Archive for March 2014

Earth Hour 2014! Spend an Hour in the Dark and Help Save Planet Earth!

March 28, 2014

Earth Hour is driven by the global community’s will to protect the planet we share. Earth Hour’s exponential growth – from a single-city initiative in 2007 to a global movement across 128 countries in 2010 to now in 2014 – is indicative of the growing desire for a cleaner, healthier world that is gathering momentum by the hour. Across the globe plans are underway to make Earth Hour 2014 a bigger event than ever!

At 8.30pm on Saturday 29 March 2014, Earth Hour will mark a moment of global contemplation to go beyond the hour; a collective commitment by individuals throughout the world to be the ongoing change they want to see in it.

At Hotel Byblos Resort & Casino, an adventure boutique hotel in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, we too will be participating in this worldwide event by supporting Costa Rican sponsored events around the country as well.

EARTH HOUR: FAQ’s
1. What is Earth Hour?
Earth Hour is a global grass-roots movement encouraging individuals, businesses and governments around the world to take positive actions for the environment, and celebrating their commitment to the planet by switching off their lights for one designated hour. Earth Hour 2014 aims to show the actions that people, businesses and governments world-wide are taking to reduce their environmental impact. The highlight of Earth Hour 2014 will see the world’s most iconic landmarks go dark for one designated hour, as hundreds of millions of people transcend race, religion, culture, society, generation and geography, switching off their lights in a global celebration of their commitment to protect the one thing that unites us all – the planet.
2. When does Earth Hour take place?
Earth Hour 2014 will be held on Saturday March 29 between 8.30PM and 9.30PM in your local time zone.
3. What does Earth Hour ask people to do?
Earth Hour encourages individuals, businesses and governments to use Earth Hour as a platform to showcase to the world what measures they are taking to reduce their environmental impact. Earth Hour asks everyone to take personal accountability for their impact on the planet and make behavioural changes to facilitate a sustainable lifestyle.
4. Does this mean during Earth Hour I have to turn off everything in my home and use absolutely no electricity?
No. The main point of Earth Hour is to show the world that a solution to the world’s environmental challenges is possible if we work on them together – together our actions add up! Earth Hour only asks that you turn off non-essential lighting, safety and security lighting should remain on.
5. How long has Earth Hour been going for?
Earth Hour began in one city in 2007 when more than two million individuals and two thousand businesses in Sydney, Australia turned off their lights for one hour on Saturday 31 March 2007 to take a stand on climate change. In the space of three short years Earth Hour grew to become the greatest environmental action in history with individuals, businesses and governments across 128 countries coming together for Earth Hour 2010 to show the path to a sustainable future is a collective journey and the movement has continued to grow over the last few years.
6. Isn’t switching the lights off dangerous? What about public safety?
Earth Hour only asks people to turn off the non-essential lights for one hour – not lights that affect public safety. Earth Hour is also a celebration of the planet so it’s important to enjoy the moment in a safe environment.
7. What lights can be safely switched off?
That is a decision that has to be made individually but usually the overhead lights in rooms (whether it is your house, hotel or a business), outdoor lighting that does not impact safety, computers, decorative lights, neon signs for advertising, televisions, desk lamps, the list goes on and on…. You are encouraged to make sure you have alternative light sources handy before Earth Hour starts, like candles, torches or flashlights.
8. What candles should I use for my Earth Hour event?
If you plan on burning candles during Earth Hour please choose natural, not petroleum-based products. If you’re using candles, make sure you take care. Please follow these tips:
• Candles should only be used under adult supervision.
• Candles should never be left unattended.
• Candles should be kept away from children and pets.
• Extinguish candles before going to sleep.
• Keep candles away from flammable liquids and gas-combustible materials.
• Candles should be kept clear of any combustible materials such as paper, curtains and clothing.
• Candles should not be placed in windows as they can be blown over. Blinds and curtains can also catch fire.
• Candles should be placed on a stable, dry, heat-resistant surface away from drafts.
9. What is Earth Hour’s position on safety?
Earth Hour wants everyone to be absolutely safe and never to turn off any lights or power that would in any way compromise the safety of any individual in a private or public space.
10. Will my city go completely black?
Earth Hour is not a black out. It is a voluntary action by its participants to show their commitment to an act of change that benefits the planet. For many businesses in city skyscrapers or for many government buildings, the lights are turned off at the end of the business day the Friday before Earth Hour. So Earth Hour is more of a fade-out in some ways than a black-out.
11. If everyone turns their lights back on at the same time will there be a power surge?
People celebrate Earth Hour in a variety of ways for different lengths of time, with many continuing to keep their lights off well beyond the designated hour. Therefore, it is highly improbable that everyone will switch their lights back on simultaneously.
12. Is Earth Hour an annual event?
Though Earth Hour began as a public statement for action on climate change, it has come to symbolize a commitment to broader environmental solutions. Earth Hour’s ‘lights out’ campaign will continue to evolve in accordance with the environmental concerns of a growing global community driven by the pursuit of a better, healthier world. Earth Hour, is as much a celebration of the planet as it is a commitment to environmentally sustainable action, so as long as the global community wants to share a unified moment of celebration and contemplation of our planet, 8.30PM – 9.30PM on the last Saturday of March will always be Earth Hour.
13. Why is Earth Hour held on the last Saturday of March?
The last weekend of March is around the time of the Spring and Autumn equinoxes in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively, which allows for near coincidental sunset times in both hemispheres, thereby ensuring the greatest visual impact for a global ‘lights out’ event.
14. How many cities/countries/landmarks took part in Earth Hour 2011?
4616 cities, towns and municipalities took part in Earth Hour 2011 across 128 countries, including 89 national capitals and 9 of the world’s 10 most populated cities.
15. What is the criteria for registering city, town or municipality participation in Earth Hour 2014?
For a city, town or municipality to be officially recognized as a participant in Earth Hour 2014 it must meet at least one of the following three criteria:
1. Have the official support of its governing authority. (e.g. Governor or Mayor)
2. Have confirmed participation of a significant landmark or icon.
3. Have the support of an official Earth Hour ambassador.
16. What does a commitment to Earth Hour mean?
By registering to Earth Hour 2014, individuals, communities and businesses are making a commitment to turn their lights off for an hour at 8.30PM on Saturday 31 March in acknowledgement of an act they will undertake for the benefit of the planet. Participation in Earth Hour is a sign of your commitment to show leadership amongst your friends, family, colleagues and competitors in finding solutions to our environmental challenges by adopting environmentally sustainable lifestyle habits and business practices on an ongoing basis.
17. Who can participate?
Anyone! Anyone who wants to unite with the global community in a worldwide celebration of the planet; anyone who believes a solution to our environmental challenges is possible through the aggregate of our actions.
18. What energy/carbon reductions have resulted from Earth Hour in previous years?
Earth Hour does not purport to be an energy/carbon reduction exercise, it is a symbolic action. Therefore, we do not engage in the measurement of energy/carbon reduction levels.
19. How can I help with Earth Hour in more ways than just turning out my lights?

For Earth Hour 2014 we are asking people, businesses and governments to go beyond the hour, to make a commitment to an act of ongoing change that benefits the planet. There are limitless things you can do on top of switching off your lights to take Earth Hour beyond the hour. Have a look at the ‘How to…’ guides page on this website for some ideas.
20. What does Earth Hour hope to achieve?
Earth Hour aims to unite communities around environmental issues by creating a forum where individuals can discuss ecological resolutions with like-minded people, by creating a channel though which businesses can exchange sustainable practices with their competitors, by building a platform that enables governments to showcase environmental leadership, and by ultimately establishing a global network of individuals, corporations and governments who are committed to the collective resolve of tackling the world’s environmental challenges.
21. How is Earth Hour 2014 different from other Earth Hour Celebrations?
Earth Hour 2011 saw individuals, communities, businesses and governments across the globe come together in a moment of unity for the planet, to show the world what can be done through collective action. Earth Hour 2012 asks participants to change by committing to an act that benefits the environment and celebrating their commitment to the planet with the people of the world by participating in Earth Hour. Fast forward and Earth Hour 2014 is not the culmination of a climate campaign, it’s the start of a journey of behavioural change for individuals, sustainable practice for businesses, and leadership of governments on the path to global environmental reform.
22. Aren’t you using a lot of electricity and resources to promote this event?
Earth Hour operations are run in a cost effective manner and apply donors’ funds according to the highest standards of accountability and sustainability. We also consider and/or incorporate other climate or environmental issues as determined by the Earth Hour team and its partners.
23. Whose idea was Earth Hour?
Earth Hour came from a think tank initiated by Earth Hour Executive Director and Co-Founder, still a degree of scepticism and denial about the issue of climate change. Earth Hour came as the inspiration to rally people to the reality of climate change and start a dialogue about what we as individuals can do to help address the greatest problem facing our planet today.
24. What is Earth Hour’s relationship with WWF? Does WWF own Earth Hour?
WWF Australia co-founded Earth Hour in Sydney in 2007, facilitating Earth Hour’s rapid worldwide growth through its connection to WWF’s global network. With a presence in more than 70 countries, WWF continues to play a valuable partner role, ensuring a solid foundation and support network on which to deliver a truly global environmental message throughout the year.
25. Who are the Earth Hour partners?
Earth Hour began as a WWF-led initiative in Australia in 2007 in partnership with brand co-owners, Fairfax Media and Leo Burnett. All three partners decided from the beginning, however, that expanding Earth Hour’s global reach would require working in partnership with any organization. Earth Hour’s message has spanned the world with the help of many global partners.
26. Do you have requirements or regulations about who can or cannot partner with Earth Hour?

Any partner must uphold and support the aims and principles of Earth Hour. These include encouraging individual and community engagement on environmental issues. Encouraging conscious decisions to change the way we live in order to affect environmental reform, without the use of scare tactics or shaming.
27. Does Earth Hour welcome the support of other NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) and NFP’s (Not for Profits)?
Absolutely. In fact, the success of Earth Hour would not be possible without the support of other NGOs and NFPs. Global organizations such as the World Organization of the Scout Movement and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have been pivotal in spreading the Earth Hour message, while in some countries where there is no WWF presence, Earth Hour campaigns are orchestrated entirely by other NGOs and NFPs who share the same non-aggressive, guilt-free approach to addressing environmental issues taken by Earth Hour..
28. Are there any other social media outlets or forums for Earth Hour?
Yes, here is the most comprehensive list we have right now:
Current Earth Hour Global Social Media Profiles
Facebook Group
MySpace
Flickr Photostream
Twitter
More global profiles on additional networks are developing everyday.
29. What does the Earth Hour logo mean?
The standard Earth Hour ’60’ logo represents the 60 minutes of Earth Hour where we focus on the impact we are having on our planet and take positive action to address the environmental issues we face. For Earth Hour 2014 we have continued the ‘60+’ logo representing a commitment to add to Earth Hour a positive act for the planet that goes beyond the hour. Please publish the logo and pass the word wherever you can and show your support for our Planet!!

20 THINGS TO DO WITH THE LIGHTS OFF!
If you are not sure how you should be celebrating Earth Hour this year, here are some helpful suggestions on what to do:

1. Invite your friends over for a earth friendly cocktail hour and candlelit dinner.
2. Get those board games out and have some game time with friends & family in the dark.
3. Lie down and star gaze. Stars are more easily seen the less lighting there is.
4. Do something “crafty” by candlelight: paint, mould, stick, knit, quilt, paint, or?
5. Got kids? Get out the camping gear! Set up a tent and tell stories of when there was no artificial lighting, how it must have been to live in that time.
6. Play a real game of hide & seek with the kids. It has to be even more of a challenge in the dark!
7. Go to sleep early! You never get enough sleep, so here is the perfect excuse to catch up on some zzz’s.
8. While the lights are off, it’s the perfect time to change any old bulbs for new energy saving ones.
9. Why not eat all the ice-cream that’s sitting in your freezer? If you’ve turned your appliances off along with lights for Earth Hour, then it’s just melting anyway!
10. Soak in a warm tub and enjoy the silence and solitude you rarely get.
11. Plant a tree to serve as the center of next year’s celebration of Earth Hour.
12. Meditate to encourage an inner peace & tranquility in your life throughout the year.
13. Exercise. You don’t need lights to workout!
14. Read a book like they did in the old days with no distractions from television.
15. Take the dog for a walk with a flashlight. You’ll both benefit from the activity.
16. Make a list of ways you and your family can carry on the commitment to be more earth friendly throughout the year.
17. Write a personal letter to a loved one. No impersonal email this time!
18. Sing around the campfire and roast some marshmallows.
19. Arrange a candlelit massage. Your eyes are closed anyway!
20. Take advantage of that dark, alone time to spend some “amorous” time with that special someone.
Or great advice is to check out your local Earth Hour site and see if there’s a place near you that will get plunged into darkness at 8.30pm on March 31st and go there to celebrate!

Let us know what you will be doing during this year’s Earth Hour, we’d love to know what creative ideas you have to share with us!

SUMMARY:
Be a part of Earth Hour 2014; add your voice and take action, encourage others to join the hundreds of millions across every continent who have already spoken as one on behalf of the planet. Together we can make a difference!

Check out this inspiring Earth Hour 2014 video to see what our planet’s voice looks like. It’s an awesome power when we are work as one!!

EARTH HOUR 2014 OFFICIAL VIDEO

AUTHOR:
Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and owns her own vacation rental home business Manuel Antonio Rental Homes.

SOURCES:
http://www.earthhour.org
http://www.wwf.org
http://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/global/wagggs/
http://scout.org/

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“Mamon Chino”, a Tasty Costa Rican Snack!

March 12, 2014


The “Mamon Chino”, also known as “Rambutan”, is a colorful and interesting exotic fruit found on medium-sized tropical trees producing one of the most popular convenience snacks found in Costa Rica. Thought to be native to Malaysia, this fruit is also commonly found in Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. The Mamo Chino is closely related to several other edible tropical fruits including the Lychee, Longan, and Mamoncillo. The name rambutan came from the Malay word rambut, whose literal translation means hairy, logical when you see the distinctive “hair” that covers the skin of this small fruit.

Description:
A hearty tree growing to an average height of 30-60 feet, the flowers are small and emit a faintly sweet pleasant scent. Mature trees in fruition brim with oval shaped fruit bunches that grow in a loose hanging clusters of around 10-20 specimens. The rather thick and clean peeling skin is generally reddish, orange or yellow in color and is covered with a thick hairy texture, making this fruit easy to identify. The coveted flesh of the fruit is translucent, whitish or a very pale pink, with a sweet, slightly acidic flavor, similar to that of grapes, but with it’s own uniquely tropical flavor. Be careful not to ingest the large single seed found buried within the sweet fleshy part, as it can be mildly poisonous when raw, but can be eaten when cooked properly. (I have personally never tried that, so anyone who has, feel free to chime in on how that works!) The seed is also said to be high in certain fats and oils valuable for industrial uses, as well as the oils are used to manufacture soap products. Beyond that, the roots of the Rambutan tree, as well as the bark and leaves are touted to have various medicinal uses and have been used in the production of certain dyes and coloring compounds.

What to do with the fruit:
A mainstay at Farmer’s Markets countrywide, roadside fruit stands are another great place to find the freshest Mamon Chino. Traditionally eaten by easily peeling the fruit with your fingers (it practically peels itself into two pieces) or you can often see locals open them with a quick flick of their teeth, popping the fruit directly into their mouth. The sweet creamy pulp of the fruit is easily enjoyed by putting the whole fruit inside the mouth and sucking on the pulp, remembering not to swallow the large seed. Disposing of the seed takes a practiced spitting launch, or better educated friends discreetly discard it into their hand or the bag the fruits came in. Despite the light color of the fruit’s flesh, remember to be careful, as the juice will stain a dark brown color, the reason indigenous Indians used to use Rambutan to dye cloth. Though most commonly eaten fresh in Costa Rica, you can find Mamon Chino jams and jellies, and it is now even canned in some locations. It would be important for me to mention……when using the common Costa Rican name (Mamon Chino), its important to know that the word “mamón” in some Spanish-speaking countries can be slang for a “person who sucks”, or more commonly it can refer to a “large breast”. Just giving a fair warning to my friends before you go to the Farmers Market yelling “I want Mamones”!

Production:
When CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) was in negotiations throughout the region, Costa Rica noted that this new agreement presented an excellent opportunity to expand the production of this little known fruit to International markets. Costa Rica, having little actual data on the production of this fruit within the country had the government entity known as “MAG” (Ministerio de Agricultura), launch a nationwide in-depth study to find out more about the cultivators of this crop, with the hope of bringing them the economic benefits that would result from expansion to an International marketplace. The results of this extensive study, primarily conducted in Costa Rica’s “Brunca and Atlantic Región”, was the first stage of a strategic crop development plan conducted by Ingienero Leonte Llach Cordero for the National Program of Tropical Fruits, a division of MAG. The initial results are listed below:

Results of Study (Dec 2003)
• Total Cultivators 354
• Estimated Hectares in Production-720
• Approximate Total Production per year-5.5 millon kilos
• Number of Adult Trees (over 4 yrs)-46,365
• Number of Trees under 4 yrs-49,839
• Amount of Cultivators with less than 20 Hectars-350
• Amount of Cultivators with more than 20 Hectars-4
• Most productive season-July to September
• Percentage of Local Market Production-+90%
• Estimated number of trees per Hectar-100 trees

The results of this study were extremely helpful in furthering the development of this tropical fruit to be competitive in an international market. As the Ministerio de Agricultura (MAG) began a program to distribute some 40,000 tree starts to farmers, their enthusiasm, pioneer attitude and excellent farming practices, helped to dramatically increase overall production by a staggering 20% in only 6 yrs. This impressive number converted Costa Rica to be the top producer of Mamon Chino in all of Central America. Costa Rica now exports an incredible 1800 tons of this popular fruit yearly.

So my friends, the next time you see these cute little hairy fruits at your Costa Rica Hotel, the local Farmer’s Market, local “Pulperia” (market), or a roadside fruit stand…… Stop! Buy!! Eat!! Don’t be afraid of them!!! Not only are these tropical delights delicious and convenient to snack on, but they also have specific nutritional qualities, as well as ancient medicinal uses that might come in handy one day. Just please remember no yelling “I want Mamones!” while in Costa Rica when you go shopping, or you might end up with a black eye!!

Author: Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and owns and operates her own Vacation Rental Home business Manuel Antonio Rental Homes.

Sources:
http://www.mag.go.cr/biblioteca_virtual_economia_desarr_sociolog/rambutan_censo.pdf
http://www.simas.org.ni/revistaenlace/articulo/1091
http://costaricahoy.info
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rambutan
http://nal.usda.gov