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Chocolate Addiction isn’t Exclusive to Humans

Cacoa seeds

Cacoa pod & seeds

Lots of Wild Animals Love Cacao Seeds

By Jack Ewing

More than a dozen years ago when I wrote the original article “Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate” for Quepolandia, little did I know that it would later become chapter one of a book by the same name. It talked about the unexpected effect that the increased availability of cacao seeds had on the general health and population of white-faced monkeys. In summary the article said that when we abandoned our nine hectares (22 acres) of cacao plantations at Hacienda Barú, due to a market plunge, the monkeys immediately moved in and started chowing down on cacao seeds. As a result of this windfall of nutrition the white-faced capuchins no longer had to struggle to survive, rather they got fat and happy and started having more babies than ever. The article goes on to compare this to humans and has an interesting message at the end. When I wrote that article I was only beginning to understand the complexity of a cacao plantation that has been given over natural processes. Man can plant cacao for the production of chocolate for the exclusive consumption of humans, which all of my fellow chocolate lovers will appreciate, but only Mother Nature can exploit it to its fullest. One of the most researched protected areas in Costa Rica is a huge nature reserve called “La Selva Biological Station.” A biologist friend once told me that the most biologically diverse areas of La Selva were the old abandoned cacao plantations, not the primary forest that one might expect. This got me to thinking and paying more attention to our old cacao plantations at Hacienda Barú which have not been pruned or otherwise cared for since 1986. I soon figured out that the cacao producing trees were planted only four meters apart, and that nowhere in a natural forest do we find such a concentration of nutrients.

Hacienda Baru

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Hero Willie NelsonThere’s a home place under fire tonight in the Heartland, and the bankers are taking my home and my land from me. There’s a big achin’ hole in my chest now where my heart was, and a hole in the sky where God used to be.

There’s a home place under fire tonight in the Heartland – there’s a well with water so bitter nobody can drink. Ain’t no way to get high and my mouth is so dry that I can’t speak. Don’t they know that I’m dyin’, why is nobody cryin’ for me?

My American dream fell apart at the seams. You tell me what it means, you tell me what it means.

There’s a young boy closin’ his eyes tonight in the Heartland, who will wake up a man with a home and a loan he can’t pay.

His American dream fell apart at the seams. You tell me what it means, you tell me what it means.

Heartland album coverThese powerful words were written in 1992 by two of America’s greatest poets and prophets—Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson—and the song Heartland is on one of Willie’s finest albums, Across the Borderline. As it turns out, these lyrics are timeless. Banks, mortgage companies, soulless lobbyists and unscrupulous politicians are apathetic about the profound effects of their greed on the regular folks. The old oil money guys are stealing land again from the indigenous peoples, Mother Nature is routinely assaulted with no regard to all our futures, and friends and families are so torn apart and suspicious that they can’t drink from the same well. Or the same water fountain.

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Working with Sloths, not a “Relaxed” Gig!

Tom gathering branchesBy Tom Lawrence

I have been working, well full time volunteering, for The Sloth Institute (TSI) for nearly two years and what an experience it has been so far. It is a job that requires a lot of time, devotion and patience but the highs it can give you are most definitely worth it. In the rescue/rehabilitation/release business there are going to be successes, which are fantastic, but the failures and sometimes successive failures and dealing with them are really what can shape the experience.

The Sloth Institute Logo

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What’s Shaking at Marina Pez Vela? – November 2016

As we say good-bye to sleepy and rainy October and say hello to the sunnier skies of November, we are very excited about what is coming, including a soon to be completed new bridge for Quepos and 100 new slips in the Marina to welcome double the boats and double the guests to our great town. Here is what you can look forward in the months ahead.

World Cup Soccer Qualifiers

Costa Rica will play two World Cup Qualifier matches in November, first against Trinidad on November 11th @5:00 pm and then against the U.S. on November 15th @8:00 pm.  We will set-up the GIANT outdoor inflatable screen, so come on down to the Marina to enjoy the games.

Marina Pez Vela logo

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What is Hogar Crea ?

Hogar CreaBy Max Spicer

Hogar or Home is a refuge for people who have been using drugs and who want to turn their lives around, also for Alcoholics, and those who are homeless and in need of help.

One of these houses is located in Paquita (Hogar Crea) & relies on donations of food, furniture, housewares, and of course cash to pay for electricity etc.

The house in Paquita is for men and you will see them in their chrome yellow Tee Shirts around town canvasing for donations. They are also available to do yard work, painting, & some types of work. Call the House at 2774-0410, or if you would like to volunteer & work for the steering committee call 2777-3671.

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¿What are you doing during the rainy season? Part 2


I hope you are doing those things. Otherwise you are not taking advantage of these articles in your free time… But I am not here to judge you, I am here to help you 😉

Let’s observe the endings together:

-AR verbs


  -ER verbs


-IR verbs


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Titi Conservation Alliance – November 2016

It’s an online auction time of year and we need your support! This is Titi Conservation Alliance’s primary fundraiser and your support is absolutely needed and greatly appreciated. All auction items has been given by our generous donors, including: fun adventure tours, fine dining offers from restaurants and wonderful stays at participating hotels all around Costa Rica. The proceeds from this year’s auction are being earmarked to improve our environmental education program. The auction will be held from November 5-23, 2016 and is available worldwide. We are ready for your bids and please spread the word! You can find more info on our website www.monotiti.org.

Online auction

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¿Qué Pasa en Quepos? – November 2016

Cover November 2016Bienvenidos… Welcome to the “Rain Forrest”, can’t say the brochure did not warn you. It will probably rain but don’t let that stop you. Manuel Antonio National Park is in full bloom which attracts frogs, hummingbirds and butterflies. Thank you Alissa Christine for the blue morph cover taken in the Butterfly Atrium at the Greentique Wildlife refuge here in Manuel Antonio and also your model and assistant Dina Tochluk and Marco Alvarado Porras.  It is also baby season here in the jungle so look closely a lot of the monkeys and sloths are carrying young on their backs. The humpback whales and their calves are still here so get to Marina Pez Vela for many options to view them as well as world class sport fishing. Our rivers are also flowing so give Quepoa Expeditions a call for some thrilling rafting. Don’t forget the 6th Annual Quepos Open Tennis Tournament being held Nov 5-6 and 12-13 at the Tennis Club.

Our many fine restaurants are serving up all your culinary delights, good idea to call ahead this time a year (phone directory page) We would like to wish everyone a Wonderful Thanksgiving, La Colina will be serving a traditional Turkey dinner on the mountain, Gabriella’s at the Marina, and Hawg and Bills Turkey and football at the beach.

Toys for Tots will have their collections boxes around the area so let us help the children by dropping off an unwrapped toy to help brighten someone’s holiday…. Santa Clause cannot do it all himself.

We would like to welcome our new advertisers this month: Blue Zone Reality, Double Hook Sports Bar, Hair by Monica, Jonathan Sequeira Segura Attorney, La Colina, and Puravida Rentals.

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

Peace and Enjoy…D

Choosing a Colour Palette for your New Home

Design WiseBy Shelagh Duncan

Building a new house in Costa Rica is an exciting venture for many of us. Sometimes it is our first custom home – our dream home.

There are always many details to think about and many decisions to be made, often ones you had not even considered. Choosing a good custom home builder and project manager who will help you through this process is a whole other topic, and one we have covered previously. However, this time we are looking at just one aspect – Colour – and how to choose the colour scheme for your new home.

Royal Palm Interiors

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That’s Fishin’ – September/October 2016

Breaching MarlinIt’s that time of year out there. It’s wild marlin time for a fads fisherman. It’s been an incredible run so far this FAD season, with all kinds of fantastic numbers being posted by multiple boats. Fishing out of Marina Pez Vela, Los Suenos and Golfito, this year’s sport fishing season has been unbelievable, and continues to be.

I’ve been lucky enough to fish on some of the top boats in Central America. I’ve featured many in my articles. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase Maverick Yachts and Sportfishing—as they do many fads/seamount trips. Due to their stellar reputation for building boats that raise fish, and take you on a ride in style, Mavericks ‘Fly’ boats are a sure thing. All of their Captains are seasoned veterans who are very well respected in the fishing community. With these two things combined, it’s hard to consider any other boats. For example, this was posted this past week on their Facebook page:

SEAMOUNT REPORT… Another two-boat trip with Capt. David Mesen’s Geaux Fly and Capt. Carlos Pollo Espinoza Jimenez ‘s Sea Fly? The result? Collectively 49 billfish… 45 Blue Marlin and 4 Sailfish released. Both boats raised 95 Marlin, hooking 68. Absolute insane fishing. Capt. Juan Carlos Fallas Zamora ‘s Spanish Fly heads out today to add to these crazy numbers. Ready for your trip-of-a-lifetime? 866-888-6426

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When the Timing is Right

memoirs of a massuer headerOh, how time fascinates me! I remember obsessively counting in seconds the last five minutes of class before the liberating school bell would ring. If I felt energetic I could speed walk home and catch a 3:00 TV program from the start. My earliest time of stress was caused by my 5:00 “be home for dinner” curfew, how I hated cutting a basketball game short. I absolutely dreaded the fact that I had to wait 3 more years in time in order to graduate high school, before I could finally move to another state for college and finally be on my own. Yet, my summer months on the shores of Lake Erie I wanted to last forever. Time is prevalent to most human beings regardless of their culture or heritage. None of us can ignore it, and most of us both love and hate this…clicking clock. It is even said that to have too much time on your hands is the devils workshop, very scary indeed.

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Agoutis, Agoutis & More Agoutis

Camera Trap

Camera Trap

A Fun New Way of Monitoring Wildlife

by Jack Ewing

“Oh my God”, I blurted out to no one in particular. “Absolutely incredible”. A full grown puma was walking straight toward me on the computer screen. The two receptionists who were in office and heard my exclamation hurried over to see what I was so excited about.  I restarted the 15-second video so everyone could see. An adult puma came walking straight at the camera, its eyes glowing from the infrared illumination. It looked like it was stalking the camera. At the last moment the large carnivore veered to the right and walked out of the field of view. It was a very exciting day. The presence of large carnivores in the Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge was a clear indication of a healthy ecosystem. Since that first video in December of 2012 we have captured 87 more of pumas at four different locations within the refuge.

Hacienda Baru

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Blue Flags are Cool!

Blue flagIn September, Costa Rica celebrated its Independence and you were sure to see the colorful red white and blue flags all around the country. But if you looked closely, you may have also noticed another flag next to the national flag – a dark blue one with one or several stars. This flag means the school or institution is participating in one of the great conservation programs of Costa Rica, known as the Blue Flag or Bandera Azul. This program was originally started by the Costa Rica Water Institute in 1996 as a way to foster community involvement in cleanup of the nation’s beaches.

Blue Flag Beaches is a joint program with the Costa Rica Tourist Institute (ICT). Every year dozens of local citizen committees (110 in 2015 to be exact) are formed and agree to adopt a local beach to care for during the year. The participating beach is inspected 3 times during the year and 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. Manuel Antonio National Park and its famed beaches has been the proud recipient of the Blue Flag since the programs inception, quite a feat!

Titi Conservation Alliance

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Fiddlin’ Around September/October

Fiddlin'AroundThe Hollywood Hoopla and show biz aspects of the American political election process are often embarrassing, and music is almost always part of the staged background. By the time this goes to print there will probably be radical changes in the political landscape, but ‘ya gotta admit it’s certainly been a banner year for comedy writers, impersonators and late night talk shows. I’m going to try to stay away from personal ranting and raving, though anyone who knows me probably knows I’m way out in left field. So let’s talk about how and why songs get used by the guys and gals trying to win our votes. Apparently politicians of all kinds think they are entitled to chop up and claim as their own the songs that musicians and writers have labored over and which often have a completely different intention than how they are used.

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Potato Latkes with Smoked Trout

Potato Latkes with Smoked SalmonBy Desiree Brassert

The locally farmed and cured smoked trout is a great substitute for smoked salmon that only comes from distant and colder waters.
Here’s a little spin on this classic bite-size appetizer.

Note: Vegetarian options are applesauce and cinnamon, or sour cream.

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