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In Spanish, tope officially means "top," or "summit," and in Costa Rican Spanish (Spaniards consider it very quaint) the term has come to be applied to horsemanship competitions.  The plural is topes.

Speed bumps are called "mortes" here - deadmen.  A rather graphic name.  And widely deployed, because traffic regulations here, as elsewhere in Latin America, are regarded more as suggestions than commandments.

Well, you should come.  If you do, please let me know - dinner is certainly on me.  Costa Rica can be very expensive for people trying to live like gringos back home, and a lot try to do that, and get disgusted and move back.  But if you live like a Tico, as I do, and own your own home and car, you can live quite cheap.  I do just fine on a Social Security pension.  My total utility costs are less than $100/mo., Internet included, and if you cook yourself and do most of your grocery shopping at the farmers' markets, you can eat well for $80 a week.  A large loaf of Bimbo bread is $1.50, and a dozen eggs (commercial) are $2.20, and a pound of ground beef in the supermarket is about $1.90 on special. Produce prices vary wildly by the season, but are generally dirt cheap. The big cost of living advantage is lower utility use (no HVAC) and dirt-cheap taxes.  My property taxes, on a place for which I've been offered $200k, came to $160 when I paid them last month (and I was just reassessed).  Gasoline is horribly expensive - $4.72 a gallon for regular, currently, but that includes $1.62 in taxes.  But the state-owned refinery's profits are returned to the treasury and offset taxes otherwise, so I don't mind quite so much.  The cost of living in San José is the same as Winston-Salem in the Mercer Index, but there are many more opportunities for living cheaper here if you know how, that are not reflected in that listing.  Relative to Panamá, we're 28% higher and Nicaragua, 32% higher, but the "hardship index" here is vastly lower.  The crime rate for most categories is roughly 20% higher than the U.S. average.

Coffee fincas?  Yes, I am surrounded on 3 sides by coffee fincas and thoroughly enjoy the aroma when the fincas are in bloom in March (but alas, it only lasts about 3 days).  I have my own bushes on my property and grow my own.  I'm smack in the middle of one of the best quality coffee regions in the world, and have gotten very spoiled. The beaches are hours away, even if only 20 miles straight line.  Costa Rica is a tiny country (the size of West Virginia), but the second most mountainous in the world, so anywhere to anywhere else is via a narrow, windy, and  slow mountain road.  I don't recommend beach towns as a place to settle - weather is hot, muggy, buggy, and there is a lot of petty crime.  The mountain towns are much better.  Without exception, every gringo I know who came to a beach town has moved to the mountains.

Where you see arabica coffee growing, you know the place has a very pleasant climate to live in.  I look out my office window and can see 3 active and occasionally smoking volcanoes, behind my neighbors' fields with "Juan Valdez" out picking his coffee.  Very bucolic, very Latin American - but the mule and gunny sacks are long gone.  It's a shiny Toyota 4x4 pickup and special plastic bins nowadays.

Sounds idyllic.  Coatepec, Veracruz, is similar re: aroma of coffee, and when I went over to nearby Xico, I could see men spreading the beans on a tarmac to dry them.  But Coatepec is hardly Mexico's best.  IMO that would be pluma Hidalgo from the State of Oaxaca.  I suspect beach town living is the same in all Latinoamericano countries, though I sure would like to spend winters in Puerto Escondido, one of Oaxaca's Pacific resorts, still a bit of a fishing village.

Several quick comments about coffee production.  The floral fragrance is floral like orange blossoms, but more intensely sweet.  It doesn' t smell like coffee at all.  Likewise, the "parchment" beans don't smell like coffee, either.  After they've been de-pulped, and are being dried, the smell is more like wet paper.  The roasting process produces a rather unpleasant smelling smoke, too, that smells more like burning toast than coffee.  Coffee doesn't gain its trademark aroma until it has been brewed. So if that's what you were smelling, it was probably brewed coffee.

No one sun-dries coffee here in Costa Rica anymore - that's too hit and miss for the top grades we specialize in.  The "beneficios" dry it in rotating drums through which warm air is circulated, and the exhaust humidity is constantly monitored.  This is to ensure that the optimum degree of dryness is achieved (14% moisture by weight).  That ensures it will last longer in storage (up to 3 years), and when roasted, will achieve the best flavor. 

Coffee flower nectar might make for a great varietal honey.  Maybe it already is?

No such luck on coffee-varietal honey.  The blooming period is just too short - about three weeks for all the coffee in the country.  We also have a serious problem here with africanized bees, so the only apiarists who are successful are re-queening their hives about every three months, using imported queens - an expensive proposition.  And in the last few years, we've been hit hard by colony collapse disorder - I rarely see honeybees anymore.  Most pollination is now done by black mud bees, a native pollinizer that produces honey, but only in very small amounts.

Bummer about the bees.  Humans are truly screwing up the world of nature. 

That first guy in the funny black suit has masturbated so much he's going blind. He communicates with imaginary supernatural beings and thinks he is right.

The second oddly dressed guy thinks the bible is an authentic document and wisdom can be attained from it. He has no experience of marriage and intimate personal relationships yet instructs on these subjects. Theology is the study of ancient nonsense.He's just making things up.The worlds population is out of control and he instructs against contraception. He thinks about sex frequently but is not allowed to engage in it. He could be sick. His definition of rational thought is dangerously wrong.

A woman in the audience was picking her nose.

These catholic creeps can get fucked.

This hate speech was brought to you by;

Les Athées Napoléonienne

Sorry, my attention span is too short to listen to this sad bigot droning on and on about his corrupt catholic fantasy world.  I listened to some snippets.  My life expectancy is not enough to waste more than a minute on such blather.

Glad you can do it for me, James! 

What?!  You think *I* watched all that?  Not!!!


I haven't watched it yet.  It's bad enough to watch such (I presume) crap and yell at the computer monitor.  Worse if I were there in person.  More than likely, the guy in the fancy get-up would be a mess and I'd be under arrest.

Loren, you do not need to watch it.  It is the same old bilge they have spouted for ages. On Facebook I got into a bit of a tiff with some guy who thought that my comment revealed I had not watched a religion vs. atheism debate with an angry Stephen Fry, either (and I haven't, actually; the reaction of Mr. Fry told me everything I needed to know).  I had taken the question (posed by the Facebook member who posted the video) as to whether the RCC had done any good in the world and I suggested that the answer was "No" if you asked Muslims and Jews slaughtered by Crusaders, the Wise Old Women burned at the stake along with gay men (the "fagots" used to light the fires) just for peddling abortifacients, the Cathari, Albigensians and other Gnostic sects exterminated by King Phillip the [Un]Fair at the Vatican's urging, and untold numbers of others who refused to believe or chose to believe in "heresies."  Once my critic understood what I was getting at, he more or less conceded I needn't have watched the entire video to know it was pure crap.



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