Bob Normand (also known as the Golden Gringo or GG) has lived in five U.S. states and three countries over the last forty years. After living in Sarasota, Florida for ten years. GG retired in 2008 and has been a resident of the small, seaside town of Quepos ever since. The town is located in the south-central Pacific Coast near the most popular national park in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio.
|Marina Pez Vela with
Quepos Town in Background
Quepos is also a mecca for those who love to fish. Several major international fishing tournaments each year are offered out of the town's Marina Pez Vela. Beaches, water sports, jungle tours on land and whale watching by sea; it's all here amigos.
For many, retirement does not mean inactivity and it certainly did not for me. After settling into Quepos I taught a 9-week course on small business management to operators and owners of local businesses. I also began a regular series of long emails designed to inform my kids and friends back in the States of how I was doing here.
That flow of emails eventually turned into a regular monthly newsletter that came to be called the Golden Gringo Chronicles. April of 2020 was the 140th monthly edition which now reaches nearly 2,000 subscribers.
What follows is a summary of my professional/personal background, a brief resume if you will.
Literary Experience, Books and Newsletter
Las Esferas, Mystery Spheres of Costa Rica
This is my latest book about Costa Rica and is a story about how the 300+ stone spheres dotting the Costa Rican countryside may have been formed. Produced at least 500 years ago, obviously by some intelligent force, but resulting in unique spheres, many of them are such perfect circles they are beyond the technical capability of historic indigenous peoples.
|Paperback - 104 Pages $13.95
|Press to Order
In the 1930s Companía Bananera, the Banana Company, a pre-cursor to Chiquita, was preparing a plot of land for new cultivation in the Diquis Region of southern Costa Rica when they unearthed a sizable stone sphere. That incident began a series of similar discoveries that has, to the present, resulted in finding over three hundred of these extraordinary and unique spheres of stone.
From the moment they were first found, Costa Rica’s stone spheres (Las Esferas in Spanish) have been a subject of speculation. Who formed them? When were they formed? How was it that many of them were nearly perfect spheres, a technical accomplishment far beyond pre-Colombian capability? How were these very heavy rocks distributed about the countryside?
Many explanations proposed by knowledgeable people fall short of answering these mysteries, including a suggestion that space aliens helped the natives. Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps in the future we will find the answers to these mysteries, or, then again, maybe we won’t. In the meantime the spheres remain a Costa Rican natural and historical treasure.
Las Esferas is the story of a fictional but typical regional tribe called the Kaberkirwaks who form from two migrant indigenous groups of Amerindians and settle in the Diquis region some five hundred years before the Spanish arrive in the new world. As part of their development, an early Cacique, or Chief, institutes a coming of age ceremony called a Vision Quest that includes an herb enhanced spiritual exercise. For over one hundred years, a period called the Golden Age of Spheres, this ceremony resulted in the accumulation of the spheres during that period.
Also available in Kindle format.
Mariposa, A Love Story of Costa Rica
|Paperback - 93 Pages - $8.95
|Press to Order
Five hundred years before the Spanish found the American continent, about the end of the first millennium, Native Americans lived and prospered in Central America, including the land now known as Costa Rica. Truly a natural wonderland then and now, the natives were able to employ their farming skills and prosper from the local rich soils, the forests filled with game, herbs, and spices, and the lakes and two oceans rich with fish and crustaceans.
The Mariposa story as written incorporates the classic ending of Costa Rica's Legend of Zurqui, one that reflects the beauty, mystery and spirituality that is Costa Rica. You can PREVIEW the Book on Amazon.com at: Mariposa Preview, which is Chapter 1 in its entirety.
Mariposa, or butterfly, is a story about two young Native Americans, a girl and a boy, each a favored child of a chief, but of different tribes. These two tribes, historically hostile to each other, lived a few days march apart from each other in the mountains north and east of what is now known as Costa Rica’s central valley.
The two natives meet by accident, fall in love and begin to plan a life together only to be frustrated by events beyond their control. The lovers are eventually drawn to a mountain volcano which is thought by many to be the home of the gods, particularly Sib'ö, the Great Spirit, who they believe had created the world. Mariposa is also available in Spanish (below) and Kindle format.
|Bolsillo - 131 paginas - $9.95
Quinientos años antes de que los españoles encontraran el continente Americano, cerca del final del primer milenio, nativos americanos vivieron y prosperaron en Centroamérica, incluyendo la tierra ahora conocida como Costa Rica. Al ser en verdad una maravilla natural entonces y ahora, los nativos fueron capaces de emplear sus habilidades agrícolas y prosperar gracias a su fértil suelo, al bosque lleno de presas, hierbas y especias, a los lagos y a dos océanos ricos en peces y crustáceos.
Mariposa es una historia sobre dos jóvenes nativos americanos, los dos hijos privilegiados de un jefe, pero de diferentes tribus. Estas dos tribus, históricamente hostiles entre ellas, vivían a unos pocos días de marcha de distancia en las montañas del norte y del este del valle central de Costa Rica.
Los dos nativos se conocen por accidente, se enamoran y comienzan a planear su vida juntos, que se frustra únicamente por eventos más allá de su control. Los amantes son arrastrados a un volcán el cual muchos creen que es el hogar de los dioses, particularmente de Sib’ö, el Gran Espíritu, que creen que fue quien creó el mundo.
Como estas historias son leyendas, involucran una buena cantidad de mito, lo que deja tanto al escritor como al lector la libertad de especular diferentes desenlaces. La historia como está escrita incorpora el final clásico de la legenda de Zurqui, que refleja la belleza, misterio y espiritualidad de Costa Rica.
Golden Gringo Chronicles, The Narrative
The story of the Golden Gringo Chronicles is now available as a hard copy novel of 192 pages from Amazon and all major Online retailers ($9.95). Amazon: GGC, the Book.
|Paperback - 195 Pages - $9.95
|Press to Order
Follow GG through the first six years of his odyssey from making the decision to retire in Costa Rica, then overcoming the trials and tribulations of moving and obtaining residency as an expatriate, and the fun and experience of actually living in Ticoland. This story covers the excitement and difficulties of starting a new life in a foreign country.
Ride along with the Golden Gringo as he experiences the rich, varied culture of Costa Rica, the incredible bio-diversity, the charming nature of the Costa Rican people and the ease with which a sometimes clueless expat can assimilate into a small southwestern town on the Pacific Coast.
Chapters Cover: Decision Time, Preparing for the Exodus; Driving to Costa Rica; Plan B; Costa Rica or Bust; Settling In; The First Weeks; Housing - Getting It Right; Pura Vida and Puros - Or So He Thought; Visa Renewal Time; Tormentas and Teremotos; Language Challenges; Beaches, Lifeguards and Backhoes; Using Buses and Taxies; Pursuing Official Residency; Food as Culture; Exploring Costa Rica and Beyond; The Chronicles Come of Age; Getting to Know Quepos/Manuel Antonio; Getting Residency; History of Costa Rica; Legends of Costa Rica; Costa Rica Wildlife; Weather and Tremors, Costa Rican Health Care System; Costa Rican Agriculture; Costa Rican Culture; Am I Tico Yet? Amazon link is: GGC, the Book.
The same narrative version of the Golden Gringo Chronicles novel is now also available as a trilogy of E-books in formats compatible with virtually all electronic platforms.
Part 1 is FREE! Parts 2 & 3 are $3.99 each. Click on part number below, right to review or to order.
Whether you are already a Costa Rican resident, someone contemplating a move to Ticoland or just a traveler who enjoys different cultures, you will find the Golden Gringo Chronicles Narrative interesting, entertaining and informative about Costa Rica.
Entreprenewal, The Six Step Recovery Program for Small Business
|Paperback - 96 Pages - $13.95
|Press to Order
After forty years of business experience in large and small companies, including over ten as a management consultant, the author wrote this book to offer business owners what he had learned about good management practice.
After 30 years of business management experience in both small and large companies as well as owning and building his own business for over ten years, Normand spent ten more years as a management consultant specializing in small and medium sized businesses, during which period he operated as principal consultant for some 110 businesses. These included what the government defines as “small” businesses, meaning less than 500 employees and also includes “micro” businesses, that is to say, those firms employing less than 20 persons.
One of the things the consultant noticed in his practice was that, as businesses grow, they tend to have similar problems not necessarily related to the type of product or service they offer. These problems fall into the areas of strategic planning, human relations, profit and expense controls and disciplined sales/marketing programs and strategies. There was enough similarity in problems from company to company and enough repetitiveness in their solution to compel the consultant and author to write a book outlining the problems and solutions.
The suggestions and operating procedures in "The Six-Step Recovery Program for Small Business" are basic management concepts found in major business schools that have been simplified to better fit smaller businesses. These operating procedures and techniques are tried and tested systems that have been installed in businesses of all sizes for management consulting fees of several hundred dollars per hour and many thousands of dollars total cost. They work.
Golden Gringo Chronicles Newsletter
When GG first arrived in Costa Rica he began sending a monthly email back to his kids and friends in the States. I was very much encouraged to continue these writings and eventually the exercise turned into a monthly newsletter.
Over the years the format has evolved into what you see today, to wit (by section):
Broken News (All the News That's Fit to Reprint): In this section each month we offer several pertinent items of general interest related to Costa Rica and extracted from local press reports, as well as those of particular interest to ex-pats who live here.
Economic Drumbeat (CR Business Happenings): Economic news in terms of major new investments in Costa Rica or changes in employment environment.
Latin America Update (Major Events In Neighboring Countries): Key stories making news in other Latin American Countries in Central to South America from Mexico to Argentina.
Rumble and Weather Talk: Costa Rica being smack on the top of the eastern end of the Pacific Rim we report on earthquakes that happen regularly. In addition rain and tropical storms, sometimes severe, are common during certain months of the year.
¿Que Es Eso? Department: Here we try to stump the reader by showing some kind of unusual item, often something unique to Costa Rica, and asking the reader to identify it. The answer to the riddle always appears in the What's-in-a-Word Section below.
Features: Each month there are 1-3 extended articles on specific topics of interest to readers, expats and visitors. These are subsequently classified into fourteen categories of interest with links provided in the Archives section - Topical Index (described below).
Health Stuff: In this section we review some of the latest happenings in the health issues facing us, particularly older people, such as Alzheimer's and the Corona Virus.
GGC Bookshelf and More: Here we list all the books offered at GGC Publications plus others offered by fellow members of the Quepos-Manuel Antonio Writers Group and other Writers Groups in Costa Rica. We also offer Golden Gringo T-Shirts and coffee mugs.
What's-in-a-Word: Here we answer the Que Es Eso puzzle listed earlier in the Chronicle as well as define or explain certain words employed in the edition in either English or Spanish.
ROMEO Corner: The ROMEO Group, Retired Old Men Eating Out, was founded some ten years ago by three expats who moved here about the same time. The group now includes women. We meet once per month at a local restaurant and review it for Ambiance, Food Quality and Service as well as rating it for cost and value.
Archives and Using the Chronicles as a Resource
The Golden Gringo Chronicles maintains a set of three archives on a variety of topics and that are available to readers as a resource. These links have been taken from 280+ feature articles in the 140+ editions that have been published since September 2008. All three archives have a link to them in every edition of the Chronicles in the navigation menu at the top left of each edition.
The three archives are:
Topical Archive: This is a listing of links on all of the more than 280 topics covered in feature articles over the entire history of the Chronicles and divided into fifteen specific categories as follows:
This is a quick synopsis of what each edition of the Golden Gringo Chronicles contains with links to each edition. Searching this archive using specific key words is one way to get at various topics and can be more productive than the Topical Archive in that way because it covers items and topics beyond the feature articles.
This is a listing of ROMEO Reviews of restaurants in the Quepos, Manuel Antonio area conducted over the past three years. After three years the restaurant is removed from the list until it can be reviewed again. Since we review a different restaurant each month there is normally a list of 36 restaurants that are recent.
We do a composite rating, based on the average of scores of the ROMEOs in attendance, for Ambiance, Food Quality and Service. The rating is one (poorest) to five (best) sloths in each category and then we take the average the three. We also rate the cost from one (lowest) to five (highest). Lastly, we calculate a Value Index by dividing the average for Ambiance/Food Quality/Service by the Cost rating x 100. A VI of 100 would imply the pricing at this restaurant is in line with the preceived value of its offering while a rating of 130 would suggest the offering is a bargain and a rating of 85 would indicate the cost is out of balance (too high) with the type of offering received.
and Using the Chronicles:
While GG hopes readers find the contents of the Chronicles entertaining and informative I suggest that the info in these writings can be used as a resource about Costa Rica and the expat experience living here. Each edition contains a Google Search Routine, located just after the Rumble and Weather Talk section, where you can enter a word or phrase and it will generate a website wide search for the item and deliver one or more links.
To access the latest edition of the Golden Gringo Chronicles go HERE and press on the link to the most recent edition.
The Golden Gringo Chronicles is a free newsletter that is non-political, non-commercial and, hopefully, informative and entertaining. By signing up you will receive an email each month around the first of the month giving you the links to the latest edition as well as to each individual feature and departmental section.CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP FOR THE GOLDEN GRINGO CHRONICLES