A final reminder to all: DO NOT go to the Commonwealth Club next Thursday. We meet at the National Museum (Acton Point) at 12.30 pm sharp for lunch ( please pre-order your meal with Olek before Tuesday to speed things up) and then have a guided tour. It is anticipated we will finish around 2 pm but you are welcome to stay longer if you wish.

I think we all learned a great deal last week about Costa Rica from HE Ambassador Armando Vargas- Araya(see notes from Juris below). Who knew his country was such a beautiful and stable place?

He tells me it is one of 26 in the world which do NOT have a standing Army and it has done them no harm over the years.

Tony Brickwood, after many years of service to our Club, is moving to Victoria (why you may well ask). As he will not be able to attend any further meetings it is planned to have a lunch at the Yacht Club on the 24th or 25th of this month and I ask that as many members as possible come along to give him a fitting farewell.

President Eric



May 13th

May 20th

May 27th


National Museum

Commonwealth Club

Zoom meeting



Ross Brown




Sharon Green

Andrea Conti



Michael Rabey




Tony Brickwood

Liz Scrivener



Andrea Conti





Our guest speaker on Thursday 6 May was Ambassador Armando Vargas-Araya of the Embassy of the Republic of Costa Rica. He has an amazingly diverse background which includes executive roles in journalism, politics, information technology, telecommunications, academia, the UN, and the authorship of numerous books.

The ambassador spoke about the achievements of Costa Rica, a small, neutral country in Central America. It spent 300 years under the Spanish and recently celebrated its bicentenary of independence. It has long had a policy of neutrality and has been able to keep wars at bay. It is alone in the world with a Constitution that enshrines as its citizens’ rights – peace, happiness, prosperity and protecting the environment.

That is an impressive list of achievements for a small, vulnerable nation. But its achievements do not end there. For a population of 5 million, it is exemplary in preserving its biodiversity. It received the 2019 UN Champion of the Earth award, the UN’s highest environmental honour. It has no military. In 1987, its then President, Óscar Arias, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end civil wars raging nearby.

Economically Costa Rica is on a par with Austria. In recent years it has recognised its role as a maritime country bordering the Pacific Ocean. It supports multilateralism and a rules-based order, under international law. On occasions, it has resolved international issues at the International Court in the Hague. Its record regarding the pandemic is not the best but good.

Costa Rica has a 137-year relationship with Australia. One might expect it to be an exporter of coffee, but medical equipment is its forté. It works for peace in the world as an active supporter of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It also has a major role in biodiversity treaties. Afforestation got as low as 20% but has returned to 50% and is heading for 60%. It continues to take biodiversity initiatives, for example, in the area of ecotourism.

We welcomed this highly informative, exemplary and entertaining talk about a small nation punching well above its weight in world affairs.

Juris Jakovics


What do dentists call their x-rays?

   Tooth pics.

Did you hear about the first restaurant to open on the moon?

   It had great food but no atmosphere.

Did you hear about the fire at the circus?

   It was in tents.

What is the difference between a hippo and a zippo?

   One is really heavy and the other is a little lighter.

Why should you never trust stairs?

   They are always up to something.

What does a house wear?


What do you get from a pampered cow?

   Spoiled milk.

How does NASA organize a party?

   They planet.

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