Visiting a country like Costa Rica and not feeling the love and sympathy of its people is something impossible. The Ticos are very friendly and happy people, who will make your stay very special. But to be this way, there has to be a history, and that’s why I’m going to tell you a little bit about the culture and lifestyle of the Ticos, so we can understand a little bit better where their personality comes from.
Everywhere in Costa Rica, we find hundreds of Tours and cultural activities that let us understand what it means to be Tico, but you have to choose well to not repeat (many touristic tour operators offer similar activities) and to truly get to know the background of the national culture. We will talk about 5 main activities that you should not miss if you want to experience authentic Costa Rica.
5. Caribbean Culture - Puerto Viejo
4. Indigenous villages Bribrí - Talamanca
Very close to Puerto Viejo de Limón is the territory of the indigenous Bribrí, one of the oldest indigenous populations of Costa Rica and the biggest one in the country. Over 10 thousand people keep their native language alive, spoken and now also written, thanks to the effort of the Costa Rican education system.
3. Museums and the daily life of San José.
The whole Costa Rican history is summarized in the museums. At the Numismática museum, you can learn about the history of the different coins that were used in the pre-Colombian and colonial era, until the ones we use today, as well as bones of dinosaurs and birds that were found in this region, also art, technology, and Costa Rican customs. Most of the museums in Costa Rica are located in the capital San José, so you can see different ones in just one day.
2. The blue zone of Nicoya
Nicoya is a peninsula in the province of Guanacaste, a region that is dedicated to cattle raising and agriculture, but also offers a great number of beautiful beaches that are visited by tourists all around the year. The elder of the region get older than 100 years and that’s why you can hear many fantastic stories told by them. If you visit this region, you have to try the Vino Coyol (tree wine), because this is a traditional drink in this area.
The food, one of the main reasons that people there live so many years, is based on corn, but very varied and with a unique taste; for example tortillas palmeadas, bizcochos, atol de maíz, arroz de maíz von gallina achiotada, chorreadas and many more. Furthermore, in this area, it is common to see handcrafted things made with clay mud, so it is normal to get your dinner served on a handmade plate, baked in the same traditional oven (also made with clay) where the locals prepare their bread and Bizcochos.
Another interesting activity you can do is to visit a Finca and learn about the crops of the area and learn about milking and raising cattle.
1. La Casona de los Rodríguez - La Fortuna
Finally, we get to the number 1 and for me, this is the best activity you can do, where you really feel the life of the old Costa Rica, and this is a visit to La Casona de Los Rodriguez in La Fortuna de San Carlos.
This a place where you experience the traditions of the Costa Rican farmers from the moment you arrive. The Casona is a big typical house made of wood and a story older than 100 years. When you get inside, you will see a great number of decorations of past eras, pictures, and stories. Also, the employees of the Casona wear typical Costa Rican dresses, colourful and really beautiful.
The surroundings are quiet and friendly with a great view of the Arenal Volcano and the Río Fortuna (where you can see people bathing in the water and enjoying the sun).
The Casona also has a 100% functional Trapiche, where you can see the whole process of the production of Tapa de Dulce and Melchochas, in the same way, our grandparents prepared it; from the extraction of the sugarcane using oxen, cooking it in giant pans and finally filling it in the moulds. We were able to try a glass of Aguadulce and drink a little bit of freshly extracted sugarcane juice. An extrasensory experience!
I, as a good Tico, loved this experience and I remembered many stories my grandma told me about the Trapiche of the family many years ago.
I hope that all these adventures I mentioned will help you to decide which places to visit when you come to Costa Rica and like this, you can get an authentic experience. If you have something to add or if you have a question, feel free to write it in the comments, it would be a pleasure to hear from you.
Greetings and Pura Vida!