Tuesday, July 25, 2017 Universal’s Harry Potter park is getting a new roller coaster ORLANDO, Fla. — The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is getting a little more thrilling at Universal Orlando Resort.The theme park resort announced Monday that it would be building a new roller coaster that will showcase favourite characters from J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series.The coaster will be built in the location of The Dragon Challenge ride, which is closing permanently in early September. The new ride will be in the Hogsmeade area of the Islands of Adventure park.The resort said on its official blog that the ride will be unlike any other rides at the park and it will be for the entire family.The Dragon Challenge was a re-incarnation of Dueling Dragons, one of the original rides from Islands of Adventures’ grand opening in 1999. << Previous PostNext Post >> Source: The Associated Press Share Tags: Orlando, Theme Parks & Attractions
Share Wednesday, September 20, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> TALLAHASSEE — VISIT FLORIDA is launching a hurricane response marketing plan “to invite visitors back to the Sunshine State in a responsible way”, where the focus is on marketing on unaffected areas while providing real-time information and updates on locations that continue to strengthen every day, says VISIT FLORIDA President & CEO, Ken Lawson.While several communities sustained serious damage from Hurricane Irma, many areas of Florida did not see significant impacts, he noted.VISIT FLORIDA has been in touch with the state’s Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) “to get a county-by-county damage assessment and to review plans to best promote our state to visitors”, says Lawson.“The vast majority of DMOs were happy to report that their destination is open for business. The areas of our state that were more impacted are rebuilding and planning to reopen as soon as possible.”Lawson says VISIT FLORIDA’s post-hurricane marketing plan will provide “an authentic view” of Florida to assist potential visitors as they make travel plans. Campaign tactics will be digitally focused with a series of true-view videos from destinations across the state – “an aggressive push to energize our Share a Little Sunshine advocates to share real-time images of the state with #LoveFL”, as well as customized plans to support the communities that were directly impacted by Hurricane Irma.VISIT FLORIDA continues to share real-time travel safety updates at its Florida Now page at its website, visitflorida.com. Local DMOs are also updating their websites to serve as a post-hurricane information resource.More news: ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growth“The Florida tourism industry has recovered from many storms over the years, and I have no doubt that our communities and our state will quickly rebound from Hurricane Irma as well,” said Lawson.In Miami, the Greater Miami CVB has kicked off its #MiamiNow campaign with discounts and deals for visitors. The new destination-wide promotion supports local businesses and jobs offering savings throughout Miami and the Beaches now until Oct. 31.Miami and the Beaches is open for business following minimal impact from Hurricane Irma this past week, says the CVB.#MiamiNow unites 6 of the 12 top GMCVB Temptations Programs: Miami Spice, Miami Spa, Miami Hotel, Miami Attractions, Miami Museums and Shop Miami Month.The program offers a variety of deals, providing tremendous value on hotels, restaurants, spas, museums, attractions and shopping. “There has never been a better time to visit, or better destination-wide savings,” says the CVB.#MiamiNow features include:DINE: The much-loved Miami Spice Restaurant Month has been extended through Oct. 31 with nearly 200 restaurants participating. Highlighting Greater Miami and The Beaches’ diverse culinary scene, Miami Spice restaurants will continue offering reduced prices (US$23 per person for lunch and brunch / $39 per person for dinner) in some of the hottest neighborhoods in town.STAY: Many hotels are extending special offers through Oct. 31 as part of the #MiamiNow promotion. Hotels throughout the destination from Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Sunny Isles Beach and more are offering promotional rates and special amenity packages. A few of the hotel participants include: Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Ritz-Carlton South Beach, Coconut Grove and Bal Harbour properties, Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami, Marenas Beach Resort Sunny Isles Beach, The Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables, EPIC Hotel, Four Season Hotel Miami and Mandarin Oriental Miami.More news: Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problemPAMPER: Miami Spa Month is back with more than 25 spas offering exclusive treatments at $109 and $139, with select spas offering treatments for $199.SHOP: Miami’s most popular malls, marketplaces, boutiques, restaurants and hotels will be offering incentives across different retailers.ARTS & ATTRACTIONS: Many Miami and the Beaches attractions and museum are rolling out special Miami Now offers and buy-one-get-one-free admissions.“We are proud of our local tourism industry for being among the first in the destination to raise their hand to keep the community moving forward,” says William D. Talbert, III, C.D.M.E. “Tourism is the number one industry in Miami-Dade County and the #MiamiNow promotion celebrates the best of Miami’s tourism industry across many sectors while welcoming visitors from near and far for some of the best value driven offers the destination has ever seen.”For a complete listing of all the #Miami Now special offers, visit MiamiandtheBeaches.com. For a live look at Greater Miami and the Beaches, see the webcams at SeeMiamiLive.com. Travelweek Group Florida looks to jump-start post-Irma travel with new campaign Tags: Florida Posted by
Travelweek Group LAX has just given us smart bathrooms and we should all be grateful Tweet LOS ANGELES — Starting today, passengers at LAX will be doing their business in far more intelligent quarters.Los Angeles International Airport has partnered with tech companies Infax and Tooshlights to transform a bathroom in Terminal 4 into a ‘smart restroom’. Available to American Airlines, American Eagle and Qantas fliers, the updated lavatory combines cutting edge technology to make it a little less gross and a lot more efficient.As part of the pilot program, 20 restroom stalls will feature a lights system similar to those found in parking garages; each unit consists of a smart latch and indicator light that turns green when it’s available, and red when it’s occupied. There are also blue indicator lights for ambulatory stalls.Credit: ToshlightsYou know what this means – no more having to duck your head under stalls to check for feet, a major plus in our book!In addition, Travel+Leisure reports that a digital tracking system keeps count of the number of people who go in and out of the restroom, as well as the amount of time in between cleanings. After a set number of uses, janitors are then notified to clean the facility.More news: Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?“We’re incredibly excited to try out this new technology, which should help improve our guest experience and allow us to better monitor and service our restrooms,” said Barbara Yamamoto, Chief Experience Officer at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). “The desire for clean and available restrooms is consistently in the top ranks of what guests want at an airport, and this will help us provide a higher level of service to the travelling public and allow us to better meet our strategic goal of delivering facilities and guest experiences that are exceptional.”If the pilot program is successful (and we don’t see why it wouldn’t be because, yay for clean bathrooms!), LAX hopes to expand the program throughout Terminal 4. << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Wednesday, April 4, 2018 Tags: Airports, California
Posted by “Transat’s future is very bright”: Transat marks 30 years since its first Toronto-London flight Tags: Transat Tuesday, April 24, 2018 Share Transat had two Lockheed aircraft back in those days, and a vision that has endured, said Eustache: “We have always tried to offer traveller affordable products that encourage them to travel the world.”He added: “I am exceedingly proud when I look back at how far we’ve come since that first flight out of Toronto, and how much the company has grown in Ontario and the rest of Canada. Over the years, our organization has adjusted to a changing and ever more competitive business environment. It has evolved and rapidly responded to emerging consumer needs when it comes to products, destinations, services, and of course price.More news: Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin Cruises“We work in a vibrant industry full of stimulating challenges, which is seeing steady growth. And there is no shortage of travellers. We are moving forward enthusiastically and optimistically.”Eustache said that Transat “is above all a leisure travel company” and is working actively to achieve its growth strategy. By combining Transat’s new hotels initiative with its existing leisure-travel business, “we will remain on the leading edge of travel industry innovation. We aim to stay at the forefront of the travel industry.”Earlier this year Transat tapped Jordi Solé to head up its Hotel Division. TORONTO — A gleaming white and blue A330-200, part of Transat’s strategic move to an all-Airbus fleet, was a fitting backdrop for last night’s 30th anniversary celebrations marking Transat’s first flight from Toronto to London, a buzzy event that drew hundreds of industry execs, colleagues and friends to the Air Transat hangar at Toronto Pearson Airport.Transat rewarded agents all throughout last year with Surprise Dates, prize giveaways and special incentives, to commemorate three decades since Transat took flight with sun routes, the first to Acapulco in 1987.Last night the celebratory mood continued – and so did the prizes – as Transat gave away three trips to the Transat destination of the winner’s choosing, to mark 30 years since Transat took wing across the Atlantic with service from Toronto to London.Jordi Solé, President, Hotel Division, Transat and Jean-Marc Eustache, President and CEO, TransatOver the years Transat grew to become Canada’s first integrated international tourism company and its lineup now includes 60 destinations in two major markets – transatlantic (Europe and the Middle East) and the South – out of 21 airports across Canada. It also commercializes flights to Canada in 13 European countries as well as in Israel, the U.S. and its sun destination countries.More news: Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Addressing the crowd at last night’s event, Transat President and CEO Jean-Marc Eustache sent out a special thank you to industry veteran Errol Francis, who took a chance on Transat back in those early days. After retiring from the travel industry Francis, in attendance last night, got into the real estate game, noted Eustache. “He tells me he’s happy, he’s not working too hard and he’s making lots of money,” Eustache joked. Francis’ support was pivotal in getting Transat off the ground, said Eustache, adding: “I want to thank him.” Eustache also lauded Transat’s Chief Operating Officer, Annick Guérard, an integral part of Transat’s succession plan as Eustache eyes retirement: “Annick will be terrific, ten times better than me.”Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, among the dignitaries at last night’s event, said Transat is renowned for its excellent customer service and top-notch fleet. “Transat’s future is very bright.”Among the company’s distinctions and awards (2017–2018), Transat was named the world’s second-best leisure airline and best in North America at the Skytrax World Airline Awards.After three decades Transat remains steadfast in its mission, said Eustache: “to brighten the days of travellers with the joys of vacations.” Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>
Posted by Tags: Air Canada, Hopper, WestJet Friday, June 8, 2018 Travelweek Group Share Hopper confirms end of controversial ‘Secret Fares’ program MONTREAL — Hopper’s Secret Fares stirred up intense backlash from the travel agent community. Now Hopper has announced that it has ceased offering Secret Fares in its app, effective immediately.The Montreal-based app developer announced in May that both Air Canada and WestJet were among the airlines ready to start using its airfare prediction app to unload some of their seats via ‘secret fares’ at discounts of up to 35%.But just one day later, both airlines released statements to dispute the claim that they were offering these fares, seen by many as a slight to travel agents. Air Canada confirmed that it would no longer provide tactical fares to Hopper, while WestJet said it was “severing ties” with the company “due to the confusion this has created in the marketplace”.Hopper has now come forward to clarify that Secret Fares was a “Hopper-specific marketing strategy and not a unique class of airfare”. It went on to say that airlines offer distinct fares to specific types of agencies, “in our case online travel agencies”, and that they are marketed under a range of different brand names.More news: Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Travellers will still be able to purchase published fares through the Hopper app.“At Hopper, we truly value our airline partners and sincerely apologize for any confusion caused by the way the Secret Fares initiative was marketed,” said Hopper CEO, Frederic Lalonde. “In order to eliminate any further confusion around the program, we have removed all Secret Fares from the app and will not restart the initiative at any time in the future.” << Previous PostNext Post >>
<< Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by This town was just named the friendliest in all of Canada Share TORONTO – How do you determine who is the nicest in a group of people? Do they all simply defer to their neighbour, kindly forfeiting the prize in a show of ultimate humility?Luckily for residents of 25 Canadian cities and town, they won’t have to battle it out for the title of Friendliest Community in Canada because Expedia has done the job for them. The travel company has just released its second annual friendliness report that ranks the country’s nicest towns in 2018 using hotel review data from 2017. Out of a list of over 750 destinations, the towns and communities on the list all had at least 100 reviews and an impressive four-star rating or higher.So which town beat out all others on the friendly list? None other than Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, the popular vacation hotspot known for its quaint B&Bs, wineries and, of course, nearby Niagara Falls. Expedia praised the destination for its smorgasbord of chocolates and its landmark Just Christmas store, known for being the oldest year-round Christmas Emporium in Canada.More news: Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?How a could a place that loves Christmas not be considered a friendly place to visit?As for the rest of the Top 25, check them out below – did you hometown make the list?Niagara-on-the-Lake, ONAirdrie, ABTofino, BCTruro, NSSherwood Park, ABLeduc, ABHuntsville, ONVaughan, ONSault Ste. Marie, ONHalifax, NSJohn’s, NLPeterborough, ONDartmouth, NSSaskatoon, SKUcluelet, BCOttawa, ONCourtenay, BCInvermere, BCRadium Hot Springs, BCNelson, BCCharlottetown, PEIFernie, BCVictoria, BCEnfield, NSQuebec City, QCTo see the list go to https://www.expedia.ca/travelblog/travelblog/friendliest-communities-and-towns-in-canada-2018/. Travelweek Group Tags: Canada, Expedia Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Share Tuesday, July 3, 2018 Posted by Alex Keerma Tags: Openings & Renovations, RIU Hotels & Resorts Next to the children’s pool there is also a RiuLand club and a playground, and a new gym and the Riu Fit zone. These new amenities and the new free WiFi service now available throughout the hotel complement the entertainment offer of the animation team and of the ‘Pacha’ discotheque, also renovated, says RIU.Riu Tequila’s overhaul is just the latest resort news from RIU Hotels & Resorts. This year RIU expects to open the Riu Palace Baja California (December 2018) and has also renovated one of its classic hotels, Riu Sante Fe. RIU is also updating Riu Palace Punta Cana in the D.R. and Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Jamaica. Massive overhaul for Riu Tequila, now with 5 pools and modern décor across 630 rooms PLAYA DEL CARMEN — Twenty years after it first opened in Playa del Carmen, the legendary Riu Tequila is showing off its new look after months of renovations.The resort has undergone a massive overhaul, says RIU Hotels & Resorts, with a complete renovation to common areas, gardens and all 630 rooms. There’s also an expanded gastronomic selection with two new restaurants and a barbecue station with grilled dishes.Room décor is now fresher and more modern, dominated by white with touches of red. The floors of all the rooms have been replaced with ceramic parquet, in keeping with RIU’s new style. The bathrooms in all the rooms, with the same flooring, also now provide shower stalls. Riu Tequila has also gone from having two large organically shaped swimming pools and one for children, to a total of five rectangular and more modern pools. One of the pools is just for kids and has slides, while another has a swim-up bar.More news: Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesFollowing the renovation, the Riu Tequila also offers the new Italian restaurant, Rinascita, and a new steakhouse called Black Cow. Both are in addition to the existing Rosa Roja main buffet, Bamboo serving Asian cuisine, and the Beach Club restaurant that turns in to a Mexican-themed restaurant every evening. The barbecue station prepares grilled dishes at lunchtime.With the complete renovation of the main building, lobby bar La Veranda, cocktail lounge La Fiesta and Sports Bar 24 have been redone and renamed as well, as has Coco’s Bar, the swim-up bar in the garden area. << Previous PostNext Post >> About Latest Posts Alex Keerma Latest posts by Alex Keerma (see all) WestJet adds to network, nonstop flights between Austin and Calgary – May 3, 2019 Senior Travel Advisor – Peterborough Office – April 12, 2019 “I didn’t know she was married”: Kimpton’s social experiment inspires new themed rooms – March 6, 2019
Posted by Apply now for Just You’s new South Africa fam Share << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — Following its widely successful Italy fam, Just You has launched its second agent familiarization tour, this time to South Africa.Departing Aug. 24 and returning Sept. 1, the eight-day fam includes all breakfasts, lunches and dinners, porterage for luggage, and transfers on arrival and departure dates. International flights are not included, but the flights within South Africa are complimentary.A total of 18 travel agents will sample local food and wine, learn about the country’s apartheid history, and search for the Big 5 in Kruger National Park over the course of the fam.The trip starts in Johannesburg with a tour of Soweto before heading to Kruger National Park where guests will stay for three nights and head out on safaris. Other highlights include exploring Cape Town and visiting Table Mountain, plus a trip to Cape Nature Reserve and Boulders Beach to see penguins.“We are really excited to be offering another trip for agents to experience what a Just You tour is like, and see why we’re the experts in solo travel,” said Nick Roberti, Just You’s National Sales Manager.More news: Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problemAs an added incentive, agents who sell 10 Just You tours within a year of returning from the fam will earn their fam money back. “Just another reason to apply to travel with us,” added Roberti.Agents must apply before June 14 and fill out an application form, available here: http://bit.ly/JustYouFamSA.Just You offers guaranteed departures of every tour in its latest brochure. It also has a guaranteed price match and guaranteed price promise, meaning customers can book with confidence knowing that they’re getting the best deal for their chosen tour.The company also prides itself on offering handpicked accommodation, with every agent getting a twin or double room of their own. Each Just You tour is also accompanied by a professional Tour Manager. Tags: FAM, Just You, South Africa Travelweek Group Friday, May 31, 2019
President Laura Chinchilla will tour Europe between May 20 and 31 to promote cooperation between Central America and the EU, attract investment and meet with Pope Benedict XVI.Chinchilla is scheduled to visit France, Germany, the Vatican and Geneva, accompanied by four of her ministers: Enrique Castillo (Foreign), Anabel González (Foreign Trade), Sandra Piszk (Labor) and Gloria Abraham (Agriculture).Communications Minister Francisco Chacón said May 17 that the main objective of the trip is to position Costa Rica as an attractive destination for investment.Chinchilla left Costa Rica Sunday night and will arrive in France the next day to start business at the Annual Forum of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).The meeting with OECD comes nearly a year after the agency removed Costa Rica from its list of “tax havens,” on which the country had appeared since 2009. Facebook Comments No related posts.
Meanwhile, Costa Rican model and activist Leonora Jiménez queried Dobles on the makeup of the Incopesca board of directors. Five board members are representatives of the commercial fishing industry, a fact conservationists have long gnashed their teeth over.Dobles did his best to bat away the criticisms, pointing out that the Incopesca board is composed according to the law that created the organization. He also pointed out that the institute operates on one of the smallest governmental budgets in the country, and that with only 18 inspectors to man the public dock in Puntarenas on the Pacific coast, the organization has a massive job on its hands.Environmentalists seemed unimpressed with Dobles’ responses, but several fisherman stood to voice their support for Incopesca and to accuse Arauz of lying.But when the tide went out and the heated exchanges died down as attendees made their way towards tables lined with coffee and hors d’oeuvres, it was hard to tell who had been the sharks and who had been the bait.“Pretoma and [conservation group] MarViva want to shut down and stop everything,” said a man who identified himself as shrimp trawler, but did not want to share his name. “Help us improve, help us make our fishing better, but don’t shut us down.” Facebook Comments Gabe Dinsmoor “After an analysis of almost seven or eight months, … [the SAA] believes the response of Costa Rica … is totally consistent to answer each and every argument presented by Pretoma, and as a result, officially notified the government of Costa Rica that it has suspended the evaluation process and ordered that it be archived,” Dobles said.The Incopesca official added that the dismissal of the complaint means Costa Rica avoids potential fines of up to $15 million.Two weeks ago, the United States announced the end of a three-year embargo on Costa Rican shrimp exports. The ban was levied against the country in 2009 for lack of enforcement of the use of TEDs on shrimp trawlers. U.S. inspectors visiting Costa Rica in October and November of last year concluded the country had improved means to sanction captains that did not use the devices, which help protect endangered sea turtles from drowning in fishing nets.Dobles and his Incopesca entourage then headed across town to the Legislative Assembly where the environmental sharks were circling.The Front for Our Seas is a collective of nongovernmental conservation organizations, including Pretoma, organized to “improve marine administration via a series of legal, scientific and political approaches.”The front held their own public discussion in the assembly’s Ex-Presidents Salon, and Dobles ended up seated next to Pretoma President Randall Arauz, who filed the now-dismissed complaint before CAFTA.For the next two and half hours, speakers from different environmental groups took swipes at Incopesca, accusing the institution in no uncertain terms of abetting shark finning, a destructive practice that is decimating shark populations globally. Groups also accused Incopesca of setting fisheries policy with little or no scientific studies or annual fisheries data to guide policy-making, of allowing foreign fleets to over-exploit tuna fisheries in Costa Rican waters, and of catering to the semi-industrial and industrial national fleets at the expense of small-scale fishermen in the development of management policy.Last week, the Front for Our Seas filed a lawsuit before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) asking for a ban on shrimp trawling, which is recognized to be an environmentally destructive form of fishing resulting in sea-floor damage, siltification of ocean waters and huge amounts of non-shrimp bycatch. The Sala IV agreed to hear the suit.The attacks on the institute were like chum in the water, eliciting grumbles from fishermen attending the forum in support of Incopesca, and stirring environmentalists into a feeding frenzy of grievance-airing.Some fishermen held signs questioning Pretoma or showing support of the institute, and they cheered Dobles when he finished speaking. Metaphorical seas turned red in San José on Thursday as government officials and conservation organizations got together to celebrate World Oceans Day.The Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) started the day off with what appeared to be a preemptive press conference announcing the rejection of a complaint filed by the Marine Turtle Restoration Program (Pretoma) before the Secretary of Environmental Affairs (SAA) for the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).That complaint alleged Incopesca had not complied with regulations in CAFTA requiring shrimp trawlers to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on their nets.Luis Dobles, Incopesca board president, called the allegations “false” and “reckless.” Luis Dobles, President of Incopesca, fields criticism from environmentalists at a forum hosted by the Our Oceans Front at the Legislative Assembly in San José on World Oceans Day. Environmental organizations accuse Incopesca of mismanaging marine resources in Costa Rica. Randall Arauz, president of Pretoma, talks to reporters at a forum on marine resource management at the Legislative Assembly Thursday June 07, 2012. Gabe Dinsmoor No related posts.
No related posts. On Friday, June 22, area residents met with government officials at the Salón Comunal in Cabanga to discuss paving the Guatuso Road, or Ruta Nacional 143. This is the section from the Lake Road to Guatuso.The meeting was organized and well-attended. There has been an ongoing effort to get this road paved. Several government officials were in attendance, including National Roadway Council Director José Luis Salas, Tilarán Mayor Jovel Ortega, Guatuso Mayor Abelino, Upala Mayor Alejandro Hernández as well as the presidents of the local associations of both Tilarán and Guatuso. Many residents spoke about the need for the road. This is an important road for tourists as it connects the Arenal area to the popular sites of Río Celeste and Río Negro. It also offers a route to the Caribbean. A topographical and engineering study will begin in August and conclude by September. The completion is projected for 2016. The cantons of Tilarán and Guatuso are establishing a commission to cooperate on this and other projects. Certain sections may be singled out for improvements first, as they are most in need. Examples include the road through the town of Cabanga and up the hill on this side of Dos Rocas.The residents were pleased with the response from officials. When Salas was asked if he would put this plan and schedule in writing, he agreed. The community was seeing work on the roads in other areas as well. The Lake Road between Nuevo Arenal and La Fortuna, near where the restaurant Indio Pelado was located, is now sporting a new, one-lane Bailey bridge. Other improvements on the Lake Road include improving the road between there and La Fortuna. Thanks to Jeff Spencer for his assistance with this report.-Lynn Farris LynnFarris@ymail.com Facebook Comments
No related posts. For all of you Patriot fans, the official week of mourning is over. Take off the black armbands, because it’s time to gear-up for all-out revenge, even if it’s achieved via San Francisco. What is a 49er, anyway, a shoe size? I.Q.? Waist measurement? Who cares, so long as they pound the Baltimore Blackbirds into shameful oblivion.The free bar-buffet provided by the Sunset Grill for last year’s Superbowl was so popular that owner Patrick Hughes plans to expand the selections this year.In addition, Master Sushi Chef Oz will be working his magic from a menu featuring 36 different types of sushi. Sunset’s enormous widescreen TV makes you feel like you’re on the sidelines watching the game. There will be a football pool, but you won’t need your swimsuits.The Iguana’s Tropical bar and Grill will host its first Superbowl this year. Free bocas with any first beverage, ceviche for $1 with any drink, a BBQ rib dinner special, sangria pitchers, chicken quesadillas, famous onion rings and Raven wings and Iguana’s prize-winning Texas chili will be featured. Three widescreen TVs ensure viewing from anywhere. A 100-square football pool will add excitement, with winners announced after each quarter. Square selections begin today and players must be present to receive their prizes. Will the girls be wearing cheerleader outfits? We hope so, but can’t promise anything.Earlier in the day on Superbowl Sunday there will be a recreational mountain bike ride to Coter Lake. Staging area is the Nuevo Arenal soccer field at 9 a.m. Don’t forget to apply sunblock, and bring fluids to maintain hydration.–William & Jean Priestjean_pri@msn.com Facebook Comments
Facebook Comments Protestant churches are joining with the LGBT advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign and others to make their congregations more welcoming to gay and transgender Ticos.The Episcopal Church of Costa Rica announced Thursday that it would join the Lutheran Church, the LGBT advocacy group Diversity Movement, the U.S.-based Human Rights Campaign, and the Student Federation of the University of Costa Rica to discuss faith, sexual orientation and gender identity at the University of Costa Rica on Tuesday, March 4.Organizers will show the 2013 film “Before God: We Are All Family.” Filmed in the United States and Puerto Rico, the movie explores Latino families’ relationship with faith and sexual identity. Following the film, Bishop Héctor Monterroso of the Costa Rican Episcopal Church, Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera of the HRC, and Diversity Movement President Marco Castillo, among others, will meet for a panel discussion.“We have a saying in the Episcopal Church: ‘All are welcome and equal in the eyes of God.’ We want the diverse community to feel respected and welcome,” said Monterroso, according to a statement.“The first step is to promote dialogue, learn, listen and declare what we always have said. We want to heal the wounds that many LGBT people have with religion. We should understand that they are God’s creation and God does not err. We must accept them as God created them,” he added.The event will be held at 5 p.m. at the University of Costa Rica’s Health Science Library. Related posts:Costa Rican legislature accidentally passes gay marriage legalization Costa Rica grants first gay common-law marriage in Central America Costa Rica’s changing definition of family hits cookie commercial Panama bill calls for jail time for anti-gay hate crimes
The sun was rising over the jungles of Costa Rica’s southern Pacific, bathing decorated bodies in sunlight, mine included. I had been dancing with the rest since the sun had dipped below the horizon.Random Rab was nearing the end of his performance, and a small group of people hugged in the middle of the earthen dance floor. Like magnets, others floated over and the group hug grew by hundreds. Feeling trust, I joined, stretching my arms out to embrace those in front of me. I felt hands grip my arms, my back, my waist. Others joined beside me and behind me until I was inside the mass of bodies, unable to move, surrounded by sweat, feathers and glitter. The coil of humans started swaying and I was gently swept off my feet, suspended in the air, supported by my festival family. I felt happy. The first time I heard about Envision two years ago, I wasn’t excited to attend. In fact, I was dreading it. It seemed like camping would be very hot in the summertime, and also I worried that it would remind me of why, so many years ago, I stopped raving.I grew up a raver in the 90s, when parties were still held in abandoned warehouses, and there were only a few electronic music genres. I lived for the next party, it was my world, but I saw the scene go from PLUR (peace, love, unity, respect) to shit.It was amazing at first, everyone there for the music, dancing all night, sharing our love of the music. Then addictive drugs and egos took over. Parties moved inside clubs and the clubs hired DJs who had no idea what they were doing and people only went to get high. It seemed like no one cared about the music anymore. I saw many people become addicted to nasty drugs and a few people OD and die. The scene was disgusting. Jaded, I left it.So all of this was in the back of my mind during my first road trip to Envision last year. That and Skrillex. I was under the impression that all dubstep and new electronic genres sounded like Skrillex. I was wrong. I was so wrong about all of it. Envision 2013 reminded me of how I used to feel at raves, when they were still about all the right things. I danced all night, barefoot in the mud among thousands of smiling faces. People who came to hear the music, share their art, and learn how to make the world a better place. I learned that PLUR had not died. I couldn’t wait for Envision 2014. A fire dancer performs at Envision. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesThis year I planned to go for the whole time. I’d go early, I decided. I wanted to experience everything. I wanted it to be epic.My journey began before I even left San José, when I traded a ride for a pink and sparkle striped hula-hoop. The hula-hooping hitchhiker and I arrived to Rancho La Merced in Uvita on a blistering hot Wednesday afternoon, a day before the festival officially started. The box office line was short, but it took a while to get checked in. It seemed I wasn’t the only one struggling to think in the heat. After I got my bracelet, I headed to the line for the shuttle, a small wooden cattle truck.I climbed on board and picked a spot next to a ripe-smelling shirtless man with long dirty-blond hair and a vest illustrated with hundreds of wide-eyed cats. He smiled and so did I. I felt myself leaving my judgments behind on that bumpy ride, which felt like the NYC subway, but with blinding sunshine, colorful bugs, gray dust. A scorpion fell from a tree above us.We arrived on site to find several tents already set up, the port-a-potties smelling fresh, and many structures still under construction. Everything was made of bamboo within two weeks: four stages, a three-story temple, playgrounds, interactive art installations, vendor stalls, food stalls, a dishwashing station, showers and more.Building with bamboo is one of Envision’s eco-initiatives. This is a leave-no-trace event and festivalgoers are asked to keep Envision a conscious and progressive gathering. The grounds offered rampant recycling and garbage bins, compost bins and Dr. Bronner’s soap. Attendants were told to bring their own reusable containers for food and drink.I forgot my own reusable bowl, which meant it was time to manifest some dinnerware. I grabbed a foot-long piece of bamboo from a pile of shorter pieces leftover from construction and found a Tico with a rusty machete close by. He offered to cut it in half. I shared the other half and then I found a small bamboo shard to shovel the food from the trough into my mouth. I ate the delicious and healthy Envision café meal feeling accomplished. My bamboo trough was better than the dish I forgot because I found it, and I made it with the help of my new friends. Belly full, I slept soundly, anticipating a fun Thursday. An Envision attendee takes a break from the festivities by napping in a net made from recycled bike tires. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesEven at the Envision Festival there can be some downers. Come Thursday, the shuttle line was long and full of people who had waited over three hours in the sun to get checked in. I also had cuts on the tops of my feet and blisters on my heels from walking around in sandy shoes. On top of those annoyances, I couldn’t find a complete workshop schedule to plan my time. I was missing things. I was questioning my ability and desire to be at the festival.Still frustrated when the sun began to set, I was surprised when a small, smiling woman approached me and gave me a hug. She painted my face, the cool wet paint calming me down as the slender brush glided over my forehead and around my cheekbones. When she finished, she gave me another hug, banishing the day’s annoyances and readying me for the evening.The party that night felt more like an intimate gathering of friends in our primitive futuristic jungle village with psychedelic bamboo playgrounds, pretty lights and giant speakers. Many of the people on site seemed to be exhausted from the rapid construction, others were still building and some seemed to be saving energy for the next three nights.By Friday, the choking stench of port-a-pottie poop was lost behind the trailing smoke lines of incense, sage, buds and scented oils. Camp was full of thousands of people dressed as fairies, elves and animals. Many applied glitter to their faces in tribal patterns, along with feathers, arms full of bracelets, multiple necklaces, utility belts, insane headwear and skimpy clothing. Spontaneous art, yoga circles, hula-hooping ensembles, fire dancing gatherings, jam sessions, and friendships were being formed wherever I looked.My day started off with an attempt at Sonic Butterfly Yoga. The yoga took place in front of the tribal masked Luna stage under an earth harp, a giant instrument. The body of the earth harp rested on a two-story bamboo platform about 15 or 30 meters back from the stage. The strings traveled out over the audience and attached to the stage, framing landscape and audience. I had heard that last year’s yoga under the earth harp was epic.I set up my mat and got started, but I was sweating so much I could not hold a pose, not even downward dog. I was also distracted by the dialogue of the female harp player: “Pull your leg back and up like a dog does when they pee,” she said. “Dogs are awesome, they can just pee wherever they want. … If they see something that they are curious about, they put it in their mouth. That’s right, put it in your mouth. Lick it. It tastes good. You like it.”Laughing, I surrendered and went into child’s pose. My yoga lesson for the day turned out to be about expectations: It wasn’t epic in the way I thought it would be, but I will never forget it. Yoga is beautiful in that way, you get out of it exactly what you need.After hugging the fit bleach blond instructor, I went back to my air-conditioned hotel room to take a nap and rest up for the night. At sunset, the crowd hit the beach to watch the sun go down. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesFriday night exploded into ecstasy the instant The Polish Ambassador took the stage. The “World’s Funkiest Diplomat” knows how to inspire movement like no other DJ/Producer I have ever heard or seen. I was putting the maximum amount of energy into every part of my body to dance to TPA and I felt like I wasn’t in control, I just had to move. Not one of the decorated people was dancing the same in front of the Luna stage waterfall. I was surrounded by people wearing animal costumes, T-shirts and shorts, and nothing. Some were head-banging, others were popping and locking. I could feel the heat from the torches and flamethrowers on stage. Multi-colored lights were illuminating the eyes of the tribal mask. The visual artists were producing patterns on the giant wings of the mask and moving colored lights were transforming the surrounding jungle into a psychedelic tropical disco.Time raced and suddenly the sun was rising. I hurried back to my hotel to rest up for Saturday workshops, but ended up sleeping through everything. I’m disappointed in myself because I was really looking forward to learning new things and to meeting more interesting people with ideas on how to make the world a better place. I mean, I don’t even know if that’s what would have happened. I might have just sweat in child’s pose all day. I’ll never know because I slept through it all.By the time I did make it to the festival grounds, Wildlight was beginning their set on the Lotus stage right before the sunset. Despite the beats from the other stages (untz untz untz) trying to drown out Ayla Nereo’s voice, Wildlight gave a performance that brought tears to my eyes. I just broke down, right there in front of the stage, dancing with other crying people. Her voice and songs are haunting and inspiring and get at inner truths that are difficult to put to words. I saw Ayla perform an equally stirring acoustic set the following day, exuding love. That girl got some kind of magic.From Wildlight to Fungineers, Phutureprimitive, Tipper, Andreilien, and Random Rab’s sunrise set, I was in music heaven, eargasming. And Sunday was more of the same. Wildlight performs onstage at Envision 2014. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesAt some point I lost track of time. I was walking in the restaurant area and it was completely dark. I didn’t know where my friends were, that was okay. Getting lost is an adventure at Envision. I was hungry and wondering whether it was time for breakfast or dinner. What time was it? What day was it? I didn’t ask, because it didn’t matter. I was in a different world and time did not exist.The Envision Orchestra was playing on the Sol stage. Envision Orchestra was a mix of whichever artists at the festival wanted to play, following the guidance of an improvisational conductor. These people had not rehearsed together and most had never even played together before. Despite some problems from the soundboard, it was one of the most amazing performances I had ever seen. These musicians got on the stage and just played, finding out just seconds before what key they’d be in, what themes their performance would include and who would take part.They started each song with just one instrument and slowly added more instruments or voices or audience participation to the mix, one by one. Each song increased in speed and energy as it progressed. At one point the lyrics were “This is the best festival” and the musicians were feeding the music with their energy, while the dancers were going insane with movement in the audience. I felt a bit uncomfortable at the beginning, but I was soon swept up into the frenzy, hugging people around me and thriving on their effervescence.I danced all night, although it might have only been swaying because I was exhausted. During Tipper’s sunrise set, I gave in, sat on the ground, and watched as a smiling girl with pink fairy wings, rhinestones on her face, and blue feathers in her hair floated around the jungle dance floor, picking up bits of trash. Other people were laying on foam mattresses or sarongs. A small few were still dancing. Tipper’s music was super chill, perfect for the morning after an intimate four-day gathering of creative people in the jungle. Filled with satisfaction, I thought, The Envision Orchestra was right. This feels like the best festival.The music stopped. Some of the producers got up on stage and thanked everyone for coming. Some were crying, all were hugging. I felt a hand on my lower spine and looked over my shoulder to see a small-framed boy in muddy swimming trunks. He wrapped his arms around me. “Gracias, thank you,” he said. Envision Festival was over, but Envision Spirit lives on. Peace, love, unity, respect. Facebook Comments Related posts:Overheard at Envision 2014 Lineup announced for Envision 2014 Maori tribesman, sprinting set designer and woman from everywhere and nowhere help prepare for Envision Festival 6 things you need to know about Envision Festival 2015
Unions, socialists and other left-leaning groups called for an end to status quo economic policies during a May Day march in downtown San José.The annual parade from Central Park to the Legislative Assembly was marked with rhetoric slamming of President Laura Chinchilla and past administrations for allegedly ignoring the working class, while demonstrators expressed hope that the incoming president, Luis Guillermo Solís, will turn to more progressive policies.The peaceful parade was not wholly polemical, as marching bands, musicians and even the siren of a fire truck added a festive character to the march. Political marchers ran the gamut of the left side of the spectrum, with unions, socialists, communists, anarchists, feminists and gay rights’ groups. Supporters of Solís’ center-left Citizen Action Party (PAC) marched alongside progressive Broad Front (FA) supporters.Speaking on behalf of the Costa Rican Labor and Social Movement, Martha Rodríguez expressed optimism at the incoming administration of Solís.“This change is also a product of our fights,” González said in a speech. “Without denying the participation of some leading politicians in some of those fights, we can affirm that the political parties took advantage of our efforts.”Rodríguez called on the new center-left president to not ignore the forces that helped carry him to victory. She asked for increased salaries for public and private workers, continued public control of transportation such as airports, ports and highways, and strengthening of Costa Rica’s embattled social security system, the Caja.Solís’ April election victory marked the first time since the 1948 civil war that the two historically dominant parties – the National Liberation Party (PLN) and the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) – had not won the presidency.Other marchers took the opportunity to share their conclusions on Chinchilla’s legacy, saying that unemployment has soared as well as the cost of electricity, housing and basic goods. An environmental activist from Puntarenas, Sergio Zúñiga, took the opportunity to slam the outgoing administration and its planning minister, Roberto Gallardo, on their controversial public works projects.“Mr. Minister Roberto Gallardo, the public works concession is a legalized robbery of our homeland: highways, ports, airports, and the rest. It’s mortgaging the future of this country. It’s treason against the country,” Zúñiga said in a speech. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Related posts:Costa Rica’s Solís flies in former drug plane to El Salvador Solís visits scandal-plagued border road, vows to clean up predecessor’s mess So much for dialogue and consensus: Legislative Assembly snubs President Solís’ 100-day report Costa Rica’s Solís hits the road again, this time to Canada Facebook Comments Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times LIndsay Fendt/The Tico Times Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times
Related posts:US officials in Cuba to discuss embassies US, Cuba said to have reach deal to reopen embassies US, Cuba agree on restoration of ties, embassies to reopen Obama administration to further ease travel and business restrictions with Cuba Related: Will Cuba rejoin the IMF?One of the first things the State Department would like to do when diplomatic relations are reestablished with Cuba is to renovate the once and future U.S. Embassy building — a six-story, 1950s-era structure on the Havana waterfront that is in desperate need of a new roof.That will be the easy part of U.S.-Cuba normalization talks scheduled to begin Jan. 21, barely a month after President Barack Obama’s surprise announcement of renewed diplomatic ties.Administration officials are fairly clear about what they want the talks to achieve, including agreement to increase the number of U.S. diplomats allowed in Cuba, currently set at 51. Most of those are consular officials handling U.S. immigration and tourist visas for Cubans, which last year totaled more than 56,000.The “normal” embassy that the administration has said it wants to establish in Havana would include officials attached to other departments beyond State, such as Commerce, Treasury, Justice and an intelligence contingent. Existing restrictions on official travel around the island would be eliminated, with reciprocal lifting of limits for Cuba’s diplomats and other officials here, currently limited to 26.New parameters for U.S. trade and other exchanges under the remaining embargo are expected to be published by the Treasury and Commerce departments as early as this coming week. They will focus heavily on the U.S. export of telecommunications equipment to Cuba, a part of the sanctions and supplementary laws that are more loosely constructed than other prohibitions.But what Cuba wants out of normalization, beyond the reestablishment of its longtime embassy on 16th Street NW in Washington, is less clear. Although the 18 months of secret, Vatican-blessed talks eventually led to diplomatic agreement, many details must be worked out.And even assuming the best of Cuban intentions, two significant factors could limit a bustling new relationship.Recommended: Rodrigo Carreras, Costa Rica’s envoy to Israel, gets ready for his next challenge: Cuba Cubans queue near the U.S. Interests Section Office in Havana to apply for visas, on Dec. 22, 2014. Yamil Lage/AFPThe wording of anti-Cuba legislation leaves substantial wiggle room for easing existing trade, travel and financial regulations. But the laws insist that full economic relations cannot be established until Cuba allows freedom of political and other expression and moves toward a democratically elected government, something the ruling Communist Party has shown no interest in.U.S. offers to construct a modern telecommunications infrastructure could provide not only vastly improved Internet and cellphone capabilities for Cuban citizens but also a potential new revenue stream for the government. If Cuba decides not to avail itself of the opportunity, it will be largely because its communist leaders have decided they don’t want their citizens to have more open contact with each other and the world.The administration, which so far has little indication of what direction the Cuban government will move, will be looking for hints in the upcoming talks. At the same time, however, no matter how eager the U.S. government and companies are to trade with Cuba, the island has little to sell and little money to buy U.S. goods.There is little manufacturing and its agricultural produce is unlikely to significantly break into a hemispheric market that is glutted with similar products or, as with sugar in the United States, heavily regulated to give the advantage to domestic players.What Cuba does have is the makings of a strong service economy fueled by tourism and an exceptionally well-educated population. The question to which U.S. officials have few answers is whether the government is prepared to utilize those resources in ways that are bound to undercut its tight grip on the Cuban people and their access to the rest of the world. Cuba has the makings of a strong service economy fueled by tourism and an exceptionally well-educated population. David Boddiger/The Tico TimesAs Obama and other U.S. officials have said repeatedly since the opening was announced, they view normalization as a step-by-step process that will not be completed overnight. They have made clear that the goal of allowing more U.S. citizens, and more U.S. products, to travel to Cuba is to gradually pry open island society and politics. With more opportunities to talk directly to the Cuban government, officials have said, they will talk more about human rights and other problems they see.Already, some U.S. lawmakers and interest groups have indicated they see problems with what Cuba has offered on the front end of the deal and want faster evidence of change on the island. In a letter sent to Obama on Thursday, the top Republican and Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee insisted that he publicly release the names and current status of 53 political prisoners Havana has pledged to release.“We think you will agree that the United States-Cuba relationship cannot near its considerable potential until the fundamental human rights of the Cuban people are respected by their government,” wrote Rep. Edward Royce, R-Calif., the committee chairman, and ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.So far, the administration has resisted pressure to release the names, out of concern it would target specific detainees and irritate Havana. But officials were noticeably relieved when more than three dozen detainees had exited Cuban jails by Friday.“I’m not going to confirm numbers or names at this point in time,” State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said Friday. “But these releases are certainly consistent with the cases that we raised with the Cuban government.”© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments
Costa Rican Christiana Figueres was awarded the Medal of Paris on Wednesday for helping broker the historic, 195-nation deal to avert climate change that was sealed in the French capital last week.Figueres, who is the daughter of Costa Rica’s revolutionary leader and three-time president, José “Pepe” Figueres, is executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo presented Figueres the award a few days after the close of the U.N. climate conference known as COP21.“Happy and proud to have awarded the medal of the city of Paris to Christiana Figueres, a great lady without which the agreement of the COP21 concluded in Paris, would not have been possible,” Hidalgo wrote on her Facebook page. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo hugs Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (Via Facebook)As the U.N.’s climate chief, Figueres has spent the last five years trying to get U.N. member states closer to an agreement on averting climate disaster, and on Saturday, after nearly a fortnight of grueling negotiations, representatives of nearly 200 countries came to a consensus on a new climate pact.The deal, which takes effect in 2020, sets a target of limiting warming of the planet to below 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial levels, while aiming for an even more ambitious goal of 1.5 C temperature rise.Costa Rica has pledged to become carbon neutral — meaning greenhouse gas emissions would be cancelled out by carbon sequestration — by 2085. Reforming the country’s transportation sector is key to achieving that goal.Besides the recognition for Figueres, Paris honored Costa Rica’s commitment to renewable energy during the climate conference by lighting up the Eiffel Tower on Nov. 30 with the phrase “100% Pura Vida.”Figueres was part of Costa Rica’s international climate change negotiating team before taking the job as U.N. climate chief. Facebook Comments Related posts:A Paris climate change talks primer for Costa Rica Weather disasters have doubled in past 30 years: UN report PHOTOS: Costa Ricans march against climate change Costa Rica’s climate pledge: 5 things to know
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a fiery finalState of the Union address to Congress Tuesday night. Here are some key quotes that have people talking:1. Don’t be afraid“America’s been through big changes before — wars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears.”2. IS fight not WWIII“As we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands. Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence.”3. Ignore ‘hot air’ on economy“Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction. … I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air.”4. GOP: Watch those soundbites“The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV soundbite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world’s stage.”5. Swipe at Trump“When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.”6. ‘Moonshot’ bid to cure cancer“Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. … And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”7. Gitmo must go“That is why I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo: it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies.”8. Lift that embargo“Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, it set us back in Latin America. That’s why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. So if you want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere, recognize that the Cold War is over. Lift the embargo.”9. Climate change is real“Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. … Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely.”10. Regrets“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency – that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. I have no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.” Facebook Comments Related posts:US President Obama hopes to stoke optimism in farewell union address President Obama’s speech was a wholesale rejection of Trump’s worldview Obama courts middle class in State of the Union address State of the Union is Obama’s bid to persuade his constituents of progress
Wrapped in a Costa Rican flag, taxi driver Virginia Moreira chained herself to a tree outside President Luis Guillermo Solís’ home in the Escalante neighborhood of San José Wednesday as part of an “indefinite” protest against the government’s handling of Uber and current taxi regulations.Moreira, 54, said that she’s been driving her taxi for 28 years but lost her permission to drive this year because her vehicle is 16 years old, one year past the 15-year age limit on official, red taxis under Costa Rican law. (Uber requires that the cars in its fleet be no older than four years.)“I’m here to fight for by children’s bread. It’s my job,” Moreira told The Tico Times. “My children are used to me being a taxi driver and I can’t work in anything else.”Police closed off the street in front of Solís’ home and a group of taxis parked in solidarity near Moreira, some with the phrase “Uber out” drawn on their windows. The demonstration was peaceful.Besides calling for a reform to the law to allow older taxis to circulate, Moreira said the government was unfair in how it applies the law to unlicensed taxis, known as pirate taxis or piratas, and Uber drivers.“Today the government does not support us,” Moreira said. “They apply the law to us, who are legal, and they don’t apply the law to those who aren’t.” Police blocked the road into the Escalante neighborhood of San José for several hours on the morning of Feb. 10 after a taxi driver chained herself to a tree in front of the home of President Luis Guillermo Solís. Zach Dyer/The Tico TimesAccording to Casa Presidencial spokeswoman Stephanie González, the president’s office agreed to receive her letter of protest in person at Casa Presidencial but Moreira refused.Uber went online in Costa Rica in August 2015 without the permission of the government. The Solís administration has maintained that Uber’s service is illegal under Costa Rican law but has yet to announce an enforcement strategy against the application or its drivers here.Moreira said the smartphone application has hurt business for red taxis. She called on the government to take action against the company and pirate taxis, and to meet with taxi union representatives.Thus far, such meetings have failed to produce satisfactory results for the taxi lobby. Taxis blocked streets in the Zapote neighborhood of San José and in front of Casa Presidencial on Feb.1 after the government refused to block access to the Uber app in Costa Rica. The protests made national headlines after a group of taxi drivers threw eggs at other red taxis who did not participate in the demonstrations.Moreira said if her protest did not result in a meeting with transit authorities and changes to the government’s current handling of Uber and other unlicensed transportation, other taxi drivers would chain themselves to buildings around San José.Besides the Costa Rican flag, Moreira wore a coat and had a hat on hand for the unseasonably cold weather this week. She also has a white plastic chair if she gets tired of standing.“I’m ready to take whatever time is necessary,” she said.Katherine Stanley contributed reporting to this article. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica will not block Uber, says presidency minister Taxi drivers throw eggs as Uber Costa Rica offers free rides Uber supporters say court case could legalize ride-hailing service in Costa Rica Taxis protest as lawmakers present bill that could legalize Uber
Members from all three branches of government were caught up in the Bolaños scandal: one magistrate from the CSJ and the attorney general were dismissed, as well as the manager and board of directors in charge of the Bank of Costa Rica. The Vice Minister of Finance was also forced to resign.The four judges were investigated after a report that they irregularly exonerated the now former legislators Otto Guevara and Víctor Morales Zapata, who were facing influence peddling charges related to Bolaños.A judicial police report documented hundreds of phone calls between the two legislators and the Chinese cement importer, but the judges ignored the document.Twelve members of the full court argued in favor of sanctioning their colleagues for “serious misconduct,” which would involve them being dismissed from their spot on the court. Such a measure would require votes from two-thirds of the magistrates, however, which comes out to 15 votes. Facebook Comments Related posts:Supreme Court president steps down amid corruption scandal Is your candidate under investigation? Public Security minister says he’ll resign if not given more funds for policing Prosecutors requests six months of prison for seven cement case detainees Costa Rican prosecutors raid Emergency Commission office Four judges from Costa Rica’s Supreme Court (CSJ) were reprimanded for “serious misconduct” after dismissing a case against legislators related to influence peddling in the Chinese cement case known as the ‘cementazo.’Carlos Chinchilla, president of the CSJ, is among the sanctioned judges along with his colleagues Jesús Ramírez, Doris Arias and María Elena Gómez, members of the criminal wing of the court.The four judges were reprimanded after they dismissed a case against two legislators who had been pointed out for collaborating with Juan Carlos Bolaños, the businessman at the epicenter of the cementazo scandal.Bolaños, who is being held in preventive detention, is reported to have used political pressure and offered perks in exchange for the authorization to import Chinese cement with millions of dollars worth of unguaranteed credit from public banks.