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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 .

¿Qué Pasa en Quepos? – July 2018

July 2018 coverI can’t express how proud I am to be carry the torch of what these two incredible women have accomplished . Quepolandia has grown from a small photocopied flyer in 1998 to circulation of over 3000 issues a month from Jaco to Uvita with a web platform with over 250,000 organic views. We want to truely THANK all of our writers, advertisers, and loyal readers over the years that have made this publication stand the test of time. We could never have done it without you. We want to thank the magician behind it all Paul Rees this is his 100 edition, he gets better with each issue. I would truly be lost without you. Looking forward to your next 100 issues.

For all expats, ticos and tourist Marina Pez Vela will be celebrating 4th of July starting at 3pm with fun, food and music with a firework show at 8pm so get out and enjoy some Independence great food, and live music.

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 facebook.com/quepolandia. We appreciate and welcome your comments

Peace and Enjoy…D

Pat, Ana & Dave

Pat, Ana & Dave

Congratulations Quepolandia and Happy 20th Anniversary!

Pat Cheek

This July marks a huge milestone for the Quepolandia! 20 years is quite an accomplishment for any magazine, but particularly in Quepos, Costa Rica! 

Ana Lyons had a wonderful vision when she started the ball rolling. Going from a few pages copied and stapled together to a beautiful full color digital print magazine. After Ana’s 10½ year run I had the privilege of taking over. The 7+ years I ran it amounted to one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I learned things I never dreamed of knowing about publishing and design layout. The teaching came from the most capable layout designer I could have asked for in Paul Rees. Paul continues to do an awesome job with the Quepolandia.

Not only was the job fun but it gave me an entrance into working with an amazing community and making many friends. I am so pleased that Dave is at the helm now! As the magazine continues to grow…the sky’s the limit and maybe another 20 years is in its future!! Keep up the great work Dave and Paul and thanks for the community support all these years!

Happy 20th Anniversary Quepolandia!!

Cover January 1999Ana Lyons

When I chose Costa Rica to be my adopted home back in the early 90’s, there was very little information available. What I learned about the country came from a subscription to the Tico Times… (printed version—no internet available back then). I was sure I wanted to be here, and my first drive from San Jose to the Central Pacific coast cemented that feeling. Stopping in the quaint little fishing village of Quepos and seeing the lush, immense beauty of Manuel Antonio Park, I couldn’t wait to make the area my home. I bought a small cabin/bar/restaurant business a few kilometers south on the beach in Matapalo and thus began my wonderful pura vida adventure!

Multiple challenges running that business (another story for another time, or maybe a book) was the inspiration to search for another way to survive. I was already using my computer, printer, a “store-bought” software program and limited skills to create a small flyer providing information about Matapalo (named Viva Matapalo by the late and great Michel Trottier, owner of La Terraza del Sol—RIP Michel). Having made friends with owner Vera Jones at Dos Locos, I was also creating a one-page flyer for her restaurant clientele called Que Pasa en Quepos. The internet was just beginning to be available, so with my one old computer, and Vera’s extra phone line, we created the first “internet café” upstairs in Dos Locos, called Cyber Loco.

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My 100th Issue!

Full cover July 2018July 2018 is my 100th Quepolandia layout! Thank You Ana, Pat, & Dave for giving me the opportunity to work at such a fun & satisfying job. Thank You to all the Readers, Advertisers, and Contributors for keeping the Quepolandia alive & growing for 20 years. Looking forward to issue #200!



Shambling through paradise headerAfter 15 years at the beach, I was back in the city of San Isidro del General. I had come full circle from the 1990s. The place had not changed much, except there were double the people and triple the vehicles. This made things difficult, as the bicycle had previously been my preferred means of transport. Over the years I liked to joke that I was signing my death warrant every time I went out for a bike ride on our narrow potholed roads. Now it was even more daunting with more cars, more people—and with the addition of cell phones and texting, already easily distracted drivers were all potential killers.

Back in the 90s I had ridden just about every road that existed in the San Isidro/Perez Zeledon vicinity. I had just gone through a messy divorce, and cycling was a fantastic outlet. To give you an idea of how avid a cyclist I was, I would sit my son and daughter, then aged 5 and 4, across the long frame of the bicycle, make sure they had solid holds on the frame, and pedal them the 5 miles or so up and down hills, through traffic, into the center of town to drop them off to their mom on the occasions they stayed with me. My daughter had a child’s bike helmet, my son preferred to wear a too-large motorcycle helmet that a previous housemate had left behind. (This is one of the many things that made Costa Rica great in my eyes—had I cruised around a busy city street in the states in this manner I may well have ended up facing a panel of child protection services agents and been stripped down to an occasional supervised visit; here, where it was not unusual to see a family of four hanging on to one another while puttering down the road on a 125cc motorcycle, no one batted an eye).

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Fiddlin’ Around – May/June 2018

Fiddlin'Around headerUsually at some point in my articles I nag you folks to get out and listen to real people playing music together, and there are good reasons for my nagging! Now of course this is partly self-serving, as I play around here a lot and I totally prefer to play for people as opposed to empty chairs. Most musicians love it when an audience is receptive and having fun and getting into the music, but it’s also because something special happens during live performances. It’s a one-time-only kind of deal that will never be repeated in exactly the same way. A live show is always unique, no matter how rehearsed or scripted or pre-meditated it might be. Part of it is the energy and spirit coming from the audience. Part of it is the time and place. Part of it is the communication between the musicians. Maybe it’s about the moon or how much sleep the players got the night before or how many cups of coffee they’ve had or whether the guitar player is getting along with the drummer, but it will never happen exactly the same way again.

Edison and his phonograph

Edison and his phonograph

Thanks to Thomas Edison, a recording device was invented which brought music and speech to listeners with the proper equipment. Later, flat records evolved which remained the playback medium for the next 60 years or so. There were reel to reel tapes, and cassettes and 8 tracks and CDs. The radio brought previously recorded music to the masses, and nowadays there are many ways to hear music through the internet, whether it be live broadcasts or the recording some guy with a ukulele made in his basement. With a click on your computer you can hear radio stations from all over the planet, or download stuff from years past or last nights’ show. But standing in front of a speaker listening to a band playing live is still a special and wonderful thing.

I like doing studio work, but it requires a different set of skills, equipment and approach than playing live. Many times I have been called in to a studio to play just a few pertinent parts, never really hearing the whole song or knowing what it was about. The recording part of my career started back when actual tape was used to record onto, and the mixing part was as important to the ultimate sound as was the musical content. Sometimes we tried to record as many of the instruments and vocals at the same time, striving for a ‘live’ sound. Sometimes all the parts would be recorded separately onto their own track, cleaned up later of any unwanted noise, adjusting the volume levels and tone of the instruments or vocals, then it would all be finalized in the mix. Engineers who were really good at mixing would make notes about little details—where to turn up the singers volume for 5 seconds, or erase an unwanted cymbal crash or brighten up the horn parts for a short time. Back then, when you made a final mix it often involved several people manipulating the tracks, and sometimes the mix was inspired and everyone worked beautifully together. Sometimes it was lackluster and stiff or over-produced. I can remember the tension and cooperation between the studio engineers and the musicians when doing a final mix—there might be half a dozen people hovering over the mixing board, each with their role to play. Now you can do anything you dream up in the studio and there is no ‘final’ mix that can’t be changed. If someone sings one note that is flat, you can isolate that note on the computer, correct the pitch and save that adjustment to the computer and never have to worry about it again. Or worry about the singer hitting the right note. All the technical advances have in some respects made recording much easier, but you can also lose that ‘live’ enthusiasm and spontaneity in the process and end up with robot music.

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Bahn Mi

Chef's Corner logo
First we must thank John Montagu (1718-1792), the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who had the genius idea of encasing cold meats in between two slices of bread so that he didn’t break from the gambling tables for a snack.

Of all the inventive meat-and-bread creations since this historical milestone, the Vietnamese Banh Mi is one of my favorites. Fresh and crusty bread, and the sweet pickled carrots and cucumber (daikon too if available) and cilantro are key, the rest can vary according to taste.

This recipe is the authentic street vendor version.

For the bread

About 9 inches of fresh French baguette cut lengthwise leaving both halves still attached. 

For the pickle

  • ¾ cup of shredded carrots
  • ¾ cup of thinly sliced, peeled and seeded cucumber
  • ½ cup shredded daikon, if available
  • 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt

Mix all of the above and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes, drain before using.
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