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The Howler

Volume 18, No. 4 Issue No. 199

April 2013 Founded 1996

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


Publisher, editor and production David Mills

8 Tel: 2-653-0545 Howler • Mono Congo

14 Around Town



Dining Out

New restaurant Fisch serves delicious meat and seafood in the centre of Tamarindo, and has a functioning theatre.


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

15 Surf Report

Schoolchildren at Country Day School get an enjoyable addition to their syllabus, surfing the Dawn Patrol.

18 Dawn Patrol

Deadline for May: April 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 1/2 Full

Dimensions (cms) Width Height 9.4 9.4 9.4 19.2 19.2

x x x x x

6.15 12.70 25.80 12.70 25.80

Price $

Surviving Costa Rica


Sweet Talked, Short Changed and Locked Out

President Laura Chinchilla joins the writing staff of The Howler; more stories of roads and brush fires.

Buying a bargain property can be fraught with lies and scams. Our columnist warns buyers what precautions to take.



Ads must be submitted on CD or e-mail attachment, JPG or PDF format at 266 dpi, at the appropriate size (above). All comments, articles and advertising in this publication are the opinion of their authors, and do not reflect the opinion of Howler Management.


75 120 210

Discounts For 6 months, paid in advance, one month is deducted. For 12 months, paid in advance, two months are deducted.

Country Day School student tells us of his early morning surf lessons that start before breakfast at a Tamarindo restaurant.

10 Music Review

25 Parents’ Corner

11 Book Review

26 Yoga

12 August Odysseys

28 Doctor’s Orders

17 Slice of Life

29 Word Puzzle

20 Word Puzzle

32 Sun & Moon

24 April Forecasts

35 Tide Chart

Cover Caption: Cover Photo: Cover Design:

Where the School Bus made the wrong turn Fisch Restaurant, Tamarindo Denis Herzog David Mills

How good is your eyesight? On April 10 the moon is new at 3:35 a.m. A very slight crescent just may be visible after sunset the same day, a true test for eyesight – and provided, too, that the sky is perfectly clear. Look for the crescent, lying on its back, just above the setting sun as soon as the sky starts to darken.

I am in favour of demonstrations to bring an important issue to the notice of politicians and other citizens. But the protest on the highway outside Liberia International Airport on March 12 was a big error in judgement. Having driven 30km from Palmira in gears 1 & 2 over a period of one hour and forty minutes, and with no knowledge of the cause, I arrived at the airport amid chaos and road rage as frantic drivers jockeyed for position, driving along the verge, cutting each other off in an attempt to catch their flights. This would be the last impression of Costa Rica for all tourists who ended their vacation that day. There were no banners explaining the protest, just a loudspeaker announcer talking about polvo. A protest without an explanation is useless, and this one did more harm than good. There were no reports in the next day’s dailies. A huge waste of energy, patience, time and gasoline, and a big black eye for the nation.

The moment we have waited for! The new gas station opened on March 4, obviating a long drive over the mountain for gas in El Llano. Advertising your business? I happily recommend ‘The Howler’ for a most successful experience all-in. The ad was on time, exactly how I wanted it presented and at a very reasonable fee. The response for my services was somewhat beyond my expectations and I will definitely advertise again with the Howler on my next visit. Well worth it. - Peter Williams, professional astrologer, Toronto, Canada.

Not sorry I’m not sorry for my loud mouth and lipstick. I’m not sorry for laughing till I cramp; hooting, howling giggling like a fool. I’m not sorry for crying either. It’s my party. I’m not sorry for my orange sweater for my little dresses for my tangled hair and languages. I’m not sorry for my rainbow of lovers my coven of friends my collection of children and cats. I’m not sorry for coveting sunrise for loving the moon so jealously for calling stars by their names. I’m not sorry for travelling – I love the open road. I’m not sorry for diving and swimming for dancing till morning for shouting at the top of my lungs. I’m not sorry for my pathetic poems or singing off key or stumbling a lot or falling hard. I’m not sorry for the blood I leave on stones. From “Tell me about the telaraña” by Diana Renee

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. RW Emerson

“Where the school bus took a wrong turn” is how Fisch advertises itself and, indeed, there is a school bus parked in the kitchen. Well, at least, the rear end of a bus. Restaurant Fisch, once Voodoo, has reverted to ownership of Swiss-German Denis Herzog, who operated a restaurant in Argentina. His partner Rosie Bouali used to run a restaurant in San José. In its previous life, Fisch had an open kitchen, but its heat was uncomfortable for customers at the large communal table. Hence, the bus that keeps things cool. Chef Sergio Murillo, who has worked at Hotel Paradisus at Playa Conchal, presents a menu of meat dishes and, of course, fish. Appetizers consist of tropical salad; chef salad; Son Tam – green mango, carrots, green beans, shrimp and peanuts in a ginger dressing. We selected a Fisch salad – avocado, truffle oil, onion, cilantro, plantain, cheese and jalapeño; and a lobster salad, an unusual but tasty mix of lobster flambéed in rum, peanuts and blackberry sauce. The fish menu includes seabass in polenta with mixed vegetables; Tamarindo shrimps, with tamarind, garlic, tequila and veggies; mahi-mahi with rice in a Dijon mustard sauce; seafood soup with octopus, fish, crab, clams and rice; whole red snapper with Cajun potatoes; lobster gratin, flambéed in whisky with baked baby potatoes and veggies. My companion chose grilled tuna with mashed sweet potato, mango and chipotle sauce.

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: 5:30-6:30 - Open Meeting Location: Behind Pedro’s Surf Shop Contact: Ellen - 2-653-0897 / Steve - 8377-1529

have tasted.

Meat offerings are grilled chicken breast with apple sauce; rib eye steak with Merlot sauce; and my choice was a delicious dish of barbecued ribs, tender and juicy, possibly the best ribs I

We finished up with bread pudding – just like mama used to make – with ice cream. In addition to the restaurant, Fisch has a theatre with stage, where live shows are performed – The Odd Couple, Wizard of Oz – and a Latino salsa music show every Tuesday. Happy Hour, 4-6 p.m., serves the best mojitos in town at 2 for ¢4,000. Fisch is in Tamarindo main street, tel: 2653-0100; facebook fisch tamarindo restaurant. Open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

To the wonderful sponsors of the Surf ‘n’ Turf Event: Thank you all for your help.

Music Review Baila!

Tony Orez


ince 1993, Putumayo Music has garnered a well-deserved reputation for having its thumb on the proverbial pulse of what is new, hip and coming down the pike of World Music. Their method is simple: once they have ascertained a “new sound”, they find a cross-smattering of bands from different locations around the globe, pitch the project to each of them, and then get them signed onto the project. Next, they all agree on their individual songs that are suitable for the band and the situation, and, when necessary, reserve studio time at the nearest sound lab to lay down the tracks for each artist’s representation on the compilation disc. After that, there is only the packaging (i.e., artwork, descriptions of each song and individual artist, photos, etc.), and the publicity and distribution in a variety of languages to convince the prospective customer to purchase their final product. And that’s all there is to it, really… Proving once again that they have designed and carved their own niche in the music industry, Putumayo recently released “Baila! A Latin Dance Part”, an eleven song, forty-two minute compilation of very danceable Latin tunes, ranging from salsa to cumbia to timba and beyond. The disc kicks off with “Mua Mua Mua” by Raul Paz, a Cuban musician who moved to Paris in 1997. The song is in collaboration with Euro dance producer Danya Vodovoz and Ferry Ultra and really gets the party jumping. Next are the Africano All-Stars with “san Fo”, where salsa meets the African beat, with foot-tapping results. Then it’s Bogota, Colombia-based La-33 and “Que Rico Boogaloo”, a song done in retro ‘60s style, with an alternating salsa and R&B twist. Also included in this set is “Escucha el Ritmo” by The Spanish Harlem Orquestra, featuring legendary pianist Oscar Hernandez on this mid-tempo cha cha cha. “Hoah” finds Calle Real shifting between a contemporary timba style and classic salsa tempo. Anda Yerba Buena, based in New York City, serves up “El Burrito”, laced in classic cumbia and infused with elements of straight rock. Gabriel Rios has an interesting history. He left his native Puerto Rico to move to Belgium with his girlfriend and created his own musical, bilingual niche there, as the song included on this disc, “Bones Bugalu” clearly indicates: take one part tropical voodoo, one part Belgian dance music, mix vigorously and serve it up fresh. One of my favorite songs on the disc is by Brooklyn Funk Essentials, titled “Mambo Con Dancehall” and that pretty much says it all. Whew! If that doesn’t get you on the dance floor, nothing ever will! The CD comes with a booklet with liner notes in Spanish, French and English. As with all Putumayo CDs, a portion of the proceeds from this disc is donated to children in Colombia who are victims of landmines. Baila! is available at the Jaime Peligro book stores in Playa Tamarindo, Quepos and Nuevo Arenal, where they will sample the music for their customers.

Book Review A Poet in our Midst

Tony Orez

Diana Renee is an anomaly. She is currently living in the state of Washington, “near the North Pole,” she told me in jest. But she was born in Pennsylvania and traveled cross-country with her family to live in Montana for a year. In 1995, she moved to Costa Rica where she lived for five years in Guaitil, near Santa Cruz, and for another ten years in Playa Tamarindo. She returned to the States but still visits here in her body sleeps, she confided, and her soul has free time to visit the garden at the house here which she used to call home. Diana is an accomplished journalist who wrote wonderful articles for The Howler, which were also spot-on in their accuracy. But she has been writing poetry since the age of ten when she was so taken by the Rocky Mountains during her family excursion that she simply had to describe it and, voila! her first poem was born. Now Ms. Renee has decided to publish some of the poetry she created during her fifteen years in Guanacaste. The book is titled, “Tell Me About the Telaraña (media vida de poemas)”. The poetry is flowing and flawless, autobiographical and rooted in nature. A lot can happen in a person’s life in fifteen years and Diana depicts and expresses her half-life here in all its naked beauty, with the wonder of life and abundance of Nature here as both a backdrop and canvas for her art. The writing can be sparse yet rich, abundant with life without overflowing. Some of the poems were written in English, some in Spanish. Some are presented in this single version while others have been translated, presented side-by-side versions in the book. Still other poems are written in “Spanglish” which, the authoress confessed, is her favorite format for her poetry. Some of the poems are published only in the language in which they were written, because Diana felt the translation would not do the original poem justice. The book is divided into nine sections, the titles as bilingual as the poetry itself: Cielo, sun, stars, viento; Peces/fish, aves and other creatures; Trees, tierra, grass; Night/la noche; Dientes, bones; Gritos/ shouts, cries; Belly, heart/corazon; Rain, tormenta, river, mar; Mountains, stillness, esperar. We watch Diana become the life around her, or do the mountains and trees become her? Diana may visit us in her sleep but a big part of her heart will always be here, as she demonstrates to us in her poetry. I particularly like “boat poem”, where we discover from the poet: i prefer the tickle of fish to the safety of sand And “Biking Home at Night”, where the poetess explains: i make my swooping left turn perfectly while watching the stars and dodging potholes I haven’t noticed in years I can relate exactly to what she is telling me, but I could never explain it in those terms. She is concise and prolific, spare and voluptuous in her use of language, which is why poets are venerated. “Tell Me About the Telaraña” is available at the Jaime Peligro bookstores in Playa Tamarindo and Quepos.

August Odysseys

Robert August

Illegal Immigrants - to Mexico!


lmost a thousand years ago...well, more like 52 years ago this past March… Bill Fury, Willy Lenahan and I decided to go on a road trip down to Mexico. We had heard that Walt Philips, a surf videographer for lecture films back then, was going to be in Ensenada/ San Miguel shooting surfers. We tied our boards on top of Willy’s ‘53 Oldsmobile, hopped in the car and headed down to Mexico. I was only 15, Bill was 16, and Willy was legal-18. We had totally forgotten that if we wanted to cross the border, we either needed to be with our parents, or have a notarized letter from them saying it was OK to travel into Mexico. When we got to the border in Tijuana the border police stopped our car. The officer asked us for our IDs and how old we all were. Since I was only 15, I did not even have an ID since I did not have my driver’s license yet. Willy was the only of-age/legal one in the car, so the officer would not let us cross the border. We turned around as the officer had instructed us to, but said to one another, “Geez, we gotta go man, it is the movies.” On top of that, we knew the surf was going to be good. We were desperate so, after turning around, we decided that we had to try again. We said to each other “Piss on this,” and figured: “OK, here is the deal. Fury and I will hop in the trunk and they will not even know we are there. We will just try another lane and hope that the officer will not notice our car. ” Willy circled back around and after about another 20-car wait to cross the border we finally were almost in Mexico. Well, this is how dumb we really were...there was one guy driving a car with three surfboards strapped on top and two guys in the trunk, which made the car tilt back. The officer pulled Willy over, asked him where he was going and why he had three surfboards. Trying his best to lie, Willy replied that “he liked to ride different boards”. The officer then asked him to open the trunk, which Willy then proceeded to lie a little bit more and said that “he did not have a key and that it had not opened in years” . The officer did not buy Willy’s story, went to grab a crowbar, and then snapped open the trunk. He found Fury and me squished in the tiny trunk with the spare tire and a bunch of other junk. The officer ordered us out of the trunk, asked us for our IDs and we all continued to lie like crazy. Pretty smart, huh? The officer then took us back away from the border and told us that we all were under arrest; Willy was going to jail because he was 18 and legal, and Fury and I were going to juvy. Lucky Willy; since he was going to jail, he was able to make his one phone call. But, when you go to juvy, you do not get your phone call; you give the officers the number to call your parents.

The Road to Río* Due to production timing, we have no results of the avalanche of World Cup qualifiers on March 22, when 78 teams fought for a chance to go to Río. Among the crowd, Costa Rica played the United States, and on March 26 played at home to Jamaica. Games yet to be played in the Concacaf division are: June 4 Jamaica Mexico June 7 Panama Mexico Jamaica United States Costa Rica Honduras June 11 Mexico Costa Rica United States Panama Honduras Jamaica June 18 United States Honduras Costa Rica Panama Sept 6 Mexico Honduras Panama Jamaica Costa Rica United States Sept 10 Jamaica Costa Rica United States Mexico Honduras Panama Oct 11 Honduras Costa Rica United States Jamaica Mexico Panama Oct 15 Jamaica Honduras Panama United States Costa Rica Mexico Following this round the top three teams (on points) will go to Brazil. The fourth team will play New Zealand, the winner of Oceania division, over home/away games. The winner qualifies for Brazil.

Go Sele!


We All Win “Bingo, that’s an old woman’s game,” so I was told when I mentioned that I was going to the bi-weekly game at Doña Lee’s Country Kitchen. In Tamarindo, Bingo is a popular social event, and appeals to the whole community, young and old. Arriving there a little early I was surprised to see the place already very busy, and looking around for my usual cronies I found I didn’t know many people there. Eventually the regular crowd shuffled in, and had to find makeshift seating or sit outside. Indeed a full house, which is good, as the event raises funds for essential community needs. Yes, there are some doddering old farts, but also players of all ages, from small schoolchildren to teenagers to adults. For ¢1,000 (two bucks) you get a card good for all ten games of the evening, plus a raffle ticket. Prizes, donated by local businesses, may include a Rusty’s Pizza with three toppings; bottle of wine; breakfast for two at Kahiki; Robert August sportswear; dinner at FT’s; even a quarter-page ad in The Howler. I recently won a box of fancy chocolates, and suddenly had more female friends than I could count. The function ends about nine, leaving plenty of time to sing yourself hoarse at Sharky’s Karaoke night. Donated prizes are urgently needed, so if you want to help this worthwhile and fun event, please contact Doña Lee at 2653-0127 / 8876-0508, or just come along on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. As a community fundraiser, at Bingo we all win.

AROUND TOWN Here on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica we have a plentitude of entertainment. Tamarindo, Potrero and Flamingo are rocking with live music. On the mid-March weekend people were faced with several options for their entertainment: a full fiesta in Villarreal; the opening of the Robert August Surf & Turf, and its beachwear fashion show – packed to the rafters; and three nights of Dinner Theater – The Odd Couple – fully sold at Fisch. In addition we managed to enjoy the Belly Dancers at Gazebo. Flamingo recently celebrated a very successful Mardi Gras. In this column we would like to mention such events, and invite bar/restaurant owners to inform us well in advance of their regular music gigs. Beach Nuts Theater (producers of The Odd Couple) will also be presenting The Wizard of Oz on April 25, 26 and 27. Caroline Paniagua, of Carolina’s Restaurant in Tamarindo, has opened her new restaurant in Plaza Florencia, Escazú. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Call 8705-3836 or 2288-7506.

ode to Dorothy Parker Ah, Mrs. Parker how i admire & love your rhymes from my fourteen-year-old bed so much i loved ‘resume’ i wished to be dead! i was sorry you were still alive when drinks at the Algonquin i finally had at Seventeen alone in New York trying to take the rage by storm Oh, Mrs. Parker, I too want to be big-livered alone dead with my dog and ROOM SERVICE, please while writing the last of the best verse the world has ever seen Gerretta Gerretta from “Pardon Me While I Eat My Young”

Surf Report Ellen Zoe Golden (


or a long time in Tamarindo’s surfing history, a local kid who wanted to learn how to surf had to get a board either from a tourist or a parent, and head out into the breaks on their own. Of course, in the last 5 to 7 years, it was not unusual to see a father (or mother) out in the water giving their offspring lessons. Now, however, there are even more options for youngsters to get their ride on. Tamarindo’s Bruce McKillican and Toni Vandewalle have gotten together with Sarah Haun, the principal of the Country Day School to launch a surf program for students of that school aged 7 to 18. Twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday, at 5:30 a.m. for an hour, 25 children meet on Tamarindo Beach, to get instruction and tips from McKillican and Vandewalle as well as any of the parents who also have the skills. Here’s what they have going on: Ellen Zoe Golden: Tell me exactly what your surf program is with the Country Day School. Toni Vandewalle: The idea for this program has been around for a while. Bruce McKillican had introduced it and we discussed this with Sarah Haun, Principal of Country Day School of Guanacaste (CDSG). It is based on what schools are doing in surf areas in the U.S.A. and Australia: having surf classes as part of the curriculum and part of P.E. Sarah has been very supportive and our goal is to incorporate this into next year’s school curriculum and extend the surf time, maybe to one hour and a half. So Bruce and I started the program at the beginning of the year as a try-out, so we can go full force next school year. But it has been huge from the beginning. Bruce and myself are there every time, and quite a few parents have joined us and are helping out. We surf, help out, give tips, etc., then have a shower, breakfast and always during breakfast there’s some surf talk about tides, swell, boards, etc. We will have a test going on in May with some multiple choice, some physical tests (example: swim in after your leash breaks) and the election of the CDSG Waterman/Women of the Year. We also plan a small surf contest between the kids in May. We all believe that programs like this can be decisive factors for families to move to our area.

Bruce McKillican: Surf has always been associated with early mornings, and the term “Dawn Patrol” was coined for this. The early morning discipline for children is what many parents have said is an attractive benefit. To these children, paddling out in the dark, and then watching the light debut and the day start from the viewpoint of being in the ocean, is nothing short of magic. Two months later and we have a large committed crowd of kids showing up and getting better and better at the sport. EZG: What exactly is the program? TV: We arrive at Pangas Beach Club ready to surf at 5:20 a.m.; walk out on the beach at 5:30 a.m, the latest; surf until 6:30 a.m; back to Pangas; shower and then breakfast will be ready on the big communal table. The school bus picks kids up at 7:00 a.m. BM: While they eat breakfast we quiz them about the day’s conditions, tides, winds, currents, swell direction and then offer a Lesson of the Day. When the kids get on the bus at 7:00 a.m., the parents and coaches breathe a sigh of relief and have a coffee. It is a great start to our day as well. EZG: Are these kids learning to surf from scratch? Did any of them already know how to surf? TV: Most kids had good basics, but we have some young ones that are starting and need to be pushed in the waves. We require that these kids have their parents present to help out. BM: Tamarindo is an all-tide wave and generally very friendly for beginners. We are working with all levels quite successfully. There is a group of girls on the team, just learning, who are 8 to 10 years old. They have such desire and raw athletic talent, as well as strong competitive drive. They are something to keep an eye on. EZG: What are your goals with this program? TV: We want to encourage a healthy lifestyle, a team spirit and a love for the ocean. Our goals are not only to teach kids to surf but, more importantly, to become Watermen/Women with knowledge of the ocean, the surf, tides, swell, rules of surfing, etiquette, etc. BM: We teach them to keep a happy, fun vibe. Older surfers have the responsibility to keep the young ones on track. Surfing can be competitive and territorial. A good vibe in the water is the best day. (continued page 22)

Donated From the Heart


hen retired hairdresser Viateur Soucy (second from left in photo) won a 43-inch flat-screen TV in Amigos de la Education’s “Have a Heart” raffle, it was his first time winning a raffle. However, it didn’t take him long to decide that he would not be returning home to Quebec, Canada, with the TV tucked under his arm! Instead, he decided to re-donate the TV to Amigos so that it could be used in one of the schools that we work with. As a result Amigos de la Education launched a competition and is inviting entries from local schools to tell us how they would use the flat-screen TV to benefit their school and how this great prize will be incorporated into their educational programs. The TV connects to a computer and will be a very valuable asset to the winning school especially as many schools that we work with are severely underequipped with minimal computer facilities. So who is Viateur, our fabulous TV donor? Having worked as a hairdresser in Montreal for forty years, Viateur retired at the end of 2012. In order to celebrate his retirement, he and friends Jean Michel and Aline decided to visit Costa Rica for three months. They had previously visited Costa Rica in the 1980s but this was their first visit in twenty years. Asked how they decided on Tamarindo for their threemonth vacation, Viateur responded that they researched a bit but basically it was a guess! And they seem pretty pleased with their guesswork! They love Costa Rica and feel it is a nice country with good people, good weather and where the people have respect for each other and the climate. In their time here in the country they have visited schools, taken photos and written reports and updated their friends back home on the conditions in schools. They have been very interested in how education is delivered and like to share their insights as to how the people live here. His friends Jean Michel and Aline say that Viateur is always generous and when asked why he had decided to re-donate the TV he said simply “Costa Rica gave me a gift so I wanted to give a gift to the people”. He explained that life is an exchange – you receive, you give. Viateur is eagerly awaiting news of the winning school in the competition and when asked if they would come back to Tamarindo the response was a resounding “For sure!” In fact, Jean Michel is already planning the donations that they will collect for local schools to bring when they visit again next year. Amigos de la Education would like to say an absolutely gigantic “Muchisima Gracias” to Viateur Soucy for his generosity and for being a great example of “Have a Heart’.

A Slice of Life On the Edge!


David Mills

on’t look down! So admonished my friend Lee and, believe me, I didn’t want to do that, not in the least. Here I am, toehanging on a tiny, maybe three centimeter wide, ledge that runs along a cliff for a hundred meters or so. The cliff is, or appears to be, about 1,000 meters high and, I am certain, littered at the bottom with bleached bones of people who had tried this idiotic crossing. We were exploring Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Arriving mid-afternoon, we picked up a map at the ranger station and set out on foot for a circumnavigation of a nearby mountain. “Looks like an easy walk,” I announced, looking at the trail on the map, “maybe a couple of hours.” The snag with my estimate was that there was no scale on the map, but we could see the mountain both live and on the map, so off we stepped. Rounding the mountain we saw that it was only a small outcrop of the real mountain; we had a lot more walking to do. It was a pleasant afternoon, not too hot, a little breeze, so we were enjoying the hike, but wished we had brought water. Still, we had walked almost two hours, so it couldn’t be much further, could it? After a while we encountered a group of hikers coming around the other way, and enquired how much further we had to go. “About an hour and a half,” they answered, “but it’s an easy walk.” Easy, that is, if you like heights, and I don’t. Eventually we arrived at the aforementioned cliff. The tiny ledge was the only way across, and I am terrified of heights. Standing on a chair to change a light bulb is my idea of an extreme sport. I wasn’t going across there. Half-way across, and progressing like she was walking along a beach, Lee called back to me: “Come on, we haven’t got all day. It’ll be dark soon.” I considered the option of returning the way we had come, but that meant another three hours and would probably find me in the dark before I got back to the ranger station. There was no other choice! Fortunately there was a single strand of steel wire stapled into the rock at chest height, so I stepped onto the ledge and took a tiny step into the void, hoping that the staples were firm and that the ledge wasn’t going to crumble beneath my running shoes. So far, so good, as I took another small step, knuckles wrapped tight around the wire, my face pressed against the rock. Eyes tightly shut, and with the wind’s whistle almost obliterating Lee’s encouraging comments: “Come on, you sissy. You’re a pilot; how can you be afraid of heights?” I made very slow progress, aware that the night was approaching and that with one slip I would join the bleached bones at the bottom of the cliff. I made it!! Well, you knew that anyway, didn’t you? Another hour and we reached the ranger station where we guzzled down gallons of water, while the ranger bawled us out for setting out on that trek without water.


with Country Day


magine jumping into ice cold water. Now, imagine doing it at 5:15 in the morning. Now, imagine teenagers are doing this. Impossible, you might say? Well, a group of students from Country Day School Guanacaste do just that twice a week. Country Day now has its own surf team that goes surfing before dawn every Tuesday and Thursday. The head coaches are Bruce McKillican (my dad) and Toni Vandewalle. On average, there are twenty kids on the surf team. If you ask any of them what their favorite two days of the week are they will say, without a doubt, Tuesday and Thursday.

My name is Mason McKillican, I am 16 years old and I am one of those kids. Monday and Wednesday are the busiest nights of the week for my family and me. This is because each of us is out in the water early the next morning. My dad, my brother Collin (13), and my sister Kamille (10) are on the team. My Mom Cheryl McKillican is out on her long board catching some waves alongside us. We all need to have everything ready for the morning so we pack up all of our stuff and set it out on the table in the living room. Before I go to bed, I check the tide charts to see how the surf will be. I can tell everyone on the team is doing the same because they are all on Facebook. It takes a while, but eventually I fall asleep with thoughts of surfing on my mind. The alarm doesn’t even wake me up anymore for my body is so accustomed to this so I get up before it sounds and I turn it off. I quickly put on my board shorts and sprint out of my room on my way to the car. I

Stor Mason M 10th grad Country Day Sc


y School Surf Team can see my brother and sister doing the same while my parents are trying to keep themselves awake. We get in the car and hurry down to Pangas restaurant and rush in. I drop my stuff and grab my board. It’s still pitch black out and the only source of light is the moon. We all stumble out onto the beach and peel our eyes open to see the sand, using the moonlight to walk towards the surf. We dip our toes into the water, which most of the time is extremely cold, but sometimes we get lucky. We all paddle out, racing to see who is going to have the first wave of the day. It is still hard to see where we are and what we are doing. We hold on to the remaining moonlight to see where the peak is. We get outside and the first rays of light spill out over the water. The water is beautiful, you can see straight to the bottom, where the sea life is stirring just beneath our dangling feet. We surf as a group, having fun and cheering each other on. No one gets angry at one another because we are all friends.

ry by McKillican de student chool Guanacaste

We get out of the water at 6:30 am and walk back to the restaurant. We hurry into the showers and get into our uniforms. Everyone crowds around the big table in Pangas where we are served the most amazing breakfasts in the world. We gorge ourselves on fruit, eggs, bacon, sausages and much more. After we eat we hurry onto the bus to go to school. All day we talk about how the surf was and who got the best waves. Surf team is the best part of my week. Come by and surf with us some time!

Word puzzle Word 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. abridged almendra amigdalas annapolis batalia ciruela concha condensed condimentar conocedora cortesia diccionario embarrassment espuela explanation

faithful fortunately friendliness luxurious mesomorph monorail puente sospechar stentorian tariff temporada tonsils tortuguero tutorial verguenza

Surf Report (from page 15) A bad vibe can be your worst day. We want our kids to know how to stay positive. EZG: Why did you start all this? TV: Because we believe a school is a community and there is more than theory in a classroom, especially here in Costa Rica. Families move here for a reason and some of these reasons are a healthy, tropical lifestyle, away from the rat-race of the Western world. So we want to extend school towards this lifestyle. BM: Yes, I agree with Toni. When I was a kid, society thought surfing was what you did if you were on the wrong path. My dad cautioned me, suggesting that my surfer peer group may not be in the best interest of my future. Today’s surfing holds a new, mystique about nature, health, the planet and, much to my dad’s relief, really good people surf. An accomplished surfer/ waterman is someone special. It’s like having a black belt in a martial art. We hope to help these kids accomplish that. The kids know it and you can see that they want it. EZG: Is there a special kid whose story stands out? BM: Annabell Baldwin’s story maybe. She is 14. Her father was killed in a plane crash seven years ago, but he was an avid surfer. The board she rides, he had made for her when she was little. It is pink and was shaped for her. She is really getting good now. No one paddles harder for the waves than Annabell. I think this makes her happy on another level. And there’s her little sister Sabrina, who is one of my 10-year-old girl shredders. Her dad had a couple of boards shaped for both of them. EZG: How does it make you feel to be doing this? TV: It is the greatest feeling, seeing these kids have fun, cheer each other on and progress. BM: It’s just way too much fun. EZG: Let’s talk about you guys. How long have you been surfing? TV: Personally, 25 years. BM: Since 1977, the last days of the single fin. Shaun Thompson was the hero. EZG: Where are you from and how long have you been living in Tamarindo? (continued page 33)

Your Stars in March

Aries: 21 March - 20 April

Libra: 23 September - 23 October

Taurus: 21 April - 21 May

Scorpio: 24 October - 22 November

With your ruling planet, Mars, along with the Sun, Venus and Uranus all in Aries and your first house for the first two weeks, you’ll have plenty of action and opportunities for adventure and transformation. Pluto is powerfully stationed and squaring this stellium on the 11th as he enters his retrograde motion phase for five months. Love and attraction could figure prominently during this time so, if looking for lovers, you may very well find many who are interested. Best days are the 9th and 10th. With four planets transiting your twelfth house of hidden enemies, the subconscious mind, secrets, karma and institutions, you will have much to confront this month as the cardinal sign square from Pluto in your ninth house. Belief systems are up for review and you would be wise to adopt a spiritual practice to keep you centered so your hidden strengths can emerge. The energy smoothes out the last two weeks as Venus enters your sign to bring some harmony and love. The 11th and 12th are your stellar days.

Gemini: 22 May - 21 June

With four planets moving through your eleventh house of friends, groups, associations and business networks, you have a wonderful opportunity to advance your cause and expand into new areas. You can have fun, too! Money restrictions still signal caution about over-commitment, however. Don’t sign on for something you can’t afford to pay for. You’ll have time for introspection at the end of the month as your twelfth house gets activated. Days to make your case are the 13th, 14th and 15th.

Cancer: 22 June - 22 July

Career expansion and progress continues for you as the Aries stellium transits your tenth house this month. With Mars and Venus traveling together now, there’s a chance to really express and demonstrate your passion and compassion about your work. Just be aware that the Pluto square comes from your seventh house of partnership so tread lightly if any offers seem like they could actually bind you to something unsavory in the long run. The 16th and 17th are stellar days for you.

Leo: 23 July - 23 August

This would be an excellent time to have an adventure abroad! The stellium of planets in Aries in your ninth house begs for something novel to do in an unusual place. Do take care with your food, however, as the Pluto square comes from your sixth house of health, hygiene and diet. Saturn transiting your fourth makes you somewhat reluctant to leave home base but it would be good for your soul if you do get out and about this month. The 18th, 19th and 20th are great days for you.

Virgo: 24 August - 22 September

Finances, long term asset management and insurance matters are issues on your agenda for this month, along with sexuality, secrets, psychological rebirth and occult matters. You may have some significant insights if you are willing to do the inner work necessary to get them. While not particularly easy, it is extremely rewarding to get to the bottom of things that may have been hidden from your sight for decades. Be brave and willing to confront! The 21st and 22nd are days to reward yourself. by Jeanne Callahan (

This month is all about partnership issues, contracts, agreements you make and open enemies. Pretty serious stuff. The Pluto square comes from the fourth house of home, real estate, ancestors and your roots. The fourth is a house of endings so something is likely to be in its final stages of completion. Don’t stick your head in the sand now; these things have to be dealt with fairly and squarely. The 23rd and 24th are good days to negotiate. The energy is about health and work for you this month as you can really commit to cleaning up any bad dietary habits that have caused you problems. If you have pets, you might need to attend to their care this month. Pluto in your third house means you must be careful with your words as communications may come off as to punitive or harsh. What you are attempting to do is just self-mastery. The 25th and 26th are your best days.

Sagittarius: 23 November - 21 December

This is a great month for some fun and adventure with four planets in your fifth house of creativity, vacations and pleasures. Just don’t make it super expensive and you’ll be fine. The temptation will be to use credit to buy something you are craving but just say no. You will regret it within weeks if you indulge your whim. There’s some lesson to be learned about responsibility now so just go for simple enjoyment and leave the extravagances to others. Your best days are the 1st, 27th and 28th.

Capricorn: 22 December - 21 January

With four planets transiting your fourth house of home, real estate, ancestry and security you might be involved with fixing up a property or tearing down something that isn’t fit to renovate. Pluto in your first house gives you drive and intensity, perhaps too much intensity so be aware you can come off too pushy. Rely on your friends to give you honest feedback now if you get obsessive or compulsive about something. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 29th and 30th are your fortunate days

Aquarius: 22 January - 19 February

This is a good month to get to know your neighbors, spend time with siblings, communicate with others, and possibly take some short trips as the third house is being activated by four planets in Aries. Great month for some action and adventures. Saturn in your tenth house of career gives you some extra responsibilities but do try to take some time off to enjoy this special month. You will learn a lot about yourself by doing so. The 5th and 6th are excellent days for you.

Pisces: 20 February - 20 March

Money, assets, values and earning power all come to a head this month as four planets in Aries transit your second house. Pluto is in the eleventh house of friends and associations squaring this group so you may have some choices to make regarding who you do business with. Let your intuition guide you. You may learn some lessons about your belief systems within the next two months which will serve you in the long run. Your best days are the 7th and 8th.

Namasté Visit Jeanne’s site at

Parents’ Corner Too Much, Too Little… Making Sense of Sensory Information Our Nervous System processes the information that it receives through the senses, interpreting and organizing it, to produce a response that allows us to interact with our environment. This is the process known as sensory integration, which regulates most important aspects of our lives, such as learning, motor development and coordination and behavior. The California-born Educational Psychologist Jean Ayres (1920-1989) dedicated her life to researching the impact of dysfunctional sensory integration in children’s behavior and learning and formulated the theory of Sensory Processing Disorder. Since we receive millions of sensory stimuli throughout the day our brain needs to inhibit the information that we don’t need, so that we can pay attention to what is relevant. When our brain processes sensory information correctly it is capable of modulating sensory messages, regulating our levels of mental, physical and emotional activity, automatically and without any conscious effort. But what happens if there is a dysfunction in the process? Then we will struggle with filtering the information received, and with deciding what we should respond to and what to ignore. Children who have problems with sensory integration appear disorganized and “out of sync”, and may exhibit some of the following characteristics: • Hypersensitive to touch, sound or movement: easily distracted, shows an exaggerated response to physical contact, rejects and avoids certain textures or smells, displays unusual fears towards basic movements or playground equipment, is very scared of loud noises. • Hyposensitive to sensory input: Craves sensory experiences constantly, bumps into things or people, and continuously looks for strong physical contact with others, often being perceived as aggressive and/or fearless. • Unusually high or low activity level: needs to be constantly moving, or, on the contrary, does not like to move at all and gets tired easily. • Coordination problems: has poor balance, appears clumsy and physically insecure, struggles with learning new motor skills (jump roping, riding a bike, catching and throwing a ball, etc.). • Learning difficulties: even though there is no intellectual impediment, the child may struggle with certain academic areas, and with tasks that require fine motor skills, like using scissors, tying his shoes or buttoning up. • Poor behavioral organization: very impulsive and easily distracted; the child cannot anticipate the consequences of his actions, may get easily frustrated and display aggressive behavior; struggles with transitions and change in general. • Low self-esteem: appears lazy, gets easily bored and shows no motivation. Avoids all activities that may represent a challenge. A child with sensory processing integration problems usually displays some of the characteristics listed above, concentrated around specific sensory input and response (craving, avoiding or fluctuating). If there is no neurological damage or developmental alteration, an intervention in form of a “sensory diet”, which is aimed at stimulating the dysfunctional sensory areas, can quickly produce positive changes if applied early and consistently. “The sensory integration that occurs in moving, talking and playing is the groundwork… for reading, writing and good behavior…FUN is the child’s word for sensory integration”. Dr. Jean Ayres Msc. Mónica Riascos Henríquez Psychopedagogist – Member of ASOLAP – Code 2024

Now Begins the Study of Yoga Body Work You’ve been disciplined in your yoga practice, getting on your mat daily. You’ve meditated, you’ve done your breathing exercises, you are deeply engaged in self-study, and you feel like there is something else that may help you to open up just a bit more. Here is something that you should try, and if you are in the Tamarindo area, it is right here! I met Nyree Aguilar about 5 years ago, after she called and told me that what she did would be a great compliment to what we do at Panacea. So I had my first Ayurvedic Yoga massage with Nyree shortly after that. Yes, she was absolutely right – and I was introduced to a great modality that is good for just about everything! It is superb for working all of your body, and what particularly drew me to this type of body work was the way in which I felt that both my physical body and my energetic body were opened. Nyree did her training with Kusum Modak in India to learn Ayurvedic massage. Master Kusum Modak had studied with B.K.S. Iyengar, who himself has spent much of his life developing how yoga can be used as therapy for mental and physical conditions. From that background, Master Modak developed the ways of using her body to assist the client in finding correct alignment while they are relaxed, increasing the mobility of joints, as well as muscles. Ujjayi breathing (or warrior breathing) was also used to help deep release of stress and stiffness, along with moving the prana or energy of the breath into specific places in the body. All of these things Nyree learned from her teacher, and then added her own knowledge of the Alexander Technique, reflexology, and massage. Beyond what I do in my own yoga and meditation practices, this body work has helped me improve my flexibility and heal from injuries. I know of students of mine who have benefitted from improving their posture and mobility issues with this type of massage. It can help when you feel stressed out, and with the oil and crushed seed combination Nyree uses, will leave your skin also feeling nourished, especially in what is such a dry time here in the Guanacaste area. And you will become aware of how this massage creates a healthy and open flow in the energy centers of your body. So give yourself a treat and try out a massage with Nyree. She does them up here at Panacea, along with at her space in the Plaza Conchal in Tamarindo. See what this body work can do for your yoga practice.

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

Barbara’s Pet Stories With Mixed Feelings

Saturday midday, I just took some cold water out of the fridge, when I heard a noise, like a whimpering, fine and high in tone. I had heard this before. I ran down to the entrance at the road, where this noise came from. One of my dogs, Bonnie, was already standing there, looking up to the palm tree, where I could see 2 or 3 White-throated Magpie-Jays, and I heard this whimpering again, but I could not figure out where it came from...oh, then I saw a squirrel running over the Monkey Bridge to the other side of the road. I opened the gate very quietly, went to the other side, too. Now the squirrel was running half down a tree then half up and down again...very excited, and again. Then this whimpering again, OMG , now I remembered: squirrel babies. So the squirrel I saw must be the Mama, looking for her babies...down, back up, down again, she jumped to the next tree, down, up, down, up...whimperings. I was searching on the ground surrounding the trees, but nothing, nothing, just the whimpering. Then Mama squirrel ran back to our property and me too, Mama squirrel now hanging on that palm tree, where Bonnie was, looking down at her. Oh, no! These Magpie Jays, two of them were on the ground, pecking at two baby squirrels. I yelled at them, get away from the babies, you cussed birds. You do not need to kill them, you have enough food you can get elsewhere, take off...but it was too late. The babies were dead already. Mama squirrel looked horrified to me, poor little thing...Then Bonnie barked at me, wuff, wuff, like look here. Now, there was a third baby lying on the ground, but in between Bonnie’s paws. Bonnie is always up to small things; now she was sitting there protecting the baby squirrel! And she snapped after the Magpies when they were trying to go closer to this baby that was still alive...Yeah! I grabbed it carefully and held it up towards Mama squirrel...she climbed down slowly, fearful. I put the baby against the tree, with its tiny claws it was able to hold itself for some seconds. Before it started to slip down, Mama grabbed it and in a heartbeat she went up the tree and back into her nest. Now I could see the nest, and I am guessing: the Magpies had attacked the nest, Mama squirrel had fought back but against the stronger birds she was not able to protect her babies, so they had fallen out of the nest and then the little ones down on the ground were an easy target and a meal for the birds. Bonnie went after the Magpies, but noticing that their “food” was gone they took off.

Doctor’s Orders Jeffrey Whitlow, M.D.



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!

or the past few months we have been discussing the harmful effects of the various “recreational” drugs. Last month we began our discussion on the harmful effects associated with the drug opium and its derivatives, a class of drugs known as the “opiates”. This month we will conclude that discussion. In addition to the older members of this class of drugs that we talked about last month (Morphine, Heroin, and Methadone), there is a veritable plethora of newer synthetic forms, such as hydromorphone (Dilaudid), oxycodone (Percocet, Tylox, Oxy-Contin), (Demerol), hydrocodone (Lorcet, Lortab). It is not common for patients who are prescribed these drugs for an acute problem to become addicted. However, for those who do become addicted, a therapeutic dose of 4-6 pills a day can turn into a 24-pill-a-day habit, due to the fact that it is normal for people to develop tolerance to the “euphoric” effects of these type of drugs. That is, it takes larger and larger doses of the drug to “get high”. Obviously, no doctor is going to prescribe that number of pills to a patient, so the addict has to resort to criminal activity to support his habit. Oxy-Contin is a fairly new extended release form of oxycodone that comes in pills ranging in strength from 10-80 milligrams. It was developed as an answer to the phenomenon of “tolerance” described in the previous paragraph. It turned out to be so addictive though, that it now sells on the street for $1 a milligram. A patient who gets a prescription for sixty 80-milligram pills just received $5,000 from their physician. Needless to say, users have to resort to crime in order to support what can turn into a $500-a-day habit. When Oxy-Contin came out in the early 2000s, I prescribed it to two patients who had both been stable for years on thirty 10-milligram Percocet pills per month. Within two months both patients were dead. One died from an overdose of meth, as he had traded some of his pills for that drug. The other gentleman was burned alive in a car wreck that resulted when he tried to chase someone down who had stolen his pills. I never wrote another prescription for the drug, and I banned the Oxy-Contin salesman from my office. It is inconceivable to me that the FDA continues to allow Oxy-Contin to be prescribed, as it is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. All of the opiates are associated with a dangerous withdrawal syndrome. Chronic users will suffer from severe somatic symptoms if and when they try to stop taking these drugs “cold turkey”. They will suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. They will have body aches and malaise (i.e. they will “feel bad”). They can have an increased heart rate and respiratory rate. If the user has been taking a relatively high dose of opiates, and if the withdrawal is precipitous enough, the person withdrawing can go into cardiogenic shock. That is, their heart beats so quickly and so inefficiently that their blood doesn’t move through their body effectively, which results in tissue oxygen starvation and death. But who cares about death when you can get high, right? Next month, we will continue this discussion, with a review of the effects of sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs, or anxiolytics.

Bellydancing Exotic food, Eastern music and glamorous dancers. That is the dinner scene at Gazebo, in Tamarindo’s Garden Plaza every Thursday evening. As you arrive at your table, the food appears – small dishes of Middle-Eastern appetizers, hommous, falafel, fresh-baked pita bread, salads and a variety of sauces.


Then the dancing begins. Gazebo has flown in two lovelies from Turkey, who pirouette amazingly in lavish flowing fabrics, their well-tuned bellies vibrating to the exotic music. And the food keeps coming – chick peas, corn, carrots, artichokes, pickled cabbage - followed by kebabs of lamb, juicy and delicious. Gazebo puts on this delightful show every Thursday at the restaurant outside AutoMercado. Treat your palate and senses to a unique night out at Gazebo. Reservations at 2653-2376 or 8487-3815.



C hapter XXVII



t’s bad enough that once again I find myself receiving increasingly angry emails from the editor on the subject of tardiness in column delivery while I find myself bereft of any idea of a suitable topic. I’m also having to, once again, deal with another angry group that finds my writings objectionable. It’s hard to be funny sometimes. A group calling themselves “The Friends of Simians”, angry at my recent depiction of Howler monkeys preparing for a war of aggression against visiting golfers, have been bombarding me with extremely unpleasant e-mails, twitters and Facebook entries questioning, among other things, my intelligence, ethnic background, and sexual orientation, as well as making suggestions of near-impossible anatomic insertions. Hotmail has asked me to start using Yahoo, and I recently broke a Facebook record for the number of unfriendings in the shortest period of times. I have no idea how to read a twitter, having been born before 1959.

Much Ado About Nothing

Recent News and Events Please realize the anything presented here will be old news by the time you read it. Fires! As you’re reading this I must assume that it’s April and even dryer than it is now (in March). I’m also assuming that there have been even more fires than ever. Much of these fires are started on purpose by the local campesinos who traditionally set fires to clear out the undergrowth in preparation for the rainy season, and watching entire mountainsides burning at night can be a spectacular if somewhat unnerving sight, especially if it’s in your backyard. Since houses here are made of nonburning cement there are few losses, and now that the local phone and power companies have started using non-incinerating metal poles there are fewer power outages and (a little) better phone service.

So it’s back to writing a column. I’ll try and be careful this time and present only the true facts in a responsible manner.

It’s the fires in town that’ll get your attention, and with the number of thatch-roofed palapas that abound in Tamarindo all it takes is a cinder and a breeze to have caused a number of high-profile conflagrations over the years. Who doesn’t remember the famous fire that burned Tamarindo’s only established House of Dubious Repute, the “Why Not?”, several years ago forcing the local working girls to migrate towards the circle. Oddly, the fire happened during the rainy season and is still being investigated.

I was thrilled to hear that this month’s edition of The Howler will be featuring a new columnist, none other than Madame President herself, Laura Chinchilla. Ms. Chinchilla will be combining a cooking column (10,000 Ways to Cook Beans) along with a comprehensive surfing report. Let me be the first to congratulate the President and welcome her to our illustrious group of journalists.

A new feature to this year’s fire season has been the sudden appearance of fire trucks now stationed in Huacas, a scant ten or so miles away. The fire Department has requested previous notification of any planned arson. I’m assuming that any day now the lots on the other side of our wall here in Langosta will burst into flame and I can only hope that the local water company will have service that day.

Those of you who know me know that I am a basically extremely shy and fragile person who just wants to get along and have everybody love him. Please be gentle with me.

Story by Jesse Bishop (

Roads It has been hard not to notice the road construction going on in the center of Tamarindo which will eventually lead to an actual hardtop thoroughfare. Work started with the cutting down of one of the town’s oldest and floweriest trees to make way for the new and soon-to-be-taxi-infested curbs. The new road will not extend to Langosta so we will retain the honor of “the worst road to a nice locale”. Although you inhabitants of the future that exist a month from now may know better, I now make the prediction that the local authorities are waiting for the Semana Santa week long Easter Break to begin the final stages, pouring the asphalt, spreading rocks and packing them down with those big roller things to insure maximum disruption during what is usually one of the busiest times of the year for Tamarindo. That’s the way we do things here in Guanacaste! Small Victories Life here in the expatriate community can sometimes seem like an endless assortment of aggravations: many of the local inhabitants have refused to learn English… or French…or German… while most traffic and directional signs insist on being in Spanish. There are often days when the surf is less than bitchin’ and the price of a beer has steadily increased. But it is still possible to experience the occasional victory to sort of soothe things a little. Like slipping into a cash register line right before the local matron with three carts filled to the brim with groceries. Or being “number 35” in the bank line while they’re just getting to “3”… and then someone who just can’t wait any longer gives you their “7”. Or being stopped by a local traffic cop looking for a little chorizo who finds out you’re stone sober, not speeding and documentally correct. And my personal victory that will last me another whole month. I have now provided what appear to be 949 words, fulfilling my obligation to fill a page in The Howler while hopefully irritating as few readers as possible.

Sweet Talked, Short Changed and Locked Out

Tom Peifer (

Stranded asset is a financial term that describes an asset that has become obsolete, or non-performing, but must be recorded on the balance sheet as a loss of profit. The term has particular relevance to pricing long-term economic and environmental sustainability. Wikipedia As a kid, I had no idea what a real estate scam was. Nonetheless, as it turns out, growing up in Southern California, we drove by them all the time. My parents even bought up a bit of an over-hyped project that had gone bust long before I saw the light of day. In truth, scams, rip-offs or just promoting way more than you can deliver is a bit like bio-diversity. Comes in all shapes, sizes and colors and tends to flourish in certain kinds of environments. Southern California, with its vaunted reputation for orange blossoms, balmy weather and the deep blue sea, was in many ways the perfect setting to hype the dream, lure the unwary and sink the hook. The land my folks scooped up at fire-sale prices was a classic example. The ‘lots’ overlooked the shore of Lake Elsinore, the largest natural lake in the drought-prone southern part of the state. The area was a perfect escape from the hustle-bustle of LA, yet far enough away to be sold off to people who had no way of verifying the details, like the roads, water, utilities. Or when, in one of the periodic dry spells, the lake ran out of water. Two images were etched forever into my ten-year old mind: A Mississippi river boat-style vessel stuck at a bit of a starboard tilt in the hardened clay of the former lake bed and the vaulted arches encasing ornate, rusted wrought iron gates, leading into a maze of streets bisecting barren fields full of tumbleweeds—no electric lines, no water, no homes. As they say in the movies: “Fast forward to the present…” “The present”, for me, has been a 20-year-long series of flashbacks to the rusting gates, abandoned projects, and dashed hopes and dreams that I first caught a glimpse of in my youth. Just as the sharpies in LA contrived to package the allure of orange blossoms and sunshine to the huddled masses yearning to breathe fresh air and work on their suntans, the sophisticated promotion of Pura Vida has led to a plethora of graceful gates, superb web sites and an increasing number of disappointed buyers, left “high and dry” like the riverboat in the cracked mud of Lake Elsinore a half-century ago. After hearing a couple of dozen complaints—ranging from “no road to my lot”, to “no water, power, bridge, etc.”--I once wrote an article encouraging buyers to do their homework, to look before they leap. In retrospect, perhaps due to a personal affinity for detective novels, I encouraged people to sleuth around, to become sort of Ace Ventura Real Estate detectives, to look for the clues that would provide evidence as to whether their investment would simply become yet another “stranded asset.” This time around I decided to consult a real pro, a guy who works with a project that has delivered on their promises, helped people relocate from projects that failed to deliver, and who helped me flesh out a list for buyers who want “mas Pura

Vida y menos pesadillas” (more Pura Vida and fewer nightmares). Following is his ‘hit list’ with comments or illustrations from my own experience. • Clean Title My only observation here is that they don’t make Aspirin, Tylenol or any other remedy in big enough doses to alleviate the headaches that result from dealing with the courts, the banks and the lawyers when the deal is not squeaky clean from the start. • Water Supply As Mark Twain observed “You only appreciate the value of water when the well goes dry.” Remember, Guanacaste is a seasonal desert. Nothing beats a big tank, brimful and uphill from your home, ‘cause when the power goes out, gravity keeps on working. • All Infrastructure in Place (not just a gate) Trust, but verify. No amount of hand waving, Pepsodent smiles and good intentions can insure that the money you invest will deliver the goods—and the utilities--to the land where you’re dreaming to live. • Functioning Homeowner’s Association. Who are your future neighbors? How do they get along? How do they work out ‘issues’ that come up? If they can’t agree on budgets it can affect levels of maintenance and the livability of the project. There simply has to be sufficient funding and staff to guarantee that your investment won’t become a ‘stranded asset” and a broken dream. • Quality Road Access Most visitors have no inkling of the flurry of road repair that goes on as ‘high season’ approaches. Potholes filled, gullies smoothed out and washed-out stream crossings rendered passable once again. I know one developer who restored a blown-out culvert at least twice and finally left the property owners to fend for themselves when the raging current gets knee-, waist-, chest-deep on the way to their ‘dream homes’. The local record belongs to the ‘development’ that lost seven stream crossings in one rainstorm. Less than a mile from where I live there are two homes, abandoned and rotting away up in

(continued page 32)

Sweet Talked...

(from page 31)

the hills. The so-called ‘access’ road is impossible to navigate in the worst storms. Further up the valley, 250 yards of hillside roads caved in to the law of gravity rather than supporting the needs of the developer to provide his clients with the obligatory slice of ocean view. Put another way: some of the main roads, both county and national, become impassable at times during the rainy season. Is the project you’re looking at able to guarantee that you can get in—and out—when the heavens open up and all hell breaks loose?

A p r i l ( a l l

t i m e s

2 0 1 3 l o c a l )


1st - rise 5:40; set 5:54 15th - rise 5:33; set 5:54 30th - rise 5:26; set 5:55

Last quarter: New: 1st quarter: Full:


2nd 10th 18th 25th

10:37 p.m. 3:35 a.m. 6:31 a.m. 1:57 p.m.

• Proximity to Businesses – restaurants, supermarket, mechanic, doctors, hospitals, banking, etc. The bottom line: how far do you want to drive for a six-pack, a bag of coffee or an aspirin? And how much of your life do you want to dedicate to living like a modern day Mad Max Road Warrior? In fact, the ‘hit list’ provided by my friend went on to include many intangibles like “sense of community”, “connection with local culture” and a “shared concern among residents for the natural world that surrounds us.” Pardon me for returning to a favorite theme. There’s a world of difference between “on line” and “on the ground”. The Internet provides unscrupulous promoters with a platform beyond the wildest dreams of the hustlers in Los Angeles early in the last century. The problem with ‘virtual’ is that it’s hard to verify. And that’s why you want to learn everything about the good, the bad and the ugly before you buy a ticket and take a seat. Your dreams may not include a supporting role in the ongoing tragi-comedy: “Pura Vida Goes Belly Up.” In parting, as they say, let me clarify one point. The purpose of this piece is not to scare people off from the dreams of having a home here, nor to dissuade the careful consideration that an investment at this point in time can be a smart move financially. I just feel that the more information people have, the better choices they make. As every business knows, a satisfied customer is the best PR there is.

Tom Peifer is an ecological land use consultant with 18 years experience in Guanacaste. 2658-8018. El Centro Verde is dedicated to researching and promoting sustainable land use, permaculture and environmentally sound development.

Surf Report (from page 22)

TV: Belgium. I have been coming here since 1994 when we built Sunset House on the hill. But I’ve been living here 4 years. BM: San Diego, California. Here since 2003. EZG: Why did you come to Costa Rica? TV: I came here on a surf trip and fell in love. It is truly an exceptional place on earth and one of the most consistent yearround for surfing. And it’s a great family destination. BM: All of the above and I realized with a school like CDSG I could live here without compromising my children’s educational path. EZG: What do you yourselves get out of surfing? TV: Every paddle out and every wave is a different challenge. That’s why I and most other surfers are hooked for life. You never get bored because conditions are always different. Being in the ocean, especially a warm one and sharing waves with friends and family, is simply an unbeatable experience. BM: I was very fortunate to grow up around a surf scene with remarkably talented surfers. We did not call it “soul” at the time, but we knew our job was to surf clean, to carve, to be radical, but keep our movements to those only essential to tapping the energy of the wave. These waves we surf are generated thousands of miles away either in the Aleutian Islands or near the South Pole—ice—and surfing them well as they finish their long journey has become a life’s work. Looking for a good wave and trying my best to live up to it by surfing well is a desire never totally satisfied, but one that has kept me coming back for more my entire life. (See page 18 for a student’s eye view of the Dawn Patrol) ******************* I’ve written before about Andrea Diaz of Waves Costa Rica surf shop and her work with the CEPIA kids. These boys and girls from Brasilito, El Llanito and Villarreal have officially formed a Surf for Youth team, and will work towards competing in the Circuito Nacional de Surf, as well as other contests when available. Remember, they must maintain good grades in order to be on the team. Andrea trains with them every Saturday, getting them ready for the competitive world. The team is José Armando Fallas (15), Henry Alexander Rios Mendoza (13), Francisco Sanchez Coronado (14), Agustina Errea (16), Isayana Juárez (17), Tania Gonzales Cisneros (16), Marcela Garcia Espinoza

(16), Zulay Martinez (12), David Gonzales (15), Francisco Meza (16), Anthony Rodriguez (13), and Harvey Rojas. Catching up with all the Circuito contests that have passed since my last column, let’s begin with the finals for the Circuito Nacional Master & Metropolitan. The Costa Rica national Masters Team will be selected from these winners. Master (35 or older) Kenneth Ávila (Puntarenas) Paulo Viales (Puntarenas) Grand Masters (40 or older) Kenneth Ávila (Puntarenas) Randall Chaves (Puntarenas) Kahuna (45 or older) Craig “Tequila” Schieber (Puerto Viejo, Limón) Alejandro Monge (Jacó) Grand Kahuna (50 or older) Craig “Tequila” Schieber (Puerto Viejo, Limón) Master Women’s (35 or more) Verónica Quirós And in Jacó, at the Circuito Nacional Olympus 2013, presented by Adrenaline Rush, Jair Pérez took the trophy. Here are the winners of each category at this date: Open: Jair Pérez (Jacó) Open Femenino: Lisbeth Vindas (Jacó) Junior: Juan Carlos Hernández (Jacó) Junior Femenino: Leilani McGonagle (Pavones) Boys: Bruno Carvalho (Jacó) MiniGrommet: Malakai Martínez (Tamarindo) Longboard: Anthony Flores (Jacó) Astute readers will notice that our March column subject Malakai Martínez won the MiniGrommets in Jacó. I want to take a minute and acknowledge one of his sponsors that I got wrong last month. The correct name of his beverage sponsor is A3 Energy Drink. Sorry about that error.

That’s all I’ve got. Looking forward to hearing what you think. Keep those emails coming at Send your comments, information, errors or praise, because I can’t do this column without you, the real surfers.


06:14 12:14 18:35

8.8 6S -0.1 9.1

05:10 11:36 17:48

2T Last Qtr

00:48 07:07 13:08 19:31 01:44 08:08 14:10 20:35 02:48 09:16 15:21 21:46 03:59 10:28 16:37 22:58

-0.3 8.4 0.3 8.6 0.2 8.0 0.8 8.1 0.7 7.7 1.1 7.8 0.9 7.7 1.2 7.7


00:05 06:14 12:36 18:49 01:03 07:09 13:28 19:41 01:53 07:57 14:14 20:27 02:39 08:41 14:57 21:09






10W New Moon

0.9 11T 8.0 0.9 7.9 0.7 8.4 0.5 8.2 0.4 8.8 0.1 8.5 0.1 9.1 -0.2 8.7 0.0 9.3 -0.4






03:21 09:21 15:37 21:48 04:01 09:59 16:15 22:26 04:40 10:37 16:53 23:03 05:19 11:15 17:31 23:41 06:00 11:54 18:11

8.8 -0.1 9.3 -0.4 8.7 0.0 9.2 -0.3 8.6 0.2 9.0 -0.1 8.3 0.6 8.6 0.2 8.0 1.0 8.2



18T 1st Qtr 19F


00:21 06:42 12:36 18:54 01:04 07:29 13:23 19:42 01:52 08:21 14:16 20:37 02:46 09:18 15:17 21:39 03:44 10:18 16:21 22:42

0.6 7.6 1.4 7.7 1.0 7.2 1.8 7.2 1.4 6.9 2.1 6.9 1.7 6.8 2.2 6.7 1.8 7.0 2.0 6.8





25T Full Moon

04:44 11:14 17:21 23:40 05:39 12:06 18:15

1.7 26F 7.3 1.7 7.1 1.4 27S 7.8 1.1

00:32 06:30 12:53 19:04 01:20 07:17 18:38 19:50 02:06 08:03 14:22 20:35

7.5 28S 1.0 8.4 0.5 8.0 29M 0.5 9.0 -0.1 8.6 30T 0.0 9.5 -0.6

02:50 08:48 15:07 21:20 03:35 09:34 15:52 22:05 04:22 10:21 16:40 22:53 05:10 11:11 17:29 23:42 06:02 12:03 18:22

9.0 -0.4 9.9 -1.0 9.3 -0.6 10.1 -1.2 10.4 -0.6 10.1 -1.1 9.4 -0.5 9.8 -0.9 9.2 -0.1 9.3

1W May 2T Last Qtr 3F



00:34 06:57 13:00 19:19 01:31 07:57 14:03 20:22 02:33 09:02 15:12 21:31 03:39 10:09 16:23 22:39 04:46 11:13 17:30 23:44

-0.4 3.9 0.3 8.8 0.0 8.5 0.7 8.2 0.5 8.3 1.0 7.9 0.8 8.2 1.1 7.7 1.0 8.2 1.0 7.7


Howler magazine, serving the Gold Coast of Costa Rica


Howler magazine, serving the Gold Coast of Costa Rica