Presidential Election Results

“The devil you know” vs. “the devil you don’t” On April 2, 2018, the Costa Rica presidential results were tallied and Carlos Alvarado won the presidency of Costa Rica with 60 percent of the vote over Fabricio Alvarado, who garnered 39 percent. It was a nail-biter, with the results unclear and unpredicted right up to the end. The ruling party continues in power after a serious run by dark horse candidate Fabricio. Like they whisper when an unknown golf pro is about to put on the 18th hole, “Cinderella story, out of nowhere, biggest shot of his life.” Fabricio missed the put.

Many reports from news agencies around the world declare it a war fought and won over gay rights. Headlines read: “Photo finish beckons for Costa Rica election fought on gay rights” (Reuters). “Ruling party candidate wins Costa Rica presidency as voters reject pastor who opposed same-sex marriage” (Chicago Tribune). “With pro-gay marriage presidential win, Costa Rica halted religious conservatism” (NBC news).

While it is certainly true that the liberal Carlos supports gay marriage and conservative Fabricio does not, is that really what the election about? That is the outcome, but was it the cause?

To understand what the results of the election really mean, you need to understand Costa Ricans. Polls show that the majority of Ticos are not in favor of homosexual marriage. The country, while still predominantly Catholic, has a fast-growing evangelical population. Frankly, neither religion promotes homosexuality. That said, Ticos are extremely tolerant of others and pride themselves in being that way. They have strong opinions, but the last thing they want to do is fight. They would really rather live peacefully together. So while the majority would not choose a gay life-style for themselves, they are not inclined to throw stones at those who do. Generally speaking, they are not homophobic.

So, when Fabricio appeared out of nowhere, his platform seemed to echo the sentiments and beliefs of many, and he was an alternate to what they had and hated. However, Fabricio’s homophobic rhetoric became off-putting. Ticos do not like mean talk. Even though they hated the previous administration Luis Guillermo Solis He was disliked tremendously and therefore everyone was glad that by law he wasn’t allowed to run a second term, “the devil they know rather than the devil they don’t.”

Experts speculate on other factors that turned the tide of the election. Because Fabricio was suddenly in a position he hadn’t planned to be in (“I could actually win this!”), he and his party had not cemented his platform prior to him standing on it. His government plan was not well-formed, and an approved plan was presented just a few days before the election. Members of the party in congress received a lot of heat from the press due to their lack of knowledge in regards to the political and legal system and their lack of preparation and limited solid proposals. Fabricio made several unfortunate remarks, and his speeches were full of contradictions on the subjects of the Inter-American Human Rights Court and the National Woman’s Institute. He pulled out of several debates, and the debates he did participate in were filled with non-definitive answers such as “we will have to analyze that” to avoid giving a straight response. That fits with a candidate that didn’t expect to have a chance to win the presidency, and who was quickly finding out that he opinions were having a polarizing effect that he didn’t want.

The support he received from the ruling National Liberation Party could have hurt more than it helped since many voters saw this as a way for PLN to stay in control behind the scenes, an unsavory thought to most.

This Cinderella story ended up with the prince not really liking Cinderella’s dress or personality. Score a win for the ugly stepsister this round!

HEALTHCARE IN COSTA RICA VERSUS U.S.?

This article was taken in part from Internationaliving.com. Many people have heard about the great healthcare that Costa Rica offers to its citizens and residents. Medical tourism has been on the rise over the last few years because of the great medical and dental options here. Having firsthand experience in both. But don’t take my word for it continue reading.

Logo of the CCSS in Costa Rica

I was sitting on our cantilevered terrace, listening to birdsong and the river flowing below me. I pondered the 11,000-foot-tall Volcano Irazú in the distance. From the top of the tallest volcano in the country, it’s possible to see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on a clear day.

Suddenly there came a rapid-fire knock at the door. I knew something was different this morning—Costa Ricans rarely get worked up.

A neighbor, who knew I’d worked as a doctor in the U.S. before retiring to Costa Rica, wanted me to check his uncle, who was “having a problem.” I found an elderly fellow, surrounded by supportive family members, who was in pain and having a nosebleed. We loaded him in my car and drove the three miles to the nearest Caja—the nickname for the local public healthcare office.

Although the waiting room was occupied by folks waiting their turn, everyone generously ushered us to the front of the line. The old man was immediately assessed by the physician, received an ECG (to check for electrical problems with the heart), was stabilized, and later transported to a large hospital about 30 minutes away. There he was treated for his heart attack. I never saw it handled any faster when I was working in the U.S.

When my partner and I left Texas for Costa Rica, many friends said, “Well sure, you’re not worried about medical care; you’re a doctor.” To tell the truth, that actually makes me much more critical of the medical care available in other countries. Unlike some foreign nations, Costa Rica has nothing to worry about; state-of-the-art services are available here in all branches of medicine and dentistry.

Costa Rica has both public and private healthcare options. Almost every large town has its EBAIS (Caja) office where people from the neighborhood and surrounding towns, including expat residents, can get medical care. If you have a pre-existing condition you won’t be excluded. The EBAIS clinic for the beach areas around where I live is centrally located in Playas Del Coco.

CCSS Clinic in Playas del Coco
There are also private doctors and hospitals, just as you’re used to in North America. CIMA Hospital in San José has everything you could need as in intensive care, all the surgical specialties, and even dental treatments. Just 7 miles from Playa Hermosa, is another CIMA hospital, which a 24/7 emergency room and if need be, as in my case, they will stabilize you and air transport you to the main hospital in San Jose.

CIMA Hospital in Costa Rica I know you are thinking “What’s the cost?’” Roughly 30% to 70% cheaper than U.S. or Canadian prices. And CIMA Hospital is Joint Commission International-Certified. That’s the gold standard in healthcare—many U.S. hospitals fail to receive that accreditation. CIMA is also the only the only hospital in Central America that is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

That’s not to say that public hospitals are not any good.

Margaret Aliff, an expat who lives in the San José suburb of Escazú, tells this story: “I’ve had three ER experiences in Costa Rica: one at a private hospital and two at a public hospital. I would rate all ER experiences as very good, but I thought the public hospital was more thorough both times.”

Many expats use a combination of the two systems. Donald Martin, 73, had knee surgery in Georgia some time ago that is now failing him. He needs a series of injections in his knee. He saw his Caja doctor here in Costa Rica, who reviewed the records his orthopedist sent from Atlanta. He could have waited a few weeks for an appointment within the Caja system—about the same wait time for new patients to see a specialist in the U.S. But he preferred to be seen immediately and was referred to three nearby surgeons in the private sector. The next day, he learned he could receive the same treatment he’d had in Georgia, but at a considerable saving. “Not only am I saving on time and airfare back to Georgia, but the cost of the injections is $400 here, as opposed to the $1,200 I was quoted there.”

Clinica Biblica Hospital in Costa Rica So these are just a few of the folks mentioned in the article. I know many ex-pats that have used the CAJA system and are very pleased with it. My good friend Alain Mouquet, had a procedure done on his face to remove cancer, He is still ugly but you could not tell he had the work done. Just kidding Alain, you’re a handsome dog you!! The cancer was totally removed and follow up teste showed he was cancer-free. All done at a CAJA hospital.
As I mentioned above medical tourism is also growing rapidly. An estimated of 40,000 people come to Costa Rica every year for healthcare needs. From Basic surgical procedures to more serious ones and well as dental care. I recommend my dentist to many folks, Dr. Daianna Morales in Playas Del Coco, Coco Dental and medical, http://cocodentalcare.com/ she is incredible. Speaks perfect English, has all the most up to date and modern equipment and she is a pleasure to be around. I highly recommend her.

Playa Del Coco Healthcare I had 12 new crowns and one surgical implant done, the cost, only $6,200 for it all. I saved well over $15,000.00 USD. Does Costa Rican healthcare beat the US and Canada? I think so.

PRIVATE INSURANCE IN COSTA RICA

OK, you decided to make the move to Costa Rica and started the process, packed everything up, called the shipper and you are excited about your new adventure. But what about personal, private health insurance? Have you thought about that?

image of the word insurance
If you happen to have insurance form home there is a good chance they will no longer cover you once you relocate out of your home country unless it is an emergency while on vacation and depending on the type of plan you have.

Here in Costa Rica the insurance market opened up after the signing of CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement). There are many options to choose from and many insurance brokers as well offering all types of insurance. I am sure you have heard of BLUE CROSS.  Well, Blue Cross Costa Rica is available as well as BMI, better known as Best Meridian Insurance, and there are others.

The cost is surprisingly affordable compared to private plans in the US. One of the main reason for this is that healthcare in Costa Rica is at least one third the cost in the US and Canada and for many things even less expensive.

Costa Rica Blue Cross Insurance logo
I can give you first-hand experience. As being a full-time permanent resident of Costa Rica I have to be part of the socialized medical system; CAJA as it is called for short. I pay a monthly fee of under $60.00 US and I can receive 100% free treatment at any public clinic or public hospital. However, I carry private health insurance as well, for a major occurrence if needed. The reason for this is the closest hospital to me is a private one and if I have a real emergency, say a heart attack, I want to get medical attention ASAP. My annual premiums for two of us is $4,790.00 per year, for 100% coverage at any private hospital or doctor’s office after reaching our deductible of $5,000. That’s less than $400 per month.

BMI Best Meridian Insurance Logo
When I took a spill two years ago and broke my hand I went right to the CIMA private hospital just 7 miles from my home. After ex-rays, MRI, consultation with the doctors and a soft cast, the entire bill was only $1,000. I could not even get to my deductible. Guess I should have gone to the public hospital.

Typical private health insurance ID card
So, when thinking about moving to Costa Rica think about healthcare and private health insurance as it is very affordable here and Costa Rica healthcare is amongst the best in the world. If you would like more information send me an email to JosephEmanuelli@remax.net and I will introduce you to my insurance broker in the Playa Hermosa area.

FISHING FROM PLAYA HERMOSA

Costa Rica is considered a world class sport fishing destination. With 95 world records from Costa Rica’s inland and coastal waters, Costa Rica is an angler’s dream. The north Pacific coast is a huge repository of billfish, a term that refers to a group of fish characterized by prominent bills or swords—like Marlins and Sailfish. The waters off Playa Hermosa are perfect for fishing and in fact all the Papagayo Gulf, are just swimming with them.

Swordfish leaps out of the water in Playa Hermosa area of Costa Rica

When is a good time to fish the area? That depends what you want to catch. If you are after the big billfish, June through October the seas are calm and the big fish are swarming. You will have to go out about fifteen miles from shore but that’s not that far. Yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi, or dorado, are easy catches that time of year also. The northwest Pacific coast is one of the best areas to target all the pelagic (bill fish) species at once.

Mahi Mahi off of Playa Hermosa

The time NOT to fish offshore is from December to March when the area is plagued by the Papagayo winds—trade winds blowing off Lake Nicaragua—that blow 15-25 miles per hour. The wind makes for very poor fishing conditions. Trust me I know I made the mistake. The seas are choppy and needless to say you get very wet!

However, this is a great time for inshore fishing, and the Gulf of Papagayo is home to some of Costa Rica’s biggest Roosterfish. These striped-headed fish with the crazy spines on their back can weigh up to 50 lbs. or even larger. One fishing experts says that–pound for pound–the roosterfish is one of the hardest fighting fish in the sea. He considers inshore fishing a great hands-on family activity in which everyone can participate, as opposed to the more intense offshore hunt for trophy fish.

Beach Fishing Playa Hermosa

Costa Rica strongly protects its fishing resources and requires that all sailfish, roosterfish and marlin be released as well as any other non-edible fish. So once you get it out of the water, take a quick photo, as that’s the only proof that you caught one as well have heard fish tales, and set it free.

Do you need a fishing license to fish Costa Rican waters? Yes, you do. If you are going out on a sport fishing charter, the boat captain will have obtained licenses for all on board. If you are using a reputable operator. But if you are making your own arrangements with a local guide or throwing your line out from shore, a fishing license is required. This can be accomplished on the INCOPESCA (Costa Rican Fisheries Institute) website. There is an office right in Playas Del Coco, in the Colonial shopping center. Check the web site for hours of operation.

Most fishing charters and tour companies provide full or half-day fishing trips. Plan your fishing trip with a local professional guide or tour operator once you arrive. Don’t be wooed by the slick website of an online company or fishing wholesaler. Consult local experts or people you may have meet or know. And by that I don’t mean to ask any Tico who has a panga (an open hull center console boat about 25 ft’long) to take you out. They will always tell you the fishing is great because that is what you want to hear, whether or not it is entirely true. But there are local fisherman that have grown up on the water that are really good at what they do. You just have to ask around.

Generally speaking, what you pay for is what you get in sport fishing. Don’t make a decision about your guide based solely on price. Sport fishing is expensive anywhere in the world. Not all things are equal and the top boats and captains will never be the cheap.

Catching Rooster fish off Playa Hermosa

You might ask? Do I have to have my own bait and tackle? I mean, I don’t have to dig my own worms, do I? Heck no! Fishing supplies are provided for you, depending on the charter company or local captain you decide on. Certain items like lunch, beverages and snacks will be included as well, but always aske beforehand so you are prepared. However, sunscreen and a hat that will stay on your head or one you do not care about loosing as you are speeding across the waves are highly recommended. If you sunburn easy, after a half day you will be fried to a crispy red if you don’t bring these items with you.

Yellow Fin Tuna from Playa Hermosa Costa Rica

Trip advisor lists several fishing charters in the Playa Hermosa / Playas del Coco and Playa Ocotal areas that receive five stars from their reviewers.
So when thinking of catching that giant black marlin of lifetime, do a little homework first and enjoy the day. Just remember it is called FISHING not CATCHING!!