a very safe Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.

Dining Out David Mills


or several years Restaurante Laguna del Cocodrilo has been serving fine international cuisine in Tamarindo. Recently owner Alicia Repetto, decided that there are quite enough restaurants of that genre and very few serving typical Costa Rican dishes, so she has put together a menu showcasing the Costa Rica cuisine in a fine dining setting. The restaurant is right on Tamarindo beach overlooking the crocodile lagoon. Laguna’s dishes are all made from local ingredients – fish from Puntarenas, beef from Guanacaste and locally grown vegetables and herbs. Some ingredients will be unknown to tourists and even unfamiliar to local residents. “We buy in small quantities so our foods are always fresh,” says Alicia, who hails from San José and has lived here for five years. Chef Eduardo is from Limón on the Caribbean. Appetizers consist of picadillo fiesta – potato, chayote and plantains served in home-made tortillas; corn soup, with cilantro, parsley, onions and bacon; seabass ceviche with mango, avocado and yucca sticks; green plantain croquettes filled with surimi and the chef’s famous mayonnaise; red peppers stuffed with chicken, corn and mayonnaise; shrimp tempura with tamarind sauce; seabass with pinky shrimp and octopus served in a martini glass with tomato, sugar cane liquor and yucca sticks. Our choices were enyucadas – balls of yucca pastry stuffed with seabass, calamari and pinky shrimp, very delicious, and an a la Tica salad with local vegetables and basil dressing. From the main menu we followed up with snapper, grilled whole with Caribbean rice and beans and patacones, those crunchy delights of fried plantain; and the Ultimate Casado, the national dish of rice and beans with plantain, picadillo and rib-eye steak. We enjoyed our selections but were intrigued by some of the other dishes, so a return is indicated in the future. Other possible choices were seafood rice with clams, mussels, octopus, calamari, shrimp and fish; seabass with shrimp sauce and patacones; pork tenderloin with plantain puree and grilled vegetables; surf and turf – ribeye with jumbo shrimp and yucca; risotto – rice and beans with jumbo shrimp; Caribbean jumbo shrimps with pineapple, mango sauce and plantain puree; Cahuita tuna, seared with red pepper filled with Caribbean rice and beans; T-bone served with sweet potato gratin and grilled vegetables; red pepper pasta with clams, mussels, pinky and jumbo shrimp, octopus, calamari in a creamy red pepper sauce. For those looking for a real taste of Costa Rica along with a fine dining experience and a beautiful setting, try Laguna del Cocodrilo. There is a Happy Hour from 5 to 6 with mojitos at two-for-one. Live music Fridays. It is located at the north end of Tamarindo on the main street (opposite Best Western Vista Villas); open seven days from 4 to 10 p.m. Tel: 2653-3897 / 8399-4211. All credit cards accepted.

CD Review El Regreso Soundtrack Tony Orez


riting a soundtrack is tricky business. The music needs to compliment the action and images of the movie of the film without being pervasive. It needs to follow the storyline so in this way it is almost like an assignment. And all good musicians want to put their own personal stamp on their music, so it needs to fall into the category of artistic expression as well: no musician wants their work to become wallpaper. This article is a review of the soundtrack of the new Costa Rica movie “El Regreso”; it is not a review of the film, which is wildly popular right now. Federico Miranda picked up his first guitar with serious intentions at the age of twelve and taught himself to play. In 1993, he formed the popular Costa Rican rock band Gandhi, one of the first of this genre in this country. They have since released four albums and in 2005, Miranda also teamed up with pianist Walter Flores to work on the Baula Project, a fusion quartet who dedicated this album to the preservation of the leatherback turtle. Moving in a new artistic direction, Federico scored the music for this soundtrack, then brought together ten musicians to begin recording it under the name Banda Sonora. Sr. Miranda plays acoustic and electric guitars on the soundtrack, as well as programmed keyboards. The band consists of Guier Abel on bass guitar, piano, the two percussionists Juan Carlos Pardo and Ale Fernandez, violinists Caterina Tellini and Ingrid Solano, Ricardo Ramirez playing viola and Marianela Lamb on cello, making up the string section, along with Jhonathan Mena Jimenez on flute and Jorge Rodriguez Herrera, contributing the horn section. I should point out that six of the twenty-three songs were contributions from six other Costa Rican bands, including Calavera y la Canalla with “Solo Conmigo” from their very popular new album. So, the soundtrack really is an extensive team effort. But the album belongs to Miranda, whose acoustic guitar work is showcased on the gentler numbers on the disc, such as the opening cut, “Chepe Centro” as well as on a variety of other musical vignettes throughout the CD. He worked for hours with filmmaker Hernan Jimenez discussing various scenes and plots of the film before even a single note had been written. The music seems to alternate between soft and up-tempo, giving a kind of pulse to the album and becoming one of the fibers that is the tapestry of “El Regreso”. Other standout songs on the album include Son de Tikizia performing the Walter Flores composition “Jugaste con mi Destino” and the title song, “El Regreso”. I also really liked the two bonus tracks at the end of the disc. It is no surprise that Papaya Music is distributing the CD, as one of their goals is to display to the world the great array of Costa Rican music. This CD, containing more than one hour of variety of Costa Rican music, fits right into that philosophy and is an excellent addition to anyone’s music collection.

Book Review A Shadow Cast by the Wind Tony Orez


bout a quarter of the way through the Carlos Ruiz Zafon novel “The Shadow of the Wind”, I realized I was reading a story written in the Romantic, as opposed to Classical, style of fiction writing. No, it’s not a “trashy romance novel” and yes, there are romantic relationships that play an important part in the plot, but even in its translated version (from the original Spanish), it has a poetic flow and a constant dance between the real and the intangible. The novel opens with Daniel, the protagonist, looking back on his life as a young boy in Barcelona as that city tries to recuperate from the Spanish Civil War. He works with his father, who owns a bookshop. His mother died during the war and now, at the age of ten, his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, to choose the book for which he will be responsible for the rest of his life. He chooses a book - or the book chooses him - titled “The Shadow of the Wind”… And so the two worlds of reality and illusion start to become entangled, where nothing is actually quite the way it is originally perceived. As with most books I enjoy, it is the style and caliber of writing that primarily draws me in. It’s been a while since a book has kept me up at night, but I can’t say that anymore after reading Shadow. Zafon started his writing career publishing books for young readers. “Shadow of the Wind” is his first “adult novel” and he is following it up with a prequel called “The Angel’s Game”. In the intro to Shadow, Daniel comments that “few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart”, and for him it is the fictitious version of Shadow that he discovers in the book cemetery, written by Julian Carax, an illusive author, as Daniel discovers as he tries to find more of his novels. It seems very few, if any, other copies of Carax’ five novels exist anymore, and that most of them were collected and destroyed by fire by an even more elusive character. There is plenty of intrigue in this novel and yes, romantic relationships, betrayal, family histories unearthed and even murder, all earmarks of a truly Romantic novel. Yet the plot keeps from becoming smarmy or like an adventure comic book. Again, the writing makes it all very digestible and satisfying. The city of Barcelona is a great backdrop for the story; the reader gets an insider’s view of that beautiful city and the way it comported itself in the 1920s as well as the late 1940s. It’s an extra detail that helps keep the story engaging. John Steinbeck was the first author to “find his way into my heart”, with his novel “East of Eden”; I wanted it to never end. I can see how “Shadow of the Wind” could be that book for other readers – it is that good.

Casagua Horses The greatest variety of tours and riding experiences for all ages, featuring spectacular countryside, howler monkeys, colorful small towns and fun-filled fiestas. Cantina Tour - Nature Tour Fiesta & Tope Rental - Old Tempate Trail Tour Located near Portegolpe on the main road, opposite the Monkey Park, just 20 minutes from the beach.

Phone us at: 2-653-8041 • The best horses on Guanacaste’s Gold Coast!

Word puzzle Miscellany

All words from the list below can be found in the word block on the right. Answers may be forward, backward, upwards, downwards and diagonal. acueducto anfitrion antithesis arbitrator auxiliary awareness beneficios boda boleteria corporacion corriente ingrediente insemination lectores margarine

mejillones monetary moratorium obnoxious ombudsman palabra perpetrator population position sanctimonious subservient superciliousness supuesto tocineta wedding


pen in Tamarindo is Simone Ceccarelli’s Las Brasas Italian Restaurant, opposite Kahiki on the Langosta Road. Their Fiorentina a la Piedra is a 1.3 kg T-bone for two!

Torre del Mar is the only rooftop restaurant in Tamarindo. Here you can sip your cocktail while admiring a breathtaking sunset or dinner with a full view of the village and the sea under the stars.
 Traditional Italian cuisine and excellent service in a family environment serving many dishes from pizza to homemade pasta, tasty meats to fresh fish at very competitive prices. Located on the fourth floor of the sea tower, above the Supercompro. Kevin and Tami Bennett, from Arkansas, are the new owners of Tamarindo Bicycle Shop and Tour Center in Tamarindo. Arisen from the ashes of a disastrous fire last year are Wok and Roll, with its new oyster bar; and Sharky’s Bar and Grill in Tamarindo, now on two floors with the same nightly events as before. The Shack has reopened in Surfside, Potrero, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. For your parties or events, Moya Rentals in Liberia rents everything you need, from linens to discomovil. See their ad on page 21. Once again it is time for the “Holiday in Paradise” Gala and Silent Auction sponsored by the CDSG Parent Committee. The Gala is being held on Saturday, December 3rd at the Reserva Conchal Beach Club starting at 5:30pm. Proceeds benefit CEPIA as it works to build a new community center in Huacas; Mano y Mano; and CDSG. Tickets are $50 purchased in advance, $60 at the door. Contact info: Carol Ferguson, Stuart Mazur has opened a tattoo parlour inPlaza Tamarindo below Bar One.

Alcoholics Anonymous Schedule of Meetings


Tuesdays: 5:30 - 6:30 pm (open) Fridays: 5:30 - 6:30 pm (open)

Location: Hitching Post Plaza Unit 2, Brasilito Contact: Don H. at 2-654-4902


Saturday: 10:30-11:30 - Open General Meeting Monday: 5:30 Open Meeting Thursday: 6:30-7:30 - Open Meeting Location: Behind Restaurant La Caracola Contact: Ellen - 2-653-0897

Kahiki Restaurant’s evenings are now operated by Luke Levitt, who used to run Breakfast Grinds in the same location. Owner George Vanengelen continues to serve breakfast and lunch there. Restaurant Laguna del Cocodrilo, in Tamarindo, has a new menu, offering Tico comida tipica in a fine dining atmosphere. Bortex fabric embroidery, has a new address in Liberia. See ther ad on page 19. Rick Casorla and Jeretta have opened two Wash-a-Gogo laundramats - in Villarreal opposite MegaSuper, and Huacas next door to Farmacia El Cruce. Wash your own laundry or they will do it for you. Tel 8704-1510. See the ad page 30.

Stop and Wait


We have the right of way

s the sun sets across the blue coastal hills of Guanacaste, a long line of cattle slowly crosses the lush green pastures, returning to the safety of their home corral and their fill of water from the overflowing pilas. Guanacaste cattle, or ganado, are the symbols of not only prestige and wealth in Costa Rica, but also the rich agricultural heritage of the Guanacastecos. Many travelers have waited patiently, and some not so patiently, as a lumbering herd of wandering cattle is driven along roads either by cowboys on horseback or kids on old bikes. Bulls with swaying humps on their massive backs, bony cows with long faces in an array of colors, and playful calves with long ears and big eyes, pass around cars giving the stranded motorist a chance to get a close-up view of Guanacaste’s cattle culture. Just as the horses of Guanacaste have been selected for their ability to adapt to the harsh climate of the tropics, the cattle, too, have been selected to survive under the high stress conditions of Guanacaste’s long dry season and low-protein grasses. The criollo cattle culture of Guanacaste dates back over a hundred years; however, the types of cattle raised in the region have changed dramatically in the last fifty years, as the southern European cattle imported from Spain, and later Europe, were slowly mixed with imported tropical races. The Zebu races, with their origin in India and Pakistan, were bred for their ability to adapt to the harsh conditions found in the tropics. These hardy breeds include Gyr, Nelore, Guserat, and the newer hybrids including the US-developed American Brahman and the Indo-brazil from South America. The pure European races of milk and beef cattle such as Herefords, Angus, Holstein, and Jersey, brought with the European and North American immigrants, were ill-suited to the harsh conditions found in Guanacaste. The Guanacaste cattle may look strange to visitors, but the Zebu races of cattle, used for both milk and beef, have developed special physical and physiological characteristics that have allowed for their survival. Thermoregulation, or temperature control, is essential for tropical species. The Zebu have evolved long ears and pendulous, loose neck skin, called papada, which act as natural radiators for the bloodstream. The breeds also have very short hair, white or

Kay T. Dodge

very light colors to reflect the light, and have developed the ability to survive a long time with little or no water. The characteristic hump on the back is a muscle that may act as an energy reserve carrying an animal through the long dry season when food is scarce and very low in food value. After a long dry season, when the rains and green grass return, the Zebu cattle, that appear to be just skin and bones, recuperate very quickly. Zebu cows exhibit other physiological mechanisms that help them adapt to tropical climates. The females are very slow maturing, and if under stress from lack of nutrients, their fertility cycle may stop, and they become anestrous until conditions improve. Unlike their northern cousins, the Zebu cows must have a calf with them to give milk. It is not unusual to see a very large offspring at a mother’s side. Zebu cows are also very susceptible to stress and their milk may stop even with a nursing calf. Zebu do not produce a lot of milk; the average is two liters, compared to Holstein which may produce up to forty liters in a day. Ah, those horns. The different races of Zebu cattle have different characteristic horns. The Guserat have long upturned horns that look like a lyre. The Nelore have shorter horns and shorter ears, while the Gyr has horns that grow backwards, with a big forehead and slanted eyes. It is not unusual with the crosses in mixed herds to see cattle with one horn growing up and the other backwards. The Spanish-bred black fighting bulls which have forward-facing, upturned horns, are now often reserved for the fiesta bull ring. It is not unusual to see an impressive pair of horns adorning a gate or wall. The Nelore race is the most precocious of the Zebu. They like to walk through fences and wander. Originating in Northern India near Pakistan, they migrated long distances to find food and water. Many of the Zebu races have the “wandering gene”, and it is not unusual to see a Y-shaped stick tied around the neck of a guilty fence-breaker. Guanacastecos have been mixing their cattle breeds to improve their herds for generations, but in recent years the Zebu races have been mixed with a variety of Northern races to improve meat and milk production while maintaining the resistance to tropical diseases and harsh conditions. European breeds such as Hereford, Angus, Simmental, Limousine and others are mixed with Brahman, producing new breeds like Brangus, Braford, and Simbra which have been introduced throughout the tropics and in the southern US. The King Ranch in Texas is one of the most famous breeders of these valuable new cattle breeds. (continued page 33





From Ic

Epic story of a bicycle ride fro Story: Christoph Mueller Edited: David Mills

Peru - A gigantic country
 My first impression of Peru makes all the scenery I had seen before mediocre and fading away. Almost every day is topping the one before and the impressions are so vast and rich in contrast that I am often not able to catch them with my camera. 
The snow-covered mountains are huge, the valleys often wild with desert and green spots better described as canyons with many gulches. Again, it is totally different in the jungle or if you ride through the plains with rice fields. To pass through this immense countryside made me stand still in amazement and wonder. I soak up the nature’s ambience whenever I can. Furthermore as the country is so huge there are a lot of isolated places and remote roads where you feel the silence more than ever. 

 An awkward experience
 When we entered Peru through a very quiet border crossing the officer forgot to change yesterday’s date on the stamp for the passport. When I remarked it he corrected the date against my will with a pen by hand instead of making a fresh stamp. In the next village a police officer made a huge problem about the date, but soon it was obvious that he only used this stamp to find a way to press money from us. Since we did not play this game he asked in a hypocritical way for a souvenir and pointed to my sunglasses and I am sure if he could have he would have taken everything but my underpants. I did not give anything. It was an awkward situation where I would have preferred to say what I thought, but at the same time knew that it was the wisest not to provoke him and worsen the situation. After half an hour he let us go. I went back to the border to get a new and correct stamp as I did not want the same story to happen again. It took some weeks until I got back a healthy trust in the police; once I even rode disobediently through a check point where they wanted me to stop. I just didn’t want to stop and experience a similar trouble again.

 The right choice of the route
 To avoid the foggy coast we only rode through the mountains. This was tough and takes a lot more time than along the coast, but it is worthwhile and we never wanted to change. Even between Huamachuco and Chuquicara, where we went on the most desolated roads that could be chosen, we were perfectly satisfied. We experienced the ambience in high altitudes where you feel free although you always lack oxygen which doesn’t allow you to ride with full power. You feel always a little weak. Furthermore, we came across some isolated villages with its interested people especially the kids, and finally we could ride through the gorgeous canyons such as Marañon, Chuquicara or Pato.
Our decision to ride through the mountains was even more confirmed when I visited Lucho’s Casa de Cyclista in Trujillo

Transportati Giants up


One of ma

Where we c

The B

ce to Fire

om Alaska to Tierra del Fuego where I had asked a parcel with brake pads to be sent from Switzerland.

ion contrasts to 6,900 m

u Picchu

any tunnels

came from...

Big 20

Lucho’s Casa de Cyclista in Trujillo
 Lucho’s work is worthy of a comment: He has hosted since 1985 more than 1,600 cyclists and in his guestbooks – he calls it his gold – you can find entries of remarkable cyclists that went around all the world, e.g. Claude Marthaler, whose book inspired me a lot when I prepared my tour. The “cyclonaute” from Geneva went 121,000km around the world in seven years. I took a lot of motivation when I found his entries and pictures. A companion

 At Cuzco I met Frenchman Dmitri, riding a recumbent tricycle; he joined me for the rest of Peru. We crossed Abra Oquepuño at 4,873 meters then dropped very rapidly to 600 meters. An impression of the people’s mentality The mentality of Peru’s people for me is often a challenge. I’d like to emphasise the respect and love I received by some. Once in a village where tourists hardly ever arrive an old man gave me an apple as a gift to express his welcome for me. Even though the apple was not anymore that fresh it was touching to receive it as I saw how much it meant to him.
It is a pity that I have to deal a lot with rejection riding through the villages hearing “gringo” shouted at me with a bad voice. I did not understand why this habit is still so prevalent. Only when I saw in a restaurant a Peruvian television show I began to understand one of today’s backgrounds. The show, although Peruvian, was moderated by and showed only white people. Might it be that the indigenous people feel second class? In any case I was disgusted by the show.
 The daily fights
 What a pity that there are so many aggressive dogs in almost every little village. When we ride through a village we mostly have to defend against some ten dogs. The locals throw stones at them which makes them fear and because they have been brought up this way you only have to move your hand towards the ground and they already flee from you as they fear being hit by a stone. Twice on a paved road I had to beat them from the bike with my stick as they wanted to bite my legs.
 Another thing to be aware of are all the holes in the roads and, even in the passenger paths, you have to beware of stolen covers and pay attention not to tread into the holes. After 108 days and 5,600 km in this fascinating country, we finally left Peru and entered Chile after 25,200 km on the journey from Alaska. Follow us in The Howler as we approach the end of our long trip.

Christmas for All A few days before Christmas forty families will receive a special gift for their children, proving that there exists solidarity in this community. Caralee Burton took the initiative to organize fundraisers and make this Christmas action reality. These families have been carefully selected by Violeta Gotz, Social Work University student, who has been visiting dozens of families for the last three months in order to select 40 families who meet the criteria of “living in extreme poverty”. Each family will receive materials and food according to its needs: a bed, a mattress, food, school supplies and uniforms, shoes, a fridge and many others things needed in life but not affordable for them right now. The families will have to visit the CEPIA Center on two particular days just before December 25th to pick up the materials, signing papers and taking pictures with Santa Claus! Don’t forget CEPIA’s annual fundraising day, Sunday December 11th at 9am at Las Catalinas, Playa Danta (Potrero)! Join us and support the children of your community! Costa Rican Summer Camp All the children of the community aged 5-13 are invited during the Costarican holidays at the CEPIA Center and at the Brasilito Community Salon to participate in CEPIA’s summer camp starting January 16th for five weeks. The kids will enjoy art class, games, sports, photography, cooking, chess among others. The summer camp is free of cost and takes place every day, Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m.- 12 p.m., including a snack. No registration needed, just let the kids come and have fun! For additional information call 26538533. If you want to participate in the camp as a volunteer, please contact! We need your help!


New Banknotes

anco Central de Costa Rica will release its new ¢5,000 and ¢10,000 banknotes during the first half of 2012. Each will be of 100% cotton paper, similar to the recent ¢2,000 note.

The ¢5,000, yellow in colour, will be longer than the current ¢2,000, and will feature Alfredo Gonzáles Flores, president from 1914-17, with a mangrove ecosystem on the reverse. The green ¢10,000 is longer again, features José Figueres Ferrer, who abolished the army when president in 1948-9. He also served two more terms, 1953-8 and 1970-4. The banknote has a tropical rainforest ecosystem on the reverse.

Tamarindo residents are urging a boycott against Claro S.A because they think Claro should have the decency to relocate their tower to a non-residencial area. We hope to be like Montes De Oca (San José) whose municipality just passed the law making it illegal to build cel phone towers in residential areas. Tamarindo would like the same laws to protect our residential areas. Here are some standard regulations concerning cel tower zoning: • Prohibit towers in residential zoning • Require a “setback” from adjacent property lines - typically one meter for every meter of height of the tower (A 60-meter tower requires at least a 120-meter square parcel of land) • Mandate that new towers are not built until it is demonstrated that no existing towers can accommodate the wireless carrier’s equipment. What can you do to help? All you need to do is sign. Please contact us for sample letters for the municipality and the ombudsman’s office. Also, to receive updates from our community about this topic, to participate or make donations please contact us at:


Buy Locally for Christmas

n e-mail currently circulating the web suggests we get away from the usual Christmas buying of foreign-made plastic trash, and that we use some initiative in selecting our gifts. Since I agree totally, I am passing the suggestion on to my readers. It just makes sense. Examples are: giving handicrafted works from local artists, or gift certificates for such things as haircuts, canopy tour, horse tour, gym membership, car wash or oil change, restaurants, tickets to dance or concert… This way, the money stays in your community instead of going overseas, makes local workers happy and keeps the plastic out of our landfills. Give it a try.

Calling the Defensoría de los Habitantes to report your concern is very helpful; the more that call the better. tel: (506) 2666-3837 (506) 2258-8585. Urge the municipality in Santa Cruz to make a zoning plan to protect neighborhoods from these towers! Call(506) 2680-0101 / (506) 2680- 1997 / (506) 2680-0357 Comite PPT = El Comite Para La Proteccion del Paisaje de Tamarindo de la Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de Tamarindo Remember Costa Rica’s promotional message “No Artificial Ingredients” Keep Our Beautiful Views Keep the Nature Public Safety Concern Get Involved

A Cold Day in December


changes the world

n the wild and beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina, in the small town of Kill Devil Hills, is a high circular hill with a tall monument on top, the memorial to two brothers who, 108 years ago, dramatically changed forever the world we live in.

Wright Brothers Memorial

Kill Devil Hills, N.C. Especially here in Costa Rica, we take flying for granted, for didn’t we all arrive by ‘plane. Daily, thousands of jetliners and smaller commuter planes shuttle millions of passengers around the world. This vast and rapid movement of people was made possible by the persistent efforts of two bicycle experts from Ohio – the Wright Brothers.

In the early 1900s the North Carolina Outer Banks was a remote, barren, unattainable series of barrier islands in the Atlantic Ocean. It was chosen by the Wrights for their experiments in flight due to its lack of trees and its very predictable, strong and steady winds. The brothers, convinced that they could build a powered flying machine, settled there and built a workshop where they constructed a series of gliders. The gliders (photo above) were launched from the top of the huge sand dune on the coast, experiments in controllability of flight. After long years of trials, hardship, disappointments and accidents which destroyed several gliders but gave them knowledge of the control they needed, the brothers built a biplane, powered by two hand-made engines - the Wright Flyer. On a freezing December day, the aircraft, with Orville at the controls, roared along a rail, while Wilbur and helpers ran alongside holding the wings steady. Taking sluggishly to the air, the Flyer travelled 120 feet in 12 seconds, the first-ever powered flight (right). The next attempt, with Wilbur as pilot-in-command, covered 175 feet; then Orville upped that to 200 feet. (All three flights would fit comfortably within the fuselage of a Boeing jetliner). The fourth, and last, flight travelled 852 feet in 59 seconds. The Age of Flight had arrived, on December 17, 1903. Although all flights were made at Kill Devil Hills, the telegrams announcing the historic event were sent from the post office at nearby Kitty Hawk, which has ever since held the honour to be the site of the first flight. An inscription on the Wright Brothers Monument reads: “In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Conceived by genius, achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.”


A Dream Come True!

t was a dream come true to experience the all-day luxury treatment at the spa Los Altos De Eros. I highly recommend the place as the massage therapists are wonderful, everything was perfect. So get ready to feel like you are in heaven, like you are dreaming as you sip your drink on this beautiful patio overlooking a lush forested valley. With a distant ocean view it is tantalizing!

I started with the coffee scrub; that was out of this world and transcended me to a new level of relaxation. My body kept telling me that I definitely needed to come back soon, because it felt good for both my body and soul. Then I had the oatmeal body scrub and felt so lovely and delightful…and this was followed by a great massage! After that we sipped wine with a casual Mediterranean style lunch and enjoyed the experience thoroughly! Los Altos de Eros is definitely the most exquisite and expensive spa treatment that I have experienced and every penny is worth it! It caters to exclusivity because of its small

size. The spa, located at a 5-room luxury B&B, is the perfect place for honeymooners or private parties and has class and charm beyond compare. It has a Costa Rican and Indonesian flavor where you feel connected to nature because of the way it’s built. The little details are so pretty. I give it my highest ratings for spas in Costa Rica, and I have visited several, yet it seems to stand out on its own and be beyond compare because of the continued catered attention they give you, and the fun tropical atmosphere. Perfect for celebrities, honeymooners, because of its remote location high on a mountain top in Cañafistula (20 minutes driving from Tamarindo, and they will pick you up). Both times I went it was consistently good and they will personalize your treatment exactly how you want it. Very good service. Get yourself thoroughly relaxed and pampered, be king for a day, wake up in heaven...visit los Altos de Eros! Natalie Lynn

August Odysseys

Robert August


he Robert August Surf and Turf Tournament is an annual event which brings golfers and surfers together for a four-day blast of parties, golf and surfing in a very congenial atmosphere. Proceeds from the event are donated to local charities which benefit children of the nearby communities. Starting as an informal competition between Robert and a few friends and local kids, it has grown into an event that brings competitors from as far afield as Japan and Australia. Robert tells its history: A few years after “Endless Summer II” Wingnut, Paul Straugh, Mark Martinson, several other surfers and I were in Costa Rica to film “Step Into Liquid”, a film by David Brown, Bruce Brown’s (Endless Summer) son. During a short period of less-than-great waves we decided to have a fun surf competition for local boys and girls. With help from Tom Battaglia (we called him ‘Century 21 Tom’ as nobody knew his last name) and his organizational skills we formed teams of two, one of us and one of the kids. It was great fun! Everyone received surf products for prizes and it grew a little each year until we were able to help the orphanage in Santa Cruz and some local schools. After a few beers one evening we realized that if we added a golfing component we could attract the golf crowd and raise some serious money. With great help from the people at Hacienda Pinilla, plus Don and Kristi at Lola’s Restaurant in Avellanas, it has turned into a big annual event that is a lot of fun, with salsa and bikini contests, auctions and silent auctions. Now some twenty teams of four compete every year for good prizes. The entry fee is $200 per person, but each player receives a ‘goody bag’ of golf shirts, balls, sun glasses, surf wear, etc. that is worth more than the entry fee. We are well-supported by the major surf and golf companies who donate some excellent gifts. Not too many people are good at both sports, so getting together a four-person team is very interesting. I still surf OK but I’m a lousy golfer so I’m an average team member. Typically, the tournament starts on Thursday evening with a welcome kick-off party. Friday and Saturday are competition days – either golf then surf or vice versa. Hacienda Pinilla gives us the golf course free of charge. On surf day – at Playa Avellanas – a large proportion of the day’s take at Lola’s Restaurant is very generously donated to the cause. On Sunday the tournament winds up with a day trip on the beautiful Marlin del Rey catamaran, the whole trip donated by Jeff Rudzicki. Now being associated with Cepia we are able to help a lot of kids that really need it. The money, which recently totalled about $28,000, goes to local schools, the PANI orphanage and needy children in local villages. Additional benefits are the revenue to Tamarindo from a large number of high-rollers, many of whom make a ten-day trip to the area and, of course, it’s good exposure for the real estate opportunities at Hacienda Pinilla. Come on out in March, have lotsa fun and help some kids!

A Slice of Life Cocktails & Sunset (almost)

Doctor’s Orders Jeffrey Whitlow, M.D.

Fred Matthews


hile spending time at our Arizona, USA, condo located on the Colorado River, Cher and I often join friends for cocktail hour at the pool area overlooking the river or on a boat ride on the river. We had, in fact, cruised the river with friends in their boat a few days before this new invitation. Our friends, Dick and Jill, suggested we meet at the boat dock at six o’clock with cocktails in hand for a relaxing sunset cruise. Joining us on this particular evening was Jill’s cousin, Patty. As we walked down the ramp to the dock I noticed that the boat was tied up with the stern headed upriver into the current. Since I have been boating on this section of river for twenty years and know of the 8-10 mile per hour current, I became immediately curious about the boat’s position at the dock. When I questioned our captain, Dick, I was told that he had turned it around and secured it to the dock to more easily access the fuel filler hole. A little background on our Captain Dick: a very independent 80-year-old lifetime “boat guy” who had owned this particular boat for more than twenty years. The boat was an 18-foot open bow, fiberglass model with a 115-horsepower outboard motor. As we began to climb aboard the boat already occupied by Dick, Patty was first, followed by Cher, next was Jill, when suddenly Cher asked Dick if there should be water in the boat that was already above her ankles. As Patty and Cher entered the boat their weight had lowered the transom and the river’s current was now pushing water over it and into the boat. I immediately yelled “get out of the boat” and quickly assisted the girls as they rushed to get onto the dock from the boat. The boat was quickly filling with water and leaning heavily toward the dock as Captain Dick stepped to the back of the boat to get out. As the boat continued to lean/ roll toward the dock, suddenly Dick was waist-deep and struggling to get out. I pulled on his “bad” arm and finally out of desperation I grabbed him by the waistline and belt in the butt of his pants, giving him the biggest wedgie of his life which resulted in his body sprawling face-down across the dock. Dick regrouped just in time to direct me to release the stern line. While all of this was happening, a neighbor had witnessed the debacle and retrieved a strong rope from his nearby garage. We secured the bow to the dock with this heavy duty rope that was said by the owner/ neighbor to have secured fighter aircraft landing on an aircraft carrier. Once secured, we cut loose the stern line which immediately resulted in the boat fully capsizing and moving quickly down-river in the strong current. The instant all of the slack was taken out of the “super rope” it snapped and away went the upside-down boat floating down the river as we stood watching in amazement from the dock. Since Dick and Jill had owned the boat for many many years, all Jill could loudly say in consolation was “at least it is insured” to which Dick quietly replied “no, it’s not”, followed by “let’s go have a drink”.

Does anyone have a “Slice of Life” to share with the readers? Humorous, weird, interesting, whatever... Send it to or call 2653-0545.


his month we will continue our discussion on mental health and the maintenance of a “positive” mindset. As we discussed last month, unresolved or poorly resolved conflict can lead to a “negative” mindset. People who are “depressed” or “anxious” are really reacting to the feelings of helplessness that result from their inability to satisfactorily resolve the conflict that occurs in their lives. For instance, a person going through a divorce obviously can’t work things out with their partner. The lawyers will make their arguments and the judge will make his or her ruling based upon their perceptions and opinions, and let the chips fall where they may. The affected person has no choice but to accept that ruling, no matter how wrong he or she feels that it might be. Is it any wonder then that so many divorced people go through bouts of anxiety, depression, and/ or substance abuse? In my case, I felt so much anger over the process that it took me four years to feel my old normal happy self again. In the meantime, I drank too much and became extremely depressed. Anxiety and depression are the two most common human reactions to the feelings of helplessness that result from the inability to satisfactorily resolve conflict. I find it extremely disturbing that a majority in the medical community feel that it is okay to prescribe drugs for these “conditions”. Those drugs can be addictive and can have significant side effects. For instance, at one time it was fairly common to prescribe drugs like Prozac and Paxil to pregnant women to help them deal with the emotional issues attendant to their condition. However, it was found that these drugs caused significant birth defects, like cleft palate, so this practice was largely curtailed. People who are placed on these drugs experience significant side effects if they stop taking them, like dizziness, malaise (or ill feelings), insomnia, headaches, nausea and vomiting, or a worsening of their mental symptoms. But again, it all boils down to a culture that is controlled by greed and materialism, and a medical system that is short of common sense. The drug companies seek profits by developing and marketing patent medicines that are poorly designed and inadequately tested. The overworked and underpaid physician prescribes the medicine because he or she is not compensated in the proper manner, and therefore cannot spend the time it takes to effect a cure for their patient. And the thirdparty payer would rather pay for years of expensive, dangerous, and ineffective medication, rather than the few months of psychotherapy that it would take to permanently cure the problem. In my case, if it weren’t for my therapist, I would still be sitting in a bar somewhere, hunched over a touch-screen video game with the hood of my hoodie pulled over my head! She was so skilled, as she said just the right things to me to lead me to the insights I needed to gain to cure my depression. It was like having a heart-to-heart with an old and dear friend, except your friends don’t charge you $150 an hour for the conversation. She helped me to identify, understand, and deal with my feelings of anger, helplessness, and inadequacy, and now I am the person I want to be. Next month we will continue this discussion, turning to the origins and treatment of more serious mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and manic-depressive disorder.

Now Begins the Study of Yoga Restoring Your Spirit “Tis the season to be jolly”, so the song goes. Well, as children perhaps we certainly enjoyed looking forward to presents at this time of year. As adults, though, sometimes the end-of-year holidays can bring a lot of stress. We can get overloaded with advertisements on our televisions and computers for all the wonderful gifts we should give our loved ones, and we can get overloaded from all the holiday celebrations. Now is a good time to let our yoga practice help us stay centered, grounded, and find some peace and joy. One great way to counteract holiday stress is through restorative yoga. Restorative yoga uses props to support the body in poses that open us as we relax, allowing gravity to do the work. Restorative poses are held longer than we would if we were actively using our muscles, sometimes for 10 minutes or more. The following is a short sequence that I use when I need some grounding and peace. You will need a bolster, some blankets and blocks, a chair, and some wall space to do these poses. As with all poses, finding the position that works best for your body is important. May this restorative practice bring you to a place of peace, allowing you to experience the joy of this season.

1. Supported Bound Angle. This pose helps to open up the pelvis, inner legs, abdomen, and chest. This is one of my favorite poses for just letting it all go! 2. Supported Bridge. This pose helps to open the shoulders, chest, and abdomen, and bringing the head below the heart in this position helps to “cool” the brain. 3. Legs Up the Wall. I discussed this pose in the June 2011 Howler, as part of the back care sequence. This pose brings a back bend into the lower back and provides relief to tired legs. 4. Twist on a Bolster. This pose gently twists the spine, and must be done to both sides for equal amounts of time. 5. Supported Child’s Pose. This pose opens the low back, and is great for regaining a sense of security. Again in this pose it is important to practice with your head turned to one side, then turn to the other side for an equal amount of time. 6. Savasana (or Corpse Pose) with Legs Elevated. This pose can help to release tension in the low back along with providing the deep relaxation of Corpse Pose. Notice the variation with using a bolster. The legs are lightly strapped onto the bolster to hold them in place if needed. Namaste, Mary







Mary Byerly is one of the owners and the yoga teacher at Panacea. An oasis of tranquility and health 10 minutes from Tamarindo. Discover Paradise and Bring a Peace Home • 2653-8515



the W d n o ou


rmed NASA agents lured a 74-year-old woman to a Denny’s restaurant in Riverside Co., California, where they confiscated a tiny “moon rock” encased in an acrylic dome which, she claims, was a gift to her late husband from Neil Armstrong. The woman, Joanne David, was trying to sell the rock for $1.7 million. British liberal politician Vince Cable, who criticized tax-dodgers during his campaign and urged tough action against them, has been fined 500 pounds for failing to pay his taxes. The Pakistan government has ordered cell phone companies to block text messages containing obscene words, such as fart, idiot, tampon, headlights and Jesus Christ, from a list of 1,500 Urdu and English words. It states that free speech can be restricted “in the interests of the glory of Islam.” Idiots! Researchers in Boston have found a clear relationship between the consumption of sweet soda drinks and violence. Teens who drink large amounts of soda drinks are 15 percent more likely to show aggressive behavior and twice as likely to carry a weapon than those who drank small amounts. A Lebanon, NH, condo apartment management has mandated that all tenants’ dogs must give DNA samples in order to identify owners who do not scoop the poop. Australia has minted the world’s largest gold coin, some 80cm (almost a yard) wide and 12 thick (5 inches). The coin, 99.99% pure, weighs 1,000 kg and is worth over a million U.S. dollars. A woman and her husband were arrested and taken to gaol and their 3-year-old baby taken away by a welfare group after the woman ate two sandwiches, without paying for them, while shopping at a Safeway supermarket in Honolulu. The supermarket later dropped the charges and the vicious criminals were released. “Och Aye, awa’ the noo” - The new iPhone 4, which uses a hightech voice recognition system, is not selling well in Scotland because it cannot translate Scottish accents. Los Angeles police, citing new information, have reopened investigation into the death, 30 years ago, of movie star Natalie Wood, who drowned while boating with her husband Robert Wagner.

by Jeanne Callahan

October DecemberForecasts Forecasts

Aries: 21 March - 20 April

Visit Jeanne’s site at

Libra: 23 September - 23 October

The planet Uranus will be going direct in your sign on December 10th signifying an abrupt change of circumstances on the immediate horizon for those of you born around 3/21 or have planets at 0-4 degrees of Aries. Time to move forward with a new plan if things haven’t materialized like you hoped since July 2011. Don’t let your temper get the better of you on the 1st. Liberation feels good, doesn’t it! Best days are the 4th, 5th, 30th and 31st.

This is a dynamic but slightly unstable time, with Uranus moving forward in your seventh house of partnership. The beginning of the month could have some drama in your home, spilling over into the holiday season. Keep on top of your financial issues, as well as insurances, taxes, etc. These items will be in focus for the first half of the new year, so just deal with it honestly. It is what it is. The 18th and 19th are harmonious days for you.

Jupiter goes into direct motion in your sign on the 25th which should allow you to manifest some security well into the new year. Travel abroad is also an option during the first six months of the new year. Set goals for longterm financial security during this time. You have more options than you currently realize as you are beginning a new 12-year cycle of growth. Good lunar vibes on the 6th, 7th and 8th.

There seems to be a lot of energy focused with your siblings or in your neighborhood this month and you may be pulled in many directions as people want your attention and need you to be there now! With Jupiter in your seventh house of partnership, you can attract the attention of someone or something very solid in the new year. Focus on your business contacts and network for growth and stability. The 20th and 21st offer support for your ideas.

Your ruling planet, Mercury--now retrograde--will be turning direct on the 13th, giving you the ability to correct misunderstandings before the year ends. Lay low on the 31st as Mars will be squaring Mercury which could create some minor argument or tiff with someone you work with. Be mindful of your whereabouts on the lunar eclipse of the 10th. There is a big signature for endings for you in 2012. The 9th and 10th are fortunate for you.

Life will be giving you some interesting possibilities to choose from now and into the new year. Money will be an issue at the beginning of the month and you may need to take on some more work to make ends meet. Misunderstandings are cleared up after the 13th when Mercury is in direct motion again and people’s brain fog from the recent Mercury Rx clears up. Expansion is on the horizon for 2012. The 22nd and 23rd are social and fun for you.

The vibe this month begins with more than a little drama happening in your seventh house of partnerships. Some secret may be revealed that will not make you very happy. In another arena, your professional life will have some major changes in store for you this year. If it’s not working, be willing to let it go. After you go with the changes that need to happen, you will be building for long-term security in 2012. Best days are the 11th and 12th.

With Venus and Pluto in your sign at the beginning of the month, you are fairly intense to be around and could be viewed as obsessive in your demands. Next year could have some opportunities to travel for pleasure, though you are sure to try to make it a business trip, too! Very positive for financial gains in 2012. You also may find you suddenly want to relocate as the planet of abrupt change, Uranus, is entering your fourth house of home and real estate. The 24th and 25th are your best days.

Taurus: 21 April - 21 May

Gemini: 22 May - 21 June

Scorpio: 24 October - 22 November

Sagittarius: 23 November - 21 December

Cancer: 22 June - 22 July

Capricorn: 22 December - 21 January

Leo: 23 July - 23 August

Aquarius: 22 January - 19 February

You are laying the foundation for some major growth and positive change coming in 2012. If you have an opportunity to teach or travel this year, go for it as you will be well-received wherever you go. Jupiter is transiting the top of your chart, putting you in high demand so you can expand your professional scope in 2012. What Leo doesn’t like that kind of attention, eh? Strut your stuff on the 13th, 14th and 15th.

There is a very solid earth trine in your solar 4th, 8th and 12th houses, which are actually houses of endings, both physical, financial and psychological. Your property values should increase and it could be quite a desirable time to sell it. Keep current on any tax, insurance, will issues. This is a good time to do some deep introspection and chat with a counselor about things from the past that are sure to come up. Good days are the 26th and 27th.

Mars is solidly in your sign now, giving you some extra energy to accomplish your desires. The earth trine in houses 1, 5 and 9 give support to personal growth, creativity and higher learning so possibly taking some interesting course will give you the mental boost you need right now. Virgos never shy away from self-improvement; just don’t go overboard to do things perfectly. Have some fun! Take action on the 16th and 17th.

Life is busy and productive for you this month as the earth trine in your solar 3rd, 7th and 11th houses keep things interesting and productive. Your partner could be a little demanding now but expect more of this in the new year as Mars goes Rx in Virgo, thereby driving you a little crazy with details and demands for perfection. Like that really exists…geez. Anyway, you have more going on in the new year that pleases you than not. Good vibes for you on the 1st, 2nd, 28th, and 29th.

Virgo: 24 August - 22 September

Pisces: 20 February - 20 March


Parents’ Corner The Gifted Child


ccording to the National Association for Gifted Children, NAGC, “gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).” Giftedness can sometimes be spotted at an early age, usually when parents and teachers observe that the child has an exceptional performance compared to other children of the same age. Common behavioral characteristics of gifted children are: • Learn to read at an early age, usually before entering school. • Very good with the use of language, with capturing the nuances of verbal expressions and acquiring new vocabulary. • Develop the ability to interpret non-verbal cues at a very early age. • Always asking for the hows and whys… don’t take things for granted. • Self-motivated and persistent learners. • Curious and inquisitive, these are children who enjoy learning new things. • Are usually able to concentrate and stay on task for very long periods of time. • Have a high amount of energy, which can sometimes be confused with hyperactivity. • Relate well to parents and teachers and adults in general. They usually prefer the company of older children. Unfortunately, there is still very little education about the gifted – parents are often confused and don’t find the answers and the support needed to respond to the situation, and teachers are not always experienced or trained in teaching gifted children. More often than not, it is expected that gifted children do well on their own – “a smart child does not need any help”… The truth is that a gifted child needs accommodations, as much as any child who performs outside the normal range. It is not uncommon for gifted children to have a learning disability, for example, which can go undiscovered in the early years, but will become a major interference as he grows older, which can lead to behavior problems or depression. A gifted child needs to be nourished, stimulated and guided, so that he can develop his full potential and feel good about himself. This child needs meaningful challenges, opportunities to explore and experiment and space to ask and wonder… traditional teaching styles that promote simple reproduction can have devastating consequences. This “gift” can feel like a curse if the child is misunderstood and forced to adapt to a standard that he does not fit into. However, gifted children will fly and flourish when they meet an open mind. “Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner; put yourself in his place so that you may understand… what he learns and the way he understands it.” Soren Kierkegaard Monica Riascos H. Psychopedagogist – Psychologist Tel. 8358-9550


C hapter LXXVI



or those of you out there only too familiar with what passes for my life you may be surprised to find that, in addition to everything else, I’m also the husband of (if you’ll excuse a little prejudice), one the area’s most accomplished and hardest-working artists. As it turns out that also makes me the CEO, carpenter, bookkeeper, chief hauler of heavy things, publicity agent and bodyguard. You could almost put together a part-time job with these responsibilities and, indeed it has kept me busy over the years. I’ve come to recognize the look on others, usually roundish balding pony-tailed types looking as out of place as I am in a lumber yard or glass shop in deepest Desemperados, or maybe (shudder) Barrio Cuba, both in parts of San José that the “Big Chicken” guide books suggest you avoid. Sometimes we get together and discuss our shared experiences; buying tubes of paint and of canvas, or accompanying the artist to cock fights in Liberia. That’s right, my gentle Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher of a spouse takes me on excursions to (semi-legal) torneos de gallos, or cockfights for you Gringos. You’d think something like this would fall into the “bodyguard” category, but actually they’re pretty mellow, except for all the blood and feathers. My wife goes mainly to take a few hundred photos or so to use for painting ideas, and the fights are purely for the Ticos; we kind of stand out and usually leave after a couple of hours. While no one was looking I stole someone’s half-liter bottle of water. When I go to art shows I don’t mind being called “Mr. Adams”, it goes with the territory and is easier than having to explain that actually we’re “Mr. and Mrs. Gay”, at least according to our passports. I guess you’re thinking that “Art Spouse” sounds pretty tame and some may be wondering how I’m gonna get another

Now Open in Huacas, next to Farmacia El Cruce and Villarreal (in front of MegaSuper) For more info and prices call 2652-9006

Confessions of an Art Spouse Story by Jesse Bishop

five hundred and sixty three words or so on the subject. However the column’s title is “Confessions” of an etc. etc. and so far there’s been little confession. So I shall now reveal to all of you (including my wife who will proof-read this later) that at each and every art event, situation, exhibit or presentation I have stolen something. I guess it started at an ill-famed exhibition at the Corpus Christi, Texas, Art Center where a poorly and viscously maintained plate-glass door attacked my big toe and the connecting foot while I was in the act of transferring paintings. It hurt like hell and to this day the toe-nail connected to the toe that was connected to the foot looks like it may just fall off…. finally. No way was I going to blame the semicrippling mishap on the artist, at that time not my wife, so I got my revenge by “appropriating” an almost-full bottle of furniture polish. That’d teach them. You might think that being CEO of an operation of this magnitude was a lucrative gig but in reality, in the words of a wise old Costa Rica mechanic, it was “mucho trabajo y poco dinero”. So if, maybe, we were delivering a painting to a mega luxury condominium in Jacó I would, after making sure that no one was looking, steal a barely used mop head, or, if dropping off something at the seven-star hotel at Papagayo Peninsula I’ve been known to sneak into someone’s state-of-the-art solar-powered refrigerator and help myself to a couple of hot dogs. At first I did it ‘cos I needed a little something extra just to substantiate my existence in an increasingly chaotic and existential life. Or maybe I just like stealing. On a recent trip to Brasilito I successfully lifted someone’s wig; in Surfside I stole six “left foot” shoes out of a client’s closet whose politics irritated both my and his wife; at a well-known restaurant in Flamingo I snuck into the owner’s purse and stole her dental floss and over two hundred colones; I stole a light bulb out of Howler Editor David Mills’ bedside reading lamp, no art connection, it just felt good. Perhaps you think I should feel remorse and just feel lucky that I have a wife who lets me do these things for her out of the goodness of her heart, but that’s just the way it is in Playa Tamarindo’s dog-eat-dog-cutthroat-stab-ya’-in-theback art scene. Only the strong survive and if you’ve got something I want; used toothpicks, an ice tray or maybe an Imperial Beer ash tray, next time I deliver a large painting to your condo mansion it will be mine!

Investing in the Future Tom Peifer

Sittin’ in the sun, countin’ my money, fanned by a summer breeze, Sweeter than the honey, countin’ my money, those greenbacks on the trees. Louis Armstrong


aybe it’s a familiar feeling. You know, where you just shake your head and go, “Wonder why didn’t I think of that.” Lately it’s been happening to me a lot.

A few months ago an old acquaintance moved back into town to run a small non-profit that I helped set up. He’d already earned his stripes as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small village in the mountains overlooking our valley. One of those places that as the crow flies is a short distance but it’s light years away from the bright lights and hustle bustle of the coastal scene. A small town where a good percentage of the people still work the land, grow their own food and are up before dawn to till the land and tend their herds. The project started a while ago and has evolved considerably. After poking around in our valley, pondering various possibilities and poring over maps and historical data we were brought up short one day when Doña Abigail, the venerable founder of the original Las Tucas restaurant, threw down the gauntlet. “Can’t you experts make the river flow all year again?” That became the focus of our efforts for several years. This direction fit within the overall scope of what is known as “ecological restoration,” of which there are many successful examples in the US, Europe and elsewhere. (“Let the River Flow”, The Howler, Sept. 2005) But times do change. Hopefully we can keep up with the accelerating pace. We had to keep reminding ourselves that this valley is not some bit of ‘wilderness’ that we are trying to restore to a pristine condition to impress the occasional group of well-heeled eco-tourists. This is a valley of working farms and cattle ranches, of 2000+ residents. The diet is more dependent on corn tortillas and the soft-curd cuajada than on imported parmesan cheese and grain products that have passed through the combines, mills and processing plants of multinational enterprises. It is increasingly clear that the modus vivendi of multinationals has no stake whatsoever in the conservation of the soil and water that makes our valley—or the world for that matter-- a desirable place to live. Over the last few years, as coastal construction downshifted from overdrive to compound low gear, we came to realize that ramping up employment in agriculture and increasing sales and consumption of locally produced food would be killing two birds with one stone. Score that a trifecta if we can devise ways that a more profitable agriculture can contribute to the restoration of the river. As it turns out, studies have shown that, worldwide, small farmers usually don’t have a dime to spare in order to implement conser-

vation measures. I’m talking about the kind of contour vegetation lines, fenced-in windbreaks and reforestation strategies that hobby farmers and developers have successfully implemented throughout our area. My friend Matt came up with a great idea. Let’s find people who are willing to invest in ramping up local food production and restoring our river valley. “Now why didn’t that occur to us?” In all honesty, my relationship with money has sort of been like any number of other relationships, a fleeting fantasy, a brief encounter and then the whole thing just slips through your fingers. You wind up with a touch of nostalgia usually mixed with a modicum of regret—or debt. I could never get the feel for managing money as a tool. When someone says leverage, I look for a block to use as a fulcrum. Like I said, liquidity to me just seemed to run through my fingers and accounting was like chasing so many globs of quicksilver spattered on a well-waxed floor. Matt, on the other hand, came more than prepared. In addition to banking experience in the US, he was versed in the use of “micro-credits” here in Costa Rica. For those of us who are fed up with reading about the manipulations and malfeasance of the global financial industry, the history and operation of micro-lending is a breath of fresh air, with a transparency that is completely absent in the “real world” of international financial implosion. In our case, we first find trustworthy individuals. There’s no need for a ratings agency like Standard and Poor. We are better than a ratings agency because we know the people. In some cases they have been neighbors for almost twenty years. Matt helps them analyze the feasibility of the project in terms of the numbers, establish a plan for marketing and the time period to pay back the loan. Then we look for people willing to finance the enterprise. Allow me a brief but relevant digression. The story of informal lending in the rural areas of the world is perhaps even more sordid than the recent spate of cynical shenanigans that have caused millions of Americans to lose their homes in foreclosures. You might have read of thousands of suicides in areas of India where farmers, faced with losing everything to moneylenders who charge up to 100% interest on loans, poison themselves with pesticides instead of facing a (continued page 28)

Investing... (from page 27) lifetime of landlessness, peonage and shame. Closer to home, the consolidation of landownership in Guanacaste occurred hand-in-hand with the cycle of money problems, indebtedness and foreclosure, often enforced by cutthroat informal moneylenders—prestamistas in local vernacular.


14 12

c m s

That is not the direction where these loans are headed. Investors understand that these are ‘soft” loans, unsecured by, say, the title to someone’s modest home or hillside farm. It is a good faith effort on both parts to come to terms, which hold out the promise of a better living for the borrower, in a better world—both environmentally and socially--for the investor. Let’s look at a couple of examples. Jaime lives in the hills, near a forest reserve of several hundred hectares, and has learned how to manage beehives for honey production. Matt put together a group of investors to get Jaime started in business. The nearby forest has more pollinators, the honey is already accumulating in the hives, the first bottles go on sale in January, and the loan should be paid off in less than two years. At least one investor will receive his modest interest payments in honey.



Maricle Meteorological Observatory La Garita


Total rainfall: 53.0 cm (20.9 inches)

6 4 2 0




31 1





Year-to-date 2011: 265.8 cm 2010: 320.1

Rainfall Oct/Nov 2011: 53.0 cm 2010: 37.7

D e c e m b e r 2 0 11 ( a l l

t i m e s

l o c a l )


Closer to home, my immediate neighbor Xinia, widowed, mother of two boys severely handicapped due to toxic chemical exposure in export agriculture, wants to do egg production in a free-range poultry system. The hens are happier; the eggs healthier, my pasture gets chopped for free and we rotate with a nitrogen-loving crop after the chickens fertilize the land. The eggs go to local business owners who understand that their purchase represents an investment in a sustainable local economy. Unfortunately, for some of the more ambitious restoration efforts, the path toward funding is not always so easy to define. Strip forests on hillsides to slow down damaging runoff, or shade trees along the barren swath of asphalt that heats up the heart of the valley, cannot be counted upon to produce the “return on investment” that continues to rule, albeit in a kinder and gentler form, the operation of microlending. To make it in the long run, in this valley as elsewhere in the world, we need a philosophy for investment in the future that embraces the insight of the Native American proverb: Only when the last tree has been cut down, And the last river has been poisoned And the last fish has been caught, Only then will they realize that you cannot eat money.


1st - rise 5:46; set 5:19 15th - rise 5:53; set 5:24 31st - rise 6:01; set 5:32

1st quarter: Full: Last quarter: New:

Moon 2nd 10th 17th 24th

3:52 a.m. 8:36 a.m. 6:48 p.m. 12:06 p.m.

Tom Peifer is an ecological land use consultant with 16 years experience in Guanacaste. Phone: 2658-8018. El Centro Verde is dedicated to sustainable land use, permaculture and development.

Stop and Wait...

Barbara’s Pet Stories

(from page 15)

The Brahman is Guanacaste’s specialty. Outside Liberia on the famous Hacienda Los Ahogados some of the most famous purebred Brahman bulls are produced and sold all over Latin America as breeding stock. These pampered white giants may reach 1,200 kilos and are prizewinners in stock shows. The huge white statue of “Oasis”, founder of the line of champions and one of the famous sires, stands in front of the Hacienda attesting to the importance of the cattle industry to Guanacaste. The cattle industry in Costa Rica has had its problems. With the influx of international development money in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there was a boom in cattle ranching due to low-interest loans. Pasture land increased over 60% in ten years, herds doubled, unfortunately creating massive deforestation in many areas unfit for cattle ranching. Today, the cattle industry is applying strategies to improve pastures using higher quality grasses, reforesting hillsides, and improving production through breeding. The next crisis in the cattle industry may come from the global free market

economy when imports from Australia and New Zealand will drastically undercut beef and milk prices. Today, however, the small rancher in Guanacaste will continue to drive his small herd back and forth between green pastures and water; milk his cows to make homemade cheese; and sell the free-range animals at the local auctions (subastas) when the price is right, there is no more pasture to feed his stock, or when his daughter is getting married. Cattle are an important part of the Guanacaste culture whether small rancher or prize-winning breeder. From “the price per kilo” at the auction house, to “who has the best bulls” at the fiestas, cattle are the thing to watch and talk about if you’re a true Guanacasteco. And if you are a tourist driving from San José to Guanacaste, you now are given directions to turn left at the impressive, giant stone bull gracing the Tres Hermanas restaurant at the turn toward the Tempisque bridge. This giant Brahman, symbol of Guanacaste’s cattle culture, is becoming a favorite lunch and photo stop for locals and visitors alike.

Sneaky Snake


here is a chicken-house in my back yard with a little family of Jardineros, six hens and one rooster. So, one morning at seven, as every morning, I opened the door so they can go out into the garden and went to my patio to drink my coffee. But then after a while I started to wonder, why no chicken came to me as usual, to get some crumbs from my cookies. I went back to the cage; they were all still sitting on their perches. Then I noticed why no one wanted to come out: in the right corner was a pretty big Boa Constrictor. I am not afraid of Boas, so I put on my gloves and stepped into the cage. I grabbed the snake behind the head and put her into the dog carrier. Later I wanted to drive the snake far, far away and let it go out into the bushes. I said: “Girls and boys, come out into the sun, the snake is in prison!” and I walked back to my coffee cup and cookies, waiting again for them to come for the crumbs. But nothing, no chicken came. I went back to the cage and, I couldn’t believe it, there I saw a second Boa in the other corner. Same procedure, grasp behind the head, snake into the carrier. As I could see that all my chicks were really upset and nervous, I decided to take the snakes away right now. With the carrier on the back of my pickup, I drove north, where I knew were places with trees and bushes. Arrived, I put the carrier next to the car, woof, that was pretty heavy with these two snakes in it, each about 4-5 feet, then I opened slowly the little gate and I stepped aside. One snake came out, sniffled a bit and disappeared in the bushes. The second snake came out, sniffled also...I relaxed, ok, that’s it, I thought, let’s go home. I put the carrier back on the car and I started to drive home. Botheration! I had to look twice...oh no...the second snake never went into the bushes, it went back into my car ! Now it was sitting next to me on the passenger’s seat, looking out of the window. My hands got shivery, I was reaching for my we are, put one of them as quick as I could on my right hand and grapped the snake like it did before. I stopped the car right where I was, still far away from roads and houses and I put the snake gently to the next tree. It looked at me like: ok, bad luck for me, no chicken today...and finally disappeared, too!!


2F 1st Qtr 3S



00:51 07:04 13:12 19:40 01:46 07:59 14:05 20:35 02:45 08:58 15:00 21:32 03:47 09:58 15:57 22:28 04:47 10:59 16:53 23:21

1.0 8.4 0.6 8.5 1.4 7.8 1.2 8.2 1.8 7.3 1.6 8.0 2.0 7.0 2.0 7.8 2.0 6.9 2.1 7.8



05:43 11:55 17:47

1.8 7.0 2.1



00:11 06:33 12:46 18:36 00:57 07:17 13:32 19:21 01:40 07:58 14:14 20:04 02:20 08:37 14:55 20:45

7.9 1.6 7.2 2.0 8.2 1.2 7.4 1.8 8.4 0.9 7.7 1.6 8.6 0.6 8.0 1.4




10S Full Moon




03:00 09:15 15:34 21:25 03:40 09:53 16:12 22:05 04:19 10:31 16:51 22:46 05:00 11:09 17:30 23:29 05:41 11:49 18:12

8.8 0.4 8.3 1.2 8.9 0.2 8.5 1.0 8.9 0.2 8.6 0.9 8.8 0.2 8.7 1.0 8.6 0.3 8.7


17S Last Qtr 18S



00:14 06:26 12:32 18:57 01:02 07:14 13:18 19:46 01:56 08:08 14:10 20:40 02:54 09:08 15:08 21:40 03:57 10:14 16:11 22:43

0.9 8.4 0.5 8.7 1.0 8.1 0.7 8.7 1.1 7.9 0.9 8.7 1.1 7.7 1.1 8.7 1.1 7.6 1.1 8.8




24S New Moon 25S

0.9 7.8 1.1 9.0 0.5 8.1 0.9


00:46 9.3 07:06 0.1 13:24 8.5 19:22 0.6 01:43 9.6 08:01 -0.3 14:19 9.0 20:18 0.3 02:36 9.8 08:53 -0.5 15:11 9.3 21:12 0.1


05:03 11:20 17:16 23:45 06:06 12:24 18:20




03:27 09:41 16:00 22:02 04:15 10:28 16:48 22:50 05:02 11:12 17:34 23:38 05:48 11:56 18:19

9.8 -0.7 9.5 0.1 9.7 -0.6 9.6 0.2 9.4 -0.4 9.4 0.4 9.0 -0.1 9.2


00:24 06:35 12:39 19:05

0.7 8.5 0.4 8.8


Jan 1S 1st Qtr 2M


01:11 07:22 13:23 19:53 02:02 08:14 14:11 20:43 02:55 09:08 15:02 21:35 03:51 10:07 15:57 22:31 04:52 11:09 16:56 23:27

1.1 7.9 1.0 8.4 1.5 7.4 1.5 8.0 1.8 7.0 1.9 7.7 2.0 6.7 2.3 7.6 2.0 6.6 2.4 7.6


Howler magazine serving the Gold Coast of Costa Rica

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you