Saturday, March 26, 2011

National Stadium Debuts in Costa Rica Today, but not without Controversy!

Tens of thousands of people will be on hand for the inauguration of the new Costa Rican National Stadium today (known locally at the “Colosio” or “Coloso” or “Estadio”), the most modern stadium in all of Central America. Many more spectators will be glued to their television sets at home or visiting the nearest Sports Bar or local watering hole, to take in the day's events that begin in the afternoon and end with the highly anticipated friendly soccer match between Costa Rica and China.

The Road to the Inauguration:
In May of 2008, after some 84 years of service, the demolition ball was
brought in to remove the old national stadium and make way for the new construction in La Sabana Park, to the west of Downtown San Jose. The old stadium unceremoniously closed its doors for the last time on May 11th, with the last soccer game held between the University of Costa Rica and a favorite local team, the Brujas F.C. Fifty five days later, after the first swing of the wrecking ball, the old stadium was reduced to a pile of rubble.

The plans for the new stadium for a capacity of 35,000 to 50,000 was officially announced in October 2008, and in December the Chinese construction firm, AFEC, was given permission to take the reins in building the new stadium. Chinese workers and the first materials and equipment from China were brought in beginning February 2009.

Not without controversy, many Costa Rican labor laws were bent (or broken) to allow this new Chinese workforce to enter Costa Rica and build this fabulous stadium, all that are enforced on already established businesses within Costa Rican borders. The fact that while snubbing the strict labor laws there were more than enough “Ticos” without work at the time (remember it is/was the recession), or that the majority of the materials used to build the stadium were brought from China, meant that little of this work would immediately effect or stimulate the Costa Rican economy in any way. But then did we really think we would get this Stadium for free as announced?

But then again, NO “Tico” project has ever been able to boast an accomplishment like that of the Chinese, one that astonishes those of us that live in Costa Rica, as on November 12, 2010, only 2 short years after officially announcing the building of the new Stadium, AFEC (the Chinese Company) delivered the almost finished stadium to the hands of now Ex-President Oscar Arias. Some three months ahead of schedule!! Alelujuah to the Chinese, you have definitely won our admiration!!

During the following months, a mad scramble to complete the finishing touches to the
stadium began, as the official March opening was announced, and plans were made to host some of the world’s finest musical & sports talent, among other entertainment planned for the inaugural event. That day has finally come……..March 26th, inauguration day is here!!

As previously mentioned, the building of this stadium was not completely without controversy. Liu Hong Bin, a 37 year old Chinese worker, hit by a construction vehicle on November 21, 2010, died while working on this project. Meanwhile, perhaps even more distressing and controversial was the complete snub to the country (or Territory) of Taiwan, a generous ally to Costa Rica for many years, by the getting in bed (if you will) with China, a country that repeatedly has crushed it’s own citizens human rights, as well as year after year shipped worldwide numerous products containing banned substances such as lead, pesticides, antibiotics, melamine, just to mention a few. Downright disturbing if you ask me. (Best if you don’t ask me.)

Taiwan Who??
A cry has gone out for Costa Rica to officially rename it’s “Puente de Amistad” (Bridge of Friendship) built with an incredibly generous donation of Taiwanese money. The huge suspension bridge spanning the Río Tempisque opened in 2003, and was a “gift” from the Taiwanese Government in exchange for commercial fishing rights in Costa Rican waters. But that was then and this is now, as then came China, with it’s booming economy and it’s infighting with that rebel island of Taiwan, and Taiwan is out and China is in! To
help understand, in 2007, Costa Rica and China established formal diplomatic relations after years of Costa Rica working directly with Taiwan. Then president, Oscar Arias, promptly ditched the country's long-term monetary benefactor, Taiwan, in favor of its far wealthier and more powerful neighbor, China. The “Friendship Bridge”, as well as many other educational, infrastructure, security and other Taiwanese financed projects in Costa Rica were quickly forgotten when China promised to build Costa Rica a brand-new national multi-purpose stadium, the most modern in all of Central America. Meanwhile, locals in Costa Rica have already renamed the Taiwanese-built bridge... “Puente de la Apuñalada” (Back Stab Bridge)!

Our Efficient Chinese Friends:
The enviable pace of construction of the new stadium was something not previously seen in Costa Rica. While the majority of large (and small) construction projects in this country take indeterminable amounts of years to
construct or repair (note I didn’t use the word “finish”), such as the Caldera Highway which took 34 years to plan and create (and continues to undergo repairs & closures), the Costanera Hwy (43 years, but mostly “finished”), our National Bridges, reconstruction of the Platina Bridge, replacement of infrastucture after the Cinchona Earthquake, etc, etc, the building of the New National Stadium was an impressive example of how quickly a major project can be completed when the right work force is employed, the normal government bureaucracy is shelved, and funding isn’t an ongoing problem, with ongoing cost overruns.
It is most definitely proof of what the Chinese Culture of hard working, honest people is capable of doing! Again….impressive!!
Meanwhile, a huge Costa Rican flag waves at the National Stadium, known as the “Jewel of La Sabana,” the title given by former President Oscar Arias, but constructed by a force of entirely Chinese workers. “Thanks to the immense generosity of the nation of China, this dream will be possible in a matter of months,” Arias said during the National Stadium ground breaking ceremony on March 12, 2009. “Today we lay down the first brick of a stadium that will be proportional to the passion of our nation; a stadium that will be the heart of our country, in the middle of the lung of the city.” Time will only tell how much this stadium will truly cost us, but for now…..we’re damn glad to have it!!

The New National Stadium by the Numbers:
• $82 Million Cost of Construction (The true figure is said to be some $12 million more)
• 10 Minutes from Downtown San Jose in La Sabana Park
• 35,000 Capacity for Sports Events
• 50,000 Capacity for Concerts
• Alleged Capacity to withstand an 8.5 Earthquake on the Richter Scale
• 500 High Intensity Lights to Illuminate the Field
• 137 Digital Security Cameras
• 250 Wheel Chairs Spaces
• 1,500 Disabled Seats
• 22 Months of Construction
• 83,000 Cubic Meters of Concrete
• 500 Onsite Parking Spaces (Sad, but true!)
• 300 Additional Fuerza Publica Police Officers on Duty

Bring or More like….Don’t Bring:
Since it is a very strange list of items permitted or prohibited for the new stadium, here is a brief list of what has been published so far to help those that will be attending inaugural events:

Permitted in the new Stadium:
- Cell Phones (See details below and guess if you take yours or not)
- Cameras (Still only, no video) with no batteries or rechargeable batteries
- Flags, but without poles

Prohibited in the new Stadium:

- Smoking
- Video cameras
- Loose change (whatever!)
- Still cameras with removable batteries like AA or AAA, (again, whatever!)
- Umbrellas
- Paper confetti
- Food and beverages

Inaugural Schedule of Events:
Costa Rica’s new National Stadium inaugural events kick off Saturday with the highlight being a friendly soccer match between Costa Rica and China. Here is a detailed list of the other exciting events scheduled over the next few weeks while we enjoy….. Stadium Fever!

Official Inauguration:
Saturday, March 26, official opening ceremonies begin at around 1pm. The highlight of the inauguration will definitely be the highly anticipated friendly soccer match between Costa Rica and China. The opening event also includes official “Acts of Protocol”, with speeches by Ex-President Oscar Arias, the Chinese Delegation and current Costa Rican President, Laura Chinchilla. There will also be a ceremony for top Costa Rican athletes that will receive special recognition for outstanding performances in their fields over the years, as well as a firework show to top off the night. Teletica will be covering the inauguration live on channel 7 from 3pm to 6pm.
Costa Rica vs. Argentina
Tuesday, March 29, Costa Rica’s national soccer team faces rival Argentina in a friendly soccer match, featuring the world’s top soccer player, Lionel Messi.
Symphony Orchestra
Wednesday, March 30, is a night of classical music. The program includes: Intermediate Symphony Orchestra, Youth Symphonic Band, Youth Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and National Symphony Chorus. The event starts at 7 pm.
World Championship Boxing Night
Thursday, March 31 brings in boxing night to include some four Exhibition Matches and three World Championship bouts. The highlight of the night will undoubtedly be Costa Rica’s own boxing queen, Hannah Gabriels, who will defend her World Championship title.
Friday, April 1 is time to put on those dancing shoes, grab a dance partner and get to the national stadium for a night of latin dance music. Thousands of couples will show off their dancing skills in a typical open-air dance event known as a Lunada. The organizers promise an unheard of “air-conditioned” ballroom, food sales, and participation of some of this country’s most popular musical groups to include: Los Hicsos, Los Originales del Chiki, Marfil, Calle 8, Banda Chiqui, Lubin Barahona and Los Caballeros del Ritmo, as well as Son de Tikicia..
National Music Festival
Saturday, April 2 is live and loud music night with all the best musicians from Costa Rica, to include: Esteban Calderon, Le Pop, Marta Fonseca, Escats, Editus, Humberto Vargas, Maria Pretiz, Akasha, Time’s Forgotten, Dexnuke, Evolution, 424, El Parque, Ghandi, Cocofunka, Percance, Mechas, Pato Barraza, and many many more! Don’t miss it!!
Fiesta in The House
Sunday, April 3 features specially invited singers Victor Manuel, Gilberto Santa Rosa, and Don Amor performing all their greatest hits.
Live in Concert….Shakira!!
Jump forward to Sunday, April 10 is the highly anticipated Colombian Superstar Shakira live in concert! This night guarantees to be vibrant, colorful and festive event for one of Costa Rica’s most popular pop stars.

More information, including links to purchase tickets for varias events, can be found on Nacional Stadium’s new website:

Now, if only everyone can figure out where to park! Only 500 hundred parking spaces were written in during the planning stages, and no one thought to do anything about that until now. Now that there will be some 35,000 people planning to attend the opening events! Say what?? Yes, you read that right! So plan to pay huge fees to park in surround homes and business’ yards, lots or anywhere that will fit a car. Otherwise, plan for long walks and confusing new bus schedules to get you in there. DO NOT plan to park in no parking zones. Local “transito” officers have already promised some 300 officers will be on hand directing traffic and writing parking tickets that will cost in the area of $400 per violation! I guess I will just stay home and watch this all on TV!! Pura vida!!

Virtual Tour of the New Stadium HERE!!

Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and Hotel Makanda by the Sea.

Sources: - Henriette Jacobsen

Photo Credits:,-34.11,110.0 - Coleman Heckart

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Earth Hour in Costa Rica! Spend an Hour in the Dark and Help Save our Planet!!

Earth Hour is driven by the global community’s will to protect the planet we share. Earth Hour’s exponential growth – from a single-city initiative in 2007 to a global movement across 128 countries in 2010 to now go beyond the hour in 2011 – is indicative of the growing desire for a cleaner, healthier world that is gathering momentum by the hour. Across the globe plans are underway to make Earth Hour 2011 a bigger event than ever!

At 8.30pm on Saturday 26 March 2011, Earth Hour will mark a moment of global contemplation to go beyond the hour; a collective commitment by individuals throughout the world to be the ongoing change they want to see in it.

At Hotel Makanda by the Sea, a luxury boutique hotel in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, we too will be participating in this worldwide event. We cordially invite you to join us for our “Green Drinks” cocktail hour, followed by a special “Earth Hour” themed candlelit dinner to be held poolside at our award-winning Sunspot Bar & Grill featuring specialty dishes focusing on sustainability and our ongoing commitment to minimize our Costa Rican Hotel’s carbon footprint.

1. What is Earth Hour?
Earth Hour is a global grass-roots movement encouraging individuals, businesses and governments around the world to take positive actions for the environment, and celebrating their commitment to the planet by switching off their lights for one designated hour. Earth Hour 2011 aims to show the actions that people, businesses and governments world-wide are taking to reduce their environmental impact. The highlight of Earth Hour 2011 will see the world’s most iconic landmarks go dark for one designated hour, as hundreds of millions of people transcend race, religion, culture, society, generation and geography, switching off their lights in a global celebration of their commitment to protect the one thing that unites us all – the planet.
2. When does Earth Hour take place?
Earth Hour 2011 will be held on Saturday March 26 between 8.30PM and 9.30PM in your local time zone.
3. What does Earth Hour ask people to do?
Earth Hour encourages individuals, businesses and governments to use Earth Hour as a platform to showcase to the world what measures they are taking to reduce their environmental impact. Earth Hour asks everyone to take personal accountability for their impact on the planet and make behavioural changes to facilitate a sustainable lifestyle.
4. Does this mean during Earth Hour I have to turn off everything in my home and use absolutely no electricity?
No. The main point of Earth Hour is to show the world that a solution to the world’s environmental challenges is possible if we work on them together – together our actions add up! Earth Hour only asks that you turn off non-essential lighting, safety and security lighting should remain on.
5. How long has Earth Hour been going for?
Earth Hour began in one city in 2007 when more than two million individuals and two thousand businesses in Sydney, Australia turned off their lights for one hour on Saturday 31 March 2007 to take a stand on climate change. In the space of three short years Earth Hour grew to become the greatest environmental action in history with individuals, businesses and governments across 128 countries coming together for Earth Hour 2010 to show the path to a sustainable future is a collective journey.
6. Isn't switching the lights off dangerous? What about public safety?
Earth Hour only asks people to turn off the non-essential lights for one hour - not lights that affect public safety. Earth Hour is also a celebration of the planet so it’s important to enjoy the moment in a safe environment.
7. What lights can be safely switched off?
That is a decision that has to be made individually but usually the overhead lights in rooms (whether it is your house, hotel or a business), outdoor lighting that does not impact safety, computers, decorative lights, neon signs for advertising, televisions, desk lamps, the list goes on and on…. You are encouraged to make sure you have alternative light sources handy before Earth Hour starts, like candles, torches or flashlights.
8. What candles should I use for my Earth Hour event?
If you plan on burning candles during Earth Hour please choose natural, not petroleum-based products. If you're using candles, make sure you take care. Please follow these tips:
• Candles should only be used under adult supervision.
• Candles should never be left unattended.
• Candles should be kept away from children and pets.
• Extinguish candles before going to sleep.
• Keep candles away from flammable liquids and gas-combustible materials.
• Candles should be kept clear of any combustible materials such as paper, curtains and clothing.
• Candles should not be placed in windows as they can be blown over. Blinds and curtains can also catch fire.
• Candles should be placed on a stable, dry, heat-resistant surface away from drafts.
9. What is Earth Hour's position on safety?
Earth Hour wants everyone to be absolutely safe and never to turn off any lights or power that would in any way compromise the safety of any individual in a private or public space.
10. Will my city go completely black?
Earth Hour is not a black out. It is a voluntary action by its participants to show their commitment to an act of change that benefits the planet. For many businesses in city skyscrapers or for many government buildings, the lights are turned off at the end of the business day the Friday before Earth Hour. So Earth Hour is more of a fade-out in some ways than a black-out.
11. If everyone turns their lights back on at the same time will there be a power surge?
People celebrate Earth Hour in a variety of ways for different lengths of time, with many continuing to keep their lights off well beyond the designated hour. Therefore, it is highly improbable that everyone will switch their lights back on simultaneously.
12. Is Earth Hour an annual event?
Though Earth Hour began as a public statement for action on climate change, it has come to symbolize a commitment to broader environmental solutions. Earth Hour’s ‘lights out’ campaign will continue to evolve in accordance with the environmental concerns of a growing global community driven by the pursuit of a better, healthier world. Earth Hour, is as much a celebration of the planet as it is a commitment to environmentally sustainable action, so as long as the global community wants to share a unified moment of celebration and contemplation of our planet, 8.30PM – 9.30PM on the last Saturday of March will always be Earth Hour.
13. Why is Earth Hour held on the last Saturday of March?
The last weekend of March is around the time of the Spring and Autumn equinoxes in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively, which allows for near coincidental sunset times in both hemispheres, thereby ensuring the greatest visual impact for a global ‘lights out’ event.
14. How many cities/countries/landmarks took part in Earth Hour 2010?
4616 cities, towns and municipalities took part in Earth Hour 2010 across 128 countries, including 89 national capitals and 9 of the world’s 10 most populated cities.
15. What is the criteria for registering city, town or municipality participation in Earth Hour 2011?
For a city, town or municipality to be officially recognized as a participant in Earth Hour 2011 it must meet at least one of the following three criteria:
1. Have the official support of its governing authority. (e.g. Governor or Mayor)
2. Have confirmed participation of a significant landmark or icon.
3. Have the support of an official Earth Hour ambassador.
16. What does a commitment to Earth Hour mean?
By registering to Earth Hour 2011, individuals, communities and businesses are making a commitment to turn their lights off for an hour at 8.30PM on Saturday 26 March in acknowledgement of an act they will undertake for the benefit of the planet. Participation in Earth Hour is a sign of your commitment to show leadership amongst your friends, family, colleagues and competitors in finding solutions to our environmental challenges by adopting environmentally sustainable lifestyle habits and business practices on an ongoing basis.
17. Who can participate?
Anyone! Anyone who wants to unite with the global community in a worldwide celebration of the planet; anyone who believes a solution to our environmental challenges is possible through the aggregate of our actions.
18. What energy/carbon reductions have resulted from Earth Hour in previous years?
Earth Hour does not purport to be an energy/carbon reduction exercise, it is a symbolic action. Therefore, we do not engage in the measurement of energy/carbon reduction levels.
19. How can I help with Earth Hour in more ways than just turning out my lights?

For Earth Hour 2011 we are asking people, businesses and governments to go beyond the hour, to make a commitment to an act of ongoing change that benefits the planet. There are limitless things you can do on top of switching off your lights to take Earth Hour beyond the hour. Have a look at the ‘How to…’ guides page on this website for some ideas.
20. What does Earth Hour hope to achieve?
Earth Hour aims to unite communities around environmental issues by creating a forum where individuals can discuss ecological resolutions with like-minded people, by creating a channel though which businesses can exchange sustainable practices with their competitors, by building a platform that enables governments to showcase environmental leadership, and by ultimately establishing a global network of individuals, corporations and governments who are committed to the collective resolve of tackling the world’s environmental challenges.
21. How is Earth Hour 2011 different from 2010?
Earth Hour 2010 saw individuals, communities, businesses and governments across the globe come together in a moment of unity for the planet, to show the world what can be done through collective action. Earth Hour 2011 asks participants to change by committing to an act that benefits the environment and celebrating their commitment to the planet with the people of the world by participating in Earth Hour. Earth Hour 2011 is not the culmination of a climate campaign. It’s the start of a journey of behavioural change for individuals, sustainable practice for businesses, and leadership of governments on the path to global environmental reform.
22. Aren't you using a lot of electricity and resources to promote this event?
Earth Hour operations are run in a cost effective manner and apply donors' funds according to the highest standards of accountability and sustainability. We also consider and/or incorporate other climate or environmental issues as determined by the Earth Hour team and its partners.
23. Whose idea was Earth Hour?
Earth Hour came from a think tank initiated by Earth Hour Executive Director and Co-Founder, still a degree of scepticism and denial about the issue of climate change. Earth Hour came as the inspiration to rally people to the reality of climate change and start a dialogue about what we as individuals can do to help address the greatest problem facing our planet today.
24. What is Earth Hour’s relationship with WWF? Does WWF own Earth Hour?
WWF Australia co-founded Earth Hour in Sydney in 2007, facilitating Earth Hour’s rapid worldwide growth through its connection to WWF’s global network. With a presence in more than 70 countries, WWF continues to play a valuable partner role, ensuring a solid foundation and support network on which to deliver a truly global environmental message throughout the year.
25. Who are the Earth Hour partners?
Earth Hour began as a WWF-led initiative in Australia in 2007 in partnership with brand co-owners, Fairfax Media and Leo Burnett. All three partners decided from the beginning, however, that expanding Earth Hour’s global reach would require working in partnership with any organization. Earth Hour’s message has spanned the world with the help of many global partners.
26. Do you have requirements or regulations about who can or cannot partner with Earth Hour?

Any partner must uphold and support the aims and principles of Earth Hour. These include encouraging individual and community engagement on environmental issues. Encouraging conscious decisions to change the way we live in order to affect environmental reform, without the use of scare tactics or shaming.
27. Does Earth Hour welcome the support of other NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) and NFP's (Not for Profits)?
Absolutely. In fact, the success of Earth Hour would not be possible without the support of other NGOs and NFPs. Global organizations such as the World Organization of the Scout Movement and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have been pivotal in spreading the Earth Hour message, while in some countries where there is no WWF presence, Earth Hour campaigns are orchestrated entirely by other NGOs and NFPs who share the same non-aggressive, guilt-free approach to addressing environmental issues taken by Earth Hour..
28. Are there any other social media outlets or forums for Earth Hour?
Yes, here is the most comprehensive list we have right now:
Current Earth Hour Global Social Media Profiles
Facebook Group
Flickr Photostream
More global profiles on additional networks are developing everyday.
29. What does the Earth Hour logo mean?
The standard Earth Hour '60' logo represents the 60 minutes of Earth Hour where we focus on the impact we are having on our planet and take positive action to address the environmental issues we face. For Earth Hour 2011 we have introduced the ‘60+’ logo representing a commitment to add to Earth Hour a positive act for the planet that goes beyond the hour. Please publish the logo and pass the word wherever you can and show your support for our Planet!!

If you are not sure how you should be celebrating Earth Hour this year, here are some helpful suggestions on what to do:

1. Invite your friends over for a earth friendly cocktail hour and candlelit dinner.
2. Get those board games out and have some game time with friends & family in the dark.
3. Lie down and star gaze. Stars are more easily seen the less lighting there is.
4. Do something "crafty" by candlelight: paint, mould, stick, knit, quilt, paint, or?
5. Got kids? Get out the camping gear! Set up a tent and tell stories of when there was no artificial lighting, how it must have been to live in that time.
6. Play a real game of hide & seek with the kids. It has to be even more of a challenge in the dark!
7. Go to sleep early! You never get enough sleep, so here is the perfect excuse to catch up on some zzz’s.
8. While the lights are off, it’s the perfect time to change any old bulbs for new energy saving ones.
9. Why not eat all the ice-cream that's sitting in your freezer? If you've turned your appliances off along with lights for Earth Hour, then it's just melting anyway!
10. Soak in a warm tub and enjoy the silence and solitude you rarely get.
11. Plant a tree to serve as the center of next year’s celebration of Earth Hour.
12. Meditate to encourage an inner peace & tranquility in your life throughout the year.
13. Exercise. You don’t need lights to workout!
14. Read a book like they did in the old days with no distractions from television.
15. Take the dog for a walk with a flashlight. You’ll both benefit from the activity.
16. Make a list of ways you and your family can carry on the commitment to be more earth friendly throughout the year.
17. Write a personal letter to a loved one. No impersonal email this time!
18. Sing around the campfire and roast some marshmallows.
19. Arrange a candlelit massage. Your eyes are closed anyway!
20. Take advantage of that dark, alone time to spend some “amorous” time with that special someone.
Or great advice is to check out your local Earth Hour site and see if there's a place near you that will get plunged into darkness at 8.30pm on March 26th and go there to celebrate!

Let us know what you will be doing during this year's Earth Hour, we’d love to know what creative ideas you have to share with us!

Be a part of Earth Hour 2011; add your voice and take action, encourage others to join the hundreds of millions across every continent who have already spoken as one on behalf of the planet. Together we can make a difference! For further details on how you can participate in Earth Hour plus take Earth Hour - "Beyond the Hour" refer to or contact us at the Costa Rica Hotel Makanda by the Sea for more details on how we are committing to make a difference for our Planet!

Check out this inspiring Earth Hour 2011 video to see what our planet’s voice looks like. It’s an awesome power when we are work as one!!



Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and Hotel Makanda by the Sea.