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By Shahrazad Encinias Vela
Paradise in Parisio
A visit to the Cartago region provides a flashback in time, with ruins dating back to the 16th century found here, reminding visitors of a time when pre-Columbian inhabitants farmed what was once the country’s breadbasket region. By visiting places like the Monumento Nacional Guayabo, one gets the opportunity to take in this area’s amazing past. It's a living exploration of history.
The town of Parisio is captivating in its lush environment. It is also home to the spectacular Lankester Botanical Gardens. Named after the British botanist, Charles Lankester who was sent here in the 1900’s to plant coffee; this 11-hectare garden is today, home to 600 of the total 1,400 native orchid species found in Costa Rica. Managed by the University of Costa Rica, this botanical garden has a varied landscape creating a number of microhabitats, with each habitat housing various species of orchids and other plants. A visit here between the months of February and April is especially beautiful. This is the period of flowering season and the garden is visited by hundreds of beautiful birds.
A lush region that was once covered by forestation, much of the land here has been cleared away by early colonial farmers to prepare settlements. Cartago’s rural villages today are a sight to behold and are marked by old adobe houses and aged buildings with colorful wood. With a pleasant climate and wonderful surroundings, paradise is well within reach in Parisio.
Inspiration for Voluntourism
Travel has a way of opening up our minds to new tastes, sights, smells and textures that can broaden our lives. It also has a way of making us question what we thought was our way of living. People often look back fondly on their travel adventures for the novel sense of the unfamiliar that it created. New ideas and inspirations combine with our already developed cultural norms. Together travel can shape one's future due to the impact that it creates.
As traveler's look to embrace travel experiences that are more authentic and purpose driven, their search is leading them to volunteering and voluntourism in their travels. Volunteer travel, volunteer vacations or voluntourism is travel which includes volunteering for a charitable cause. To some, travel becomes more inspiring when it is purpose driven. Having a mission to set one's intenerary to makes the experience much more rewarding for the traveler as well as the people and community whose lives they are bettering.
One possible way to grasp cultural interaction is to truly experience life the same way that others do. In Costa Rica there is an Indigenous Project in Bambu that brings this opportunity to life. Using the Center as a base of operations, the project works with other area residents on community projects such as reforestation, encouraging and supporting traditional farming, as well as permanent or sustainable agriculture.
You will not find bars, restaurants, stores, cell phones, internet cafes or lots of the creature comforts you might be used to back home. While this might seem challenging and even sacrilegious to some, this opportunity fits well for individuals, families and groups who are ready to leave behind their creature comforts for a while in exchange for the opportunity to build relationships with the people in this community, to learn or improve their Spanish or to really take advantage of immersing themselves in this loving culture.
Life exists in the periphery of our own visions. There are other cultures and lifestyles in the world that are entirely unique and different. By adjusting one's gaze, new insights can be disovered not only of the unknown worlds we travel to, but also for our old lives that are returned to.
Holiday Spirit in Costa Rica
With Halloween having just passed, this time of year conjures up ideas of Holidays. Costa Rica does like to celebrate its holidays. Since it is a Catholic country, many of its traditions and holiday festivities are rooted in Christian celebration and rememberance days. Easter is an especially colorful and joyous national day of celebration. But there are also many other local events that take place during the year throughout the various regions of Costa Rica to celebrate Patron Saints or important national events.
Outlined are the main Holidays that take place throughout the year in Costa Rica:
January 1: New Year’s Day - Revelers who were partying in the clubs the night before gather in San José's Parque Central and Buenos Aires, and Puntarenas to continue the festivities at dances.
March 19: St. Joseph’s Day - Patron Saint of San Jose and San Jose province.
Easter: Semana Santa - Holy Week is observed with religious processions and masses. The official holiday falls on the Thursday and Friday before Easter Sunday. Public transportation does not run on these two days and is extremely crowded the whole week.
April 11: Juan Santamaria Day - Public holiday to commemorate the national hero who fought at the battle of Rivas against the American invader William Walker in 1856.
May 1: Labor Day - Dia de los Trabajadores.
June: Corpus Christi
June 29: St. Peter and St. Paul’s Day
July 16: Fiesta de La Virgen del Mar - The Fiesta of the Virgin of the Sea on the Saturday closest to the 16th is marked in Puntarenas by a procession of decorated fishing boats carrying a statue of La Virgen del Monte Carmelo (the city's patron saint) and a special mass.
July 25: Guanacaste Day - To mark the annexation of Guanacaste from Nicaragua in 1824.
August 2: Virgin de los Angeles Day - Patron Saint of Costa Rica. Special masses and a religious procession from San José to La Basilica de Cartago. Pilgrims come from all over the country, many on foot to celebrate the mass at Cartago.
August 15: Mother’s Day and Assumption Day
September 15: Independence Day - Costa Rica gained independence from Spain on the same day as the rest of Central America in 1821. The nationwide celebration starts with parades, traditional dancers, and street parties and culminates with the arrival of the Freedom Torch in Cartago (delivered from Nicaragua by relay runners) when everyone in the country stops and simultaneously sings the national anthem. Children later enjoy faroles parades where they carry small lanterns through their towns.
October 12: Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day). Limon province only, marked by carnival, which take place in the week prior to October 12. Caps off several days of Carnival on the Caribbean coast.
November 2: All Soul’s Day - Involves Costa Rica residents' pilgrimages to graveyards
December 8: Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
December 25: Christmas Day. Family-oriented celebrations and mass. Much consumption of apples and grapes. The week of Christmas is a very popular time for Ticos to head to the beach.
Editor's Note: Follow Up to Last Week’s Tico Blog Post
For last week’s post about what a Tico is, there may have been some inaccuracies based on the writer whose original post it was. In the post, it was only referring to Costa Ricans using the diminutive as opposed to all Latin Americans or Spanish speakers. There's also another explanation for the use of tico that was not given.
The second explanation of tico is that it's short for Hermanitico (Little Brother in Spanish as pronounced with the suffix as described above.), a friendly and respectful way the people of Costa Rica used in the past to refer to themselves and each other.
Like most things, words can have different meanings to different people. While we wouldn’t want to blatantly misrepresent in any way, the blog post does exist to inspire comments and engage conversation. In the future we will try to post so as to clear up any misunderstandings and portray the main point of the article, which in this point is defining what a tico is: a native Costa Rican.
¿Qué es un Tico?
What in the world is a Tico? Sounds exotic. Maybe it's something like a Piña Colada or a Capucino. Or maybe it's one of those little biting pests that you find in tropical places. Wrong! A Tico is a very special group of people that inhabit one of the most beautiful, tropical and hidden paradises in the world—Costa Rica. “Tico” is simply the name commonly used to refer to the native inhabitants of Costa Rica.
About a century ago many Costa Ricans made the mistake of forming the diminutive by adding an “ico” to the end of words. So poquito (the Spanish diminutive of the word poco, little, few) would be poquiTICO when spoken by a Costa Rican. Because of their friendly and warm-hearted manner, the people of Costa Rica commonly used the diminutive in their everyday speech patterns and thus earned the nickname “Ticos” from outsiders.
By Lori Klein
Stray animals – Fundraising happening in Jacó, Costa Rica
Jacó is the coastal town in Costa Rica´s Puntaneras province. Located in the Central Pacific Region, it belongs to the most popular beaches in Costa Rica. Jacó is approximately one hour by car from San José and Costa Rica's primary International Airport (SJO). Jacó's natural beauty and close proximity to San José and the International airport(SJO) attracts many international and local tourists. Jacó also hosts the largest selection of hotels, vacation rental condos and homes, tours and excursions, as well as over 75 restaurants, several beach bars, nightclubs and discos, and 3 casinos.
Jacó Beach has become the most developed and visited vacation destinations in all of Costa Rica. Beautiful National Park Manuel Antonio National Park is only one hour South of Jacó.
When you think of this beautiful beach town, you probably imagine amazing beaches, gorgeous nature and hospitability, but probably you don´t imagine the overpopulation of stray animals that are also there.
Therefore on November 11, Friday 2011 the Asociación Pro Bienestar Animal, also known as McKee Jacó, will hold their annual fundraiser. The Annual McKee Fiesta will be a dance and dinner at the Amapola Hotel in Jacó.
Money that will be collected from the festivities will go to the rescue and rehabilitation of homeless animals in the Jacó area.
You can expect to experience live music by the local band Chupacabra, lots of dancing, food and glass of wine- all inclusive with the purchase of your ticket.
Moreover, there will be also a silent auction and raffle, to make a little extra for the animals.
More information about the event on http://www.mckee-jaco.com/mj_party_fiesta.html
(By Marketa Sobotkova – Marketing intern)
Sea Turtles and their tolerance for hotter beaches
Few days ago there was an interesting article from A.M. Costa Rica (online Costa Rican newspapers) talking about green turtles that have adopted to hotter beaches.
The article says, that University of Exeter (Exeter, Devon UK) conducted a research that shows some turtles arenaturally heat-tolerant. This research was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B and it was focused on green turtles that are nesting on Ascension Island, an overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean.
What scientists from the universities of Exeter and Groningen found is that eggs laid by turtles nesting on a naturally hot beach withstand high temperatures better than eggs from turtles nesting on a cooler beach just a few kilometers away. Since the warmer beach has dark sand it is two or three degrees Celsius warmer than the neighboring beach that has white sand.
These green turtles travel from the coast of South America to the tiny island to nest. Most females of these turtles nest on the beaches where they themselves hatched, so populations can become adapted to specific nesting locations.
Researchers observed eggs that they placed on each beach into incubators of either 32.5 degrees Celsius or 29 degrees Celsius and monitored their progress. They found that the eggs from the warmer beach were better able to thrive in the hot incubator than those from the cooler beach.
Leader of the research Jonathan Blount of the University of Exeter said that the researchers believe this is the first time that adaptation to local environmental conditions has been demonstrated in sea turtles, which is all the more remarkable because the beaches in question are just six kilometers apart.
If you are interested in sea turtles and would like to help in protecting them, please have a look on our Ostional Sea Turtle Project!
Here our volunteers work to protect sea turtles on the beach in the national Wildlife Reserve of Ostional in the Province of Guanacaste.
It is one of the top choices worldwide for those looking to help sea turtles. This beautiful national park is currently short-handed despite being one of only 2 areas in Costa Rica where turtles arrive every day.
At Ostional we help to protect three of the seven nesting sea turtle species that exist in the world. These are: Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea),Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and Black(Chelonia midas agassizii). The Hawksbill(Eretmochelys imbricata) has been observed near the coast, but we still have no spawning records. All these species are declared endangered.
(By Marketa Sobotkova- Marketing Intern)
“Costa Rica Through the Eyes of Volunteers” Exhibition
Peace Corps organization is celebrating its 50 anniversary and thanks to this event the organization opens an exhibit called “Costa Rica Through the Eyes of Volunteers”.
It is an exhibit of 22 photos took by Peace Corps volunteers that offer a glance into life in rural Costa Rica. It opened its door September 20 2011and it will be possible to visit it until October 6 2011at the Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center in Barrio Dent located in eastern San José, capital of Costa Rica. The admission is free.
These very interesting photos of Costa Rica are not just an amazing opportunity to see a different part of Costa Rica but also to have a look into the lives of the volunteers.
Currently about 130 volunteer work in Costa Rica for Peace Corps and most of them are specializing in community and rural development.
Who is Peace Corps?
The Peace Corps is an American program run by the United States Government and as well as a government agency of the same name. The program was established in 1961 and among goals of the Peace Corps belongs helping people outside the United States to understand US culture, and helping Americans to understand the cultures of other countries.
(By Marketa Sobotkova – Marketing intern)
Today´s World Tourism Day 2011 – Linking Cultures
Purpose of this day is to encourage awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. This day is a celebration of tourism´s capacity, to bring the people of the world closer together and break down barriers between cultures. It is a chance to raise awareness of how tourism can foster tolerance, respect and mutual understanding. It is also an opportunity to explore how tourism can contribute to the world´s peace.
Every year UNWTO invites all people without exception to take part in the World Tourism Day celebrations in their countries or holiday destination. By this event the United Nations tries to highlight its Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) which are: To End Poverty and Hunger, Universal Education, Gender Equality, Child Health, Maternal Health, Combat HIV/AIDS, Environmental Sustainability and Global Partnership. It also tries to highlight the contribution the tourism sector can make in reaching these goals.
Each time World Tourism Day is celebrated by events around the themes chosen by the UNWTO General Assembly, on the recommendation of the UNWTO Executive Council.
This year’s theme is a celebration of role of tourism in linking cultures of the world through travel.
Millions of people are travelling the world each year, they have been to so many places, and they have been so exposed to other cultures like never before. In order to build blocks for a more peaceful world, it is important to foster tolerance, respect and mutual understanding between individuals and communities. Tourism can help to maintain spiritual and cultural respect among people, while creating economic opportunities to benefit disadvantaged populations.
History of this day
In Spain, September 1979 UNWTO General Assembly decided to establish World Tourism Day, beginning in 1980. This day was selected to coincide with an important milestone in world tourism. It was the anniversary of adoption of the UNWTO Statues on 27 September 1970.
What is UNWTO?
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is a United Nations agency and the leading international organization in the field of tourism. Organization´s headquarter is based in Madrid-Spain, and it serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how. UNWTO has a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, where it pays a particular attention to the interest of developing countries. It also compiles the World Tourism rankings. The World Tourism Organization is a significant global body, concerned with the collection and collation of statistical information on international tourism. This organization represents public sector tourism bodies, from most countries in the world and the publication of its data makes possible comparisons of the flow and growth of tourism on a global scale. The official languages of UNWTO are Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
UNWTO has memberships in 154 countries, 7 territories and over 00 Affiliate Members that represent private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
UNWTO encourages the implementation of its The Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. It is a frame of reference for the responsible and sustainable development of World tourism.