Tai Pan Tours celebrates 28th anniversary – and Chinese New Year

first_imgTai Pan Tours celebrates 28th anniversary – and Chinese New Year Tuesday, February 14, 2017 Travelweek Group Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img RICHMOND HILL — Tai Pan Tours went all out for its 28th anniversary and Chinese New Year celebration last week with lots of food and entertainment.“We look for every opportunity to serve the community because we’ve been here for 28 years. We started as a really small company, and now we have over 100 people on staff,” said Lisa Lau, Global Development Manager. “We’ve been one of the largest tour operators for the Chinese motorcoach operator companies and we are looking forward to moving on to develop more destinations for Canadian travellers.”The event was also an appreciation night for travel agents with some of the company’s top producing agents receiving recognition, showcasing them as not just as business associates but partners.“It means the world to me to have everyone here,” said Fion Tran, Founder and President of Tai Pan Tours. “Thank you for all your support and encouragement, especially to the airlines, travel agencies and tourism boards, thank you very much for the past 28 years.”More news:  Can you guess the one and only hotel company to rank on Indeed’s Top Workplaces in Canada list?By taking every booking seriously, Tai Pan Tours puts “their feet into the shoes” of agents to understand some of the challenges they face. Lau says Tai Pan also offers agents high commissions, more incentives and a loyalty program with the best deals. Tags: Tai Pan Tours Sharelast_img read more

Travel with peace of mind with Trafalgars 100 definite departures on Italy

first_img Share Tags: Ireland, Italy, Trafalgar TORONTO — Trafalgar continues to show its commitment to being #AgentsFirst by announcing 100% definite departures on Italy and Ireland, something it says will make an agent’s life easier.All 2018 Italy and Ireland departures are now deemed definite, with new destinations being announced over the coming weeks. In total, there are 44 trips with definite departures, in addition to all European Discoveries.Moreover, the tour operator is offering an Early Payment Discount of 7.5% on 2018 Europe and Britain, including Italy and Ireland, when booking and paying by Feb. 28.“At Trafalgar, we are completely focused on always being #AgentsFirst, ensuring they are fully equipped to respond to customer demand and sell our guided holidays with confidence and ease,” said Wolf Paunic, president of Trafalgar Canada. “We’re giving our agent partners the tool kit for a stellar 2018 selling season.”Trafalgar has seen a significant increase of Canadian guests travelling to Italy and Ireland over the last six months. Popular itineraries include the 10-day ‘Contrasts of Italy’, which includes an unprecedented and exclusive after-hours VIP dining experience at The Vatican, and the 11-day ‘Irish Experience, which journeys through both North and South Ireland. Travel with peace of mind with Trafalgar’s 100% definite departures on Italy & Ireland Wednesday, February 7, 2018 center_img Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted bylast_img read more

Earn 50 per booking with Goways latest promotion

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Goway Travel TORONTO — A new Downunder agent incentive from Goway Travel and Virgin Australia offers getaways to Sydney, Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef from $2,389 per person.The promotion pairs competitive airfares from Vancouver with hotel deals in Sydney, Melbourne, and Cairns, including up to three free nights and a ‘2 for the price of 1’ Great Barrier Reef Low Isles cruise. The trips are available for sale until May 30.Goway says agents booking the following vacations will earn $50 per booking, paid directly on to their Goway Rewards Card: the 10-day Aussie City Explorer with Virgin Australia from $2,389; the 11-day Sydney & Great Barrier Reef with Virgin Australia from $2,659; and the 14-day Aussie Cities and Great Barrier Reef from $2,799.Each trip includes roundtrip Economy Class airfare from Vancouver, hotel accommodation, an iVenture Multi City Attraction pass with entry to five top attractions in Sydney or Melbourne and a full day Low Isles Great Barrier Reef cruise for the two reef packages. Lead-in pricing is valid for travel through June 21 and all vacations can be customized to travel to other parts of Australia with Virgin Australia. Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Earn $50 per booking with Goway’s latest promotion Thursday, April 19, 2018 Sharelast_img read more

Two new nextgeneration ships confirmed for NCL fleet

first_img Friday, July 13, 2018 Two new next-generation ships confirmed for NCL fleet Share Tags: Norwegian Cruise Line, Project Leonardo << Previous PostNext Post >> MIAMI — Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has confirmed orders for its fifth and sixth Project Leonardo Class ships, set for delivery in 2026 and 2027.Set to join Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet, the new ships will accommodate approximately 3,300 guests and will be energy efficient, with the aim of optimizing fuel consumption and reducing impact on the environment. The smaller footprint of both vessels will also broaden deployment opportunities around the world.According to Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., these orders will help continue the company on its strong growth trajectory. “Our six ship Leonard Class fleet will allow us to broaden our deployment into strong performing and mature unserved and underserved markets and offer new experiences to our guests,” he said.With these latest additions, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has seven ships on order for Norwegian Cruise Line, and one for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, for a total of eight vessels for delivery through 2027. The company will take delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, in fall 2019.More news:  GLP Worldwide introduces first-ever Wellness programsAndy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line, added: “Following the Breakaway Plus Class, the most successful class in our company’s history, the highly anticipated Leonardo Class will fuel future growth with exciting and innovative offerings that will meaningfully drive demand from new and loyal returning guests alike.”The effectiveness of the new ship orders is contingent on the company’s entry into omitted financing arrangements. Further details about the ships will be announced at a later date. Posted by Alex Keerma About Latest Posts Alex Keerma Latest posts by Alex Keerma (see all) WestJet adds to network, nonstop flights between Austin and Calgary – May 3, 2019 Senior Travel Advisor – Peterborough Office – April 12, 2019 “I didn’t know she was married”: Kimpton’s social experiment inspires new themed rooms – March 6, 2019last_img read more

Two new routes for Air Canada MontrealBordeaux CalgaryTerrace

first_imgTwo new routes for Air Canada: Montreal-Bordeaux & Calgary-Terrace Calgary-TerraceDaily with Q-400snew Vancouver-Kamloops5 x daily with Q-400s+56% Vancouver-Penticton3 x daily with Q-400s+56% Share Thursday, July 4, 2019 Vancouver-SandspitDaily with Q-400s+56% Travelweek Group Edmonton-Grande Prairie2 x daily with Q-400s+56% Edmonton-Fort McMurray3 x daily with Q-400s+70% Calgary-Winnipeg3 x daily with A319s/CRJ900s offering Business and Economy Class+40% Vancouver-Fort St. John4 x daily with Q-400s+20% Vancouver-Prince Rupert2 x daily with Q-400s+56% Calgary-Kamloops2 x daily with Q-400s+56% Vancouver-Comox3 x daily with Q-400s+56% Posted by Vancouver-Saskatoon3 daily with CRJ900s offering Business and Economy Class+44% MONTREAL — Today marks the inauguration of Air Canada’s new nonstop seasonal service from Montreal to Bordeaux, its fifth destination in France.Flight AC1908 departs Montreal at 8:00 p.m. today, arriving in Bordeaux at 8:50 a.m. on July 5. The flight is operated by Air Canada Rouge onboard a Boeing 767-300ER featuring premium and economy cabins.“As the only network carrier to offer non-stop transatlantic service to Bordeaux, the addition of a fifth destination in France further enhances Air Canada’s competitive position in the French market,” said Mark Galardo, Vice President, Network Planning. “Our three weekly flights to Bordeaux provide travellers unique access to the famed wine growing region and the popular Nouvelle-Aquitaine market. In addition to playing a special role in connecting Canada with many French-speaking communities around the world, our Montreal hub is increasingly popular among U.S. travellers who appreciate seamless connections to international destinations on Air Canada.”Air Canada also announced new daily nonstop, year-round service between Calgary and Terrace, B.C., beginning Oct. 28, 2019. The new route complements the carrier’s 5x daily flights between Vancouver and Terrace.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upAccording to Galardo, the Skeena Valley area in Northern B.C. is seeing major economic growth.“With significant development projects underway in the Terrace-Kitimat area, we are strategically boosting capacity on our Vancouver-Terrace route this winter with five daily flights,” he said. “With these new schedule enhancements, Air Canada will offer the most flights and options to travel easily between Terrace-Kitimat and anywhere across North America and internationally.”Galardo also noted that Air Canada has increased capacity this winter in several other regional markets in Western Canada, including the B.C. Interior, Northern B.C., Vancouver Island and Northern Alberta communities. Plus, the carrier will be adding capacity on its Whitehorse, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg routes with larger Airbus A319/A320 and CRJ-900 aircraft this fall and winter.Increased services across Western Canada regional markets this fall and winter peak compared to last year include: Vancouver-Whitehorse2 x daily with A319s/A320s offering Business and Economy Class+24% RouteFrequencies & Aircraft*Capacity Increase Vancouver-Regina3 daily with CRJ900s offering Business and Economy Class+44% Tags: Air Canada, Bordeaux, Calgary, Montreal, Terrace Vancouver-Terrace5 x daily with Q-400s+30% Vancouver-Smithers2 x daily with Q-400s+56% << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Keeping score with certification of green buildings

first_imgFrom the print editionTo many architects and builders, the question of what constitutes a “green building“green is an open one, which depends on factors such as the conditions of the site, climate, local customs, personal taste, available budget and a multitude of other considerations. However, others are in the business of defining exactly what a green building is, and of putting their stamp of approval on them.Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, for example, examines a long list of factors, and then, based on the compliance of the building with these requirements, denies or issues a certification. Depending on the number of points of compliance, the building can receive certification on one of four levels:  Basic LEED certification, Silver, Gold or Platinum.LEED, developed in the United States by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, pioneered third-party, independent certification for green buildings in the U.S. and now has been  applied in 137 countries, including Costa Rica.  According to Roberto Meza, an engineer who works with LEED certification, there are now seven LEED-certified buildings in Costa Rica, while another 27 projects are pending. Other green certification programs also exist, including BREEAM, developed in the United Kingdom, and a new initiative being developed in Costa Rica specifically for Central America, called Requisites for Sustainable Buildings in the Tropics, or RESET (TT, May 12).The reasons for certifying a green building are many, and can include: •Marketing to environmentally conscious buyers or renters; •Using the certification requirements as a guide for green building; •In the case of corporations, as public relations and cost savings, or as part of a defined Corporate Social Responsibility policy; •In the case of government buildings in some countries, as a legal requisite and an example; •International development banks (such as the World Bank) are providing financing through local banks in Costa Rica and other countries on favorable terms for certified green buildings; •Finally, that the builder is willing to submit the building to an independent, highly detailed technical review is a sign of seriousness, and achieving certification a sign of good design and quality construction.LEED looks at the following issues, among others, and awards points based on compliance with a list of technical considerations under each heading.•The site of the building. Buildings that take advantage of existing infrastructure, control erosion and runoff, have access to public transportation and do not waste green space receive a higher rating;•Water efficiency, achieved through landscaping and water-saving appliances and plumbing fixtures;•Energy efficiency, achieved by building design and construction, smart appliances, and sometimes, on-site generation of energy;•Use of sustainable building materials and minimizing waste and use of natural resources; here, the impact of the building on CO2 in the atmosphere is taken into account;•Design. LEED recognizes smart design, and assigns extra credit for design innovation.RESET, which is in the final stages of development, is meant to be more attuned to building in a tropical, developing country than LEED and other certification systems, which were created in wealthy countries with temperate climates. According to Huberth Méndez, executive director of the Foundation for Urban Development, and a member of the committee of the Costa Rican Construction Chamber, which is designing RESET, the new certification system gives comparatively more weight to the choice of a site, building design and water use, and less to energy use, which is much more important in a climate that has extremes of hot and cold than in a tropical one like Costa Rica’s.Méndez also thinks that certification with RESET will be less expensive (Roberto Meza estimates that LEED certification can cost between $2,250 and $27,500, depending on the size and complexity of the building or project, although he stresses that savings in energy and water use, as well as construction costs, usually easily pay for the costs of certification).Although Meza believes that RESET is not strictly necessary – he thinks that LEED certification is sufficiently flexible as well as time-tested – he applauds the initiative as one that will lead to increased consciousness about sustainable building design in Costa Rica, and more green buildings as a result.“The points [counted for certification] are not the point,” he says, “The point is more and better sustainable buildings.” Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Did Karina Bolaños lie about the origins of her erotic video

first_imgNo related posts. Is it fair to fire the vice minister for the video?  Yes. Her status as a government official demands it.  No. It’s a shameful invasion of privacy.  No response. Culture viceminister fired Facebook Comments From the print editionFormer Culture Vice Minister Karina Bolaños might have lied about the origins of a racy video she made, according to Culture Minister Manuel Obregón. Someone uploaded the video to YouTube last week, and Bolaños was removed from her position in the ministry as a result.After the video surfaced online, generating millions of views in only a few days, Obregón wrote an op-ed for the daily La Nación justifying the vice minister’s firing. The quick removal of Bolaños from office angered many Costa Ricans, and some criticized President Laura Chinchilla – including The Tico Times in an editorial last week – for dismissing the vice minister over what was believed to be a case of extortion by a third party and an invasion of her privacy. According to Obregón, Bolaños’ version of events – stated in her only public interview regarding the incident to CNN en Español – was misleading.In the interview, Bolaños said the video, where she’s dressed in her underwear and flirting with the camera, was made in 2007, and was stolen from her personal computer. However, Obregón said he believes the video was made in 2009, while Bolaños attended an AIDS prevention conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The minister also suspects Bolaños could have used a government computer to film the video, and that she might have disseminated the video on her own.In addition, Bolaños faces two criminal complaints filed against her on unrelated charges. On July 30, the daily tabloid La Teja said Bolaños faces a criminal complaint for harassment against a former lover and another for disobeying a restraining order.Obregón said Bolaños never informed her superiors about the legal troubles. In addition, Bolaños said in her CNN interview that she had been extorted for more than a year regarding the video, but she did not disclose this information to superiors or authorities until the video became public.These discretions, and the publication of the video, made it impossible for the government to permit Bolaños to continue at her job working with youth programs at the ministry.Obregón said he “was deeply sorry and condemned the irresponsible invasion of privacy” of Bolaños. But he believes the firing was necessary due to the circumstances.“It is absolutely false, on the other hand, there is some type of discriminatory action against the concerned,” Obregón wrote. “In previous cases where there have been similar criminal charges against an official of similar rank, the government acted consistently. These are decisions that are not linked to gender, but tied to conditions to adequately perform the responsibilities of public office.”On Thursday morning, Obregón told Radio Reloj that if Bolaños did break any laws with the recording of the video, the government could choose to file criminal charges against her.The culture minister said he has not heard any further explanations from Bolaños, but he hopes she will communicate with the ministry.Tico Times Poll:last_img read more

Nicaragua bets on energy revolution

first_imgBy David Hutt |Special to The Tico TimesBy 2017, Nicaragua wants 94 percent of its electricity needs to be sourced from renewable energy. But is this a reachable target?LEÓN, Nicaragua – In the town of San Jacinto, 90 kilometers northwest of Nicaragua’s capital, a geothermal power plant recently underwent an expansion. The San Jacinto-Tizate project sits on a hotspot between two volcanoes that has been called one of the most productive areas for geothermal activity on the American continent. Its owners, U.S-based Ram Power Corp., announced last week that phase two expansion is now commercially operational, which has brought the plant’s capacity to generate power up to a rate of 72 megawatts – up from 36 MW at the beginning of the year.What this means for Nicaragua is that in 2013, the project should be able to generate 17 percent of the country’s electricity needs, according to projections from the plant’s operators. Since the project relies solely on geothermal energy, it is an important step in Nicaragua’s “energy revolution,” which aims at breaking the nation’s reliance on oil and replacing it with renewable sources. The Nicaraguan government is optimistic. In the National Development Plan, officials calculate that by 2017, 94 percent of the country’s electricity needs will be sourced from renewable energy. If this figure is to be attained, power plants such as the San Jacinto project are essential. There are other positive signs for the Nicaraguan government. Over the past five years, the productive means for renewable energy have grown in leaps and bounds. In 2010, work finished on the second part of a wind farm near the city of Rivas, close to the Costa Rican border. Amayo I and II can now boast almost two dozen turbines, with a combined capacity to generate 63 MW. There also has been much talk of the construction of a hydroelectric plant in Tumarín, located in the Southern Atlantic Autonomous Region. Construction is set to begin this year on that project, which will have the potential capacity to generate 253 MW. Emilio Rappaccioli, Nicaragua’s minister of energy and mines, is a leading advocate of clean energy, and is satisfied with his country’s progress over the past year. “Development of the San Jacinto project has become an example of natural resource development currently happening in Nicaragua. The development of these types of renewable energy projects is an essential component for Nicaragua’s future, further promoting the well-being and progress of the Nicaraguan people,” he said. According to ProNicaragua, the government’s investment promotion agency, in 2011 foreign investment in the renewable energy sector was valued at $217 million – an increase of 37 percent from the previous year. But how achievable is the goal of 94 percent and what would it mean for Nicaragua? In 2012, 40 percent of Nicaragua’s electricity came from renewable energy sources – an 8 percent increase from 2011. Over the coming year, targets set by the National Development Plan aim to increase this figure to 50 percent – an achievable increase given the previous year’s growth, officials said. If the renewable energy industry continues to grow at this rate, the 94 percent final target would be feasible. However, experts including the minister of energy and mines said that this feasibility depends on several aspects, including whether or not demand for electricity increases faster than the supply of renewable energy. A report by the Central Bank in September 2012 showed that in 2010, the average energy consumption of each Nicaraguan residence was 75 MWH. In 2011, this number had increased to 77 MWH. According to the report, in the first six months of 2012, demand stood at 58 MWH – meaning a potential demand of 87 MWH for the year. The commercial sector also experienced a similar trend in increasing demand. Furthermore, in late 2012, the Inter-American Development Bank approved a $35 million loan to Nicaragua in order to expand the availability of electricity. Through the loan, it is hoped that electrical coverage will be increased from 65 percent of the population to 85 percent – an extra 1.7 million Nicaraguans, most who reside in rural areas. While it is inevitable that this increase in electricity availability will create a higher demand, the government has responded with attempts to bring down consumption. A $17 million program by the Ministry of Energy and Mines seeks to furnish street lamps with energy-saving bulbs. According to the ministry, this will save the country 35 MWH annually. Another factor is that Nicaragua must give up its reliance on oil. Since President Daniel Ortega returned to power in 2007, the government has benefitted from low-cost oil imports from Venezuela, traded at “solidarity prices.” Nicaragua buys half of the oil up front and then pays back the other half through loans. This has allowed Nicaragua to expand electricity availability at a reduced price for a barrel of oil. However, it also has burdened the second-poorest country in the hemisphere with a substantial annual expenditure and debt. It also has meant that Nicaraguans pay one of the highest costs for electricity in Central America. Almost 80 percent of households rely on government-funded electricity subsidies.In order to overturn this dependence on oil and mitigate the high cost of electricity for the population, the government has pushed rigorously for more investment in renewable energies and has planned to decrease the amount of oil it imports. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, in 2013, Nicaragua will import almost two million fewer barrels of oil from Venezuela, at a savings of some $200 million. Nicaragua has courted foreign investment in renewable energy through tax and other incentives. The government recently reached an agreement with operators of the San Jacinto project for an increase in energy tariffs. Financially, this means that operators will be able to recover costs for the expansion with an annual increase on tariff rates by 3 percent until 2022.The executive chairman of Ram Power stated in response to this agreement: “We are grateful for the continued confidence and support of our project, and our company, at the highest levels of the Nicaraguan Government. President Ortega expressed a need to continue the development of the renewable energy sector in Nicaragua.”In November, the government approved a law to give tax incentives to investors of the Tumarín hydroelectric project at a rate of 3 percent income tax for 15 years. They also agreed to finance the construction of infrastructure to connect the plant to the national grid. The $1.1 billion investment from the project’s Brazilian owners previously was not forthcoming. But the Nicaraguan government hopes that substantial work could now begin as early as February due to the concessions.  For its efforts, Nicaragua has received the praise of several energy commissions. In 2012, the Inter-American Development Bank’s first-annual “Climatescope” report ranked Nicaragua second in Latin America for investment in renewable energies (Brazil was first). The report also recognized Nicaragua as the strongest supporter of green micro-financing in Central America. Yet, experts say two questions remain. Firstly, how will the change from oil-based energy to renewables affect the cost of electricity in Nicaragua? David Castillo, a chairman of the Nicaraguan Institute of Energy, expects rates to drop by at least 15 percent in the next five years. However, he has warned that any short-term price drops are unlikely. “Energy prices will start going down, but do not forget that last year we borrowed $107 million from ALBA [a left-leaning alliance of Latin American and Caribbean nations] to prevent power rates from rising. And this year they are loaning us $52 million. Whatever price reductions we get from renewable energy must first go toward paying off those debts,” he said. While it is certain that producing renewable energy is much cheaper than oil, the Nicaraguan government will have to come up with a firm plan on how to invest, construct and profit from a renewable energy economy in order to reduce the cost for most Nicaraguans. The second question is how the government will respond to a regime change in Venezuela. Currently, most of Nicaragua’s electricity demand is still supplied by oil. If ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was to be ousted from power or die, opposition parties have already stressed that they will end the “solidarity price” of oil to Nicaragua. Would an increasing cost of oil quicken the government’s drive towards renewable energies or would it hamper the effort, diverting funds and effort away from the plan?These questions remain to be answered, but what is clear is that if Nicaragua can keep up its annual 10 percent increase in renewable energy supplies, and at the same time reduce its dependence on oil, then it is more than likely that it could reach the target of 94 percent by 2017. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Recreo A Costa Rican playground for the adventurous and the cultured

first_imgPlaya Rajada is known for having one of the best sunsets in Costa Rica. Villa 19 has a pool area perfect for a massive party or just lounging around. Lindsay Fendt No related posts. Going There: Recreo is most easily accessed by flying into the Liberia airport and taking the road to La Cruz. After arriving in La Cruz take the turn off to El Jobo and continue towards Playa Rajada. Airport shuttles can also be arranged for $50 per adult per way. Recreo offers seven-night, all-inclusive packages during the holiday season, which include meals prepared by a private chef. The packages are priced by villa ranging from $4,046 for the one-bedroom villa (up to two people) and $20,230 for the five-bedroom villa (up to ten people). Off-season rates are as little as $189 per night for the one-bedroom villa and as much as $429 per night for the five-bedroom villa. Facebook Commentscenter_img Lindsay Fendt Upon my arrival at Recreo, a luxury resort at the tippy top of the northwestern province of Guanacaste, I was instantly compelled to snoop. (An expansive five-bedroom villa with seemingly infinite closets and secret nooks will do that). After 10 minutes of rummaging in the recreation room’s drawers, I emerged in the ultimate vacation get-up: a jungle explorer hat, binoculars, a maraca and a sturdy African club that I found on a shelf. I also discovered candleholders shaped like star people, miscellaneous drinking glasses, the board game Cranium and a small wooden manger.For me, these items provided little more than amusement. But their residency in our villa, along with everything else about my Recreo experience, led me to conclude that the U.S. owners of this remote Costa Rican beach resort had thought of everything. Situated on 32 hectares of land near the infrequently-visited Playas Rajada and Jobo, the seven villas at Recreo provide as much variety as the assortment of wonders inside of them. Whether it’s the intimate one-bedroom studio separated from the rest of the property by about a million stairs, the five-bedroom party mansion that the two of us stayed in, or something in between; Recreo seems to have digs for any occasion.Modern furniture and fixtures adorn each of the villas, but there also homages to Costa Rican history and culture. An oversized mortar and pestle once used for grinding corn is on display in Villa 19, and traditional oxcart parts are scattered throughout the resort. The only features the unique villas seem to have in common are the private pools and full kitchens, and I don’t recommend a grand tour unless you want a serious case of villa-envy. It happened to us in Villa 6. The floor-to-ceiling windows, moat and incredible mountain-and-sea view blew us away. Even the shower had a jungle view. Fortunately, we were able to recover after returning to our villa (19) to take a dip in its long pool and lounge on its plush wrap-around couch. After a relaxing afternoon and a lunch of lomito, fresh salad and patacones prepared by an exceedingly talented personal chef, we were ready to further explore. We set out on the gravel path lined in magenta Bougainvillea flowers, coconut palms and fruit trees that are frequented by spider and white-faced monkeys. The path is large enough for a car, but Recreo is best traveled by golf carts, which can be rented for $40 per day or $200 per week. Zipping around in these carts amidst the mysterious, prickly-treed landscape of Guanacaste, one is tempted to hoot like a sabanero (cowboy), and I can’t say we didn’t. Outside of Recreo’s gates, a five-minute golf-cart jaunt down a dirt road leads to Playa Rajada, a quiet beach known for its spectacular sunsets. Unlike most of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Rajada is practically empty, making it perfect for a relaxing getaway. Guests can check out snorkel gear, boogie boards, kayaks and other sporting equipment (including basketballs and tennis racquets for the resort’s convenient and well-maintained courts) from the front desk. And although I do recommend kayaking and snorkelling just off the coast, where octopuses and lobsters can be spotted, beware of paddling too close to the rocky outcroppings. Sizeable waves occasionally break near them, and one managed to capsize my kayak. While the beach offers a fairly spectacular sunset, so too does the mountain-top lookout on Recreo’s property. The area is equipped with WiFi and a bar that can be stocked and staffed on request, and offers expansive views of Playa Rajada, Playa Jobo and even a stretch of southwestern Nicaragua. Most importantly, though, its the ideal vantage point to kick back with a glass of wine and watch the area’s famous sunsets, during which dramatic pinks streak the sky as a fuchsia sun dips into the Pacific.last_img read more

Reeling Honduras loses to Israel US tops Turkey Mexico takes pyrrhic victory

first_imgRelated posts:Why Costa Ricans want Mexico to lose in the World Cup US soccer legend Landon Donovan left off World Cup roster France wins 3-0 over Honduras, the first CONCACAF team to lose at the World Cup VIDEO: World Cup 2014 Retrospective! A look at the three other teams who qualified for the World Cup from Costa Rica’s CONCACAF region:HOUSTON, Texas — World Cup-bound Honduras suffered a second deflating friendly defeat in four days on Sunday as they were beaten 4-2 by Israel.Honduras’ defense struggled all night and Israel — who did not qualify for the World Cup — made the most of the openings they were offered.Honduras manager Luis Fernando Suarez made four changes at halftime seeking to turn things around after the team had fallen behind 1-0. Roger Espinoza woke the Catrachos with a 47th minute equalizer. But three second half goals  furthered Honduras’ misery.Suarez acknowledged on Thursday after a 2-0 friendly loss in Washington to Turkey — who also failed to secure a World Cup berth — that his team had plenty of work to do.Honduras’ next tune-up promises to offer an even tougher challenge as they take on England at Miami on Saturday.The Central American side, seeking a first World Cup victory after qualifying for the third time, open their World Cup finals campaign against France on June 15, and will also face Ecuador and Switzerland in Group E.U.S. downs TurkeyHARRISON, New Jersey — The United States continued their World Cup preparations with a 2-1 triumph over Turkey on Sunday.German-born Fabien Johnson, one of U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s army of young, dual-citizenship footballers, made his first strike for the Stars and Stripes an impressive one, combining with U.S. veteran Michael Bradley for a superb 26th-minute goal that gave the United States a 1-0 lead.American veteran Clint Dempsey exploited a lapse in the Turkish defense to double the score in the 52nd minute.The match was the United States’ second friendly since Klinsmann announced his 23-man squad for the World Cup finals in Brazil — shocking many by the omission of all-time leading US scorer Landon Donovan.They defeated Azerbaijan 2-0 last Tuesday and will take on Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida, next Saturday before departing for Brazil.The United States are drawn in Group G along with Ghana, who reached the quarter-finals in the 2010 edition, Euro 2012 semi-finalists Portugal and one of the favorites for the trophy — Klinsmann’s native Germany.Turkey didn’t qualify for the World Cup, but Klinsmann said they were a talented side that offered a good “benchmark” for his team heading into the global football showcase. Mexico dominates Ecuador, but loses key playerDALLAS, Texas — Midfielder Luis Montes will not compete for Mexico at the World Cup in Brazil after breaking his fibula and tibia during a 3-1 victory over Ecuador in a friendly on Saturday. Montes had just scored a golazo that put Mexico in front two minutes earlier when he collided with Ecuador’s Segundo Castillo during a race for a loose ball.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs73yBviMds#t=11Montes was carted off in obvious pain on a stretcher in front of the pro-Mexican crowd of almost 85,000 at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.It is a big blow for Mexico who are using this and other games over the next couple of weeks as a tune up to the 2014 World Cup. Mexico’s next international friendly is Tuesday against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Chicago. They play Portugal on Friday. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Government approves 1 million in aid to farmers affected by unusual weather

first_imgRelated posts:National Emergency Commission lifts drought warning for Pacific provinces Costa Rica experiments with aquaponics to fight drought Costa Rica starts aid distribution to Guanacaste farmers stricken by drought Costa Rican researchers develop new climate change-resistant beans Costa Rica’s government will allocate ₡600 million ($1.1 million) to assist farmers hit by extreme weather conditions that affected most of the country during the past year.President Luis Guillermo Solís and Agriculture and Livestock Minister Felipe Arauz Cavallini on Tuesday signed an emergency decree that allows the allocation of funds to help the livestock, fisheries and beekeeping sectors in the provinces of Guanacaste, Puntarenas, Alajuela and Cartago.Experts from the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG) attribute damage to the effects of an El Niño weather phenomenon, which in Costa Rica is usually marked by a decrease in rainfall in Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Alajuela. At the same time, Limón and Cartago usually see an increase in rains during an El Niño year.Drought along the Pacific region caused ₡10.5 billion ($19.8 million) in damages, according to a preliminary report released this week by MAG officials.A total of 2,118 hectares of crops were completely lost, while some 11,718 hectares experienced some kind of damage.In Cartago, however, excess humidity from the unusual increase in rainfall is causing soil saturation.This condition mainly affects pasture and forage production on some 55,000 hectares at dairy farms and also provokes an increase in diseases in livestock, according to MAG.The executive branch also reported that they will allocate additional emergency funds of ₡300 million ($567,000) in credits for bean producers, who also have been affected by weather conditions.National Meteorological Institute forecasts for this year show that similar weather conditions will continue to cause drought in the Pacific region. Meteorologists also said these conditions could result in more wildfires across that area.A total of 139 wildfires last year destroyed over 30,440 hectares, according to the National Commission on Wildfires.As of March 1, Costa Rica has seen 22 wildfires so far this year. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Mom raises family by day studies crime fighting by night

first_imgRelated posts:PHOTOS: Celebrating Costa Rican moms ‘The Salt of the Earth’ focuses on photographer Sebastião Salgado Cuban artist pushes boundary between art and politics, and pays a price PHOTOS: Cuba as it was – A glimpse of life before the US arrives Zeneyda Flores’ day starts at 5:00 a.m. — to get her children, Libby, Zack and Liath, up and ready for school. That is, when she doesn’t have to wake up at 3:30 a.m. to get ready for work at the flea market near the municipal offices in downtown San José.Flores, 35, lives in Triángulo de la Solidaridad, a slum off Route 32, just north of the city center, with three of her four daughters. From the highway shoulder, a dirt path leads up the hill and into the dense neighborhood that was once notorious for gang violence and drugs.After Flores gets her kids breakfast and drops them off for class, she’s back in Triángulo to open the family’s pulpería — a small convenience store — which she runs out of the front of their home. Neighbors stop by for kitchen staples like flour or cooking oil and kids bound up to the small opening in the black grate over the window to ask how much for a package of Chiky chocolate-covered cookies.Flores and her family have lived in Triángulo de la Solidaridad for four years now. Their home has a tin roof. The floor is an accidental mosaic improvised from scraps of different floor tiles. The store takes up most of the front of the house along with a long table pushed up against the wall where Flores sits to study over the reggaeton thumping through the walls from a neighbor. (A hulking stereo system of her own sits in the corner, promising the house has seen a party or two.)Thanks to a scholarship from the community development organization Boy with a Ball Costa Rica, Flores takes correspondence courses for a degree in criminology from Costa Rica’s distance learning college, UNED. Having lived in marginalized communities since she moved to Costa Rica at the age of 19 from Masaya, Nicaragua, Flores said she thinks she has a unique perspective on law enforcement.“I’ve seen a lot of unfair things happen, especially to children,” she said, “Sometimes police don’t understand what leads someone into crime.” Zeneyda Flores in the store she runs out of her home in the slum of Triángulo de la Solidaridad, north of San José on Aug. 13, 2015. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesFlores knows about that path firsthand: “Living in these areas, the same things are always surrounding you and your family: drugs, addiction, gangs,” she said.Her oldest daughter, 17-year-old Liszie, was straying into drugs and crime when they lived in Lomas del Río, an impoverished neighborhood in Pavas, a western suburb of San José. After Liszie had some run-ins with the police, the family moved to Triángulo.“A mother always wants what’s best for her family,” Flores said. But she hesitated when asked if Triángulo was a better place for her family. “People told me they used to hide under the beds to avoid gunfire from gangs. It’s improved a lot,” she said.Still, Liszie decided to return to Nicaragua. She and her eight-month-old daughter, Monserrat, now live with Liszie’s grandmother in Masaya.The daily juggleFlores needs to get lunch ready for her children before she can run errands to get ready to sell car accessories and other small items at the flea market on Saturdays. She used to have a more traditional job working in a Musmanni bakery but she had to be up at 3:30 every morning and had less time with her kids. She doesn’t regret the trade off but said that she’s always at risk of not making ends meet.Triángulo is a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of place. “It’s a very independent place. It’s hard to ask for a favor from someone,” Flores said. The children’s father helps out, she said, but he is not always around so it can be difficult to run the store, get ready for the weekend market, pick her kids up and study.“There’s just not enough time in the day,” she said with a smile.Despite the time crunch, education is a priority for Flores. She said that her own mother, a “marvelous” woman of whom she is proud, instilled the importance of learning in her, and she tries to do the same for her family. Along with her university studies, Flores takes English classes at Boy with a Ball’s center in the slum. She takes her daughter Libby along too.Flores’ perseverance is equally as important as the value she puts on education. Over the years, she said, many people have tried to hold her back, questioning her desire to keep learning.“Maybe I’ll never actually get to practice my career,” she said. “People tell me I’m too old, ask me why I’m studying when I should be working. But for me it’s a personal challenge,” Flores said.“I want that degree.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Where can you eat Thanksgiving dinner in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Expat advice: What to do on Thanksgiving Add some Costa Rican love to your Thanksgiving table Festival of Light, Egyptian dancers, and other happenings around Costa Rica 5 things to know about Costa Rica’s gigantic Palmares Festival (Courtesy of Mangroove Hotel)El Patio RestaurantLocated in the heart of San José, the Balmoral Hotel’s restaurant El Patio invites you to celebrate Thanksgiving with a varied menu.  On Nov. 26 two menus will be offered: one for children and one for adults. The children’s menu includes cheese sticks as an appetizer, a main course of turkey or Parmesan chicken, and sides of mini vegetables cooked in butter, mashed sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes with traditional gravy. This meal includes a natural fruit beverage. Adults will feast on mini salmon tartar with avocado and ciabatta bread, followed by turkey and the same sides as the children’s menu, as well as a fruit drink.Nov. 26 at El Patio Restaurant in the Balmoral Hotel, Ave. Central, downtown San José. Children’s menu costs $16 (₡8,500) and adults’ menu $24 (₡12,500). For more information call 2221-1700.El Mirador RestaurantThe Aurola Holiday Inn Hotel’s restaurant El Mirador will delight its customers on Nov. 26 with a corn salad, corn soup with squash, smashed carrots, mini vegetables, pork with passion fruit sauce and turkey with gravy, all followed by pumpkin pie and pecan pie with ice cream. Dine while overlooking the lights of San José from the 17th floor.Nov. 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at El Mirador Restaurant in the Aurola Holiday Inn Hotel, on the south side of Parque Morazán. $36 (₡19,200). For reservations call 2523-1000 ext. 9456 or write yumana@aurolahotels.com. (Courtesy of Jürgen’s Restaurant)Jürgens RestaurantBarrio Dent’s Jürgens Restaurant will offer a special menu at both lunch and dinner on Thanksgiving Day. The menu consists of an appetizer of potato salad with deviled eggs or cream of squash, followed by main course options including roasted turkey, chef’s stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and mini zucchini; or imported baked Hormel ham, served with Dijon mustard sauce, a small stuffed apple, potato croquettes and julienned vegetables. For dessert, choose between a homemade apple strudel or a warm pecan tartlet with vanilla ice cream.Nov. 26. Lunch from 12 noon-2:30 p.m. Dinner from 6 p.m.-10 p.m.  $38. Reservation required. Call 2283-2239 for reservations and more info.Barceló San José PalacioThe four-star hotel, located on the outskirts of San José, will allow guests to choose an appetizer, main course and dessert from a wide range of choices. To start, choose among Waldorf, Caesar, Fusilli, Spinach, Hawaiian or Bar Salads; bacon dip and international cheeses; ripe cherry tomato with cheese; deli meats; and broth kakik (turkey and vegetables). Main course options include roast turkey, honey mustard chicken wings, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, ground chicken and Sebastian gravy, steamed vegetables, rice with pistachios, tenderloin in mushroom sauce and blue cheese porcini, B.B.Q. pork ribs with tamarind, and tilapia filet with Paris butter. Cap off the meal by choosing traditional apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, pear and cinnamon tart, white chocolate brownie, caramel flan with coffee and toasted almonds, or mini blueberry candy.Nov. 26 at Barceló San José Palacio Hotel located on Calle Costa Rica, San José. $40 for adults and $20 for children. For more information call 2220-2034.Denny’s RestaurantsStarting on Nov. 18 Denny’s Restaurants’ locations (across from Juan Santamaría International Airport, Best Western Irazú, and Momentum Pinares, Curridabat) have been offering a special Thanksgiving menu. It includes the main course, a holiday turkey dinner; a glass of wine or a beer: and for dessert, a pecan or pumpkin pie. The special Thanksgiving menu will be sold 24 hours a day until the end of the month.Available until the end of month, 24 hours a day, at any of Denny’s Restaurants. $27 (₡13,500). For more information call 2290-2321. It’s that time of year again for those who celebrate Thanksgiving: people who like to cook are making their final recipe selections and writing up their shopping lists, while the rest are trying to figure out where to eat dinner without lifting a finger. If you’re in that latter group, options abound. You can eat your turkey and stuffing while looking out over San José, or the Pacific Ocean – or your own living room, thanks to a fancy takeout option. Here’s a look at some of the top stops for a triptophan fix this year.Marriott HotelThe Marriot Hotel, located in La Ribera de Belén in Alajuela, will host its Thanksgiving brunch on Sunday Nov. 29. The hotel will be offering a traditional Thanksgiving menu that includes turkey or pork. You can even order a turkey to go (if so, call today, the deadline for Thanksgiving orders). This package includes a roasted turkey with garlic and roasted herbs, an herbed cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and chives, and saffron rice. A salad with caramelized nuts, cherry tomatoes, curly carrots, lettuce and cucumbers is perfect on the side with dressings such as soursop, honey with roasted garlic and basil, and honey balsamic rosemary. It also includes vegetables pickled in plantain vinegar. Last but not least, you can choose one of three dessert options: pumpkin, apple or pecan pie.The Thanksgiving Brunch takes place Nov. 29 at the Marriott Hotel in La Ribera de Belén, Alajuela. 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.  $54 (₡28,700) per person. The turkey-to-go package costs $275 (₡146,130) and must be ordered by the end of the day today, Nov. 23. Credomatic users get a 25% discount on their purchase. For more information call 2298-0207 or 2298-0206Mangroove HotelThe luxurious Mangroove Hotel in Guanacaste offers a Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 26 at its restaurant set alongside the breathtaking beach scenery of the Pacfic coast. The hotel’s Makoko Restaurant will serve a family-style meal that includes roasted turkey breast, rosemary butter and gravy, Granny Smith and cranberry sauce, tapa dulce sautéed carrots and brussel sprouts, braised kale, bacon and garlic, sweet potato, jalapeño and coriander smash, and a delicious pumpkin crème brûlée for dessert.The Thanksgiving dinner takes place Nov. 26 at the Mangroove Hotel’s Makoko restaurant in Guanacaste. $45 (about ₡24,000). For reservations email reservations@elmangroove.net or call 2291-7750.center_img Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricas Turrialba Volcano resumes vapor ash explosions

first_imgRelated posts:Volcanologists follow presence of magma at Turrialba Volcano’s crater Turrialba Volcano spews ash 1 km high Turrialba Volcano again spews ash and vapor Ashes from Turrialba Volcano’s explosions reach San José, Heredia Facebook Comments Turrialba Volcano increased its activity once more over the weekend with vapor, gas and ash explosions, volcanologists from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the National University (UNA) reported.Activity at the volcano, located in the province of Cartago, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) northeast of San José, remained low during the past three weeks, with mostly low-intensity tremors, the UCR’s National Seismological Network (RSN) reported.RSN volcanologist Mauricio Mora indicated in a written report that ash and vapor spewings of almost 500 meters (1,640 feet) above the crater resumed on Jan. 27, along with an increase in volcanic tremors.UNA’s Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) reported a strong explosion at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the RSN reported another explosion at 8:46 a.m.Turrialba entered an active phase in October 2014 and has since presented numerous explosions of ash and gas. OVSICORI experts noted that they found rocks up to 2 meters (6.5 ft) in diameter in the surroundings of the crater.In September 2016, the volcano began a new eruptive cycle that has generated ash columns of up to 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) above the crater.Access to Turrialba Volcano National Park is currently closed and emergency agencies maintain a security perimeter of two kilometers around the crater. However, park rangers have reported that groups of tourists have been entering the restricted area to observe the explosions.Strong gusts carrying ashStrong gusts of winds are carrying ash into the area northwest of the crater. Ash reached various communities in the Central Valley, mainly north and east of San José.Posts on the RSN and OVSICORI social media profiles reported ash fall and the smell of sulfur in several communities. Most of those reports are from residents of Coronado, Ipís, Guadalupe, Tibás, Moravia and Sabanilla.The National Meteorological Institute (IMN) on Monday reported the influence over Costa Rica of a cold front that entered the country on Sunday from the northern Caribbean Sea.The weather phenomenon is increasing the intensity of winds in the Central Valley and in the province of Guanacaste. The IMN reported that gusts in the first half of this week will oscillate between 60-80 kilometers (37-50 miles).See a video of the Jan. 29 explosion:last_img read more

Colombias Duque takes office with full agenda of thorny issues

first_imgColombia’s new President Ivan Duque has his work cut out for him as he takes office Tuesday amid heightened tensions with neighboring Venezuela and the lingering difficulties of peace-building with the nation’s rebel groups.The right-wing Duque, who is just 42 years old, succeeds Juan Manuel Santos — and could work to undo the deal his predecessor reached with leftist FARC guerrillas to end a half-century of conflict.The former lawyer and senator also must face an ongoing battle against drug traffickers, a shocking spate of murders of rights activists and a promise to implement agrarian reform.And Colombia’s political left, soundly defeated in the June elections, will protest on Tuesday as Duque is sworn into office in the presence of several regional leaders including Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto and Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno.Duque’s success will depend in large part on his connection to popular former president Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), who handpicked the political novice to help the right — which opposed the deal with the FARC — to regain power.“His mentor’s situation and relations with Venezuela are the keys” to Duque’s presidency, political scientist Diana Avellaneda from Javeriana University told AFP.Tense ties with CaracasRelations with Caracas took a dive at the weekend when Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro claimed to have been the victim of an “assassination” attempt — and put the blame on Santos, “ultra right-wing” domestic opponents and the United States. Maduro says he escaped drone ‘assassination’ attempt, blames Colombia Bogota called the accusation “absurd.”Duque looks set to stand up to Colombia’s neighbor to the east, demanding “free elections” following a May poll that saw Maduro re-elected, which was boycotted by Venezuela’s opposition.The neighbors share a 2,200-kilometer (1,400 miles) long border that is hard to police.Bogota has accused Caracas of harboring Marxist rebels, while hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have crossed the border to escape food and medicine shortages, failing public services and hyperinflation in their homeland.If Duque “starts answering everything Maduro says… he will add fuel to the propaganda and political fire to keep ratcheting up the tension,” said international relations expert Jairo Velasquez.The analyst added that the new Colombian leader could become Venezuela’s “enemy, real or imagined.”Peace with rebels? Not so fastAt home, Duque’s firebrand rhetoric has increased tension and rocked already fragile relations with rebels, both former and current.Upon his election in June, he vowed to make “corrections” to the peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which he criticized for being too lenient in allowing former rebels accused of atrocities to serve as lawmakers. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and the head of FARC guerrillas, Timoleón Jiménez, aka Timochenko, right, shake hands as Cuban President Raúl Castro, center, holds their hands during a meeting in Havana, on Sept. 23, 2015. Luis Acosta/AFPEnding 50 years of conflict that has cost the lives of 260,000 people and left more than seven million displaced is no easy undertaking. But Duque — with Uribe’s backing — has made it clear he thinks the deal is deeply flawed.Meanwhile, Santos admitted defeat in his bid to negotiate a ceasefire with the Marxist ELN rebel group and its 1,500 armed members despite making “significant progress.”Under Duque, who certainly has a tougher approach to the ELN, those talks will likely stall.Political wrangling at homeWhile his tough stance on peace may give Duque headaches upon taking office, he could also suffer from the rug supporting his political ambitions being wrenched out from under him.As the hand-picked choice of Uribe, president from 2002-2010, he enjoys considerable support from the powerful Democratic Center party his mentor launched.But the 66-year-old Uribe, now a senator, is accused of witness interference and faces a Supreme Court investigation, and an uncertain political future.At least Duque can call on strong regional ties amidst a recent upsurge in the fortunes of the political right on the continent, notably Argentina, Chile, and Peru. Brazil may follow suit in October.But in addition to woes with Venezuela to the east, all is not serene on Colombia’s southern border, where Ecuador has been angered over the drug-trafficking violence spilling across its frontier.In Colombia, some 209,000 hectares (516,500 acres) of land are used to grow coca, the principal ingredient used to manufacture cocaine. Colombia is the largest cocaine producer in the world.Ecuador had agreed to host peace talks with the ELN but rescinded that offer back in May in protest at border violence. In this file photo taken on November 19, 2017 a member of the “Omar Gomez” Western War Front of the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla carries his machine gun in a camp on the banks of the San Juan River, Choco department, Colombia. AFP Photo / Luis Robayo Facebook Commentscenter_img Related posts:Cúcuta: Colombia’s city of contraband and a broken Bolivarian dream Colombian leader, rival head to runoff vote GlobalTies highlights role of public diplomacy at 2015 Latin America Dialogue Colombia and FARC rebels announce major breakthrough in peace talkslast_img read more

Off the eaten path Coconut

first_imgThe name Coconut was inherited from a previous tenant who occupied this local, which was actually a Caribbean restaurant. To facilitate permits and other paperwork with local governments, the owners of Coconut decided it would be easier to just keep the name – and now, many years later, it has just stuck. There is not much signage, other than some photos of a few of their dishes in the window out front, as well as some Chinese characters that perhaps spell out Coconut above the door. To enter the restaurant, you will walk across a mini bridge that I assume was once used to cross over a welcoming fishpond, but is now dried out and dirty. Most of the restaurant is dingy, as a matter of fact, including the walls and ceiling. But as you will come to predict of me, I ask you to please look past that. Delights lie within. William Ayre / The Tico TimesOnce again, the owners here are the ones in the kitchen, guaranteeing authenticity. Actually, the owner was born in Costa Rica but with parents and other family from Hong Kong, the family is certainly doing their ancestry proud. The food being served here is incredible.It’s so good that it has developed quite a loyal following. And with only 35 seats in the restaurant, it can fill up. For this reason, reservations are recommended (call 2223-8869), especially during peak hours. Walk-ins are welcomed, of course, but on a Friday night, for example, you might have to wait at the door for a table. Those familiar with their menu are welcome to call ahead and place their orders in advance. This, as Coconut is famous for their exaggerated wait times.  When they are busy, you could easily wait more than an hour to be served – and don’t expect drinks to be frequently refilled. Like the service, the kitchen here is slow, as everything is made fresh to order, one at a time. If you are in a rush, I would recommend you to go somewhere else. But if you have time to wait and are looking to enjoy some totally unique flavor, this is the spot. Also be warned: do not expect everyone at your table to receive their plates of food at the same time. For this reason, it is better to order a few things and share between everyone in your group. William Ayre / The Tico TimesThe 10-page menu here is split up into sections of appetizers, rice dishes, combination plates, soups, curry dishes and noodles. While there are plenty of options for vegetarians, many of the dishes in all of these categories are based around one common ingredient, which is really the star of the show here: the Hong Kong-style grilled pork with a honey glaze. You must get at least one dish with it. I recommend either #6 or #8, which are plates of steamed jasmine rice that has been cooked wrapped in a Lotus leaf, topped with steamed vegetables and of course, the grilled lechón pork as the “must orders” and then, for a third option, #21 with pork wonton soup, which has a rich broth flavored with Chinese five spice and is garnished with fresh cilantro. The Chinese tacos (egg rolls) are supposed to be another one of the house specialties, but on every one of my visits, they have not been available. I have also been told that on especially busy days, they can run out of almost all ingredients and be forced to close early. Keep in mind that there are space restrictions in their kitchen here, and only one person cooking, it might not be realistically feasible for them to handle higher volumes. With that in mind, if this ever happens to be the case on your visit, give them a break. (Pro tip: look back into the kitchen and check out the black, household-style BBQ grill that they use to cook. This really is a no-frills kind of spot.)As with most of these kinds of places, litres of Tsingtao beer are the way to go. You will recognize these as the big, green, glass bottles with Chinese writing on them. If you are avoiding alcohol, definitely try one of their milk teas with tapioca pearls, aka bubble tea. Brews and bubbles. William Ayre / The Tico TimesPrices at Coconut are very reasonable, with the most expensive plate on the menu costing ₡5,000 (about $9), and most averaging around ₡4,500. Menu prices include 13 percent sales tax but do not include 10 percent service. Considering generous portion size and seemingly high quality of ingredients, what you end up paying is more than acceptable. I have always left the restaurant with a full stomach and fully satisfied palate.Coconut is open every day, except for Sunday, from 12:30 pm-9:30pm. All major credit cards are accepted. Street parking only. Search “Coconut Bar & Restaurante” in Waze or Uber to arrive.William Ayre is a Canadian-born chef and restaurateur who has spent the last half of his life doing business in Costa Rica, which he now considers to be home. Inspired by Anthony Bourdain, Ayre’s passion of experiencing different cultures through food has taken him to 35 different countries over five continents. Whether it’s a 20-course meal at a fine dining restaurant in Toronto, or cantina hopping in search for the best chifrijo here in San José, he fits in just fine. Related posts:Off the eaten path: The best of 2018 Off the eaten path: Pollos Male Off the eaten path: Ban Mee Off the eaten path: Tamura Off the eaten path: Espacio Picante In North America we like to use the phrase “Chinese food” quite broadly: it’s a general term when discussing this kind of food, or foods that we perceive to be of a similar Asian influence. In reality, however, most of the Chinese food that is being served up there is actually not traditional to China at all. Nor is its Costa Rican counterpart, but I digress.So here I am, once again, writing about a Chinese restaurant. The differentiator this week is that the focus here is on comfort foods originating in the Hong Kong region. At Coconut restaurant, located on Calle 11, in between Avenida 10 and 12, they are serving a menu based around Hong Kong-style casual dining. Familiar with the Arenas Skate Park in San José? Coconut is right across the street. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Iran state TV accuses BBC of hacking website

first_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Sponsored Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s state TV charged Wednesday that the BBC hacked its website to change the results of a poll about Iran’s nuclear program. The BBC denied the allegation.The West suspects Iran may be aiming to produce nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes like energy production.The British broadcaster’s Farsi language service reported that the poll showed 63 percent of those who took part favored halting uranium enrichment in exchange for an end to Western economic sanctions. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths The TV report Wednesday said the actual figure was 24 percent, and the rest favored retaliation against the West with measures like closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key to exporting oil from the Gulf.In a statement, the BBC said the claims were “both ludicrous and completely false, and the BBC Persian Service stands by its reporting.”“There is a significant audience within Iran which depends on BBC Persian to provide impartial and trusted news, and we are confident they are familiar with the state media’s tactics,” it said.The poll was taken off Iran TV’s website on Tuesday.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Comments   Share   Quick workouts for men Top Stories 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

US Navy 2 dead from Oman helicopter crash

first_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   The helicopter was assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasure Squadron 15, based in Norfolk, Va. It crashed 58 miles (93 kilometers) southwest of the Omani capital Muscat. No hostile activity was suspected.The Navy says it is investigating.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The U.S. Navy says the death toll from a helicopter crash last week in the Arabian peninsula nation of Oman is two.It says three other crewmembers aboard the downed MH-53E Sea Dragon survived Thursday’s crash.The Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet identified the deceased sailors late Saturday as Senior Chief Aviation Warfare Systems Operator Sean P. Sullivan, 40, of St. Louis, Mo., and Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Joseph P. Fitzmorris, 31, of West Monroe, La. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationcenter_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debateslast_img read more

Facebook IsraelArab youth group has rare meeting

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milkcenter_img Comments   Share   Meetings between Israelis and citizens of Arab nations are rare. Except for Egypt and the Palestinians, none of those represented have diplomatic ties with Israel.Ben-Zeev said Monday the movement wants to empower Middle Eastern youths to work together to improve their communities. It plans an online university next year.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement JERUSALEM (AP) – A Facebook-based movement for Mideast youth says the group has held its first gathering, bringing young activists from Israel and Arab countries to Germany to promote peace.Nimrod Ben-Zeev of the YaLa-Young Leaders group says 18 members from Israel, the Palestinian territories, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq and Kuwait met in Berlin over the weekend.Ben-Zeev, an Israeli, said the group was selected from the most active of YaLa’s 162,000 Facebook members. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

Nationalists perform strongly in Ukraine vote

first_imgHere’s a look at Svoboda:PARLIAMENT PLANSWith votes from more than 90 percent of precincts counted, Svoboda was poised to get about 8 percent of seats in the 450-seat parliament. Such results are outstanding for a party that was scrambling to pass the 5 percent threshold just a few weeks ago.Svoboda plans to initiate laws to ban communist ideology, annul a recent law that upgrades the status of the Russian language and oust the Russian navy from a base it leases in Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.Svoboda has called the other two opposition groups _ the Fatherland Party led by jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko and the Udar (Punch) party headed by world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko _ to form an anti-government alliance in parliament.But while Tymoshenko’s group has agreed to partner with Svoboda, Klitschko has sought to distance himself from their radical statements.FLAMBOYANT LEADER, ABUSIVE RHETORICSvoboda is headed by Oleh Tyagnybok, a charismatic 43-year-old former urologist usually clad in a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt. Born in the western city of Lviv, the stronghold of Ukrainian nationalism, Tyagnybok is a skilled orator, known for his passionate speeches. _____Maria Danilova contributed to this report(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Patients with chronic pain give advice Sponsored Stories Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixcenter_img How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Associated PressKIEV, Ukraine (AP) – A right-wing party has promised to fight for greater democracy and a pro-Western course for Ukraine and to defend the Ukrainian culture and language. But the Svoboda (Freedom) party has also been tainted by its anti-Semitic protests and its leaders’ xenophobic statements.The party made a strong showing in Ukraine’s parliamentary election Sunday, leading some opposition supporters to hope it can help the country’s two main pro-Western parties challenge the presidential party’s strong grip on power. But others are worried about Svoboda’s radical far-right rhetoric in a country already riven by strong cultural and political divisions. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement But some of his and his colleagues’ statements have been openly insulting.Tyagnybok has repeatedly used derogatory terms to refer to Jews and last year Svoboda activists protested a pilgrimage by thousands of Hassidic Jews marking the Jewish New Year in a Ukrainian city.Yuri Sirotyuk, a senior member of Svoboda, caused an uproar last year when he said that a singer of African descent was a bad choice to represent the country in the Eurovision song contest because she is not part of Ukrainian culture.Tyagnybok, however, denies that his party promotes ethnic hatred.“Svoboda is not an anti-Semitic or xenophobic party,” Tyagnybok told The Associated Press. “Svoboda is a pro-Ukrainian political force.”PROTEST VOTESome analysts say Svoboda’s growing popularity has more to do with frustration with the rampant corruption and anti-democratic policies in Ukraine than with the rise of a dangerous radical sentiment.“Svoboda’s voters are protest voters,” said political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.Observers warn that the rise of nationalism in Ukrainian politics may provoke a backlash in the country’s eastern and southern regions where ethnic Russians make up the majority.last_img read more