Toronto and Ripley's Believe It or Not!

ISSUE #176: Feb 18-23, 2008


Toronto and Ripley's Believe It or Not!


When I started Residencias Los Jardines, I started writing a weekly news letter —determined to tell all the good, bad, and the ugly. I knew some readers would be interested in the construction process. I expected others might be interested in the lifestyle of two people who had decided to live outside the box. For others, the adventures of lita, the parrot and the cat took on an entertainment saga all its own.

Residencias Los Jardines is finished. We periodically have resales and rental availabilty. Some readers may be interested in this information.

More and more, the content will be dominated by events of our new project, "El Dorado" for short. While the future is always uncertain, I again aim to tell it like it happens —the good, the bad, and the ugly, and that is what follows.

In an effort to make the format more interesting and visually appealing and to field inquiries re. El Dorado, the news letter is now being distributed by Jan Kozak, Marketing Manager, Hacienda El Dorado. I will remain the author.


Marketing: Jan has been very busy with leads from the Americas RE Expo and other leads generated by ads and by purchasers arriving to view what they have purchased. Jan is investigating going to a similar RE expo in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sales: We have two more sales, one from the RE expo so guess it was cost effective for us. The second sale (Maya Tower - Building B Penthouse) is by a client who had purchased a single family home at El Dorado a couple of months ago. We have several other good conversations ongoing which might also result in sales.

Second Investment RE Expo in CR: It's beginning to look more and more like we were scammed. Jan has alerted the US Embassy, Canal 7 (the largest commercial TV channel in CR), La Nacion and The Tico Times to our information and situation. It is my understanding that some investigative journalism is currently underway.
Website: We are awaiting the addition of another sections to our website—the optional upgrades.


Building 19: We now have a rendering  from the architect which is fairly accurate of the setting in which the building will be located.  It's unusual because it cascades DOWN the hill surrounded by parkland and faces the stream. (See rendering attached.)
Wall: (Same as last week)  The columns make it appear that we have made faster progress but in reality, it is the same progress that 20 people can make.  (We have 31 people on the payroll but some are working on different sections of walls.)

Office: The working drawings for construction application are nearing completion.

Daycare Center: This is now "out" as is the "multi-use building" and we are planning two houses— 2 Balboa's  and/or a Balboa and a Cortez.—in that location.


For Sale:  Nothing available at the moment

For Lease:

Unit 113—UNFURNISHED (kitchen appliances are included)
2 bedroom / 2 bathroom, 1,300 sf,  open concept kitchen/LR/DR with wall unit.  Granite kitchen counters and bathroom vanities; vaulted ceilings, ceramic tile floors,   outside covered terrace, etc.   CLEAN –$1,000 mo.


If your browser does not support the hyperlinks below, you can view the COSTA RICA NEWS section on our website from the following URL:

There are also new articles posted in Spanish on the following URL:

February 22, 2008
$600-Million Investment
(La Nacion) Minister of Tourism Carlos Benavides announced that the Costa Rican Board of Tourism (ICT in Spanish) is handling applications for tourist developments, which overall mean a $600-million investment in the sector this year. If the ICT declares

February 22, 2008
Arrival of Tourists Up
(La Nacion) The number of tourists in January increased 13.7 percent as compared to the same month last year, according to early data from the ICT and the Costa Rican Chamber of Tourism (CANATUR).

February 22, 2008
Trade with the European Union
(La Nacion) The Central American nations aim at emplacing special protective mechanisms for key productive sectors in the Association Agreement with the European Union.

February 22, 2008
Procter & Gamble Center
(La Nacion) From a facility in Costa Rica, 250 people have the responsibility to advise Procter & Gamble branches throughout the continent for any deals they launch on finance, information, and distribution, so that they will be as efficient and dollar-ea

February 22, 2008
Central Bank Buys Fewer Dollars
(La Nacion) The Central Bank of Costa Rica has lowered the purchase of dollars so far this year.

February 22, 2008
Record Number of Text Messages
(La Nacion) On Valentine, Costa Rican cell-phone messages topped over a record 83.7 million, more than 30 million above the corresponding number for last New Year’s Eve.

February 20, 2008
Costa Rica on Castro
The news yesterday that Fidel Castro is stepping down as Head of State of Cuba has been a front-page story around the world. However, some governments, such as Costa Rica's, downplayed the significance of his departure.

February 18, 2008
Delta begins nonstop flights from New York-JFK to San Jose and Liberia, Costa Rica
NEW YORK, Feb 18, 2008 (M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) Today announced the beginning of nonstop flights between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and San Jose and Liberia, Costa Rica, starting today and tomorrow, respectively.

February 18, 2008
Voting 101 at U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica
(The Tico Times) As the U.S. presidential race heats up back home, many expats here are wondering how they can make their vote count in the Nov. 4 election. Next week some U.S. citizens abroad in Costa Rica will be better informed.

February 18, 2008
Costa Rica’s Attorney General Weighs in on CAFTA Deadlines
(The Tico Times) Costa Rica can enter a free-trade agreement with the United States now, then spend up to three months passing laws that put the country in compliance with the treaty, the Government Attorney's Office said Friday.

February 18, 2008
Costa Rica Tourism Continues to Increase
(Costa Rica News) At the turn of the year the Costa Rican tourism board were worried that this year might be a slower growth year for tourists visiting Costa Rica with regards to the delicate conditions of the United States economy, however new figures in

February 18, 2008
Doubletree Adds Hotels in Costa Rica
( Doubletree Hotels & Resorts rang in the new year with new properties in Costa Rica – the first full-service Hilton family hotels in the country. Both properties have undergone extensive renovations.

February 18, 2008
Delta flies nonstop JFK to Costa Rica's San José, Liberia airports
(The Tico Times) Delta Air Lines announced the launch of nonstop flights between New York's JFK International Airport, and San José and Liberia international airports, in central and northwest Costa Rica, respectively. The flights are scheduled to begin t

February 18, 2008
Tourism in Costa Rica remains strong despite U.S. economic downturn
(The Tico Times) Tourism growth continued to be strong in January, despite fears that an economic slowdown in the United States might put a damper on this year.


Weather: A forced return to Toronto in the middle of winter can only be attributed to bad planning on our part. While the weather wasn't as bad (for Toronto) as it had been and could have been, it was still a VERY RUDE experience and a reminder (not that I needed it) that Canadian winters are not for me.

Ripley's Believe it or Not!: Now here's a story which defies ALL logic and common sense. To me it is the epitome of stupidity and absurdity. If it were to have happen in CR, people might say to the effect, …..what do you expect in a third world Latin country... But this story happened in Ontario, CANADA…… Lita, who is well past the "legally blind" threshold had her driver's license RENEWED. The DMV employee saw that I had to put her hand and pen in the right place so she could sign 4 times in front of him. All he wanted was "$75.00!!!!! He didn't care that she could not see a bloody thing. In CR one has to take a medical exam which includes an eye sight test. Regardless of how perfunctory these "exams" are, they are required;  In Canada, such exams are NOT required. Lita couldn't wipe the smile off her face for having proven me wrong (I said there was no bloody way she would get it renewed) and the guy had to take a 2nd. picture—you see, you are not allowed to smile for mug shots either for driver's licenses or for passports.  This is Canada…… no one smiles here!

Canada: We found this trip very stressful. It was not one we wanted to make but had to in order to renew some documents. Traveling and living in a different environment is difficult for Lita. Walking on un-even ice covered surfaces, climbing snow banks, up and down steps, escalators, etc. while bundled up in mountains of clothes shivering is just not a lot of fun. Several documents we got renewed without a problem. The most important ones, however, caused us several days of angst and stress until we were able to find the right supporting  documents—all of which the bloody government has but which we had to again present "originals". In retrospect, there isn't a lot of difference between the governments of CR and Canada. While one expects that Canada has a more efficient and larger data base of information than CR, it doesn't use it. We were originally scheduled for three working days; we didn't know that one of those days had become a legal provincial holiday. We had to extend our stay by one additional day. We told very few friends we were coming and had to be very specific as to when we would be available for a beer. We saw most of those people and had a great reunion with them. We also saw Lita's family one night. Families are great if you don't have to get involved in the dramas— which we don't. Lita's nephew was his usual fantastic self who drove us around and made our objectives much easier to accomplish. We gave him a car which we no longer needed.

We stayed in a building downtown which I built 22 years ago and managed for 18. It is a very elegant apartment hotel. I have now stayed there twice and I didn't own it either time. The current owner who bought it from me is a wonderful guy and we have come to like and respect one another—we looked after his daughter in CR and he looks after our nephew who is the caretaker of the building. I still love the building and each time I've stayed there, it's been a special treat.

Toronto is an expensive city: Parking for 20 min. was $4;  parking minimum in another garage was $6 after which it jumped to $12. Gas is $1.10 L. I chose to ignore the price of my favorite beer but 7 half  chicken wings were $7.89 + taxes. Everyone I saw was dressed in black, grey, or brown and had no form—just bundles of clothing moving but not talking. I was continuously cold even inside most buildings.

Parrot: Lita got home late the night before we were to fly to Toronto. He evidently got tired of waiting and went for a flight. Several of us looked for him but he wouldn't respond.  We left her for "lost" and I had a drink to celebrate.  Lita returned and became horrified at the situation. She trudged off with bamboo pole in hand and with the neighbor lady—I was interested in finishing my "celebration". Well, the parrot responded to her calls and was soon retrieved.  I then finished my rum having changed the purpose of the drink……

Computers: I'm still looking for "/"s in my file names……

Brian, Lita, Hugo, irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, and the newbies— Chico and Chica.

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