San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Weird & Wonderful 2006

Train Made a Comeback


AFTER a decade out of use, the passenger train in San José made a much-heralded comeback in October. The train now runs several trips during morning and afternoon rush hour from Pavas, west of San José, to San Pedro, east of San José, with ten stops in between. Leaders hope to expand it next year.


Tourist Claimed Doctors Amputated Leg Against Will


THE international media, including Internet news sites, circulated a story about a German tourist, Ronald Jurisch, who claimed Costa Rican doctors amputated his leg against his will. The Tico Times spoke with him in February; he said he went to a hospital complaining of pain in his right foot and woke up in the airport with his leg amputated. The surgeon responsible and other medical officials who attended to him disputed aspects of his story and suggested the possibility that Jurisch suffered a kind of dementia and memory loss set off by his condition. The doctors said they saved his life.


Costa Rica Qualified ForWorld Cup


IN an October game soaked with rain and hot with passion, Costa Rica’s national soccer team, “La Selección,” triumphed 3-0 over the United States at the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium north of San José, and earned its ticket to the 2006 World Cup, to be held in June. Costa Rica will play Germany in the opening match. ¡Suerte!


Message in a Bottle Saved Island Castaways


AFTER receiving a message in a bottle found by a fishing boat captain, authorities rescued 88 South Americans whose ship sprang a leak and left them stranded at sea in May near Costa Rica’s Isla del Coco, a 36-hour boat ride off the Pacific coast.

Each of the 40 Peruvians and 48 Ecuadorians, who were repatriated to their countries, paid $3,000 to human smugglers or “coyotes” for the failed journey to the United States.

The coyotes abandoned the wrecked ship, taking all communication devices with them and forcing the passengers to send the message “Auxilio, por favor ayúdenos” (“Help, please help us”) in a bottle, which fishing boat captain Juan Venegas found stuck to his fishing line and reported to park officials from the Isla del Coco Marine Conservation Area.


Dog Spelled Backwards is What?


FATHER Carlos Artavia was convicted in June for ordering the killing of a street dog named Camilia because he said her incessant barking disrupted masses and funerals at his Catholic church in Tibás, north of San José. Angry churchgoers said she was a sweet dog that never hurt anyone. Artavia was sentenced to one month in jail.


Legislator Held Hostage At Neighborhood School


SOCIAL Christian Unity Party (PUSC) legislator Rodolfo Delgado was held hostage for two hours at his neighborhood school by officials who were furious because the school, with 101 students, had only two teachers, no principal, nobody to clean and nobody to cook. The situation was non-violent and the legislator, who had been prevented from leaving a meeting room, was released after the Public Education Ministry promised to appoint the necessary personnel.


Dead Dog Spooked Libertarian Leaders


DURING the Libertarian Movement party’s national assembly in August, during which Otto Guevara was named the party’s presidential candidate, three other people vying for the position said they received threats against them and their families, including a dead dog allegedly placed in front of the door of a hotel owned by one contender.


Protests Atop Statues: A 2005 Trend


CARLOS Avendaño, a National Restoration Party legislator and candidate for the 2006 presidential election, set a trend in March when he climbed a monument at San José’s National Park to protest the closing of evangelical churches by the Public Health Ministry because of alleged noise-level violations. Avendaño claimed the ministry ignored violations by Catholic churches and other establishments.

Salesman Luis Sánchez followed Avendaño’s example in May, when he climbed the same statue, the National Monument to the 1856 Battle of Rivas, to protest authorities’ slowness in addressing his claim that his wife’s boyfriend sexually abused their three-year-old daughter.

Both men remained on the statue for approximately five hours, until they were helped down by police, the Red Cross and firefighters.


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