Agents have until Aug 31 to apply for Intrepids Peru fam

first_imgTags: FAM, Intrepid Travel Posted on August 15, 2017 TORONTO — Agents can travel via rail through Peru’s Sacred Valley and explore the historic cities of Lima and Cuzco wile on Intrepid Travel’s new Peru fam.Taking place from Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 2017, the fam begins in Lima with a walking tour and an optional dinner with the group. From there, agents will fly to Cuzco where they’ll visit Qoricancha temple, the local San Pedro market, the main square and the Chocolate Museum for a sample of hot chocolate made from local cacao beans.The fam continues by private bus through the Sacred Valley to the town of Ollantaytambo, before heading to Aguas Calientes via train where agents will settle in prior to their visit to Machu Picchu. An early bus will take them to the ancient site where they’ll enjoy a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters.To attend the fam, agents are required to complete the following:Pre-fam: Mandatary attendance of Peru Training on Aug. 29. Webinar: Complete fam application before Aug. 31. Link will be emailed to all webinar attendees post-webinar.Post fam: Share 5-10 photos on your social channels using hashtag #liveintrepid, and present your Intrepid Peru fam experience to clients.More news:  A new low for no-frills flying: easyJet assigns backless seat to passengerThe agents chose for the Peru fam will be announced on Sept. 1.For more information, contact the following BDMs:Mark Nessle, Western BC: Tel: 1-778-960-2686 | Email: mark.nessle@intrepidgroup.travelKazundra Brown, Eastern Ontario & Quebec: Tel: 1-647-618-0448 | Email: kazundra.brown@intrepidgroup.travelChloe O’Brien, Western Ontario, MB, Atlantic Canada: Tel: 1-902-489-7324 | Email: chloe.obrien@intrepidgroup.travelRino Falvo, Eastern BC, AB & SK: Tel: 1-604-961-3783 | Email: Share Agents have until Aug. 31 to apply for Intrepid’s Peru fam << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Switzerland overnights from Canada hit a 25year high

first_img Devin Kinasz Share Switzerland overnights from Canada hit a 25-year high Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img TORONTO — Switzerland Tourism has lots to celebrate with a 9.4% increase in overnights by Canadians, for a total of 270,959, one of the country’s best performances from Canada in more than two decades.Switzerland Tourism’s CEO Martin Nydegger was in Canada this week to mark the occasion, and to remind agents about all of Switzerland’s wonderful outdoor and hiking opportunities.Nydegger led a delegation which included Switzerland Tourism and partners SWISS, Swiss Travel System, Rail Europe, Zurich, Ticino and Basel.“We have had one of the best years in Canadian visitors in the past 25 years!” says Nydegger, adding there are five major impacts on tourism from Canada to Switzerland: the economy, currency, weather, competitiveness and marketing initiatives. “We at the Tourism Board are very focused on communication because we have to make sure people notice that Switzerland is a phenomenal country to spend their vacation,” says Nydegger.Looking ahead to this summer, the tourism board is actively promoting hiking with its ‘Back to Nature’ push. With over 65,000 kilometers of waymarked trails, virtually every corner of Switzerland can discovered by foot. The hiking paths are well marked and with many varied landscapes. Clients can ascend a peak, hike through alpine meadows, explore a forest or take in stunning lake scenery.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”“Every year we want to give one topic centre stage. Hiking is not new, but we are going to give it new approaches. We have three iconic hiking trails, which are basically long distance trails, that run across Switzerland along the Alps which you can do in stages over some time,” he says.First there’s the classic Via Alpina with its 14 Alpine passes and a stamp booklet; stamps for each stage can be collected. Second is the gentle Jura Crest Trail, Switzerland’s oldest trail and one that’s perfect for easygoing hikers. Finally there’s the wild Alpine Passes Trail which challenges hikers with adventurous trails – and rewards them with breathtaking views.Nydegger was instrumental in creating the Grand Tour of Switzerland, a 1,600-kilometre road trip route inspired by Route 66 in the U.S. From palm-lined lakeshores to sparkling glaciers, from medieval villages to buzzing cities, the Grand Tour of Switzerland packs in an incredible number of sights, including 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.More news:  Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTIt allows visitors to see Switzerland at their own pace by car, and gives agents the chance to help with hotel, car and activity bookings.Travellers can add to their experience with a bespoke Spotify playlist and a Michelin restaurant guide. The route is also fully equipped with electric powering stations, making it perfect for electric cars. Commissionable packages can be made through Swiss Travel Centre.“There are so many beautiful road trips in the world, but there is not a single one except ours which is fully electric. Every 50 to 100 kilometres there is a plug where cars can be charged,” explains Nydegger. “We work with Europe Car and Hertz, or Swiss Travel Centre, who provide special packages for the Grand Tour – Teslas are a popular choice!”Direct flights from Canada can be booked with Swiss, Air Canada and Air Transat from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, he adds. Tags: Canada, Switzerland, tourism Friday, April 5, 2019 last_img read more

Costa Ricas love affair with China now has a monument

first_img“Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”If China has not yet made clear its tremendous interest in Costa Rica, the looming, newly carved archway now marking the entrance to San José’s Chinatown certainly establishes the republic’s presence.Earlier Thursday morning, Li Ching Hua, Chinese ambassador to Costa Rica, and San José Mayor Johnny Araya shook hands before a large ingress pared with Chinese characters set before four large concrete spheres.  Men in protective masks pushed heavy machinery buffing the colored pavestones on what was previously the Paseo de los Estudiantes (Students’ Boulevard). The mayor and the ambassador gave certificates of thanks to the Chinese laborers contracted to build the arch.Araya said the arch ran the Chinese government $500,000, which was donated in one of many recent demonstrations of solidarity. “It is a monumental work of art, a beautiful piece of art that will represent one more attraction in San José, bringing more tourists to the capital,” the mayor said.The vacuum in the region left by a shift in focus by the United States toward the Middle East is opening the door for the Chinese to increase their presence throughout Latin America, some analysts believe. Nowhere has their presence in the region been more observable than in Costa Rica.Since former President Oscar Arias broke diplomatic ties with Taiwan in June 2007, the Republic of China’s active courtship of Costa Rica is proving more than a brief dalliance. The severance occurred only a few years after Taiwan built the Friendship Bridge over the Tempisque River, which connects the Nicoya Peninsula with the rest of the country and is considered the second-longest bridge in Central America.Arias called the decision “an act of foreign policy realism,” but the swift reversal in diplomatic alliances has prompted many Ticos to refer to the hulking construction as the “Backstabbing Bridge.”Following the decision, the Chinese purchased $300 million in Costa Rican bonds, using the republic’s sizeable foreign exchange reserves. In a memorandum signed by Yang Jiechi, then China’s foreign minister, the document states that the money was a gift in return for closing its embassy in Taiwan.In the same breath, the Chinese also announced a scholarship program that would incentivize Costa Rican students to take up studies in China, as well as $130 million in aid that was used to fund the procurement of brand new police vehicles and other equipment. The bumpers of these vehicles still boast the slogan, “a gift from China.”Since that time, Chinese donations have continued unabated. The Asian giant donated $100 million for a new football stadium in Sabana Park, in western San José. The country also recently pledged $25 million for a police academy in Limón, as well as another $8 million that was to be used at Costa Rica’s discretion. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

President Chinchilla shows successor Solís Casa Presidencial in her final days in

first_imgRelated posts:Meet Costa Rica’s new environment minister Free tickets for Luis Guillermo Solís’ presidential inauguration will be available on Saturday only Labor voices optimism over new administration, takes parting shots at Costa Rica’s Chinchilla Costa Rica’s relationship with Nicaragua is complicated, says Solís President-elect Luis Guillermo Solís got a VIP tour of his new office from outgoing President Laura Chinchilla as the two leaders met for coffee and walked the halls of the Casa Presidencial in Zapote, in southeastern San José, Tuesday morning.Chinchilla said the meeting was designed to share thoughts about the challenges facing Costa Rica. Solís said during a press conference later that the leaders spoke about the economy, their shared concern over Costa Rica’s growing deficit, and international relations.Chinchilla complimented Solís, calling him a man of “great conviction.”Solís said that the outgoing ministers have been helpful in the transition of governments, which has been tighter than usual because of the April 6 runoff, where Solís won handily over Johnny Araya of Chinchilla’s National Liberation Party.The president-elect wished Chinchilla and her ministers good luck on their transition back into life as private citizens.First Lady Mercedes Peñas, incoming Presidency Minister Melvin Jiménez, and outgoing Presidency Minister Carlos Benavides accompanied Solís and Chinchilla.Costa Rica does not have a presidencial residence.“I want to reiterate our hopes for success for don Luis Guillermo, and we ask the people of Costa Rica to accompany him in this challenging work,” the president said.“In just a few hours, this house will be yours,” Chinchilla said with a smile. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

National Police seize contraband cargo an hour after inauguration of new checkpoint

first_imgBarely one hour after the official opening of a new police checkpoint Thursday at Kilometer 35 of the southern stretch of the Inter-American Highway, National Police officers seized a shipment of contraband merchandise inside a bus owned by a company that travels between Panama and Costa Rica, the Public Security Ministry reported.The bus driver hid the contraband cargo – mostly cellphone accessories and several pairs of sneakers – in a concealed compartment of the bus. The total value of the cargo has not yet been estimated, the ministry’s press office said.The new checkpoint was inaugurated by Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa and officials of the United States Embassy. The facilities were built with an investment of $1.28 million donated by the U.S. government.The facilities include offices for several agencies, including anti-drug enforcement, immigration and fiscal control police.The bus driver, whose last name is Montenegro, was sent to a local police station, and the merchandise was sent to the Fiscal Police in a tax evasion investigation.Although the official inauguration didn’t take place until Thursday morning, the checkpoint has been in operation for a month. In that time, officers have seized ₡43 million in cash ($80,000), two kilograms of cocaine and beer. Several individuals with irregular immigration statuses also have been detained, the Public Security Ministry said. Facebook Comments Related posts:Finance Ministry proposes tougher sanctions to crack down on contraband smuggling Police seize more than 10,000 contraband cigarettes in San José raids Booze bootleggers busted after bribe backfires Police arrest suspect carrying marijuana-based medicine and other pharmaceuticals at Nicaraguan borderlast_img read more

In search of Costa Rican history – and Alajuelas mule bridge

first_imgSearching for the Mule Bridge over the Río Grande was almost as difficult as trekking through the nature preserve to get there. Not even the World Wide Web knew about it. It seems that there are several bridges known as mule bridges in Costa Rica, but there’s only one crossing this particular river near the town of Atenas, about 30 minutes northwest of San José. By asking around the bus station and market, we got directions to the town of Río Grande and were told to ask at thetrain museum, which you can’t miss.The authentic mule bridge is on private property, which is a nature preserve. Time has taken its toll on the structure, and it no longer spans the river, but the stout supporting columns remain. They have been declared part of the National Heritage, or Patrimonio Nacional, and cannot be demolished or changed.The bridge dates back to the 1840s and is made of rocks, earth and cement. It replaced an earlier bridge that was built of wood in the 17th century, part of the Camino Real that connected Guatemala with all its provinces as far as Panama. This section of the Camino Real was also known as the Camino de Mulas because raising mules and shipping them to Panama was an important commercial venture starting in 1601. Mules were driven from Cartago, east of San José, all the way to Panama; they hauled raw materials to the ports and brought back imported goods to the colonists. The roadway was composed, for the most part, of trails and paths.Mule exportation reached a peak in 1735 when tobacco and other crops gained importance. Beginning in the 1840s, convoys of oxen and carts loaded with coffee followed the same road to the Pacific port of Caldera, and the present bridge was constructed.Today, the bridge can be reached by a series of trails through the reserve. Although parts of the hike are rugged and rocky as it descends to the river, you are never very far from the starting point, and there is an emergency cutoff should the walk prove too difficult. All told, it is about a mile. The nature along the paths is spectacular: the trail dives in and out of the forest. All in all, finding the bridge that played an important part of the country’s history four centuries ago is worth the effort.Recommended are good hiking shoes, insect repellent, and a walking staff. The reserve is on private property, but the owners welcome visitors, and there is a ranchito for picnics, groups, or as a place to rest. Call Juan Arguedas (or his family) at 8757-6953 for permission, or visit him at the Train Museum on Sundays. Buses from the Atenas station stop in front of the museum.Mule Bridge hike at private reserve, 30 meters to the left of the Río Grande de Atenas Train Museum. Entrance fee for the reserve is ¢1000 (about $2). Call 8757-6953 to set up a visit. Facebook Comments Related posts:Dueling Anthems: ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ vs. ‘Hermosa Bandera’ New exhibit at National Museum celebrates social progress Tico stand-up, founding father, and other happenings around Costa Rica Alajuela’s neighborhood petroglyphs offer window to the pastlast_img read more

Costa Rica ranks 83rd in the world for doing business

first_imgOther countries are outpacing Costa Rica when it comes to improving the ease of doing business, according to a press release from the World Bank. The World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business reportranked Costa Rica 83rd out of 189 economies in the world for ease of doing business – down five spots from 2014 due in part to an adjustment of the annual study’s methodology.The report highlighted Costa Rica’s efforts to speed tax filing and payment with a new electric system for businesses. Improved access to electricity and the government’s proposed value-added tax also were lauded by the report. The coffee-producing country scored the best in the categories for trading across borders (47), registering property (47) and getting electricity (46).Costa Rica scored lowest in protecting minority investors (181), a category that deals with disclosure requirements, shareholder participation and accountability. Starting a business (118) was another low-scoring category for Costa Rica, a subject that President Luis Guillermo Solís made a centerpiece of his campaign to re-energize the national economy by supporting small and medium-sized entrepreneurs.Colombia (34) topped the regional ranking as the best place to do business, and the country also has implemented the most reforms since 2005. Colombia was followed by Mexico (39), Chile (41), Panama (52) and Jamaica (58) among the top five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean for doing business.Panama (52) was the highest-ranked Central American economy, followed by Guatemala (73), Costa Rica (83), Honduras (104), El Salvador (109), and Nicaragua (119).Venezuela was the worst-rated Latin American country for doing business, scraping the bottom of the rankings at 182.Singapore was the easiest country to do business in the world. New Zealand, Hong Kong, Denmark, South Korea, Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom, Finland and Australia joined it in the worldwide top 10. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica should expect 4.3 percent GDP growth, World Bank says World Bank: Doing business in Costa Rica has never been easier Divided Latin America pits fast-growing Pacific nations against lagging Atlantic Costa Rica to drop interest rates in attempt to jump-start economylast_img read more

Guanacaste receives first tourist wave of Costa Ricas high season

first_imgNOSARA, Guanacaste – When Makayla Richmond arrived in Nosara seven months ago, the town was pretty quiet. The rainy season had just started, and a steady flow of tourists trickled through. Richmond started working at Taco Taco, a relatively new eatery owned by Coconut Harry’s Surf Shop. Richmond liked working there and she loved Nosara.Then it hit: Thousands of tourists flooded the town. They packed the hotels. They poured into restaurants and souvenir shops. They ordered more tacos than Richmond had ever imagined possible. The 20-year-old California native was awestruck. All they do is tacos – even when overrun by starving surfers. Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times“It was ridiculous,” recalled Richmond. “One day you’re walking on the beach, and there’s nobody. The next day, you’re like, ‘Where did all these people come from?’”Costa Rica dries out in December, and once Christmas has passed, Costa Ricans flood the beaches for vacation, and legions of North Americans fly to Daniel Oduber International Airport in the northwestern provincial capital of Liberia, desperate to escape any hint of a polar vortex. While the high season is welcomed all over Costa Rica, the airport’s location heavily favors Guanacaste’s Pacific coast. The influx of travelers is sudden and overwhelming, and tiny coastal towns like Nosara brace themselves against the crashing wave of people.“We sold hundreds and hundreds of tacos in a day,” said Richmond with a laugh. “One night we had to close 45 minutes early because we ran out of everything.”Indeed, Taco Taco ran out of table space almost immediately, and hordes of ravenous guests resorted to munching their Mexican wraps in the street.On the one hand, the opening of the high season is a boon for places like Nosara, whose principal industry is tourism. Strolling down Nosara’s main street, it is clear that the town caters to outsiders: Most passersby are yogis and surfers speaking in English. Tourists rumble by on ATVs, balancing longboards on the back. Most of the traffic consists of SUVs, freshly rented and lightly coated in dust. All the roads that lead to Nosara are unpaved and rocky, yet high-end tourists still arrive by the shuttle-load, eager to do some warrior poses.Such an exponential rise in patronage can pose problems: Hoteliers said that dozens of travelers hadn’t made reservations, and they arrived in the remote village with nowhere to sleep. Some asked to set up tents in hotels’ lawns and parking lots. Many hotels were sold out, especially budget accommodations. (Nosara is famously upscale, and $100-per-night rooms are typical). This was challenging for backpackers, since Nosara has infrequent bus service.But after weathering the Costa Rican “winter,” proprietors were happy to see the return of tourism. Like a lot of Costa Rican coastal towns, Nosara is tiny and far afield – but throngs of people flock there. Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times“Business was very good earlier this week,” said a man named Miguel, who sells pottery on the beach. Born and based in León, Nicaragua, Miguel spends short stints in Costa Rica to vend his wares to beachgoers. “There were a lot of people here. But it’s a cycle. Right now there’s almost no one.”Indeed, the crowds thinned last weekend, ending a frantically busy fortnight. Scattered surfers wandered the nearly empty beaches, and available rooms were ample. Locals say that such cycles are common.“Tourism fluctuates a lot,” said Nuria Benet, owner of the local Bagelmen’s. Originally from Barcelona, Spain, Benet opened her location of the popular Costa Rican bagel franchise in Nosara three years ago. “The first high season, I had no idea what to expect,” she recalled. “But December is always great right after Christmas. Now we’ve learned from the history of the past three years.”As for Richmond, she seems to be enjoying her first high season in Costa Rica. She enjoys slinging tacos and seems to have recovered from the initial shock.“I love Nosara,” Richmond says. “I mean, it’s paradise.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Good news for travelers: Costa Rica’s airport exit tax (finally) will be added to ticket prices Travelers in Costa Rica can pay departure tax at airports for 3 more months United Airlines announces more nonstop flights to Houston and New York during Christmas season Costa Rica is the most expensive destination in Central America, says WEFlast_img read more

Embattled DEA chief to resign following sex parties scandal

first_imgRelated posts:Fabio Lobo: Honduras’ drug trafficking presidential son? Drug traffickers who cooperate with the US government have it pretty good – too good, watchdog says After 23 years in prison, top assassin for Pablo Escobar is a ‘reformed’ man The undoing of Gary Webb and today’s news organizations WASHINGTON, D.C. — The head of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration is stepping down in mid-May, following revelations about “sex parties” involving prostitutes overseas and other misconduct among its agents.Michele Leonhart, who has served at the helm of the DEA since 2007, has come under heavy criticism on Capitol Hill since an inspector general report last month documented a series of episodes in which agents hired prostitutes. Agents were also found to have had sex parties with some women hired by Colombian drug cartels.U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Leonhart’s pending departure in a statement Tuesday in which he noted she was the first woman at the agency to reach the rank of special agent in charge. “She was a trailblazer for equality,” he said.Holder made no mention of the recent controversies over the DEA and said Leonhart had informed him she would be retiring.“Over the past decade, under her leadership, there have been innumerable instances of the DEA dismantling the most violent and most significant drug trafficking organizations and holding accountable the largest drug kingpins around the world,” he said.Both the White House and Congress had signaled their frustrations with the DEA in recent weeks.Speaking before the announcement that Leonhart would be stepping down, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration continued to “have concerns” about issues cited in the inspector general report. The White House had repeatedly declined opportunities to express confidence in Leonhart.“The president, as you know, maintains a very high standard for anybody who serves in his administration, particularly when it comes to law enforcement officials,” Earnest said Tuesday. “And the I.G. report raised serious concerns about that conduct.”Leonhart testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last Wednesday, telling lawmakers that the “activity” described in the inspector general report “has not and will not be tolerated.”Afterward, however, the panel announced it had lost confidence in her ability to lead the agency.On Tuesday, leaders of the committee called her departure appropriate in light of the controversy.“With the opportunity now for fresh leadership, we are hopeful that the DEA can restore itself to an agency of distinction and excellence,” said Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman and ranking member, respectively.The Justice Department inspector general report focused on cases from 2009 to 2012 but also cited complaints dating back to 2005.At last week’s hearing, the committee released a summary of a separate report prepared by the DEA’s Office of Professional Responsibility that found agents were having sex parties with prostitutes paid for by Colombian drug cartels as early as 2001.The report described “literally dozens” of such parties at residences paid for with U.S. government funds, Cummings said.The reports by the inspector general and DEA show that the agents who attended the parties received suspensions of two to 10 days, a penalty that Chaffetz said reflected an “unacceptable” lack of accountability.Mark Berman contributed to this report.© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Avianca now offers San JoséSan Andrés flights on weekends

first_imgAviancathis week will launch a new non-stop route between San José and the Caribbean island of San Andrés, Colombia, starting next Friday.The new route will offer flights three times a week, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and will use ATR72 type aircraft with a capacity of 68 passengers.Departures from San José will leave at 11:50 a.m. with arrivals at 2:09 p.m. on the island. Flights from San Andrés will leave at 2:44 p.m. and arrive at 3:01 p.m. in Costa Rica.Avianca’s regional sales director, Danilo Correa, said he is convinced Tico travelers will welcome this new option because San Andrés is a favorite destinations for Costa Ricans.“Its geographical proximity, the island’s entertainment and hosting infrastructure, as well as attractive shopping options are some of the main reasons,” Correa said.The flight also will be offered as a connection from Costa Rica for travelers from other regional countries including Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.The airline will offer special introductory prices during the route’s first days. Facebook Comments Related posts:Airlines again are showing interest in flying to Costa Rica Costa Rica could launch 7 new airline routes and add 2 carriers this year New Costa Rican airline, Ticos Air, now hiring Low-cost airline to operate Central America flights from Costa Ricalast_img read more

Get ready for Envision – Heres our festival guide

first_imgRelated posts:Envision Festival announces 2016 music and arts lineup Envision Festival prepares to kick off its seventh edition Envision Festival is officially sold out Canadian entrepreneur gives water bottles new life as roof tiles Facebook Comments 7. Bring positive vibes.Actually, this is the most important aspect. Forget about all the negativity in the world and head to Uvita with a sunny outlook. Enjoy it as much as you can and make it a life experience. On Feb. 29, you’ll leave the festival, but you’ll never let the experience leave your mind and heart. Envision festival-goers hit the beach for yoga and swimming at sunset. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Timescenter_img In just over a month, the “positive collective consciousness” better known as the Envision Festival will bring thousands of people from all around the world to the southern coast of Costa Rica.The sixth edition of the four-day festival will kick off Feb. 25 and continue through Feb. 28 at Uvita Beach in the province of Puntarenas. Here’s what you should know before making the trip.1. Tickets are almost sold out.Pickings are slim for the popular event: Besides VIP tickets, which range from $1,350 to $2,400, the only 4-day-tickets still available are the “Last Round! – 4 Day GA Pass – Tier 4,” which costs $310. If you don’t have your ticket yet, hurry up until the whole festival’s sold-out. Extra tickets for early arrival, car camping, and tent rental are also available. For all tickets, go here.2. There’s a lot to do.Besides the great music concerts taking place almost 24/7 during the whole festival, there will be plenty of other activities. Attend yoga or dance workshops, listen to presentations by international speakers, exploit your talent at the art spots, take in a permaculture workshop, visit stunning waterfalls, surf, swim, and meet lots of new people. Check out the calendar of events on the festival website in advance so you don’t miss your favorites. Since events continue throughout the night, plan some naps during the day so you can keep the party going. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times3. Think about your food and drinks.There may be water shortages during the festival, so attendees are advised to carry their own jug of drinking water; it will come in handy if you get thirsty or need to wash your kids, yourself, or your food. It’s also smart to bring some non-perishable snacks along.4. Do not forget about the little, but important, things.First, sunscreen lotion, so you don’t end the festival looking like a tomato; sunglasses, lip balm and a sun hat. Insect repellent, because mosquitoes love the beach. Comfortable clothes, including a sweater, since nights at the beach can get colder than  you might think. Bring trash bags; do not pollute. Of course, don’t forget your yoga mat. Finally, be sure to bring enough cash, since there are no ATMs at the venue. There are several banks along the highway in Uvita. If you need one, you will have to leave the venue via car (or taxi) to get to an ATM.5. Read the survival guide.This is the ABC of the festival, including everything you need to know about Envision, from preparation, purchasing tickets, and arrival, to what’s allowed and what not. Be sure to read it, since the experience can be tougher than you think without proper preparation. You can find it in English or Spanish.6. There are new educational retreats.The Envision Festival has create a series of educational retreats before the festival proper this year. These are “focused on bringing the transformational qualities of the festival into everyday living,” according to organizers. The retreats are: Jungle Herbal Field Clinic (Feb. 15- 29), Embody Dance & Movement Immersion (Feb. 19-24), Grow Your Roots: Ecology and Regenerative Living (Feb 19 – 24), Shamanik Yoga and Longevity Now Retreat (Feb. 29-March 2), and Reboot Camp: Cleanse, Yoga and Surf Retreat (Feb. 29-March 6). A woman cares for an iguana she found with a broken leg. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Timeslast_img read more

Parents found guilty of murdering daughter in UK

first_imgErrorOK ErrorOK Four benefits of having a wireless security system New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths As she was struggling, her mother said, “just finish it here,” according to Alesha’s testimony.Although Shafilea’s other siblings contradicted the testimony, the last-minute emergence of a diary convinced jurors.The diary belonged to a friend of one of Shafilea’s other sisters, Mev. In it, the friend relays conversations she had with the sister about the night Shafilea died _ details that supported Alesha’s testimony.“The strong message goes out and should be very clear: If you engage in honor killings _ if you engage in forced marriages _ you will be caught and brought to justice,” said Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Manchester-based Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim organization.When Shafilea became a teenager, she became interested in boys _ something that spurred punishment from her parents.School officials alerted social services in October 2002 after Shafilea came to school with injuries to her face. That same month, Shafilea told a social worker that she was to be married in Pakistan in February 2003.In January 2003, she ran away, telling friends her parents would not leave her alone. She eventually returned.In February 2003, she ran away again and pleaded with British authorities to allow her to move out of her parents’ house because, she said, they were abusive and trying to force her into an arranged marriage. Some of Shafilea’s own words also proved compelling to jurors.In the application form to move out, she said she had suffered from regular domestic violence from the age of 15.“One parent would hold me whilst the other hit me,” she said.Her father snatched her off the streets, however, in the same month as the application. He bundled her into a car and took her to Pakistan against her will, Alesha said.In protest, Shafilea drank bleach and was brought back to Britain in May 2003. She spent eight weeks in the hospital trying to recover from damage done to her throat.Even in her weakened and desperate state, Shafilea’s parents were relentless.One night, her parents complained she was wearing a T-shirt and wasn’t properly covered up, according to Alesha. The younger sister said Shafilea struggled and struggled as her parents held her down.Alesha described that after the attack, her siblings ran upstairs and she watched as her father carried Shafilea’s body to the car wrapped in a blanket. She was reported missing shortly after, with her parents making a teary-eyed media appeal for information leading to their daughter.But police were suspicious _ so much so that they bugged the house. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementscenter_img Associated PressLONDON (AP) – The girl was murdered by her Pakistani parents for her Western ways. And it was her little sister who bravely told jurors how her mother and father suffocated the 17-year-old with a plastic bag _ gripping testimony that led to her parents’ murder conviction on Friday.Justice Roderick Evans sentenced Iftikhar, 52, and Farzana Ahmed, 49, to life in prison for killing their daughter, Shafilea, in 2003. The couple _ first cousins from the Pakistani village of Uttam _ were ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years in prison. Sponsored Stories “She was being squeezed between two cultures _ the culture and way of life that she saw around her and wanted to embrace, and the culture and way of life you wanted to impose on her,” Evans said during the sentencing at the Chester Crown Court in northwest England.In Britain, more than 25 women have been killed in so-called “honor killings” in the past decade. Families have sometimes lashed out at their children on the belief that they have brought their household shame by becoming too westernized or by refusing a marriage.Shafilea was only 10 when she began to rebel against her parents’ strict rules, according to prosecutor Andrew Edis.The young girl would hide make-up, false nails and western clothes at school, changing into conservative clothes before her parents picked her up.But it was the last year of her life that proved to be the most traumatic.During the trial that began in May, jurors heard from Shafilea’s younger sister, Alesha, who said she witnessed the murder when she was 12.After an argument about Shafilea’s dress, her parents pushed her down on a couch, stuffed a thin white plastic bag into her mouth and held their hands over her mouth and nose until she died, Alesha testified. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Shafilea’s decomposed remains were eventually discovered in the River Kent in Cumbria in February 2004, but it wasn’t until 2010 that Alesha provided the key testimony.Last year, the British government’s Forced Marriage Unit investigated more than 1,400 cases of forced marriages, most of which occur in Muslim communities. Britain is home to more than 1.8 million Muslims, most from Pakistani roots.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 0 Comments   Share   last_img read more

Greek secret service to investigate wildfires

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greece’s secret service will join investigations into an unusually large number of wildfires across the country to see if arson has been involved, an official said Tuesday.As Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias announced the decision, more than 20 major blazes were raging out of control in Greece, including one that has ravaged the eastern Aegean island of Chios for four days.Dendias said in many cases authorities have “indications, if not proof, that the fires were lit intentionally,” including blazes on Chios and the western resort island of Zakynthos. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day On Sunday, authorities on the central Aegean island of Andros arrested two French tourists on suspicion of starting a forest fire. A prosecutor planned to decide later Tuesday whether to press charges against them.In Chios, firefighters were battling two major fronts in central and southern areas. Whipped on by gale-force winds, the blazes have wiped out large tracts of forest, olive groves and plantations of mastic trees whose resin production is a mainstay of the island’s economy. About 360 firefighters, soldiers and volunteers were being assisted by two water-dropping planes and seven helicopters, the fire brigade said.The blaze began shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday, and authorities estimate that by Tuesday it had destroyed at least 12,000 hectares (29,650 acres) of vegetation amid the island’s fortified medieval villages, which have so far escaped damage.Chios is famous for its mastic, a gum-like resin with a distinctive flavor produced only by trees on certain parts of the island. More than half the crop is exported for use in confectionery, cooking and cosmetics.Forest fires are common during Greece’s long hot summers, but the country has seen hundreds of blazes in recent weeks following a heat wave. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   “We face an incredibly large number of fires,” said Dendias, adding that 589 wildfires have begun in the past 10 days alone, with 16 of them starting Tuesday morning.The fire brigade said it was battling 22 major blazes, with several in the southern Peloponnese area where about 60 people died in massive wildfires five years ago.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Men’s health affects baby’s health too Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories last_img read more

US delivers last batch of tanks to Iraq

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix ErrorOK ErrorOK Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen said Wednesday that Iraqi soldiers he’s seen can operate an American-built tank just as well as their American counterparts. Caslen is the highest-ranking U.S. military official in Iraq.The last American combat troops withdrew from Iraq in December. Some 230 U.S. troops remain to train Iraqis on the new equipment.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona BAGHDAD (AP) – U.S. officials say they’ve delivered the last of 140 tanks to the Iraqi army _ a key sale in the American military’s small but ongoing training program in Baghdad.The M1A1 Abrams tanks are valued at $860 million, a cost shared by the two nations. Their sale is part of a $12 billion program to equip and train the Iraqi military with aircraft, ships, radar systems and other weaponry manufactured in the United States. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more

Webcam update London fashion grad now freelancing

first_imgLONDON (AP) – Things are looking up for Lucy Nicholls.The 22-year-old fashion graduate has landed a freelance job in set design for a new London jewelry boutique, which found Lucy through her blog.___This is an update of Class of 2012, the AP’s yearlong exploration of Europe’s economic crisis through the eyes of five young graduates.___The last few weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Lucy. The last time we met her, she was reeling from the blow of learning that the company she’d hired to print her graduation project, Wish Magazine, went bust _ leaving her in a >2,000 ($3,100) hole. Four benefits of having a wireless security system She went on a frantic scramble for one-off jobs to help her make ends meet, picking up a couple of photography gigs but nothing to ease the sense of being flat broke.“Before this I was really struggling,” she says.Now life looks brighter. She managed to get her magazine printed and is shipping copies out.And with her new work, she’s breathing a sigh of relief “knowing I’ll somehow be able to live.”___Next up … Moira___Follow The Class of 2012 on the AP Big Story page: The Class of 2012 on Twitter:!/AP/class-of-2012 Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Comments   Share   (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixlast_img read more

Romania PM returns to Bucharest following surgery abroad

first_img New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Comments   Share   The vital role family plays in society Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s prime minister, who is the subject of a corruption probe, has returned to Bucharest more than three weeks after having knee surgery in Turkey.Victor Ponta was seen Wednesday morning entering the government offices on crutches. He plans to return to work Thursday, the government office said, but needs approval from President Klaus Iohannis.Ponta, 42, underwent surgery on June 15 in Istanbul and has been criticized for his prolonged convalescence. On June 5, prosecutors said he was suspected of conflict of interest, money laundering and tax evasion for work he did as a lawyer in 2007 to 2008 when he was a lawmaker. He denies wrongdoing and has refused to resign.Ponta survived a vote to lift his immunity from some of the charges, and a no-confidence vote.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Deepsea mining looms on horizon as UN body issues contracts

first_imgDuring a gathering this month in Jamaica of representatives from nearly 170 member states, ISA has started drafting a framework to regulate commercial exploitation of seafloor metals and minerals. The session ended Friday.A group of international scientists, in a July 9 article in the journal Science, urged ISA to temporarily halt authorization of new mining contracts until networks of “marine protected areas” are established around areas targeted for mining.“We owe it to future generations to ensure that we think before we act and gain a thorough understanding of the potential impacts of mining in the deep sea before any mining is permitted,” said Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, which sent observers to ISA’s 21st session in Kingston.But despite the warnings, in recent days ISA authorized its latest exploration contract, a 72,745 square kilometer (28,087 sq. mile) permit in the Pacific to China Minmetals Corp., sponsored by Beijing. China now has the most permits from the U.N. body with four.ISA was launched in 1994 and operates under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. The only major maritime power that has not ratified the convention is the United States, where lawmakers have argued it could impinge on U.S. economic and military sovereignty. The Department of the Interior has granted exploration licenses in the Pacific to Lockheed Martin Corp., a U.S. company that has also partnered with the United Kingdom, an ISA member, by setting up a deep-sea mining subsidiary there. KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — The deep oceans span more than half the globe and their frigid depths have long been known to contain vast, untapped deposits of prized minerals. These treasures of the abyss, however, have always been out of reach to miners.But now, the era of deep seabed mining appears to be dawning fueled by technological advances in robotics and dwindling land-based deposits. Rising demand for copper, cobalt, gold and the rare-earth elements vital in manufacturing smartphones and other high-tech products is causing a prospecting rush to the dark seafloor thousands of meters (yards) beneath the waves. Parents, stop beating yourself up Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall So far, most of ISA’s contracts have been issued for the deep abyssal plains of the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone, a sprawling area of the Pacific Ocean off Mexico and the U.S. At depths of 4,000 to 6,000 meters, it is known to be rich in nodules containing copper, cobalt, manganese and significant concentrations of rare-earth elements. As part of an environmental plan, ISA has set aside nine areas in this zone, prohibiting them to contractors.Other coveted exploration areas contain copper-rich sulphides formed around hydrothermal vents and black cobalt crusts created along the slopes of seamounts and volcanic mountain ranges. These biologically complex areas are found in the Western Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. ISA literature estimates that one site could provide up to 25 percent of the annual global market for cobalt.“The concentrations of minerals that you find in the seabed are very much richer than what’s left on land. So demand is only going to increase,” Lodge said.Douglas McCauley, an ecologist and conservation biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said seabed mining and other industrial activities like ocean-based power generation and farming indicates that mankind is on the cusp of launching a “marine industrial revolution.” Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories With authorities at the Jamaica-based International Seabed Authority issuing exploration contracts, alarmed conservationists are warning that the deep ocean’s fragile biodiversity must be protected and not nearly enough is known about the risks of extracting minerals from seabeds.“The pace of activity has increased dramatically over the last five years,” said Michael Lodge, deputy secretary-general of the obscure U.N. body in Kingston that acts as a global steward of the deep seafloor and is tasked with regulating this new mining frontier. “We’re seeing the private sector invest in a big way.”The U.N. agency, known by its initials ISA, presides over seabed outside the exclusive territorial waters of individual countries. So far, it has issued 27 exploration contracts, the large majority of them since 2011. The 15-year contracts allow for mineral prospecting on over 1 million square kilometers (over 390,000 sq. miles) of seabed in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.Governments and private companies have been moving so rapidly to stake claims and assess deposits that insiders forecast that commercial deep-sea mining could start within the next five years using robotic collectors equipped with cameras and sonar sensors along with pipe systems that can siphon crushed minerals to ships.center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist In this April 30, 2009 file photo, coral reefs grow in the waters of Tatawa Besar, Komodo islands, Indonesia. Rising demand for copper, cobalt, gold and the rare-earth elements vital in manufacturing smartphones and other high-tech products is causing a prospecting rush to the dark seafloor thousands of meters (yards) beneath the waves. The Jamaica-based International Seabed Authority has issued 27 separate 15-year contracts that allow for mineral prospecting on over 1 million square kilometers (over 390,000 sq. miles) of seabed in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, File) Current proposals for the oceans over the next several decades “look uncomfortably similar to what we did to land in the 1700s and 1800s,” he said, adding that the onset of the land-based industrialization was associated with a spike in animal extinction rates.But there are basic things humanity can do to approach seabed mining intelligently, he said. First, learn what biodiversity is down there before we mine. Second, go slowly on exploitation contracts and study the impacts of this mining as it is happening. Third, set up systems of protected areas before, not after, mining starts.“The terrestrial industrial revolution happened before we had the tools to manage goals for development and goals for sustaining biodiversity. You can’t really blame people in the 1700s for the damage they did to the environment…” he said. “But we certainly are to blame if we don’t do seabed mining properly.”___David McFadden on Twitter: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

BA readies itself for possible strike

first_imgBritish Airways will have 1000 volunteer staff on hand to do cabin crew duties if a strike goes ahead this month, the carrier’s chief executive said on Wednesday.In an internal address to staff, chief executive Willie Walsh said volunteers will have completed cabin crew training by next week.He said BA would be able to operate all flights from London City Airport and all long-haul services from Gatwick if the union Unite decides to strike.BA will also hire up to 23 fully crewed planes from a charter company to help run long- and short-haul flights from Heathrow, Times reported.Walsh also said he would not reverse cabin crew cuts and instead warned that the strike would force him to make deeper cuts as the carrier would suffer even further financially.Unite delayed the naming of its strike dates earlier this week in hopes coming to a deal with the carrier. It has until March 15 to announce strike dates and until March 22 for a walkout to begin. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

IHG promises EVEN more for healthyminded guests

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H EVEN Hotels will aim to make your stay a happier, and healthier one (Image Mark Harada) Hoping to fill what it considers to be a gap in affordable, wellness accommodation in the United States, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) has announced the launch of EVEN Hotels. Designed to meet the “large and growing” demand for healthier travel “at a mainstream price”, EVEN will look to provide solutions for health-conscience travelers in the areas of exercise, food, work and rest.With its location to be unveiled in mid-2012, the first hotel is expected to open in early 2013.IHG chief executive Richard Solomons said the group was “so confident” in the new brand, now one of eight under the IHG umbrella, that it would be committing a capital investment of up to US$150 million over the next three years “in order to deliver growth and profitability for EVEN Hotels”.According to IHG, some 17 million healthier-minded travelers “fall off the wagon” when they travel, thanks to an inability to stay active and eat right when on the road.To help address this, EVEN Hotels will feature guest rooms designed for “in-room” workouts, first-class gyms with group exercise activities, balanced and nutritious meals – available anytime, business-friendlier rooms and public spaces, and hypoallergenic linens, powerful showerheads, natural lighting, LED dimmers and antibacterial wipes in all rooms.IHG Americas president Kirk Kinsell said the group expected to sign contracts for 100 EVEN Hotels over the next five years.“The wellness sector continues to grow year over year and the launch of EVEN Hotels will allow IHG to take advantage of this long term trend,” he remarked.last_img read more

China sustains Aus arrival growth

first_imgChinese tourists visiting AustraliaImage Source: Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T International arrivals to Australia would be suffering, if not for the steady increase in Chinese visitors, according to national industry body, the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF).TTF chief executive John Lee said Australia’s arrival growth is completely underpinned by China.“Without the strong rise in arrivals from China, international arrivals would be declining… and a focus on attracting Chinese visitors in the future is entirely appropriate given the enormous potential of that market.”According to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, international arrivals for the month of May 2012 were up 1.8 percent (6900 visitors) on last year’s numbers.However, Mr Lee stressed the importance of placing value on other Asian markets.“It’s also important to note that Australia is not alone in recognising the potential of China, and other countries are also devoting considerable resources to targeting Asian travellers.”For the first four months of 2012, Chinese visitation to the US grew by almost 50 percent, citing an overall increase in Asian visitors of 27 percent.“Over the same period, Australia has seen overall growth from Asia of 5.9 per cent, and lower arrivals from key markets including Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand,” Mr Lee said.“It is vital Australian agencies have sufficient resources to promote Australia in those key markets to ensure we don’t lose hard-won market share.”The United States recently launched the first-ever national tourism campaign to boost international arrivals.“President Obama is personally backing this effort as part of a drive to double US exports by 2015, and other countries are following suit,” Mr Lee said.“It is vital that Australia’s campaign, launched in Shanghai last month, has the financial backing to compete with the US.”last_img read more