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Costa Rican retirement.

Q My partner and I (58 and 65) are thinking about emigrating, from the United States to Costa Rica, we've had little luck in locating specific information about how accepting the people of Costa Pica are with alternative lifestyles.

Robert Kelly, Denton, Texas

A In addition to its temperate climate, stable democratic government, and low cost of living, Costa Rica is considered the most liberal country in Central America. The government decriminalized sodomy in the 1970s, and recent supreme court judgments have prohibited bar raids, supported the rights of gay saunas to operate, and ensured state-of-the-art treatment to people living with HIV. San Jose is home to a large and well-organized gay community, while the Pacific beach town of Quepos, near the spectacular Manuel Antonio National Park has become known for its sizeable expatriate gay population. Keep in mind, however, that most Ticos (the nickname for Costa Ricans) are culturally conservative, with traditional Catholic views about sexuality. Though tolerance is relatively high and people are generally quite friendly, public displays of affection between same-sex partners are not welcome. You might want to consider living in the country for a six-month trial period--without making final arrangements back home--before you make the leap. A great place to meet gay locals, tourists, and expats in San Jose is at Uno @ Diaz (011-506-258-4561), an Internet cafe that functions as a virtual clearinghouse for Costa Rican gay information. For general info, check out Erin Van Rheenen's Living Abroad in Costa Rico (Avalon, $17.95).

Q Last summer while on an Atlantis cruise I met a great guy who lives in Moscow. We've been e-mailing ever since. I want to fly him to San Francisco for a vacation this spring and pay for his flight What is the best way to make his reservation? Should I send him a check and let him make the reservation?

TOM HAY, Pleasant Hill, Calif.

A The most convenient way to book a ticket for your friend is to make a reservation over the phone with an airline representative and request that an electronic ticket be issued in Moscow under his name, which will be printed on the ticket. Ask the airline to send both you and your friend an e-mail confirmation. Aeroflot is Russia's chief international carrier. Try to make a reservation for the low season (through the end of March) or the shoulder season (through the first week in May) for the cheapest fare.

Q I enjoyed your article on Buenos Aires [Winter 2004] but was surprised to find little or nothing about shopping in that city. Can Michael Luongo supply any helpful suggestions? I understand that the U.S. dollar is strong there.

JOHN HOMS, Richmond, Va.

A Michael Luongo responds: The dollar is strong here--still roughly three to one--but it declines day by day (as it's doing all over the world). The city is full of craft fairs on the weekends surrounding Recoleta Cemetery and in San Telmo on Sunday, which is fun. Also in San Telmo, on Defensa Street, is an assortment of small funky antique shops. There are also several shops in the Galerias Pacifico shopping center on Florida Street. I highly recommend the Design Center, also near the Recoleta Cemetery. Puro Diseno Argentino is my favorite store there. It's filled with high-design, Argentine-made products. There are a few frosty glass-walled panels where you can watch the desks of some of the young designers, and some are kind of cute too!
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Title Annotation:Travel Queeries
Author:Kelly, Robert
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:2COST
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Words:577
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