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Salon de Cacao

Salon de Cacao groupBy Julieta, Mamá Cacaomamacacaochocolate@gmail.com

On the 7th July, the Salon de Cacao took place at Cafe Milagro. In its second year, this free to attend, mini-festival sets out to raise the profile and celebrate our local cacao and artisanal chocolate-makers. 

The Puntarenas Province and Southern Zones used to produce large amounts of cacao, mostly for export. Some sources cite that cacao was the number one export of Costa Rica before coffee and bananas took over. But cacao was hit hard by a fungal disease called monilia in the late 70’s. By 1983 Costa Rican cacao exports had declined by 96%. 

Salon de Cacao groupCacao is back and thriving. We are now making some seriously good chocolate here
12 regionally-based artisanal chocolate makers brought their products on Saturday. There were also cacao-inspired talks—educating us on the cultural and historical relevance of cacao and on healthy & environmentally-friendly growing practices.

If you are looking to grow cacao and need advice, are interested in sourcing great chocolate, or would like to attend a chocolate-making workshop, please contact me and I will point you in the right direction. 

If this inspires you to support the development of delicious chocolate forests here in CR with small farmers, please also consider sponsoring trees through Community Carbon Trees.


Meet Merlin: More Than a Pretty Face

Merlin the slothMerlin is a wild sloth that we have been tracking since February. Through the use of binoculars, we recently discovered that he had acquired a serious fungal infection. However, our team is actively treating him with special baths! He will lose a lot of hair in the process, but we know that with these treatments, he’s feeling a lot better already.

ADOPT MERLIN through TSI’s symbolic adoption program Adopt A Sloth on TheSlothInstituteCostaRica.org.

The Sloth InstituteFollow Merlin’s story on Facebook & Instagram @TheSlothInstitute #SlothDiaries.

The Sloth Institute (TSI)’s mission is to enhance the welfare and conservation of sloths through research and education. TSI is located in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. For more information please email info@theslothinstitute.org.

If you see a sloth who needs help: ALL or WHATSAPP +506 87756847/87SLOTHS.

Fiery-Billed Aracari

Fiery-Billed AracariFiery-Billed Aracaris are members of the Toucan family. I think of them as their smaller cousins. They are one of two types of Aracaris found here in Costa Rica. The other is the less colorful Collared Aracari.

Fiery-Billed Aracaris have a very limited range of habitation and are found in the rainforests on the Pacific side of southern Costa Rica
and in western Panama. This one was photographed in the Dominical area.

I find them to be mischievous, goofy, proud, prehistoric looking, and very social in their behavior. Their brilliantly colored beaks and
bright feathers are a stark contrast to the green of the rainforest. They are not graceful flyers and can often be seen hopping from one branch to another.

You will have a better chance of seeing them when they are most active. That’s when the weather is a bit misty and not too hot. They can often be seen feeding in papaya trees when the fruit is ripe and also in Cecropia trees.

Korean Beef Bulgogi and Homemade Kimchi

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If you are able to find a perfect grill, preferably charcoal, don’t hesitate to try these classic Korean culinary delights. The bulgogi meat is sliced thinly and only needs a few hours to marinate. The kimchi is a fun science project to share with kids (and adults) and awaken our foodie curiosity.

Although soy sauce, sesame oil, gojujang paste, ginger and garlic, might not have been readily available in those times, I believe that Gengis Khan and his raiding mongols ate something similar… even the fermented pickled cabbage “kimchi” was essential to their diet. 

Homemade Kimchi

Jar of KimchiIngredients

  • 1 whole Chinese cabbage (mostaza China) washed, and sliced into 1 inch wedges
  • ½ cup sea salt (sal marina)
  • 4 to 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of minced ginger
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 3 tbsp of water
  • 2 tbsp of Gojujang paste OR 1 tbsp of red chili flakes mixed with 1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
  • 1 peeled small carrot and cut into matchsticks 
  • matchsticks of daikon radish (optional)
  • 3 whole scallions in ½ inch slices

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Karma Saving the Rainforest – August 2018

KSTR logoBy Karma Casey

Dead Hawksbill turtle

Dead Hawksbill turtle. Photo Jhonny Lopez

Hi again Quepolandia readers! It’s Karma, the spokeskid from Kids Saving the Rainforest!

This month I have a very important message to share with you, and that is about the importance of boating safety and protecting the very special marine animals that share this beautiful place in the world with all of us.

I learned this lesson from a graceful animal called the sea turtle! Let me tell you how it happened. Recently, my amazing mama and I were walking on the beach when we came across two lifeguards carrying something large out of the water. We went over to see what it was, and we realized it was a large Hawksbill sea turtle!

There were three big gashes cut into the shell. We hoped at first that we could call one of the groups in the area that work with sea turtles to help rescue it. Unfortunately, this poor turtle was already dead and it was too late to help her. We asked one of the lifeguards named Jhonny Lopez, what had happened.

Jhonny teaches surfing lessons, and he also volunteers his time as a lifeguard helping to keep everyone safe on the beach. He explained to us that the turtle had been sliced by the propeller of a boat and had washed up on shore. Some people were not showing any respect to the body, bothering it a lot, and he and the other lifeguard had moved it to safety while the turtle was reported to MINAE, the government agency who helps wildlife. My mama had their number in her phone, so she sent a message right away!

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¿Qué Pasa en Quepos? – August 2018

August 2018 coBienvenidos…Welcome to our piece of paradise. We are sure you will have a great time. There are so many wonderful things Costa Rica has to offer and we have them right here. Amazing beaches to surf, stroll or just tranquilo. For an over the top view of Manuel Antonio National Park (National Parks Day Aug. 24th) try parasailing with Aguas Azules. World class sport fishing and a fleet of boats to get you there are waiting for you at Marina Pez Vela. We have tours from skydiving with Skydive Costa Rica to scuba diving and everything in between. Whether you want to relax and enjoy our nature in the mangroves or for a little more adrenaline try white water rafting with Tucanes Tours. Our mangroves and rivers are as magical as our coastline. To experience the jungle canopy there is nothing like ziplining (Titi Canopy Tours). Or the first of it’s kind EcoTram at Hacienda Barú (tell Jack we sent you). August is whale season so while you are enjoying your cocktail at our many fine restaurants with a view, pay attention to the coast you never know when a family of Humpback Whales will go swimming past.

We would like to wish all you mothers a very happy Mother’s Day (August 15th). We would not be here if not for you. So do not make mom cook; take advantage of our incredible selection of fine restaurants. She probably would not mind a massage either.

Need more reason to celebrate? August 3rd is International Beer Day, so try one of the many microbrews at Fuego in Dominical. Also, International Rum Day is August 16….”cheers, salud”.

We would also like to welcome our new advertisers Flutterby House, MiniPrice Store, and Sea of Green Designs. Thanks to Rodolfo Guzman for the Helmet Headed Basilisk cover.

We hope you enjoy our magazine and it helps guide you through this enchanting paradise we call home. You can always follow and share here or on Facebook. We appreciate and welcome your comments.

Peace and Enjoy……D

Today’s Tears Bring Tomorrow’s Rain

We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own. Staff writer Os passed away from a long hard fight with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Os starting writing for us in November 2011 and instantly become part of our family. He always had a smile and something nice to say, even at his worst. He is already deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Elizabeth and his family. It’s going to rain…

Leave No Trace For Wildlife This Season

The Sloth InstituteBy Deanna Fisher, TSI Marketing Director

It’s no wonder why folks from around the world are rushing to Costa Rica for their vacation destination. With sprawling coastlines, lush rainforests, and many natural waterfalls, Manuel Antonio offers a unique slice of heaven for every vacation goer. The chance to observe wildlife around every corner provides a fantastic experience many seek while in the area. With these opportunities however come the responsibility to treat wildlife with the respect they deserve and need. Here are 5 ways you can leave no trace during your time in Costa Rica:


Single use plastics are a growing problem world-wide. It is estimated that by 2030 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Do your part to use less by utilizing reusable shopping bags and/or refilling water bottles when out and about. Avoid using straws in beverages and be sure to throw them away in proper receptacles not leave them on the beach or alongside trails.


Do not touch, get close to, or pick up wild
animals for a “better look”. It is stressful to the animal and is possible that the animal may
harbor diseases. Additionally, we can transmit bacteria that is harmful to them. Sick or wounded animals can bite, peck or scratch, sending you to the hospital. Instead, observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee.

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And Costa Rica Is Their Last Best Hope for Survival

By Jack Ewing

Baird's TpirBiologist and tapir specialist, Charlie Foerster, once told me about an experience he had while standing on a high spot looking down over an embankment into a river when a tapir walked across a shallow area and continued into a deep pool until its head was submerged. Its elongated nose stuck out of the water like a snorkel until the animal reached the deepest part of the pool, and it too went under the surface. The water was clear and Charlie could see hordes of small fish surround the tapir and peck away at all of the ticks, lice and other external parasites attached to its hide, while the tapir blew bubbles. After a while the large mammal surfaced, took several deep breaths and sunk back to the bottom repeating the process a couple more times. Finally it walked out of the pool free of all its unwelcome hitchhikers. Now that’s what I call cool.

The Central American Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) sometimes called Baird’s Tapir, is the largest land mammal in Central and South America. They are about the size of a small cow—an adult will weigh up to 350 kg—but are shaped more like a pig. A long, prehensile snout, that has also been called a short trunk, is used to grasp vegetation and pull it into the tapir’s mouth. The front feet have three large toes and a fourth smaller toe located a little bit higher on the foot. The back feet have only three toes. This puts them in the same family as the horse and rhinoceros, the odd-toed ungulates. They love water and are seldom found far from it.

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Quite the Contrary

I expand my possibilities by cultivating the opposite in myself. When I was young I did not have much choice. As an adult I do, so I use my free will to be the antagonist from within. I understand that no matter how correct I think my decisions are, or how black and white a situation seems, there are always shades of grey or layers of circumstance that I may be unaware of. This requires humility beyond the four decades of lessons I have learned. A set frame of mind can be my own worst enemy. Cultivating the opposite moves my life towards the pursuit of liberation. Freedom from all lesser pursuits (that often revolve around money, food, sex, and power) can be greatly empowering. The value of seeking change and enlightenment enriches my days beyond what I have previously dreamed.

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That’s Fishin’- July 2018

That's Fishin'header
By Benn Gilmour


The Marina Pez Vela was once again the proud hosts of the Offshore World Championships which took place at the end of April. 51 teams from 30 countries descended on Quepos/Manuel Antonio for the Olympics of Sport Fishing and it was a truly special week here in paradise.

328 Sailfish & 24 Marlin were caught and released during the 4 fishing days as well as 18 Dorado, 3 Wahoo and 3 Tuna making it to the scales. The top 4 teams were all from Brazil with eventual winners, representing Rio de Janeiro. A huge congrats to all entrants but especially the Brazilians, who showed everyone how to fish this year, congrats guys!
The Quepos Billfish Cup team who were representing not just Quepos but the whole of Costa Rica, really did us proud and finished in a very respectful 6th position, well done Sam, Nicky, Justin, Parker & Josh! The top boat of the week was EPIC Captained by Michael Alligood. Huge congrats for a fantastic performance taking top honours for the second time in recent years! All tournament records were broken for the quality of the Dorado weighed with the top six fish all being over 45lbs and the largest Dorado weighing an impressive 62lbs! The scene is set for our 1st ever Dorado Derby coming up this November (details below)!

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7 Essential Items to Pack when Traveling to Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Spanish School logoBy Rebecca Fox

You’ve booked your tickets, planned your itinerary and are almost ready for your Costa Rican adventure. The only thing left to do is pack your bag. Many travelers are pleasantly surprised by the infrastructure and amenities available in Costa Rica, drinkable tap-water being a good example. There are, however, a few fairly simple things you can bring from home that will make all the difference to your experience. Whether you are a budget backpacker or a luxury traveler, make sure you consider bringing the following.

Waterproff phone case1. Waterproof Phone Case

I cannot count the number of times I have encountered a visitor desperately trying to dry out their (typically new and expensive) phone by putting it in a bag of rice or sitting it in front of a fan. A rogue wave or unexpected rainstorm can quickly turn the latest iPhone into nothing more than a shiny doorstop. Keeping it in a waterproof case will allow you to relax by the pool and Instagram those waterfalls without worrying about damaging your phone.

2. Sunscreen

Protecting yourself from the sun is vital to a successful Costa Rican experience. You don’t want to waste precious days of your trip avoiding all the fun outdoor activities because you sizzled yourself on the beach within the first 24 hours of arriving. Due to all the water-based activities on offer and the high humidity, it’s best to pack a waterproof or ‘sport’ version of your favorite sunscreen in the highest SPF available. While sunscreen is available to buy here in Costa Rica, it is usually double or triple the price you will find it at home.

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Karma Saving the Rainforest

KSTR logoBy Karma Casey

Vet examining Dona

Hello again Quepolandia readers. Happy 20th birthday to this amazing magazine, which is twice as old as me! Thanks for reading!

This is Karma Casey, the spokes-kid from Kids Saving the Rainforest. For those of you who don’t know who we are, KSTR is a wildlife rescue and sanctuary outside of Quepos, Costa Rica. We help two-toed and three-toed sloths, monkeys, coatimundis, kinkajous, porcupines, parrots, and more! We also plant trees, put up wildlife bridges, educate the public, and do lots of other things to help save the rainforest. If you find sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife, contact our veterinary staff via What’sApp at 88-ANIMAL (506-8826-4625) and we can help!

This month’s article is about probably one of your favorite animals: A sloth!

I have interviewed some of the lucky, hard-working members of our veterinary clinic team to tell you all about one super special and amazing two-toed sloth named Senor Dona.

Dona is an adult male two- toed sloth who was found over an hour away towards Jaco. Kids Saving the Rainforest was alerted by our friends at MINAE and SINAC (two government agencies that work hard to protect Costa Rica’s environment and wildlife) that a sloth had been hit by a car. The wildlife professionals at KSTR quickly came to the rescue, and Senor Dona was rushed to our veterinary clinic.

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Audience Etiquette

Fiddlin'Around headerIt makes me happy to play music, either as a soloist or with a band, and to realize that real, live people are actually listening! Seeing your musical choices and decisions connect with or move someone emotionally is a beautiful thing. I know there are fine musicians who don’t want or need feedback from anyone and who are content to play to the birds while sitting alone on their front porch, but that is usually not enough for me. Especially when the birds aren’t even listening. All musicians are acquainted with being ignored by people in the audience who aren’t paying any attention to us, and while it can hurt our feelings, we make excuses for them or try to act like it doesn’t matter. Well, I don’t think I’ve ever written mean things about an audience before, but sometimes you guys just don’t act right! There is such a thing as audience etiquette.

Audience member talking on cell phoneAges ago I was fixin’ to get on a plane headed for Europe on a tour with a blues guy named Coco Robicheaux, and for some reason that I can’t remember now, our guitarist was being replaced at the last minute with a guy who none of the rest of us knew. We had one small gig in New Orleans before leaving, and it was really kind of a rehearsal as it was our only chance to run through those tricky songs of Coco’s with the new guy. We had a small though attentive and forgiving audience, but after a couple of songs two women came in and sat fairly close to the band and proceeded to talk to each other throughout the entire performance. Loudly and about trivial crap. By the end of the night, I was so steamed about having had to listen to these women talk about their stupid boss, and their stupid new shoes and their stupid lives that I went over to them and told them I’d be at their workplace on Monday morning where I would sit on their stupid desk and play the violin. Serious righteous indignation on my part. So we go on tour, and after being ignored for like three weeks by the new guitarist, I was completely clueless and freaked out about why he and I were having such crummy communication and no comradery. The drummer finally fessed up to me that one of the women I had chastised was actually the fiancé of the guitarist and he now hated me for talking to her the way I did. Sigh. We all lost—the European audiences cause we were giving less than stellar performances, the promoters, the other band members for having to walk on eggshells the whole tour, and I was pissed all over again that he didn’t come talk to me with his grievances like an adult. All because these women just weren’t sensitive to what was going on.

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Sri Lankan Fish Curry

Chef's Corner logo
Hand pounded spices, tamarind juice, coconut milk are the magic ingredients that permeate through this flavorful dish.
Surprisingly quick and easy to prepare, begin with various cuts of fish and elevate them into this sumptuous curry.

Spice Mix Ingredients

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 cardamon pods, seeded
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon

Place spices in a small frying pan and dry roast until fragrant. Place in mortar and pestle and pound into a coarse powder.

Sri Lankan Fish CurryCurry Ingredients

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 1 pinch of chili powder
  • 1 hot chili (optional)
  • 800 grams of skinless firm fish filet e.g. mahi mahi, tuna, corvina, gouper…
  • A thumb-size piece of ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 handful of curry leaves (optional)
  • 2 small or one large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil or other
  • 1 medium size tomato, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of tamarind paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish


  1. Mix lime juice with turmeric and chili powder and marinate the fish pieces, chill and set aside.
  2. Process the ginger, garlic and chilies and fry in coconut oil with the spice mix.
  3. Add onions, curry leaves, tomatoes.
  4. When tomatoes are broken down, add the coconut milk and simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Finally drain the fish pieces and gently poach in the coconut milk until cooked through and flaky.
  6. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with steamed rice.

Please do not feed or interact with the wildlife…it is the law!

Monkey eating a bananaDid you know that Costa Rica has a great wealth of nature, with about 5% of the species worldwide concentrated in our small country? We have over 8,500 species of plants, 220 species of reptiles, 160 species of amphibians, 205 species of mammals, and 850 species birds. However, deforestation, poaching, the use of pesticides, illegal pet trade, and improper feeding have caused a decline in populations of many species to levels that threaten their survival.

You might find feeding and interacting with the wild animals to be a thrilling experience, but you are not doing the them a favor. In fact, you are actually harming them, and it is against the law (Conservation of Wildlife Act No. 7317 according to Decree No. 32633- MINAE). The only exception is a dire emergency where a species would perish without aid or food.

Here’s why you should not feed our wildlife:

  • Wildlife are highly susceptible to diseases from human hands. They can die from bacteria transferred off your hand that has no ill effect on you. They can pass diseases to you as well.
  • Migration to human-populated areas to be fed increases the risk of dog attacks, road accidents, and electrocution.
  • Irregular feeding leads to an aggressive behavior toward humans and other species and creates a dangerous dependency on humans that diminishes the wildlife survival abilities.
  • Contrary to the stereotype, bananas are not the preferred food of monkeys in the wild, nor other wildlife in the area. Tropical fruits, seeds, eggs, and insects found in the wild are what nature intended. Bananas, especially those containing pesticides, can upset their delicate digestive systems and cause serious dental problems that can lead to eventual death.
  • Pregnant females who are fed nothing but bananas during their pregnancy will not give birth to healthy infants. The babies will be malnourished, or even die before birth.
  • Feeding interferes with their natural habits and upsets the balance of their lifestyle.
  • Contact with humans facilitates poaching and the trade in illegal wildlife.
  • Wildlife needs to travel long distances each day to be in good physical condition. If they know that food is available in a particular location, they will not leave that area.

NewbieIn addition, pursuing or getting close to animals for pictures or touching is very stressful to the animal. Sloths may look like they are always smiling, but close human contact causes them to become agitated, so keep your distance!

The wildlife does not realize any of this. Now YOU do, so you are no longer naïve to the harm caused by feeding and interaction. Don’t facilitate the extinction of nature’s most amazing creatures for your own pleasure or financial gain.

For questions or to report violations, please email Kids Saving the Rainforest: jennifer@kstr.org .