US Embassy in Costa Rica Gives Tips For a Safe Stay in Costa Rica

US Embassy in Costa Rica Gives Tips For a Safe Stay in Costa Rica

By Laura Alvarado – May 31, 2018  As published in The Costa Rica Star, May 31, 2018

US Embassy logo
Photo by cntraveler

Source: U.S. Embassy Costa Rica
The United States Embassy in Costa Rica shared the following list of safety tips for travelers visiting the country:

Know Your Environment
Costa Rica lies in an active seismic zone; small earthquakes are commonplace and authorities sometime limit access to national parks near active volcanoes for safety. During the rainy season from May to November, heavy rains can cause flooding, wash out roads, or even temporarily cut off some destinations. Pay attention to instructions from emergency responders and exercise caution in the event of a shift in prevailing conditions..

Do not travel or walk alone after dark or in isolated areas. Be particularly cautious on secluded beaches; criminals target such isolated areas. When traveling, use only clearly marked buses or taxis, as unlicensed taxi drivers have been linked to a variety of crimes.

Beach Safety
Costa Rica boasts world-famous beaches, but many have dangerous rip currents with neither lifeguards nor warning signs. Even strong swimmers should exercise extreme caution when swimming in the ocean. Surf can unpredictable, rogue waves have the ability to knock you down, and drag you out where it is very difficult to swim. Do not swim while drinking. See the Costa Rican Tourism Institute’s tips for swimmers.

Drink Responsibly
The vast majority of arrests, accidents, and violent crimes suffered by U.S. citizens in Costa Rica involve excessive alcohol. Know your drinking companions and stay in a group of friends who have your safety in mind when in clubs, bars, out walking in dimly-lit areas, or in a taxi at night. Visitors found alone or incapacitated have been victims of sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault. Watch your drink at all times. Intoxicated young women may be targeted for assault.

Driving and Vehicle Rentals
Costa Rican roads may not always be fully developed, with many major highways only having two lanes. To reach many common tourist destinations, one must drive on unimproved roads or through particularly challenging terrain. This road network is also a key component of the Costa Rican commercial transportation system, with frequent instances of agriculture machinery and large trucks slowing travel. Allow additional time for any trips to offset probable delays. Please avoid dangerous maneuvers, such as passing in no passing zones. Remember that street traffic in Costa Rica can be unpredictable or difficult to navigate. And never drive after drinking.

Take extra care if you choose to rent a car. Inspect equipment carefully and avoid old or rundown vehicles. Ask to see a copy of the operator’s business license and inquire about their medical and liability insurance coverage in the event of accident or injury. . Consider taking your valuables with you if leaving your car. Never assume a locked vehicle is 100 percent secure.

Hospitalization in Costa Rica
Accidents in Costa Rica can result in difficult and expensive medical situations. Local doctors and hospitals may not accept U.S. medical insurance policies or Medicare/Medicaid, and private medical providers typically expect immediate cash payment before rendering medical services. Medical evacuations to the United States easily cost in excess of $15,000. Consider purchasing separate traveler’s insurance for medical costs, or review your existing plan’s overseas coverage, before you travel. Find useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs on our webpage Your Health Abroad.

Getting Help from the Embassy
An arrest during your travels can result in a messy legal situation. Your U.S. citizenship will not help you and will not exempt you from prosecution under the Costa Rican criminal justice system. U.S. Embassy officials can visit you in jail, provide information about Costa Rica’s legal system, and give you a list of local attorneys or doctors. We cannot arrange for reduction of charges, your release from jail or payment of medical, hospital or other bills. You are responsible for your own costs. Contact the Embassy if you are a victim of crime or your passport has been lost or stolen.

Additional Information
Visit the following to learn more about visiting Costa Rica: U.S. Department of State’s country information for Costa Rica, tips for Students Abroad, and U.S. Embassy San Jose’s website. Be sure to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program before you go.

Keylor Navas Recognized as the Best Athlete in the American Continent

Keylor Navas Recognized as the Best Athlete in the American Continent

By Laura Alvarado – June 1, 2018.  As published in The Costa Rica Star, June 19, 2018

Athlete Keylor Navas
Keylor Navas

Costa Rican goal keeper Keylor Navas, was recognized as the best athlete in the American continent by the AIPS-America (International Association of Sports Media).

Navas, who recently won his third consecutive European Champions League title with his team Real Madrid, received the award as the best male athlete in the 2017 season.

This recognition is awarded every year since 2011 to the best male and female athletes and the best team.

“Proudly Costa Rican, Keylor Navas was recognized by AIPS America as the best Athlete in America. Congratulations”, posted the Costa Rican Soccer Federation.

Navas received the award at the Complejo Gol, (Scotiabank Arena), in San Antonio de Belen from the hands of William Mora, president of the Costa Rican Sports Journalists and Announcers Circle.

The goal keeper is the most important player in the Costa Rica National Soccer Team as they head to the Russia World Cup 2018. This is the second World Cup for Navas, who actually received the offer from Real Madrid after his participation in the Brazil World Cup 2014.

Costa Rica is the Latin American Country with Highest Life Expectancy

Costa Rica is the Latin American Country with Highest Life Expectancy

By Laura Alvarado – May 17, 2018 as published in The Costa Rica Star, June 19, 2018

Older couple sitting
Photo by

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the population in the American continent has won 16 years of life in average in the last 45 years; today, life expectancy in this region is of 75 years.

BBC launched a calculator that shows a person’s life expectancy based on the country you were born in, and using this tool and analyzing the results for Latin America, Costa Rica is in the first place, which means, it is the country with highest life expectancy in the region; globally it takes position 14 with 80.98 years according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 generated by the WHO.

The higher life expectancy in Costa Rica is associated with several elements, including security, health and education.
A study published by The Lancet Global Health in 2015 has Costa Rica ranked in position 26 among 187 countries when it comes to the number of healthy foods that are included in the diet.
High coverage of health and social security and adequate sanitary conditions are also part of the reason Costa Rica takes this privileged spot.

Costa Rica faces, however, challenges such as obesity in adults and nutritional deficiencies in children. The increasing costs of health attention are also a concern.

The second country to appear in the ranking is Chile, followed by Peru.

In Latin America the country with lowest life expectancy is Haiti with 63.97 years, followed by Belize and Honduras.

In the world, Japan holds the first position in highest life expectancy, reaching 83.94 years, in second place Singapore and third Switzerland.

In general women live longer than men in every country, and the biggest difference is marked in Venezuela where women live in average 79 years while men 71.

First Trimester of 2018 Shows a Growth in Number of Tourists to Costa Rica

First Trimester of 2018 Shows a Growth in Number of Tourists to Costa Rica

By Laura Alvarado April 23, 2018 as published in The Costa Rica Star, May 12, 2018

Tourism in Costa RicaAfter showing a decline in the number of visitors from the United States last year, the fist trimester of 2018 shows a growth of 6% in tourists from this country to Costa Rica.

The raise is also evident in visitors from other regions such as Europe with 14.2% in comparison to the same period of 2017 and South America with an 11.4% growth.

“The actions that we have taken in marketing and promotion as well as in terms of airlines are showing in the numbers with a very positive first trimester; however, a lot of follow up is required, coordination, and team work between the public and private sector so that those number continue in constant growth”, sated Mauricio Ventura, Minister of Tourism.

In January of 2017 the total number of visitors from North America (Canada, US, Mexico) was of 151,595 while in January 2018 Costa Rica received a total of 160,009; visitors from Europe in this same month went from 47,574 in 2017 to 52,920 in 2018; the same behavior is observed for February and March.

In the first month of 2018 the Costa Rica Tourism Board had already confirmed an additional 95 thousand plane seats, thanks to the arrival of new airlines and the increase in flight frequencies.

The Costa Rica Tourism Board has also made an important effort to have presence in some of the most important tourism fairs worldwide, promoting the country’s many attractions under the campaign “Costa Rica, My Choice, Naturally”.

Costa Rica has been able to position itself as an ideal country for vacations, adventure tourism, wellness, as well as medical tourism and is now making efforts to become a leader in the region for meetings and conventions tourism.


Roger Waters Concert in Costa Rica Breaks Record Ticket Sales in First Day

Roger Waters Concert in Costa Rica Breaks Record Ticket Sales in First Day

By Laura Alvarado, May 1, 2018 as published in The Costa Rica Star, May 12, 2018

Roger Waters Concert
Costa Rica Star News

It’s a once in a lifetime experience, the possibility of seeing Roger Waters in concert in Costa Rica may not happen again,  thousands of fans were counting the minutes for the tickets to go on sale on April 30.

By 7 p.m. on Monday over 20,000 tickets had already been sold and the majority of the locations were already sold out (The Wall, Animals, Wish You Were Here and The Dark Side of the Moon), leaving tickets available just for the cheaper seats (Sombra, Graderia Sur and Us+Them).

The concert of the former bass player, singer and songwriter of the band Pink Floyd broke the sales record in the number of tickets sold the first day, previously it was the band Metallica that had achieved this by selling 13000 tickets in 2010; the E-ticket platform experienced technical difficulties due to the heavy traffic received during the initial hours.

The National Stadium has capacity for approximately 35,000 people.

This stop in Costa Rica is part of Waters’ Us + Them Tour; Waters will be performing songs from The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, Animals, Wish You Were Here and also songs from his newest album “Is This the Life We Really Want?”.

Sloths ENdangered or IN Danger?

Sloths ENdangered or IN Danger?

By Sam Trull, The Sloth Institute. Published November 6, 2016

A question I get asked often is “Are sloths endangered?”. While the sloths of Costa Rica may not be categorized as ENdangered, they are still very much IN danger. Every day critical habitat is destroyed and sloths are injured by human encroachment. They can’t run across roads, jump through gaps in the forest or fend off dogs. In addition, underlying diseases and abilities to adjust to an ever changing world go un-detected without targeted research initiatives. There are active steps we can take towards creating a safer, healthier and happier future for wild sloths in Costa Rica.  But first we need to learn, what makes a healthy sloth?  What factors affect the health of individual sloths and sloth populations? In order to truly tackle these questions, we recently completed the build of Monster’s WiSH (Wild Sloth Health) lab.

As a part of our research, we take various samples from the wild sloths that we are tracking so that we can monitor different health parameters to get an overall picture of the quality of life of certain sloth individuals and ultimately populations of sloths.  Everything from weight, body measurements, feces, blood, hair, photos and more can be collected non-invasively to help us paint a clearer picture about baseline sloth health and what factors affect that baseline.  With this lab space, we will be able to collect comprehensive knowledge about common sloth diseases in wild populations. We aim to not only investigate the baseline health of ‘normal’ sloth populations, but also correlate this information with habitat quality so that we can make recommendations on how to better develop human encroached areas to improve the health and quality of life for wild sloth populations in Costa Rica before it is too late. This lab is an instrumental part of our ever growing WiSH program providing our team a perfect environment to work, collect, store and analyze samples.  In addition, this lab is a space where we can invite visiting researchers to collaborate on important conservation research that will save sloth lives.

We are so grateful to our incredible community of supporters that made Monster’s WiSH lab a dream come true to help us avoid sloths becoming endangered. We look forward to sharing our educational journey as we work every day to save the sloths that we all love.

Find out more about the organization and their work: or



Costa Rican Surfer Malakai Martinez Finishes 4th in the World Surf League

Costa Rican Surfer Malakai Martinez Finishes 4th in the World Surf League

By Laura Alvarado, April 2, 2018. Published in The Costa Rica Star, April 14, 2018.

Malakai Martinez is one of Costa Rica’s young surfing figures and prospects, he demonstrated his skills by finishing in fourth place in the Junior Pro of the World Surf League, which took place in Pipeline, North Shore Oahu, Hawaii.

Martinez was the only Hispanic competitor to reach the final after ousting reigning Junior World Champion Finn McGill; Martinez finished fourth among 32 competitors. The winner of the event was Hawaii native Makana Pang, while the second and third places were also taken by Hawaiians, Barron Mamiya and Kainehe Hunt respectively.

“I am very happy with this achievement, I didn’t get the win, but this is a good result, it motivates me to go home, prepare and come back next year for that first place”, commented Malakai after the competition.

This win will earn the Costa Rican a place in the top 10 of the North American ranking (where the Central Americans are assigned), in the Junior Pro of the World Surf League.

Aside from the native of Tamarindo, Guanacaste, the only two other Costa Ricans in the ranking are Sam Reidy from Dominical in position 23 and Aaron Ramirez from Jaco in position 39.

This past weekend Costa Rican Leilani McGonagle took the first place in the Barbados WQS 3000, becoming the first surfer from Costa Rica to win this type of event.


Carlos Alvarado: President of Costa Rica, Journalist, Writer, Musician,Husband and Father

Carlos Alvarado: President of Costa Rica, Journalist, Writer, Musician,Husband and Father

By Laura Alvarado, April 8, 2018.  Published in The Costa Rica Star, April 14, 2018

Carlos Alvarado Quesada was elected President of Costa Rica just a week ago and will take the lead of the country on May 8th, with the big responsibility of dealing with a high fiscal deficit, a divided congress and a country that demands actions against corruption and inequity.

But who is and what is the background of Costa Rica’s 48th President? Does he have what it takes to make positive changes in the next four years?

Carlos Alvarado was born January 14, 1980 he is 38 years old. Son of Adelia Quesada Alvarado who dedicated her life to her family, and Alejandro Alvarado Induni an electric engineer; Carlos Alvarado grew up in the community of Pavas, in San Jose, along with his brother, Federico, the eldest, and his younger sister, Irene.

His family is a middle class family that made an effort to put his kids through private education with the dream that they’d learn to speak English, Carlos attended elementary at the Anglo American School, “I remember I was always introspective, serious, well behaved even as a child”, stated Alvarado in an interview with Channel 7; he graduated high-school from St.Francis. It was precisely in high school that he discovered three of his loves in life, the love for reading awaken, with books such as The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway; he also discovered his interest in music listening to Pink Floyd and he met the woman that today is the First Lady of Costa Rica, Claudia Dobles.

He studied communication at the University of Costa Rica.

His first job was as a clerk in a sportsbook in 1999 in San Pedro, he took the job to be able to buy an electric guitar, when he had enough money to buy the guitar he quit his job and later went to work as a journalist for newspaper Semanario Universidad.

He was part of several musical bands. He wrote his first book called “Transcripciones Infieles” a recompilation of short stories he had written throughout the years, “this is a book I probably shouldn’t have published, I was too young”, he said.

His second book was a short novel, “La historia de Cornelius Brown”which won the Joven Creación Award in 2006. His second novel was published in 2010 “Las Posesiones” a book about the internment camps of Germans and Italians in Costa Rica during World War II. The last novel he wrote is “Temporada en Brighton” about his experiences living in France and England.

His interest in politics began during his university years and at some point through his journalism career he felt the need to do something that could create change and that brought him to study political sciences.

He worked in France giving Spanish classes for a while. He also attended the University of Sussex in England where he lived for a year where he got a Masters in Development Studies. He also lived in Panama due to his wife’s career where his son was born.

He was part of the communication team during the campaign of Luis Guillermo Solis, and he later was named Labor Minister for the government.

“Nobody ‘convinced me’ to run for the presidency, I did it for Costa Rica”.

Costa Rica Launches Its First Satellite Into Space with SpaceX

Costa Rica Launches Its First Satellite Into Space with SpaceX

By Laura Alvarado, April 2, 2018.  Published in The Costa Rica Star, April 14, 2018

Costa Rica launches satellite
Costa Rica launches satellite

The first Central American satellite, developed by Costa Ricans will be launched the afternoon of this Monday, April 2 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, USA.

The rocket Space Falcon 9 and the Dragon spaceship will be in charge of the transportation of the small satellite, which was manufactured with CubeSat technology, and consists on a cube that measures only 10 centimeters (3.93 inches) each side and weighs close to 1 kilogram.

This initiative known as Irazu Project (Space Technology for the Monitoring of Climate Change), is the result of the work of the Central American Association of Aeronautics and Space )CAAE for its Spanish acronym) and the Costa Rica Technology Institute (ITCR) with the support of several sponsoring companies, the government and donations received through kickstarter, the satellite was designed to help with different environmental investigations.

According to SpaceX this is the fourteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-14), Irazu Project is part of the about 5,800 pounds of supplies, payloads and vehicle hardware, including critical materials to directly support science and research investigations that will occur onboard the orbiting laboratory.

The launching can be seen live through the SpaceX You Tube channel via The Costa Rica Star at 2:30 p.m. local time, the link is included below by clicking on the video:


Remodeling of Quepos Airstrip in Costa Rica Underway

Remodeling of Quepos Airstrip in Costa Rica Underway

By Laura Alvarado, February 17, 2018 Published in The Costa Rica Star, March 10, 2018

AirplaneThe Quepos airstrip is receiving an important investment of over US$9.5 million that will better the conditions and infrastructure with the purpose of strengthening local tourism.

The General Directorate of Civil Aviation explained that the runway will be built with hydraulic cement with a capacity of 50 thousand pounds of weight and will be extended from the current 13 meters (42.65 feet) in width to 23 meters (75.45 feet) and 1123 meters in length plus 200 meters of security zone.

Four parking spots for light aircraft, new paint for all areas, a perimeter wire mesh and new lighting. In addition, a new and modern domestic terminal with all basic services will be built, with adequate waiting rooms and food services as well as proper parking area for vehicles.

The new design and infrastructure complies with the norms established by the International Civil Aviation Organization for a 2B airdrome.

Enio Cubillo, director of Civil Aviation stated “This is an area of high visitation for both national and foreign tourists, this project is a tool to attract more visitation and generate more business in the area for the local community”.

The Manuel Antonio National Park located in Quepos is the most visited National Park in the country, driving from San Jose to Quepos can take over three hours while a domestic flight takes only 20 minutes.

Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica Has New Universal Trail

Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica Has New Universal Trail

By Laura Alvarado, February 17, 2018 as appeared in The Costa Rica Star, March 9, 2018

Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park

The Manuel Antonio National Park in Quepos, Puntarenas, the most visited National park in Costa Rica, has a new universal trail sponsored by the Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE).

“El Manglar” (The Mangrove) is the name of the new elevated trail that has a length of 784 meters (2,572 feet) and is 2.4 meters wide (7.87 feet); it was built over a mangrove, hence the name, in an area of the park that wasn’t accessible to the tourists in the past and which leads to Espadilla Sur Beach and connects with other existing trails.

The new trail was built and donated by the Engineering and Construction department of ICE and it complies with Law 7600 (Equal Opportunities Law for People with Disabilities) and has 10 bays that have information in braille language that describes the characteristics and attractions of each area of the park.

In the past few months the Manuel Antonio National Park has received several improvements that aim to offer better conditions to the more than 440 thousand visitors it gets every year.



Release of Squirrel Monkeys at KSTR

Release of Squirrel Monkeys at KSTR

By KSTR Volunteer Margarita Samsonova, Kids Saving The Rainforest

Kids Saving The Rainforest
Kids Saving The Rainforest

Kids Saving the Rainforest is in the process of establishing a reintroduction program for squirrel monkeys. Central American squirrel monkeys, also known as Saimiri oerstedi, are nearly extinct in Panama and are threatened in Costa Rica. There are only 4,000 individuals living in the wild, mostly in Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks, located on Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

The low population of Central American squirrel monkeys makes reintroduction programs of these species very important to sustain the population and help reproduction. In order for the release to be successful, the monkey’s behavior and its predator responses are tested to see what chance the animal has to survive in the wild. The project requires sustained long term observations and research to ensure a successful reintroduction into the wild.

One of our volunteers, Margarita Samsonova, is dedicating her time to observing candidates for release and has been testing their ability to respond to predators. The predator experiments were set on the monkeys six times using the scents of predators who are also rehabilitating in the rescue center. Scents of animals who hunt squirrel monkeys in Costa Rica such as dogs, white- faced monkeys, kinkajous and hawks were used along with their recorded vocalizations to test predator response. Pieces of cloth were placed in the predators’ enclosures overnight and then placed with the vocal recordings in the squirrel monkey enclosure the next day.

A few of the squirrel monkeys had previously been kept as pets, so it is crucial to observe their reaction and behavior to get an idea of whether the release would be successful or not. It was observed that only four of the six candidates displayed “appropriate” behavior and reacted to the predator sound and smell the same as a squirrel monkey in the wild would. Two of those candidates didn’t approach the cloth with scent, meaning that they sensed the predators’ presence and didn’t want to risk danger. The other two squirrel monkeys, after some time observing the cloth, did get the food from it but retreated to eat it, which could mean that they saw no presence of predators and decided to quickly grab the food—a normal behavior of squirrel monkeys in the wild. The remaining two individuals came right to the cloth once it was put out; they didn’t react to any vocalizations and didn’t move from the cloth to eat the food, which could mean that those animals were domesticated and may have lost their natural instinct.

The testing of behavior will continue until the beginning of April and the planned release is in mid-April. It is believed that pre-release monitoring and experiments will help to determine an estimation of which of the candidates would have high survival rates during reintroduction.

14 Things That You May Not Know about Costa Rica

14 Things That You May Not Know about Costa Rica

Article by Charito Villegas, February 7, 2018 The Costa Rica News

Costa Rica, it is known for its beautiful natural scenery, its biodiversity and its wonderful habitants happy. Here are 14 interesting facts about Costa Rica to help make the country a truly unique place.


1. More than one-quarter of the land is dedicated to conservation. Tourists and locals alike feel attracted by the natural beauty of Costa Rica and undertake to preserve it. With 20 national parks, 8 biological reserves, refuges of animals, and protected areas, 26 percent of the lands of Costa Rica is protected.

2. Tourism is the leading source of foreign exchange for the country. All the natural beauty and diverse landscape with two oceans and access to a number of adventure activities have made Costa Rica a great holiday destination. There are so many reasons you could visit and some tourists visit there as they have marijuana rental homes. These are lodges, huts and even resorts that let you smoke as much as you like on your holiday, providing the ultimate relaxation. What more could you ask for? In 1995, tourism overtook bananas to become the leading source of foreign exchange for the country. Tourism reached an all-time high for Costa Rica in 2013 with 2.4 million visitors.

3. Costa Rica is home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have designated four places in Costa Rica as world heritage cultural and natural value. These are the National Park La Amistad, the National Park Cocos, the Guanacaste Conservation Area, and pre-Columbian settlements chiefdom with the stone of the Diquis spheres.

No army
No army

4. Costa Rica is one of the 23 countries in the world that does not have a standing army.
Costa Rica dissolved its national army in 1948, and the abolition of the military was written into the Constitution in 1949, committing to provide support military to Costa Rica (and any other signatory) where you need it. In 1980, the United Nations University for peace was created and hosted in Costa Rica.

5. It has one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
According to the World Bank, Costa Rica’s life expectancy at birth is 80 years. This figure is higher than that of the United States (which is 79). The Nicoya region in Costa Rica is also one of the five populated areas by the longest-lived people in the world around the globe. All that natural beauty and happiness must be very good.

6. There are more than 200 volcanic formations in Costa Rica. Costa Rica may not be a big country, but it stores a lot of life on its borders. While Costa Rica occupies only 0.03 percent of the world’s surface, it has the highest biodiversity density on the planet. The country is home to more than 500.000 species. And, with nearly 3 percent of the world’s biodiversity contained within its borders, Corcovado National Park has been considered “the most biologically intense place on the planet.”

7. There are many butterflies in Costa Rica. Seriously, there are so many butterflies. Costa Rica contains approximately 90 percent of the butterfly species found in Central America, 66 percent of all neotropical butterflies, and about 18 percent of all butterfly species in the world.


8. There are also more than 50 species of hummingbirds.
The 338 known species of hummingbirds, about 50 live in Costa Rica. The smallest hummingbird in Costa Rica (the Hummingbird scintillant masculine) weighs only two grams. The largest (violet brewing) weighs an average of 11.5 grams.

9. Residents in Costa Rica are called Ticos and Ticas. The Costa Ricans refer colloquially to themselves as the Ticos (masculine) and Ticas (feminine). This is due to its practice of adding the diminutive suffix “tico” at the end of most of the words. For example, a little, the diminutive is a little bit (a little), but the Costa Ricans rather say a poquitico.

10. The Tico and Tica couples use a sweet expression of affection.
Costa Ricans use the term “Media Naranja” your significant other.

11. Most of Costa Rica’s radio stations play the country’s national anthem at 7:00 am.
The national anthem unofficially called “Noble Patria, Tu Hermosa Bandera” was first heard in 1852 to receive diplomatic representatives from the United States and the United Kingdom. The song, with music by Manuel María Gutiérrez and written by José María Zeledon in 1903, was officially named the National anthem of Costa Rica in 1949.

12. Costa Rica did not use street signs until the year 2012.
While a GPS would show you the names of the streets, in Costa Rica locals use landmarks to give directions. To get to the National Theatre of San Jose, for example, you would take “left, turn 100 (meters) south of Banco Popular.” While San Jose residents used street and number names until the 20th century, the practice fell after a population boom in the years 1950 and 60. In 2012, the city undertook a project of US $1 million to re-introduce signs on the streets and a more regulated postal system.

Pura Vida
Pura Vida

13. Costa Rica lives by Pure life.
Costa Ricans often greet each other and say goodbye by saying “Pura Vida”. But pure life, is more than a way of talking about Costa Ricans, is a state of mind. Costa Ricans take every opportunity to live life to the fullest.

14. Costa Rica occupies the first place in the Happy Planet Index.
With pure life as its philosophy, it is no surprise that Costa Ricans consider themselves some of the happiest people on Earth. The Happy Planet Index uses three criteria, life expectancy, well-being, and ecological footprint to determine the overall happiness levels of 151 countries around the world. With a score of 64.0, Costa Rica tops this list.

Animals You Will Only Find in Costa Rica

Animals You Will Only Find in Costa Rica

By Laura Alvarado October 21, 2017, as appeared in The Costa Rica Star, February 4, 2018

Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity is one of the many attractions this small country has to offer, the variety of fauna is more evident when it comes to birds, amphibians and insects. There are actually a few species that are endemic to the country, here is the short list of the animals you will only see in Costa Rica:

poison dart frog
Poison Dart Frog

1) Red Poison Dart Frog or blue jeans frog: Its beautiful red color lets predators know they are wise to stay away, it is commonly found in the rainforest

2) Golfo Dulce Poison Dart Frog: This frog also has a highly potent neurotoxin and its multi-colored body serves as a warning for possible predators. They are considered and endangered species due to the destruction of its habitat. As its name gives away it is commonly found in the South Pacific of Costa Rica.

3) The Great Tinamou (Tinamus Major): a species of ground bird, currently classified as near threatened as a result of deforestation. The Carara National Park is one of the areas recommended to see this bird, but it can also be found in forests of Sarapiquí. There are several species of this bird usually differentiated by their color and the area where they live, some prefer the cloud forest while others are happy in the dry forest. Are you fascinated by the birds of Costa Rica? If so, you might want to consider booking a birdwatching tour with Costa Rica Focus. You can visit their website here. Who knows which birds you might discover.

4) Mangrove Hummingbird: Hummingbirds are beautiful and of the more than 340 different types in the world, you can find over 40 of them in Costa Rica; the Mangrove Hummingbird is endemic to this country. Bronze and green colored this bird is considered as a threatened species. Their natural habitat is of course the mangrove.

5) Coppery-Headed Emerald Hummingbird: A tiny and beautiful hummingbird; it is found at middle elevations in the Caribbean and sometimes in areas of Guanacaste such as Tilarán.

6) Cocos Flycatcher and Cocos Finch: These two birds are only find in Cocos Island in Costa Rica. The Flycatcher is a small grey bird. While the Cocos Finch is the only of the 14 species of Finches studied by Charles Darwin that is not native of the Galápagos Island; the male is entirely black while the female is a heavily streaked brown with a paler underside; it’s the most abundant landbird on Cocos Island.

7) Black-cheeked Ant-tanager: Endemic to the Osa Península, this species of bird is listed as endangered.

8) Underwood’s Pocket Gopher, Cherrie’s Pocket Gopher and Variable Pocket Gopher: All species of rodent endemic to Costa Rica.

9) Black-headed Bushmaster: Snakes. A venomous pitviper very common in the areas of Puntarenas.

10) Los Diamantes Worm Salamander: A species of salamander only found near Guapiles, Limón and threatened by habitat loss

11) Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri Oerstedii): Also known as red-backed squirrel monkey it is found in the central and south Pacific of Costa Rica however it has also been seen in Panama. It is estimated that the remaining population of this monkey is of only 1300-1800 individuals.

Costa Rica is also home to several endemic butterflies and an estimated 600 plants species.


Costa Rica Included Among World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations.

Costa Rica Included Among World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations.

By Laura Alvarado January 23, 2018, as appeared in The Costa Rica Star, February 4, 2018

World Map
Ethical Travel Costa Rica

Costa Rica claimed a spot in the 2018 list of The World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations, a ranking created by Ethical Travel, an all-volunteer non-profit organization and project of the Earth Island Institute.

“Every year, Ethical Traveler reviews the policies and practices of hundreds of nations in the developing world. We then select the ten that are doing the most impressive job of promoting human rights, preserving the environment, and supporting social welfare—all while creating a lively, community-based tourism industry. By visiting these countries, we can use our economic leverage to reward good works and support best practices. No money or donations of any kind are solicited or accepted from any nations, governments, travel bureaus, or individuals in the creation of our annual list.”, states the report.

The ten countries that made the list are: Belize, Benin, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Palau, St. Kitts & Nevis, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.

Costa Rica also appeared in the 2017 list. Ethical Traveler explains that the list is created through surveys in which they focus in four general categories: environmental protection, social welfare, animal welfare and human rights; “For each category, we look at information past and present to understand not only the current state of a country but how it has changed over time. This process helps us to select nations that are actively improving the state of their people, government, and environment. Our goal is to encourage the behaviors we see as creating a safer and more sustainable world”.

Once they have identified 25 “short list” performers they focus on actions these governments have taken over the past year to improve or weaken policies and practices in their countries.

“For a country to make our list, of course, it must excel in more than metrics. Each Ethical Destination also offers unspoiled natural beauty, great outdoor activities, and the opportunity to interact with local people and cultures in a meaningful, mutually enriching way”, 
continues the report.

Some of the actions highlighted for Costa Rica include:

-The launching of an initiative in 2018 to aid elderly citizens in finding work; currently, only about 25 per cent of people over 60 are gainfully employed.

-The goal set of carbon neutrality by 2021; also the fact that Costa Rica ran nearly 100% in renewable sources and the fact that the plans for a new El Diquís dam, which, even though it would increase the country’s renewable energy capacity, would have a devastating impact on the lands of indigenous communities, were blocked in court.

-The commitment of the country to address the regional refugee and displacement crisis.

-The imposition of criminal charges for the illegal trade of shark fins, which made a historic ruling… however in this matter the report states: “Costa Rica is one of the world’s few countries to ban the export of hammerhead shark fins. Nevertheless, conservationists remain alarmed because the administration of President Luis Solís has worked tirelessly to lift the ban, imposed in 2015, to allow the export of eight tons of fins amassed since the ban took effect. This would be detrimental to the species’ survival. We will follow this issue closely when considering Costa Rica for next year’s list. Also a very positive evolution regarding animal rights in 2017, Costa Rica made killing, mistreating, or abandoning pets a crime.


Juan Santamaria Airport in Costa Rica Implements New Technology to Improve Arrival and Departure Times

Juan Santamaria Airport in Costa Rica Implements New Technology to Improve Arrival and Departure Times

By Laura Alvarado February 1, 2018, as published in The Costa Rica Star, February 4, 2018 

Juan Santa Maria Airport
Juan Santa Maria Airport, Photo Tico Times

The Juan Santamaria International Airport begins implementing new technology procedures of satellite navigation today, through which they expect to improve considerably in the times of arrivals and departures of flights.

The project, under the name “Costa Rica Pura Vida” is being implemented by experts in navigation of Civil Aviation and has the support of the airlines and Aeris, the company in charge of the airport.

The changes should better the arrival times and should also represent considerable savings in fuel and CO2 emissions, by bringing down the time that an airplane is flying.

“This project is complying with the regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organization, in reference to maximizing the use of aerial space, improvement in the environmental aspect and aerial navigation security”, 
explained Enio Cubillo, General Director of Civil Aviation.

Early arrivals and more agile would translate into less stress for the travelers that need to make their connecting flights; it would also avoid delays in land or air due to the use of conventional systems.

“Taking advantage of last generation technology systems is beneficial to the operations and the flow of airplanes. We are improving the capacity of the airport in a response to the increment in the number of airlines and operations in the past few years”, explained Juan Belliard, Director of Operations of Aeris Costa Rica.

Maximizing the use of the aerial space will make flights visible from the different locations of the Great Metropolitan Area like Escazu, Santa Ana, San Sebastian, Mata Redonda, Zapote, San Pedro, Tibas, Santa Barbara and San Lorenzo in Heredia.