2009: In The Rearview Mirror

Rod & I have decided to write a few words about the year just past. We did so without consulting each other or giving any clues regarding what we’ve written.

First off is Rod

If you subscribe to the idea that life is a series of ups and downs, then last year was a harsh reminder of how challenging the “downs” can be.

  • “Unemployment soars to highest level in 16 years.” – New York Times
  • “U.S. Foreclosures to Reach Record 3.9 Million in 2009.” – Bloomberg.com
  • “New car sales a ‘disaster,’ says Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler/Fiat.” – NY Daily News

While people were losing their jobs and houses in record numbers, they still had the time and interest to search for Britney Spears and WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, which is fake wrestling, right?) making them the top two search terms on Yahoo! for 2009.

Although I have no idea what Britney was up to in 2009, I do know that most of us here in Costa Rica felt the impact of this economic downturn.  After a decent start to sales in January and February, most real estate companies saw offers dry up during the following 8 months.

Like many people around the world, the Guys In The Zone shifted gears to “beans & rice mode” (luckily, we both like beans and rice). We tightened up the expenditures and found new streams of income. [Ben deserves some kudos here for his quick mastery of the hard money lending business.  He, (leveraging his experience, contacts, and bilingual-ness) saved more than a few local families from economic disaster.  This lending experience taught us that putting good food on the table is important, but to literally save someone’s table (and house it sits in) from foreclosure is a genuinely rewarding experience.] While we didn’t sell any property during the middle of the year, we did put a lot of time and energy into new listings, our websites, and the Talk Show feature which we will continue to work on in 2010.  Ben also started writing articles for Montana al Mar, a new monthly magazine focused on health, sustainability, and community.

The old adage “When you love what you do, the money will follow” proved true in 2009.  The end of the year found activity picking up noticeably.  Three excellent deals

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Shrimp n’ Street Talk

Guys in the Zone heresay service: I thought that I’d behave like a blogger this morning and so I cruised the Costa Rica news & real estate blogs.  The following are my findings along with some current gossip:

The PRETOMA (Programa Restauracion de Tortugas Marinas) website

The US Department of State`s Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science imposed a trade embargo on all Costa Rican shrimp exports to the US, effective as of May 1.  The embargo is due to Costa Rica’s failure to enforce its laws that require commercial shrimp fishers to protect sea turtles from capture and death in trawl nets by using Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs).

And then a little commentary on the matter from Globalpost:

It’s not the first time that the United States, Costa Rica’s chief shrimp buyer (shrimp exports to the U.S. grossed $2.8 million in 2007), has put a trade embargo on Tico shrimp. The ban has been imposed four times since 1999, in an attempt to penalize this country’s shrimping habits.

Fishers are netting shrimp illegally near river heads and protected marine areas in the Pacific, and aren’t using technology designed to prevent turtles from drowning in trawl nets, according to PRETOMA.

The article included statements that the biggest hit here is to Costa Rica’s “Green” reputation.  Costa Rica is apparently allowing shrimp harvesting in such a way that endangers the marine turtles — the green sea turtle, the olive ridley, hawksbill and leatherback.  So the U.S. is wielding its influence, and for those of us that like the idea of preserving the earth’s natural resources, this is good news.

Yesterday I was talking with Chef Dave from La Cusinga.  He’s doing some pretty interesting things here, one of which is cooking up a culinary experience at the La Cusinga restaurant which is called The Gecko.  I haven’t tried it yet, but for those that have, they say that it is nothing short of divine.

Anyway, it turns out that Chef Dave is a bit of a writer, and that he is interested in a lot of the things that I like writing about as well.  He’s started his own blog over at Chef of the Jungle.  He is the one that had originally told me about the U. S. ban on Costa Rica shrimp imports to the U. S. (You can read his commentary on the matter by clicking here).  That is indicative of the topics found in his blog.  Here is a clip from his website:

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