The never-ending mistery of Cocos Island.

Cocos Island, the legenday Treasure Island that inspired R.L Stevenson, still has many unsolved misteries and curious facts about it that may be well worth considering for naming it one of the Natural Seven Wonders of The World. Besides being the place where many a treasure was buried, according to many cronists and fortune-seekers, the island remains a wildlife sanctuary for many species of both sea and land, many of which are endemic to this particular island only.

      To illustrate some of what I say, it has 14 species of sharks, among them: The Whale Shark, Hammerhead Shark, White Fin-tipped Shark, Manta-rays, Tuna, among a long list. Pirates for centuries found it to be the perfect hideout and freshwater replenishing haven, strategically situated by the very important route between Panama an Lima, Peru, where they could stalk spanish galeons full of gold and Jewels.

        One of these treasures, well worth over $400,000.000.00 has been searched for over a century by individuals and even with NASA satellite pictures, but was never recovered, though some still insist on It’s existence. Since the costarrican government planted the national flag on the island, more than a hundred years ago, no more prospecting has been allowed except for a german named Gissler, who inhabited the 24 square-mile island for 20 years and was never able to find anything. This man had been appointed governor of the island by President Tomás Guardia on the condition that he establish a colony of farmers on the island. The project was unsucsessfull

       Later, during the Second World War years it served as as a naval base for U.S submarines to keep watch on the Panama Canal, and was even one of president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite fishing sites.

        But these days, other than men obviously, the island’s worse enemies are those within. Colonizers brought species alien to the island’s food chain such as pork, goats, cats, and rats that are overruning the territory. Steps are being taken towards erradicating them, but first they must be studied so not to do any further damage to the wildlife.

      Both government and nature-concerned organizations are monitoring the island and fighting for it’s future, one of which is Marviva. If you wish to vote for this candidate to one of the 7 Natural Wonders, you can vote on it’s page.


Tuna fish auction didn’t come through.

The load of Tuna fish confiscated by the Costa Rica Government aboard the ship Tiuna couldn’t be sold on auction yesterday, as no offers were made. The load of 24 tons of Tunafish estimated in the market price of 22 hundred dollars each, failed to get any offers on it’s first attempt, as no one came to the appointment in the Port of Puntarenas fishing dock yesterday at 11:00 a.m as scheduled.

       A second auction will take place only with private enterprise, and if it fails to get any offers, the load will be donated to public schools.

“New” volcano discovered in Costa Rica.

Scientists have discovered what seems to be an unseen volcano in costarrican territory. It’s crater, which is actually a 200m diameter lagoon, had been sighted before, but no one suspected it could be a volcano crater at the top of a hill situated in a place called “El Porvenir”, a region located between Alfaro Ruiz and Ciudad Quesada on the north side of The Central Volcanic Mountain Range (Cordillera Volcánica Central).

       The way this place came to vulcanologists attention was through some infra-red satelite fotos on a map of The New Encarta Encyclopedia two years ago. During the past few days they have been investigating more thoroughly and found pieces of volcanic rock that may be thousands of years old, and with seizmographic equipment they detected micro-tremors in the area. Also, by throwing a line into the lagoon, they found it was much deeper than anybody had thought. The area around the volcano is devoted mainly to cattle grazing, and though the volcano doesn’t show any activity they have installed a permanent station on one of the farms to monitor it’s behavior.  This new found volcano will be baptised “Volcan El Porvenir” in honor of the place it was found.

“Turrialba Volcano” acting up again.

      Today El Volcan Turrialba surprised us with some unusally large fumaroles (up to 800 m high) Though no inordinate seizmicity has been reported, these columns of sulphurous gases activity is the most notorious sighted so far since the volcano entered an active phase two years ago. It could be seen from anywhere within the valley and from as far as San José.

       The production of Sulphuric and Chlorhydric gases by the volcano has been a constant, but not in this ammount. The authorities have prepared an evacuation plan if it were necessary, but for now visitors who come in numbers of about fifty a day have been warned not to approach the crater, and to remain  at a lookout point in the vicinities.

Costarrican coastguard seizes a Panamenian Tuna-fishing Ship

Yesterday morning the costarrican coastguard seized a panamenian Tuna ship while fishing in Coco’s Island jurisdictional waters. The ship was reported being sighted by Marviva, an ecological organization whose boat was in the area.

      The boat in question had captured about thirteen tons of tuna, and other species while  fishing ilegally in Costarrican waters. This is the first time the Costarrican government captures an alien fishing boat in what seems to be a clear demonstration that Costa Rica’s laws concerning national parks and natural refuges will be enforced.

        The ship with all it’s load and equipment, including a helicopter used for spotting tuna, was confiscated and taken to the port of Puntarenas, where it will remain, with it’s crew until processed by the law.  About 3 tons of tuna that were still alive were dumped back into the Pacific, and the rest will go to INCOPESCA, the cooperative that’s in charge of fishing affairs in Costa Rica.

          Coco’s Island is one the first candidates for the election of “The New 7 Wonders of The World”, because of it’s wide variety of marine biodiversity. It’s being monitored regularly by a series of organizations from around the world

More about beachfront properties in Costa Rica.

I’ve received some mail lately asking me about beachfront property conflicts in Costa Rica, and being this a note-worthy issue, I beleive it’s  always worthy of further discussion.

       People, both alien and residents in this country are getting privy of how complicated it is to build realestate here.  And I stress this point because it’s a problem not only for aliens who buy land here and build homes and/or comercial buildings, but also for nationals who are not familiar with the avatars that these kinds of business carry in C.R. Even government housing projects have gone down the tube because of the endless ordeal that building permits necessarily bring in a country where as Ex-president Jose Figueres used to say: “You even have to consult the maid before you do anything”. 

      Some american investors have found dissapointment when they bought “Beach-front properties” they tried fencing in only to find that in Costa Rica beaches are public, and that fencing beach property is totaly out of question as anyone browsing the beach has the right of way to walk the beach anytime, and that you can’t build anywhere near the beachfront.  To make matters even worse, some unscroupulous real-estate reps and corrupt government funtionaries have even done business with government-owned property such as in Murcielago were they were selling premises where a police academy is located.

       Not only foreigners have been victimized by this kind of crooks but also poor people who invested all they had in deals where they found out later that they didn’t even have a legal title to their property. Of course, foreign investors dollars are much more attractive than these working-class heroes earnings, but it’s about the same when you consider that was all they had.

       Together with the mandatory Municipal permits for construction, you also need to be entitled to a steady supply of water and sewage disposal. This is another issue that would need another page to discuss it in depth, but there’s a governmen entity called SETENA in charge of the enviromental control issues sorrounding the construction of any kind of facilities, and they too, haven’t been doing a very neat job. So it’s not realy surprising when you see a mob of neighbors complaining about the way some individuals are using the water sources, and where they are dumping the sewage waters. Things have got to the point were famous beaches such as Tamarindo are becoming real cesspools. And the government is expropriating properties being developed were protected areas such as the sea Turtles nesting sites are located.

    These are some of the effects brought on by the costruction boom that have gone completely out of control and scrutiny even by the architects and engineers association that says that there’s no garantee that these kinds of buildings will hold up well in the event of a seven degree earthquake in the Guanacaste area.

      This construction boom has so altered the face of the economy that the government is proposing a tax on luxury homes that would provide the state with money that would help subsidize low-cost housing projects for the needy (in president Arias’s own words).

       During these last few days the news are that a development in Playa Grande that is one the last spawning sites for the Baula Turtles in the world is in the process of expropriation by government authorities. More than thirty owners who bought property there now want more than a million dollars each in the event of expropriation. I remember quite well during the 90’s when this development started, the way they were selling it was advertising that they were building environment-friendly houses that blended in perfectly with the sorrounding landscape so you could hardly even see them, that left the beach free for the turtles to come every year and spawn, and that would leave natural corridors for the species to cross the premises. Fifteen years later the scenario is that the mangrove swamp sorrounding the development has suffered, and that in a beach were more than two thousand Baula Turtles spawned some time ago, they have sited about fifty during the last month.  What I find most disturbing about these peoples cynicism is that after destroying a national park they still want to be payed more than thirty million dollars, and so the story goes on.  

Costa Rica said “Yes” to CAFTA

Yesterday, October 7th, 2007 was probably the most historic day in Costa Rica since the foundation of the 2nd Republic back in 1949. Though I´m not old enough to remember those days after the revolution we know The Government instituted The Supreme Elections Tribunal to hold presidential elections every four years . Since then, not much had changed about the way costarricans do things or make decissions about national issues until yesterday, when the mechanism of referendum was employed for the first time in this nation´s history to decide the subscription, or not, of the CAFTA Treaty with the U.S after a 3 year gridlock in congress, where every filibuster tactic you can imagine was used, and probably will continue to be used to procrastinate the implementation of the treaty as long as some people can.

The scare tactics used on both side would make a list too long for me to enumerate in a blog but they ranged from alegations such as the U.S taking over the national water supply and the territorial sea to the loss of several thousands of jobs in the next days and the country becoming an international pariah.

The ballots today show a victory of the pro-CAFTA movement in the order of more than 50.000 votes (51.7% of the total voting population) over it´s contender, the “NO Movement”that reached a 48.3%. The loosing party not yet accepting defeat and demanding a vote-by-vote recount. The referendum process was witnessed by more than 150 international representatives including President of OEA Guillermo Insulza. Curiuosly enough, the “NO Movement” a few days ago had expressed their entire trust in the referendum process, and The Supreme Elections Tribunal after a poll had been published the which gave their movement an advantage of 12 points over the “YES Movement” until the outcome of the situation ended up pretty different. While the Government and it´s partisans celebrated euphoricaly out in the streets of San José, defranchised followers of the “NO” created an incident when, at about 8:30 pm the Tribunal handed out the first results of the election. The leaders of the “NO” had built an improvised platform outside their headquarters to address their followers, and after their spokesman rector of The Technological Institute Ignacio Trejos said some almost-uninteligeble words to the congregation asking them to keep calm, interrupted the speech suddenly and walked off with the rest of the movements leaders, including an expresident of Costa Rica, some figureheads of the now-extinct comunist party(Comunism is now a bad word, so they they just gave their parties different names

), and some some State Labor Union leaders. As he took to his car and was leaving some of their people were clobbering the car and cursing in some kind of surrealistic scene.

The leaders of “El Movimiento del NO” claim many anomalies had plagued the electoral process including a braking of the 3 day truce before the election day the which the Government had used to issue propagandistic statements alegedly and that there even had been unwarranted intromission by the U.S Government disclosing information that hurt the “NO” Champaign. Presumably a letter written by The U.S Representative of Commerce Susan Schwab stating that The U.S had no intentions of renegotiating the CAFTA Treaty and that the benefits of The Caribean Basin Initiative could well be in jeopardy, and which they held were not true.

Virgen de los Angeles-Patrona de Costa Rica

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Our Lady of the Angels

Virgen de los Angeles-Patrona de Costa Rica

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Our Lady of the Angels

Virgen de los Angeles-Patrona de Costa Rica

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