Friday, May 21, 2010


So, there was another earthquake in Costa Rica, on thursday may 20th. It was a 6.1, which is pretty strong but nothing happened, thanks God. In Costa Rica, comments went from: "What the fuuuuuck!" to "its just an earthquake". We Costa Ricans are very used to earthquakes. Foreigners find it very weird and when an earthquake happens, you can easily spot whos a native and whos a foreigner (TIP: foreigners are the ones running around hopelessly, waving their arms and stuff). We costaricans are so used to earthquakes, the moment a really big one happens, we'll be screwed, no ones gonna run for safety or anything. Luckily, being so used to earthquakes, all buildings are earthquake resistant. This means they wont fall as easily as other buildings. Probably thats why nothing happened this thursday and people were just like: "oh, its just another 6.1 earthquake..."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cocos Island

Cocos Island is one of Costa Rica´s most famous national parks. It is globally known as the best scuba diving place in the world. It is pretty far away from Costa Rica, about a day in a ship; it is actually closer to Ecuador than to Costa Rica. The island is known for its beautiful flora and the exotic marine fauna, which comprises hammerhead sharks, dolphins and other large marine animals. When famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau visited, he mentioned it was "the most beautiful island in the world." In the island, only the forest rangers live, who take care of the park and patrol its waters looking for illegal hunters. Fishing in the island is totally prohibited; sadly, the island has been the target of many illegal poachers who go to hunt sharks and other exotic fish.

Cocos Island was declared one of the 7 World Wonders of Nature. It is also the place for many pirate legends. In 1818 Captain Bennett Graham, a distinguished British naval officer put in charge of a coastal survey in the South Pacific aboard the HMS Devonshire, instead of his mission chose a life of piracy. He was eventually caught and executed along with his officers, the remainder of his crew being sent to a penal colony in Tasmania. Twenty years later, one of the crew, a woman named Mary Welch released from prison claimed to have witnessed the burial of Graham's fortune — 350 tons of gold bullion stolen from Spanish galleons - on Cocos Island. Moreover, she had a chart with compass bearings showing where the so-called "Devonshire Treasure" was buried. Welch's story was believed and an expedition was organized to hunt for the treasure. Welch took part in it but on the island she said the lay of the land had changed so much that many of her identifying marks had disappeared. The expedition recovered nothing.
Benito Bonito, a portuguese pirate, allegedly buried the Treasure of Lima on Cocos Island during the Peruvian War of Independence. Another version is that captain William Thompson was given treasures from Lima and ordered to sail them on his ship Mary Dear to safety. But the temptation was too great for he and his first mate, James Alexander Forbes. They slew the guards and hid the treasure on Cocos Island. The secret was transmitted to a friend of Thompson called John Keating in 1844.
Some believe that Keating has managed to retrieve part of the treasure. Later a descendant of James Alexander Forbes, John Forbes made five trips to the island, the last one in 1950.




Conservative talk-show host, Rush Limbaugh, declared a few weeks ago that if the Obama Health Care Plan or "Obamacare" passed he would move out of the United States and get his medical treatment in Costa Rica. A few days ago, the Obamacare was passed by Congress. This is good news for US citizens, especially the more than 30 million without healthcare but it is actually bad news for us Costa Ricans! We dont want people like Rush in Costa Rica! People who dont care about their neighbors but only about themselves and who defended the healthcare industry knowing that by doing that, they were helping to increase the misery of more than 30 million people! Nevertheless, something good also came out for Costa Rica. Suddenly, everyone is asking: Why Costa Rica?

Well, Costa Rica has a long story of social reforms and all. In one of those social reforms, in 1956, a president declared healthcare to be universal and accesible for all. He declared that the state would run the healthcare through a separate organization and that every Costa Rican RESIDENT (not even citizen) has to pay 6% of their salary to maintain the healthcare system, even if they don't use it. This could be seen as unfair by many people but not by us. This is a way to contribute to society, because all of us live in the same country and share the same resources. One person's misery harms everyone.

Also, people may argue: If its state-run, then it must be pretty bad, right? Umm, not actually. Because of our healthcare, life expectancy in Costa Rica is higher even than the US. Its actually paired up with the Scandinavian countries, who have the longest life expectancy in the world. Costa Rica ranks in general health higher than the US according to the World Health Organization. Costarican doctors are pretty good doctors. And because healthcare is accesible to anyone, private healthcare is also ridiculously cheap, compared to the US. You can get the same or higher quality medical procedure in CR for half the cost of what it would be in the US. You can get it for free, actually, if you are a resident and the procedure is covered by the national healthcare. (cosmetic procedures are not covered, this means no free boob job, sorry!)

So wrapping up, those are the reasons why Rush wants to move to Costa Rica. BUT! if he moves to Costa Rica, he'll still have to pay for national healthcare, even if he doesnt use the state-run one (he'll use the private, still cheap one which gets you "spa recovery" and tours!). And he'll obviously wont, people like that wouldnt want to contribute to society and help people they dont know. So, it seems Rush has a tough choice: stay on his country and pay healthcare for his countrymen, or pay healthcare for costaricans! Or move to another country. Still, 2 New Yorkers who used to have no healthcare, did a campaign called where they gathered enough money to send Rush in a plane on First Class to Costa Rica. If he does go there, I sure hope the State Healthcare Official gives him a warm, Costarican welcome.

Stone spheres

The Costa Rica Stone Spheres are a series of about three hundred spheres of different sizes made of different types of stone. The sphere size ranges from a few centimeters to over 2 meters tall. The spheres were first found dispersed in the jungle by the United Fruit Company, who was exploring the south area of Costa Rica were most of the indigenous cultures lived. A lot of myths have arised regarding the spheres, like they are from Atlantis, were made by aliens and even some people think that if all spheres are gathered together in the Guayabo monument - where they were originally found - something incredible will happen. The spheres appear to be perfect in dimensions and represent a perfect circle. Scientists still dont know how the natives created this, as they are more than 1000 years old.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Nothing new

Literally. There's pretty much nothing new happening in Costa Rica. It's raining a lot, which is normal for this month. May is the month of the scarabs, because hundreds of scarabs come out of the ground and fly at night and they like crashing against people. We Costaricans are used to them but some people still run around trying to escape from them. They don't do anything at all besides crashing against everything and laying on their backs, while spinning and trying to get up. Nevertheless, some of them can get pretty big and scary. In 8 days, Costa Rica's new female president will take power, a historic event in Costa Rica, because she will be the first female president.
 On other news, the iconic Irazu lagoon has dried due to a crack on the volcano's crater. Some people say it's a sign of doomsday while others say it's simply a matter of waiting for rainfall to fill the blue/green lagoon again. However, that lagoon will surely be missed.....that is until 6 months, when it's back again, scientists hope. The last time it dried was in 1991. Oh, and the Turrialba volcano that was supposed to erupt and destroy Costa Rica along with half of the world didn't. I guess scientists missed their calculations by a few thousands of years....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Colonization Part 2

When the Spanish first came to Costa Rica, in 1502, they started capturing and killing the native indians. Throughout all the Spanish Colonial Age, there were various indian revolutions, most of them lead by the famous indian leader Garabito who was later killed by the Spanish. Many Indians then decided to flee towards the deep forests of Talamanca, located in a southern Costa Rica and surrounded by the country's tallest mountains. Since then, the indians haven't come out and while there is regular contact with the rest of the country, they still live in the woods and there are no cities there.

Now, coming back to the XXI century, the indians are still there. Nevertheless, they are now faced by a new threat and no, its not the second Spanish invasion. Its actually a Norwegian invasion. A Norwegian millionaire, named Helge Haaversen, plans to open a mine in Talamanca. In 1974, studies by a US company found big amount of gold and copper buried in Talamanca. Since then, lots of mining companies have tried to gain the rights to open a mine in Talamanca, but their requests have been denied. This new mine, by the name "Crucitas", plans to open a "cielo abierto" mine. This means they will chop down half of the forest, destroy the environment, get the gold and get away. The Indian population of Talamanca has declared its opposition to the project, even if it means new job opportunities for them and development for the region. They said that they prefer preserving nature, who protected them for so long, rather than earning some bucks. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Uruguay next

Costa Rican president and Nobel Prize winner, Oscar Arias, presented a proposal to the Uruguayan president to eliminate the uruguayan army. Costa Rica is one of the few countries in the world to erradicate their army and take a more peaceful approach. Oscar Arias said: Why does Uruguay need an army? It hasnt been in a war for years? Who's gonna attack Uruguay, Brazil? Argentina? I dont think so. Uruguay doesnt need an army. Nevertheless, some conservative Uruguayan senators claimed that Arias should mind his own businesses and stay out of Uruguay. Ironically, those senators are investors of the companies who manage the Uruguayan Army's weapons and resources. Mind his own business? Hmmmm....