Everything you need to know about Costa Rica...
The last stage of the trip to Costa Rica is also an opportunity to reflect on the history of this country, the economy, Mic Sokol of Costa Rica, the non-existent army and a special connection with Kosovo.
The other side of Costa Rica had to be seen. On the other hand, think: The Caribbean Sea, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean. In this article, the fourth and last on a three-week trip to Costa Rica, it is less about nature and more about other issues such as history, economy, politics, etc.
I arrived in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on November 17, with a minibus (shuttleservice). $120 round trip between the capital San José - Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. This village is popular with tourists. There are also retirees from Europe and the United States of America who come here to spend part of the year. Almost every third man looks like Bob Marley's younger brother. And this is no surprise, many residents are descendants of workers who came from Jamaica to Costa Rica. I was walking the village lanes with curious eyes and the first crowd I saw was a line of people in front of a church saying goodbye to a dead person. Women and men solemnly dressed, children playing carelessly and the priest's voice echoing from the depths of the modest church.
Those who go to Puerto Viejo do well to rent a bicycle ($5 per day). The terrain is flat, the roads are good and thus nature is experienced more intensively. A must visit is the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Park, which stands out for its beautiful beaches in secluded bays, where you can enjoy a coconut under the shade of palm trees. A good fish restaurant in Puerto Viejo is Marisqueria Mopri, which is similar to Taverna Rrapo in Saranda, a place very popular in the summer with Kosovar foodies.
On February 17, 2008, at 15:39, the Assembly of Kosovo declared independence. In San José it was 08:39. The first thing that the then president Óscar Arias Sánchez did that morning was to ask the Foreign Ministry to accept the independence of the Republic of Kosovo. Thus, Costa Rica became the first country to recognize Kosovo's citizenship. Óscar Arias Sánchez is an experienced politician. When he proposed the recognition of Kosovo, he was exercising his second term as president. For the first time he was elected president in 1986. During the Cold War, Central America was the arena of rivalry between the USA and the Soviet Union.
Óscar Arias Sánchez ended the polarizations in the region: he met the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua and managed to convince them to limit the size of their armies, guarantee freedom of the press and hold free elections. This plan was accepted, the conflicts in Central America ended and Óscar Arias Sánchez was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. In 2006 he was re-elected president of Costa Rica. Relations between Costa Rica and Kosovo are described as good. Finally, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Kosovo, Liza Gashi, who has a personal connection with Costa Rica, was in this country for a visit: she was educated in San José.
75 years ago, on December 1, 1948, José Figueres Ferrer, former insurgent leader and president of Costa Rica, hammered the wall of the barracks in San José and announced the disbandment of the army. Costa Rica does not have an army, which makes this country quite unique in a region where the role of the military has often been fatal (for example in Chile and Argentina). The former barracks in San José was turned into a national museum. Money earmarked for the military was invested in the school system and infrastructure. No army does not mean no security forces: Costa Rica has a relatively efficient police and border guard unit. Due to the large number of refugees from South America who, through Costa Rica, enter Mexico in order to reach the USA, criminality has also increased significantly in Costa Rica. At the end of September, the German news agency DPA announced that since the beginning of this year, nearly 400 refugees have passed through Costa Rica heading north. Costa Rica has 5,1 million inhabitants.
The problem of clashes between drug gangs is becoming more and more acute. The year 2022 has been the most violent year in the history of Costa Rica. However, tourists need not fear. Most murders occur in the milieu of drugs. The region of Limón near Puerto Viejo is considered a hub of drug gang activity. The port of Limón serves as a departure point for many containers of drugs smuggled into Europe and the US.
In 1502, Christopher Columbus landed on Isla Uvita near Puerto Limón on the Atlantic coast. The great discoverer assumed that there were large reserves of gold here, so he named the country Costa Rica (rich coast). Spanish attempts to colonize Costa Rica met fierce resistance from the indigenous tribes. In 1561, a permanent colony was established in Cartago. This inland city, far from trade routes and oceans, became the first capital of Costa Rica, later becoming San José. With the arrival of the Spanish, the number of the indigenous population dropped dramatically. In 1569, 120 thousand indigenous people lived in Costa Rica; in 1611 their number fell to 10 thousand.
In 1709 the head of the indigenous people in the mountains of Talamanca, Pablo Presbere, rebelled with his supporters against the Spanish rulers. A year later he was executed in Cartago. His head stuck in a hu to terrify people. Unlike other Latin American countries, Costa Rica achieved independence in 1821 without war or bloodshed. In the 1830s, Costa Rica conquered the world coffee market, which made this country rich. Coffee created various connections with Europe, and from there fashion, architecture and literature came to Costa Rica. At the end of the XNUMXth century many Germans immigrated to Costa Rica and became part of the coffee aristocracy. In addition to coffee, Costa Rica also became known for exporting bananas.
The international airport of the capital of Costa Rica is named after the national hero Juan Santamaría. He was an army drummer and died on April 11, 1856 during a battle in neighboring Nicaragua. Santamaría set fire to the camp of mercenary troops of the American William Walker, who aimed to create vassal states in Central America and prevent their independence. The sacrifice of Juan Santamarías was decisive in winning the battle of Costa Rica and other countries of the region for independence.
His sacrifice can be compared to that of Mic Sokol, who in the Battle of Slivova in 1881 stepped in front of the mouth of an Ottoman cannon and fell heroically. Juan Santamaría is also comparable to the Swiss hero Arnold Winkelried, who in 1386 – according to the widespread saga – sacrificed himself in the Battle of Sempach, opening a path for the Swiss troops through which they defeated the Austrian Habsburg troops. Near Lake Arenal in Costa Rica is the hotel "Los Heroes" (the heroes), which was built by a Swiss. On the facade of the hotel stand out the frescoes of two heroes: Juan Santamaría and Arnold Winkelried. A sign of friendship between Switzerland and Costa Rica. There is a lot to write about Costa Rica, so the title of this text is ironic anyway.
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