Things That Matter

Costa Rica’s Place In The World Makes It The Tropical Paradise Dreams Are Made Of

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Costa Ricans have a motto that is as simple as it is full of wisdom: “Pura vida.” It roughly translates as “Just life” or “Life only.” This mantra is only fitting for a country which prides itself in its natural beauty and its sustainable policies that protect biodiversity. Costa Rica literally means “Rich Coast,” which gives you an idea of how ingrained the idea of having plentiful resources is in the national mind frame. Here are some facts that tell us why this Central American country is a prime destination for those seeking to lose themselves in nature, find adventure and get in touch with the flora and fauna we need to protect. Government policies have put spending in initiatives such as a strong educational system and the move to renewable and clean energies to power development. If you are planning a holiday, no descarten Costa Rica for any reason. Pura vida, mi gente! 

1. Costa Rica’s geographical position is such a privilege.

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The country borders beautiful Nicaragua to the north, the lush Caribbean Sea to the northeast, the financial epicenter of Panama to the Southeast and the warm Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Cocos Island has Ecuador just to the south. Having so much coast basically creates a lush, green jungle in between. Add some volcanoes and you have paradise on Earth. 

2. It has a small, happy population.

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Costa Rica is called by many “the Switzerland of Latin America.” It has a population of a mere 5 million, with about 2 million living in the capital of San Jose and surrounding metropolitan enclaves. This is a pretty manageable number, which also prevents overpopulation overcrowding protected natural areas, which is a pattern in the region. 

3. Who needs an army? Let us rejoice in peace.

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Costa Rica prides itself in not having an army. Federal resources that would otherwise be destined for defense purposes are instead directed to the protection of natural areas and resources. This gives the country a zen vibe that visitors just love. It must be amazing doing yoga there and just flowing with the universe! 

4. Education is queen in Costa Rica! 

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While most countries spend about 4 percent of their budget on education, Costa Rica spends up to 7 percent. This has allowed industries such as finance and corporate services to flourish. And tourism, of course: we mean, look at this amazing landscape! 

5. Volcanoes are a natural wonder and Costa Rica has plenty.

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When we think of a tropical paradise, we often think of beaches, jungles, and volcanoes! There are 14 known volcanoes in the country, and six have been active in the last 75 years. You can visit the Poas Volcano Crater, a sight to marvel at turquoise waters in the middle of grey, millenary rock formations. 

6. Costa Rica has a tropical climate all year round.

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The country is between 8 and 12 degrees north of the Equator, so if you want to escape winter at any time you can take a plane to this gorgeous country. Beware, though: with tropical climate comes a fair bit of rain. The period of May to November has heavy downpours in some regions, which provides a sort of charm in itself. If your thing is trekking, December to April is drier, and therefore more appropriate. 

7. Costa Rica is synonymous with biodiversity.

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Costa Rica is not a very big country, and it amounts to just 0.03 percent of the globe’s landmass. However, it contains a whopping 5 percent of the planet’s biodiversity. 

8. Twenty-five percent of the country consists of protected areas. This is the highest percentage in the world.

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That is huge! A quarter of the territory is made up of national parks and protected areas, basically providing a much needed “lung” to the region (bordering countries like Nicaragua and Panama are overexploited). If only every country followed Costa Rica’s lead.

9. Rivers and waterfalls are abundant.

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Costa Rica is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the country is tattooed with amazing rivers and waterfalls that keep the ecosystem alive and well. As fresh water becomes a more scarce commodity, Costa Rica will be even more blessed. 

10. Birds, reptiles, Costa Rica has it all.

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Besides the cutest animals that have made Costa Rica’s fauna famous (don’t worry, we’ll get to them!), the country is home to at least 840 species of birds (if you are into bird watching, then this is the place to go!). It also hosts endangered species of turtles, such as the green turtle, the Giant leatherback, the hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles. Authorities are working hard to protect turtles from poaching and harm to their habitats. So now it is your turn to stop using so much plastic that can harm them when they are swimming freely in the ocean.

11. Ecotourism is highly developed.

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The high educational levels of the population and the natural beauty of the country have made it a great destination for ecotourism. This includes walks, trekking, surfing and, of course, visits to the country’s famous coffee plantations. The coffee in Costa Rica is similar to Mexican varieties from Chiapas, and provides a flowery, fruity aftertaste that screams “Holiday mood”! The country receives about 3 million visitors per year. 

12. Of course, we wouldn’t forget about a cute sloth pic.

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Sloths are gorgeous, slooooow mammals that live in the trees. Sadly, they have been trafficked as pets and some of them have been run over by cars. There are multiple efforts to rescue them and make sure that this species survives the biggest pest of them all: humans.

13. There are four species of cute Costa Rican monkeys, changuitos pa los cuates.

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The country is famous for its many animals, and the cries of monkeys in the jungle is a particularly iconic sound. The four furry cositas hermosas are: the white-headed capuchin, the mantled howler, the endangered Geoffroy’s spider monkey, and the Central American squirrel monkey. 

14. Costa Ricans are as diverse as their natural wonders.

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Costa Rica is a true cultural melting pot. Like all of Latin America, this melting pot is a product of the traumatic experiences of slavery and colonization, but Costa Ricans have learnt to live in harmony. As per the census, the country is made up of 83.6 percent whites or mestizos, 6.7 percent mulattoes, 2.4 percent Native American and 1.1 percent Black or Afro-Caribbean. There has been a constant influx of European migration: there are people of Italian, German, English, Dutch, French, Irish, Portuguese, and Polish descent.

15. Costa Rica is saying hasta nunca to fossil fuels.

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Costa Ricans know that protecting the environment goes far beyond having protected areas. That is why 98 percent of its electricity is produced without the use of fossil fuels. Wind farms abound in the country, the massive Reventazón hydroelectric dam is now fully operational, and solar panels are being introduced in businesses and households.

READ: This Costa Rican Plane Hotel Boasts More Monkeys Than People And It Is The Perfect Escape

An American Died In The Dominican Republic In March But The Death Was Ignored And Treated As Natural Causes

Things That Matter

An American Died In The Dominican Republic In March But The Death Was Ignored And Treated As Natural Causes

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More Americans have died while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. News agencies have been reporting on the increasing number of American deaths in the Dominican Republic and now one more death has come forward from March after being ignored.

A Georgia man’s death and under investigation months after dying in the Dominican Republic.

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Tracy Jerome Jester Jr., of Forsyth County, Georgia died in March while vacationing in the Dominican Republic with his sister. Allegedly, Jester started to complain of not being able to breathe after a day of sightseeing with his sister.

Jester Jr.’s mother told ABC News that his death certificate references “respiratory illness” as the cause of death.

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Jester Jr.’s mom told ABC News that he did have lupus. Yet, the man’s mother remembers her son telling her about a “nasty” Sprite he drank in the Caribbean country shortly before his death.

According to ABC7, Jester’s mother got a call from her son the night before his death and he told her about his activities, including the questionable taste of the soft drink he purchased at the hotel. While she told him that it might be a different flavor in the country, he insisted that something was odd about the drink.

At 4:40 a.m., she got a call from her daughter and the conversation was troubling.

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At this point, Jester Jr. was vomiting blood and telling his sister that he wasn’t able to breathe. Their mother instructed her daughter to call emergency services but there was a delay in someone assisting, according to ABC7.

There was no toxicology performed because of when the young man died in connection to the increase in tourist deaths.

It wasn’t until there was increased media attention to the deaths and three deaths at one hotel that toxicology screenings started to happen. So far, the FBI is performing toxicology screenings on the three victims from the same hotel.

Officials in both the U.S. and the Dominican Republic claim that there has been no significant increase in deaths.

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People are trying to calm down the fears of everyone talking about the deaths in the Dominican Republic. While it is not abnormal for tourists to die while on vacation, the deaths of those in the Dominican Republic have left Americans stunned.

READ: Dominicans Are Taking To Social Media To Make Sure That People Stop Trying To Cancel The Dominican Republic

Cancun’s Scary Global Warming Problem Could Definitely Be A Lot More Lethal Than ‘GOT’ Villains If We Don’t Combat It Now

Culture

Cancun’s Scary Global Warming Problem Could Definitely Be A Lot More Lethal Than ‘GOT’ Villains If We Don’t Combat It Now

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For the past several years, Cancun has notoriously become one of The Summer Spots. With promises of cheap beer, crystal clear surf and fun hangs, tourists typically flock to the vacation destination for good times in the spring and summer in troves. The location’s sands, beaches, and resorts are typically packed by this time of year, but a nasty visitor is washing up on the shores of these beaches, scaring off the usual summertime travel industry.

For the past several months, an invasion of seaweed-like algae hasn’t been just an eyesore for tourists, it’s also been a nasal deterrent.

Hundreds of pounds of seaweed-like algae is washing up on the shores of Cancun and it’s ruining the city’s tourist season.

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The past several months, the sunny resort town has been inundated with slimy, brown seaweed-like algae. It’s name is sargassum and it has washed up all along the coast around Cancun; stretching all the way down to Playa del Carmen and even further to Tulum. With the stench of rotten eggs, the algae smells just as gross as it looks and makes for a pretty unappealing soggy mess. It’s definitely not the sort of beach conditions that encourage tourists to visit.

Though Cancun businesses are feeling the effects of this invasion, the president of Mexico isn’t as concerned. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has reportedly called the problem controllable and has only allocated 2.6 Million for the removal of the algae. The removal is a slow process — being shoveled away by city workers — but the lack of resources makes the task even more difficult. Also, the endless onslaught of fresh algae with every tide doesn’t help. Even using front loaders and trucks for the cleanup, the work takes several hours and results in an algae-covered beach only moments later.

Officials aren’t certain what the cause of this algae is but there are clues that point to it being caused by major global issues.

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Scientists have suggested that the increase in algae is caused by the warming of our Earth because of the global climate change we are currently experiencing. This is the same hypothesis that has been suggested to explain Florida’s Red Tide. Earlier this month, scientists at the University of South Florida used satellite imaging to discover the largest bloom of the algae in the world. It’s being called the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt and it is impacting beaches along North, Central, and South America.

Others believe that deforestation is to blame for the assault of algae on these beaches. Due to the logging and increased use of herbicide and fertilizers by Brazilian lumber companies in the Amazon forest, dangerous runoff flows into the ocean. The nutrients in these fertilizers encourage the growth of the algae; causing super blooms to occur.

In a release about a study of these super blooms, Dr. Chuanmin Hu of the USF College of Marine Science expressed concern about the state of the Atlantic ocean. He has predicted that:

“The ocean’s chemistry must have changed in order for the blooms to get so out of hand.”

Regardless of what the Mexican president and scientists say, locals who face this problem every day are the ones most impacted by the algae.

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Tourism in the community has taken a major hit during a time when Mexico is already heading towards a recession. The first three weeks of June, hotel occupancy in the area dropped by 3.4%. Air travel to the city also saw numbers that aren’t as optimistic as Cancun usually sees during this time of year. It only claimed 1.2%, the smallest amount of growth that the area has seen since 2011.

It isn’t just the international travel industry that loses money to the algae. In a city like Cancun, as much as 40% of jobs are tied to tourism alone. Events like this — that impact the beaches so severely — threaten the livelihood of locals. The Mexican transportation industry, local artisans, restaurants, beach resorts, and sight-seeing locations depend on this busy season to provide the bulk of their yearly income. In order to lure travelers, hotels in the area are even running specials. In many places in Cancun, tourists can get as much as 20% off rooms and free transportation to unaffected beaches.

Cleaning up after this mess will take a lot more than a few hundred shovels.

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Reversing the effects of climate change can not really be accomplished on an individual level. Realistically, a single person does not cause this damage. Instead, it is large conglomerations that hurt our Earth with their anti-environmental policies. Until the governments of the world decide to hold these companies accountable, nothing productive will be done to stop this damage.

Right now, we’re seeing this onslaught of algae but who knows what is in store for our environment if we don’t make major improvements soon. It’s more than just our Cancun vacations that are counting on these changes.

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