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Published: February 6th 2006
Beach near Punta Leona
There's a huge resort called Punta Leona about half way between Puntarenas and Jaco. Even though it is illegal to prohibit access to beaches, it's hard to get past the guards here. We found our way in though!
Today is Election Day in Costa Rica. This election is particularly important as its citizens select a new president to replace the outgoing president, Abel Pacheo. By many accounts, Pacheo was not terribly successful. Not a professional politician (he was previously a radio announcer among other entertainment-related professions), he did what he could but it seems the country slid backwards a bit during his term. Many in the electorate claim the transportation system, particularly the roads, are in major disrepair, poverty is up, environmental issues are becoming much more serious, and the educational system, while considered the best in Central America, is not educating its students long enough, or as Bill Clinton used to say, “for careers for the 21st century.” In fact, the majority of students leave school sometime during high school and end up working in various manual trades or perhaps in tourism.
Given all of this, the country has a remarkably transparent and incorruptible election system in this; Central America’s longest-running democracy. The elections are governed by an independent body not controlled by the executive, judicial or congressional branches of government. In fact, on election day, the Supreme Elections Tribunal has complete control over the operations of
the elections; they even have authority over the country’s police on election day. Many independent election observers consider Cost Rica to have one of the most free and fair elections of any country on earth (I guess the corruption occurs after elected officials take office!).
The most interesting thing about elections in Costa Rica is that by Article 80 of the election code, alcohol may not be sold in supermarkets, bars/clubs and restaurants on the From Friday at midnight until Monday at midnight (the elections are on Sunday). The purpose of this law is to help avoid brawls among aggressive constituents and prevent “vote-buying.” On this particular Sunday, it is a major problem as the law applies to all outlets, even hotels and bars serving foreign clientele—and this Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday!
It is about 9:30pm as write this blog entry and from what I could understand from La Nacion, the country’s leading newspaper, the results may be inconclusive and there may need to be a runoff. However, CNN.com is reporting that based on exit polls, Oscar Aris (see below) won the election though I’m just not sure at this point.
There are 14 candidates for
president so I won’t go into all of them, but two are former Nobel Peace Prize winners, two Christian-based candidates, several former Communists, a Libertarian and a surgeon.
Many people anticipate Oscar Aris, the former president and Nobel Prize winner, to win. Aris helped broker peace in Central America in the 1980s and in fact, the constitution was changed to allow him to run again. A strong supporter of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), he has many supporters and is very popular as one of the country’s few presidents with a strong standing on the international stage. However, he has many detractors, those looking for a president who will focus on the many domestic issues facing the country, particularly infrastructure and education, and the country’s massive foreign debt. We’ll see—I just hope he is friendly to us foreigners!
Trip to the Beach…
Today Beth and I decided to get out of dodge and head to the Pacific Coast for some sand and sun. I love driving to the beach. It’s about one hour to hit the Pacific Coast near Puntarenas then another hour or so to head south for some of the smaller, relatively deserted
and more interesting beaches. What strikes me the most is how much the weather changes from where we live to the beaches, perhaps, 70 miles or so from us. When we left at around 8am it was very gray, overcast, drizzling and a bit chilly. By the time the coast was in sight an hour later, it was very warm and sunny, even a bit humid. However, I like the change and being near the coast makes real that we’re living not far from the equator in a tropical environment. Sometimes it gets chilly where we are and we forget where we live! It’s a great away for us, and getting away even if for only a day, is great way to recharge the batteries, and of course, explore this wonderful country.
Great guests and praise….
We’ve had some great guests in the past few weeks and I’m really glad to see that this blog has prompted people to stay with us. I’m also grateful to learn that people really enjoy Beth’s breakfast. In fact, we were happy to have John Howells and his wife Sherry stay with us this past week, with Sherry commenting, “Beth’s breakfast is
the best I’ve had in Costa Rica.” Beth thinks it’s no big deal, but as an avid eater myself, it is a big deal! John is an expert on ex-pat living in foreign countries, and the author of numerous books. He’s currently hard at work on the 7th edition of his book, “Choose Costa Rica.” It’s the bible for people wanting to retire to or move to Costa Rica and I have his last two editions. In fact, he was so taken by what we’ve been able to accomplish here at Angel Valley Farm Bed & Breakfast (http://www.AngelValleyFarmBandB.com) in such a short time, that he will include us in his book as one of the “success stories” for ex-pats having a business here. We’re thrilled about that. We’ve also heard a reporter from the travel section of the New York Times is going to visit soon and we’ll be featured in the April edition of Travel & Leisure magazine. T&L will hit the newsstands March 15, so look for us.
It’s a terrific feeling to be able to get it right (particularly after having a few bumps early on), turn the B&B into something we could be proud of,
and most importantly, please customers—and even better have them come stay with us again. I know some people thought we couldn’t do this. We were told that we didn’t have the personalities (that was mostly directed at me!), or we didn’t understand the hospitality industry, or that running a business in a foreign country would be too hard, but I guess we’ve proved them wrong!
The next blog entry…
My next blog entry will be written from outside of Costa Rica. Where you ask? You’ll just have to read next week’s entry to find out!
Being curious, I did a check using the “word count” feature in Microsoft Word and as of this entry learned that my blog is now:
1. 89 pages;
2. 4,047 lines;
3. 724 paragraphs; and
4. 46,195 words!
Thanks for reading and thanks very much for your comments!
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