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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?:


Good luck with the next seven!:


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.


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!


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.


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.


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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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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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.


Brew houseFuego Brew Co is a hidden jewel ready to be discovered by beer loving travelers and local Ticos alike. A craft brewery located on the southern pacific coast of Costa Rica in the tiny bohemian beach town of Dominical, just a quick 30 minute drive south of Quepos. Built using beautiful local and sustainable materials, Fuego is a sight to behold. A giant bamboo ramp leads up through the jungle to the second floor where beautiful breezes and views of the river, ocean and jungle await. A glass bottom floor looks down upon the brew house, where top-notch brewing equipment ensures the beer is always fresh and delicious. Toucans, Scarlett Macaws and a huge variety of other jungle creatures call the land surrounding Fuego home and are frequent visitors.

Fuego Brew Co interiorFuego’s resident brew master, Alan Struck, honed his brewing skills at San Francisco’s Anchor Steam Brewery and Maui Brew Co before bringing his knowledge and passion about craft beer to Costa Rica. The result? Fuego makes the best craft beer in Costa Rica, hands down. An ever-evolving menu chock full of organic vegetables, local chicken, house- made sauces and sustainably sourced seafood matches well with the 6 different varieties of house-made brews. Fuego’s most popular brew is the Guanbana Hefeweizen and should not be missed. Especially when paired with some home-made beer battered onion rings and seared tuna.

ExteriorSo take the adventure and experience Dominical and Fuego Brew Co for yourself. Look for it on the banks of the Barú River, a stone’s throw away from playa Dominical’s powerful waves. Across from the schoolhouse there’s a big wooden gate and believe us when we say once you’ve been to Fuego, you’ll never forget it.

Spanish Sucks – April 2017

Spanish Sucks by Os¡Happy New 70 Verbs!
¡Happy New Flashcards!
Parte IV

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


Good luck with the next seven!:


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/

Read More…

¿Qué Pasa en Quepos? – May/June 2017

Cover May-June 2017Bienvenidos…Welcome and thank you coming. The southern Pacific has so much to offer we are sure you will not be disappointed. Whether you are exploring our many National parks, fishing for a record marlin, enjoying our spectacular beaches, or one of the many tours. This is the place to DO IT. After a day of adventure don’t forget to pamper yourself. Book a massage or Reiki. Get a mani/pedi and a facial. How about a private chef preparing your meals. Remember it is your vacation….Enjoy it

May/June brings the beginning of “green” season and turtle season. We would like to thank the Matapalo Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Project for all the work they do in protecting the endangered sea turtles that come to our beaches to nest and lay their eggs. Also to Gunnar Ebbesson for the great cover. Don’t miss the PAWS 6th Annual Elegant Evening of Fun at the Runaway Grill on June 17. It is an outstanding event at an outstanding location for an outstanding cause.

We would like to thank our new advertisers to this magazine…..Carlos Herreros/Coldwell Banker Relocation Services, Fuego Brew Co., Hidden Bay Marina View Properties, Marina Pez Vela Commercial Plaza, Marina Pez Vela Villas, Quepos Yacht Sales, & Waterfalls Manuel Antonio. And new our contributor Danni Coyote.

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

Peace and Enjoy…D

Lapas and Titis Form Alliance!!

TCA logoJust 4 short years ago, one of our most active members of the Titi Conservation Alliance began another ambitious conservation project with similar aims: to  protect and extend the habitat of the Ara macao, better known as the Scarlet Macaw! Gaia Hotel and Resort started its program to raise and release these magnificent birds, with the primary goal of connecting the large colony of macaws located around Carara National Park north of Manuel Antonio with the other major colony located in the Osa Peninsula of southern Costa Rica. The program, managed by wildlife veterinarian Msc. Ana Maria Torres, has gradually released 39 “lapas” to date with plans to continue releases during the coming years.

Scarlet macaw flyingThe Lapas and Titis have much in common and thus make a truly interesting Alliance! They inhabit and utilize similar trees found in the rain forest, such as the Gallinazo, the Espavel, and Mango trees. Both species are highly sociable and therefore are favorites with tourists who visit the area. Sadly both species have suffered greatly from habitat loss and illegal poaching, which we are trying to reverse through education programs and habitat reforestation.

While we do indeed enjoy seeing both the Macaws and Titi monkeys more and more, the wildlife experts do request one thing from us however: PLEASE DON’T FEED THE LAPAS! As with Titi monkeys, many of the foods we give them are not the natural diet and can cause them severe health problems for the animal. Please, please enjoy them, take plenty of pictures but no feeding!

Scarlet macaw pairJoin us in saluting the outstanding efforts of Gaia Hotel and Resort and the other member businesses of the Titi Conservation Alliance and the Ara Macao Association (ASOMACAO),   who are working hard to protect the incredible biodiversity around us. For more info about these wonderful efforts, visit www.aramacaocostarica.org and www.monotiti.org.

A Simple & Satisfying Tortilla Soup

I often serve this soup at the beginning of a dinner showcasing latín flavors, or in a big bowl and as a meal on its own. It can be vegan by omitting the chicken stock and meat. Other variations are beans and cheese; seafood lovers can replace the chicken with shrimp. For 6 to 8 servings.

Home made chicken stock

  • 1 bone-in chicken breast
  • 2 whole chicken wings
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 medium carrot (they’re so big down here!)
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Cover all of these ingredients in a stock pot with 1 liter (about 1 and a half quarts) of water.
  2. Simmer for 1 hour. Strain and reserve the chicken.
  3. Discard all of the other solids.
  4. Ideally, you should cool down the stock and skim the fat that rises to the surface. 

For the tomato-based soup

  • 1 liter of tomato puree (passata)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Combine the tomato puree with the stock, adjust seasonings.

For the garnishes

  • 6 to 8 fresh corn tortillas (plan on 1 per person)
  • Cubed cooked chicken meat from the stock
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 bunch of cilantro leaves 
  • chopped chives
  1. Cut the tortillas into thin ribbons and fry in oil until golden and crispy.  
  2. Follow the pictures by placing the tortilla strips into bowls, followed by the chicken (or other) and the avocado.
  3. Pour the tomato soup into bowl and then garnish with (optional shredded cheese) cilantro and chives.
  4. Serve immediately.

End of Vacation

memoirs of a massuer headerWe live in a world today which is always striving to make the tasks of daily living faster and easier. Our physical, mental, and spiritual health should be at an all-time high compared to decades of the past. Modern innovations in this high-tech day and age should be leaving us with more time and money, if we play our cards right, to cultivate ourselves in whatever we choose….health, love, art, travel, amongst other fine things in life. I wonder why most people never feel like the weekend is long enough, why our favorite activities get less and less attention as we grow older, or quite possibly that the sense of stillness, or simply having time on our hands, may be subconsciously being avoided. I know many people who never feel freedom or embrace the notion of nothing to do, nowhere to be. For these people it is impossible to just “detach” as they are creatures of habit, robotic.

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Machete by Jack EwingMany years ago on a Saturday afternoon, having gone to the police station in Matapalo for something or other, I found a hand cuffed, bare footed, blood covered man with a deep cut starting on his right shoulder and extending across his chest. There was blood on the floor, the chair he was sitting in, and even on the wall. Don Marcos, the policeman, was sitting at his desk writing up a report. “Machete fight,” he said in reply to my inquisitive look. “The other one’s on his way to the hospital. This one started it,” nodding toward the bloody prisoner.

Assorted machetes.

Assorted machetes.

To the average outsider visiting rural Costa Rica the big knife is simply a machete, but to the campesino, or rural resident, it is an absolute necessity of life. Machetes are used for everything: chopping weeds, cutting small trees, trimming hedges and bushes, pruning trees, peeling the bark off of poles, splitting kindling, peeling oranges, harvesting rice, corn, cacao, bananas, and other crops, cutting boards, shaving the edge of a board, scraping crud off of anything, unscrewing bolts, cutting lawns, digging in flower beds, killing snakes, and I’m sure there are more that can be added to the list. I have never seen anyone shave with one, but I don’t doubt that it has happened. As mentioned above it is, on rare occasions, used as a weapon. More about that later.

Hacienda Baru

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Not as I do

shambling through paradiseSome people have noticed that when it comes to talking about daily life in Costa Rica, I am not nearly the sardonic, sarcastic, overbearing, know-it-all, gringo wiseass I once was. Part of it is age—once I hit the second half century club, with over half my life now in the books, I began gravitating more toward thoughts and activities that make me feel good, and avoiding topics that make the choler rise inside.

But there is another reason. For the past few years, I have been in the business of selling Costa Rica. I bring people to Costa Rica, and like thousands of others here, I make a living doing so. Tourism is the golden egg, and Costa Rica has adapted to this reality nicely. When I first came here almost 30 years ago, tourism was not what it is now. Coffee and bananas were bigger money makers for the country. Sometime in the mid-1990s, this dynamic changed, and the natural beauty of the country itself became the meal ticket. The bandwagon is big, and I jumped on some years ago and never looked back.
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