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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.