The Costa Rica Expert

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My New Blog

Please follow the link below to my new and improved Blog entitled 365 Reasons I Love Costa Rica......

Pura Vida!

Monday, February 25, 2008


If you have ever visited Costa Rica you will be quick to notice that Ticos (or Ticas) use a lot of expressions that may not seem familiar to even someone knowledgeable in Spanish.

Here are more (some humorous) examples from an email a tico friend recently sent me…..

  • Face - jacha, tarro
  • Head - jupa, torre
  • Eyes - guachos
  • Nose - ñata
  • Mouth - jeta, trompa
  • Stomach - panza, timba, chiberre
  • Ass - nalgas, fondillo, trasero, bumper
  • Underarm - sobacos, aletas
  • Legs - canillas
  • Fingers - troles, jocotes
  • Feet – patas
  • Walk - trolea, caitea, va a pata
  • Lazy - achantado, esta de bagaces, se la tira rico
  • Stingy - agarrado, codo, pinche
  • Boring - se agüeva, se ostina, es un bostezo, tiene tigra
  • To get married - se ahorca, se suicida, se embarca
  • To owe money to someone - amarra el perro
  • Distracted – está detrás del palo
  • To sleep - rulea, plancha la oreja, está jetón, echa espuma, babea
  • To kiss - apreta, marca
  • To vomit - se rancha, llama a Hugo, se arroja
  • To be ashamed - se la pela, se pega un bañazo
  • To assume - batea
  • To fight - arma bochinche, se agarra
  • To be sociable - bombeta
  • To work – bretea, chambea
  • To be a suckup - brochazo, es un sopla guabas
  • To flirt with a woman - echa el cuento, está ligando
  • To cry - moquea, es una bomba de mocos, mariquea
  • To have a boyfriend – esta jala, tiene cabra, tiene guila
  • To have shoes - tiene cachos, caites
  • To bitch at someone - lo cagan
  • To take a piss - mea, le cambia el agua al pajarito
  • A child - carajillo, güila, mocoso, chiquito
  • To be without shame - carebarro, un montado, un cascarudo
  • To be careless - un tortero, un carne molida, un chapa, mete la pata
  • To be angry - se enchicha, se chivea, está de luna, se arranca, se encachimba
  • To be handsome – cito paolo, es un rico (a), un chicha, corrongo (a)
  • To go to the jail - lo enchorpan, lo engaletan, lo entaban
  • To have a house - tiene chante, choza
  • To have a car - tiene nave, chuzo o al contrario pichirilo, estornaco
  • To die - cuelga las tenis, patea el balde, estira la pata, se palma
  • To be stupid - es baboso, como las vacas, menso, sorompo, jetas
  • To be doing well - pura vida, puros dieces, con toda la pata, tuanis
  • To like something - le cuadra, está chiva, está fresa
  • To brag about yourself - pesado, un culazo, es un dolor de guevos, rajón
  • To cause damage - se queda hecho mierda o leña
  • To be hungry - tiene filo, tiene moncha
  • To be a bother - jode, friega, es majadero, 'seas tan necio'
  • To be ugly - furris, güeisoTo have good luck - guavero, lechero, chepero
  • To have a hangover - gomaTo be confused - se hace bolas
  • To be drunk - se juma, hasta la cara me duele, está tapis
  • To be in love - pepiado
  • To eat - jarta, jama
  • To be a liar – jetón, lengua larga
  • To be broke - anda limpio, lavado
  • To ignore someone - se hace el ruso, se hace el maje
  • To fail - se la pela
  • To play soccer - mejenguea, juega bola, patea bola
  • To have bad luck - miado, salado
  • To take advantage - se monta
  • To be a bookworm - es nerdo, verde, es pipa, tiene masa gris
  • To feel bad - paltigre, agüevado
  • To go to party - va de pelón, va de pachanga, va de rumba
  • To small bad - pateón
  • To make an effort – la pellejea, la pulsea, se pone las pilas
  • To have diarrea - tiene pringa pie, anda flojo, se le suelta el ruedo
  • To be nosey - sapazo chepo, vina
  • To be corrupt - es un choricero, trinquetero
  • To run - se pega un morón
  • To go or leave - se jala
  • To be sure or certain - al chile, fuera de vara
These are just a few of the commonly used slang terms that you might hear on the streets in Costa Rica. Of course, when using these terms be careful since they can be offensive to some people.

Pura Vida!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Viva Colombia!

I recently had the privilege of visiting Medellín Colombia. I can tell you that this is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever experienced. Colombia has gotten a lot of bad press over the years and Medellín has borne the brunt of much of it. Admittedly, back in the days when Pablo Escobar and his band of sicarios were wreaking havoc on the city, Medellín was probably not the safest place for a gringo to visit. As a vestige of this period, today the law requires all motorcycles drivers to wear the license number on the back of a vest in order to never have the same terrible days where Pablo’s motorcycle-riding sicarios (hit men) would gun down intended targets. But those days are thankfully long gone. I was fortunate to have a wonderful guide during my visit, my beautiful Paisa girlfriend (who now lives in Costa Rica, but whose heart is still 100% in her pueblo natal, Medellín). Medellín is located in the department of Antioquia. It has an international airport (actually located about 1 hour outside the city). The population is around 2 million and the population of the entire department of Antioquia is 5 million (second largest in the country behind Bogotá).

Places worth visiting in Medellín would certainly include the National Museum, which features many pieces from Colombia’s most famous living artist, Botero. Medellín also has an incredible elevated train system that will take you almost anywhere you want to go (the pride of the paisas and very clean and safe). Also, they have a great Metro Cable as well that will take you over the city and offer you some great views. Of course, the night life is great too. The Mangos of South Beach is a carbon copy of Mangos in Medellín and will definitely offer a night to remember. Some of the pueblos you might want to visit include Poblado, Envigado (hometown of Pablo Escobar) and Sabaneta. These offer great little outside bars where everyone gathers to drink the famous Colombian guaro known as Agua Ardiente. Also, the malls are incredible, especially the grandest in the city, Mall Tesoro.

Outside of Medellín there are some really cool places to visit. One of those is the colonial capital of Colombia, Sante Fe de Antioquia. This is a beautiful and historic city with cobblestone streets and rows of pastel colored colonial homes and beautiful churches. It is like taking a step back into the colonial days when the Spanish first colonized the country. Another great place to go is Guatapé, where you will find the mysterious Piedra del Peñol, a massive rock of 200 meters in altitude. Also in this area are the beautiful lakes known as the Represas de Guatapé. This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and there are loads of activities and sightseeing in the area. There are great hotels too!

No Mas Farc!

Colombia has so much to offer that it is a shame that the
FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) continues to terrorize the country with armed invasions of pueblos and kidnappings (despite the recent release of some high profile hostages at the behest of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the FACR is estimated to be holding hostage some 700 persons). The FARC now enjoys very little support in Colombia (really only the narcos want them around to help guard their coca and marijuana fields). Recently there was a world-wide condemnation of the activities of the FARC, which took place in 125 cities around the world. I pray that the FACR would give up the fight for the good of Colombia and all its citizens as well as the people around the world that would like to visit safely and experience the magic of this incredible country.

D Scott Bowers
Costa Rica Zine

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Costa Rica Scores Highest Marks for Environmental Protection

According to the 2008 Environmental Peformance Index (EPI) Costa Rica is 5th among 149 countries of the world in protecting the environment. Moreover, Costa Rica was first among all American countries. Colombia was the only other country in the Americas to rank in the opt 10. It ranked 9. The EPI ranks 149 countries on 25 indicators tracked across six established policy categories: Environmental Health, Air Pollution, Water Resources, Biodiversity and Habitat, Productive Natural Resources, and Climate Change. The EPI identifies broadly-accepted targets for environmental performance and measures how close each country comes to these goals. As a quantitative gauge of pollution control and natural resource management results, the Index provides a powerful tool for improving policymaking and shifting environmental decision-making onto firmer analytic foundations.

Here is how Costa Rica fared in various categories (scale of 1 to 100):

EPI - 90.5
Environmental Health - 93.2
Ecosystem Vitality - 87.7
Environmental Burden of Disease - 1.0
Water (humans) - 92.8
Air Pollution (humans) - 83.8
Air Pollution (Ecosystem) - 99.3
Water (Ecosystem) - 78.5
Biodiversity & Habitat - 48.0
Productive Natural Resources - 97.1
Climate Change - 98.3
Forestry - 100.0
Fisheries - 99.1
Agriculture - 92.0
Adequate Sanitation - 90.6
Drinking Water - 94.9
Urban Particulates - 83.8
Indoor Air Pollution - 75.8
Local Ozone - 100.0
Regional Ozone - 100.0
Sulfur Dioxide Emissions - 98.6
Water Quality - 57.1
Water Stress - 100.0
Conservation Risk Index - 95.0
Effective Conservation - 15.9
Critical Habitat Protection - 75.0
Marine Protected Areas - 6.0

You can view the entire EPI rankings as well as statistics on Costa Rica and all other countries ranked at the EPI Website.

Also, Costa Rica’s own Cocos Island is a candidate for inclusion in the new list of the Natural Wonders of the World, which will be announced this year on July 7th at the Official Declaration Ceremony in Lisbon, Purtugal. You can place your vote for Cocos Island at the Natural Wonder Official Website. As of the last update on January 24th, Cocos Island was ranked 5th of 77 candidates.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Costa Rican Energy Potential

I have been know to say often that one thing Costa Rica will never run out of is food, since almost anything will grow in the fertile soil that exists here. However, based on an interesting article the recently appeared in La Nación (the newspaper of major circulation in the country), it seems that Costa Rica will also never run out of energy. This comes as a surprise to those of us that suffered the rolling blackouts last year during the dry season when the reservoirs of some of our key dams dried up. Nevertheless I guess the facts speak for themselves. Speaking of facts, here are a few that appeared in the La Nación article.

Costa Rica has the potential to triple its capacity to generate electricity in clean form without the necessity of using the resources of the National Parks, which account for almost 30% of the entire territory of the country. This is according to the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) as set forth in its report of future expansion called Estado de la Nación.

The additional capacity is primarily from the rivers (4,445 MW) with the balance coming from wind (208 MW), volcanic gases (98 MW) and waste from sugar cane production (95 MW) for a total capacity of 4,846 MW. Identified capacity for the short term is 1,987 MW. As such, Costa Rica is in an enviable position in the long term of almost tripling its capacity and of producing over 80% of its total energy needs from clean and renewable resources. That is certainly enough to put a smile on Al Gore’s face.

According to Pedro Pablo Quirós, presidente of ICE, the country needs to double its capacity within the next 10 years in order to satisfy increasing demand. According to ICE this goal is achievable and there are already specific plans to increase capacity given that the economy of the country is expected to grow from 5.3% to 5.5% annually over this period.

Further the article points out that the growth potential provides significant opportunities for the private sector. Past legislation has granted this sector the right to produce up to 15% of the total capacity of the country.

Scott Bowers

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Refugio Caño Negro

I recently had the opportunity to do a boat tour of the Refugio Caño Negro located not far from the Nicaraguan border in Los Chiles. My agency, Package Costa Rica, has sent many customers on this tour, but I had never before experienced it myself. I can attest that if you are interested in Costa Rican Naturaleza this is one of the best places to visit in the country.

Getting There

The best way to do the tour is from La Fortuna with a package that includes the transportations. There are several companies that run such a tour. One of the best is
Canoa Adventures, whose office is in La Fortuna. Canoe owns a nice little facility right on the banks of the Rio Frio about 20 minutes downriver from the tiny village of Caño Negro. The facility has a bar and restaurant and clean bathrooms and it is where they put the canoes in for the tour down the river.

Getting to this place yourself by car can be quite an adventure. You head due north from La Fortuna towards the Nicaraguan border. Near the town of Los Chiles you hang a left on a dirt roan that takes you to your final destination. The road is rocky, but not too bad. At least when I went it wasn’t too bad, but this was during the dry season too. You follow the road for about 45 minutes before you arrive at Caño Negro. There is a large bar by the docs and there you will find any number of guides that will take you on a covered boat tour for about $20 to $30 for a couple hours.

What you Can See

The wildlife in this area is truly spectacular, especially the birds. Caño Negro is one of the few places where, if you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse of the exotic
Jabiru Stork, the tallest flying bird found in Central and South America. On our trip we saw tons of wood storks (but unfortunately not the rare Jabiru), cormorants and other varieties of birds, sloths, howler monkeys, and many caimans. The river is teeming with life at almost every turn. Other birds that can be found in the refuge include the glossy Ibis, black-necked stilt, neotropical cormorants, American anhinga, northern jacana, American widgeon, wood stork, white Ibis, black-bellied tree duck, cattle egret, northern shoveler, snail kite, green backed heron, Nicaraguan grackle, roseate spoonbill, and blue-winged teal. Also found in the park are spider, capuchin and howler monkeys, spectacled caimans, crocodiles, jaguars, cougars, tayras, ocelots, tapirs, white-tailed deer, jesus-christ lizards, black river turtles, and enormous orange iguanas.

Near Death Experience

While you can swim in the river at certain locations, with the caimans and crocodiles lurking about, do you really want to? For me I had no choice. My so-called “good-friend” and traveling companion (Yuri) pushed me into the river during a vulnerable moment. We had actually stocked a cooler-full of Nicaraguan beer back at the dock. Yuri is from Nicaragua and could not miss the opportunity. The place is so close to the border that the bar had one of the best (and very potent) Nicaraguan varieties readily available. Needless to say, I was a little wobbly on my feet on the boat and Yuri seized the opportunity to try to do me in once and for all. Fortunately (or not so fortunately for Yuri), I am still alive to tell the story.

If you are staying in the La Fortuna area, I would highly recommend a visit to Refugio Caño Negro. We can set you up with a tour. Just give us a call toll-free (from the U.S. or Canada) at 1-866-424-6439. Visit our
travel web site for a full list of our packages and other useful information about Costa Rica.

Update re Caldera Highway

After 30 years of delay, the long-awaited start of construction on the Caldera Highway will commence this month according to the CNC (Consejo Nacional de Concesiones). The section of the highway extending from Ciudad Cólon to Orotina is expected to be completed in thirty months, or by July 2010. The finance-related impasse was overcome the 21st of December when Autopistas del Sol reached an agreement with the BCIE (Banco Centroamerica de Integración Económica and the Caja de Madrid (a Spanish financial institution) to finance construction of the road, valued at $230 million.

The total route will cover 77 kilometers (48 miles) and will link the capital of San Jose with the country’s most important port of Caldera, running through the towns of Santa Ana, Ciudad Colón, Atenas and Orotina. The road will require a pretty hefty toll of about $2.70. However, it will reduce the drive time to Jaco by about 30 minutes, from the current 2 to 2.5 hours. The road will have two lanes on the uphill segments and one lane on the downhills. This will help faster cars avoid the slow moving tractor-trailers.

This road has been long-awaited by the investing community and will surely give rise to increases in property values in areas benefited by the new highway.