Costa Rica


LOS CHILES, Costa Rica — The signs of illegal immigration aren't hard to find — groups of immigrants hurrying into the high grass, lookouts on street corners, cars picking up migrants.
Illegal immigration is not just a problem in the United States. It is here in the sweltering lowlands of Central America, too, as people from impoverished countries try to reach developing nations.
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Most of the Costa Rican recipes have main ingredients such as fresh fruits, a lot of meat and seafood in them. The Costa Rican cuisine can vary from being very hot and spicy to mild; therefore you will need to be careful while putting in the right amount of chilies in your Costa Rican cuisine. APPETIZERS are known as Bocas in Costa Rica. Commonly the appetizers in the cuisine of Costa Rica are served alongside with drinks in most of the bars in Costa Rica. The appetizers that are served in restaurants are mostly free of cost, but if they are not then you will most probably find them being highly inexpensive. The most popular appetizers or Bocas that you will find in the cuisine of Costa Rica include Gallos (tortillas pilled up with meat, chicken, cheese or beans), cevinche (a marinated seafood salad), and tamales (stuffed cornmeal patties that are wrapped and steamed inside banana leaves), patacones (friend green plantain chips) and the most popular fried vuca. The Costa Rican appetizers are served before the main course meal mostly, but they can also be served along with the main course meal. SNACKS - Arreglados are a little meat filled sandwiches, as are the popular tortas that are commonly served on tiny little rolls with a bit of salad tucked into them. Other snacks such as the tacos, tamales and empanadas (turnovers) are also quite common and favorites in the cuisine of Costa Rica. Gallos are perhaps by far the most popular snacks. SOUPS - Costa Rican soups are made with a lot of tact and yet they are extremely easy to prepare. They are delicious and sometimes can prove to be great appetizers as well. The Costa Rican soups use mostly meat in them rather than vegetables, and that is of no surprise as Costa Rica is known to be the ‘beef country’. Nevertheless, the Costa Rican soups are great to have before the main course meal and add a unique blend of fine delicacy to your entire Costa Rican meal. Bacalao (Cod soup) is a favorite among many locals in the region. Other soups are: the Bean Soup, Modongo, which is a beef stomach soup, Olla de Carne (Costa Rican traditional beef soup), Sopa de Albondigas (Meatball soup), Sopas de Leche (Tortilla Soup) and the infamous Sopa de Pescado (fish soup). SALADS - Ensalada de Chayote, this is a vegetable and pear salad, Ensalada de Palmito, better known as the heart of Palm Salad, Ensalada de Repollo y Atun, this is a Tune filled with cabbage salad and the most famous, salad in the cuisine of Costa Rica is the Ensalada Rusa, MEAT - Costa Ricans enjoy a lot of meat, mostly beef, chicken and pork. Eating fish is considered a luxury although fish marinated in lemon juice and spices is a cheap delicacy. Vegetables and fruits are also popular and cheap. Imported apples and grapes are considered a special treat. Costa Rica is known as the beef country, one of the tropical nations that have converted much of its rainforest land to pastures for raising beef cattle. In general, steaks are cut and served thinner here than in the United States or Europe. One very typical local dish is called olla de carne, a bowl of beef broth with large chunks of meat, local tubers, and corn. Spit-roasted chicken is also very popular here and is surprisingly tender. DESSERTS are made in complete delicacy and are extremely joyful to prepare, serve and eat. Some of the most popular Costa Rican desserts are: cono capuchino - an ice-cream cone topped with chocolate, dulce de leche - syrup of boiled milk and sugar. Also thicker, fudge like cajeta - delicious! Flan - cold caramel custard, mazamorra - corn starch pudding, melcocha - candy made from raw sugar, milanes - chocolate candies, pan de maiz - corn sweet bread, queque seco - pound cake, and the famous torta chilena - multilayered cake filled with dulce de leche. All these desserts are exceptionally mouth watering and extremely lip-licking. They are easy to make and a delight to serve and eat.



ARROZ CON POLLO Chicken & rice
Gallo Pinto (Black bean flavored rice)


MARINADE from Costa Rica

CEVICHE (Citrus marinaded fish)

MADUROS EN GLORIA (heavenly ripe plantains)

MAZZAMORRA (old fashioned corn custard)

ARROZ CON LECHE (rice pudding)

ATOL DE NARANJA (orange custard)

EMPANADAS DE LIMON (lemon tarts)

TILAPIA (marinaded fish & rice)


INFORMATION ON Costa Rican illustrtor, Wen Hsu

Costa Rican Reading List:



Costa Ricans, as people in other countries, are caught between old cultural forces and new ones that influence especially its young inhabitants. Ticos as a whole still respect conservative values, but they're starting to adopt several American cultural traits. Even then, Costa Ricans still possess a unique identity that distinguishes them from other places and even from their neighboring countries.
Ticos are pretty homogeneous racially and culturally speaking, since only 1% of their population is considered to be Indian, and the other Black and Chinese minorities aren't very numerous. A traveler going through Latin America will notice the Ticos's relative "whiteness" when compared to the people of other places. Ticos also have a very high level of education, and the literacy rate is 96%. Thus, Costa Ricans define themselves as unique and different from their neighboring countries.
Costa Ricans are still conservative when it comes to family issues. Even though the amount of single-mother families is extremely high, family ties are still very strong even in these types of households. Traditions revolve around the family from the moment of birth to that of death. Some immensely important family traditions are: baptisms, first communions, engagement parties, weddings and funerals. These events are attended by the extended family as well as by a large quantity of friends and their family members. Also, most Costa Ricans still live at home until they are married, and leaving the household to go to college or to gain independence is still very rare.

Traditions are also shaped by gender differences and the "machismo" system. Men and women are expected to act differently from each other, and to respect their roles. A large proportion of Costa Rican women are professionals and hold important positions in both businesses and the government, but they still retain some traits that are traditional and conservative.
Besides traditions that revolve around the family, there are also several significant religious celebrations. The main religious events are: Easter Week or Semana Santa , Christmas Week and August second, which is the celebration of the Virgin of the Angels. Costa Rica is also different from other Latin American countries, because it practices a "lukewarm" Catholicism that causes a strange mixture of partying and religious celebration during these holidays. Also, the Indian population is so small, that religious events don't offer a mixture of Catholic and Indian practices; thus, Costa Rican processions, for example, aren't as colorful as in Mexico or Guatemala.
For Easter Week, many people that live near the capital city of San Jose choose to go to the beach; for them, Easter is mostly a time to relax and to have a good time. However, some people choose to stay at home and to join religious celebrations that include masses and processions. Nearly everything shuts down from Thursday to Monday, which is why it's a good idea to stock up on goods before then, and to avoid traveling, since some transportation services also stop completely. During the Christmas celebration and some days previous to New Years, the same phenomenon occurs. A lot of people attend religious celebrations held at churches or at homes (like rosary and prayer events that offer large quantities of food and drink), while others choose to escape their urban routines and go to the beach. Another religious celebration is the pilgrimage to the Basilica de los Angeles in Cartago city, in honor of the Virgin of the Angels. During this holiday many people walk to the city from all parts of the country, in order to pay a "promise" to the Virgin (when she answered a prayer) or to renew their faith. This event is incredible because of its magnitude and also because some believers travel for days or even weeks in order to reach their destination and to honor the Virgin. Even though some Costa Ricans decide to party during religious celebrations, they still prefer to do it in the company of their family, thus maintaining cultural and family unity. Ticos are extremely friendly to foreigners, and once they've gotten to know you they'll invite you to family gatherings and celebrations. After all, hospitality is probably the most widespread tradition in Costa Rica.

ART - repeated patterns, applique. Examples at this link.
A legend (Latin, legenda, "things to be read") is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude. Legend, for its active and passive participants, includes no happenings that are outside the realm of "possibility", defined by a highly flexible set of parameters, which may include miracles that are perceived as actually having happened, within the specific tradition of indoctrination where the legend arises, and within which it may be transformed over time, in order to keep it fresh and vital, and realistic.

Losing baby teeth is a significant event in the lives of children. It is a sign that they are growing older and are no longer babies. In America, the event is celebrated with the tradition of a tooth fairy exchanging money for the missing tooth. Here are some legends collected by Selby B. Beeler from people from all around the world.

Children around the world exchange baby teeth for money. In America, the creature who takes the old tooth and replaces it with treasure is a tooth fairy but in other countries other beings or animals are responsible for increasing the child’s wealth.

Costa Rica: In Costa Rica, the lost tooth is plated in gold and made into an earring.

The Stone of Aserri and the Witch Zarate

These occurrences happened in a town called Aserri. which is located 11 miles from de city of San Jose, and is the sixth country of the province of San Jose. It was governed by a well known and handsome Spaniard. And the famous witch Zarate fell madly in love with him. He despited her, and so she swore she would revenge for his hatred towards her.
Days later, the sun rose on the town that turned into stone; the inhabitants turned into forest animals: the proud governor Perez Colma turned into a peacock.
Zarate was a white woman, short, fat, has big black eyes with a fierce and malicious stare. When she spoke, her eyebrows moved frequently and always cackling throughout the conversation. She wore her hair in two braids and even though, her walk was rhythmical and very sure of herself she imposed to everybody her washes, but, also she tended to cure the sick. When she met a sad case, she gave them a fruit basket that turned into precious stones or gold and silver money when they got home.
After the stone spell, that was named Aserri, new pioneers arrived to build their tents, unaware that inside of that stone Zarate lives with the splendor of a sultan from the Orient fairy-tales. At night, she opened the stone and gave shelter to all the animals, including the peacock, which she keep tied with a gold chain.
One day, a man named Diogenes Olmedo, went to visit the famous Zarate to see if she would give him good luck and fortune. After walking for about six hours, he arrived at night to the stone and, tired of walking around without finding Zarate, he fell into a deep sleep. Hours later, he was delusional, looking at a tree he observed two doves looking at him and said: "If you want to speak to the charming Zarate, knock three times on the stone and say the following words: "I'm looking in vain my ideal.., walking forever and always by foot, beautiful Zarate listen and for the love of the peacock open the stone", then the doves took off and flew away, simulating a path of white petals.
Diogenes awoke ...It was midnight; he got up and knocked the stone three times, at the same time the stone lit up, taken an appearance of a floating city in a gold sea and nacre; later he heard the opening and closing of bronze doors, dogs barking and distant laughter. Instantly, the night turned into a clear day, lighting up the countryside in which Zarate appeared, dressed in black, with a shawl on her shoulders. She had a lit cigarette in her fingers and in the other hand a gold chain linked to a peacock. Zarate approached the poor man nicely, who was trembling in his shoes and looked like he was going to witness a tragedy.
What can I do for you good man? How my I serve you
Diogenes, finding courage got closer to her and greeted her nervously; then he proceeded his sad story: he was a widower, has sick children and no food to feed them, etc.
Zarate, as she was remembering something, thought for a while and then said: 6how long did your wife died and what was her name? He answered, and said: she didn't die. "It was about two years ago she went for a day with her friends. They went to the mountains to swim in the river, and they disappeared and never returned... "Her name was Lupita Olmedo". The witch looked closely at Diogenes who began to sob and couldn't hold back his tears. She got closer to him, took his hand and with a voice with a lot of persuasion, said: "I know who she is... "Then began to move her eyebrows, took a large smoke of her cigarette, and with a laugh that scared to death the poor man, said: I'm touched by your sad story and because you had asked in behalf of my favorite bird, I'm going to give you what you need." She walked a few steps and invited Diogenes to follow her up to the mountains. The morning was delightful; the peacock, feeling his freedom, stretched out his feathers majestically and let out a happy cry as a greeting to all the beings in the mountain. The trees answered moving its treetops. the goats and the gazelle made happy noises and the birds sang from the top of the trees.
They walked for an hour. Zarate was smoking, and Diogenes wondering about. Finally, they arrived at a plateau with a beautiful lagoon surrounded by bamboos, lemon, and grapefruit trees. Zarate went to a grapefruit tree and taking an amount of its fruits, gave to Diogenes and said; "This is the food for your children". Diogenes opened the bag and put it inside. At that moment a group of doves landed over the bamboos. Zarate counted them, there were twelve; and then said: "You can go now, these doves will be your guide".
The poor man returned home, sad and disappointed, taking the heavy burden of the grapefruit, and in his soul the promise of a flirting and repulsive woman. Why take so many fruit and useless words?
Diogenes reached halfway and the weight of the fruits started to get him tired, at the end of the road, it was a precipice: so he opened his bag and six big grapefruit started to roll by the precipice.
Happy with less weight, Diogenes continues his walking from the mountains and soon arrived home. His sons were very happy to see him and asked him many questions about Mrs. Zarate. Diogenes pretending happiness told them that she was sending some grapefruit to enjoy, and the next morning doves will arrived twelve beautiful with a nice surprise. The children went to sleep that night thinking to get early in the morning and play with the grapefruit and catch the doves.
The next morning they awoke, and they found the grapefruit turned into solid gold spheres, and later on Diogenes and the children heard the barking of dogs and galloping of horses and feminine voices. And what a surprise to see twelve of the peasants that one morning when happily to the mountain and didn't came back. Lupita Olmedo was the first who jumped off the horse and went into her children and husband arms. And she said that Zarate seeing them swimming in the river turned them in twelve white doves that will form her court of honor. About the peacock, she has a promise that in the moment he wants her to be his wife, she will returned him into a man; but, the honorable Spaniard choose to be peacock, than the husband of a witch.
The stone of Aserri and the charming Zarate, ends here, which leaves between the stone enchanted and love not corresponded by the man she loves, she was in fact a good woman, who practices charity with others in need. and to put her name as nobody had, because, the legend immortalizes her from generation to generation, and tells her story and bless her name.
Also, I invite you to visit this nice country, and you will be enchanted by it. Visit the stone, and why not knock three times, and said the words: "For the love of the peacock, listen and open the stone".
Zarate, will give you an answer to your questions and strength to find other alternatives.. May be a grapefruit....
Written by: Mrs. Margoth Azofeifa Castro.

The Souls

Our town has had enough with the old funerary traditions that would make your skin creep. It's true that the death of a child wouldn't affect them, and in the end, they said: "angels always go to heaven". This is what happens when a child dies; it was reason of celebration with music and dance. Therefore, for the older folks it was a different story. The death, took a different way, like a creepy manner, as it wasn't something natural to grow old and watch your body bend over in search of Mother Earth's warm embrace.
This happened because older people's souls, tend to be a nuisance and bother the people from time to time, and it was never know why, but a child's soul, always had unfinished business and needed the help from the living to "move on". The death caused many fears and worries, he-cause the popular tale, give away terrifying stories about phantoms and appearances that were told by a insane person of the house and said tales about all kind of apparition and ghosts, which were repeated over and over again in family and friend reunions after dinner and for more effect when torrential rains were falling outside, making the fireplace seening warmer and inviting to sit around and listening to the stories.
The children's bodies were taken along the main road, sitting in a chair, exposed to the people. Sometimes their faces would twist into some shape of grin, because the tense muscles, especially when the death happen after a long and painful sickness. When this happened handkerchiefs were tied around the child's mouth. Musicians would play along side the vehicle, playing either a violin or clarinet.
When it was a funeral from older person, also the body was exposed to the public, but was dressed differently, because relatives had usually being drinking the night before the funeral and there was sometimes very drunk, specially if the sick left a fortune to inherit. Candles were lit up and left to burn, because they were "souls". "The angels" have that right if the family had money to perform a large ringing of the bells.
These funeral parades give goose bumps, the month of November gave much dismal sense to the mourning. From the day before, the day of all the Saints, it was very frequently to hear the double ringing of the bells and on November 2n that is the "Day of the Dead", the double ringing continued. There are specialized people in charge of the bells. Generally, individuals invited for other works, served as sacristan and attended as a replacement of the bellboys. 1 haven't forgotten Poiicarpo Badilla the best bell ring of my town. His legs were broken in several parts, and to stand up he used a cane to help him. Nevertheless, he would climb the stairs with great enthusiasm up to the lower, which was the highest floor of the church. There he felt taller and more distinguish. Therefore, the height didn't bother him at all. After this morning obligation, he tended to his former job as tailor. The town referred him as the "Bell Ringer". Handy man; honest and very poor, who took the natural tolerance with patience and he accepted as God's will of his physical defects.
The Bell Ringer was the giver of gratitude, on the eve of the month of All the Saints and of course on November second, he doubled the night. His arms grew tired from ringing the heavy bells and he performs this task in shifts, the important part was being elected to double the night.
This people were very concerned about the Purgatory Souls. Devotion as any other. They contributed with large pots of food as corn, plantains, (Chayote) plant and fruits, vegetables, and lacos, which were given with col-fee. Only those who work were allowed to have this snack.
To deserve it, more than one child, abandoned their daily laziness and served as bellboys from time to time.
It happened that sometime it had been noticed that there were many young bell ringers and a few baskets of snacks, and the old saying was "many souls, but little blessed water".
One day the infantile curiosity carried us out to ask which what the highest post of the village';' And hey would respond with an air of satisfaction that made us understand the inside pleasure of knowing that one is responsible for the job, and it's to carry out with love and devotion. There are no humble jobs. Every job gives a science of responsibility of those who work with them.
November is the month of the souls. A century ago it was a custom to take souls out of the Purgatory. The smal! activities weren't enough, not the candles, not the masses, and not even the array of Gregorian mass. And so, the task of taking souls out of the Purgatory continues.
It was a simple procedure, however impressive, consisted in a night parade, carrying lanterns on a pole. On each side of the lantern there was a skull and crossed bones. Throughout the parade and all along the way the church bells rang in persistent way. When a picture of the purgatory was at hand, something like a dainty vision, it was added. The faces tormented by an eternal flame were even more sinister Charity for the souls in the holy purgatory, "for the love of God" voices like whispering were asking for charity.
And the people who have heard the bells ringing opened their windows and doors to watch the parade passed by. People from the parade would approach the viewers and ask for donations and charity. Once in a while a caring hand would hand out a coin. After all, we all have a soul to feel guilty' about and needed a pray for their souls.
"Angels we are,
from heaven we come,
donations we ask for,
And if you don't give, windows and door, will
pay it.
When the donation was received, there was another verse added in thanks.
This donation you have given,
with love a vaih, shall be the
first step, to get to heaven.
As the night continued, the parade seemed to have a more mourning look. The flames that tended to illuminate the road gave out strands of smoke. Serenity was added to the parade very certain that it would fulfill its obligation of keeping peace in the neighborhood. But, when a donation was refused it also went out to be threatening:
What is the use, kind sirs,
so much pomp and beauty,
if everything you have, will
be leaving behind?
Some of the people who joined the parade would usually take animal bones and would show them and hit each other with them to impress even more. Such is the Guanacaste case, where jaws of an ox are scraped together to give a crac-crac sound, which eventually gave away the rustic instrument called "La Carraca" (carrack, a percussion instrument). If the threat had no big effect on the people, another route was taken: to try and awaken human compassion:
Since I've died, I suffer
resting forgotten,
with just one donation,
you shall avoid me from being burned.
Those were other times though. No longer is there the horror in seen the dead. Even the cemeteries, has been modernized and have taken on the looks of an old English Park. Little woods and chapels make it cheerful and the chirping of the birds gives an echo of sweet orchestral melodies.
Cementeries no longer provoke painful impressions. They are quiet cities, were those who are ahead of us with no return, now rest. The thick walls of concrete do not allow the escape of the flames that made people think about the souls in shame, appealing human compassion with their prayers:
"Let God take us out of shame and take us to rest"
Life and death merge nicely. The same goes for pain and happiness, forming the same life. That is why in November, the month of memory and pain, is followed by December the month of carols and halleluiahs. Whoever conceived the calendar plan, most certainly had in mind that life and death complementing themselves in their death. On one and another the light and senses dignify them. We live to die, and maybe some day, we will convince ourselves that we die to live eternal life.
Story written by: Juan Bautista Rojas