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Visit to Bambu Indigenous Centre and Talamanca Indigenous Cultural Festival
Time goes so fast and it´s already one month since me and Jakub started our marketing internship with Tropical Adventures. We have already had an amazing opportunity to go to the Manuel Antonio National Park, where there is a great future possibility for Tropical Adventures to open a new projects for our volunteers. But more about this trip you can read in our other post from David here.
Another great possibility occurred for exploring more beauty of Costa Rica and we went to stay few nights in Bambu village, where our Bambu indigenous project takes place. Commonly labeled on traditional maps as “Bratsi”, Bambu can be reached about 30 minutes from the main indigenous community of Bribri. During the way to get there we were passing alongside Suretka river and on the opposite side of the riverbank we could have seen Panama. We stayed in Bambu Cultural Centre that was built by using traditional indigenous methods and hosts people from around the world. Just by staying in the Centre it supports up to 20 local families through the income it produces through receiving overnight guests.
Next day we took a look around and visited elementary school of Bambu, where our volunteers have opportunity to participate and also retirement home, where we were warmly welcomed by one of the nuns that takes care of the elderly people living there and volunteers are there welcome as well. For more information about typical day in Bambu you can read more here.
Talamanca Indigenous Cultural Festival
As the headline indicates, we didn´t come to Bambu just to enjoy beauty of indigenous centre and hospitality of local people, but the main reason was to experience a Talamanca Indigenous Cultural Festival, that took place during the weekend August 6-7 in nearby village called Amubri. This was a first year of this festival among the indigenous communities of Talamanca and local political officials. The event was held in honor of common unity organized by our friend Danilo, a Bribri political activist employed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Early in the morning we had to get to the shore of Súarez river. The only way how to cross the river is by motor canoe, since the government doesn´t have enough financial resources for building a bridge over the river. On the other side a bus was already waiting and we continued our adventure towards the festival. After a while we arrived to the place of the event. My colleagues Jakub and David could lend a hand and utilize their height for hanging the big table over the stage, as you can see on the picture :).
Festival started by several speeches of local prominent personalities that were followed by playing and singing the national Costa Rican anthem in Bribri language. As next a performance of local children showing the traditional dance of local culture was followed.
These showcases of indigenous culture attempted to show local political leaders the value of the community’s presence as well as encourage the leaders to help facilitate the administrative process of obtaining the “cédula de identidad” for the many undocumented indigenous community. The “cédula de identidad” is the necessary identifiable ID card which is required in obtaining any services as well as accessing and transactions in Costa Rica. The process for obtaining the cédula is highly complex for native people who often lack the necessary resources to navigate administrative procedures.
Bambu is located about a one-hour bus ride away from the popular tourist beach town of Puerto Viejo, where we had also opportunity to spend some time. It is home to beautiful beaches, such as Playa Chiquita, Playa Negra, and Punta Uva and it is a place with the most amazing surfing opportunities. And of course, this place will love fans of reggae since cadenced rhythm of this music are present everywhere. That is caused by substantial Jamaican population that lives here. We had a chance to try Carribean sea and also experience Puero Viejo´s local delicious food and town´s nightlife. But there are plenty of things what to do in Puerto Viejo such us many water sports as above mentioned surfing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, horseback tours around the area, mountain biking or for those who prefer some nature there is a possibility to visit for example National Park Cahuita.
(By Marketa Sobotkova – Marketing Intern)
Romería in Cartago aka a half of the Costa Rican population on foot
August 2 is the official day of La Romería in Costa Rica, a religious festival and a long-term tradition in this country. Every year, when this date approaches, about two and half million people start walking from their homes to reach the city of Cartago. Their goal is to get to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles and visit a dark colored stone image of the Virgin Mary. Many of them would walk long miles, many days and over nights just to get to the cathedral and say their prayers.
Since my temporary home is located in the province of Cartago I just couldn't miss it. During these days, it is basically impossible to get to Cartago by car or bus so the decision if to walk or not was not very difficult. It doesn't matter what time you choose, a couple days before the mentioned date there are people walking all the time so you know you will not be walking alone.
Getting closer to the center of Cartago it is more and more difficult to pass. Together with my friends we decided to walk on Monday, August 1, probably the busiest day. The roads change in a continuous flow of people and when you finally get closer to the basilica you feel more like at a big concert with famous foreign band. Thousands of people at one place, long lines, several music stages and various food stands. But these people are not here because of food or music, they came to get to the cathedral and it surely won't be that easy, the line is endless and lasts at least 2 hours. No patience to even try it today, I better try some of the delicious local food and observe the atmosphere, the excitement in eyes of people waiting in the line.
Nevertheless, I don't give up and I come the second day with new energy and determination. I am rewarded and I succeed to enter to the cathedral after just a few minutes of waiting. You first choose if you want to enter walking or crawling. I have to say the sight is quite spectacular. The basilica is beautiful and the whole act very memorable. People are then leaving with a sense of accomplishment and seem happy. Its time to go home, this time by bus, no more walking. At least until the next year.
(By David Kolesa - Marketing Intern)
You feel like you want to go out?
Hi there! We just wanted to inform you about a couple of events taking place in Puerto Viejo area, so if you are around, enjoy it and let us know about the experience!!!
Festivals of Suretka: Starting today the 3rd of July and continuing on the 4th and 5th, the community of Suretka is having its community festival on the River bank (Playón). Take this opportunity to go spend some times enjoying food, art, and music up in Alta-Talamanca.
Friday July 10th:
Movie Night with ATEC and the BioFuel Cooperative:
The BioFuel Cooperative and ATEC are starting at series of Movie Nights at the restaurant in the corner of Puerto Viejo called Tex-Mex.
Tonight’s Movie is called "Human Foot Print."
It's about consumerism and trash. It's Really Good!
When: Starts at 6:30
No Cost--but donations for the biofuel coop accepted
Where: Tex Mex in Puerto Viejo.
It's school vacation and various workshops are being offered:
Recycled Art Workshops.
In Puerto Viejo
What: ATEC has an energetic young volunteer, Anouck is her name. She and ATEC's favorite recycled artist, Tirza, are putting on a workshop making recycled art projects.
When: Starting Tuesday the 7 of July, all week days until Friday the 17th. From 10 AM to Noon.
Who: 5th and or 6th Graders
Contact: Tirza and Anouck at ATEC 2750 0398
Where: the ProNiño building in Puerto Viejo
Inscription: The kids will be asked to bring in supplies for creating art from recycled materials.
In Punta Uva
When: Monday's, Wednesday's, and Fridays for the next three weeks starting the 6th of July until the 24th. From 10 AM to 1PM.
Contact: Pamela at the Tree House 2750 0706
Where: the Tree House/Iguana Foundation in Punta Uva.
Inscription: 10.000 por semana. (1200 por hora)
In Playa Negra
What: Primer Festival de la Expresión
Workshop of ceramic painting of ceramic fish for the kids
A guided hike around Finca la Isla's Botanical Garden for the adults
An afternoon mud bath.
Includes a snack
When: The 16 of July from 8AM to Noon
Who: Kids and their parents
Contact: Ashley at the Botanical Garden 2750 0046 or Anaís 8323 4650
Where: Finca La Isla's Botanical Garden in Playa Negra
Inscription: 5.000 colones
Enjoy and…Pura vida!!
Hojancha Community Christmas Party!
The Hojancha Christmas party took place this week for the kids and community members we work with in the beautiful town of Hojancha in Guanacaste Province in the North-West of Costa Rica. We had 13 volunteers helping us in all, including a group of 12 from Central Michigan University - thanks so much guys!! Thanks to all the wonderful donations we've received and the great help our volunteers gave us in putting up the decorations and organizing games, prizes and food, everyone had a wonderful day.
Thank you so much to all the volunteers from Michigan who donated gift bags for the children from the Daycare & Nutritional Center in Hojancha. These were really special and all the items in the gift bags such as tooth brushes, tooth paste, pencils and stationery items are really important for the learning and healthy development of these kids.
We're today off to Puerto Viejo for the Bambu and Puerto Viejo parties over the weekend and coming week. We're looking forward to meeting all the volunteers and we hope these events will be as successful as the Hojancha party!
Counting Down to December...
It is only 32 days and counting until our first Christmas Project. The lights and decorations are starting to go up all around Costa Rica and we are working really hard to ensure all the events are a day to remember for all the community members who will be taking part. We want to make sure we put a smile on the face of everyone who attends - children and adults alike. This year is set to be much bigger than last year and we are in much need of donations in the form of supplies (decorations, arts and crafts and gifts for the children) and money to buy these supplies and yummy food and drinks for everyone. Please contact us if you would like to get involved in any way - we greatly appreciate every tiny amount of help that we receive.
This year we would like to be able to invite all the children from Cocles School in Puerto Viejo to come to the Puerto Viejo Christmas Party. Cocles is a beautiful location - set back away from the beach and the lapping waves of the Caribbean Sea. It sounds idyllic but the reality is that the school is so understaffed that pupils are only able to attend school for around 3 hours per day. In Costa Rica, lack of schooling has a very negative effect on the long-term career prospects and money-earning potential of many of the children. Many children do not continue in school after 6th Grade as they go to work to gain extra income for their family household or they lack the ambition to continue with school studies.
Our goal and the goal of our volunteers at Cocles, as well as teaching English, is to mentor and act as role models to the children to encourage them to be interested in their studies and enable them to want to continue learning after they finish primary education. Being able to speak English is a skill that greatly enhances career prospects in Costa Rica and without our volunteers, the students at the school would receive no English tuition at all. English classes simply do not take place when there are no volunteers at the school.
Today our Director, Isaac Garcia, is in Puerto Viejo to meet with the school head teacher to find out if we can invite all the school children. It would be wonderful to see all the children there and we hope they will enjoy the fun and be inspired by the efforts of ourselves and our volunteers. Following that meeting, Isaac has a big meeting with the Puerto Viejo Development Association Board. This consists of 15 community leaders from the Puerto Viejo area. Amongst other things, he will be presenting the plans for the Puerto Viejo school Summer Camp and discussing with the board the possibility of having the event in the town cultural center which is larger than last year's venue and will allow us to invite more children from the community. Isaac will also be visiting some local business in the area, including some of the main hotels and restaurants, many of which are run by foreign ex-pats. We are hoping many of them would like to donate to our two events in Puerto Viejo and help us out with materials for the events.
Also over the Christmas period, we are very much looking forward to welcoming a group of students from the Central Michigan University. As well as participating in our Christmas Projects, they will also be staying at the beautiful Camaronal Reserve and taking part in our Turtle Conservation Project there. This project is particularly understaffed and in much need of volunteers to help protect the endangered sea-turtles from becoming extinct by ensuring their eggs are laid in a safe place and do not get poached. This area is quite rustic and very remote but all the volunteers we have had there have had a wonderful time and usually wish they'd stayed longer. You can read what some of our past volunteers have written about their experiences at Camaronal here.
Our friends from Michigan will get to fall asleep to the sound of the lapping waves, experience the rugged beauty of the area, see live turtles laying there eggs and above all - work with some amazingly friendly, dedicated and knowledgeable people. In particular with this project, we are very grateful to Danilo Gabb, our friend and indigenous leader who runs the Indigenous Cultural Center in Bambu over on the opposite side of Costa Rica who will be lending us enough tents to host everyone from Michigan. We are so lucky to have such great friends who are willing to help us and our friends on other projects out!
As always, please contact us if you would like any further information on our projects, what we do or to see how you can help.
One of the best parts of visiting or living in a "foreign" country is having the opportunity to see and experience the culture. Here in Costa Rica we have our own share of fairs, festivals and processions.
This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 4:00 and went down the street to the small town of Orosi. Because it's Easter today, the whole town gathered to celebrate. I understand this tradition has been going on a very long time.
The first thing that happened is a bunch of fireworks were set off, starting at 4 am. This is to let everyone know to get their behinds out of bed and get into the street. Right at about 4:30 the procession began. It was led by children dressed in Roman soldier outfits, followed by drummers, and then men and women carrying a platform holding a statue of Jesus. Behind all of this were about 300 people.
As we processed through all the streets, more fireworks were set off at different intervals. We went through all the town, ending back in front of the church about 90 minutes after we started. One of the funniest things I saw though was whenever the Jesus statue got to an intersection, the men carrying the platform would spin Jesus around in one or two complete circles. The whole crowd would cheer.
But because this is a rather unstable Jesus statue, he did a lot of wobbling around. It sure looked to me like he was dancing. It was quite the site!
By the way, this picture of these flowers we took on our way home. They were growing wild at the house of a friend, Jimmy. Not only are they gorgeous, but they smell incredible! If you're ever in Costa Rica during Semana Santa (Holy Week), you should really check out some of the many processions and celebrations. They are a site to see!