AMResorts hits the 20000 rooms mark two years ahead of schedule

first_img PHILADELPHIA — Since arriving on the scene with its first Sunscape Resorts & Spa property in 2001 – hardly an auspicious year to launch any venture in the travel business – AMResorts has added five more brands and expanded to 60 resorts and more than 20,000 rooms. It’s a new milestone the company and it’s two years ahead of schedule.AMResorts signed multiple hotels over the past seven months and the new deals represent 10% portfolio growth. One of the most recent was the signing of Zoëtry Chamela Costalegre Mexico, a 120-room new-build about 140 kilometres south of Puerto Vallarta, in the high-end vacation destination of Chamela Bay.By the end of 2016 AMResorts will open 10 new resorts across its six brands: Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets, Breathless, Dreams, Now and Sunscape Resorts & Spas.“Our dynamic business model combined with our ability to find the right deal in the right place at the right time has enabled us to grow at an industry-leading pace,” said Javier Coll, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of parent company Apple Leisure Group. “In addition to continued expansion in Mexico and the Caribbean, we are introducing AMResorts’ innovative Endless Privileges, Unlimited-Luxury and Unlimited-Fun resort concepts to new markets like Costa Rica and Panama.”More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”AMResorts President Gonzalo del Peon said the company’s tailored approach to the traditional all-inclusive resort model through six resort brands “has allowed us to deliver exceptional products and services to a wide variety of travellers”. Reaching the 60-resort goal as AMResorts hits the 15-year mark “highlights AMResorts’ proven track record of bringing high-end resort brands to beachfront destinations that are easily accessible from numerous gateways across North America,” he added. Thursday, August 11, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: AMResorts Posted bycenter_img Share Travelweek Group AMResorts hits the 20,000+ rooms mark two years ahead of schedulelast_img read more

ACV introduces Top Selections sun brochure aims to strengthen Disney product

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> ACV introduces Top Selections sun brochure, aims to strengthen Disney product Tags: Air Canada Vacations, Disney Thursday, January 5, 2017 Travelweek Group center_img Posted by Share MONTREAL — Air Canada Vacations has released a mini digital sun brochure highlighting the operator’s top resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean.Most of the featured properties offer free stay for kids and fitness and spa facilities, and are part of ACV’s Privileges collection including preferred room locations, early check-in, late checkout, free Internet and guaranteed à la carte dinnersThe brochure also includes 18 Sandals resorts that are part of ACV’s Privileges collection and offer free wedding packages. Air Canada offers nonstop, year-round flights from Toronto to all Sandals and Beaches properties. It’s also the only tour operator that flies to Great Exuma, Bahamas.“Our product team has done a fantastic job in adding exclusive and popular properties to ACV’s Sun product line,” said Nino Montagnese, Managing Director, Sun Markets, Air Canada Vacations. “We found it necessary to highlight some of our top picks and cultivate a mini brochure for our trade partners to reference during consultations. It is a great booking tool and we encourage agents to share it with their clients.”A French version of the Top Selection digital brochure will be available shortly.To better serve clients ACV has increased frequency from several home locations to popular destinations. Frequency has been added between Toronto-Cayo Coco, Varadero, Curaçao, Puerto Plata, Samana, Huatulco, Saint Lucia and Turks & Caicos. A larger aircraft has been added to the Punta Cana route flying five times a week and a new route to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago was launched in December.For Montreal, ACV has added new flights to Puerto Vallarta and San Jose, Costa Rica, and frequency has increased to Cancun and Turks & Caicos.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaThe new B767 aircraft from Air Canada Rouge leaving Vancouver has increased in capacity and frequency. Nonstop flights to Cancun on Monday and Thursday and to Puerto Vallarta on Tuesday and Friday have been added. ACV has also increased capacity to Ixtapa on Wednesday and Los Cabos on Sunday.Nonstop flights to Puerto Plata operating on Fridays will be leaving from HalifaxAs a reminder, agents can earn ACV&ME loyalty points for every group, air and hotel package or cruise package booked. Points can be redeemed for Aeroplan Miles, travel vouchers or VISA cash cards.Air Canada Vacations is also highlighting its partnership with Disney and the different resorts and packages it offers.There are currently seven daily flights during peak winter season to Walt Disney Resort in Orlando; up to 18 daily flights during peak summer season to Los Angeles, a short drive to Disneyland Resort in Anaheim; up to eight flights per week during peak winter season to Honolulu for Aulani, Disney Resort and Spa; and frequent flights from all Canadian gateways to the Mediterranean and the Caribbean where the Disney Cruise Line.“Air Canada Vacations provides the most lift out of any other Canadian tour operator to Disney destinations,” said Montagnese. “Along with our expansive flight network, we also sell all things Disney including accommodations, theme park tickets, dining packages and more. We are poised and prepared to become the top Disney provider and are confident that we can do it with the support of our travel agents partners. We want their clients to automatically think of booking with ACV when they hear the word ‘Disney’.”More news:  AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’nsFeatured ACV Disney promotions include:Walt Disney World ResortsCanada Resident Ticket Offer – clients will receive a 25% discount on 4-10 day Magic Your Way ticket products including the Base Ticket, Park Hopper, Water Park Fun & More and Park Hopper & Water Park Fun & More options. Offer expires Feb. 28 for travel anytime.Disneyland ResortCanada Resident Ticket Offer – The Disneyland Ticket offer represents a 25% discount on the 3-5 day ticket products including the 1-Park per day and Park Hopper options. Offer valid until Feb. 28.Room Only Offer – Until March 27, guests will receive 20% savings on Standard room types and 25% savings on Premium room types at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel. A 10 per cent discount will apply on Standard room types and Premium room types at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel.Aulani, A Disney Resort & SpaBroad Room Only Offer – Until Feb. 23, guests will receive 20 to 30% in savings on four night stays and 25 to 35% savings on 5-14 night says depending on view booked.Disney Cruise LineFeatured cruise packages include a seven-night Mediterranean sailing (Barcelona, Spain) from $1,750 per person for an Aug. 26, 2017 departure aboard Disney Magic; a seven-Night Western Caribbean Cruise (Port Canaveral, Florida) from $1,785 per person for a September 30, 2017 departure aboard Disney Fantasy; and a seven-Night Southern Caribbean Cruise (San Juan, Puerto Rico) from $1,316 per person for an April 16, 2017 departure aboard Disney Magic. All cruise packages are based on double occupancy.last_img read more

We believe every advisor wants to be proud of their brand Jeff

first_img Wednesday, September 20, 2017 Travel Edge CEO & Owner Jeff Willner started Kensington Tours from his kitchen table in 2006, with a box of office supplies from his last job. Like many home-based advisors, he went without a paycheck for over a year when times were lean.Originally specializing in African safaris, Kensington Tours almost went out of business several times with the 2007 Kenya election violence that cut tourism in half, and the global economic meltdown in 2008.That was then and this is now. Kensington Tours grew slowly but surely over the years and is now a $100 million tour company.Not only that, but 6 years ago Willner started acquiring travel agencies with the goal of creating the top luxury agency in North America.With a corporate family where everyone trusts each other to work hard, and a meaningful investment in making the world a better place, “you can’t help but continue to grow”, says Willner in his role as CEO and Owner of Travel Edge.Travel agents might be familiar with the name Worldview. “Worldview has always been a part of the Travel Edge Group of companies,” says Willner. “We built the company with a series of acquisitions starting in 2011 that included luxury leisure agencies and corporate agencies.”The company was called Worldview in the press, says Willner, but really it was a collection of 12 acquired agencies, most of whom continued to operate under their own names including: The Travel Network (Toronto), Pisa Brothers Travel (New York), Travel Door (California), and Century Travel (Atlanta). The company currently has 11 offices in Canada, the U.S. and Bermuda.”The decision to re-brand to Travel Edge was based on a desire to bring the company’s leading edge technology and combine it with the decades of experience and client relationships from the agencies, he adds.“There was a general feeling from our discussions with our agents and management that we needed a fresh start. Travel Edge was selected based on the idea that we provide a competitive edge to our agents, and our agents provide better travel experiences and a lifestyle edge for their clients.”In addition to the name, the company wanted a new logo and an updated look and feel. The new logo has two components: the stylized ‘route map’ insignia and the Travel Edge wordmark.Willner says he’s confident in Travel Edge’s strategy to become the largest and best luxury agency in North America. Travel Edge is now a $750 million company with over 750 advisors specializing in Leisure, Corporate & Events, and Tours travel.Most of the company’s advisors – about 70% – are home-based. “Many have decades of experience but a growing number are professionals who have moved to travel as a second or third career. We have carefully built a support team to help our agents grow their sales and most importantly grow their profits.”Willner says Travel Edge’s advisor services are intentionally designed to support agents wherever they choose to work. “We are committed to consistent communication and accessible training including recorded sessions,” he said.He says Travel Edge offers the highest, achievable commission levels in air, cruise, hotels, resorts and tours. “But what is interesting about Travel Edge is we also offer full professional services including finance, HR, technology, three different GDS, ClientBase, email, marketing, legal, and more. So agents have the best of both worlds: industry leading commissions plus the benefits of full service.”Ultimately the company’s “true competitive advantage” is the Agent Digital Experience (ADX) tool, he says. Travel Edge has invested over $20 million in the past five years to build a modern travel management tool that “transforms agent profitability”. “They can bundle multiple products with a single click, instantly show Virtuoso amenities, cross sell/upsell, see commissions live, auto invoice, and stay informed with online reports. We believe ADX is truly transformative for the luxury leisure agent.”Asked what sort of reaction he’s heard from Travel Edge travel advisors about the rebranding, Willner says feedback on the new brand has been “really positive”.“[At our] road show to almost all of our branches I had the pleasure of chatting directly to most of our advisors. We believe every advisor wants to be proud of their brand. We are on a journey to create a luxury brand that can hold its own across all industries. And that is a message that has really resonated with our employees, agents and the rest of the industry. They are also very excited that as our brand starts to gain awareness it will result in more leads and more closed sales.”Is Travel Edge still pursuing the acquisition of more agencies? “Candidly we have been very successful as a company with double-digit organic growth, hundreds of advisors who have joined our Advisor Program and ongoing acquisitions,” says Willner, adding, “I believe with a corporate family that can trust each other to work hard, and a meaningful investment in making the world a better place, you can’t help but continue to grow.” << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Tags: Sphere, Travel Edgecenter_img “We believe every advisor wants to be proud of their brand”: Jeff Willner talks about the Travel Edge difference Travelweek Group Posted bylast_img read more

Winter sun sales are ahead 9 and half the capacity is booked

first_imgWith files from The Canadian Press Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Friday, December 15, 2017 Winter sun sales are ahead 9% and half the capacity is booked: Transat Posted by Tags: Air Transat, Transat MONTREAL — Revenues were up 14% for Transat A.T. Inc. in the fourth quarter of 2017, following an “excellent” summer season that President and CEO Jean-Marc Eustache says was one of the best in the company’s history.Transat A.T. plans to spend $750 million over the coming years to develop its hotel chain in Mexico and the Caribbean.Vertical integration is crucial, said Odette Trottier, Transat’s Director, Communications and Corporate Affairs, in an interview with Travelweek earlier this fall: “It becomes more and more important for leisure travel companies to control the actual products – the flight, transfers and excursions, and, of course, hotels.”In a conference call on Thursday Transat co-founder and CEO Jean-Marc Eustache said he plans to devote the next 18 to 24 months until he retires to begin developing the chain of hotels while his heir, Annick Guerard, runs the company as COO.“It’s our main goal for the development of Transat,” said Eustache.A president for the hotel division will be hired within weeks to put the plan in action before he “disappears” after retiring and leaving his position as chairman, he added.Transat plans to purchase and refurbish one hotel and a piece of land this year as it looks to build a network of 5,000 rooms, 60% of which it will own and manage, over the next five to seven years.In October Transat sold its 35% stake in its Ocean Hotels joint venture for $186 million. The company also signed a deal last month to sell its Jonview Canada subsidiary to a Japanese company for $44 million.Transat has also simplified its fleet to give it more flexibility, improved its digital footprint, augmented the amount of trips it sells directly and improved revenue management. “I think we are better armed to face any of those actions coming from our competitors in the future,” said CFO Denis Petrin.Transat beat expectations as the travel company’s fourth-quarter net income surged due to a strong transatlantic summer season and the sale of its stake in Oceans Hotels.For the quarter ended Oct. 31, 2017, the company posted revenues of $698.6 million, compared with $612.1 million for the same period in 2016, an increase of 86.4 million. This increase resulted mainly from an 8.7% increase in total travellers in the transatlantic market, while average selling prices were up 4%. In this market, Transat A.T. increased capacity by 8.5% compared with 2016, while overall capacity was up nearly 5%.More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North America“The fourth quarter, like the summer as a whole, was excellent. Financially, our summer results were among the best in our history and significantly improved our results for the year compared with last year,” said Eustache. “From a strategic standpoint, we made great strides towards establishing our hotel division and in several other major areas, including fleet composition and corporate leadership succession.”In the sun destination market, the corporation’s capacity was down 3.8% compared with 2016 due to hurricanes Irma and Maria, which resulted in the repatriation of passengers, particularly in Cuba and the D.R. and the cancellation of certain flights. As a result, total passengers were down 2.7% in that market, while average selling prices rose 7.2%.Transat A.T.’s operations generated $78.5 million in adjusted operating income compared with $46.5 million in 2016. This uptick was driven primarily by higher average selling prices across its markets, as well as by higher capacity and load factors in the transatlantic market.On Oct. 4, 2017, the corporation completed the sale of its 35% minority interest in Ocean Hotels to H10 Hotels, ahead of the anticipated Nov. 2, 2017 closing date. As announced earlier this July, the sale closed for $187.5 million, received in cash on Oct. 4.For the whole year, Transat A.T. posted revenues of $3.0 billion compared with $2.9 billion in 2016 and adjusted operating income of $102 million, compared with $25.8 million in 2016. During the summer, the corporation increased its product offering in the transatlantic market by 7.9%, and average selling prices were higher across its markets. All markets combined, total travellers were up 8.2% for the year.More news:  Le Boat has EBBs along with its new 2020 brochureFor the winter season, it posted an operating loss of $65.7 million (4.2%) compared with $54.2 million (3.4%) in 2016. This decline was due to a rise in air costs and the unfavourable foreign exchange effect which, combined with an increase in fuel prices, resulted in a $39.3 million increase in operating expenses for the winter. This could not be offset by higher average selling prices for sun destination packages, noted the company.During the summer, operating income amounted to $100.5 million (7.0%), compared with $23.9 million (1.9%) for the previous year, driven primarily by higher average selling prices, capacity and load factors across markets.This year, and particularly in the last six months, a number of initiatives were carried out to lay the foundations for the 2018-2022 plan. These include the announcement of the leases for 10 Airbus A321neo LRs, to be operational from the beginning of 2019, the extension of existing A330 leases under better financial conditions, the addition of new A330s, and an agreement with Thomas Cook that will see it provide the corporation with A321ceos in the winter, replacing the Boeing 737s currently operated by Transat.Looking ahead to the first half of fiscal 2018, Transat A.T. reports that capacity is up 8% in the sun destination market outbound from Canada. To date, 50% of that capacity has been sold, bookings are ahead by 9.2%, and load factors are similar. Due to the strengthening of the Canadian dollar, offset by rising fuel costs, operating expenses are currently down 2.1%, while margins are currently up 2% from the same date last year.As for the transatlantic market, where it is low season, Transat’s capacity is up 20% from last winter. To date, 47% of that capacity has been sold, bookings are ahead by 15% and load factors are down 2%.If these trends continue, Transat said it expects to achieve better results than in the 2017 winter season. Travelweek Group last_img read more

Clients save up to 20 off with Contikis Europe Everyday campaign

first_imgClients save up to 20% off with Contiki’s ‘Europe Everyday’ campaign Share Posted by Friday, June 8, 2018 TORONTO – As part of its new campaign, Contiki has penned a “love letter to Europe” in an effort to encourage young Canadians to book a trip during the peak summer months.The ‘Europe Everyday’ campaign, which runs until July 31, allows clients to save up to 20% off on a selection of last-minute Summer Europe adventures that depart this summer, as well as up to $365 off select trips to Europe this fall, winter and spring 2019.“We’re excited to launch this new campaign as an ode to such a beautiful region,” said Sheralyn Berry, President of Contiki Canada. “From the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland to the sheer romanticism of Paris during springtime, we want young Canadians to fall in love with Europe every day of the year.”According to Contiki, while Europe is still primarily seen as a summer vacation destination, the continent has seen a new trend among young travellers visiting during the off-season. Canadians are now seeing endless possibilities in off-peak months, which typically offer lower prices, fewer crowds and Christmas markets.More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agencyHere are samples of last-minute summer deals, available at up to 20% off:Greek Island Hopping: Three nights in Mykonos, Ios, Santorini and AthensCroatia Island Escape: Island hopping from Hvar, Split, Dubrovnik and other hotspotsMediterranean Escape: Starts in Rome, to the Amalfi coast, ends in AthensHere are autumn itineraries, with savings up to $365 off, departing between October 2018 to March 2019:Simply Italy: 12-day journey that visits Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice and moreMediterranean Highlights: Highlights include Rome, the French Riviera, Barcelona and MadridSpanish Spree: A two-week journey that includes San Sebastian, Ibiza and moreWinter itineraries include the following, with savings up to $365 off, departing between October 2018 to March 2019:Iceland: This four-day adventure includes the Blue Lagoon and a search for the Northern LightsBerlin to Budapest: Ideal for the refined traveller, this journey includes everything from a goulash cooking class to Czech craft beer samplingEuropean Discovery: On this nine-country trip, highlights include a traditional German beer hall and gelateria in RomeMore news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish StepsSpring itineraries include the following:Eastern Road: Clients can start in Berlin with the option to loop back around or end in WarsawSpain, Morocco & Portugal: Clients will visit medinas and mosques, cathedrals and kasbahs, and see seven World Heritage SitesWestern Quest: This one-week itinerary highlights the bustling city of Barcelona, the wine region of Bordeaux and the seaside town of San SebastianFor more information go to www.contiki.com/ca/en/activity/europe-everyday.center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Michael Smith Tags: Coktiki, Europelast_img read more

Bill to transfer Telecom control advances

first_imgNo related posts. From the print editionLawmakers unanimously approved a bill in a first-round vote on Monday that would transfer control of the telecommunications industry from the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry to the Science and Technology Ministry, according to a statement on the Science and Technology Ministry’s website.“We heard about the approval of this transfer in the first debate,” Science and Technology Minister Alejandro Cruz said. “We are happy because it is a new responsibility that comes with challenges. We are ready to work immediately on the transition process.”The bill still faces one more round of discussions before being signed into law. If it is approved, it will be published in the official government newspaper La Gaceta before going into effect. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Good eats Costa Ricas best bar food

first_imgFrom the print editionBy Jack Donnelly | Special to The Tico Times Costa Rican cuisine has an unfortunate reputation for being bland, boring and uninspired. Some Gringos think that Tico food is just rice and beans, fried chicken and starchy plantains. This is unjustified and unfortunate, and in fact, there are many traditional dishes that are unique and enjoyable. Comida típica (traditional cooking) which includes such dishes as olla de carne, tortilla aliñada and pescado entero (pot of meat, cheese tortilla and whole fish) is not only delicious, but also intriguing. These typical foods are more laborious to prepare and are not as commonly found on menus. They may also be suffering from competition with Gringo fast food.A good way to explore the more interesting and varied side of Costa Rican cooking is to start with bar food. Tantalizing and unusual, small dishes (bocas) are there for the tasting in countless small establishments around the country. You don’t even have to commit to a large meal to try them out. Remember that part of the fun is that they are a little different every place you go: Be adventuresome! You should consider your research into this topic a service to culture and humanity.The offerings are endless and varied. Many bar-restaurants offer very complete menus, including half portions of regular meals along with standard side dishes. Following are a few of my favorite bocas:Chifrijo – In my humble opinion, chifrijo is the king of Tico bar food. A good chrifrijo will attract a steady crowd of eager patrons. Even confirmed teetotalers will sneak into a disreputable gin mill to enjoy the culinary delights of this dish.It is the only boca that I am aware of that has had a patent taken out by its inventor, Miguel Ángel Cordero. He developed this heavenly recipe in the 1990s at his bar and restaurant (Cordero’s) in Tibás, just north of San José. Chifrijo is uniquely Costa Rican.The name was suggested by one of the first customers to try it and is a composite of “chi” and “frijo,” the first three letters of three ingredients (chicharrón, chile and chimichurri) and frijo, from frijol. It is a layered dish, so proportion and structure are important. Harmony among the component layers is critical. Chifrijo is constructed in a bowl as follows:A foundation of white rice is laid down on the bottom of the bowl.Next comes a thick layer of cooked savory beans. Originally frijoles tiernos, or red beans, were used, but frijoles cubaces (large beans) are sometimes used as well. The beans are cooked in spices and are the heart of the dish. The beans are crowned with a portion of chicharrón. Commonly, this is the Costa Rican version of chicharrón, small, cooked pieces of meat (chicharrón de posta). Chicharrón crocante (or chicharrón de pellejo) is the crispy pork skin which may also be used.The meat is then smothered in chimichurri or pico de gallo, a chopped blend of tomato, cilantro, onion, sweet pepper and lime juice.Tortilla chips are served on the side or tucked into the sides of the bowl.Additionally, there may be a topping of jalapeño pepper or slices of avocado. Along with this plate, you will invariably be offered a chilera. This is a homemade concoction of chopped hot peppers, carrots, cauliflower, onions, green beans and sweet peppers that have been pickled in vinegar for several weeks. Don’t let an unattractive, well-used container put you off this treat. Use the spoon in the jar to scoop out some chunks of spicy vegetables. Tabasco sauce is also commonly used. Chifrijo itself is not picante (spicy hot), but you are free to turn up the temperature.As with all bar food, variety in ingredients, size and presentation is the norm. Commonly, a bar will offer two sizes of chifrijo, a smaller bowl as a boca and a larger version that makes a decent light dinner.  No related posts. Gabe Dinsmoor Ceviche – Chifrijo may be king, but ceviche is the standard by which Tico bar food is judged. It is a dish popular over a wide area of the world, especially Central and South America. Perú considers it part of its national heritage and has a holiday in its honor. Costa Ricans are very passionate about their ceviche and it is sold in almost all bars, on the street, at roadside stands and in bulk at seafood outlets. You can even buy ceviche in sealed plastic bags in liquor stores and supermarkets. If you find yourself in an establishment that does not offer it, you may want to reconsider your choice of watering holes. The serving dishes and portions vary widely. Some places offer a small glass while most serve it in a small bowl. Some even have the option of a medium-sized dish that, with chips or crackers, will prove a heartier snack.Essentially, ceviche is chopped up raw fish and spices that are “cooked” or pickled in the citric acid of lemon or lime juice. A rough standard recipe:Cut fresh white fish into small cubes. Many species are used including sea bass, tilapia, marlin, shark, etc. A variety of shrimp, octopus, squid, clams and other seafood can also be added making it mixto. Ceviche made of just shrimp is also popular.Mince some onion (red is elegant), sweet pepper, cilantro and garlic.Combine the ingredients and cover them with lemon or lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep refrigerated for at least two hours, longer for mixto.Ceviche is served with tortilla chips or soda crackers. For picante lovers who usually do not like the vinegar base of Tabasco, this is an exception: the vinegar blends wonderfully with the citric base.Tacos and Gallos – Tico tacos are hard tacos and almost always use a wheat-flour tortilla. They can hold anything in the way of meat, chicken, fish, cheese, beans, etc. Most are made with the tortilla completely rolled around the contents, while others are partially open like taco shells. They are generally fried along with the filling and may have an additional topping of ground beans, cheese, sour cream or salad. Some bars offer fried mini-tacos using corn tortilla wrappers. If you are not a big ketchup and mayo fan, you should stipulate that you would like them on the side.A boca that generates considerable confusion among visitors is the gallo. This is simply a soft, warm corn tortilla with pieces of chicken or meat inside. Many foreigners make the mistake of thinking that the Costa Rican gallo is a taco. Any Tico will quickly set you straight that the tortilla used in a taco wraps all the way around and overlaps itself, while the tortilla in a gallo folds like a slice of bread; the edges come together evenly and must be held upright between the thumb and the forefinger. It resembles a tortilla hammock or sling.  If you have a fondness for losing arguments, try telling a local that it’s really a taco. In truth, only one thing matters regarding gallos: they’re delicious.Huevo de Tortuga – The consumption of huevo de tortuga or turtle egg is controversial. There is a legal harvest of Olive Ridley turtle eggs on the Pacific coast. Only the early nests are raided on the premise that these eggs do not survive the heat of dry season and subsequent waves of nesting females. Another argument for this practice is that it reduces the price of turtle eggs and discourages poaching. It provides income for local residents and has contributed to town improvements. In fact, demand far exceeds the legal supply and there is a thriving black market for poached eggs. Recently, there was an armed robbery of eggs from a turtle conservation station on the Caribbean coast, where all harvesting is illegal. There are regular reports of poachers being caught transporting large quantities of contraband eggs. Turtle eggs are traditionally seen as enhancing male virility, so they are consumed almost exclusively by men. The main market also seems to be the Central Valley. Normally, they are served raw with sangrita, a tomato-based drink that may also include orange juice, hot pepper, other fruit or ginger ale. The egg is then swallowed in one gulp.My opinion: buying illicit drugs supports cartels and terrorism; buying turtle eggs promotes illegal poaching and threatens turtle survival. Until they are truly regulated, I will not partake of the leathery little globes.Patí – Patí is a small pastry filled with a mixture of ground beef, onion, spices and a touch of hot pepper, often the hot Panama chile, all cooked in oil. It is not really very hot, at least not to my picante-loving mouth. You will find them in rectangular and half-round shapes. They are very oily and you will quickly see evidence of this if you buy them in paper.Patí is another snack like enyucados and burritos that you may have to find near a bar, rather than inside. They are very common street food on the Caribbean coast and you can find them there well into the evening, in small stands with glass cases. Any festival in Limón province will have multiple patí venders. Central Valley bakeries also sell them, usually in small paper bags of two.Vigorón – Vigorón is a dish centered around a mound of cabbage salad. The cabbage is dressed with a sauce of tomatoes, onions, cilantro and lime juice. Salt, pepper, sugar and cumin may be added to the dressing as well. Arranged around it, usually in a nice star pattern, are long pieces of cooked yuca (cassava) and chicharrón crocante, or crispy pork rinds.This is a very different plate that can make a fairly good meal. In some countries it is used as a late dinner or a very early breakfast.Chalupas – This is a messy delight that you should attack with fingers, fork, knife and several reserve napkins. The foundation of a chalupa is a crispy, fried corn tortilla. The superstructure is varied, but often consists of a hearty first layer of ground beans, refried beans in Gringo-speak. The beans are followed by a tier of meat, chicken, cheese or chicharrón. This is crowned by a big pile of lettuce or shredded cabbage, and it will likely be slathered with ketchup and mayo. Interestingly, the term “refried beans” is a mistaken translation, one that will never be remedied. In fact, the beans are only fried once in the process. The prefix re- in Spanish means a repetition, just as in English. However, the word re is a modifier that means very or well. The proper translation from Mexican Spanish for frijoles re fritos (three words) is really well-fried beans. This problem is moot in Costa Rica as here they are called frijoles molidos or ground beans. Morcilla – Morcilla is blood sausage, blood pudding (British), moronga (Mexican) or blutwurst (German, older German-American). It is not as popular in Costa Rica as in Spain or Mexico, but you will find it on many bar boca menus. Any source of blood can be used, but pig is by far the most common.Tico morcilla is milder in taste and less aromatic than other varieties, but still very good. It is usually served chopped up and fried with onions, sweet peppers and other flavorings. You can have it served on rice or in gallos. It is a rich, dark mixture that makes for a comforting and filling meal. Many people cringe at the thought of eating blood, but travel eating is supposed to be an adventure: Try splitting a plate with a companion or ask for a very small serving. It cannot possibly be worse than the unmentionables that go into hot dogs.Yuca – Yuca, or cassava, is a common component of bar bocas, as it is in vigorón. However, it warrants some special attention as probably the best belly ballast for imbibing you can find. A little yuca in your system will help you soldier through the toughest pub crawl. Yuca frita is simply small chunks of yucca, deep fried. It does not take up the oil like French fries and sits very comfortably in your stomach. It is also far tastier, and a small plate can easily be shared by two or more people.Enyucados are not always sold inside bars, but can often be found nearby in small sodas or stands with glass cases on the street, even well into the evening. This is a fried ball of cassava dough that may have a meaty center. It’s not very greasy and is quite substantial. This delicacy gets my vote for the best street snack or finger food in Costa Rica. Burritos – A burrito is a fried envelope or packet of wheat tortilla stuffed with beans, meat, cheese, chicken, chicharrón, etc. It can be a bit greasy, but makes a good medium-level snack. Often you will have to satisfy a burrito craving from a stand near the bar of the same sort that sells enyucados. Condiments – Mayonnaise and ketchup are universally offered and used, liberally, on almost everything. Two things to remember: The yellow squeeze bottle is mayo, not mustard; Costa Rican ketchup is much sweeter than the U.S. version. Homemade chilera is common, as is Tabasco sauce. Chilero (hot sauce) is often available as well. Salsa Lizano is a ubiquitous table sauce that is made from “natural spices and vegetables” according to a secret family recipe. Lizano is a little sweet and sometimes compared to Worcestershire. You may have to request salt or pepper.Costa Rica may never have the reputation for its small dishes that Spain does for tapas, but it’s time for Tico bocas to step out of the shadows and let the world know how good they really are. Facebook Commentscenter_img Gabe Dinsmoor Ceviche. Costa Rican burrito.last_img read more

Musicians liven the streets of San José

first_imgIt’s not always easy to attend concerts at San José theaters. Some venues are just too far away. Others get expensive when you add taxis or parking to the price of tickets. And many performances don’t start until 8 p.m., which is too late for some people. We can still enjoy good music, though, in the streets and parks of San José and other cities.On San José’s Central Avenue, musicians perform on a made-up stage in front of the Culture Ministry’s Architecture Conservation building across the street from Lehmann’s. These are not amateurs plucking away, but musicians who want to build their reputations and earn money from the sale of their discs and donations.  As soon as they start strumming, crowds gather. Some stay awhile, watching and listening.  Others barely pause. Some toss coins into the box or container. Others enjoy the music for free. But the music brings cheer to strollers, shoppers, tourists and even working people rushing to appointments.The most unusual street concert is that of Edgar Rodríguez and his harp. Rodríguez came here three years ago from Colombia, where he studied music at the Luis Calvo Academy in Bogotá and played professionally. In Costa Rica, he met fellow Colombian Rodolfo Díaz, who plays the guitar, and they teamed up. Their music is light and trill, an unusual but delightful sound almost like bells ringing. They also play hotels, restaurants and private events, and sell their albums.  Punto a Punto is the name of another group that often plays on the Central Avenue in San José near the Culture Ministry building. Led by Jorge Herrera, the group includes four or five musicians, and not always the same ones. They sing and play guitars and the songs range from tangos and waltzes to traditional folk tunes. Herrera’s father Hector was a musician, too, but Jorge first learned to play the guitar at the Fernando Centeno Guell school for the blind. “Many musicians here are no videntes,” says Herrera, indicating several of his blind companions. He also studied at the music conservatory of the University of Costa Rica. He’s been playing professionally since the 1970’s, and with various partners has played in other Central American countries as well as throughout Costa Rica.Another blind musician who has been playing the keyboard in San José for many years is Johnny Pérez Pérez. He sings and plays a wide selection, and he is well known around town, although he is not much for talking. He prefers to get on with his music.Peruvian musicians are easy to identify for their colorful ponchos, and the sound of their instruments, which include sets of bamboo pipes called a zampoña which produce a hollow, flute-like sound. Marcos Rosas, the leader of one such group, studied music at the University of San Marcos in Peru. He and his companions set up their concerts in parks and festivals and have albums for sale at reasonable prices.On Sundays, long-established municipal bands hold free shows in the band shells in many cities at around 10 a.m. San José, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago are just a few (Cartago’s modern open-air theater lists musical events on its website, www.cartagovirtual.com). Sundays, especially in summer (Nov.-May), are days for musical or theater programs in the parks. So enjoy the music, in the street or in the park. It’s all part of Tiquicia. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

¡Vamos Ticos Inside a Costa Rican sports movie

first_img“Try this one on,” said the energetic young costumer as she handed me an earth-toned blazer. I slipped my arms through the sleeves and was relieved that it fit perfectly.“What’s your pants size?” she asked, raking through a freestanding shirt rack.“I’m not exactly sure,” I said. “In the U.S., I’m a 34 waist.”As the costumer nodded and went to fetch more options, I wondered who exactly I was supposed to be. The last I heard, I would be playing a “Gringo reporter,” which I figured would be easy, since I’m a Gringo reporter in real life. But now I wasn’t sure. No one had explained my role. I hadn’t even seen a script, much less read it. Then again, that’s how movies often work, especially for actors hired at the last minute.I stood in the middle of a locker room in the Colleya Fonseca Stadium in Barrio Guadalupe, which buzzed with activity. A dozen male actors were dressing themselves in knee socks and athletic shorts, bright jerseys and cleats. Half of them wore the uniforms of the 1990 Costa Rican national soccer team, while the other half dressed in the jerseys of Scotland. Nearly every actor was Tico, and everyone spoke Spanish as a first language. Everyone but me – the only Gringo, and the only guy asked to wear a suit.This was the set of “Italia 90,” a feature-length film produced entirely by a Costa Rican cast and crew. Directed by Miguel Gómez and shot over the course of 20 days, the film’s first phase was nearly finished by the time I showed up: The next morning, shooting was slated to wrap.As I shimmied into a pair of tan slacks, I spotted Alejandra Vargas, the young woman who hired me. “They need you in makeup,” she said. “When you’re ready.”Alejandra led me into the dark corridor, which was even busier than the locker room. Crewmembers adjusted lights and tinkered with audio equipment. Actors milled around, pouring themselves coffee and water from plastic containers. Other actors formed a line around a makeup artist. One by one, they sat down, received a dusting of base and jogged away. Finally I sat down before the middle-aged man and his makeup kit. He held his brush aloft.“Who are you?” he asked.Good question, I thought. I’m not exactly sure. •Three months ago, I received an email from DeleFOCO, an “audiovisual community” that brings together industry talents from across Central America. The email was a casting call for the film “Italia 90.” The name meant nothing to me, but as a longtime semi-professional actor, I was intrigued. I sent an email to DeleFOCO, describing myself as a red-bearded Gringo with passable Spanish and a lot of acting experience. If I wasn’t right for “Italia 90,” maybe I could join a roster for future projects?To my surprise, Alajandra wrote me back a few weeks later to ask for a head shot. Soon after, she offered to put me in a scene as a “Gringo reporter.” The prospect excited me, but there was a problem: I was at the beach and couldn’t get back in time. I assumed I’d missed my chance, but after some phone tag and frantic rescheduling, we finally arranged to shoot a different scene on a sunny April morning.From the moment I arrived on set, I was impressed: I’ve worked on only a couple of Hollywood sets, and always as an extra, but the Costa Rican studio had all the essentials – catered breakfast, grips, dressers, makeup people and mountains of equipment, from a professional digital camera to boom mics and floodlights. Yet what really struck me was the costuming: Each actor was outfitted with period-accurate Selección uniforms from 1990, including outrageously short shorts. The actors had fashioned their hair into mullets and Jheri curls. The costumers had even applied colored tape to their socks, to make them appear striped. Actors in period-accurate costumes prepare for a scene in the film “Italia 90.” Courtesy DeleFOCO“It’s so weird,” murmured one actor dressed as a referee. “They look just like famous La Sele players. I keep thinking, ‘That’s Enrique Rivers.’ But then I think, ‘No, that’s just an actor.’”I laughed and nodded, even though I had no idea who Enrique Rivers was. Until this past year, I had never seen a professional soccer game played in its entirety, and I knew nothing about the history of Los Ticos. In a way, I was the least likely person to appear in a sports movie, much less a movie about Costa Rican soccer legends. But as I learned more about the project, it became clear how special “Italia 90” would be – not for Gringo reporters, but for Ticos who remembered that fateful year.•By 1989, world soccer fans pretty much ignored La Sele. While the team had existed since 1921, Costa Rica’s soccer players hadn’t impressed anyone for two solid decades.“It’s not like today,” my friend Beto recently told me. “They had to work regular jobs.”When Costa Rica qualified for the 14th World Cup, they suddenly had a chance to fly to Italy and perform on a global stage. To everyone’s surprise, Costa Rica defeated both Scotland and Sweden in the first round. The 1990 World Cup was also a blockbuster event – billions of people tuned into the games on television, competition was particularly brutal, and FIFA handed out a record number of red cards.You could say that 1990 was La Sele’s “Rocky” moment: They didn’t win the cup, but their success in Italy won international acclaim and boosted Costa Rican confidence. Many would argue that that year was the turning point, and La Sele would never be the popular powerhouse it is today without “Italia 90.”I try to imagine a familiar equivalent: If Pittsburgh (where I lived most of my adult life) produced a movie called “The Immaculate Reception,” produced entirely in Western Pennsylvania and starring respected local actors, movie theaters would be packed with Steelers fans. The nostalgia and pride would excite everyone who remembered – or had even heard of – that miraculous play in 1972.For Ticos, “Italia 90” isn’t just a movie: It’s a chance to relive a national triumph. •“Places, everybody!” shouted Santiago Fornaguera, the tough and humorless assistant director for “Italia 90.” “Vamos! Vamos! Rapido!”As a rule, filmmaking is torturously slow, and most time is spent quietly hanging out, waiting for instruction. (I once spent two entire days bumming around a parking lot, waiting for someone to use me in a scene – and working up the courage to say hi to Maggie Gyllenhaal). In the stuffy corridor of the Colleya Fonseca Stadium, the set was filled with the usual anarchy: cinematographers adjusting the camera, technicians debating how to light the scene, and lots of unidentified assistants scrambling around. To a director, all this stuff makes sense. To a random extra, it’s bedlam. Assistant director Santiago Fornaguera (standing) prepares a scene. Courtesy DeleFOCOBut then the two teams lined up, side by side. At the rear of the line stood a skinny actor in a polo shirt. As we waited for the production team to set up, the actor made small talk with me in perfect English.“I’m playing Bora Milutinovic,” he said. “He was the Ticos’ coach in 1990. Really interesting guy. He brought five different teams to the World Cup. He was a real inspiration to the players.” He added, “At the end of the shot, I’m supposed to lean into you and say, ‘These guys are like my kids.’ It’s not in the script, but they want to show that moment.”“Lean into me?” I said.“Yeah. Because you’re the Scottish coach.”I smiled at this, but I wanted to double over laughing. The Scottish coach? It didn’t really matter who I was, since I had no lines, but I loved the idea of standing in for such a dignified personality. Did the real Scottish coach of 1990 have a red beard? Was he in his mid-thirties? Did I look anything like him?For a few minutes we joked about how much fun it would be to say some lines in a terrible Scottish accent, but our joviality was interrupted by Fornaguera. “Positions, everyone!” he shouted. “And … action!”The scene was brief, but it was significant: Moments before the two teams enter the field, the Ticos start tough-talking their Scottish rivals. They yell insults and gruffly chant. One of the players starts to drag his shoes across concrete, and sparks fly from his cleats. (The sparks were a special effect, but they looked fearsome). Then the enormous gates open, and the two teams march forward into blinding daylight.As film roles go, the “Scottish coach” was almost meaningless, and I might as well have played the soccer ball. But I was thrilled to contribute, in my own tiny way, to a Costa Rican film. Over the course of three hours, I sensed the camaraderie of the crew; aside from one Venezuelan, everyone seemed to be born and raised in Costa Rica. Almost everyone appeared old enough to remember the Italian World Cup. The operation felt tight and professional. In such a small country, where feature films are rare and small budget, I loved the attention to detail: The crew filmed the scene from every angle. Makeup was reapplied to faces for consistency. When actors started to drag, we received cookies and cups of coffee.Like most movie shoots, the session ended without fanfare. “You’re done,” Alejandra said. “You’re free to go now.”I changed into my street clothes and left the stadium, heading for the nearest bus stop. I was lightheaded and my body ached, as often happens after making the same motions 20 or 30 times in a row, with long stretches between takes. But I was also giddy: I had made my film debut during a critical period in the Costa Rican film industry. I would probably be a fuzzy silhouette in the background. I might be cut altogether. Still, totally worth a few hours on a Thursday.•Before I left, Alejandra revealed the film’s astonishing timetable: “We want to release the film before the World Cup.” That is, within five weeks. Related posts:Public workers can take recess to watch Costa Rica’s World Cup games, Solís says Hey NFL, are you out of your #$@% minds? PHOTOS: Bulls, beer and injuries at Costa Rica’s annual Zapote festival Palmares festival, Allende play, and other happenings around Costa Rica Few features are put together so quickly, and most “post” sessions can take months or even a year. Yet I soon learned that the “Italia 90” team shot footage and then edited the scenes the very same night. Unlike Hollywood films, Costa Rican producers don’t get bogged down in the studio system, appeasing focus groups and appealing to the Motion Picture Association for a lower rating. While Café Volio is sponsoring the film, Tico producers don’t have to satisfy armies of investors or spend a fortune on publicity. The film’s budget is probably modest (the studio refused to give an exact figure), but such freedom is its own virtue.When the trailer was released online the other day, I was delighted. Tico friends are already excited about the film’s official release on July 5, when cinemas across Costa Rica will screen “Italia 90.”“There are several things people don’t know about the players or that moment,” director Gómez recently told La Nación. “They don’t really know about how they prepared. The film is about those guys, who are very humble.”It’s impossible to say how good “Italia 90” will be. But it doesn’t really matter. I’ll just be happy to root for the home team. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricas Óscar Duarte the first Nicaraguan to score in the World

first_imgCATARINA, Nicaragua – Catarina, the birthplace of La Sele defender Óscar Duarte, the first Nicaraguanto score a World Cup goal, overflowed with fans receiving its most famous son last week.Duarte, 25, scored the game-winning goal against Uruguay in Costa Rica’s first match of the tournament. When he stepped out onto the pitch, he became the first Nicaragua to ever play in a World Cup match – and then he became the first to score.“They opened the door there [in Costa Rica] to achieve a dream I had as a child: playing in the World Cup, scoring a goal and being recognized by FIFA to be among the best players,” Duarte said.He added: “I knew that my family and many people [in Nicaragua] were watching the game and that meant a lot.”Thousands of fans walked around the truck that carried Duarte through his hometown. They raised their hands to touch him, passed him T-shirts to sign or simply greeted him.A large procession followed the sports hero, playing philharmonic music and setting off firecrackers.Duarte’s success at the World Cup puts him on the level of other Nicaraguan sports heroes like three-time boxing world champion Alexis Argüello and four-time Major League Baseball all-star Dennis Martínez.By becoming the first Nicaraguan to play in the World Cup, Duarte helped lessen tensions between his homeland and Costa Rica — the two frequently bickering neighbors are involved in several border disputes.Duarte celebrated that Nicaraguans, whose favorite sport is baseball, had given their support to Costa Rica and he expressed hope that “with time there will be better relations” between the two countries.“Oscarito” as they call him in the neighborhood where his family lives, was declared a “favorite son” of Catarina by the municipal government. He was honored with a plaque recognizing his outstanding play. Fans welcome Óscar Duarte as he arrives in Catarina, Nicaragua. Duarte played for Costa Rica in the World Cup Brazil 2014. AFP/INTI OCONHe kicked the ball since he was a childMore than 500,000 Nicaraguans have immigrated to their neighboring country in search of work to help their families. And Duarte left to Costa Rica with his mother at a young age.“When he was a child and went with his mom to Costa Rica, he already carried with him the idea of playing football, because he walked around kicking a ball with the kids in the street, and once he broke the glass on an international bus passing through [the pueblo],” said neighbor Robert Gutiérrez while laughing.The gestures of admiration for Duarte began when he arrived at the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, where young followers received him while waving Nicaraguan flags.Before arriving in Catarina, a motorcade escorted him from Managua as he toured several neighboring villages where people came out of their houses to give tribute to the defender who plays professionally in Belgium.“It’s an honor for us to have him as a neighbor,” said Miriam Hernández. “Always when he comes to visit his family in Nicaragua he is very happy and never conceited. He greets all of us.” Facebook Comments Related posts:What I’ll tell my daughter about La Sele, 2014 Costa Rica great Paulo Wanchope insists Ticos will ‘keep surprising the world’ A rebuttal to Wall Street Journal editor’s call for US World Cup fans to ignore Costa Rica Costa Rica’s last hurrah in historic World Cup runlast_img read more

Costa Rica animal welfare bill gains momentum as horrifying abuse cases circulate

first_imgThe dog was rescued and taken to a veterinarian by someone who saw the dog hanging from the bridge. It is being treated by Rescate Animal staff who performed emergency surgery due to severe neck lacerations. They also are treating the dog for psychological trauma.The group also reported the case of “Caracol,” which also suffered a neck injury afte being tied up permanently with a nylon cord.On Tuesday, the “Cartago Pro-Animal Welfare” group reported the death of a dog from machete wounds. According to a Facebook post, the dog received several injures after defending his owner from a man who entered the woman’s home and attempted to attack her.The dog was taken to a nearby vet, but died hours later. Reports of animal cruelty have made headlines in the first few days of 2015. This month, animal rescue center Zoo Ave received an injured toucan that lost more than 50 percent of its beak when a group of teenagers hit it with a stick  in the Alajuela canton of Grecia.An Indiegogo campaign raised more than $6,000 to fund a prosthetic beak for the bird, reaching its $5,000 goal in less than 48 hours. Graphic designers from Veritas University and  private companies joined the effort to model and print a new beak using 3D printing technology.Another animal welfare group, Rescate Animal, this week reported two dogs in communities in the province of Cartago that suffered severe injuries to their necks after being tied up.The first is “Neck“, a dog whose owner tied him up with a wire and threw him over a bridge in Cervantes, a community east of Cartago. This week, SENASA reported that in 2014 they responded to 1,200 animal abuse complaints in the Greater Metropolitan Area alone.Among those cases, 390 dogs were victims of abuse or neglect, and some were used for fighting.“We are very pleased with the work done in coordination with the Humane Society and the American Stafford Costa Rica Association, as it has allowed us to rescue them from abusive situations and give them a second chance to live,” SENASA Director Allan Sánchez said. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s Solís tables Animal Welfare Bill in favor of highway construction project Animal abuse reports on the rise New cases of animal abuse spark criticism of President Solís, lawmakers President Solís signs new Animal Welfare Law Recent cases of aggression against animals in Costa Rica have prompted animal rights advocates and everyday citizens to pressure lawmakers to pass an Animal Welfare Bill currently awaiting discussion in the Legislative Assembly.Broad Front Party lawmaker Edgardo Araya Sibaja, who chairs the legislative environmental commission, said Monday that after receiving recommendations from several groups lawmakers finally are ready to send the bill for discussion and a vote as soon as next month.The bill was drafted during the previous administration, but President Luis Guillermo Solís in December included it as a priority for his term.The bill calls for prison sentences of up to six years for those convicted of causing the death, suffering, injury or torture of animals. However, several sectors oppose the proposal, calling its language vague and warning it could lead to the conviction of workers charged with handling animals at their jobs or in recreational activities.“The latest reforms were drafted primarily to avoid criminally punishing several common practices in the handling of farm animals. In this particular case the goal is to sanction acts against farm animals according to regulations of the National Animal Health Service [SENASA]; for all other animals the bill aims at punishing those acts considered as abusive according to veterinary practice,” Araya said.As lawmakers returned from holiday vacation this week, talks began to convince top party legislators to expedite discussion of the bill, which currently sits in the top 10 on the Assembly’s agenda. Araya said that if consensus is reached among top legislators, the bill could be passed in two or three weeks.The main opposition comes from Libertarian Movement Party legislators who are demanding changes to the bill’s original draft to protect the interests of those who work with animals.Other legislators filed motions against provisions of the bill that would ban Costa Rican-style bullfighting, horse parades and other recreational activities that include animals. The ruling Citizen Action Party’s (PAC) Ottón Solís filed two motions; the Broad Front Party’s Ligia Fallas filed one; and a group of National Liberation Party and PAC lawmakers filed four others.The Libertarian Movement Party’s top lawmaker, Otto Guevara, filed 50 of the total 56 motions to amend the bill and is using his Facebook profile to push his agenda. Guevara, however, insists his party does not oppose the bill.“We Libertarians agree with the spirit of the bill to include abuse and neglect of domestic and wild animals as offenses in our Penal Code. But the original draft includes certain livestock activities, which could mean that some practices necessary for farming would be considered crimes,” he wrote.last_img read more

Allday yoga a chocolate concert and other happenings around Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Palmares festival, Allende play, and other happenings around Costa Rica BMX bikers, TEDx lectors, and other happenings around Costa Rica Festival of Light, Egyptian dancers, and other happenings around Costa Rica Nativity scenes, funk music, and other happenings around Costa Rica Little Devils’ GameThe unique Brunca ritual is a multi-day battle between a “bull” and masked warriors. Following a similar event in the Boruca Indigenous Reserve in early January, this sequel takes place in the nearby community of Rey Curré.El Juego de los Diablitos takes place Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, Rey Curré, Puntarenas province. Fri.-Sun., 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Free. Info: SiCultura website.Cirque du SoleilThe mind-blowing avant-garde circus arrives in Costa Rica with its latest production, “Corteo.”“Cirque du Soleil: Corteo” continues through Feb. 8 at Hacienda Espinal, Alajuela. Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 12 & 4 p.m. ₡38,000-140,000 ($74-280). Info: eTicket.Art: Albrecht Dürer, Renaissance GeniusClassical German printer Albrecht Dürer receives a stunning retrospective at the Central Bank Museums.“Alberto Durero: Genio del Renacimiento” displays through April 26 at the Central Bank Museums, downtown San José. Daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ₡5,500 ($11). Info: Museum website.Film: “The Devil’s Elbow”This acclaimed new documentary unearths a grim period in Costa Rican history.“El Codo del Diablo” screens at various cinemas. Info: Film website.Dance and Film: “La Bayadère”An exotic love triangle unfolds in this beloved ballet by composer Ludwig Minkus. The Eugene O’Neill Theater will screen a live production beamed into the theater by satellite.“La Bayadère” screens Jan. 24 & 25 at the Eugene O’Neill Theater, Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center, Los Yoses. 11 a.m. ₡5,000-10,000 ($10-20). Info: Cultural Center website.Art: “Ricardo Ávila: Urban Observer”See city life in a whole new way through Ricardo Ávila’s unique landscapes.“Ricardo Ávila: Observador Urbano” continues through March 29 at the Museum of Costa Rican Art, La Sabana. Wed.-Sun., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free. Info: Museum website.Theater: “Family Wanted”From Mexican dramatist Berta Hiriart comes a musical for all ages about family – the good, the bad, and the happy surprises.“Se Busca Familia” performs Sundays at Teatro La Fortina, Heredia. 3 p.m. ₡4,500 ($9) children, ₡6,000 ($12) adults. Info: La Fortina website.Theater: “The Kings’ Dream”A collaborative production between Costa Rican and Chilean artists, “El Sueño de unos Reyes” explores the concepts of nationhood and identity through movement and multimedia.“El Sueño de unos Reyes” performs through Jan. 18 – Feb. 1 at Gráfica Genesis, Cathedral District, San José. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. ₡3,000-4,000 ($6-8). Info: Gráfica Genesis website.Theater: “The House of the Spirits”Isabel Allende’s masterpiece comes to life during this stage adaptation by U.S. playwright Caridad Svich. After last year’s extremely successful run, Teatro Espressivo revives the Spanish-language production for a second round.“La Casa de los Espiritus” runs Jan. 15 – Feb. 15 at Teatro Espressivo, Tres Ríos. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. ₡10,000-15,000 ($20-30). Info: Teatro Espressivo website.Film: “Maikol Yordan”From the madcap minds of “Media Docena,” the hit Costa Rican sketch show, comes their first feature film, a comedy about the well-meaning yokel Maikol Yordan. How will this goofy campesino fare on his globe-trotting tour? Find out by catching this super-Tico comedy at almost any local movie theater.“Maikol Yordan” screens at various cinemas across the country. For more information about the film, visit the official Facebook page.Exhibit: “Juan Rafael Mora”Recognized for his muttonchops and paternal demeanor, Juan Rafael Monge is widely considered the Abraham Lincoln of Costa Rica. The National Archives displays images of this founding father to the public.Exhibit continues through Feb. 28 at the National Archives, Zapote. Free. Info: Archives website. Facebook Commentscenter_img The Super BowlThe folks in Quepos are not messing around: This small seaside down in Puntarenas province will host a massive outdoor Super Bowl party, and they expect no fewer than 1,000 attendants to flood the Marina Pez Vela amphitheater. Whether this is event will actually be the largest Super Bowl party in Central America has yet to be seen, but that is precisely their goal. If you’re not in Manuel Antonio, expect every sports bar in the country to host its own Super Bowl party this Sunday, Feb. 1. Whether you’re rooting for New England or Seattle – or just want an excuse to buy buckets of beer and watch satellite TV – American football’s finale can be just as awesome in Costa Rica as in the U.S.Concert Evening at Sibú ChocolateMusicians from The National Symphony perform in an intimate setting. Guests will be treated to a gourmet spread, courtesy of Sibú Chocolate.Concert takes place Jan. 31 at Sibú Chocolate, San Isidro de Heredia. 6 p.m. ₡15,000 ($30). Info: Sibú website.YogathonDowntown Yoga inaugurates its new location with a yoga marathon. Participants can sign up for certain time slots or for the entire day.“Yogatón” takes place Jan. 31 at Downtown Yoga’s new location, downtown San José. (From the Casa Amarilla, 100 meters east, 50 meters north, look for a red building with the drawing of a man). 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. ₡3,000-7,000 ($6-14). Info: Downtown Yoga website.Comedy AbroadLaugh for a cause: Comedy Abroad brings together PG-13 stand-up comics to benefit Abriendo Mentes, an education initiative in Guanacaste.Comedy Abroad performs Jan. 30 at Mar Vista, Flamingo, Guanacaste & Jan. 31 at El Coconut, Tamarindo, Guanacaste. Fri. 6 p.m.; Sat., 7 p.m. $15-20. Info: Comedy Abroad website.TEDxUnited World College of Costa Rica hosts the popular lecture series at Veritas. Presenters will speak in English and Spanish, with translators on-hand.TEDx takes place Feb. 5 at Veritas University, Zapote. 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Info: TEDx website.National Poetry DayJan. 31 is National Poetry Day in Costa Rica, and local bards have been celebrating all week. While readings and workshops take place across the country, poets will finisht the week by presenting their work at the bohemian bar El Lobo Estepario.Readings take place Jan. 30 & 31 at El Lobo Estepario, downtown San José. Fri. & Sat., 8 p.m. Free. 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Costa Rica is officially going after the lionfish

first_imgThe Southern Caribbean Artisanal Fishermen’s Association on Monday presented officials from the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry a plan to reduce the population oflionfish (Pterois), an invasive species that threatens Costa Rica’s fish and shellfish populations.The plan, aptly named the “Protocol for the Capture, Extraction and Disposal of Lionfish,” outlines strategies for capture and consumption of the venomous invasive species.Agriculture Ministry experts say the arrival in Costa Rica of lionfish in 2009 coincided with a dramatic decline of up to 80 percent in fish – mostly snapper – shrimp and lobster populations in the Southern Caribbean region.Vice Minister of Waters Fernando Mora on Monday said officials hope the program will convert the threat into a success story that not only generates an alternative source of income but also contributes to the conservation of marine biodiversity in the Caribbean.Some of the plan’s strategies started last year when the Environment Ministry began placing fishing nets and conducting regular inspections to collect the catch. Officials also began promoting lionfish capture among residents.Carlos Espinoza, a representative of the Trichechus Foundation and one of the plan’s authors, explained that the nets have a special structure and use a type of bait that mostly attracts lionfish.The plan also promotes conducting diving fishing tournaments and promotional campaigns to increase consumption of lionfish. The next tournament will be held in September.Government agencies also will be offering special subsidies for fishermen who catch the species and will provide them with support for marketing their catch.The species is considered invasive as it comes from the Indo-Pacific waters. The main problem is their ravenous appetite that can cause a significant imbalance in sea ecosystems but also an economic impact for local economies that rely on fishing. The problem even can affect tourism – a sting from a lionfish is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties.The largest of lionfish can grow up to 15 inches in length, but the average is closer to 1 foot. However, they are able to eat up to two fish per minute and wipe out 80 percent of native reef species within five weeks of moving to a new territory. A single female lionfish can spawn over 2 million eggs per year.The new plan includes the creation of a database with information about the biology of the fish, and data collected by fishermen about the fish’s areas of expansion and the depths at which they reproduce.Héctor McDonald, president of the Southern Caribbean Artisanal Fishermen’s Association, said he hopes the effort will serve other countries in the Caribbean region. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica battles invasive species with lionfish consumption campaign The lionfish hunters Solís signs tuna fishing decree, but will it help Costa Rica’s oceans? New government lionfish commission to take on invasive specieslast_img read more

Costa Rica under17 team wins World Cup opener

first_imgRelated posts:CONCACAF Gold Cup preview: Ticos look to re-establish themselves as region’s top team Costa Rica lets win slip away, draws 1-1 with El Salvador Costa Rica’s La Sele throttles Jamaica 3-0 Costa Rica heads into must-win game against United States Leave it to the younger generation to get revenge for their elder countrymen.In Monday’s opener of the Under-17 World Cup, Costa Rica’s sub-17 squad netted a pair of goals in a 2-1 win against South Africa, whose senior team just beat “La Sele” 1-0 in San José’s National Stadium earlier this month. Kevin Masis put home a 7th minute goal off a well-timed cross from Andy Reyes to get the Ticos rolling early.In the 63rd minute, Reyes put home a penalty kick that was awarded after a handball by the South Africans. With the two-goal lead already built up, South Africa’s response came too late as Khanyisa Mayo scored in the 90th minute.Coach Marcelo Herrera’s team now takes the early lead in Group E, ahead of North Korea, Russia, and South Africa. The Ticos will next play the Russians on Thursday at Ester Roa Municipal Stadium in Concepción, Chile. Highlights: South Africa v. Costa Rica – FIFA U17 World Cup Chile 2015 https://t.co/bX4bDB9OQf— Blanco y Negro (@blancoYnegroCR) October 20, 2015center_img FIFA’s Under-17 World Cup is a biannual tournament consisting of the world’s best 24 teams. In 2013, Nigeria won its fourth Under-17 World Cup, giving it more titles than any other country in the contest’s 30-year history. The Nigerians already lead Group A after a 2-0 win over Team USA.The Tico under-17 team kicks off with Russia at 5 p.m. Costa Rica time on Thursday. This is the first time Costa Rica has qualified for the Under-17 World Cup since 2009, when the team was led by current La Sele star Joel Campbell. The last time the team made it to the knockout stages was in 2007, although it was then beaten by Argentina in the first round. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

PHOTOS World Surfing Games take over Jacó

first_imgRelated posts:Scoring the World Surfing Games: A guide Costa Rica surf squad will bring out its brightest stars for World Surfing Games World Surfing Games preview: Can Costa Rica win second consecutive title? VIDEO: Jacó surfboard artist’s work dazzles above the lip Rebecca Males/The Tico Times Rebecca Males/The Tico Times Rebecca Males/The Tico Times Rebecca Males/The Tico Times Rebecca Males/The Tico Times Rebecca Males/The Tico Times Rebecca Males/The Tico Times Rebecca Males/The Tico Times Rebecca Males/The Tico Times The 2016 World Surfing Games are underway all this week in Jacó. Here’s the view from the beach on opening day, Sunday, Aug. 7: Facebook Comments Rebecca Males/The Tico Timeslast_img read more

Afghans end push to recover bodies from landslide

first_img Top Stories KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Afghan officials say they are halting efforts to dig out more than 60 bodies from the site of a devastating landslide that followed earthquakes in northern Afghanistan earlier this week. They plan to make the area a memorial to the dead.The government has said 71 people were buried in Monday’s landslide, but the police chief of Baghlan province’s Burka district says they have pulled out only five bodies in four days of digging. How do cataracts affect your vision? Sponsored Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Comments   Share   He says that religious leaders in the area recommended that they leave the bodies buried under the hill and rename it “Martyrs Hill.”Police chief Azizullahrahman said Thursday that more than 800 people helped with the effort to dig out the bodies of the victims.Two earthquakes struck the area early Monday, causing the landslide.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

AP PHOTOS World Refugee Day shows global plight

first_img Check your body, save your life New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Comments   Share   (AP) – From Myanmar to Pakistan to Bangladesh and beyond, some 15.2 million people live as refugees, many for decades or more. Nearly half are children under the age of 18.The United Nations established June 20 as World Refugee Day to highlight the plight of these millions driven from their countries by natural or man-made disasters.A Tibetan refugee camp in Nepal was set up in 1960; one in Bangladesh that houses Muslims who fled Myanmar has been in operation since 1992. Parents, stop beating yourself up Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familycenter_img Top Stories Sponsored Stories The problems of refugees do not end when they return home. Re-integrating into a changed society poses its own challenges.Here is a gallery of photos of refugees from around the world.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

Clinton looks for better USPakistani cooperation

first_img Sponsored Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Pakistan’s reaction in closing the border cost the U.S. at least $700 million, as it rerouted supplies across more expensive northern routes. The final bill may have been significantly greater.Clinton, who joined the Pakistani minister and Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul for a three-way meeting later Sunday, said her discussions with Khar covered stalled Afghan reconciliation efforts. The U.S. is counting on Pakistan to help convince the Taliban and other groups fighting the Afghan government to halt violence and enter into a political dialogue.They spoke as well about enhancing U.S.-Pakistani economic ties to make it a relationship defined more by trade than aid.A joint statement by the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan “reaffirmed the importance of pursuing multiple channels and contacts” with militants seeking to overthrow the Afghan government.It said reconciliation would be discussed during Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s upcoming visit to Kabul and Afghan mediator Salahuddin Rabbani’s visit to Islamabad.“These visits should determine and implement additional concrete steps to advance Afghan reconciliation,” the statement said. ErrorOKFree Rate QuoteCall now 623-889-0130 ErrorOK Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Comments   Share   New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Still, Clinton acknowledged the lingering difficulties hindering U.S.-Pakistani cooperation, without getting into details.Washington has been perpetually bothered by its perception of Islamabad’s half-hearted commitment to snuffing out the support given by its intelligence services to the Taliban and the Haqqani network_ assistance that Washington sees as a threat to the Afghan war effort.Meanwhile, Pakistan’s government has to contend with rampant anti-American sentiment and the unpopularity of U.S. drone strikes against militant targets within its borders.In Lahore, Pakistan, thousands of hardline Islamists set out Sunday in a convoy of some 200 vehicles bound for the capital to protest the government’s decision to allow the U.S. and NATO to resume shipping military supplies through Pakistan to Afghanistan.Riding atop buses and waving party flags, protesters yelled anti-U.S. slogans. “One solution for America, jihad, jihad!” they shouted.After the four-hour journey to Islamabad, the demonstrators planned to rally in front of the parliament building.In Tokyo, Clinton called the U.S.-Pakistan alliance a “challenging but essential relationship.”center_img Top Stories “I have no reason to believe that it will not continue to raise hard questions for us both,” she said. “But it is something that is in the interests of the United States as well as the interests of Pakistan.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Associated PressTOKYO (AP) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed hope Sunday that Pakistan’s recent reopening of NATO supply lines into Afghanistan might lead to a broader rapprochement in U.S.-Pakistani relations after a difficult period for the reluctant allies.After attending a 70-nation Afghan aid conference in Tokyo, Clinton met privately with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to discuss reviving the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, which has suffered a series of debilitating crises over the last year-and-a-half but is still seen as critical for the stability of South Asia. It was their first meeting since Clinton’s apology last week for the November killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by NATO, a move that led to the end of Pakistan’s seven-month blockade of the supply routes.“We are both encouraged that we’ve been able to put the recent difficulties behind us so we can focus on the many challenges ahead of us,” Clinton told reporters. “We want to use the positive momentum generated by our recent agreement to take tangible steps on our many shared, core interests.”The most important of these, Clinton said, was fighting militant groups. They have used Pakistan as a rear base to attack American troops and jeopardize the future of Afghanistan.She and Khar “focused on the necessity of defeating the terror networks that threat the stability of both Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as the interests of the United States,” Clinton said.Last week’s accord helped repair ties that have been torn over everything from a CIA contractor who killed two Pakistanis to the unilateral U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound. The November incident was the deadliest among the allies in the decade-long fight against al-Qaida and other extremist groups along the Afghan-Pakistani frontier. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

Tigers fatally maul man at Copenhagen Zoo

first_imgThe man was granted Danish citizenship last month and his family has identified him, Borg said. Police declined to release his name. His body was found surrounded by the zoo’s three Siberian tigers by a zookeeper early Wednesday.Borg said the man appeared to have entered the tiger area late Tuesday from a low wall surrounding the den and then ended up in the moat inside the enclosure.“He has been in the water and the animals must have seen that and attacked him,” Borg said. “He was killed in the water.”Police were trying to piece together the man’s movements inside the zoo, but haven’t had any luck with security cameras. There were no surveillance cameras at the tiger enclosure.The man only had his old residence permit and keys to his Copenhagen apartment on him, Borg said.Copenhagen Zoo manager Steffen Straede said it was the first time in the zoo’s 152-year history that such an incident has occurred, and there were no plans to reassess its security or to put the tigers down.“If a person really wants to get in (there), we cannot prevent it from happening,” he said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Associated PressCOPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Tigers fatally mauled a man inside an enclosure at the Copenhagen Zoo, officials said Wednesday.It was unclear how or why the 21-year-old Afghan-born man had entered the Siberian tiger den, but investigators could not exclude suicide as a motive, police spokesman Lars Borg said. The man sustained multiple bite wounds to the throat, face, chest and a thigh.“We don’t know why he went in and why he ended up in the enclosure,” Borg told The Associated Press. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Check your body, save your lifecenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familylast_img read more

Greece seeks criminal charges for 9 farright MPs

first_img 4 must play golf courses in Arizona New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Comments   Share   Top Stories ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greek judges have asked Parliament to allow the prosecution of another nine lawmakers from the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn party, which is being investigated for alleged criminal activities.Approval of the request would mean that all 18 of the party’s lawmakers face charges of running a criminal group. Greek Parliamentarians enjoy immunity from prosecution, which can only be lifted by a parliamentary vote.center_img So far, nine Golden Dawn MPs have been prosecuted, six of whom _ including leader Nikos Mihaloliakos _ were jailed pending trial. Prosecutors are waiting for the parliamentary vote so they could proceed against the other nine.The crackdown on the extreme right-wing party started after last year’s fatal stabbing of an anti-fascist musician by a Golden Dawn supporter in Athens.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more