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Puriscal Times & Ciudad Colon

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April 20, 2018

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ARTICLES

 

Costa Rica to plant Robusta coffee for first time.  

(Reuters) – Costa Rica will join other coffee-producing nations in the region and start planting robusta, lifting a 30 year-ban on a crop that is more resistant to diseases and rising temperatures than arabica trees, the Minister of Agriculture said on Friday.

The agriculture ministry‘s resolution, which would allow for the production of robusta varieties, still needs to be signed by President Luis Guillermo Solis before it takes effect.

“It’s a decree for the cultivation of robusta in specific areas that the national coffee institute ICAFE will determine so there is no mixing of the varieties, including the post-harvest processes,” Costa Rica’s Agriculture Minister Felipe Arauz told Reuters in an interview.  Costa Rica is one of the region’s smaller coffee producers, but famed for its high-quality arabica varieties.  Robusta trees thrive at lower elevations and the beans, with their stronger and more bitter taste than the more highly prized arabica, are typically used to make instant coffee or added to blends as a cheaper ingredient. Robusta is also used to create the froth in some espressos.

“If we’re going to harvest robusta, the process should be ordered, planned and technically sound,” said Arauz.  The minister added that ICAFE will determine where the crops can be planted and what varieties will be allowed.  ICAFE was not available for comment.  The move in Costa Rica comes as changing climates are making robusta farming more attractive and as a growing number of farmers in Latin American are starting to plant the cheaper crop.  Robusta survives better in warmer temperatures, and higher-levels of caffeine make the trees hardier against some diseases and pests.

​Farmers growing arabica in Central America were hit hard by the spread of an airborne fungus known as roya in 2012.

In low-lying areas, which are more susceptible to roya, some producers are now looking to robusta as an alternative crop because many varieties are resistant to the fungus and less costly to grow than arabica.  Still, some in the industry see robusta as a threat to Costa Rica’s global reputation as an exporter of high-quality arabica beans.  “The complaints can be resolved with clearly designated areas (for planting robusta) and by talking to farmers. We believe that if it’s done right there won’t be a negative effect on arabica,” said Arauz.  The minister said robusta is a good option for areas too hot and humid for arabica and where the crop of choice is pineapple, which along with bananas is Costa Rica’s main agricultural exports.

“We need to create jobs and well-being in agricultural areas where the most profitable crop is the pineapple,” he said. (Reporting by Enrique Andres Pretel; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Sandra Maler)

High Costs of New Requirement For Construction Projects in Costa Rica Creates Concern.                                                                         

Individuals and companies that wish to build a house or are involved in the development of real estate projects of any kind, residential, commercial, tourist places, etc. may have to invest in an additional requirement, a hydrogeological study that has a cost of between US$5,000 and up to US$100,000.  The new requirement (Matriz Genérica de Protección de Acuiferos or Generic Matrix for the Protection of Aquifers), is a more exhaustive study than the one previously in place, and it is the result of an agreement by the Board of Directors of the National Groundwater Irrigation and Drainage Services (Senara in Spanish) with the objective of protecting the water sources.   However, not everyone will have to comply with this requirement, the corresponding Municipality will inform those interested in starting a construction project whether they are required to carry out hydrogeological studies, the municipality will determine this based on the land use and the type of construction planned. Some municipalities already have their own vulnerability map in place, in which case this requirement is not necessary.  The cost of fulfilling this requirement when needed will depend on the size of the project, starting at $5,000.00 for a single family home, to $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 for a small or medium size condominium project, and as much as $40,000.00 for larger residential, commercial or industrial projects. Megaprojects could have a cost of up to $100,000.00

The Union of Costa Rican Chambers and Associations of the Private Corporate Sector is concerned not just because of the high cost of this new requirement but also because they consider it interferes in matters that should be the concern of Municipalities.

https://news.co.cr/high-costs-new-requirement-construction-projects-costa-rica-creates-concern/69864/

UNDERSTANDING COSTA RICAN ELECTIONS:  http://www.ticotimes.net/2017/12/18/costa-ricas-elections-2018-primer

TAX INFORMATION:   The CR tax collector, Ministerio de Hacienda, is not very good at collecting; there is huge tax evasion on all levels. That’s the reason they are always trying to come up with new taxes, just like most governments do.​  ​Proposals like another tax on gas to build new roads, a tax on power bills to create fire departments in smaller towns and many others. Unfortunately, the money ends generally up in the wrong places, because of budget shortages they have everywhere. Costa Rica is 40 years behind on their tax system, which hurts the growth of the country.

​   ​It’s the reason there is never money to build new bridges, maintain roads, have up to date equipment to work with and training of their employees.  Corruption?

Corporation Tax.The new annual Corporation Tax 2017 is now in effect.

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The corporation tax is due by January 30th of every year.

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• An inactive company will pay 15% of the base salary which at current exchange rates is approximately US$115. [426,200 x .15% = 63,930 (US$115)]• An active company with a Gross income of less than $91,675 will pay 25% of the base salary which is $192 for 2018​. ​If your corporation is inactive, you have to fill out form D-140.   ​PROPERTY TAX:  ​Property tax and municipal tax have to be paid every quarter. You can request the annual amount with your municipality before the end of January.

​VEHICLE TAX:  ​ Every year, you have to pay circulation tax or road tax on any vehicle you own. This tax is charged by INS (the government-owned insurance company)​, DUE BY DEC. 31st.​

SERVICE TAX: ​ The 10% tip for restaurant/bar service assures the waiter and bartender to receive a tip automatically, included in your restaurant or bar bill. A great idea although it does nothing to promote a better service.  If you feel you received an incredible service from your waiter or bartender, feel free to tip extra, but it is unnecessary.  Always review your bills and count your change (especially at gas stations, which are not ‘serve serve’.)

​IMPORT TAXES: ​The Costarican government needs of course income to pay their employees, build roads and run their state business. So they get their money from taxing all imported articles.  The household you might bring with you when you move to Costa Rica will be taxed, though very low as used goods. Depending on how you dress, many of us go to the States at least once a year for shopping.  you can find out how to move your household without having to pay too much taxes in Costa Rica or buy everything here.
SALES TAX: In Costa Rica, we pay 13% sales tax on almost everything, products, restuarants, and services.  Tell your credit card bank that you will be visiting Costa Rica AND review your bank statement when back home!
THE BEST NEWS: Costa Rica doesn’t have any capital gain taxes.
 
​RETIREES​   in Costa Rica do NOT pay any taxes on their foreign retirement income. You only pay income tax if you run a profitable business.

Indigenous Community of Quitirrisí: Only 32 km away from the capital of San José, taking the highway towards Puriscal, the Indigenous Community of Quitirrisí has its home – hidden away in the mountains, the indigenous still preserve their spirituality and costumes that they have treasured for more than 500 years until the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. 
Visitors can enjoy walking on the paths leading through the indigenous community and visit the important cultural sight like ceremonial altars and tombs. Visitors will have the chance to get to know more about the original population of the country and their way of living.
The indigenous community of Huetar living in the same area, welcomes visitors with open arms and allows them to get to know several types of indigenous medicines, take part in workshops about the cycle of life and the processing of the sweet corn, about the stones, natural colorings handicraft works.

DYING IN COSTA RICA:  In the last 12 months, six U.S. citizens who died on Costa Rican soil had to be buried by judicial authorities since no one, apparently, could be found to claim the bodies.

According to data provided by the Morgue Judicial, out of 251 deceased U.S. citizens who had to undergo an autopsy, 244 were claimed by someone, six remained unclaimed and one is being kept at the morgue.
In Costa Rica, autopsies are only mandatory in cases of homicides, suicides, car accidents, and prisoners deaths; also when authorities consider the cause of death as suspicious.
In the case of Canadian citizens, the figures show that from April 2016 to April 2017, 50 bodies  underwent an autopsy and 49 of those were claimed by someone. The one unclaimed body was also buried by judicial authorities.
In general terms, 1,612 foreigners have died and gone through autopsy in the country. Of those, 1,576 bodies were claimed while 26 were buried by judicial authorities and 10 remain at the morgue.
According to Xinia Zamora of the Judicial Investigating Organization, the remains of those unclaimed are transferred from Heredia, where the morgue is, to the Cementerio General in San José.  Here, a Catholic priest performs the funerary mass along with the judicial workers. Each body has it’s wooden coffin bought by Poder Judicial. The estimate cost of burying each person is above $2,000, Ms. Zamora explained.
For U.S. citizens, the U.S. Embassy might provide assistance depending upon whether a deceased was accompanied or not and their immigration status.
“The Consular section can provide information on funeral homes that prepare remains for shipment to the U.S. and will issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad, which serves in the United States as a death certificate for probate and other legal purposes,” Evelyn Ardon of the U.S. Embassy said. “The Embassy does not provide funds to pay for funeral or burial expenses of Americans who die abroad.”
The embassy also said that a U.S. consular officer may serve as a provisional conservator of the deceased’s personal estate and can take custody of any portable personal effects.
As provisional conservator, the consular officer’s duties include arranging for the effects to be sent to the legal next of kin, subject to local laws.
In general, real property or contested property will be disposed of in accordance with local Costa Rican law. In cases where a next of kin is not available, the embassy defers the case to Costa Rican authorities.  www.amcostarica.com

Cerro Yarcazú: This mountain peak near Puriscal is an awesome option to enjoy nature and wonderful scenic and panoramic views. Located in La Cangreja National Park, one of the least visited parks in the country, which receives this name (The Crab) due to its shape and which in its highest point reaches 1,305 meters above sea level. Here you can walk through the trails immersed in the middle of the forest, there are some waterfalls along the way, when you reach the peak you can enjoy the views of Quepos and Parrita. This park has over 300 species of birds and a wide variety of small mammals like pumas and deer.


DOG ADOPTION:  
 Territorio de Zaguates, “Land of the Strays,” is home to some 750 to 800 homeless dogs. Barking bucket loads of happy dogs roam the hills at this enormous shelter. You, too, can hike the meandering hillside, run alongside the woofing herd and even adopt a dog if you like. A hike with the pack is fun, free, heartwarming and good exercise.  The dogs here are strays picked up from the streets and deposited into the caring hands of this farm. Here they are fed, walked, housed, vaccinated and fixed. The goal is to adopt the dogs out to homes, but more and more arrive each day. The free hikes bring in donations of food and cash, and spread the word that these dogs are available for adoption.Cerro Yarcazú: This mountain peak near Puriscal is an awesome option to enjoy nature and wonderful scenic and panoramic views. Located in La Cangreja National Park, one of the least visited parks in the country, which receives this name (The Crab) due to its shape and which in its highest point reaches 1,305 meters above sea level. Here you can walk through the trails immersed in the middle of the forest, there are some waterfalls along the way, when you reach the peak you can enjoy the views of Quepos and Parrita. This park has over 300 species of birds and a wide variety of small mammals like pumas and deer.

For more info: https://www.facebook.com/territoriodezaguates

Territorio de Zaguates is located in Heredia Province, just east of the Alajuela Province line near Barva Volcano. Hikes are offered on March 4, 5, 18 and 19. Arrive at 8:45 a.m. in your own car. Call 8815-2514 (Alvaro) or email lyabattleb@gmail.com(Lya).

PRICESMART:    TICO BULL by Rico – Often I get asked why I shop at Pricesmart. The answer is simple and complicated at the same time, in that I can get better pricing on many things and items that you cannot find in other stores in Costa Rica.

membership-card-diamondFor example, I go through 1 1/2 50 lbs of dog food a month. I usually purchase Pedigree, my dogs (I have 5) like it and I like the price. If I had to buy this amount of dog food at the local supermarkets, ie automercado, Masxmenos, Walmart, my dogs wouldn’t be very happy.On the down side, stocking at Pricesmart is hit and miss. Not sure why, but the 55lb bag of Pedigree is not always available, I have to substitute. So it goes for many other items. Shopping at Pricesmart starts with a membership card. The value of the card, if you shop often, will save you over the course of the membership year. You can even save the amount of the membership fee in one shopping trip.  With the membership, many customers really don’t know this, you can shop not only at the six Pricesmart stores in Costa Rica, but also in Colombia (5), El Salvador (2), Guatemala (3), Honduras (2), Nicaragua (1), Panama (4), Aruba (1), Barbados (1), Dominican Republic (3), Jamaica (1), Trinidad and Tobago (4), U.S. Virgin Islands (1).  Shopping at locations out of Costa Rica with your Costa Rica issued card issued means first going to the customer service counter, tell them where you are from, have them scan the card to see if it will be accepted at the cash register. If it doesn’t, you will be issued a temporary pass.  Taking the step of verifying your card in the country you are in, will save you lots of time and frustration when checking out.  I did this in Cali, Colombia and Managua, Nicaragua/ All went smooth. But not so at Costco in Toronto. Yes, different company. Or is it? Both had their beginnings with Sol Price (hence the Price in the name, and you thought it all had to do with pricing).  At the Toronto Costco, first thing I am told, “that is an old card”, referring to the “Price Club” name before becoming Costco. A scan, the system doesn’t recognize it.  The PriceSmart membership is non-transferable; if you lend your card to another person he/she will not be able to shop with it. Membership does come with two cards, either you them or not. Get a second card for your significant other or friend. One of the major differences of shopping at “Price” (as it is called in Ticolandia) that is not at non-membership stores, is the carding at the door and then the “check-off” on your way out. Annoying, but it ensures that only members – people like you – are in the store. The price for the elitism is US$35 or equivalent in local currency) per year.  Now, something I didn’t know until writing this post, is that you can bring with you up to three friends into the club each time you shop. OK, that answers the questionwhy you see large packs of Ticos jamming the aisles, just like on the autopistas.  As to the why you are asked to show your receipt on exit, Pricesmart say it is “our most effective method of maintaining accuracy in inventory control“. I think it’s bull. They don’t trust their members. Simple.  A good personal friend works security at one of the Pricesmart stores in San Jose, there is an army of plain clothes security in the store at all times. They are easily spotted by watching them talk into something in their clothing (hidden transceiver). They are different the security guys and gals in the parking lot. These folks keep their eyes on thieving members.  Paying at Pricesmart can be simple and difficult. Cards (credit and debit) are fine, local or international. Colones are fine too. With US dollars, nothing more than a $50. Canadian dollars, forget about it. Euros, Cordobas, Pesos? Leave you items in the buggy (shopping cart).  There is an ATM machine inside the store. Haven’t used one yet, I always try to bring with me the right currency or card for my purchases. And about the cards, why does Pricesmart insist on ID when the membership card that I pay for and they have my info on file has a picture on it.  “It’s not legal ID”, I was once told. Refund me the membership in that case. I still refuse to do the Tico thing of handing over a card (debit or credit) and their cedula. I see my wife doing that every time, she pulls out both pieces to hand over to the cashier before starting the checkout. I, however, want to be asked. A 50/50 record so far. Since I typically shop at the same Pricesmart, I look for familiar faces at the cash. “It’s the point,” I say.

Closing notes. New location on Ruta 27 just before the Santa Ana Exit, on the right.

  • Pricesmart doesn’t have sales or offer discounts, they say their prices are the lowest all the time.
  • There are no express lines.
  • The best times to go on weekends is before noon on Sundays
  • Avoid one day before, day after and pay days
  • During the week (too many crowds on Weekends) is between 12 and 2pm, you can literally have a varied lunch for free from the food samplers.
  • Returns and/or refunds are without hassle
  • Limited item selection
  • Imported items not available at other stores

See you soon at Pricesmart. I am the guy keeping an eye on the price of apple pies.

WILLS FOR FOREIGNERS LIVING IN CR: 

(QBLOGS) Most foreigners arriving to live and acquire assets in Costa Rica will already have a valid Will drafted in their home jurisdiction, designed to cover the disposition of all of their world assets on their death.  Such a Will may be recognized in Costa Rica to cover the disposition of assets acquired in Costa Rica, following the Probate of the Will in the home jurisdiction. Following Probate in the home jurisdiction, such a Will would have to translated into the Spanish language and submitted by way of an Application to the Costa Rica Court, through a process known as “Letters Rogatory”. Following this procedure, which would be similar to a second Probate process, the foreign Will would be valid to cover the disposition of the Costa Rica assets of the deceased.

A more practical, time-efficient and less costly approach to the disposition of the Costa Rica assets on death, is to have a Costa Rica “en situ” Will prepared, which covers the disposition of the Costa Rica assets and is specifically subordinated to the foreign Will for the disposition of all other assets located outside of Costa Rica.  This would allow for the Probate of the Costa Rica Will to be commenced immediately following the death of the Testator, shortening the time for the disposition of the Costa Rica assets and incurring less Attorney fees and court costs in the process.

For major assets, such as land and vehicles held in a Costa Rica Corporation, the most expeditious and cost effective manner to deal with the disposition of such assets on the death of the owner, is to appoint the heir(s), or the Executor of the foreign Will, as an active member of the Board of Directors of the Costa Rica Corporation, which is the registered owner of the assets(s), with the full power of sale on behalf of the Corporation.  This allows the appointed heir, or Executor to deal with the sale of the property immediately upon the death of the Corporate Shareholder, without the requirement for Probate. In this instance, the Corporate Shareholder would remain the owner of the Company Shares, allowing for a change of the Board of Directors at any time during their lifetime, should circumstances change.It must be remembered, that the heir, or Executor appointed as an active member of the Board of Directors, would also be legally able to sell, or encumber the property during the lifetime of the Shareholder owner, so obviously, care must be taken regarding the party so appointed. The real benefit in this scenario, is that Attorney and other Probate fees equal to between 6% and 12% of the Estate value may be completely avoided.  It is wise to commence these Estate Planning measures from the outset of acquiring assets in Costa Rica as a foreigner, to avoid the duplication of legal costs, to effect the necessary corporate changes at a later date.
By Lic. Richard Philps on 28 August 2016

Lic. Rick Philps – Attorney at Law, Petersen & Philps, San Jose, Costa Rica Tel: 506-2288-4381, Ext. 102; Email: rick@costaricacanadalaw.com Website: www.costaricacanadalaw.com

Costa Rica mobile carriers improve coverage, but not internet speed.  Costa Rica’s mobile carriers perform well with their 2G and 3G networks, but they need improvements in coverage and quality of their 4G networks.  During six months last year, the agency evaluated the performance of mobile and mobile Internet services of state-owned ICE-kölbi, Spanish carrier Telefónica, which operates here under its Movistar brand, and Claro, owned by Mexico’s América Móvil.  Benchmarks for the 3G network, the most widely-used here, placed ICE-kölbi first with a national coverage of 93 percent. Claro was second with 81 percent and Movistar followed with 79 percent.   ICE also topped the evaluation for the 4G network with a national coverage of 89 percent. Claro and Movistar obtained 71 and 46 percent, respectively.  The main differences among the carriers in SUTEL’s study are in the average speeds of their mobile Internet networks.  Overall, downloading data on mobile phones is slow in Costa Rica compared to many other countries.  Claro offers the best mobile internet speed in 4G networks, with an average of 13.4 Mbps. ICE-Kölbi is second with 5.9 Mbps and Movistar is third at 5.7 Mbps.  SUTEL’s study found that all three carriers failed to comply with download speeds promised by their plans, reaching on average 72 percent of the promised download velocity.  Full results of SUTEL’s mobile service quality evaluation are available on…https://sutel.go.cr/sites/default/files/05319-sutel-dgc-2016_cs_-_informe_ejecutivo_calidad_nacional_ice-clr-tlf_mediciones_2015_vf1.pdf

LAWYERS:  Newly graduated lawyers continue getting failing notes in the examination of Academic Excellence, applied by the Bar Association to approve new lawyers. Only 26% achieved the minimum score of 80.  The bar exam is the first review of academic excellence.   In August last year, the Colegio de Abogacos changed the examination of Ethics by Academic Excellence with the aim of raising quality standards. However, after 10 months and 3 tests applied, only 26% of the 1,196 lawyers were approved.  Most, after taking the exam 2 and 3 times.  Last year the pass rate was higher, 29.4%

70% of those who choose to become judges failed that exam.

Gerardo Solis, Academic and Incorporations Bar Association director said that these numbers are “relative” as a process of adaptation and there is a “learning curve” that could extend up to 2 years.  “We believe that people are in the process of accommodation, as they retake the exams, the approval rate increases,” Solis said.  The test is aimed at recent graduates, assuming that they are people with no or little work experience and that the questions are of basic subjects studied at universities: Work, Family, Constitutional, Criminal, Civil, Commercial, for example.

Before making the change in the test, the Colegio de Abogados began a coordinated effort with universities and institutions such as the National Council for Higher Education University  (Conesup) and the National Accreditation System of Higher Education (Sinaes), to take action on the preparation and academic quality of young people in the classroom wanting to become lawyers.

Crhoy.com    June 29, 2016  Check the “Yellow Pages” for our recommendations of lawyers/notaries.

TRAFFIC CONGESTION:  There are 23 points of traffic congestion in the GAM where the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) has identified, including in front of the Centro Salud in Puriscal. Improvements are necessary to ease traffic congestion.  A study by the Directorate General of Traffic Engineering identified 23 points known as “topics”, in which some basic works, could accelerate the movement of vehicles.  By the Centro Salud Puriscal, sidewalks, drainage, signage and stop lights are needed at a cost of $145.821

http://www.crhoy.com/estas-son-las-23-pegas-para-circular-por-el-gam/nacionales/

SLIPPAGE OF THE COMMUNITY. Puriscaleños have lived 60 years with  underground slippage. UCR RECOMMENDS PROMPT ATTENTION TO the SLIPPAGE OF THE COMMUNITY.  The old Catholic church in Santiago de Puriscal is a reflection of what happens in the rest of this community, underground cracking and slippage for the past 60 years.

The soils in this area are weak and the water is very shallow, this is what causes the sliding of the community and it increases with time.  The affected area covers 7.5 square kilometers, inhabited with about 11 thousand people in more than 3,600 homes.

“There has never been anything catastrophic, so it is difficult to think that will happen so, but sliding moves all the time and that is causing increasing instability of the city,” said the engineer from the University of Costa Rica, Sergio Salas, who presented a recent study on the subject.  In 30 years, says Salas, 4 buildings have been demolished due to the cracks that are caused by this constant underground movement: the old hospital; the old market; the cigar factory and the Municipal gym.  About 5 structures more are at risk for the same reason: the municipal building, the Liceo de Puriscal, the Municipal Gymnasium and the Dario Flores school.

In addition, in 2009 the demolition of the Catholic church was ordered, but was stopped by a declaration of historical architectural heritage. Repair would cost about $ 3 million (over ¢ 1,600 million).   “The damage to the city increases as it ages. Cracking of the different structures is going to be higher, the pipes below the city will crack and the problem is multiplied more, “said Salas. 60 years ago there is no record of this sliding mass. In this regard the engineer Sáenz published a technical article which he called: “The ogre and the city of Santiago”.  The biggest problem has a solution which is that the water passing under the ground is very superficial. Lowering that level is the “trump card” of engineers.

For this there are 3 options. The first is a network of interconnected wells drilled around the city. They would need 20 of them. The project amounts to 19 million dollars (over ¢ 10 billion).  The second consists of open pits. This is not recommended because of its impact on the city.

Finally, we consider the drainage galleries or tunnels under the city, leading to some river in the region to lower the water table. The cost of this project, preferred by engineers, is $22 million dollars (almost ¢ 12 billion)

http://www.crhoy.com/puriscalenos-han-vivido-60-anos-con-un-ogro-subterraneo/nacionales/

2016…April 19th is called the Día del Aborigen Costarricense, which will be marked mainly in public schools.

The day is designed to honor the native peoples who live in Costa Rica. The formal ceremony will be at the Colegio Indígena de Ujarrás, en Buenos Aires de Puntarenas where the national anthem will be sung in Bribri. In addition to the Bribri, the Cabécar and the Boruca live in southern Costa Rica, as do the Térraba. Also there are the Guaymí or Ngöbe who migrated across the board from their ancestral lands in Panamá.

There are 24 native reserves in Costa Rica, and perhaps the easiest to visit from the Central Valley is that of the Quitirrisí, that is just off the highway to Puriscal. The Maleku are in northern Alajuela province. In Guanacaste are the Matambú or Chorotega.  The Bribri are perhaps the most populous with estimates ranging higher than 10,000. But other native groups number in the hundred.  Columbus and the Spanish who followed him brought diseases that greatly reduced the native numbers that once may have been 200,000. Exact numbers are difficult to determine because some of the native peoples live far from modern Costa Rica. One estimate is that 73 percent of the native peoples still live on the reserves. The government estimates that natives living on reserves make up less than 2 percent of the country’s population.  Only some retain traditional ways. At other reserves the daily language is Spanish and the problems of the day are identical to anywhere else in Costa Rica. An exception might be days when there are traditional celebrations.

 

MediSmart simply offers highly discounted medical services for a fraction of the normal cost. The web site is in Spanish, but using Google Translate can give you a reasonable translation.

Anyway, MediSmart is a service that costs very little per person but offers huge discounts. A lot of my readers are over 50 so you know that we do suffer minor things that deserve attention. I just made appointments for a dermatologist and a orthopedist. Appointments with either of those type of doctors would easily run $60.00 to $80.00 each.  I’ll pay a fraction of that, maybe $40.00 total.  Should something serious come about (unlikely), I can then make a decision to either use those physicians or get second opinions. I expect neither of my problems to be serious and beats waiting 2-6 months for an appointment at the CAJA clinics were newly minted doctors learn by trial and error… on you.

If you use MediSmart, you will be treated at Hospital Metropolitano located in downtown San Jose maybe 2-3 blocks south of Hospital San Juan de Dios.  MediSmart is a Prepaid Medical Plan that offers a wide range of medical services through the Metropolitan Hospital, with toppings that will save up to 80% of your bill. MediSmart is a company of Grupo Montecristo.  Monthly basic plans from $12.00    http://www.medismart.net/

GARBAGE IN PURISCAL:  Choking trash and leaves us with empty pockets? Puriscal produces 25 metric tons of trash daily. The Service providing treatment and disposal of ordinary solid waste collected in the city of Puriscal is the responsibility of the Municipality. The cost of receiving waste/garbage in 2016 the sum of 43,750,000 colones ($80.000). The Municipality budgeted in 4 years the sum of 253,160,412 million. Possibly between officials salaries and the cost of vehicles will be twice that amount. This amount can be reduced by recycling. A group of persons in Puriscal could start a recycling business and make a profit. There is a recycling center outside of town, a small butterfly farm is located 400 meters before the hospital in El Estero, next to the recycling center. It is open from 7am – 12pm

HOUSEKEEPER LAWS & REGS.

– Under Costa Rican labor laws, domestic workers are considered employees, and as such, you are required to pay certain benefits.

A lot of people do not realize this until the employee is laid off, then a few weeks later you get a notice from the labor court indicating that you have been sued by your former employee.  Unless you have a service agreement under which the services provided are on a contractual basis, the government will assume that the domestic worker is an employee, and you as the employer must pay certain benefits.

This is applicable to both regular employees as well as domestic workers. I make the distinction between regular employees for people who are on a full time or part time basis. Domestic employees may provide services for a few hours a couple of times a week, which makes it difficult for foreigners to understand why they may have benefits such as;  vacations, Social Security (CAJA), insurance, Christmas bonus, termination, Cesantia, and notices. 

Doing a contract for services will limit your liability. But, as noted lines above, the labor courts have the tendency to be more protective of the employee. So, in some instances, regardless of whether you did a contract for services or not, you may still be liable.  Another area to consider is “House Sitters.”     The Costa Rican Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS) has information in Spanish.     www.mtss.go.cr/

The Costa Rica Ministry of Labor sets the minimum wage scale for workers in Costa Rica. The minimum wage scale is set twice a year by the wage council of the Ministry of Labor.  The information below is for a maid from the wage scale approved by Nº 39055-MTSS for 2015.Maid….170,901 colones….$316.00 per month.

 


DEATH OF A FRIEND OR LOVED ONE IN COSTA RICA:  Facing the death of a friend or loved one is difficult under any circumstances, let alone when it occurs in a foreign country. Since the majority of Americans living in Costa Rica are middle-aged or seniors, it is advisable that they know what procedures to follow if their spouse or a friend passes away. If planning on living in Costa Rica, consider what will happen if one dies here, regardless of age. In any case, consider writing up a will and testament to help loved ones who are left behind make proper decisions and maintain it current and up to date. Consult with your attorney.   Another approach to Estate Planning in Costa Rica, is the use of the Testamentary Trust, as a vehicle to avoid the Probate process entirely.  Otherwise, after your death, there would be a probate in the courts. If you have property registered as a corporation, someone should have a ‘poder generalisimo’  and he/she would be appointed executor of the estate/corp., but it takes about a year to go thru the courts here.

http://www.costaricalaw.com/estate-planning-for-canadians-living-in-costa-rica.html      

When someone dies in Costa Rica, the process begins almost immediately and people from all around receive the news almost at warp speed, because there is no embalming process. If the deceased has relatives that live far away, they may miss the funeral all together since usually people are buried no later than the day after they have died here in Costa Rica. If relatives need to preserve the body until other relatives arrive, they will maintain the body as fresh as possible in a storage unit, or they can have it embalmed, but this will cost extra.  Depending on the type of death, the processing will be different. For example, if an elderly or sick person dies at home or in the hospital then a doctor comes and simply writes a death certificate, usually without performing an autopsy.  If someone dies in an accident then the judge comes with the OIJ, the equivalent of the FBI in the US, to do a formal investigation. The body cannot be moved until this, and the body is taken to the morgue in Heredia. An autopsy will be performed. The death certificate is made up. Here is the contact information for Jardines de Recuerdo.  (www.jardinesdelrecuerdo.co.cr/cremacion_y_cenizarios.htm). Montesacro (2233-1129) also does cremations and burials. By the way, you can prepay either cremation or burial at today’s rates for these services.  Currently, cremations are estimated to be about 15 percent of deaths in Costa Rica, compared to the United States, 25.5 percent, and Canada’s 42.7 percent.  Cremation exists but is not common, and it is significantly more expensive around $3000 USD. One would also then have to factor in the additional funeral costs. The most inexpensive in ground funeral would cost around $2000 with a service. Take the decease’s paperwork to the US Embassy, and get a report of death of a citizen in a foreign country, and a permit to take the remains back to the states. If someone wants their body shipped back to their home country, the process will be complicated and expensive.

ALTERNATE ROUTE ‘TO & FROM’ SJO AIRPORT: We all know how terrible the traffic is in Lindora between Santa Ana and Belen, especially during AM/PM rush hour, so I asked a van driver if he knew of an alternative route to and from the airport. He sent me this, leaving Puris for the airport:

Coming from Puris, you turn left in Piedades BEFORE the toll-booth to Santa Ana, and connect with Hwy. 27 heading to Orotina, after approximately 5 kms. you will see a sign for “Coyol -Siquieres”, exit to the right. You will come to a double rotunda then head to “Coyol para ariba”, follow that road and you will exit at Dos Pinos and Hwy. 1 just North of SJO airport.  The rotundas are a bit complicated so be careful, and be extra careful when exiting onto Hwy. 1.  More information;

The proper exit is marked “Coyol”. Take that exit ramp. At the top, turn counterclockwise (rightward) around the traffic circle and take the second “exit” crossing the railroad tracks. Go about (about) three kilometers and you’ll be facing an overpass over Route 1.  Don’t go over the overpass, but turn right and take the ramp down onto Route 1. From there, it’s (about) four easy kilometers to the airport exit.  The airport exit (to the right) is not terribly well marked, so once you see airport/industrial buildings on your right, slow down and start looking.  From Puriscal it’s 45 kms. and takes 1 hour.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The traffic at the “Coyol” end of the overpass over Route 1 is very poorly regulated, so be very careful. If in doubt, yield the right of way.

  1. Pass through Cuidad Colon, just prior to the toll booth turn left, enter Hwy. 27 and follow the signs to Orotina.
  2. There will be a toll booth in a few kilometers. Continue on to the COYOL exit, about 5 kms.
  3. Exit at the COYOL exit to the rotunda turn right and take the second right over the railroad tracks.
  4. You will go over one over-pass. At the second over-pass you must exit to the right before crossings over. This will be Hwy. 1
  5. Take a right on to the hi-way and continue. Follow the AEROPUERTO signs and exit when the arrow points to exit.

CAJA / EBAIS…..Using the public Health Services in Puriscal;

Costa Rica provides universal health care to citizens and permanent residents of the

country. Current immigration policy requires potential residents to join the Caja

Costarricense de Seguro Social or “Caja” system before their residency is approved.

It has become apparent that many legal (expat) residents are paying their monthly

fee but not using the system to obtain all the health care services they are entitled

  1. Most of those surveyed confessed they do not understand how to use the system

so they pay their monthly bill but also carry secondary insurance or visit and pay for

private care if they have an emergency.

The CAJA has more than 30 hospitals and about 250 clinics (also referred to as EBAIS

– Equipos Basicos de Atencion Integral en Salud) throughout the country. Although

the system appears overburdened, it is constantly being upgraded with new

hospitals, clinics, equipment and training for the staff. Many of our country’s

doctors and dentists work for Caja in the mornings and then have their private

offices or clinics in the afternoons and evenings. The system has worked well for

Costa Ricans for over 60 years.

In recent years, Caja Directors have taken proactive measures to encourage

preventive medical care in order to avoid the long lines and emergencies that

have given the system a bad reputation. While it is true that there can be long wait

times, and little choice when it comes to prescription medicines, it is equally true

that once you are paying into the system, you will never have a co-pay or deductible

on anything from well visits to emergency care or medicines (generic).

PURISCAL has the following 10 EBAIS clinics with contact numbers as follows:

EBAIS Santiago:  this is where 5 of the clinics are located, diagonal to the fire station, telephone 2416-6051. Ebais 1, 2, 3, 9, 10.  Santa Marta is #10.

EBAIS #4 in Barbacoas 7am – 4pm, 2416-8640

EBAIS #5…Pedernal

EBAIS #6…Salitrales

EBAIS #7…Valle La Gloria

EBAIS #8…Turrubares

 The EBAIS that one is assigned to is indicated on the identification card (Clinica

Adscripcion) which is the one nearest to your home. If you move, it is important to notify the Caja so

that they can assign you to the new location and transfer your files there.

In Puriscal, each EBAIS has certain days of operation which can change without

notice. It is best to call ahead and make sure they are working on the day you want

to make your appointment (assuming it is not an emergency). Arrive an hour or so

BEFORE the EBAIS opens so that you can get on line. If you arrive after they open, it

Is quite possible that you will have to return the next day because all the available

appointments have been filled.

The receptionist will ask for your current identification card and the latest receipt of

payment. Your ‘case’ will be analyzed and you will be referred to the doctor or laboratory, etc.

If you have an emergency, the best thing to do is get to the CAIS hospital in El Estero, 2505-4200.

If you cannot get to the hospital, you can call the Red Cross at 2416-5555 or 2416-7070 and they will

come to you. If you cannot reach the Red Cross, call 911 which is the Costa Rica

Emergency number and they will coordinate an available ambulance. 

The nearest private hospital is CIMA in Escazu, tel. 2208-1000, in front of Autopista Prospero Fernandez Ruta 27, next to PriceMart,

http://www.hospitalsanjose.net/

FRIENDS RETIRING IN PURISCAL?

The number of people over 60 worldwide is set to more than triple between 2000 and 2050 to 2 billion, according to the World Health Organization. And more are opting for retirement in lower-cost countries.  “Medical tourism” has become a booming industry, with roughly 8 million people of all ages seeking treatment abroad annually, according to the group Patients Without Borders. And a global retirement crisis is bearing down on workers of all ages.  Spawned years before the Great Recession and the financial meltdown in 2008, the crisis was significantly worsened by those twin traumas. It will play out for decades, and its consequences will be far-reaching. Many people will be forced to work well past the traditional retirement age of 65 – to 70 or even longer. Living standards will fall, and poverty rates will rise for the elderly in wealthy countries that built safety nets for seniors after World War II. In developing countries, people’s rising expectations will be frustrated if governments can’t afford retirement systems to replace the tradition of children caring for aging parents, ie. Costa Rica.

The crisis is a convergence of three factors:

– Countries are slashing retirement benefits and raising the age to start collecting them.

– Companies have eliminated traditional pension plans that cost employees nothing and guaranteed them a monthly check in retirement.

– Individuals spent freely and failed to save before the recession, and they saw much of their wealth disappear once it hit.

Populations are aging rapidly. The higher the percentage of older people, the harder it is for a country to finance its pension system because relatively fewer younger workers are paying taxes.  Those planning to work past 65 can take some comfort knowing they’ll be healthier, overall, than older workers in years past. They’ll also be doing jobs that aren’t as physically demanding. In addition, life expectancy at 65 now stretches well into the 80s for people in the 34 OECD countries (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), an increase of about five years since the late 1950s.  The Great Recession threw tens of millions of people out of work worldwide. For many who kept their jobs, pay has stagnated the past five years, even as living costs have risen, making it tougher to save for retirement. In addition, government retirement benefits are based on lifetime earnings, and they’ll now be lower. The Urban Institute, a think tank in Washington, estimates that lost wages and pay raises will shrink the typical American worker’s income at age 70 by 4 percent – an average of $2,300 a year.   Bottom line: save more for retirement.

BEFORE YOU BUY A USED CAR:  there is a new certification company in Costa Rica.  Their offices are in la Uruca, next to the Honda dealer FACO.  Tel. 2222-2442

http://www.certifi-car.com/

Lunes – Viernes

8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Sábados

8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

  • Motor, potencia y torque
  • Caja de cambios (automática y manual)
  • Odómetro (analiza si fue o no alterado)
  • Chasis
  • Escaneo de masilla en carrocería
  • Análisis de color de pintura
  • Frenos en condiciones reales de manejo (70 KPH)
  • Suspensión y dirección
  • Tablero principal y sus luces de advertencia
  • Emisiones
  • The report will also include:

The place where the car was sold, number of previous owners, any accidents or legal problems, mileage, and a study at the Registro Nacional de Costa Rica.

FRIENDS VISITING PURISCAL – COSTA RICA & CELL PHONES?

When you have friends visiting, do they want to use their cell phone from home?  All you need is a SIM card purchased here. If you are flying, you will find booths in both our main airports (SJO and LIR).

If you are already in the country and you want to get a SIM card, don´t worry. You can go to any of the phone companies offices, supermarkets, shopping malls, electronic stores and appliance stores to buy one.  You should see signs in the window or by the door of which company the store sells.  The only requirement you need is to present your passport or picture ID in order to fill out a short form.  Different phone companies and rates. The 4 major phone companies in Costa Rica are: Kolbi, Movistar, Claro, Tuyo móvil.

With these companies you can buy the SIM card for 2000 colones (around $4) and they will give you the same amount for phone credit on the SIM card itself. If you buy a Kolbi SIM card, make sure to keep the card because it has your PIN number on it. If you input the wrong PIN number more than 3 times, you will get locked out of your SIM card and you have to go to the office or call to unlock it.  The rate per minute for local calls is 34 colones and like most of the services in Costa Rica it is regulated by the government. You can buy data by the day ($1), the week ($5), or the month. The rates will depend on the phone company.

If you want to bring your phone and not pay for an international calling plan, your phone must be quad band and it†has to be unlocked. The type of phone doesn´t matter, it can be an iPhone, Samsung, HTC, Blackberry, whichever. Call your carrier to find out if and how to unlock your phone.  John Doe has a Samsung Galaxy S2 and she called his carrier (AT&T) to figure out how to unlock his phone. They gave him an IME number to punch in and his phone was unlocked. No extra fees, no expensive international calling plans, just put in the new SIM card and set up the network.  RENTALS:    http://www.cellphonescr.com/

if you have a phone from the US (iPhone or Android) that is less than two years old, you WILL pay a premium price to have your phone unlocked by the carrier you are with, breaking your two year contract. For example, a friend upgraded to an iPhone 4S from AT&T 1 1/2 years ago so he has six months left on his contract before he can apply for a legally unlocked phone. If he were to go ahead and have AT&T break his contract early, he would have to pay a $250 penalty plus the prorated cost of his iPhone which would make the total bill about $400 to unlock it today. The rules are roughly the same for everyone that upgrades their phones today. Now, he can go to the Apple store and buy a brand new 4S for about $600 that isn’t locked to a carrier, and take it straight to CR, buy a chip from anyone down there, and it’ll work immediately.

CAN PURISCAL’S CHURCH BE SAVED? 

PURISCAL – The Saborio family has owned a jewelry and watch shop off the main square in Puriscal for 42 years. Every morning as he unlocks the store, Orlando Saborio glances up at the old Santiago Apostle Church, which dominates the sky to the east of the square. For years, the church has been empty, being slowly overtaken by vegetation and eroded by fierce rainstorms. After a series of earthquakes in the 1990s rendered the building structurally unsound, the Roman Catholic Church abandoned it, leaving it to crumble. A recently issued health notice ordered the church dismantled and, although it hasn’t been used in nearly 20 years, many of the faithful are reluctant to see it go. “It’s a symbol of Puriscal,” said Saborio, 49, who remembers attending the church as a child. “It’s part of the identity of the people here.”The Santiago Apostle Church – with its bold, stone facade and high-reaching towers is easily the most commanding presence in Puriscal’s modest skyline, and it is one of the first things visitors see as they climb the narrow roads up the mountain on which the town is perched. Designed by architect and artist Teodórico Quirós, who also designed churches in San Isidro de Coronado and San Rafael de Escazú – and who was responsible for the preservation of colonial temples in Orosí and Ujarrás – the church has stood in the town’s center since 1936. Yet Saborio isn’t sure he wants to keep it. “If it can be restored, let’s save it,” he said. “But if it can’t, take it down.”Delio Quesada, who has lived on the square for 63 years, was more direct in his sentiments. “Take it down,” he said, waving his hand as if to dismiss it. “It serves no purpose, and it’s a danger to people here.” The 85-year-old Quesada, who remembers when the church was built, added, “Yes, there are people who protest. They say that’s where I was baptized and that’s where I was married. But every day, it’s a greater danger. And there are many nice things they can put in its place.”Twenty-one-year-old María Barrantes, who works in a nearby fabric store wasn’t so sure. “It’s sacred ground. You can’t put any business there,” she said. “I don’t know what they would do with the space.” Barrantes personally wants to keep it. “It’s an antique and, in a way, it defines Puriscal.”

Since the announcement that the structure will be destroyed, the Catholic Church has stalled, waiting for any last efforts to save it. There’s been talk about commissioning a study regarding its preservation.

In the church’s original announcement, the Rev. Guido Villalta, vicar of the San José Archdiocese, said, “We know that this church is a symbol of the community of Puriscal. But the church is the defender of life and, therefore, we have no other choice but to obey the demolition order and avoid a catastrophe.” 

The Santiago Apostle Church was built by volunteers using “very weak material,” according to a bulletin from the congregation. The delicate foundation, combined with the church’s location on a fault line, has prompted many people to demand the church be brought down. But Manuel Ramírez, who owns a bar and restaurant directly across the square from the church, has no doubt it can be saved.

Despite regular demonstrations and near-constant programming on the local cable television station, it’s still unclear whether there is enough financial support to undergo an historical renovation or even if the church could be saved. The town of Puriscal sits directly on a fault line and, if there’s anything close to the magnitude of the earthquakes that rattled the area in 1990, some insist the church would stand little chance. For nearly three months, the town suffered near-constant tremors. Saborio remembers it well. “Many people left,” he said. “Others (like us) returned during the days in order to work and look after our businesses.”

“If you look at what went into building the church – that stone was brought in on horseback over miles of unpaved roads and then people proceeded to build it by hand – if you look at that struggle, then restoring it seems like a small task,” he said.   Article written by Chrissie Long.

‘Burglar-proofing your home’.  Did you know that most sliding glass doors in Costa Rica do not have tempered glass?

That means if you or a child crash into a sliding glass door, the broken shards can be deadly.  They are also a favorite entry point for burglars. One solution is fortifying the doors with a window film.  Most homeowners can apply the film themselves.  This layered film will not stop a brick from smashing through the glass, but it will hold the shards of glass together and maintain a barrier between the burglars and your possessions. That means a big mess and a huge delay for burglars. This layered film can be found in Costa Rica, some companies offer it for auto windows.  There is a great 3M product that also reduces 90% of the UVA/UVB rays and reduces the heat passing through windows.

Although there are no foolproof safeguards to ensure that a determined burglar won’t get in while you’re away, anything that makes the job more difficult for time-pressed criminals could increase the chance they will leave empty-handed, Kirkpatrick said.

Securing sliding-glass doors. Such doors are vulnerable even if not smashed. Standard factory locks can be often be opened with relative ease, and even locked doors can be lifted off their tracks for a quieter break-in — one that can be done without tools. A flat-head screwdriver makes the job even easier.  Homeowners have several options to fix those problems. They can be simple: A wooden dowel jammed into the track to prevent the door from opening could slow a burglar. Or they can be a little more elaborate: A sliding bolt can be secured to the frame to prevent the door from moving even if it is lifted off its track.