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Car Rentals in Costa Rica: Deciding on Insurance Options

Surf CR logoWhat does this have to do with surfing in Costa Rica? A lot, since when you are planning a vacation, it is one of the most important decisions to make. You have decided to rent a SUV with 4wd and now you have to decide which insurance option to take.
A. Full collision coverage with a $0 deductible and a very low deposit (usually $100).

B. Basic collision coverage with a $1000 deductible and a higher deposit (usually $500-1000).

C. Use the collision coverage on your credit card and just get the minimum insurance required, called third party liability, which covers the other person’s vehicle and injuries and has a $5000 deductible. Your deposit is the highest (from $500 to $2000+).
Option A costs the most and option C the least. The actual costs vary with each car rental company, but for this article I will choose Alamo for my explanation. Their rates when I book the reservation for you are $30/day for option A, $15/day for option B, and $10/day for option C for midsize and standard SUVs. The larger Fortuners, Prados, and vans are $40/day for option A and $25/day for option B.  
To determine which is best, it depends on your tolerance to risk and your budget. Driving in the city a lot or well off the paved roads in the countryside would have more risk for damages. If you are driving in the peak of rainy season, late September to early November, then the chance of muddy roads, bigger pot holes, and flooding are possible. One way to determine your risk is to confirm with your Airbnb hosts exactly what the road conditions are leading to their house. And even though the weather forecast is going to show rain every day on your trip, be sure to check that there is not a tropical storm or hurricane that will cause heavy rain fall.

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Bun Cha

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This tasty meatball dish was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s 2016 episode with president Obama in Hanoi. For very good reason—super delicious when paired with cold beer.

Ingredients for 4 to 6 generous servings


  • 1 kilo of ground pork 
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small red onion 
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce (nam pla)
  • Ground black pepper

Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of fish sauce
  • 5 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 5 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped or to taste


  • 1 package of rice vermicelli
  • Fresh greens such as lettuce, cilantro, basil, mint, bean sprouts


  1. Finely chop the lemongrass, garlic, and onions.
  2. Mix together with the meat, sugar, fish sauce, and pepper and allow to marinate for 1/2 hour. 
  3. Meanwhile prepare the dipping sauce and the plate with fresh greens. This sauce should be sweet, salty, tangy, and umami. Feel free to play with the proportions.
  4. Bring a pot of water to boil and immerse the vermicelli for about 3-4 minutes until soft. Drain and set into individual bowls. It’s normal that these noodles become sticky and clumpy. They will loosen with the sauce.
  5. Form little meatballs and flatten slightly. They are wonderful grilled over charcoal but a shallow fry pan is also fine.
  6. This is served by layering the noodles, the meatballs, the greens, and sauce.

Slurping encouraged.

Spanish Sucks – November 2022




“Hey Eduardo! Look. Somebody cut this coconut husk open, and it is full of all these little crabs. Boy, do they stink”.

“It’s not the crabs that stink”, he laughed. “It’s the rotten coconut. They love it. When I need fish bait, I just look for a coconut husk that’s been cut open. If there’s still any rotting coconut meat left, it’s sure to be full of colonchos. See…” He stuck his hand through a hole in the coconut and pulled out one of the colonchos, which I later learned are called “hermit crabs” in English. Eduardo held tight to the shell, a little smaller than a ping pong ball, grabbed the crab’s head and pincher, and pulled steadily until the little invertebrate came free of its protective home, which Eduardo dropped on the ground. The head looked like a crab and the back part more like a fat worm. “Fish love them”, he said with a smile. Reaching into his bag, Eduardo pulled out a hand reel with some light fishing line and a small hook which he stuck through the crab and tossed it into the estuary. It didn’t take long before he had a nibble. After several tries, he hooked a fish he called a machaca. In half an hour he had four. They weren’t much bigger than his hand, but he took them home anyway. “My wife knows how to fry them up real tasty”.

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That’s Fishin’ – November 2022

We are so pleased to welcome you to the start of our brand-new Fishing season! September & October are our quietest months for tourism and mark the height of our rainy season when most of us boat owners take the opportunity to get our boat maintenance done and take a quick break before our new Fishing season begins November 1st. And what better way to kick off the 2022/2023 season than with our first tournaments of the new calendar, the DORADO DERBY’S!


The Dorado Derby is held over two weekends with the Dorado Derby happening on November 12th and the Dorado Derby Dos on November 19th. Each event is a separate tournament, you can enter either one of the tournaments or both. Over the past few years, The Dorado Derby has become one of our most popular events of the year and gains great support from both locals, expat residents and tourists. What makes this event so special is that literally everyone taking part in the event has a chance of winning. Simply catch the biggest Dorado on the day to take home the prize $$$ and the all-important bragging rights! If the fun of the weekend of November 12th is not enough for you then we are repeating it again on November 19th with the DORADO DERBY DOS which follows exactly the same format giving you and your team a second chance at glory.

It is by no coincidence that we choose November to hold this tournament. The Dorado fishing in November out of Quepos is literally some of the best on the planet. The end of our seasonal rains and build up of debris lines of wood, tree trucks and the likes Offshore, create the perfect hunting grounds for large Dorado. Dorado up to more than 60lbs have been caught in the past few instalments of the tournament and there are much larger fish caught here each year, could this year be the one for a record breaker?

If you would like to get involved, simply give myself or the team at the Marina Pez Vela Guest Centre a call to help you find a boat.

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Life Project Education (LPE) Sponsors Community Involvement in Ancient Celebration of Light

Hallowe’en came early this year, with LPE sponsoring the community Trick-or-Treating Halloween Fiesta & Costume Party in Dominical on October 29th.

Hallowe’en, or All Hallow’s Eve in the Christian calendar, has Druidic roots, latterly becoming the Celtic festival of Samhain; the traditional division of the year between the light (Summer) and the dark (Winter). Acting as the cross-quarter point between the two axes of the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, it is the time in the year when the veil between worlds is said to be at its thinnest.

Also aligning with the Hindu Diwali Festival of Lights, Samhain is an opportunity to light a candle and celebrate the triumph of good over evil, or of the perpetual choosing to orient our hearts more with the light than the darkness. Deeply supportive of this process, it is the time to honor family and ancestry; through offering, contemplation and ritual, thereby healing old wounds and moving towards wholeness once again – whilst warding off harmful spirits through the donning of costume, masks and disguise!

In this way, the ritual of trick-or-treating enjoyed by the younger generations serves to demand an offering, or treat, from each neighbouring family—lest they risk a trick, or unwanted visitation from an ancestor!

This year, families from all over the southern zone and beyond united at the annual Fiesta in Dominical, a community-sponsored co-creation. Children collected a variety of treats, including healthy, homemade LPE fayre on the trick-or-treating route as it moved through Dominical village.

Thank you to all the families, community sponsors, event coordinators, and the local community for creating this space for children to gather in the spirit of play and in honor of the ancients. 

Want to know more about our community? Email info@lifeprojecteducation.org for more info on joining our holistic educational community, to support our expansion, or to spark up any other conversation with us (no trick!).

What’s Shaking @ Marina Pez Vela – November 2022

The arrival of the month of November brings with it two of the most anticipated activities of the year: the Dorado Derby Fishing Tournament and the Thanksgiving celebration, which guarantees fun for people of all ages, the only requirement is want to have a good time and enjoy the adventure to the fullest.

In the case of the fishing tournament, it will take place on two dates: November 12 and 19. Those who are interested in participating must formalize their registration through marinapezvela.com or by emailing tournaments@marinapezvela.com.

If you have questions or queries, you can contact the tournament’s team at +506 2774-9006. In its fifth edition, the sporting event will bring together people from the United States, Costa Rica and all of Central America on our beautiful Quepos coast.

Another activity that also awaits you is the Thanksgiving celebration, which will take place on November 24. As part of this celebration, the different restaurants that are located in our commercial plaza will have a special menu and activities for the day.

¿Qué Pasa en Quepos? – November 2022

Bienvenidos….Welcome to the Rainforest. It will probably rain a little while you are here but don’t let that slow you down. Thanks to the rain, Manuel Antonio National Park is in full bloom attracting frogs, hummingbirds, and butterflies of every color. The rains are also providing great rafting on our nearby rivers and Nauyaca Waterfalls are always amazing. It is also baby season here in the jungle, so look closely as a lot of monkeys and sloths are carrying their young on their backs. Whale season has been fantastic this year so get to Marina Pez Vela and book your whale watching tour. Sunset Sails and Brisa Elegante can get you out to enjoy our beautiful coastline and experience these magnificent animals up close.

Marina Pez Vela will be hosting for its 5th year, one of the most anticipated sportfishing events—The Dorado Derby. This event will be held over two days ( Nov 12 and 19) with anglers from the United States, Central America, and Costa Rica participating in this fun filled event for all ages. Contact Marina Pez Vela and register your team at marinapezvela.com.

US Thanksgiving is November 24. We all have something to be thankful for moving forward to this coming new year. Colinas will be serving their famous traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings so make your reservations and reserve your drumstick. We want to wish all of our advertisers, writers, readers, and staff a VERY Happy Thanksgiving. We could not do this magazine without you.

Toys for Tots will have their collection boxes around the area. So, let’s “Be nice” and help the children and their families have a wonderful Christmas by dropping an unwrapped gift to brighten someone’s holiday. Santa can always use your help.

We want to thank Frank Schulz for getting his ducks in a row for this month’s amazing cover shot. We would also like to welcome our new advertisers Pura Pilates, Villas Jacquelina, and Your Costa Rica Home.

We hope you enjoy our magazine and it helps guide you through this enchanting paradise we call home. You can always follow and share us here or on Facebook/Quepolandia.

Peace and Enjoy…D

My First Surf Trip to Costa Rica

Surf CR logoIt has been 26 years since I first visited Costa Rica. I had been surfing in Cocoa Beach, Florida and was ready to take on some larger swells. I flew down with my friend Ron and we rented an SUV with U-haul Car Rental (the name sounded respectable). Our first stop was the Caribbean coast.
We made it to Puerto Viejo and ran into Johnny Futch who had been an expat in Costa Rica for many years. He showed us how to get out at Salsa Brava and helped us find a boat to Isla Uvita. Hurricane Cesar just passed through and the Caribbean Sea was filled with small branches and wrack from the storm. We were nervous about the boat driver as he had two sea turtles tied upside down in his shed and he dropped us off in the middle of nowhere with giant tankers passing by. The waves were way bigger than I had ever surfed and we were lucky to make it back alive, as the captain used the swell to ride right over the shallow reef back to shore.

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Kids Saving the Rainforest – September/October 2022

KSTR LogoDaniIt’s Dani, your KSTR spokeskid! I just got done spending several weeks in Manuel Antonio volunteering at KSTR, and I have a TON of exciting updates to share!

First, a huge thanks to everyone who came to Monkey Jam. We had 250+ attendees (the biggest party), lots of fantastic, home-cooked Costa Rican food, and great bands and music. It was nice to see the community connect, all the new improvements to the sanctuary, and have everyone meet the animals. I heard interesting discussions about recycling programs, new hotel owners learning about the services KSTR offers (from an injured sloth to a snake on the loose!)—and lots of amazing stories about the animals KSTR has saved 🙂 Someone shared such a great story about sponsoring a wildlife bridge on their street and how it made them feel happy every time they saw monkeys crossing. Even a kinkajou family is using it to safely make it across the road with their baby. 

Second, KSTR has formally changed hands to two incredible conservationists, who are excited to usher in a new era for the organization. I spent a lot of time with Gabe, one of the new owners, who has an amazing vision for increasing the reach and impact of KSTR. He wants to focus on building a new, state-of-the art animal hospital, more marine wildlife rescues, and MORE KIDS! We’re going to be adding additional spokeskids (who you’ll be hearing from here in the future), and raising money for more exciting projects to rescue more animals. Luckily, the old owners are still involved at KSTR and helping out with the transition—I love them so much so I am glad we can continue to work together to help the amazing animals in Costa Rica!

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Spanish Sucks – September/October 2022


French Onion Soup

Chef's corner header

With these few details, you will have a complex layering of flavors and the ultimate bowl of comfort worthy of any French chef.

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1 liter of stock, traditionally beef but a rich vegetable stock is great too
  • 6 medium yellow onions thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 dash of nutmeg
  • 1 dash of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of brandy or vermouth or white wine
  • 8 thin slices of toasted French baguette
  • 4 to 6 slices of Swiss cheese like Gruyere,
  • Emmenthaler, or Baby Swiss


  1. Slowly caramelize the onions in the olive oil for about 20 minutes until it reaches a deep brown color.
  2. Deglaze the pan with the brandy and then add the stock and seasonings.
  3. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes and then discard the bay leaf.

To assemble in bowls

Ladle the soup into heat proof bowls, top with 2 bread slices per bowl, distribute the cheese on top of floating bread slices and place under broiler for 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Allow to cool very slightly before serving.

All Good Ideas Have a Downside: Biofuels

By Jack Ewing

The problem with fossil fuels is that they put carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. To be clear, I am talking only about new carbon, not what is already on the surface of the planet, in the atmosphere, the biomass or the soil. Carbon is only detrimental when you bring it up from deep within the earth and add it to the carbon that is already here. That’s why biofuel is considered to be an environmentally friendly source of renewable energy. It is derived from carbon, that is already available and doesn’t add any new carbon to the atmosphere.

Ethanol, with a few simple modifications to your engine, can be substituted for gasoline. It can be derived from many raw materials but is usually produced from corn or sugarcane. Since the carbon contained in corn and sugarcane is already here and available, ethanol doesn’t add any new carbon to the atmosphere. Plant fiber is made up primarily of carbon; so, to grow and produce biofuel these plants need to acquire carbon from their environment. A carbon dioxide molecule is composed of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms (CO2). The green stuff in the leaves of growing plants is called chlorophyll. The plants get their carbon through a process called photosynthesis which involves sunlight, chlorophyll, and atmospheric CO2. In greatly simplified terms, the plant captures the carbon dioxide molecule from the air, keeps the carbon atom and uses it to build fiber for its own structure, and releases the two oxygen atoms into the atmosphere. When the corn or sugarcane plant is ready, we take it and turn it into ethanol. Cool, right? We get fuel for our cars and trucks and, at the same time enrich the earth’s atmosphere with oxygen. Well, not exactly. I must confess that I left out a few steps. Let’s have a look at how corn and sugarcane are grown.

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That’s Fishin’ – September/October 2022

Welcome to the September & October edition of That’s Fishin! What a great year of fishing it has been so far, visitor numbers have been fantastic this year and the Quepos Charter fleet have been kept busy on the water taking our visitors from around the world fishing in search of those dream catches.


We enjoyed some truly epic fishing during August. The Sailfish bite popped up a few times and provided some fantastic fishing when the fish were found. The 31 foot BUCKETLIST released 12 Sailfish on a single day charter which was fantastic numbers for the time of year. Capt Franklin aboard BIG EYE had an epic day on August 8th releasing 3 Blue Marlin, 1 Sailfish, 2 Tuna and 2 big Dorado—all in a days work which was one epic day for sure!

The larger boats in the fleet such as THE SPORTSMAN, THE HOOKER, & HOG WILD have been fishing 60-100 miles out at our Marlin FADS & SEAMOUNTS and catching some insane numbers of Blue Marlin. Our Offshores Marlin FAD fishery is one of the only places on the planet where you could be in with a chance of raising upwards of 10 Blue Marlin in a single day when the bite is on. If epic Blue Marlin fishing is on your Bucketlist, this is the trip for you and just drop me a line for more info.

August produced some really solid Yellowfin Tuna with many fish in the 30-50lb range and some 100lb plus fish landed too. Congrats to our good friend Blake Stevenson from South Carolina who has been fishing aboard my boat GOOD DAY with Capt. Manuel Gabuardi for 18 years now. He had a blast on August 6th when he landed a Tuna in the 90-100lb range plus several more up to 50lbs.

Some nice Wahoo have been present over the Offshore reefs and there has been some good Dorado fishing too with good numbers of small to mid-sized fish and the odd 30-50lb Bull Dorado showing up too.

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Life Project Education

In 2015, Life Project Education emerged as an experimental homeschool project, a seedling in a modest 2-bedroom, one-bathroom rental home in Manuel Antonio. Four years later, seeking permanent roots, founder Alys Jasmine Robinson relocated to an expansive 16-bedroom, 16-bathroom dream estate where her once intimate project is now a blooming, vibrant alternative educational initiative serving 70 students.

New branches of this tree of learning continue to grow like the young minds it nurtures. Once an offering for ages 5-9, Life Project now offers preschool, prekindergarten, elementary education, and the current Upper Years children (ages 11-13) are co-creating their future secondary education campus, a collaborative project called “The Village”. Projected to start construction in December 2022, the Village at Life Project Education will accommodate adolescents through 12th grade.

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