Cheap Booze is Back in Business

ISSUE #474: August 25-31, 2013


Brian Timmons, Newsletter Author
Brian Timmons

Dear friends,

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 availability. Some readers may be interested in this information.

Brian Timmons
Residencias Los Jardines /


Featured house this week

UNIT #116:
FOR RENT: $1300 mo.
Available Immediately

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): 1 floor
Type: Semi-Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,290 sf single floor home includes a 300 sf front terrace plus parking for one car and a separate, secure storage locker. It is and end unit and therefore attached on only one side by a 6 inch cement demising (common) wall, which prevents sound transfer.


Residencias Los Jardines
Property Management, Rentals, Re-Sales

Market Activity

Sales: none.

Rentals: 2 calls; 2 viewings.



Unit #114: $235,000 / See Unit


Unit #116: $1,300 mo. / Available Immediately / See Unit

Unit #121: $1,600 mo. / Available Immediately -Short term / See Unit

Unit #124: $900 mo. / Available Immediately / See Unit

Unit #126: $675 mo. / Available September 23 / See Unit

Site Plan



UNIT #114
FOR SALE $235,000

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): Single Floor
Type: Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,290 sf. (plus covered parking for one car and two lockers 67 sf.) single story, semi detached house, with garden terrace, two bedrooms is a beautiful executive style home. This home consists of two large bedrooms one with six piece en-suite bathroom with additional access to separate full shower. Each bedroom has large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and bathroom ceilings provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are four TVs (one in each bedroom, one in the living room and one in breakfast / dinning room.) This is a beautiful well appointed home.



UNIT #116
FOR RENT $1,300 mo.
Available Immediately

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): 1 Floor
Type: Semi-Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,290 sf. (plus covered parking for one car and two lockers 67 sf.) single story, semi detached house, with garden terrace, two bedrooms is a beautiful executive style home. This home consists of two large bedrooms one with six piece en-suite bathroom with additional access to separate full shower. Each bedroom has large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and bathroom ceilings provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are four TVs (one in each bedroom, one in the living room and one in breakfast / dinning room.) This is a beautiful well appointed home.



UNIT #121
FOR RENT $1,600 mo.
Available Immediately -Short term

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1423
Total area (Sq M): 131
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2.5
Floor(s): 2 Story
Type: Detached
Furnished: Yes

This two story, detached 1,423 sf home + parking for one car has two bedrooms, 2 ½ bathrooms and a 2nd. floor covered terrace. The open railed wrought iron cement stair case leads to the 2nd. level where the master bedroom with en-suite master bathroom as well as 2nd. bedroom and en-suite bathroom are located. Also accessed from the 2nd. floor hallway is the covered terrace. This is a very nicely furnished home with a good floor plan for those wanting two floors.



UNIT #124
FOR RENT $900 mo.
Available Immediately

Total Area (Sq Ft): 662
Total area (Sq M): 61
Bedrooms: 1
Bathrooms: 1
Floor(s): 2nd Floor
Type: Semi-Detached
Furnished: Yes

This 662 sf, + covered parking for one car, is a one bedroom home on the 2nd floor overlooking the large pool. It is ideal for a single person or couple.



UNIT #126
FOR RENT $675 mo.
Available September 23

Total Area (Sq Ft): 530
Total area (Sq M): 50
Bedrooms: 1
Bathrooms: 1
Floor(s): 1
Type: Detached
Furnished: Yes

A small one bedroom with outside covered terrace with top of the line finishes (granite, stainless steel appliances, fine crafted wood cabinetry, +, +, +), with lots of well thought out storage...



Our Lives

WEATHER: not much rain; mostly sunny... some overcast.

All in a Week's Living in CR:

Cheap Booze is Back: The place where I have been buying steeply discounted brand name liquor (30-50% discount from AutoMercado) closed for renovations. The renovations are now completed and is back up and running... Jose Cuervo tequila $15L; JW Black $34L; Flor de Cana 7 yr old rum $20.18 (750ml); Tanqueray Gin $20L; Fundador (Sp. brandy) $11L; Zacapa 23yr old rum $48L; Triple Sec (750ml) $10. These prices require cash and they no longer take US $100 bills...


The commercial buildings at the foot of our street are now finished and awaiting tenants.

Two new mid rise buildings -which will probably be office buildings- are under construction on Lindora Blvd.

The new commercial plaza in Santa Ana is now finished and awaiting tenants.

Tenant Disappearance: a tenant who has been consistently in paying, has disappeared. Some personal belongs remain along with a car. He has not responded to a month's worth of e-mails. I'm storing his items and repossessing the unit... who knows what the story is... some day we'll probably know but for now... we don't...



News Items of the Week


  1. Just look at the interest rate... and it was said that the Brothers, when they were around, couldn't possibly pay 3% interest a month. Yet the interest rate for small loans on the street is 20% a month and the lenders seem to have an active demand.
  2. Car taxes going down... well yes, but the basis for valuation is changing upwards so the net effect seems to be more... Wow... what a deal the government is offering...
  3. Wooden bridges... they work great until the termites eat them or they rot...
  4. Gas Prices: this is not new news...and when the price of oil declines, the prices will drop 1/2 of what the rose... good thing CR is small... it's the only reason you can still afford to see both coasts...
  5. Merchandise Theft: this is probably how the cheap booze store sources it's products but I don't know that.

Government seeking to put lid on interest for credit
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government moved Monday to put a lid on what is being called abusive interest charges.

President Laura Chinchilla is sending to the legislature a bill that would forbid interest rates that are higher than twice the average rate of the national financial system in both dollars and colons. The rate is estimated by the Banco Central.

In a presentation Monday officials said that if the law were in effect now the maximum interest rate would be 34.77 percent for colons and 21.80 percent for dollars.

The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio periodically surveys interest rates, mainly on credit cards, and most recently found that the percentages range from 20.5 percent at public banks up to 54 percent at private card issuers.

Credit plans at consumer product stores frequently are higher, sometimes more than 60 percent, according to the ministry.

Officials said that they understand that offering credit means taking a risk but they said that they sought to make the rates reasonable.

The Partido Liberación Nacional quickly produced a press release crediting Oscar Alfaro Zamora, a lawmaker, for advancing the idea with a bill a year ago. However, it said, that his bill only covered credit card rates and that the proposal by the Presidencia would cover all forms of credit.

Mayi Antillón, the minister of Economía, Industria y Comercio, said there were 1.7 million credit cards issued in Costa Rica and that there are 362 types with 208 of these carrying interest rates higher than the current financial system rate, said Liberación.

The officials said credit issuers who violate the terms of the proposed law would face sanctions, probably something less than criminal.

The ministry was reported beginning a study of credit cards so that regulations would be drawn up if the bill becomes law.

Although the bill is supported by the president and other officials, the reception at the legislature still is uncertain. The Alfaro Zamora bill was in the hopper for a year without action.

A news story in June reported that Costa Ricans had reduced slightly what they owe credit card companies, but the amount in arrears has increased.

The country's 1.7 million credit card holders owe a staggering 729 billion colons or about $1.5 billion to credit card companies as of April 30, according to the latest figures from the economics ministry. The average debt per card is about 428,144 colons or $867.59, based on a 493.5 rate of exchange.

Some 12.05 percent of the total debt was in arrears from one to 90 days, and 3.82 percent was in arrears for more than 90 days, the credit companies reported, according to the news story.

Nearly 70 percent of the cards carry a rate between 40 and 49 percent, the ministry reported than. That means that 70 percent of the cards would be above the ceiling proposed Monday.

Car dealers get concessions on some import taxes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Hacienda said Tuesday it has reduced the import tax on some used motor vehicles.

The reductions range from 0 to 22.31 percent of the estimated market value.

The import tax on used cars, in some cases as high as 79 percent, generated opposition among those who import vehicles. In fact, negotiators at the ministry delayed a meeting Wednesday with car dealers because the dealers had set up a blockade of traffic.

The Fuerza Pública opened up the roadway, and the used car dealers promised they would not stage one protest again while talks were being held, the ministry reported.

The reduction in import tax is seen as a way to placate the car dealers, but the percentages may change during negotiations.

The ministry also said that by reducing the import tax the value of vehicles on the street would be reduced, and this may be seen in a short time in a decreases in the book value, thereby reducing even more the total cost of an imported vehicle. Costa Rica does not make automobiles. Some countries use import duties to protect local industry.

Old and new ministry proposals
Vehicle age
import tax
Current import tax
Percent reduction
of tax
0-3 years 52.3 52.3 0
4-5 years 63.9 53 11.99
6 years 79 53 33.32
7 or more 79 73 4.34
Source: Ministerio de Hacienda

But for Costa Rica, the import tax is simply a revenue-generating method. And there are some vehicles that are exempt from the import duty under the law.

Cars up to three years old were not affected by the change. So these vehicles, including new ones, will be assessed an import duty of 52.3 percent. The tax was designed to penalize older vehicles, which were seen as being sources of air pollution. So vehicles seven years of age and older will be assessed at 73 percent.

Road agency building northern zone bridges cheaply
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The highway agency used a poor boy approach to build bridges on an access route to the controversial Ruta 1856.

The bridges are made of wood.

The four new bridges are on Ruta 507, a 49- kilometer gravel road that connects Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí with Fátima, which is a community on Ruta 1856.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad reported that its workers did the jobs themselves, based on instruction they had received in the United States.

The wooden bridge decking is tied to the wooden beams underneath with chain.

The agency said the bridges can support up to 13 tons. The agency said the cost was about 6.5 million colons, about $13,000, instead of the estimated 90 million colons or $180,000 that more conventional methods would have cost.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes also is working on Ruta 1856, which borders the Río San Juan. That route is the subject of corruption investigations, and contractors hired to do the work have been replaced by state employees.

There is a good chance that the wooden bridges also will find a place on Ruta 1856 where contractors used old shipping containers are the foundation for bridges.

Petroleum prices going up, regulating agency decrees
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Super gasoline will go up 17 colons to 755 colons a liter, and plus gasoline will go up 21 colons to 729 per liter.

That was the word Thursday from the nation's price regulating agency, which sets gasoline costs every month based on the world price of petroleum, the dollar exchange rate and other factors.

There were similar increases for other petroleum products.

Using the exchange rate applied by the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos of 500.64, a gallon of super will cost $5.71. Plus will be $5.51, and diesel will be $4.79 after a 10-colon per liter increase.

The rates take effect when the new prices are published by the la Gaceta official online site. About a third of the price of fuel is taxes.

Highway violence hurts business in Latin America

Violence and robberies on Latin American highways cost businesses more money than anywhere in the world, says the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

On a scale where “1” signifies that crime and violence are causing significant losses and 7 means there are no effects, all of Latin America, with the exception of Chile and Barbados, are below the global average of 4.6, according to the ECLAC study “Security of the Terrestrial Logistical Chain in Latin America.” Latin America and the Caribbean average 3.3.

“From the point of view of the businesses, the lack of security impacts operating costs, increases the price of products and makes them less competitive internationally,” said Gabriel Pérez-Salas, who authored the study. “Criminal acts against supply chains affect a country’s image, increase the feeling of insecurity among the population, reduce tax revenue, discourage private investment and increase prices.”

The effect on countries translates into a reduction in economic growth and social development, Pérez-Salas added.

ECLAC cited the difficulty of calculating economic losses caused by merchandise theft from land transport in the region because statistics tend to underestimate the crime. Some analysts calculate that global losses may be as much as US$30 billion annually, according to the report.

In Central America and Mexico, the competitive advantages resulting from the geographic proximity to the United States market may be offset if businesses are unable to ensure operational continuity, the ECLAC study says.

“The phenomenon of cargo theft is nothing new – it’s been around for more than 30 years – and it continues to grow. There are no forecasts for a reduction,” said Brazilian specialist Sérgio Luiz Hoeflich, coordinator of the Network of Corporate Risk Management Professionals (GRISCO).

Brazil is identified as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the terrestrial transport of cargo, alongside Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Bolivia, El Salvador and Honduras.

The electronics, pharmaceutical and food industries are the most affected industries in Brazil, according to ECLAC.

“Technically, Brazil has access to the most sophisticated technology in the world for controlling cargo theft, but it continues to take place,” Hoeflich said. “The solution to the problem is more political than technical.”

In the case of Mexico, ECLAC has called attention to a lack of statistics. The study cites data from Freight Watch, an international logistics security services company, which show the country has the highest risk rates in the world for terrestrial logistics chains.

Beverages, cigarettes, household appliances, pharmaceutical products, textiles and construction materials are the most common targets for thieves.

It’s estimated the cost for lack of security exceeds 15% of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the report.

In Central American countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, most of the robberies are carried out by gangs and armed groups that operate in the region. It’s common for companies to pay gangs so they won’t rob them, ECLAC says.

In Central America, the violence caused by organized crime costs approximately 7.7% of the region’s GDP, according to a World Bank study.

Even in Chile, where the impact of violence on businesses is among the lowest in the region, the problem remains a concern. The ECLAC study shows that losses caused by theft total about US$240 million per year for large companies alone. Food, alcoholic beverages and copper are among the products most targeted by thieves.

The growing organizational power of the gangs operating in Latin America, the crime’s profitability and the relatively weak penalties associated with cargo theft have resulted in an increase in the crime, Pérez-Salas said.

It’s imperative countries work together to protect cargo shipments since it is common for gangs to operate in numerous countries. However, private solutions adopted by some companies, such as armed escorts or the self-defense of carriers “not only have been ineffective at solving the problem but also have increased costs and the feeling of insecurity among the population,” according to ECLAC’s study.

ECLAC recommends cooperation among governments, police forces and customs offices. The idea is to create an infrastructure network to provide regional support, which will allow for safe parking and services for truckers, the presence of guards and monitoring.

But the lack of infrastructure and security for operations, obsolete technical regulations and the informality with which terrestrial transport is conducted in much of the region must be overcome before the cargo transport sector can become safer.

“The importance of security is such that businesses or companies with high risks associated with their logistics chains may be left out of the international market, regardless of the price being offered,” ECLAC says.


Brian, Lita, the Late Hugo IV, irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, Chico II and Chica II

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