Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
On The Road


Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Vienna Declaration

I would like to make as many people as possible aware of The Vienna Declaration:
Very briefly, this is an international effort to push for the end of the so-called War On Drugs by legalizing them, and concentrating on treatment of addicts.  In other words, let's look at this international problem realistically, with our eyes open, and start handling it logically, rather than emotionally.  Please take the time to look at their official web site, and at the very least endorse what they are saying.  Thank you.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Security raises its ugly head in the Arenal area……

"Here's another nice mess [I've] gotten us into, Stanley".

There is a local forum for residents of the Lake Arenal area ( that devotes itself to things pertinent to the general neighborhood of Nuevo Arenal, Tilaran, Trondadora, and other villages in the area. Lately there has been considerable discussion about local crime, centering on burglaries, robberies, and home break-ins. Two different private security companies jumped into the discussion, going back a bit more than a month ago. The approach by both was obviously rooted in a style reminiscent of W (Bush; read: scare tactics), and was actually rather distasteful, to me, for one. These two were admonished publicly, by the Forum's administrator, and apparently backed off. One, however, continued to post messages in response to each new report from a regular forum member/local resident, strongly hinting that we all needed to engage his services. Incidentally, he is located in San Jose, and he does have a website (www.willspy). At any rate, about a month ago, I posted this in response to the Admin's lengthy post on this subject:

Thank you, Oliver & Admin, for trying to bring some sense to this situation.  Frankly, I was completely turned off to the posts from both of these competitors, since they both (imho) were so blatantly preying on what they perceived to be our fears.  What I think they both fail to understand is that we were simply doing what we do:  sharing information important to the community on a forum for that purpose.  I don't recall posting anything that might have suggested I felt a need for any kind of hype, or "Bush-ist" tactics, so I, for one, am glad to see them reined in a bit. (Actually, I had to laugh at one post that suggested the PI had to spend the night at my house to assess traffic, or some such thing.  We average maybe four vehicles per week on our little road).

I think we all pretty much thought the matter was settled with this. Then, after weeks of silence, this appeared (posted by none other than the San Jose-based PI): First , John Dungan you dont have a clue! As much as You are a nice guy. It is not just the traffick! If you knew what a pro was talking about? You would understand that EVERY!!!! real pro in the world looks at the sight at night because if the sencors to be used because of the lights also it help us deciede where the dead spots are. Also this is going to be addressed next week on and if you have any questions about if I know what I am doing? I will be glad to fill your e-mail box with clients I have dun work for and they are very happy with us. And if there is 1 never in Costa Rica?That is never let anyone have access to your house without a background check. Scott at knows more about home ownership in C.R. that any other preson and he says what I have been saying is rite.

I, of course, could not let that rest, so I posted this reply a day or so later:

First, Doug Smith, I think I do indeed have a clue.  Second, please do not patronize me, and presume to know me, to the point that you imply that I might be a nice guy.  A lot of people will tell you that I am a grouch and probably a jerk!  My remark about traffic was a reference to your potential client's statement that reported what you proposed to do, and I still think that is a pretty silly claim for you to have made in proposing to offer services to folks who live in a mostly rural area. 

If I knew what a "pro was talking about?"  What does that mean?  If you were indeed a pro anything, I would expect you to be able to communicate clearly, and to at least pay attention to your spell check.  As for Scott Oliver, please do not cite him to me as anything other than what I know him to be.  Why would I want my email inbox full of "clients that you have dun" worked for?  It is not like I have any interest in a service that you might be offering.

Meanwhile, I do not understand how you can presume to think that it could be remotely interesting to me to know that you think that Scott Oliver "knows more about home ownership in C. R. than any other person and he says what [you] have been saying is rite."  I really do not understand what you mean by that statement.  As far as I understand it, he is just an expat selling real estate to other expats.  How does that qualify him as an expert on home ownership, and how does him (or anyone) being an expert on home ownership make them more qualified than I am to decide what I want to do with my home? What you perhaps do not understand is that not all of us live on large estates, with many acres of land surrounding our main house, and with extra guest houses, and hired help, and so on.

As for your statement about "never let anyone have access to your house without a background check." Say what?  Do you ever listen to yourself?  I suppose you would have us believe that you would be the one we should hire to perform that background check, right?

(Then, he posted this to the local forum): Okkkkkkkkk John I did not know you had 26 yrs in the business I was out of line. I checked with a friend in the U.S. they told me you have not been to any clases that they can find I will have them check again.We go "by the book" That is the only way I know how to do things. I will have my friends check for your name again and see what clases you have taken. I did not know you were in the business, I wish you well.

(Next, I received this private message): We are going to be up there on the 12th do you want to frount me? Or should you and just be men and you go your way and I go mine?Please note this is Costa Rica not Topeka. You mite should look at my web site because at this point you are the only person in C.R. that has not given me the respect I have always gotten.I dont know if you are a vet? But you need to know hwo you are talking to. I wish you well.

I have shared his personal messages to me with the Forum's Admin, and have informed Admin that I am not going to respond to this person at this point.

On Wednesday, the 30th, I received this personal/private email message, apparently forwarded to me by the Forum Admin, and evidently representing an exchange between him and this person: Hello, Doug Smith (from duralavida) sent you a private message:

(D.Smith): I pulled all my posts,

(Admin): Well? Why?

(D.Smith): as I said at first I was on the board as a favor.

(Admin): Sorry, most of us believe that you are/were soliciting.

(D.Smith): But I can see it is ok if that ass hole takes a shot at me,my comapny and the nice people that work for me.

(Admin): That "ass hole" [sic] is one of our neighbors. You do not display neighborliness, but instead your business is riding on fear. Where fear is, love and compassion can not be.

(D.Smith):  He pissed off over 250 people on my Facebook page but that is ok by you.

(Admin): Explain why you think that Facebook matters should be our concern.

(D.Smith): We are going to be up the about the 12 we are going to go have a nice face to face with John.

(Admin): We suggest that you tell John first.

(D.Smith):  you have a goood day

(Admin): Kind of you, if you mean it. This phrase can be used sarcastically, you know..

Maybe I'm not going to respond directly to Mr. Smith, but I think maybe it would be a decent idea to let folks know what my reaction to his statements is. So, here goes:

When did I say anything about being in any sort of business?! You checked with a friend? What the hell kind of statement is that? Clases? What the hell is a clase? Are you trying to threaten me? This may not be Topeka, Dorothy, but you still cannot hope to get away with physical threats, even by implication. You go by what book? Since you cannot spell or write worth a damn, I'd suspect that would be the old trusty tome whose main characters were Dick and Jane, right?

If you really think that I am the only person in this whole country who has failed to demonstrate respect for you (in what capacity, I don't know), then I would strongly suggest that you might consider seeking real professional help (as in, psychiatric therapy). Where I grew up, no one got respect by demanding it; they had to earn it, and I have not seen you do anything to earn my respect. As a matter of fact, if you had just stayed silent, and NOT posted your scare tactics sales pitch, I would probably have been able to respect you a whole lot more than I do now.

And, btw, I have seen your web site, and I was not impressed. You claim all kinds of experience, without actually providing any real bona fides. I worked with the FBI, too. So, what? I do actually have some experience with investigations, but that has nothing to do with what has been discussed on the local Arenal forum. Your web site indicates (per your "case histories") that you provide a sleazy service to sleaze bags. (The stalwart employees of Willspy kept the beggars away from the subject of the first 'case history')!

For some strange reason you wanted to know if I was a vet. Of course, I am a vet. So what? Does that make me more or less acceptable in your mind? Or, do you somehow mistakenly believe that if you claim veteran status I should therefore accept you at face value, and even respect you, after you have demonstrated such poor business tactics?

As for his having a concern about his Facebook, I can't for the life of me fathom what significance that has. I mean, it's not like I had so much as looked for his Facebook page (I have since done so, and gave it up as a lost cause; do you have any idea how many "Doug Smiths" there are on Facebook?), so how could I possibly have had any effect on it?

Monday, July 12, 2010

You can fool some of the people…….

According to a news report dated July 3, 2010 (Costa Rica's Tourist Arrivals Up 90.000 For 2010), at, there has been a significant increase in the actual numbers of tourists visiting Costa Rica for the first five months of this year.
The report says that there have been 954,314 total entries from Jan – May, an increase (as seen above) of some 90,000 for the same time period a year ago. I got to thinking about what those numbers mean in dollars, something that has been on my mind lately, anyway. For those who may not know it, the government of Costa Rica charges a $15.00/US fee on every plane ticket with either San Jose or Liberia as the destination. And, of course, it costs nearly double that much to leave the country, after a trip here ($26.00/US). Do you realize how much money we're talking about? Don't worry, I already got out my calculator, and did the math:
$14,314,710 - Jan – May (number of tourists times $15.00 per head)
$24,812,164 – Jan – May (number of tourists times $26.00 per head)
$39,126,874.00 (total collected from those unsuspecting tourists)
You might consider also, that on top of that pretty impressive amount, those tourists also pay a whole lot in sales taxes for lodging, car rentals, and the like. And, of course, the straight sales tax, on each and every purchase for everyone in the country, is around 13%. It is true that property taxes are very small, and there is no income tax, but one must wonder……….
That's less than half the year. So, my question is this: what is Costa Rica, the country, doing with nearly 80 million dollars of found money every year? I mean, it's not like they're providing anything like security for all those tourists, or in any other way protecting them from thieves, scam artists, and such. There's certainly nothing that might resemble any improvement in their infrastructure (most of which is crumbling around them), such as roads (the nation's newest road, which is closed as often as it is open, is a Toll Road, in case you were wondering), bridges, or anything else related to smooth transport. No such thing as public services, like modern ambulances, fire or police protection. Personally, I am mystified………….

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lions 'n Tigers, and.........Warships?!

There are more fools in the world than there are people.

Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)
Some people will believe most anything, and worse, they compound that mistake by repeating misinformation as if it were Gospel.

The other day (July 4, actually), La Nacion, CR's leading newspaper, printed a story reporting that an agreement had been reached between the government of Costa Rica and the U. S. allowing access to various ports in Costa Rica. In my humble opinion, the article is slanted so as to ignore history, and the real purpose behind the agreement, thus deliberately opening the door for over reaction, and misinterpretation. You can see the original Spanish language article here:

and no, I am not going to provide a translation of it. Suffice it to say that La Nacion did nobody any favors by giving this story the slant that they gave it. Actually, their treatment of the story was a good example of very, very bad journalism. It was slanted so as to ignore reality, namely that this is simply a renewal of a pre-existing agreement that allows certain American Naval vessels to dock in Costa Rica to allow shore leave to crew members. The only way one could know what this story was really reporting, though, was to read it to the end.

Essentially, the newspaper report did ultimately reveal that it was talking about an official and legal agreement between two nations. Because of that, the agreement spelled out how many ships, crewmen, materiel, etc., might be involved en toto, as opposed to how many might be in port at any one time. Potentially, this means a serious amount of dollars coming into the country, 'cause nobody spends like a drunken sailor, according to the old stories.

Now, Costa Rica, for whatever reasons, still thrives on word of mouth, rumor, innuendo, conjecture, and gossip, so a story so slanted immediately led to alarmists everywhere – both Tico, and a surprising number of Gringos – jumping to the conclusion that this represented an invasion of Costa Rica, at worst, to an impending U. S. military presence in Costa Rica designed to either carry on the so-called War on Drugs, or to prepare for invasions of Nicaragua or Venezuela. One forum, owned by an ex-pat Brit, who sells real estate, has a thread that went from zero posts to somewhere in the high 80's, in very short order (after having been started by the forum owner, on July 4). In the interests of full disclosure, I should report that he kicked me off his forum some time ago, because I sent a PM to one of the members that stated that I believed that this guy has an agenda (he hates the U. S.). I had mistakenly hit reply on the message, rather than taking the extra steps to make sure it was addressed to the person intended, so it went directly to the list owner (doh!).

At any rate, this guy started the tread personally, with his own slanted report of the slanted newspaper report, just to stir things up among his members. I am not going to link to these posts, nor am I going to copy and paste, because the reactions are totally nuts, with some of them downright scary (how could people be so misguided, so misinformed as to believe some of the crackpot theories they put forth???), but if you want to look for this forum, look for one that purports to "really, really like" Costa Rica. Meanwhile, the forum's owner keeps the thread going by posting ever more (and more ridiculous) updates, citing all kinds of very strange and evil plans attributed to the U. S., to the American President, and others.

The truth is slowly coming out about this situation, but it has been a truly eye-opening experience. Another example of the downside of life here, I suppose.