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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 162                          Email us
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Daniela Castro searches for flowers with sister Sofia and boyfriend, Gabriel Rojas.
Flower buyers
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp

It's Thanksgiving and Black Friday rolled into one
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As daylight was fading and San José became darker and darker, the crowds along Avenida Central seemed to continue to grow more than most Tuesday nights.

All along the boulevard, people seemed to descend on the stores downtown. Individual men and women in business attire just getting off work walked quickly down the street with small shopping bags or bouquets of flowers in hand. Couples slowly strolled down the street, the woman’s head often resting on the shoulder of her male companion with their hands clasped.

Whether it was these types of people, or fathers
Mr. Espinoza
Jeffrey Espinoza
carrying large bags with home appliances in them while looking after their kids or groups of siblings or any other type, these groups were all trying to find the perfect gift for the mothers in their lives.

One such group was Daniela Castro, her sister Sofia and her boyfriend, Gabriel Rojas, who went to the corner of Avendia Central and Calle 4 to find flowers for their mothers. The sisters
also were planning on how to honor their mother today, Costa Rica’s El Día de la Madre.

“Breakfast… maybe we’ll go to the beach,” said Daniela Castro. “Normally, families go out for lunch with their mother and grandmothers.”

“And dinner,” added Sofia Castro.

In Costa Rica, mother’s day, always Aug. 15, is one of the most important days of the year both culturally and commercially. It might be compared to U.S. Thanksgiving and Black Friday in one day.

The commercial importance of this holiday is apparent. Stores, restaurants, spas and other businesses stay open on this holiday, even shops that normally do not open their doors at all on national holidays.

Jeffrey Espinoza, who works at one of the flower shops, confirmed that mother’s day is only rivaled in sales by Valentine’s Day in February. He said that no matter what Latin American country it is or what date it falls on, it will always be an important day in Latin America.

“In some countries, it’s in December. In some, it’s in May, but in Costa Rica it’s in August.”

Natalia Rojas and her boyfriend, Johann Chávez, came to the same stand looking for flowers for their parents. Rojas carried flower arrangements in both hands while Chávez held the umbrella over her.

“This one is for my grandmother,” she said as she lifted the basket in her right hand. “This one is for
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
 Diana Garzón and her mother, Guiomar Puerta,
 show off their chocolate-covered strawberries.

my mother,” she said as she lifted the other hand.

Just as they teamed up to pick out a gift for their mothers, they described how they have to make rounds to the mothers in both of their families the next day.

“We are going to have lunch with my mother, and then we will get dinner with his mother,” said Ms. Rojas.

To this couple, mother’s day is partially a holiday to generate commerce, but it is just as much a day to show appreciation for mothers.

Although shop owners do not deny the financial benefits of such a day, such as the slight increase in prices for flowers that comes this time of year according to Espinoza, they are quick to note that the celebration of their mothers is the most important part.

“It’s for love of the mother,” said one street vendor downtown, who had completely changed her corner booth to religious pictures, deep-red, heart-shaped pillows, flowers and other gifts for the holiday.

“In Latin America in general it’s very important,” said Diana Garzón, who works at Theo Chocolates, her family’s chocolate store in San Pedro. “We are very warm, sentimental and caring, so we care for our mothers.”

“It’s important for us because mom represents everything for us, our help, our guide,” she added, with help explaining the concept from her mother, Guiomar Puerta, sweeping the floor behind her, and her cousin, Juan Carlos Garzón.

Although San Pedro had a very different atmosphere Tuesday evening because it lacked the throngs of people who walked the streets downtown, Ms. Garzón said that her store had been busy and full the whole day selling cards, gifts, fruit baskets, chocolates and one of their specialties, chocolate-covered strawberries.

For Espinoza and Ms. Garzón, the day is not much of a holiday because they both will be spending the whole day at work, but they will also be spending the whole day with their mothers who work alongside their children at their family stores.

For Ms. Garzón and her mother, the holiday will have to wait one more day. “We both have to work here tomorrow, but the next day we will have dinner together,” said Ms. Garzón.

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Bolero show Thursday
include Tico dance form

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dancers of the Academia Kinesis will put on a bolero dance show Thursday in Alajuela for mothers in honor of El Día de la Madre.

The presentation will take place at 12:10 p.m. in Museo Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaría, as part of the weekly noon theater presentation.  It will feature bolero in its various forms, including classic and creole.

"The idea is to present a series of boleros that we work in the various genres, which can be danced with more modern music," said the academy director, Grettel Rodríguez.

The show will present, in addition, a form of dance that was born in the Costa Rican classrooms: the bolero Creole, said the director.

Ms. Rodríguez stressed that this bolero is Costa Rican and pointed out that "what is being sought is to rescue bolero Creole, and that people know this other type of bolero."

Two instructors will participate in the presentation. Daniel Hernández, nicknamed Tito, from Group Ex Taboo will demonstrate the Cuban bolero or bolero salon style that blends several styles of music such as cha cha, the ballad and the bolero.  This dance can be done in pairs or trios, said Ms. Rodríguez.

The other instructor is named Miguel Miranda. He is from the group Sabor Latino.  He will show different ways of dancing the bolero.

Theater at noon offers presentations every Thursday at 12:10 p.m. in Auditorio Juan Rafael Mora, at the Museo Histórico in Alajuela.  Tickets are 1,000 colons and can be reserved at 2441-4775.

Four die in pickup plunge
from bridge in Bagaces

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A pickup containing six men went out of control late Monday, crashed through a bridge railing and plunged to the river below. Four occupants were killed and two suffered serious injuries.

The accident happened in Río Chiquito de Bagaces at a bridge over the Río Tenorio. Two of the dead were identified by the last names and ages as: Chavarría, 35, and Castillo, 29.  Two other dead men had not been identified adequately, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The injured were identified by the last names of Gutiérrez and López.

New hotel at airport

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Courtyard by Marriott has inaugurated its second hotel in Costa Rica. This one is the Hotel Courtyard San José Airport near Juan Santamaría airport. The hotel has 127 rooms.

Marriott International operates six hotels in Costa Rica under the trademarks of Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

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Third News Page
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 162
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'Romeo and Juliet' is staged without Romeo or even Juliet
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

William Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet” is being presented in a creative and unique culinary fashion.

The play is a co-production of Pagura productions and the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano.  All the acting is performed by just one man, Argentina native Rubén Pagura Alegría.  Pagura plays a waiter in the Italian restaurant "Verona."  As he anticipates a few guests who never arrive, the server begins to narrate the story of the tragedy that befell the couple through the manipulation of tableware.

Audience members play the role of the public who are waiting to be seated in the restaurant.   All other characters in the story are represented as napkins, tablecloths, forks, spoons, cups and salt shakers, said a summary.

According to Pagura, the creativity of the play was his idea and that of director Roberto White.  Using objects was Pagura's suggestion, and the work is something new, he said. He has been an actor since the 1970s and has performed in multiple countries including the United States.

However, acting wasn't Pagura's first career choice.  He came to Costa Rica to study music and that is where he found theater.

“First, I am musical.  I sing some songs, and I play the guitar.  My family is very musical, my dad played the piano.  When I came to Costa Rica, I studied at the theater school for music.  The music theater started my career,” said Pagura.

Theater was an art that permitted an interaction with the public, he said.  It allowed him to explore themes and topics in a fun way, but also in a way that has emotions, he said.

Pagura brought his musical side into “Romeo y Julieta” by adding songs.  At one point one of the cups even sings, he said.

“Romeo y Julieta” received two national theater awards from
Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano photo
Rubén Pagura Alegría and his culinary props.

the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.  In 2011, the ministry recognized Pagura as best actor and White as best director.

Patrons can see the production through Aug. 26 at the Teatro Eugene O'Neill, of the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano in Los Yoses.  Performances are Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.  General admission tickets are 5,000 colons or about $10.  The price for students is 3,000 colons or $6.

Reservations can be made by telephone at 2226-2602 or 2207-7561.

From the editor
This makes 11 years providing a unique, daily news report

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica celebrates its 11th birthday today. There are about 3,000 archived editions on the server that capture the surprises that Costa Rica has to offer.

Many think that this newspaper is for foreigners who do not speak Spanish. That is incorrect. Regardless of language ability, First World expats here represent a community that has special informational needs. The easy way to put out an online newspaper would be to copy and translate news stories from Spanish-language publications.

That is not what the A.M. Costa Rica staff does. Each news story contains information from original sources. And editors try to provide a unique news report each day tailored to the special needs of English-speakers.

There are some expats here who do not read A.M. Costa Rica. That's like ignoring the owner's manual on a new car. Good information is vital to adjusting to a new culture. Reporters and editors try to keep that in mind when seeking out news stories.

That's why this is the best-read online English-language news source in Costa Rica. A.M. Costa Rica consistently ranks among the world's top 100,000 Web sites. Tuesday, the newspaper served up more than 33,000 pages to readers, about half outside Costa Rica in as many as 90 countries.

Over the years there have been some consistencies. The
 newspaper has been late appearing several times due to electrical or Internet problems, but A.M. Costa Rica has never missed an issue. The pages always have been open to reader opinions. And nearly since the start of publication readers could find the thoughts and views of Jo Stuart in the Friday edition.

There have been changes. There are more pages and more special interest sections, like the calendar, food, lifestyle and five classified pages. There's even a crossword puzzle. Editors created Costa Rica Report to cover the breaking news provided by other publications. A news feed on Page 2 directs readers to news summaries and then to a translated version of the Spanish-language article. Editors recognize that the staff here cannot cover everything, and Costa Rican newspapers do a good job, too. Summaries and links represent a legal way to providing this information to readers.

Readers owe a large debt of gratitude to the newspaper advertisers who pay for the production of this free publication. Providing this level of news and features is a costly venture. But A.M. Costa Rica advertisers know that they will receive response.

The cost also is great for the staff. Employees, including an intern, have faced a criminal libel charge. As with many court cases here, this one took two years before being thrown out on a technicality. Those who write in Costa Rica face that danger, and staffers here face the threat of a malicious criminal case every day.

The response from readers makes this all worthwhile.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 162
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From Cahuita
to Germany

Kawe Calipso of Cahuita performs before some 2,000 persons in Berlin, Germany. The Caribbean group was invited after the director of a German cultural center there visited the area and heard the group perform. Manuel Monestel, a Universidad de Costa Rica professor and expert on the Afro-Caribbean culture, also particpated, said the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto in San José.
Cahuita performers
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo

Tamarindo gets rain but not all of parched Guanacaste
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There was some relief from drought conditions in Guanacaste Tuesday. Tamarindo resident Shawn Maricle said that his private weather station registered 2.29 inches of rain, the heaviest so far this year.

But the precipitation was not general. Bagaces, for example, received no rain Tuesday, according to the automatic weather station there operated by the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional. Liberia registered less than a millimeter from 7 a.m. Upala in the northern zone saw 14.6 millimeters, a bit more than half an inch.

Localized showers also are predicted for today. The weather institute said that there would be clouds in the afternoon and some rain around the gulf of Nicoya.
Some rain fell Tuesday night in Heredia, Alajuela, San José, the northern zone and Nicoya

Farmers in Guanacaste and the northern zone are experiencing a drought, and they need about a week of continual rain to make up for the deficit so far.

Costa Rica appears to have dodged the danger of Atlantic storms once again.  The remnants of Tropical Depression Seven is producing some showers and thunderstorms of the northwestern Caribbean and the Yucatan peninsula, said the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

A second low-pressure area in the Atlantic has moved north and is unlikely to affect Costa Rica's weather. However, the center said that the low pressure area is likely to become a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Some rain falls in areas
ravaged by U.S. drought

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. officials say cooler weather and recent rain showers in the drought-stricken Midwest have largely stabilized crop conditions, but add that the drought is not over.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said in a statement Tuesday that rainfall has been heaviest in the eastern Corn Belt, including Michigan and Ohio, and that nearly all of the Midwest has received some precipitation.  The department's weekly crop progress report, released Monday, showed crop conditions improved slightly, but that crop ratings remain at their lowest levels since the last serious drought in 1988.

Officials say complete recovery from a drought not only requires the change of seasons, but significant rainfall.  The Agriculture Department says 59 percent of U.S. rangeland and pastures are rated in very poor to poor condition.

Authorities say two cold fronts combined are expected to bring rain across sections of the South, East, and lower Midwest this week.  Lighter amounts of rainfall are forecast for the northern and central Plains and the Upper Midwest.  Cooler temperatures are also forecast for east of the Rockies in the coming days.

Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama toured an Iowa family farm which has been affected by the drought. 

The Obama administration announced that the federal government will purchase up to $170 million worth of meat and fish, the second initiative this month aimed at helping farmers and ranchers affected by the drought in the Midwest. The food purchases will go toward food banks and other nutrition assistance programs.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will provide millions of dollars in assistance to restore livestock lands affected by the drought.  Obama has urged Congress to pass a bill to help the farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters.

Application period opens
for young illegal immigrants

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States is starting this week to take applications from young illegal immigrants who want to stay in the country for the next two years to work and go to school without the threat of deportation.

President Barack Obama eased the country's immigration laws two months ago.

Beginning Wednesday, 800,000 or more young people brought to the country illegally by their parents will be eligible for the reprieve if they meet certain standards, such as graduating from high school or serving in the U.S. military.

Obama blocked the deportations after the U.S. Congress failed to adopt comprehensive immigration reforms. He said it was the right thing to do to give relief and hope to young people, many of whom have spent almost their entire lives in the U.S. and have little connection to other countries.

Illegal immigration is a controversial issue in the U.S. Some reports say illegal aliens take jobs that American workers could fill and that governments are forced to spend money on social programs to assist the illegal immigrants that otherwise could be used to help American citizens.

Online college classes
seen displacing traditional

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Even with myriad technological changes that have affected higher learning in the early 21st century, most U.S. colleges and universities are still traditional halls of ivy with large classrooms, laboratory buildings and a number of student dormitories.

But a new survey of more than 1,000 Internet experts, researchers and observers of American education found that higher education may soon be more about clicks than bricks.

The survey was conducted by Elon University in North Carolina and the Pew Internet & American Life Project.  Some 60 percent of its respondents agreed with the statement that, by 2020, there will be a mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning in order to give students greater access to real-world experts. 

A majority foresees a transition to hybrid classes that combine online studies with far less classroom discussion.

But not all the experts who were polled are thrilled with this vision.  According to Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project, they worry that long-distance learning lacks the personal, face-to-face touch they feel is necessary for effective education.

Colleges are realizing that traditional classroom instruction “is becoming decreasingly viable financially,” says Rebecca Bernstein of the State University of New York at Buffalo.  “The change driver will not be demand or technology.  It will be economics and the diminishing pool of students who can afford to live and study on campus. "

As John McNutt of the University of Delaware puts it, “Without online education, only the wealthy will receive an education.  The traditional model is too expensive.”

Increasingly, online access is what students will need to attend college classes of the future.

Some of the Internet experts and researchers went so far as to visualize universities of the future in which campuses would exist mostly for tutoring, specialized training and research. 

Jeff Jarvis of the City University of New York wrote in his reply to the survey that it makes little sense in today’s world to subject students to “lectures on, say, capillary action - most of them bad - when the best lectures on this and other subjects can be found and shared online.” 
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Latin America news
drug dog
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa
Anti-drug agents got a new recruit, 17-month-old Kaizzer, a doberman, a breed not well-known for seeking out hidden packages of drugs. The dog was donated by a family, who reserved the right to visit once in awhile, said agents.

Woman angler a candidate
for salt water fishing record

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An Alabama woman is a candidate for an international fishing record after she landed a 27.98-kilogram (61-pound, 11-ounce) Pacific cubera snapper (Lutjanus novemfasciatus) off Flamingo June 30.

The International Game Fish Association said that the woman, Sjon A. Harless, qualified for consideration for the women's 60-kilogram (130-pound) line class record.

Ms. Harless was slow trolling live bait and needed 10 minutes to boat the fish, the association said, adding that the current  record is 25.85 kilograms or 57 pounds on that type of fishing line. Ms. Harless also was the association's 2012 female saltwater angler of the year because of other records that she holds. She was fishing with Capt. Luis Ruiz, the association said.

Prosecutors do not seek
jail for fishing boat captain

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prosecutors are not seeking jail for a boat captain caught fishing illegally near Isla del Coco and with 27 shark fins on board. 

The Poder Judicial said that prosecutors seek to have the man, identified by the last names of Obando García, restricted instead. They were to ask a judge to order the man not to leave the country, to stay ashore and to sign in with prosecutors twice a week. Obando is facing a charge of fishing in a prohibited area and possession of illegal marine products.

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