February 1st, 2010
  • What are you bringing to the table when you travel?
  • Will your activities and choices contribute to the conservation of biological resources?
  • Have you taken the time and learned about the area you are visiting….  about the customs and basics of the language?
  • You are the visitor to their country.  Be aware of their customs, dress, cultural values, time, expressions (pura vida), time (mañana), i.e. the differences.
  • Avoid showing your wealth.  Know if tips are expected.  Do not use your money as power.  Don’t show your cameras, rings and watches.  Avoid displaying them.

Your passport is a precious item.  Make a plastic copy to carry around.  Avoid temptation.

  • Be prepared for the unexpected.  In Costa Rica, do not get mad when things don’t go your way.  Avoid being the ugly visitor.  Be a good Shepard of your country.
  • Be aware of endangered species and resources.  Bring a re-useable water bottle rather than buying bottled water and throwing away those plastic bottles in the local garbage.
  • Remove and be responsible for your litter, whether it be orange peels, food, toilet paper or whatever.  We don’t want your garbage.  Do not buy or encourage the local use of natural resources as souvenirs.
  • Be willing to ask your tour guide what they do to keep you green.  The larger the company the less likely they are offering true ecotourism.
  • Support the local economies.  Shop, eat and use local resources.  Keep the wealth where it belongs.
  • Always be a cultural ambassador.  Represent your country to the best of your ability and be on your best behavior in theirs.  Connect with the local people and discover some of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
  • Continue to be an eco-tourist when you return home.  Learn from your experience abroad.


January 30th, 2010

On your way to the quaint little fishing village of Sierpe is Finca #6, six kilometers from Palmar Sur. Finca 6 is one of the designated archeological sites for the famous spheres found only in the Diquis Delta in Costa Rica. The largest was found here. While searching for new grounds for Banana Plantations in the 30’s, the United Fruit Company discovered the first spheres while burning the fields. Most were buried deep in the ground. While many legends existed over the years as to the origin and meaning of the spheres, the one that seems to hold the most weight today is the one connecting the spheres to astronomy.

Their absolute purpose is unknown, the civilization that created them is unknown for sure and the age of these spheres is unknown. Artifacts found lying beside them date as far back as 400 BC. In total over 300 have been found, ranging in size from a few centimeters to over two meters, all mathematically nearly perfectly round (96%). Most are sculptured from granodiorite, an igneous rock similar to granite. A few along the coast were made of coquina, a limestone like material, and some from gabbo.

Some are found in clusters up to 20 and often in geometric patterns in alignment with the earth’s magnetic north. Few have been found in Guanacaste and the Central Valley. The majority are in the Diquis Delta. One of the great mysteries is how they were moved from the non existing rock quarries in this area to their location. Some have even been found on Caño Island, about 25 miles off the coast.

You can visit the various farms or the many parks around the area that display these sphere or “espheras”.

The Mango Ecolodge is in the PERFECT LOCATION:

January 15th, 2010

Fifteen minutes to Bahia and many adventures: Humpback whales spawning and tending to their young before your eyes, antics of the bottle nose, spinner and spotted dolphins, Giant turtles, snorkeling off Caño Island, deep sea fishing for mahi-mahi, yellow fin tuna, marlin, sailfish, horseback ridding, surfing, beaching, ultra-light rides, hiking, waterfalls, rivers to explore and much more.

Thirty minutes to Sierpe where you will find the greatest mangrove spread in the world, deep sea fishing at it’s best with an additional trip through the mangroves, medicine walks, waterfalls, kayaking thru the mangroves, archeology, spheres and more.

1-2 hours to the Osa Peninsula with the richest eco-system/ biodiversity in the world… Corcovado National Park, hikes, waterfalls, Paradise and Wilson Botanical Gardens.

10 minutes to Costa Rica’s newest and most adrenalin creating ZIP-LINE, Costa Rica’s newest hospital.

Our focus Here at the Mango Tree Eco-lodge is Nature Based.

January 15th, 2010

How Are we Doing our Part to Be an Ecolodge and Practice Ecotourism?

First, the words must be defined. The Ecotourism Society defines Ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local people”. The definition also includes the concepts of conserving and improving the place you visit. Often “adventure travel” is included in the definition and this includes the idea of some risk and uncertainty included in the experience. An Ecolodge is one that operates by these principals.

The Mango Tree Spa is located on a pristine hillside loaded with jungle trees. We have done everything to minimize the impact of our SMALL eco-lodge and have enhanced the same hillside with numerous jungle trees and gardens. We continually employ the habitats of the little barrio of Tres Rios, giving them jobs and improving their lives. We hold in high respect our small community, respecting their values, the local dress code, understanding the local labor laws, paying our taxes and respecting the social norms. Because of our small size, we do not upset the local economy and instead do our part to foster it in humane ways.

We are open to and encourage our guests to bring ideas of composting, water recycling, water and wind energy, recycling, picking up wastes on the roads, and any other ideas to further improve and maintain this very pristine area. A recent visitor said that one of the most effective ways to maintain and enlighten peoples was to do it through the children in the schools and groups. A child coming home and asking their parents, “Why don’t we compost, recycle, etc.” Children often come home with absolutes and facts. Apparently, this is one of the most effective methods of raising awareness.

We encourage low impact outdoor adventures for our clients. Visits to the local beaches are available and walks up the surrounding rivers with natural pools and cascades are unique and have no impact on the surrounding jungle. We do not hack out trails in the jungle for our clients. Rivers and unpaved roads are of no impact on the environment. We subscribe to walks and adventures that employ “Leave no Trace” ethics. Other adventures include snorkeling, diving, rafting, fishing, horse-back trips, gardens, swimming in our pools, zip-lining, kayaking and nature or garden walks.

Visits are available to Indian sites, local artisans, archeological mysteries, mangrove trips, and a reptile local.

Are Offsets a Flawed Approach to Carbon Neutrality?

December 21st, 2009

Carbon Neutrality: WHAT IS IT?

First, it is new term for the Oxford dictionary.  Carbon Neutrality is described as a balance between energy expenditure (pollution) and energy conservation or enhancement.

Travelers are fast becoming conscious of their previous role in energy expenditure: from air travel, fancy large car rentals, use of fossil fuels, and the excess laundry usage (new sheets and towels daily). Eco travel is offering new practices of carbon neutral air travel (Nature Air in Costa Rica), small economy hybrid cars, reusing linen to buying carbon offsets…donations to sustainability projects, planting trees, reducing power usage (lights, air-conditioning), and being a conscious traveler with things like paying attention to hours of power usage and so forth.   The goal is to make your travel trip carbon neutral…gaining if possible, but definitely making your trip carbon neutral, that is, not using more than you are putting back.

Many travel companies are buying “green tags”, like points to offset the carbon usage of their travel trips.    While this is commendable, we feel awareness, and practices of non-carbon expenditure is a more far reaching and needed practice.  Buying our way out of excess is not the answer.  That is currently and has been the “American practice” for too many years.  That seems a more “co-dependent” or “bail-out” solution rather than a practicing solution.

What if we took fewer clothes traveling, ate more raw food, turned out lights not needed, rented eco-cars, asked our travel agents to donate money toward projects to install wind and solar power, avoided process foods, brought our own water filters instead of buying bottled water, traveled on foot, bicycles, visited only green sponsoring hotels, used our linens more than one day, planted something every place we visited, stayed on trails, recycled our garbage…practiced what we preached and wanted others to do.  Offsets may be a flawed approach to combating global warming.  We need to consciously reduce, not bargain.  Don’t fall into the illusion.  Be a real sustainable ecologist with a social conscience.

Military Money Could Save the Planet

December 21st, 2009

“With a small fraction of the 13 trillion dollars that we will assign, as a minimum, to military spending in the next ten years, we could cover the entire cost of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions in the world,” said Arias.


December 15th, 2009


What George Keichle, aeronautical engineer and commercial pilot with over 1800 flying hours to over 3000 clients, brings to ultra light flying is a desire to have each client experience their own unique “Joy de voir” of flight. For one it may be soaring over the ocean, for another exploring the canyons of our coastal mountains and for another doing a few tricks in the air. Each to their own and since only one person can accompany the pilot, each flight is unique and catered to the individual’s desires.

George and his four partners have created the first certified ultra light flying company in Costa Rica, now 15 years old, with 9 pilots, and 11 planes with three full maintenance bases in Samara, Uvita and Tambor, and five operational bases in Tamindo, Nosara, Islita, Arenal and San Jose. The landing strip in Uvita is named “Papa Kilo”, a 400 foot landing strip off the Costanera Highway, just south of Uvita. An ultra light can take off in 30-150 meters (fully loaded) and land on between and 5 and 100 meters, so no sweat!

While the primary goal of flying an ultra light is for fun, George also offers: commercial photo flights, videos of projects or farming, UL instruction, UL charters, or just trips. All trips are round trips. You may go up for as little as 20 minutes or up to 2 1/2 hours. Cost is based on time in flight. Papa Kilo base has both fixed wing ultra lights and tricycle types and the other bases also have autogiro planes.

George loves this South Pacific Coast. Having lived in Africa, South American and Asia he has been here for 11 years and feels we live in the most unique, natural paradise on the planet. He commented on the improvement (greening of the area) he has witnessed from the air with surprisingly, the influx of international development. The burning of the lands for frijoles and then pastures has evolved into investor development, titling of the lands and forest re-growth. He feels this change is allowing for us to enjoy the beauty of our coastal land and be in harmony with nature, his absolute goal.


December 14th, 2009

Costa Rica’s new US Ambassador would seem to fit right in to President Aria’s environmental plans for Costa Rica.
Barak Obama’s choice of Anne Slaughter Andrews, a law graduate from Indiana has a broad history as an environmental consultant to a number of agencies and companies. Costa Rica has been without an American Ambassador since June.


December 7th, 2009

Ona Ysdira Choriuz Onchia, administrator of the new Cortes Hospital met with us to tell us about the history and present faculties of this very substantial and much needed addition to the Southern Zone, the new Cortes hospital. She was joined by two other assistant administrators, Jose Jerraldo Alvarez and Javier Barrantes Rosales. This very well thought out hospital is replacing the old hospital in the downtown area of the city of Cortez. How will it meet our needs?

The old hospital was founded in 1940 by a Dr. Thomas Cases Casajus and in his honor the new hospital also dedicated. Ysidira told us of her own rise to the level of Administrator by literally starting of the bottom. She has been in charge of practically every department, including the laundry. Javier told us of the very important role The American Fruit Company played in building the first hospital and how their influence still permeated the current design and construction of the hospital. They used to own most of the flat land around the southern zone, exporting much down the Terraba River. Since hurricane Mitch and the silt filling of the Terraba River the old hospital has experienced repeated flooding when it rains. Ysidira recounted an old lady in a wheelchair that they had to continually move around the hospital floor to get away from the water on the floor of the hospital. I asked Ysidra if there were crocodiles in the roads around the hospital when it flooded and she said there were. This alone would motivate me to move the hospital.

Not only was the hospital moved, so were the round spheres. There may have been more, but I counted two very large ones at the main entrance and one smaller one. We asked Javier which story about the spheres he believed was the true one. He said they were not from out space but were strategically placed by the indigenous peoples in various locations in this Southern Zone to line up with the stars, the sun and the moon in order to facilitate agriculture and issues of planting. They were brought to the hospital to remind everyone of their roots here in OSA.

Ysidra and Javier told us the architecture of the hospital with its many one story clinics was designed to minimize adverse impact on the environment and to protect against seismic activity. Again, they credited the American Fruit Company and their influence in terms of the verandas, the numerous windows to achieve maximum ventilation, maximum breeze and the feeling of open space. Javier commented several times o n the good things the American Fruit Company (AFC) did for the area and hospital.

The old hospital in old Cortes was funded by the AFC while this one was built by the InterAmericano Development……… or BVD. Total cost was C 3,993,7 million on a site of 11 hectares. It was built as a CCSS hospital for the entire area of Cortes, Palmar Sur y Norte, Rincon, Tinoco, Piedras Blancas, Sierpe, Ballena y Coronado.

In total there are 23 departments with 7 medical specialties. The hospital has 7 specialists, 10 general practice doctors and 30 nurses. While the old hospital had a nursing shortage this one is fully staffed. In comparison to the old hospital where “everything was mixed “, this hospital is clearly separated out into distinct areas. Women’s, gynecological and pediatrics are in one section but separate buildings, ER, kitchen, laundry, lab, x-ray, pharmacy, surgery, general medicine all boast their own quarters.

We asked who was entitled to use this hospital. It was made clear that the focus and energy of this facility was treating people and was not on garnering money. Anyone was entitled to use this hospital, including non-residents and visitors. All would be treated equally. We asked about payment, whether one needed money in their pocket at the time of admission and Ysidira said, “no way, that would not happen here.” She claimed that the priority here was treatment for those in need and payment for services would be determined by how much one could pay, and or by a search for organizations or agencies that could help make payments for those unable to pay.

Ysidira was clear to explain that each community had a free clinic or EBAIS which stood for Equipo Basico Attencion Integral de Salud. There is one in Coronado, Uvita, and Domincal. For normal issues, one should attend one of these clinics first, unless of course the problem was of an emergency nature. In that case, go straight to the hospital.

The first order of business would always be medical attention and that was the philosophy of this hospital. Ysidira mentioned three levels of treatment: first level was prevention, including house calls and caja seguridad (CCSS), the second was this rural hospital attending emergencies and third, if needed, transportation to San Jose to a specialist not in-house at the rural hospital. This could be accomplished by ambulance or even helicopter to Cima hospital in San Jose where there is a landing heliport. Is there one at Cortes? Yes, the school yard close by. In many cases the hospital psychologist might become involved in specific issues such as abuse of any kind. The hospital employs social workers as well who may be assigned to specific cases for home visits and management.

When asked about longeivity in Costa Rica and what was their opinion on those why Costa Rica could boast the longest average life span of anywhere in the world. All three pitched in to say that they felt the diet of rice, beans and vegetables without preservatives, chemicals, and microwaves was probably the reason. I added that the Costaricences generally don’t get mad or show anger. They agreed and added the tranquil nature of these people and their continual salud of “Pura Vida” possibly was a big factor.

We asked about specific illnesses and the statistics on those in Costa Rica. To my surprise they would give us no information on Sexually Transmitted Diseases saying the information was private. We were interested in numbers, not who. Ysidrira would only say that Herpes was a big issue on the street and AIDS exists. I would think these statistics would be information to be published to help deal with prostitution in Costa Rica and especially in this area, but no, this information was not forthcoming. I would hate think prostitution was viable government statistics feeding the coffers.

The most common issue treated at the hospital was road accidents and heart attacks. Javier cited the dreadfully dangerous bridge at Puenta Mala of having been a big source of road accidents. They cited falling asleep at the wheel as a big issue as well.

We asked about snake and spider bites. First, bypass the community clinic and proceed straight to the emergency room where they are well trained and equipped to handle these. The clinics do not have anti-venom.

Our final question was about food service, patient care and could the family be present at the hospital and in the patient’s room. Ysidira explained that each patient was interviewed as to their preferences and generally this was honored by the hospital. If the patient wanted home-cooking the family could bring food in and the patient could even be bathed and cared for by a family member. The philosophy was clearly one of “caring” for the patient. I heard more respect and dignity being potentially expressed toward a real healing of the patient than I have heard in any other hospital.

Many thanks to Ysidira, Javier and Jose

Reduce Your Chemical Exposure

December 6th, 2009

10 Simple, Common Sense Tips to Reduce Your Chemical Exposures (and Your Child’s)
Rather than lamenting over past toxic exposure to yourself or your family it is far healthier to take control over that which you can positively influence, such as your diet, your physical fitness, your emotional state, and your current and future exposure to toxins.
You can limit your exposure to environmental chemicals as much as possible with the following tips:
1. Buy and eat, as much as possible, organic produce and free-range, organic foods.
2. Rather than eating fish, which is largely contaminated with PCBs and mercury, consume a high-quality purified krill oil.
3. Avoid processed foods — remember that they’re processed with chemicals!
4. Only use natural cleaning products in your home. Most health food stores will have these available or you can search online for them.
5. Switch over to natural brands of toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. Same sources here, either your local health food store or you can search online.
6. Avoid spraying insect repellants that contain DEET on your body. There are safe, effective and natural alternatives out there.
7. Remove any metal fillings. Amalgams are a major source of mercury and any metal, including gold, can cause biogalvanism. Be sure to have this done by a qualified biological dentist. Although nearly any dentist is technically qualified to replace your amalgam fillings, far less than 95 percent have any clue on how to do it properly so your risk of mercury exposure is minimized.
8. Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances as they can pollute the air you are breathing.
9. Avoid artificial food additives of all kind, including artificial sweeteners and MSG.
10. Limit your use of drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) as much as possible. Drugs are chemicals too, and they will leave residues and accumulate in your body over time.