March 13, 2009
Why do I feel so bummed out today? Is it a Friday 13th thing? I am blogging on my dream machine, (A 2009 Model Macbook Pro), wearing my favorite Tag watch, money in my pocket, a contract extension on my current consulting gig all but signed sealed and delivered, a beautiful wife and kids, and still I feel depressed... I don't get it?
March 12, 2009
Okay, its been too long since I last blogged. The good news is that business is good and I have been just too busy to blog. Lots of stuff going on that I would have liked to comment on, but I will save that for later. I am going to start scheduling my blogging time, so maybe I will have more discipline about getting back to something I very much enjoy.
April 20, 2008
Jetbox Costa Rica still sucks...
See here for the details of the latest. But the bottom line is that Jetbox is the worst service organization I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with.
To put it simply, you would do better in buying an economy ticket and flying to Miami to purchase most goods, than using these people to forward your mail...
I have reviewed the Costa Rican tax codes, and know of several occasions where I have been significantly overcharged when making purchases online and using Jetbox to deliver them from Miami. DO NOT USE THESE PEOPLE.
More than $80 to deliver an item with a value of $299, a full 27% of the value.... That was generous. I have paid more than 100% on some items... And when you protest, you will get the excuse.... "It was the import duties, sorry, nothing we can do..."
At Christmas I paid over $300 for some books and a half dozen Xbox games...
I would love to see how much of this actually DOES go to the tax man, because this is either rampant overcharging, or simple incompetence...
January 23, 2008
Just a random thought...
"I have spent most of my life dedicated to the advance of 'people technology,' I have been blessed with incredible opportunities and taught by incredible teachers. Growing up in the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles, I learned early that, 'failure was not an option,' but I did fail, and I always had great people there to pick me up, help me dust off, and point out the lessons to be learned. I have made a lot of money in my life, but I finally have figured out that money is not a measure of success, it is only a measure of people's willingness to acknowledge that success! Today I take pride in the achievements of my children, and the opportunity that God and circumstance has given me to participate in the building of an incredible industry in Central America. The secret to Utopia's success is that in a world that seems to be mostly about making money, we are about achieving lasting results and the relationships that go along with them..."
May 06, 2007
There is now enough water in the dams, and there will be no more rolling blackouts. Translation, too many people were losing money in these idiotic blackouts, someone with lots of money, probably a resturant chain owner or developer, complained to the right person, and it came to an end...
May 03, 2007
Socialism and Monopolies will be the death of Costa Rica
Just about two weeks ago, Costa Rica suffered a historical blackout that darkened the entire nation for about three hours... Just a few days later, the Electricity and Telephony Monopoly (ICE), asked the Costa Rican Government to allow them an average of 23% in rate hikes, siting the increased cost in petrol to power thermal energy plants. According to La Nacion, the countries biggest newspaper, the Utility had already used 80% of it's operating budget for the year for Thermal Electric generation. ICE claims that an exceptionally dry dry season has depleted Hydro Electric dams of water needed to generate electricity. When the government refused, the Utility commenced with rolling blackouts over the entire nation for the last nearly two weeks. Every day for 3-4 hours, communities have their power shut down. Those companies with backup generators are forced to bear the cost of paying for the generation of their power. Smaller businesses and individual families, simply suffer. The imagery is amazing.... Meat markets forced to lock up all their meat in freezers and unable to take the meat out for fear of losing the cool in the freezer, are losing money every day.
Other small businesses, including offices of various types, are basically without productivity for 1/3-1/2 a day. And to make matters worse, they change the time of the outages per area, seemingly AT RANDOM! Last week our power was out every day from 2-5pm. Yesterday it was 7am-11:30 am, and today 11:00am-2:00pm, making it impossible to plan... Phone lines that supposedly allow one to consult when the power will be off, are congested. News reports are speculative... It is an incredible scene of lost productivity on a national scale, and ARROGANCE on the part of ICE.
Interestingly, over the weekend there was an article in La Nacion, where several residents of the area of a Large Dam just south of San Jose, accused ICE employees of dumping water from the dam.
In recent months, Syndicatos (Unionist) from ICE's trade union have been in the forefront of trying to block passage of CAFTA, or the TLC as it is known here. An incredible amound of cowardice on the part of the Costa Rican legislative and executive branches, has led to Costa Rica standing nearly alone as a non signatory of the treaty in the region. As a result, Costa Rica plods along with Energy, Telephony, and Insurance Monopolies...
In the last two years I have done very little business IN Costa Rica. My consulting business has expanded regionaly and I am building Call Centers and Contact Centers in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras... These countries have long lagged behind Costa Rica as a destination for foreign investment, especially in the technology sector. Today a company is more likely to establish a Call Center in Guatemala, than in Costa Rica, where I helped found the Central American Call Center industry, 13 years ago this month... The fact of the matter is that this is happening because Costa Rica is NOT as business friendly as these other countries, and because turning the power off for four hours a day EVERY day is not the way to build confidence in your infrastructure.
The last two weeks have been a slap in the face to the Average Costa Rican, but Costa Ricans are famous for "grinning and bearing it." ICE's horrendous customer service, poor performance, bureaucracy, all of which I have experienced first hand, are NORMS to the average Tico, most of which have never traveled, the majority never getting further than 100 miles from their own neighborhood... I often muse that if Ticos, who have been waiting nearly 6 months for new cellular phone lines, realized that they could get off an airplane in Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras and purchase a GSM Chip in the airport, along with prepaid time... Or that in Honduras, one can order Cell Phone, Home Phone, VOIP, Cable TV and Internet from the same provider and have it appear on the same bill.
The average Costa Rica has no clue as to the impact of the TLC Positive or Negative on their lives, but the Unionist have done a better job of presenting a negative case, than business people have done in pushing the benefits of the treaty.
I have always been amazed at the staggering inefficiency of Costa Rica's socialist society. Life consist of standing in one line after another, being treated at best as an inconvenience by bureaucrats, who seem to think that their job is a RIGHT, and at worst, like second class citizens. ICE employees are some of the worst....
ICE is one of the largest companies in Central America, and certainly the largest in Costa Rica. It is not uncommon to go to an ICE office for some service just before lunch, and have more than half the service representatives get up and walk out to lunch, with a line of 100 people or more. But its not just ICE, its everywhere. The entire Costa Rican Society seems to be based on employing the maximum number of people, and having the lowest amount of productivity and efficiency...
Example. I often take my family to a local McDonalds. It looks like any other McDonald's in the world, including an abundance of perky young people working the counter. Almost every time I go to McDonald's, I am reminded of a Keystone Kops film. 25 people running around in the kitchen and 15-25 minutes to get my order (No I am not exaggerating). Costa Rican companies.... The majority of them, are just like the big monopolies, they have little concept of Customer Service, and when you find an exception, you stick with it. Unfortunatly, with ICE, INS, RACSA and the other monopolies, you have no "choice," and if the TLC fails to pass, it will be a triumph of ignorance over what is GOOD for the country.
For years ICE has maintained the loyalty of Costa Ricans by boasting what are arguably the lowest rates in the region, and they have boasted that their penetration in rural areas was greater than that of other institutions in neighboring countries. The rates are probably still lower on the whole than other parts of the region, but when you see little Mayan women in the outback of Guatemala, sporting the latest Motorola V3, you know that the second boast is a thing of the past...
Whether ICE dumped water from a Dam to help justify these ridiculous rolling blackouts, we may never know since investigative journalism in Costa Rica is about as effective as a FOX news investigation of the Bush White House. What IS clear is that Costa Rica will either vote to end Monopolies and demand more of thier public and private sector, or...Costa Rica will continue to have high employment numbers, with some of the most educated coffee plantation workers in the world, because I can tell you that the future of hight tech investment in Costa Rica is riding squarely on the ability of Costa Ricans to demand more...
Call Centers and big multinational back office and service organizations have invested heavily here, whether they will continue to invest in an environment where the Electrical Monopoly can hold the entire nation hostage, is questionable...
Crossposted to my Business Blog
April 23, 2007
Reason number 2007 why Costa Ricans are crazy if they do not vote for CAFTA /TLC
My Conversation with ICE (The Phone Monopoly in Costa Rica), this morning:
Me: Hi, I am calling to get the configuration for GPRS Internet for my phone. I have already submited the request and documentation. I just need the configuration.
ICE: What is the Software Version number for your phone?
ICE: We dont support that version.
Me: Sir, the version of software you have on your website, 1.00/4099-RC, is old. It is not even an official version, it is a Release Candidate.... Beta Software!
ICE: I understand Sir, but if we authorize the activation of Internet on a phone that is not on the list, it could bring down the WHOLE system!
This is where I almost spit my coffee into my keyboard!
Me: That is impossible. In fact I was already using the phone during the beta period of Internet access, with NO problems. I just want to get the official connection now.
ICE: (He now knows that I am not going for the bullshit.) Eh, Our superiors will not allow us to configure a phone that does not have the version of software on our list!
Me: Look, all I need is for you to turn on Internet for my number. I dont need you to configure anything....
ICE: (Frustrated now) I can not do it.
Oh and one more thing on ICE.... I saw in the newspaper today that we will NOT be having the rolling blackouts that they announced at the end of last week.
April 21, 2007
Just Dropping in to say...
That anyone who has suffered through two days of rolling blackouts by the Electrical Monopoloy (ICE), here in Costa Rica, or who has gotten a shiny new toy, and cant activate the internet on it, becuase the idiots at the local Phone Office dont have a clue how to activate a service that I am now paying for..., deserves to have everything in their fridge grow green shit all over it, and the have to wait until the 22nd Century for a cell line! Jeesh!
Monopolies are NOT your friends people!
February 13, 2007
It is hotter than Hell in Costa Rica right now.
I was in Honduras two weeks ago, a country famous for its hot weather, and it felt like a cold snap compared to Costa Rica the last few days...
January 17, 2007
I love living in Costa Rica
December 27, 2006
Angeline and Brad visit Costa Rica
This is a great story, and one Sadie beat me to!
They are not the first stars to visit Costa Rica, and will not be the last, but they will certainly be remembered more than most. I have met some American Celebs here, and most of them, to be honest are assholes. Brad and Angelina are a class act, and their visit will not soon be forgotten...
Just the fact that they chose to come to Costa Rica on Christmas is a cool thing, but it takes a lot of patience to deal with holiday traffic in San Jose this time of year.
Just last week, it took me over an hour to make a trip from my home in Heredia, to the capital, a drive that normally takes tops 20 minutes.
Yesterday there was a major parade in downtown San Jose, and I am sure they had already closed off many of the streets by Christmas day, which I am assuming was the day of their visit. One of the places they visited, is on one of the main streets of the capital, and even under the best conditions, it can be a challenge navigating in and out of there.
No, I did not get a chance to see Angelina and Brad in person. San Jose over the holidays is a nightmare of traffic and blocked streets. I have been spending some quality time at Casa Anderson, but it was all over the local news, Bravo for them. They seem to be a very special couple.
I want to thank them for coming to Costa Rica, and more importantly for being real people about it. We already have enough jerks who come to Costa Rica and perpetuate the image of the "ugly, arrogant American." One high ranking Republican Politician came here a few years ago, before he started his political career, and offended about half of the country, before taking half the hookers in San Jose on a "fishing trip." Angelina and Brad represent the kind of celebrity I can respect and admire... They walk the walk...
December 13, 2006
If you are a regular reader of In Search of Utopia, you may remember the post I wrote about the Monteverde Bank Assault.
It remains one of the most compelling pieces I have written on the blog. While Costa Rican public servants are often criticized for corruption and incompetence, there are some true heroes among them. A group I respect tremendously are the Fire Fighters. As I write this, there is a horrendous fire burning in Moen, in the Province of Limon. A truck carrying combustible materials is burning out of control. Fire Fighters from as far away as the capital, and my own city of Heredia, have rushed to the scene, to help local Fire Fighters, to put down the blaze (A drive of 2 hours)!
These people are all volunteers, and they are heroes in the truest sense of the word. They are under equipped, under trained and poorly provided for. At this moment, they are risking their lives to save people and property. The emotion is incredible....
Apparently the truck was being filled when it suddenly exploded. The number of dead are unknown as the heat and toxic smoke, makes it impossible for the Fire Fighters to even get close.
These men and women are working without gas masks and proper protective gear, and are valiantly attempting to put down a fire that they don't even have the proper gear to fight. The video is horrible, with the fire continuing to burn out of control. The heroic men and women of the Costa Rican Red Cross are also on the scene, providing what help they can.
Moments like these are truly impressive examples of how Costa Rican's come together in disaster. One of the things that impresses me the most, is the TOTAL lack of fear. You could see it last year on the face of the police officers in Monteverde...
More news here, if you read Spanish.
December 11, 2006
Translating Costa Rican Business Language
"Your proposal is very interesting. Let me get back to you!"
"Send me an email with more details!"
"It seems a bit expensive?"
"Your car/fill in the blanks, will be ready next week."
"Yes I know you have been standing in line all day, but the rules say we close at 4:00 and though it is only 3:30, we need the 30 minutes to ensure that the people ahead of you get served."
"Of course I am concerned about customer service."
"I'd like to connect your American Cellphone, but the truth is that it is not on our authorized list, and selling you a SIM chip could cause our network to fail due to the incompatible hardware."
November 30, 2006
Hmmmm.... We just had another earthquake. Second one in two weeks, and STRONG. No damage here, but scary nonetheless...
Is he a chip off the old block, or what? BAD BOY Jean!
November 29, 2006
Why I love living in Costa Rica!
November 21, 2006
Some quick notes and reflections...
Not much blogging lately, but that is usually a sign that I am busy...
I am preparing for two major projects the Utopia Group will be involved in in December and January, one a call center expansion project, and the other an Internet Portal, as well trying to get Solutions Costa Rica off the ground, the later of which we are still looking for investors.
We are also planning a major open source seminar for early next year. I am very excited to have a well known expert from KDE.org, as a potential keynote speaker. Will be working on identifying some sponsors and a tenative date for the activity in the next week or two.
You don't think I have been suffering through the indignity of learning a new operating system for nothing... do you?
Business has been pretty good this year, but the end of the year... due mostly to cultural stuff, (Costa Rica almost shuts down in December, as does most of Latin America), it can be slow for us. Fortunately, we usually use the time to build momentum for the next year. This year is no different, with a number of exciting projects on the horrizon.
We have been fortunate in that we have finally created something of momentum and sustainability. This has mostly been accomplished by being almost sharklike (Never sitting still), constantly moving.
I am very proud of the things we have accomplished this year. Utopia has grown, our reputation for delivering has grown, and our opportunities for expansion and diversification (ala Solutions Costa Rica), have also grown.
One of the key drivers for Utopia's success, has been our willingness, and our enthusiasm to tackle projects outside our normal areas of proficiency or expertise. This year has seen us take on, successfully I might add, several such projects.
Our plans for next year include developing a call center in Honduras, expanding our "newcomer services," portfolio and possibly creating some exciting new mobile solutions.
It has been said, that the best companies are those who regularly reinvent themselves. The chairman of Motorola Corp, said during a CNN interview, that the time to do this, was when you are at the top of your game. The Utopia Group is at about version 5, and we continue to constantly evaluate the market and opportunities.
We see opportunities in Open Source Software, services, wireless technologies, especially those based on GSM technology. We also see opportunities in creating alliances, partnerships nd synergies, based on a vision of technology for the region. Call Center Consulting will continue to be one of our fundamental core competencies. Our History as a leader in developing call and contact centers around the globe, is capital which we will continue to utilize to broaden the appeal of our new businesses.
November 19, 2006
I want to live in Costa Rica!
I want to live in Costa Rica...
Where women love a compliment.
Where women are approachable.
Where women love men, and men love women...
Where Karaoke is not something dweebs do, but is actually cool.
Where you can still have fun, even when you are broke!
Where saying Hello on the street will not get you hostile or suspicious stares.
Where you can actually tell the difference between a man and a woman by how they dress.
Where smiles are as plentiful as sunshine in December.
Where going to the beach is something you do on any given Saturday.
Where a beer and a pack of smokes will cost you two bucks.
I DO Live in Costa Rica!
November 07, 2006
Why I am for the TLC!
Today I had another one of those experiences that reminds me why I am for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA/TLC). ICE, the Costa Rican Phone Monopoly started a test of GPRS internet five years ago.
As one of Costa Rica's Technorati, I was one of the first people to get this service. I have used the GPRS internet connection with various equiptment for the last five years.
When I purchased my Treo 650, and Chattermail, I was in connected heaven! I finally had a solution, along with Causerie Internet Messaging, and the built in Blazer Web Browser, that gave me a reasonable facsimile of my office communication tools.
I was able to stay in constant communication using a combination of push email. IM and SMS, without ever making a phone call... Best part about it... The Service, still in test, is free!
Well I guess ICE did not like the fact that someone was ALWAYS connected to thier GPRS network. About a month ago, the service stopped working.
Since I am constantly tweaking my Treo, I assumed it was some software problem. I hard reset my phone, went through the painful process or reinstalling everything and then customizing my settings... Still did not work. I have been a MONTH without mobile Internet, and it HURT.
Well, today on a lark, my wife called ICE to ask why the service was not working. Since they announced that they would soon be going out of test mode, and charging for the service, we assumed that they disconnected my GPRS in preparation for charging me for it... NO... They disconnected it because they said, "he is not using it." Har de har, har! They simply disconnected my service, one I have had for five years... without even asking or informing me...
I cant wait until these guys have some competition!
October 11, 2006
I am always telling you guys how lovely Costa Rican women are. This is Laura, a Manager at one of my clients. Not only is she a pretty lady, but she is one of the sharpest managers and professionals I know.
September 03, 2006
Family night out!
Costa Rica is celebrating Black History for the next two weeks. Took the family to a fantastic Gospel music concert tonight.
We ended up leaving a bit early as Apollonia got antsy listening to music for two and a half hours. But there was some amazing music on display.
This group from Limon was unbelievable. (Sorry, I don't remember their name).
The headline group was from the United States. I forgot their name too. (Ever tried to attend a concert with a two year old?)
This thing was hanging out close to the light bulb on my porch the other night. Looks like a cross between a chickens foot, a spider and a moth. Dammest thing I have ever seen. Any idea what it is?
August 21, 2006
A little Rest
This week is a slight break from the hectic weeks of the past month. I dont have a lot on the calendar, and plan to spend some time resting up and with family. Saturday was my oldest son's birthday, and I gave him some loot to go out and have a good time. He turned 15, and a party was, "not cool." So I let him go do his thing, and his mom and I bought his present (An expensive Puma Jacket), yesterday.
Friday night I took the wife to one of her favorite seafood joints, and then we lunched at "El Rodeo," one of Costa Rica's best Steak Houses on Saturday. As you can see from the picture, the wife was very content with the Steak House, despite being on a diet! hehe...
Today I think I am going to take a much needed, "COMPLETE," day off, and not focus at all on work.
August 14, 2006
Another Busy week... (Some Random Notes)
I am going to be slammed with work all this week.
Today I spent the day training my client in Santa Ana. Tomorrow I have my monthly investor training in Esterillo, Wednesday, more training for Santa Ana, Thursday, planning sessions for the Limon Call Center, and Friday more training for Santa Ana.
And tomorrow is Costa Rica's Mothers day, so to all the lovely mothers of the world, especially las Ticas, Happy Mothers day...
August 04, 2006
A day in Heredia with my Treo
My Interview is up!
July 27, 2006
One of my old colleagues from Acer sent me a link to some pictures yesterday, from the early days of Acer Costa Rica, (The first outsourced call center in Latin America), which I founded.
July 24, 2006
This week's Tia Zelmira Wallpaper!
Have I mentioned that I LOVE living in Costa Rica? Click for desktop sized wallpaper. More here.
July 23, 2006
Lordy I love living in Costa Rica!
I was out today running some errands, and had the opportunity to go out to the airport and then for lunch in Heredia, (Known as the City of the Flowers, due to the number of beautiful women who live there). All I can say is "My, my...
Tales from Costa Rica
Took the wife out for dessert last night after dinner. When I went to pay, the cashier told me I had no ballance on my debit card. Interesting since there was a couple grand in the account. It seems my bank, Cuscatlan was doing maintenance on the system between 10-11pm, and instead of merchants getting a message saying the system was down, it simply showed my account as without funds. NICE! Fortunately I had JUST enough cash on me to pay the bill. Welcome to Costa Rica!
July 12, 2006
All those who read the blog on a regular basis know that the last two weeks have been especially hectic for me.
Still waiting for my Treo
New government in Costa Rica, this means new Customs officers, new rules, delays... It sucks. My phone has been here in Costa Rica since early last week, and I still dont have it.
This is about...
The sexiest ad for a newspaper, I have ever seen. Hehe...
July 10, 2006
I just finished Phase I of my consulting work for a local call center here in Costa Rica. I am due to start work on a project to revamp the website for one of Costa Rica's most important daily newspapers, and I have completed proposals for phase II of the work I just finished.
July 09, 2006
Thanks to all those who
Thanks to all those who have recently purchased the Single Man's guide to Costa Rica. I have been getting some great feedback, including this recent note:
June 26, 2006
You think only Costa Rican Models are Sexy?
This is Alejandra, a good friend of mine. Change your mind yet?
June 18, 2006
A belated happy father's day
To all those dads out there.
God willing my kids will never feel that way.
So happy father's day. Enjoy it, and strive to make every day "Children's day".
My Son's Day in the Big "Ligs"
End to a long and frustrating day!
June 16, 2006
Costa Rica may have been eliminated from World Cup Competition, but there is no question that Costa Rica continues to be a world leader when it comes to beautiful women like Hazel Cavajal.
June 15, 2006
Busy, Busy, Busy
Sorry I have not been around much the last few days. Several exciting things happening in business. Will keep you all posted.
June 13, 2006
Some Costa Rican Scenery
Just got back from doing some business in Esterillo today. Not much to report, just did a corporate training gig. But got some very cool pictures on the way back. (All will expand to full size if you click on them)
Humpback bull grazing near the hotel.
With Paul, one of my BEST friends, and the Manager of the Hotel Monterey Del Mar.
This HUGE colony of Alligators (We counted over 15 Adults), live beneath a bridge on the way back from Esterillo.
The wild thing is that the colony of Gators lives right next to a huge group of grazing cattle. Why they dont just have themselves a feast, I dont know. I also dont know why the rancher lets his cattle graze so close to them.
Apollonia and Elsie with my driver on the bridge overlooking the Gator colony.
For More, read on...
June 10, 2006
Things I miss about the US
First on my list is FOOD!
I first came to Costa Rica in Early 1994. The mission was to establish an offshore call center for Acer America Corporation. The Early going was tough, but in three months we had established the call center, and hired the first 100 or so employees.
June 09, 2006
A whole new Level - Live Blogging the World Cup
Less than 5 minutes into the game, and Germany has already scored. Not looking good for the Ticos. This is a while differen't level of competition to what they are used to. They are however a good team, so once they settle down, I am sure they will play better.
13 Minutes in and Costa Rica just scored their first Goal! The country just had a collective heart attack!
Update: 18 Minutes in, Germany scores its second goal of the day. Score CR-1 Germany-2
Note: If you are a soccer fan, and own a Palm Powered handheld, this application (Free) is pretty cool. It allows you to follow the world cup action on your palm via wireless connection.
Update: (10:50am Local Time) It's halftime and the score is still 2-1 in favor of Germany.
Update: (11:19 Local Time) Germany scores third goal of the day. Score Germany-3 Costa Rica-1
Update: (11:31 Local Time) Got to be proud of my little adopted country! Costa Rica just scored their second goal. Score Germany-3 Costa Rica-2
Update: (11:45 Local Time) Germany scores again and with only four minutes to go, it looks bad for the Ticos. Score Germany-4 Costa Rica-2
Well they gave it thier best shot and in my opinion played a gutsy game. Final score Costa Rica-2 Germany-4. Nothing to be ashamed of.
Well, Costa Rica is getting ready for the innagural World Cup game tomorrow, and I will tell you, it is just insane. Almost the entire country is shutting down for the game. Government offices will be closed, and many private businesses are closing as well. Not being a soccer fan, I just dont get it. I mean millions of dollars will be lost tomorrow, thousands of hours of productivity, and for what... A sports event.
June 05, 2006
Nicole Aldana - Costa Rican Super Model!
I am absolutely convinced, that if Nicole lived in the U.S. she would already have achieved superstar status.
Ines Jimenez Ms. Costa Rica Body Builder
Ines, In the dark Red Bikini near the end of the row, is Ms. Costa Rica Body Builder and a good friend of mine. This picture is one of several she sent me from a Body Building Competition in the US. She placed 5th I think, but she is number one in the hearts of Costa Ricans!
Click for larger image!
I will be away tomorrow giving a seminar on living in Costa Rica at the beautiful Monterey Del Mar Hotel. So no posting until tomorrow night, unless my guest bloggers pitch in! (hint, hint)!
May 28, 2006
Night Out with the boyz
We went to the Princessa Marina for dinner.
3 Lobster tails and fixins = $7
Then it was off to my favorite Bar-cito, a little place called Idem.
2 cokes = $4
The company = Priceless
I have a hangover, and I didn't even drink. San Jose nightlife will do that to you.
May 26, 2006
Costa Rica Fact #1001
According to a recent report on Repretel 7 pm edition News, as many as 80% of Costa Ricans have been guilty of infidelity at one time or another.
May 22, 2006
Costa Rican Addresses
Those of us who live in Costa Rica, learn to deal with Costa Rican addresses. When I first came here 12 years ago, I found it incredible that Costa Rica does not have numeric street adresses. To give you an example, this is my home address:
500 meters West of the Municipality of San Pablo
Incredible? Well, it seems the Costa Rican government is trying to fix it... The following is the bad news:
According to La Nacíon, the Post Office of Costa Rica estimates it will take 10 to 15 years to change its address system from a descriptive one to a more detailed one with street names and numbers. Correos de Costa Rica has already developed a new system and has in place 400,000 new addresses for the metropolitan areas of San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago.
Read the whole thing, it is hillarious.
May 18, 2006
Just sold another Costa Rica Guide!
They have been flying off the shelves lately. (The virtual shelf that is!)
Thanks to all our loyal purchasers. Remember, there will be free updates to the guide(s) for the next year. INCLUDING the General Purpose/Family travel guide. (Which is only $15)
To order The FAMILY/GENERAL PURPOSE version via paypal:
Call me on Skype for Free:
May 14, 2006
This is the time of year in Costa Rica that I hate. The summer just ended and the rainy season has begun. While the rain does not bother me, (actually I like it), this period is terrible because for the next month or so it is humid as hell. The Costa Ricans say the ground is sweating. I don't know how accurate that is, but I know I am sweating like a pig, and I hate it.
May 13, 2006
Get the most out of your Costa Rican Vacation
Available NOW, a family friendly version of our Best Selling:
I have received many request for a family version of the manual, that includes general travel tips for those interested in bringing the family to Costa Rica, Couples on Romantic Getaways, or those who are not interested in the Adult Party scene. This revised manual cost $15, and is available via email through Pay Pal.
The Manual includes:
Preparing for your Trip
Getting to Costa Rica
Places to Stay
Places to Eat
Party Time (For Singles and Couples)
Going to the Beach
Getting the most Bang for your Buck
Some Survival Spanish Phrases
Great Hotel Reccomendations in the City and at the Beaches
The manual is family friendly and includes contact information for help while you are in Costa Rica.
To order via paypal:
If ordered during regular business hours, allow up to an hour for delivery.
May 05, 2006
Very Cool Video on Costa Rica
Appears to be shot mostly on the Caribbean side, which does not get much exposure. Notice ALL THE BLACK PEOPLE! Hehe... Bet you thought I was the only one here! Very Cool Stuff!
May 01, 2006
Why Costa Rica?
People are always asking me why I love Costa Rica so much.
Believe it or not, it's not the beautiful women like Lina, pictured to the left. It is the adventure of it. It's running my own business. It's meeting new people. It's helping others to enjoy a visit.
For the first time in my life, I am in control of my own destiny. Sometimes it is hard. Projects for us come and go, but in any consulting business, it's feast of famine. When times are good, one has to save and budget, (something my wife does not understand at times), when times are bad, one has to work extra hard to get back to the good times.
Right now I am in one of those grey areas between major projects. A lot appears on the horrizon, but it will be a month or two before the next major gig, or the founding of the new company, which appears to be several months away, so one prays, enjoys life and works.
I live in a virtual paradise, but it's not always heaven...
Today I got hit with a hosting bill I was not expecting... (yet anyway), thank God business has been pretty good, so I paid it right away, but tomorrow, its back to working hard. (Today was a holiday). Sometimes it's as simple as keeping the beans and rice on the table, or so say my Tico friends!
April 28, 2006
Well I just got back from 3 days at the beach. I did a Seminar Appearance on Establishing a business in Costa Rica on Tuesday and was invited to be the guest of the hotel manager for the rest of the week. Came back to 300+ emails, a lot of them Trackback Spam (Yuck), but some interesting new stuff as well. So I am going to have to get back on my horse here shortly. I have been asked to do two press interviews for technology publications, and one of them I need to finish today, so light blogging. But I figured I would give you guys a treat and share some pictures from the Hotel. I stayed at the personal residence of the Manager of the Hotel Monterey Del Mar, and I will tell you, there is not a more beautiful property in Costa Rica.
Of course, I worked the entire time! (Click for larger image)
The Hotel is in Playa Esterillos, just North of the Tourist Hotbed of Jaco, and let me tell you, WHAT A DIFFERENCE 30 minutes drive makes! The area is super clean, somewhat secluded, so the perfect place for the romantic getaway, and has one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen. But enough talk, here are some of the pictures.
A shot of the beach, just 50 feet or so from the Restaurant.
Having a late lunch with Paul (The Hotel Manager), and his lady Vanessa.
Another view of the spectacular beach! (Click for larger image)
The People attending the seminar, definately knew how to PARTY!
And with Entertainment like this, how could they not!
And after a night like that...
Having a beautiful pool like this one to cool off in, came in handy.
Anyway, no time for more right now. But if you plan on a visit to Costa Rica, put the Monterey Del Mar on your list of Beach Destinations, especially if you want to get away from the crowds and touristy atmosphere of Jaco or some of the other large beaches.
April 26, 2006
Partying in Costa Rica
Most Recent Updates
Also, there is a new Family and Couples version of the manual that focuses on family fun and or romantic getaways for couples and singles. You can find it here.
"Forget every guide book to Costa Rica (if you still want those others, I'll send you mine for free), because this is the ONLY book you will need! Cutting though all of the unnecessarys, David Anderson gives you all the "ins and outs" of visiting Costa Rica. Not only detailed are the "Single Man's" main interest (the girls), this book covers the essentials, from making sure you don't get ripped off by taxis to the BEST restaurant recommendations that only the locals know about.
I just found this book days before I left for Costa Rica, and wish I had found it before, because I had made some arrangements from companies I had found on the internet, only to find I was "ripped-off" once I got there.
Note: JB Spent a week in Costa Rica using our Single Man's Guide to Partying in Costa Rica. He has also provided some valuable feedback on additions to the book, has been added. All previous purchasers recieved a free update.
The Guide is comprehensive enough to give you ALL the goodies on having a BLAST in Costa Rica. I recently added some additional goodies of my own to the book and we will continue to provide free updates to anyone who buys the book for one year. We also have a palm version of the book that can be loaded directly onto a Palm Handheld or Treo Smartphone. A future version planned for later this year, probably include some photographs of some of the top spots.
The biggest issue most people have in visiting Costa Rica is that there is so much to do, that it can become overwhelming. On the otherhand, many guys come down and never get more than a few blocks from the notorious Hotel Del Rey. The Truth is out there, but you can spend hours trying to research the best party spots, and paying for pay sites that offer the same recycled "tica pics," or you can buy this kick ass book that will give you a huge jump start on having a blast in Costa Rica.
Note: We can also help you to make contacts for various services while in Costa Rica, including:
For Players Club Members Only
To buy via credit card via secure Paypal Shopping Cart (No paypal account required), click below:
April 16, 2006
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
Well Holy week is winding down here in Costa Rica. Like the Christmas Holiday, which last from Mid December until the end of the first week in January, Holy Week is one of those annual events where everything just shuts down more or less. After Wednesday most government offices were closed or on limited staff, and the capital empties out as everyone heads to the beach. My wife and children took advantage of the holiday to spend some time on our farm on the northern border, while I stayed at home. I tried to get some work done, but for the most part I spent the week just decompressing and enjoying the silence of a child free house.
April 03, 2006
I dont know, maybe Nicole and her equally gorgeous sister, should be a little more pissed at the boyfriend, who allowed a private video to get out there in the first place, me thinks...
March 19, 2006
This week in Tia Zelmira
Now don't you wish you lived in Costa Rica?
March 18, 2006
The Start of a New Adventure
Busy week ahead. I hope to meet with the representative of a group of Angel investors this week. I have been working since the completion of the Guatemalan project on an idea for a new company focused on wireless technology. The response to my initial executive summary has been encouraging, but there is still much work to be done.
The truth is that after five years, I have grown tired of the original charter of Grupo Utopia. To be sure we have acomplished some incredible things on the small investment we started the company with. GU has become synonymous with high technology leadership. We have forged relationships with some of the biggest technology companies in the world, including Intel, Oracle, IBM, Motorola, Palm and HP, and we have created a buzz about wireless technology and high technology in general. We have also created a strong brand...
So why start a new company?
There are many reasons, but the primary one is to seek a level of investment that will allow me to develop some exciting new concepts. With the ownership structure of GU, it would be hard to raise sufficient funds to do so, without long and drawn out negotiations with existing investors. I plan to refocus GU on Call Center Consulting, while structuring the new company to be 100% focussed on wireless and associated technologies.
One of the great things that has come out of my adventures has been developing a relationship with the Press. GU is one of the most written about companies in Costa Rica.
This week, I have two interviews appearing in the local business press. This picture is from one of the Interviews.I am frequently consulted about trends in Outsourcing or wireless technology.
Both subjects are hot right now, as Costa Rica struggles with more competition from other countries in the region, as an outsourcing destination, and as ICE (The National Phone Company), is finaly working to make their three year old GPRS wirless network a "real service."
RACSA, ICE's official Internet subsidiary has also put together plans for the launch of a Metropolitan Area network of wirless hotspots, more than likely 802.11B or G.
So wireless is about to take off in a big way in Costa Rica, and we want to be there to take advantage of the trend. Five years ago, Grupo Utopia installed the first, "Public," wireless network in Costa Rica, at the Palma Real Hotel, and then we stood by and watched the market explode with public access points at almost every major hotel here. We made ZIP off of our Pioneering efforts. We will NOT miss this opportunity!
I have never been a believer in LUCK. I believe in Destiny. The two interviews appearing this week were not planned, they just happened, as I got a call from a reporter friend who was in the process of writing them. The timing is perfect...
February 28, 2006
What a day!
My first task today was to buy a new cellular line for Grupo Utopia.
February 22, 2006
New Nicole Aldana Video!
All I can say is the girl has quite a few floating arround out there. This one starts out with another famous Costa Rican Model, Hazel Caraval (Pictured on the Right), and then later Nikki. All I can say is WOW! Hazel got it going on!
Now this is not exactly porno guys, but there are some naughty thong shots and what not, so probably not a good idea to open this at work. The video is a bit dark and hard to view in parts, but one thing is clear, these are some beautiful woman, even when just waking up in the morning.
I have no doubt that now that the genie is out of the bottle, that there will be lots of interest in any other videos that exist. So stay tuned.
I have always thought Nicole was super hot!
And if you are interested in coming to Costa Rica and meeting some of the sexiest women alive, remember The Guide, it's only $20, and the tips included will save you that in the first hour in country.
To get your copy, click the buy now button below.
You will be able to pay via paypal, and I will forward the guide to you in Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF Format.
February 19, 2006
I knew a girl name Nicki....
Damn, I had no idea my post about Nicole Aldana from the other day, would be so popular. I have recieved a couple thousand hits of people looking for the infamous video...
Several pages and blogs have sprung up overnight about Nicole, so like I said, I dont think this is going to be necessarily bad for the ladies career.
So here's to you Nikki, may this little incident turn into a blessing in disguise.
February 17, 2006
The Costa Rican Model Sex Scandal!
Those of you who are faithful readers of ISOU, know that we just about weekly feature one of the Models from Tia Zelmira, Costa Rica's hottest gossip site.
Nicole Aldana is arguably the hottest model in Costa Rica, featuring extreme sexiness, while at the same time featuring a kind of "girl next door cleanliness."
Well the innocence has officially ended. Circulating on the interet here is a rather risque video, apparently taken by Nicole's Boyfriend, (Or based on the fact that it is no longer private,perhaps her soon to be ex-boyfriend). (Not Safe for Most Workplaces)
Apparently the video was taken two years ago while filming a television show in Honduras. While the papers are making a big deal of it, it is pretty tame. In fact, it could be said that Nicole has shown more skin in her regular model shoots.
Since I have never met Nicole in person, I found the audio to be the most interesting part of the video, just hearing her speak. I dont know how the video got out, but I don't think it will hurt her career. In fact, it may just help it, knowing the macho culture here. And honestly, I have seen a lot more skin on Tia Zelmira.
January 28, 2006
You think Politics are bad in the U.S.
Well this man... An ex president of Costa Rica and Nobel Laureat, had the law changed in Costa Rica so he could run again. (Costa Rican Presidents were limited to one five year term. The elections are scheduled for Feb. 5th, but Mr. Arias has already declared victory based on polling numbers, and is acting as if he is the President elect.
The man is young, dynamic, well educated (Harvard), and pro business, while still being focussed on helping the poor of Costa Rica.
He was recently called by Fred Blaser, owner of La Republica and the CA+ Blog, "the Most Presidential man to possibly never be President of Costa Rica." I have been told by a number of people in a position to know, that the results of this election, as most of the past ones, was decided in a smoke filled room over a year ago.
For a country proud of it's democracy, that would be sad and unfortunate. Oscar Arias is a hero in the region. His work in ending the Civil wars in Central America in the late 80's won him a Nobel Prize and wide ranging respect in the world and recognition for Costa Rica. I once sat accross from him in Business Class on a flight from Costa Rica to Miami, and his nephew is one of my oldest friends in Costa Rica. Nevertheless, I dont think Costa Rica needs another Arias administration.
I believe that Guevara represents the kind of new blood Costa Rica needs. He is young, talks straight, and supports education and business growth in Costa Rica. Unlike Arias, he believes in tax cuts, not more taxes on some of the most taxed people in the region. He supports CAFTA, which will bring jobs and opportunity to the people of Costa Rica, and he is willing to roll up his sleeves and get dirty with the people. Some of his most popular campaign commercials are videos of him helping to paint a school and picking up garbage in a suburb that has been plagued with a long sanitation workers strike.
Guevara's biggest challenge, other than possible election fraud is the fact that he speaks the truth, not what people want to hear. The La Republica owner told me that Oscars problem was, "he will not compromise. He knows what he believes in and unlike most politicians is not willing to compromise those beliefs for votes." Another friend called him arrogant. I asked why, and his response was, "I wont vote for him because he thinks he knows everything, and I am a Liberationista," (Arias' Party). Well guess what? Maybe he does know a thing or two. My worry is that under Arias it will just be more of the same, politics as usual, and the very people who could have benefited most from a Guevara victory, are the ones who are ensuring through apathy and ignorance, that it does not happen...
January 18, 2006
What is it....
About some people...
I have a neighbor who for some reason can not resist coming outside with the skimpiest outfits she can find. The woman is a grandmother, but a young one with quite the figure... Yesterday I am sitting out on my front porch and she decides she is going to bend over and attend to her grandchild in the stroller.... Nothing wrong with that you say.... Eh, she was wearing a mini and a dental floss thong, and it did not take a gust of wind, or imagination to see all God gifted her with... Jeeez!
January 09, 2006
Going to the Birds
I tell you what, life is just going to the birds.... I now have a mini zoo in the house.
January 06, 2006
Picture of the Week from Tia Zelmira
Cost Rica has the sexiest women on earth, but shhhhhhh... Keep it to yourself.
January 03, 2006
My kids are on Christmas break for the next couple of weeks.
Elsie, Antoinella (My Wife's little Sister), and Apollonia watch a little TV.
Dad of course is stuck working!
While Jean Carlos passes the afternoon listening to his CD Player on the front porch.
December 29, 2005
The Earthquake yesterday apparently did not kill anyone of do much damage, but I tell you, it felt like it was a big one here. Anyway, no damage to the Anderson homestead, and the family made it home okay yesterday.
December 28, 2005
Holy S$#% we just had a MAJOR earthquake!
Or at least it felt like a Major one. Developing....
December 23, 2005
Ah the benefits of being a monopoly...
As I have mentioned before, ICE (The Costa Rican Electric and Telephone Company), has been fighting tooth and nail to prevent CAFTA and the competition that will come from opening the market. Tonight was a perfect example of WHY. Power failed three times tonight, and has failed two nights in the last two weeks, for an average outtage of about three hours. Now with competition people would likely tell them to go to hell and buy their electrical power from someone else....
Things I don't like about Costa Rica
I am always bragging about the things I love about Costa Rica,
but I rarely mention the things I really DON'T Like. I mean what is not to like about a country that can produce women as beautiful and sexy as the ladies in the Casa Zeller Lingerie Show.
Well, let me tell you a litte secret...
I hate BUGS. I mean REALLY hate them. Costa Rica is a tropical country, and there is a reason that the fictional Jurassic Park was set in Costa Rica. There are Cockroaches here the size of small rodents, and they crawl up the drain pipes from the sewer at night. EWWWWWWW....
And then there are the mosquitos that suck you dry as soon as it gets dark. And spiders that look like the Face Huggers from the Movie Alien. There are some naughty, naughty Bugs down here. And that's just in the city.
Why do you think I refuse to go to the farm for vacation? The bugs out in the boonies make the ones here in the city look lightweight.
December 15, 2005
Rigoberto Alpizar, Victim of Excessive Force?
From Talk Left:
It is reported on Law.com today that DOJ has hired defense counsel for the two air marshals who shot and killed Rigoberto Alpizar last week on a jetway in the Miami Airport.
There has been quite a lot of press on this story in Costa Rica for the last week. Mr. Alpizar was a Costa Rican National... The consensus seems to be that Mr. Alpizar was murdered by the Air Marshalls, and that his wife tried repeatedly to explain that he was simply sick and had not taken his medication. My wife, a Tica herself, is pretty much beside herself with anger over the situation. My own feelings? Let the investigation conclude, the witnesses speak and if proven guilty of misconduct, punish the Marshalls.
December 11, 2005
Hot Fun in the Summer Time
It's summer time in Costa Rica, and I spent the entire afternoon today in the mall with the wife and kids. While I did not see anyone as gorgeous as this....
I must admit, I saw some ladies that would have given her and the other Zelmira models a run for their money.
It is incredible living in a country that experiences summer at Christmas time. And it is even more incredible the sheer quantity of beautiful women one encounters on a daily basis here.
I mean it is so bad that my wife can't even get mad at me for looking. She told me today that if I didn't look, she would begin to wonder if I was turning Gay.
The biggest problem with going out here in Costa Rica is that you can end up with whiplash from turning your head so often and so fast. Hehe...
Read on for more pictures of Jennifer... Just Because...
The girl is MAD Hot!
Now you know why I love living in Costa Rica so much...
November 19, 2005
My lovely wife was very happy to see me!
November 06, 2005
This week in TV Guide...
The Costa Rican TV Guide that is! Hehe...
This one is for you Boyd!
October 31, 2005
Why Costa Rica needs the TLC (CAFTA)
While in Guatemala on business a couple weeks ago, I got off the plane, purchased a GSM chip for my cell phone, then picked up a prepaid card Bam! I had a cellular line in Guatemala! While visiting Guatemala I had access to CDMA wireless internet all over the city. By December, Guatemala will have several wireless internet options available all over the main metropolitan areas.
In Costa Rica, it is NORMAL to wait months, even over a year for a phone line. GSM service is spotty and unreliable, (There are MANY places in the Capital City where service is unavailable). And GPRS internet, in "pilot" for nearly two years, rarely works at all.
I was one of the first customers for ICE DSL two years ago. This year, my DSL line has been inoperable or partially functional for over four months out of 11. I have had the line completely down for as long as three weeks at a time, and once the bandwidth was cut from 1MB to 128K for three weeks with no explanation. When I finally got someone to talk about it at ICE, (An incredibly impossible task at times), they told me that they could not find my contract and that was what they "thought," I was paying for. When I sent them the contract, my bandwidth was returned, but I received no discount on the $100 a month I pay for the higher speed. Nor have I received a discount or refund for the countless outages. My line at the moment is running at less than dialup speed, and no one seems the least bit interested in fixing the problem. My monthly bill comes every couple of weeks in an ever shortening cycle, and there is NO negotiating with ICE when it comes to paying it.
Despite the fact that the majority of Ticos have issues with ICE and their lack of service, many Ticos believe the ICE propaganda against the TLC (CAFTA Trade Agreement), which will bring competition to Costa Rica. It would seem that many buy ICE's claims that the Trade Agreement will mean an end to NUESTRA COMPANIA (Our company), ironic since "our company," would suggest that ICE has the Costa Rican people's interest at heart. If this were the case, I would not have passed the last 11 months paying $100 a month for a service that rarely works more than a week without a major problem, nor would I have to spend days calling number after number to try and get someone to address my case. In Guatemala and other countries in the region where there is competition, customers can vote with their feet, and simply change companies when they are not satisfied with service. This is the heart of ICE's opposition to the TLC, they can already hear the people running to the competition, once it becomes available.
October 27, 2005
The Best Food I have EVER Eaten
I surprised the wife today by inviting her to lunch at Inka Grill. It is a chain of Peruvian Resturants that I believe has locales in the US. All I can say is that this PLACE ROCKS!
I had an awesome seafood salad, followed by a surf and turf, my God, it was orgasmic.
I have a conference call coming so can't say more, but it was awesome.
October 25, 2005
Life in Costa Rica
Living in Costa Rica is a gas! On the one hand you have beautiful women, like the one's featured on Tia Zelmira. On the other hand you have stifling and idiotic rules that require you to have local bank references to open a bank account, and yet you cant have a bank account without local references... make sense? Not unless you are high, or a Costa Rican Banker!
I have been watching with interest the battle over CAFTA here. The big monopolies like ICE (The Phone Monopoly) and INS (The Insurance Monopoly, have been fighting tooth and nail to keep the agreement, called ironically the TLC, from even being voted on by the national legislature. And it has become a major issue in the upcoming Costa Rican elections. The Unions for the big monopolies don't want it, because it would mean competition.
They are using all manner of scare tactics to convince Costa Ricans that it is a BAD thing for them, and will mean higher prices.
Despite their propaganda and numerous strikes, it seems the Costa Rican people are fed up with the monopolies and the poor service that they provide. A recent poll showed that nearly 70% of the population is for the TLC, and major business publications like CA+ are promoting the benefits to the region.
Living in Costa Rica for five years, one becomes rather jaded. The "Pura Vida Lifestyle," starts to get to you and you just get complacent with the horrible service (My DSL line has been out of commission for a combined total of almost two months this year. My phone regularly goes out and sometimes requires days to fix.
The ICE support people rarely rise above a yawn when service request are made. People have been waiting for cellular lines here for over a year, and I have an open request for a home line for over a year.
In stark contrast when I got off the plane recently in Guatemala, I was able to get a GSM chip for my phone and activate it with a prepaid card in five minutes. There are also tons of choices, including at least three major telephony providers with high bandwidth internet options including WiMax coming in December. with my prepaid card, I was able to secure a phone number in Guatemala, and make calls back to Costa Rica for less than $.50 cents a minute.
So Costa Ricans would finaly get choice with the TLC, and ironically those who are fighting the hardest to keep it out, (The Unions for the Monopolies) would probably see their members benefit the most, as competition would also mean new job opportunities and likely better pay for their members.
But then again, I didn't see anyone in Guatemala who looked like Alexandra. (sigh)...
October 23, 2005
If you don't speak Spanish....
Here is a damned good reason to learn!
This week's TV Guide, announcing a new TV show called....
Yeah, I am pretty damned happy!
September 18, 2005
Some Pictures from Costa Rican Independence Day
Apollonia in her traditional Costa Rican Dress.
Elsie does Typical Costa Rican Dance.
September 16, 2005
Hehe... I did not realize I was that important!
I published an article almost two years ago in La Republica, the number one Business Newspaper in Costa Rica. It was a critique of ICE, the Government owned phone monopoly in Costa Rica. While searching for some information on Cellular Services today on ICE's site, I came across this article. Seems ICE took my editorial so seriously, that they published a rebuttal on their own website. Quite an honor actually, to have one of the largest companies in Latin America, answer your editorial on their own site. It's still BS what they are saying though. hehe...
August 18, 2005
Why Costa Rica needs the CAFTA (TLC in Spanish)
I have worked in Customer Service most of my adult life. I was responsible for founding the first Call Center in Costa Rica. To me, Customer Service is a religion!
In the debate over the TLC, the most Vocal opponents are Costa Rica's Trade Unions. The Trade Unions have used a Combination on Nationalistic Jingoism and fear tactics, to convince the Majority of Ticos that the TLC would be bad for them.
The truth is that these Unions are terrified of the idea that they will have to compete! They are not so concerned about price. The fact that ICE has existing telecommunications infrastructure, While any newcomer would have to invest in new infrastructure Or lease it from ICE, gives ICE a long term advantage in operational cost, which can in turn be used to provide them with a competitive price advantage! So they are not concerned about being able to compete on price. What they and their fellow Union members in INS ARE concerned about, is Service.
Last year I contacted an INS agent to buy some insurance. I spent over an hour answering a questionnaire and after the meeting waited a week for a quote. Despite repeated phone calls, and a desire on my part to spend money, NO one ever got back to me!
I was One of the first people in Heredia to get ADSL. For the first year I had a few problems, but for the most part, they were quickly resolved, probably more than anything because there were few customers to service. This year I have been without service on my DSL line for a cumulative total of more than TWO MONTHS. I also mysteriously had my ADSL velocity cut to 128k for two weeks, despite paying for a Megabyte. I actually had to argue with ICE that I was paying for one Megabyte, despite the fact that I had had such service for well over a year.
For the last two weeks I have been dealing with an intermittent problem that result in me losing my connection constantly during the day, while the connection is fine in the evenings. Dealing with ICE Customer Service is a nightmare of busy signals, unanswered phones, and being bounced from one person to another, with NO ONE taking responsibility for your problem. I have repeatedly been told that a Technician will come to my home office to check the problem, and they don’t show until we have made repeated phone calls. Saturday morning I got a call from a technician asking about my most recent problem. I told him that it was intermittent and at that moment I was not experiencing problems. I explained that the problem came and went, and that I could not maintain a reliable connection. He assure me that he would look into the problem and get back to me. Fifteen minutes later, the connection went down again and remained down for most of the day. On Sunday, I had a more or less reliable connection all day, but my troubles returned promptly on Monday morning. After more phone calls, more busy signals, more passing the buck, I was informed that my DSL modem is likely bad and will be replaced on Friday (The END of the Week).
Despite having my connection down or impaired for 25% of this year so far, I have never received a credit from ICE for downtime, and currently receive a bill for over $100 a month for the service, about every three weeks. In the US, where there is competition, I would pay about $75 for the same velocity connection, and if dissatisfied, I would simply change my service provider. In Costa Rica, changing providers is not an option, but with competition
August 08, 2005
Special Request - Sticky Post
Grupo Utopia is in a competitive bid situation for a MAJOR project in Guatemala. The project is the kind I am well known for implementing, and will not only be a major client for us, but a major feather in our cap. I believe strongly in the power of prayer, especially when it comes from many people with no direct interest in the results. On Thursday and Friday of last week, the potential client started reference checking on us. I know because several references called to inform me that the call had went well.
In other news, I have convinced the owner of the second largest newspaper in Costa Rica to start a blog on Business in Central America, a very appropriate time with the passage of CAFTA. Grupo Utopia and I will be consulting for him to help launch the blog, it will be online in a week or so. I hope you will add the blog to your blog roll and help him get some momentum!
If you had ANY doubt...
About how beautiful Costa Rican women are... You MUST check out this Maestro's work!
The girls of Tia Zelmira are one of the most popular features of ISOU, and for good reason. One look at the lovely Jocelyn and you know why Costa Rica is a popular spot for single men, or even not so single men... Hehe...
Myself, I have three of my own Ticas, ages 20 months, through 29 years, so unfortunately I am off the market, but as my buddy Boyd used to say, does not keep me from looking.
Talk about being a glutton for punishment. I cant even go to the local McDonalds or Burger King without getting a major case of, "College Days Nostalgia."
One of my best buddies recently moved to Costa Rica. He is single and relatively well off. He has been here six months and has been in love about once a month since he got here, lucky bastard.
August 03, 2005
Bush signed CAFTA into law today, and it will be interesting to see it's effects.
There is no doubt that CAFTA will have major benefits to Grupo Utopia, the company I founded here in Costa Rica. Despite HEAVY opposition from trade unions here, who see the opening of the market as a threat to their job security, the agreement will likely eventually pass. What it means is that that ICE, the local telephone monopoly, and other government owned monopolies in Insurance, etc. will be forced to compete, something that will challenge their records of slow and often BAD customer service. It will also mean investment by high technology companies like cellular providers, that will directly challenge ICE. This is good news for Utopia, as the high technology and wireless market is our base.
On the flip side, I do believe that CAFTA will continue to erode employment opportunities for people in the States, especially in the low end manufacturing sector, as more investment is made in Near Shore manufacturing in Central America, where cost are considerably lower and productivity often higher.
We will no doubt expoit the opportunities offered by CAFTA, and are evaluating how we can best take advantage of the opportunities now. Nevertheless, I can not help but to feel for some Americans who will suffer as a result of its passing.
July 13, 2005
18 Die in Hospital Fire
Via the Tico Times:
July 12, 2005
Why I love Costa Rica, Reason Number 1,001
Well other than the fact that Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful women in the world, I just love living here.
While the rest of the world worries about terrorism, Costa Ricans fret over who will win the Soccer game tonight between Costa Rica and the U.S. My best bud Gregg invited me to go out tonight (I think he feels sorry for me because I have been alone for the last 7 days - hehe..), anyway, not sure if I am going. He has not called to confirm yet, and going out with Gregg can be dangerous for a married man.
You see Gregg insist on going to places where women like the one on the left hang out at. Friendly... very friendly, versions of her. And after seven days alone, and last week's bachelor party... Eh... Let's just say, "Lead me not into temptation."
You know, the more I watch CNN and the coverage of the Rove thing, the more I realize just how lucky I am to live here. I mean it is ridiculous watching Right Wingers spin the issue. Now some idiot Right Wing Talk show host has decided that this issue is just not important to the American People...
Interesting, considering that at the moment, there are over 43,000 post being tracked on Technorati on the Rove issue, and over 8,000 on Valerie Plame... Seems to me there is a lot of interest pal.
The funny thing is, my health goes to shit while they are gone. I eat poorly, smoke too much, and don't get enough sleep. Besides that, I need a vacation myself.
My wife is always ragging on me to go to the farm with them. I don't think I could handle it if I did. I mean ME... without an Internet Connection? It was bad enough when I was working on the project at Pension Santa Elena, at least until we put in the wireless network there. But the bottom line... INSECTS... Yeah that's right, Insects, you ever seen Costa Rican Bugs? Let's just say Spielberg chose Costa Rica as a setting for Jurassic Park for a reason! And the location of our Farm is famous for two things, heat and bugs!
So for the time being, I think I will stick to the city, have myself a nice tall glass of Iced Tea, and watch CNN in my bug free (for the most part), house!
July 10, 2005
Once upon a time...
There was a beautiful princess named Vanessa who gave me her love. She treated me like no woman has before or since.
July 08, 2005
I went to a Bachelor party at a friends last night, and all I can say is Costa Rican Bachelor Parties... Oh My Lawd!
No pictures available. Hehe, I aint Shabooty after all!
July 05, 2005
Tribute to a Friend
I just want to take a moment to say a very PUBLIC thanks.
Ever had a friend that no matter how many fights you got into with him, he still had your back. Well the dude on the right in this picture is my buddy Gregg. He used to work for me years ago at Packard Bell. I did not see him for 10 years, and suddenly ran into him here in Costa Rica, a couple years ago.
Gregg and I fight like cats and dogs. We get so angry with each other, we sometimes can not see straight, but he is one of those people who ALWAYS has my back. He has fed me when I was broke. Got me drunk when I was sad, and been there for me on more occessions than I can count.
So today, after hooking up for some much appreciated Sushi, he helped me out of another jam. So let me just say, I love ya man. And I will never forget the times you have been there for me when no one else was.
July 02, 2005
New Yahoo Group for People Interested in Business in Costa Rica
I have started a new Yahoo Group for those interested in business in Costa Rica. Feel free to join or to register for our newsletter.
July 01, 2005
Doing Business In Costa Rica
Grupo Utopia International, the High Technology Consulting firm I founded five years ago, is expanding operations. We will now be working with one of the most dynamic law firms and other professionals in Costa Rica to offer a wide variety of services to those interested in relocating to, or doing business in Costa Rica.
We are leveraging over 40 years of experience in the local market to help you with any and all needs related to traveling to or doing business in Costa Rica.
For Additional Information, email us.
Read More about Grupo Utopia on our Main Site.
June 26, 2005
Things I miss from Los Angeles
I have been watching HBO's Entourage for the last couple of weeks, and man has it got me Jonesin' for Los Angeles.
Things I miss from LA:
Johnny's Pastrami... I would kill for one!
Citywalk... One of the best places to spend a Saturday or Sunday in Los Angeles, fun for the whole family!
Being able to go to a grocery store at 2:00am when I just have to have something or another.
Watching a movie without subtitles, in a big seat with REAL popcorn and a hot dog.
Watching the Lakers live!
Watching the U.S.C. Trojans live.
Choice in Cell Phone Provider, Internet Provider, Phone Service...
A Credit Card where I can buy shit on the Internet
Having a Real Pizza, Steak, fill in the blanks... Instead of the Tico cloned version of one.
Choice in Hamburger joints.
A greasy REAL Burrito!
The Beach being 20 minutes away.
San Francisco being 5 hours away.
Me and Rogue chillin in Hollywood.
"You buy we fry," fishmarkets.
People who are not affraid to tell you to fuck off.
Seeing a movie the day it premiers.
The Original Pantry... Where I was initiated into being a "man in the family," by my older brothers. Before they invited me to The Pantry, I was never part of the Big Brothers.
Eh.... notice how many of them are food joints... hehe...
Pinks Hot Dogs... Which I saw on Entourage the other night, man does that bring back memories.
Driving up to the Madonna Inn, (The Most Romantic Hotel in California), for Romantic weekends.
June 17, 2005
THE Party of the Year
If you live in Costa Rica, THIS is where you should be tomorrow night!
This party is being hosted by one of my best friends, and if HISTORY is any indication, it will be off the HOOK!
June 11, 2005
Costa Rican Word for Today.... GOMA!
Goma=Hangover, and boy do I have one. Went out with one of my best buds Gregg last night. We had an awesome Seafood Dinner at the Princessa Marina, one of San Jose's best Sea Food joints, and then we went and hung out at the notorious Hotel Del Rey, and just watched the action. It's been a long time since I had been there, and there are a lot of changes. The Cafe Style restauraunt is gone, replaced by another bar. There is a whole new crop of girls, and the ambiance is a little different, but its still the same old Ray. High priced hookers, arrogant Americans, and the smell of money mixed with cuban cigar smoke.
June 04, 2005
Sexy Women of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a sexy place.
For more of the Costa Rican beautiful people, visit Tia Zelmira.
June 03, 2005
More Pictures From The Bank Assault
A week ago I posted some exclussive pictures from the Bank Assault in Monteverde. I have a couple hundred Megabytes of shots, and since they moved so many of you, I thought I would Share some more.
Police officer just 100 Feet away from the besieged bank. (Click for High Res Image)
Same officer. (Click for High Res Image)
Hero Gaurd in Bullet Proff Pillbox (Note Bullet Hole in Glass), looks on at gravely wounded police officer, and dead suspect on steps of the bank. (Click for Hi Res Image)
Another Officer about 100 Meters down the block from the bank.
Click for Supersized Hi Res Images.
May 29, 2005
Going Home Today
Well I am heading home this morning about 11:30. Last night marked two weeks and four days in "the jungle," so I am ready to go home. Met some awesome people, had a cool time, and got my mission accomplished, so I deserve a day or two of down time. Wednesday I have a meeting with Credomatic, the biggest credit card issuing company in Costa Rica, and another with one of the biggest and most prestigious private schools here to talk about some projects. Last night I hung out with some exchange students who are visiting Monteverde and living in Heredia,(where I live). I suspect I will see them again. The following pictures will give you an idea of what kind of party animals they are...
Read on for the lovely ladies....
These pictures give you an idea of why Pension Santa Elena is so popular with the boys... Hehe
May 28, 2005
Bank Assault in Monteverde
Some of you may remember the series of post I made awhile back on the Bank Assault in Monteverde. I ran into Erick, an Expatriate Ex-Marine who lives here in Monteverde, yesterday. Erick took some spectacular photos of the Assault, including this one... One of the only existing photos of the Bank Robbers as they actually entered the bank. Erick was in a restaurant accross the street and above the bank.
Click for Larger image.
The final death toll was nine, with many more injured,including the dead robber on the stairs of the bank and the policeman (wounded? on the left), who was attempting to save some of the hostages in the bank.
Despite criticism of the police for readiness and tactics, their performance in my eyes was heroic. Witness this Police officer attempting to go to the aid of a fallen comrade.
Read on for more pictures....
The Police were criticized for Macho tactics in assaulting the bank, but in watching the coverage, I did not see anything less than true courage.
They seemed cautious and concerned for the safety of the hostages.
What amazes me about the pictures is the look on the officers faces...
What touched me was all the school children who attended... Some of whom lost family in the assault.
May 26, 2005
Live from the Jungle
Okay, so I am chillin' in the Lobby, drinking beer out of a BAPC (Big Assed Plastic Cup), rappin with a dude who is eating two fried fish, whose eyes seem to be following me... Hehe.. (Whole fried fish rocks)! The lobby is filled with the most delicious females you can immagine, but I am being such a good boy you would not believe it.
I need to buy another Access Point Tomorrow, and then I am going to try to get home this weekend. If I do, I plan to kiss my wife and babies and then crawl into bed until I smell something good coming from the kitchen.
I am chillin' down here in the Jungle, and watching my Blog lose it's audience, (Where the HELL are all you guest bloggers?)Hehe...
Okay, this sucks....
I have bought up every pack of Marlboro Cigarettes in Monteverde, and am relegated to smoking some Donkey Shit mix called Derby Menthols...
May 23, 2005
I am a bit depressed today, not sure what it is. Maybe it is the steady downpour of rain over the jungle, or being away from my little ones for almost two weeks, whatever... But if you are so inclined, drop a Brother some love...
More from the "Jungle"
Okay, so Sunday was a blast. Although I am tired and want to go home, I have to admit that this place rocks in ways hard to imagine.
The Internet cafe has turned into a big hit, especially that it is wireless, with a 50MB high speed connection to all wireless devices. These guys from Belgium were some of the first customers to use the new gear.
Notice that one of the dudes kind of looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. Well at least to me.
Read on for more...
These two girls are resident artisans who sell handmade jewelry at the hotel. They are from Argentina and I love their sexy accents. The picture does not do them justice, they are both cuties.
I had dinner with Erica and Morgan. Erica is from Central California and Morgan is this cute little Canadian who can drink most men under a table.
May 22, 2005
Did I mention that Monteverde Rocks
It does, and it does because of the diverse group of cool people you meet here. This is Amanda who was one of the people I met this week. She is a rightously cool person, who has helped to brigten up the Pension Santa Elena for the last few days.
Part of the team went offroading today on Four Wheel Motorcycles. I passed... I am glad I did...
I'm affraid I did not come prepared for sloshing through miles of mud. And from the looks of these guys shoes... Hehe... They did not either...
Not to mention butts. Hehe...
Me myself, I chose instead to admire the local sites... Admiring the natural beauty...
May 21, 2005
Looks like I am going to be here for a few more days....
I am still in Monteverde. Looks like the earliest I will be back is Thursday. Thanks to all my guest bloggers for filling in for me.
May 14, 2005
Pension Santa Elena Rocks!
Okay, if you wonder why I love Pension Santa Elena, look no further than these pictures.
This picture was taken this morning as a group of students from Ohio finished a week long visit at the Pension. They had a blast and partied into the night with the staff and other guest every night they were here.
The following pictures were taken the other night as a bunch of guest, locals and members of the hotel staff celebrated the birthday of one of the local artisans on the patio of the hotel.
The party included about 25 guest just hanging out, drinking beer and sharing each others company.
I am now using the wireless internet cafe we installed this week to post this blog entry and to stay in touch with you guys. I want to again thank my guest bloggers, and Rogue, for running the show while I am away. The new look rocks.
May 12, 2005
Bloggin from the Jungle
First thanks to Rogue, Jack, Tas, Dave and everyone else who has been looking after the "house," for me. I am still in the Jungle and will be here until next week. But what rocks is I am blogging from the first wireless internet cafe in the region, which I just configured tonight. I have a busy couple of days ahead of me, so I doubt if I will be dropping in much, but just wanted to offer some love to all of my friends and to let you all know I am okay.
May 11, 2005
I am outta here! Off to the Jungle. Will be back next week. Like I said, I will try to post periodically, but wont have 100% access. I hope my guest bloggers will pick up the slack for me.
Okay, I am outta here....
Leaving for Monteverde tomorrow. Will try to sneak in an occassional post, but I hope our guest bloggers will pick up the slack.
One Love and Peace everyone...
May 10, 2005
Back to the Jungle
I am off to Monteverde tomorrow for a week of Project Work. Any of you guest bloggers that want to pick up the slack, feel free to do so. I will likely post some from up there, but not much. Start posting whenever you like. If there is anyone who would like to contribute as a guest blogger, contact Rogue via the comments to this post and she will evaluate if your writing style fits into the blog. If so, she will provide you with a log on.
2005 Weblog Awards Finalist!
2004 Weblog Awards Finalist!
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