February 9, 2012

0121 COSTA RICA – "Doooon’t booootheeeer meee, pleeeeease…"

I remember as if would be now that in elementary school I got a 10 (maximum grade) to Geography because I was the only one in class who knew which is the only continental country in the world without army (the things happenings in the late '70s). And I remember also that when I learned this, a few months before being asked, I considered it an amazing trickery. "How to attack a country that has no army? Who could do such a baseness?" It's excusable, I was 12-13 years old when I put to myself such questions. Therefore I have pleasant memories about this country, without to have ever been there. Just as Sophia (who sent me the postcard - muchas gracias), who has fond memories about Romania, also without to have ever been here. Even more than that, as you can read on the postcard, she now learn Romanian language. Romanian is a Latin language, as well as the Spanish, so it will be easy, even if the grammar is quite complicated.

Despite the limited number of cultural sites, Costa Rica is the most visited nation in the Central American region, with two million foreign visitors in 2008, because it ranks 6th worldwide in the natural resources pillar. Costa Rica was also a pioneer in ecotourism, and the country is recognized as one of the few with true ecotourism. System of national parks and protected areas is the largest in the world as a percentage of the country's territory (around a quarter), and home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Costa Rica has only 0.03% of the world's landmass, but it's estimated that contain 5% of the world's biodiversity.

Among the thousands of species of animals living in Costa Rica is the sloth, the world's slowest mammal, so sedentary that algae grows on its furry coat. On the picture is a brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus), the most common of the four species of three-toed sloth. The size of this sloth is being 42 to 80 cm in total body length, he has a rounded head, with a blunt nose and inconspicuous ears. The face is generally paler in color, with a stripe of very dark fur running beneath the eyes. Brown-throated sloths sleep 15 to 20 hours every day, and are active for only a few brief periods, which may be during either the day or night. Three-toed sloths also have an advantage that few other mammals possess: they have extra neck vertebrae that allows them to turn their heads some 270 degrees.

A last parenthesis before going to stamp: Costa Rica also knows to protect the national "wealth" which is the natural environment. For example it has successfully managed to diminish deforestation from some of the worst rates in the world from 1973 to 1989, to almost zero by 2005. Moreover, in May 2007 the Costa Rican government announced its intentions to become 100 percent carbon neutral before 2030.

In terms of franking, the story is long and I must admit that surprised me, because I know almost nothing about this system, used in more and more countries. In 2001 Correos de Costa Rica began a plan that tried to set in motion an integrated computer network for the management of all the services of the company. As part of this plan, were installed 148 franking scales in all the postal branches around the country. The system was changed and improved constantly, until it came to what is seen on my postcard, which has printed on it the service, postal branch and postal employee code, at the centre of the label (2.1200 JDURAN, in the image), whilst in the lower blank area are the balance number (24146), the date of issue (18ENE12 - 18 January 2012) and the 10-digit face value (*******340).

In mid-2010 Correos de Costa Rica ordered the production of new rolls of labels (which are not considered as philatelic material). Following the proposed designs, rolls were manufactured with 2 new designs, dedicated to the Golfo de Papagayo and the Tortuga Lora. In the picture is the second model, dedicated to the Olive ridley sea turtle or Lora turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), the smallest of sea turtles and spawns on the Pacific beaches of Costa Rica.

The labels are produced using self-adhesive thermal paper, printed by letterpress, with a holographic varnish - or foil impression - on the surface finish design. For security, the labels include the usual central C score and, for the first time, a spot varnish with the text CORREOS DE COSTA RICA, in 2 lines, visible only when tilting the stamp slightly, in front of a light. Here you can find many other details about this system and the history of its usage in Costa Rica.

sender: Sophia Machado (direct swap)
sent from San José (Costa Rica), on 18.01.2012
foto: Adrian Hepworth / 1999

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