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Torture in the Rainforest

Puma arrivingBy Jack Ewing
All of you cat lovers out there aren’t going to be very happy with my use of the word “torture” to describe what your beloved pets do to little animals like mice, frogs, birds, and geckos. It’s hard to think badly about your beautiful, soft, cuddly friend and easy to rationalize any behavior no matter how abhorrent. The justification usually comes out something like: “Oh! That’s just what cats do. She’s only playing with the mouse.” Humm, I see, ”only playing”. I wonder what the mouse would have to say about that euphemism.

Diane and I live in a rural environment, and our three cats roam about freely inside and outside. They all love to hunt, seldom eat what they kill, and often don’t kill what they catch. I have watched a cat grab a battered mouse in its mouth, toss it into the air, bat it around with its paws, scratch it, and, when the prey quits moving, leave it to die a slow and painful death. You can call that whatever you want, but I call it torture.

I love our pets, but I love nature even more. Though I never really thought about it, it never occurred to me that this type of behavior might exist in the wild. Somehow wild animals, even cats, seemed too noble to engage in anything as abominable as torture. Mark Wainwright, in his excellent field guide, Mammals of Costa Rica, describes how the specialized dentition and formation of the jaw of our wild cats is adapted to killing their prey quickly and efficiently. He tells us, “They kill with a bone-splintering bite to their prey’s head or neck, for which the canine teeth—the broadest and strongest of any carnivore—are essential. A gap between the canines and the cheek teeth allows the canines to sink deep into the prey.” Not only Wainwright, but many other sources refer to the death bite inflicted by the large felines. I’m sure that I have heard about it on Animal Planet more than once. Cats are almost exclusively carnivorous seldom touching any food other than animal flesh. Wainwright goes on to say that pumas and jaguars eat deer, peccary, pacas, armadillos, rabbits, agoutis, opossums, porcupines, spiny rats, iguanas, bats, and snakes. Other sources also include coatis and raccoons in the list.Hacienda Baru

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Shrimp and Grits

Chef's Corner logoYears ago, I learned that Italian polenta is a finer version of those exact little “grits” so beloved in the US south. Here to satisfy those soul food cravings, this is comfort food at its best. The topping is extremely versatile so you can use your favorite proteins, sauces, or leftovers…
Serves 6

Shrimp and grits For the shrimp and gravy

  • 1/2 kilo (one pound) medium to large shrimp, peeled, and deveined. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 cup of tomato puree
  • A couple drops of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh thyme and parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Using your favorite frying pan, fry garlic in olive oil, add dried tomatoes, herbs, and finally tomato puree.
  2. Season with salt, pepper, Worcestershire, and brown sugar.
  3. Allow to thicken before adding shrimp.
  4. Stir-fry for no more than 5 minutes and remove the entire pan to keep warm.

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What’s Shaking at Marina Pez Vela? – July 2017

SUMMERTIME is here.. at least for our friends up north and what was once a sleepy time of year here in Costa Rica has become an important season for our marina, tourism sector and community. Costa Rica is an incredibly popular destination for the summer season with families, groups and travellers discovering the proximity, beauty, peaceful nature and diversity that the country has to offer. Here are some of the important highlights to mark on your calendars and to take note of in the project.

4th of July HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE U.S. OF A!

The July 4th celebrations here in Costa Rica have become some of the biggest parties of the year as the vibrant expat population, visiting tourists and locals join together to celebrate and enjoy the friendships we have all been able to build here in paradise. The Marina invites EVERYONE to join us here at the project as our restaurants will be running specials menus with everything from hot dogs to BBQ, with drink specials around the house! There will be activities for the kids and families to enjoy and a traditional fireworks display @ 8PM to close out the evening—or get things started depending on how your plans go! Stay tuned to our Facebook page or main website for more details on the schedule and events! It is IMPORTANT to note that locals, Costa Ricans, Canadians and EVERYONE are invited. The US Citizens living and visiting here love this place as we are treated like family and there is no greater honor for the expats, than celebrating a bit of their own history with their friends and families here in their new home!

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¿Qué Pasa en Quepos? – July 2017

July 2017 coverBienvenidos… Welcome to our piece of paradise, it is sure to please. We have almost everything Costa Rica has to offer. Zip Lining, White water rafting, ATVs, horseback riding, skydiving, sport fishing, parasailing, ocean cruises, mangrove and waterfall tours. Just to mention a few. There are amazing restaurants for every taste and don’t forget the ice cold drinks. So pop into one of our many advertisers and let them know we sent you….you won’t be disappointed. The summer rains have brought the greenness, so no complaining just get out early and enjoy the beautiful mornings. Rain normally begins late in the afternoon. Don’t let it stop you from enjoying the rain forest. We want to thank Paul Gerace for the July cover. Incredible shot. 

Have a great Canada Day (July 1) for all you Canadians. Happy Independence Day (July 4). Feliz Dia del Guanacaste (July25). Remember these Holidays commemorate freedom and peace that we all enjoy every day. It is not fireworks and parties…that is just what makes it fun.

We want to welcome our new advertisers Eva’s Garden & Plaza La Sele.

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

Peace and Enjoy…D

Happy 19th Birthday Quepolandia


Kids Saving the Rainforest – May/June 2017

KSTR logoBy Lexi Baka

Hello, once again! It’s me. I’m writing to you from Florida currently, although when you see this I will most likely be back in Costa Rica. My family took a very small vacation. But that isn’t what’s important…what’s important is that I’m here, and ready to deliver some good news!

Mother titi with babyOver a year ago, we received a grant from LATA (Latin American Travel Association) to release a troop of Squirrel Monkeys (affectionately known as “Titi” monkeys here). We were so thrilled when LATA granted the donation (thank you!), which gave us the ability to collect the information and supplies that we needed to conduct experiments that were absolutely necessary to ensure these orphaned monkeys safe release. We got busy and spent the next few months ensuring the monkeys would survive and thrive after release. Sadly, some did not pass and they will have to live out their lives in our wildlife sanctuary. (But don’t worry, they live in an enclosure that is 180 feet long and 30 feet wide, not to mention 50 feet high, so it is a mini-rainforest!)

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Fish or Visitors?

Design Wise
By Shelagh Duncan

Ben Franklin has been credited with saying something like “fish and visitors start to smell after three days…”

Bienvenidos - welcome signThat may have been true back in the day, but we all love to have friends and family come visit and want them to enjoy their stay. We are fortunate enough to live in an amazing part of the world, and naturally want to share this with them.

However sometimes space in our homes is limited. We live outdoors most of the time and don’t generally need a big house. You may have one or two spare bedrooms but one turned into your home office, or there are just too many people to sleep everyone comfortably! So, what do you do when they all want to come at once for that big family reunion???

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Turmeric: Nature’s Most Powerful Herb

TurmericBy Danni Coyote

Turmeric is arguably the most potent and powerful medicinal herb found in your pantry. If it isn’t in your pantry, it really should be. Turmeric is a plant native to Southern Asia, and is harvested for the medicinal properties of its rhizomes, or roots. It is in the same family as ginger, and of the genus curcuma. 

Science has recently started backing what Indians and Ayurvedic practitioners have known for centuries about this spice, thrusting it into the limelight of complimentary medicine and trendy nutritional supplements. Turmeric boasts a myriad of pharmaceutic and therapeutic properties, such as anti-inflammatory effects, powerful antioxidants, improved neurological function, relief from arthritis and depression, and may be linked to decreased risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. This is due to the compounds found in turmeric, called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. Curcumin is the primary active ingredient in turmeric, and can be extracted and effectively consumed alone for an amplified effect, since the curcumin content in turmeric is surprisingly not very potent.

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Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Row row row your boat music sheetThat is such a cool, Zen-like approach to life, and it comes to us in the form of an English children’s nursery rhyme. The song is actually a round—a musical composition in which 2 or more voices sing exactly the same melody, each voice beginning at a different time. The different parts of the melody coincide and fit harmoniously together. It is one of the easiest forms of ‘part’ singing, as only one line of melody must be learned by all the singers, and it can be repeated over and over. This simple ditty has quite a history—little kids sing it, Star Trek Five had Captain Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy singing it, another episode had a bunch of weird space kids singing it. It’s featured in the films Dante’s Peak, the Red Danube and even Hackers. Maybe it’s a metaphor for our passage here on earth—we propel ourselves with humor and joy in natural waters which bring us to the simple comfort of the abstract world. But the key word here is dreams.

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Blue Flag II

Blue flagBack in October we wrote about the great Costa Rican conservation project known as the Blue Flag program. This highly successful program is jointly run by the Costa Rica Water Institute and the Costa Rica Tourist Institute (ICT). Every year dozens of local citizen committees (110 in 2015 to be exact) are formed and members agree to adopt a local beach to care for during the year. The participating beach is inspected 3 times during the year and is rated on progress towards improvement in several different aspects: a) Ocean and potable water quality b) Waste collection and treatment c) Environmental education  d) Security and signage. If the beach qualifies then Blue Flags are given at different levels from1 star to a maximum 5 stars.

Local volunteersRecently the committee responsible for Manuel Antonio’s first beach (Playa primera), also known as Espadilla Norte, received the wonderful news that it had received the Blue Flag once again for its efforts during 2016. We sincerely thank all the committee members, for their hard work organizing activities last year. The new flag is already on display at the roundabout of Manuel Antonio.

Blue flag flying at the beachThis year the committee is already moving forward on its work plan, starting off with a campaign to keep our beach beautiful during Semana Santa (Holy Week), when our beaches are visited by thousands of local and foreign tourists. Local volunteers including Scouts, will be walking the beach to collect trash, supported by donations from area businesses which will provide snacks and supplies. A special recognition to our Municipality, especially Sr. Warren Umana for providing additional trash barrels and trucks to handle the trash during the Easter holiday.

TCA logoIf you wish to help out the Blue Flag Committee of Espadilla Norte, please contact Committee Coordinator Sr. Verny Jimenez at his cell 8890-4034. The Titi Conservation Alliance is proud to support the Blue Flag programs at many local schools and member businesses in our area.


Spanish Sucks – May/June 2017

¡Happy New 70 Verbs!

¡Happy New Flashcards!

Parte V

¡Hola amigos!  How did you do filling the previous seven verbs?:

LAVAR,   LLEVAR,   OLER,   DORMIR,   PERDER,   MATAR,   MIRAR.

Good luck with the next seven!:

ENTAR,   ESPERAR,   DEBER,   CONSEGUIR,   HABER,   ESTAR,   ESTUDIAR.

Remember that I chose those 70 verbs based on the frequency of use, the importance of complexity and the pattern of conjugation…  Every month I will give you seven flashcards to feel!  Go to my website and compare your fillings with mine:  http://www.oscostarica.com/printable-spanish-flashcards/

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What’s Shaking at Marina Pez Vela? – May-June 2017

AHHH… There is nothing quite like those first rains and the changes in the seasons here in paradise. Mangos in full bloom, Watermelons and Cantaloupes sweeter than sugar, the crowds and peak tourism season washing away with the first refreshing downpours of our transition into green season. It has been an incredibly eventful year at the Marina and while the transition of our seasons certainly means the end of our traditional high season for tourism the activities, events and growth at Marina Pez Vela isn’t slowing down at all. May and June bring some ongoing traditions, some very big World Cup Qualifying games, an important new tenant to our Commercial Plaza and a renewed opportunity for locals and tourists alike to become part of the culture of this amazing project and community.

RADIO 2

If you haven’t already been listening…wake up and tune in!!! Radio 2, one of Costa Rica’s most iconic radio stations is continuing its live broadcasts from the Marina every Thursday night from 5-7pm. The program has hundreds of thousands of listeners both here in country and online at radiodos.com and is a great way to enjoy a fantastic happy hour at the Runaway Grill, have some laughs and share any news, events and stories with the Evan Luck and the MPV team. The program is about promoting the marina and our community to the world and we invite locals with important news, events, fundraisers and charities to drop by so we can help share this amazing community and project with all the listeners stuck in traffic wishing they were with us watching the sunset!

OLE, OLE, OLE, OLE…TICOS, TICOS…

Thats right, the chants are coming as our march to the next World Cup in Russia 2018 continues. After a blazing start, Costa Rica managed to salvage a key point in their last series of qualifying games in Mexico and Honduras and are now preparing for two HUGE home games on June 9 vs Panama and then again on June 13 vs Trinidad and Tobago. We will have the big screen out for both games and hope to see everyone with their camisas, vuvuzelas and national pride ready to cheer on the SELE! Anyone who got to experience the last epic world cup run knows just how magically it can bring this country together so mark your calendars and come share and support the Sele and Marina on June 9th and 13th.

BANCO PROMERICA TO OPEN AT MARINA

We are incredibly excited to announce the opening of a full service branch of Banco Promerica here at Marina and it is going to be an amazing addition and service for locals, tourists and business owners. Promerica will be the only private bank to operate branches in both Manuel Antonio and Quepos, showing its strong commitment to this community. Now you can shop, dine and bank all at the same time, right here at the Marina.

LEYENDAS DE QUEPOS

Absolutely amazing!!! I had goosebumps!! History, Dance, Music and Culture all wrapped into on marvellous performance!!

To associate all these comments to a locally produced and performed modern dance presentation is not what you might expect, but thanks to Carlos Ovares and Corporeos, a group of local youth who have become professional dancers at an amazing level, we can all enjoy an amazing performance. LEYENDAS de QUEPOS is a beautiful presentation in a bilingual format that allows for Costa Ricans and non-spanish speaking tourists or residents to journey through the history of our community from the Indians and first explorers through the development of the Marina. Fantasy, history, music and dance come together in a stunning presentation. PLEASE GET OUT and support this amazing group representing the best of our youth. There will be shows at COPAZA and private performances can be arranged as well with the funds raised going to COPAZA and the ongoing effort to create safe spaces for our community to enjoy the magic of the arts, music, culture and apprenticeships. For more information about performance dates and how to support please visit the Facebook page for Teatro Copaza, facebook.com/teatrocopaza.

Marina Pez Vela logo


Losing my Self-consciousness

Shambling through paradise headerRecently, I had a dream where everything I had ever done in front of a mirror was broadcast for the world to see. In my dream, I was not embarrassed—I was actually promoting the broadcast to friends, saying things like, “Yes I really was flexible enough to do that to myself at one time in my life” and, “I really do use a Gillette razor to cut my nose hairs.”

There was a time in my life where this dream would have been mortifying—one of those dreams you awaken from with a sigh of relief. Yet here I was in my dream, boasting of my strange and occasionally bizarre actions. I give Costa Rica a lot of credit for my change in consciousness. Or maybe better said—my change from being overly self-conscious, which I was in my younger days.

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Gmelina

Tree Mining, Cardboard Boxes, and Poison Sawdust

 By Jack Ewing

Gmelina treeCarpenters, builders and sawmill operators love it; chicken and pig farmers hate it; and environmentalists have mixed feelings about it. I have heard people say that the gmelina tree (Gmelina arborea) is a plague that should be eradicated from the face of the earth, yet others believe that it is a miracle tree with great potential for the recuperation of ecosystems and the environment. Regardless of what you believe about the gmelina tree – native to southeast Asia – the story of how it got to the Americas and how Costa Rica came to plant 25,000 hectares (61,775 acres) of it, is a fascinating tale.

I first learned of gmelina in the early 1980s from an article in The Economist magazine. It told of a wealthy investor named Daniel Ludwig, who had determined that the world would soon be facing a severe paper shortage. In order to capitalize on the situation, he purchased one million acres of land in the Amazon jungle near the Jari River. Next, he contracted with a Japanese firm to build a paper mill mounted on pontoons. He then hired some monster tug boats to tow the mill from Japan, across the Pacific Ocean, around the tip of South America, up the eastern coastline of the continent, into the mouth of the Amazon River and up the Jari River to the point where he expected to operate it. The plant was too big to pass through the Panama Canal. The plan was to cut the existing forest, process the trees in the paper mill and plant gmelina trees on the denuded land. The gmelina trees were fast-growing, made excellent paper pulp, could be harvested after only six years and then grew right back again.Hacienda Baru

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Self-contemplation

memoirs of a massuer headerManuel Antonio is not for everyone. It is a beach town that caters to the parts of us that are lazy and aloof. I see families, lovers, and friends arrive here salivating for change. We live with an alternative lifestyle to not enough hours in a day, the “realities” of life elsewhere seem so distant. I’ve heard from many that the over stimulation of nature….both jungle and ocean… make them feel so… free. It roots itself into the psyche because it is all around us, sleeping to jungle sounds make city dwellers feel like they are camping! In my 17 years here I have come to believe that Manuel Antonio operates on its own unique level. It is a place that can bewitch the most stringent, it can surprise the most mundane.

The level I am referring to is meditation. I believe Manuel Antonio forces us to be more aware of ourselves by changing the culture we are used to. Simply by alternating the repetition of day to day living, and the habits we are all used to, produces the opportunity for self-contemplation. This alone stimulates change. Change is something, I have grown to believe through my massage work, most people are willfully fearful of. Don’t be! Why would humans be afraid of change when everything around them is changing….plants, weather, ocean tides, and the sun and moon cycles (to name a few). Do we actually believe ourselves not to be one with our environment? Are we evolved beyond that? I think not. However, in order to pick the fruit from a tree we must first cultivate the roots and the trunk. That means we must work with fears, frustrations, disappointments, and irritations, the painful aspects of life. Then, if we are lucky, we might be able to pick the flowers from our beautiful gardens.

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Chef's Corner logoAfter we thank our Jamaican friends for Bob Marley, we should also thank them for this Jerk seasoning recipe which is the absolute king of marinades.

For 10 assorted bone-in chicken pieces.

Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 entire bunch of scallions(cebollino in Costa Rican) chopped to facilitate processing.
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 shot of dark rum
  • 1/3 cup of lime juice
  • 10 crushed or 1 tablespoon of allspice berries (called Jamaica in Costa Rica)*
  • 1 inch cube of ginger
  • 2 whole habanero peppers or to taste. Fiery habaneros or scotch bonnet peppers are recommended, but they can be lessened or eliminated if your guests have low heat tolerance.
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oil (I like to use coconut, but any other is fine)
  • Salt and black pepper

*I like to dry fry the allspice berries for a few minutes to release the fragrance and then pound them with a mortar and pestle. The powdered kind is significantly weaker.

Jamaican Jerk ChickenDirections

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Marinade the chicken pieces in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
  3. Set the grill to a low temperature to avoid burning.
  4. Grill the chicken pieces, turning frequently, for 45 minutes and then finish in a 350 oven for 30 minutes ensuring that all pieces are done. Juices should run clear when a toothpick is inserted into the thickest part.

This marinade works well with pork chops too. Great served with rice and beans.

Contact Chef Desiree at costadezz@gmail.com.