Not for Profit Store Launched


Amazon announced on March 8, 2010 that they would be keeping all of the proceeds from the bookstore for themselves (read more)The original post announcing the opening of the bookstore is below:

We finally got around to updating our recommendations for Costa Rica books and creating the much anticipated Costa Rica Guide Packing List – Shopping Edition.

We never expected big profits on book sales. Amazon was just an easy way to keep cover photos and prices up to date on books we like to recommend, but as our websites grow more popular it’s starting to add up. We’d like our recommendations to stay unbiased by sales pressure so we’ve decided to donate 100% of the proceeds from the Amazon sales to community and conservation projects in Costa Rica.

How the not for profit bookstore donations work

Based on growth over the last five years we hope to raise at least $2,000.00 on about $32,000.00 in sales in 2010. It could be a lot more if the idea catches on and people spread the word through blogs, tweets, facebook and websites.

Who gets the money?

Honestly, we haven’t decided. We just re-did the bookstore and decided to donate the profits this week so we haven’t worked out all the details yet. We know some organizations that could benefit and have asked friends in Costa Rica for recommendations. If you’ve got a suggestion please feel free to add it as a comment below.

One idea is to buy books! Some rural schools in Costa Rica have pretty minimal libraries and a couple hundred new books could have a big impact. We know book distributors that may sell to us at wholesale and a furniture shop to build bookshelves for cost which would make the money go even further.

Teachers and librarians could pick out shelves full of books their kids wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

How can we guarantee the profit from your purchase will be donated?

The short answer is we can’t. Toucan Maps Inc. is a for-profit corporation and doesn’t have non-profit auditing; besides Amazon strictly prohibits tracking customers so it would be impossible for you to tell if your purchase ultimately results in a contribution.

Basically you just have to trust us that it’s not worth risking our reputation for a couple thousand dollars in Amazon commissions. Besides, if we wanted to keep the money we’d just erase all this stuff about donations and keep it like we used to before we decided to donate it.

Go to the Costa Rica Bookstore

Go to the Costa Rica Packing List – Shopping Edition

Remarkable Roadwork

We spent a few days on the Caribbean coast a few weeks ago and saw a remarkable transformation. We started up north on Playa Westfalia (Hotel Playa Westfalia – recommended) and there was a crew with a truck full of asphalt, a few guys with shovels, a backhoe and a steamroller out front one morning. Four days later we were at the Korrigan Lodge (highly recommended – see photos) across from Playa Cocles nearly to the Panama border, and there comes the crew.

They had patched every pothole on the road between Limón and Manzanillo in under a week. It was some sort of world record.

Of course this doesn’t happen often (ever?) but there was a reason for the repairs. The president, several government ministers, a handful of prominent businessmen and some French dignitaries were coming to the coast for the finish of the Jacques Vabre trans Atlantic yachting race from Le Havre to Limón over the weekend.

As we headed north the next morning we saw a news van along side of the road next to the Limón airport and a camera was aimed at a reporter standing in the rain and pointing beyond the runway out to sea. I slowed down and peered in that direction and sure enough there was a little white triangle of a sail on the horizon.

Then I looked up as I heard the dull thud of rubber being compressed all the way to the rim and saw muddy spray cover the windshield. The section they had patched earlier in the week was already sprouting new potholes! I smiled to myself as I realized all the roads in Costa Rica were only a MOPT budget cut away from their gloriously holey past (read why we’re nostalgic for Costa Rica potholes).

We Miss Costa Rica’s Potholes – Where Have all the Huecos Gone?

Though far from extinct, the Costa Rican pothole is definitely on the endangered list.  Their numbers are down from the millions to a few thousand and their habitat has been severely reduced by “progress.”

If you’ve ever spent any time in Costa Rica you’re probably asking yourself “yeah, so what?  What kind of nut would miss potholes?  That’s like lamenting the loss of small pox.” but we have our reasons.

Pothole Paradise

Even as recently as ten years ago there wasn’t a road in Costa Rica where potholes didn’t keep the average speed down to 40 kph (25 mph) and many places it was even slower.  On bicycles it was heaven.  we could travel as fast or, due to superior swerving ability and narrow track, often faster than the cars, trucks and buses.  We bike toured around Costa Rica for five weeks on our honeymoon in 1993 and never gave a thought to being pancaked by a 100 kph semi or bus.  Of course there were a couple of spots we avoided, like cerro de la Muerte and downtown San José (where it wasn’t so much an issue of speed as the bumping and grinding of stalled traffic) but basically we could find a route anywhere we wanted to go in the country.

We returned for years riding over 4,500 km before we hung up our bikes in 1999.  There are still great bike rides in Costa Rica, but it’s gotten very difficult to find a safe multi-day tour.  The roads are still narrow, winding and shoulderless, but more and more often they’re also relatively pothole free.  Even on minor two lane highways average speeds exceed 70 kph and of course the morons who want to go 90 can get away with it (until they hit a cow which aren’t endangered).

There are hundreds of kilometers of the rides we enjoyed that would simply be suicide now: Highway 21 from Liberia through Santa Cruz and Nicoya to Naranjo; the Guápiles highway to Limón; 35 up to Los Chiles, and most of 4 through Sarapiquí, San Miguel and Upala, all the way to La Cruz; the Costanera Sur from Orotina through Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Dominical and Uvita; and even the Pan American highway south from Palmar and north from Juntas.

So that’s why we’re a little nostalgic for potholes.