Costa Rica gained its independence from Spain on September 15, 1821 spearheaded by Delores Bedoya, who carrying a lantern led the entire town to the politician’s office to demand that leaders sign the independence declaration. Today as a symbolic gesture, the evening before Independence Day the children decorate lanterns and parade up and down the streets. On Independence Day, Ticos and Ticas (as Costa Ricans may call themselves) celebrate with a lantern parade (desfile de faroles), where people dress in traditional clothing and perform traditional dances. Homes are decorated with the Costa Rican flag and people enjoy many customary dishes such as empanadas, casados, tamales, and other dishes.
The national flag was created by Pacifica Fernandez Oreamuno on September 29, 1848, it has had 5 horizontal stripes (2 blue strips on either end, 2 white stripes, and a thick red stripe in the middle). The blue stands for the Costa Rican sky that works like a shield, white stands for peace, and red shows the heroism and energy for the Costa Ricans when it comes to defending their principles.
Costa Ricans are friendly, energetic, polite, and welcoming people who are proud of their country. The most prominent phrase in Costa Rica is “Pura Vida”, which attests to the preferred way of life one that is simple, relaxed, and worry free. That statement holds true for many other nations who border the Caribbean. Costa Rica is determined to protect their environment and natural resources with 51% or 2,605,000 hectares of Costa Rican land made up of rainforest. Therefore, Costa Rica is known as one of the most progressive nations on the earth with respect to climate change.
Costa Rica has six types of forests: tropical rainforests, cloud forests, tropical dry forests, mangroves, lowland rainforests, and riparian forests. These forests have a plethora of life including trees, birds, cats, amphibians, reptiles, monkeys, mammals, flowers, plant life, and other organisms. While visiting some of the most sought-after wildlife to see are:
- Home to 922 species of birds including: 6 types of toucans, 2 species of macaws, 17 species of parrots, 50 species of hummingbirds, and countless other fowl.
- Home to 6 species of cats including: ocelot, jaguar, puma, oncilla, margay, and jaguarundi.
- Home to 160 species of amphibians including: red-eyed tree frog, poisonous dart frog, glass frog, lemur leaf frog, and countless others.
- Home to 225 species of reptiles including: striped basilisks, black iguanas, crocodiles, caimans, coral snakes, types of vipers, and many more.
- Home to 4 species of monkeys including: squirrel monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys (monkey used in the movie “Outbreak”, mantled howler monkeys, and spider monkeys.
- Home to 250 species of mammals including: two and three toed sloths, coatimundi, tapirs, anteaters, 110 varieties of bats, etc.
- Home to 9000 species of flowering plants, 800 species of ferns, 1900 species of trees, and a ton of other complex organisms.
Costa Rica is home to not one, but five active volcanoes and another sixty-one dormant ones. My family and I visited Poas volcano, which is one of the most popular active volcanoes and has one of the largest craters in the world. Poas is a stratovolcano, which means it has alternating layers of lava and ash. The last time Poas volcano erupted was February 2019, but did not have any casualties, due to constant monitoring of volcanic activity. Near the summit there are two crate lakes, Laguna Caliente (Hot Lagoon) is the one my family and I were able to view. Before going to the summit, you are required to wear a hard hat and are limited to no more than twenty minutes of viewing. Laguna Caliente is one of the world’s most acidic lakes and supports little or no aquatic life. The bottom of the lake is covered with a layer of liquid sulfur and the acid gases create acid rain and acid fog, which can irritate the eyes and lungs.
As you can see there are many reasons to visit Costa Rica. The people are warm and so is the climate, there are abundance of activities (ziplining, snorkeling, swimming, waterfalls, etc. In addition, if you are from country with a stronger currency the trip is more affordable due to the conversion rate. When my family and I were in Costa Rica in December and January the currency rate was 602 Colones to $1 USD (United States Dollar). With an average temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit year-round it’s a perfect destination. Depending upon what you plan to do, just remember the average rainfall is 200 inches and can vary based upon location. Nevertheless, if you want to visit Costa Rica during its drier period you may want to plan for parts of December through approximately the end of April. Typically, rainy season is May through December and may vary.
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