Costa Rica is widely known for its beautiful landscapes, incredible biodiversity, and booming touristic industry. However, if you stay in a Playa Hermosa hotel, you must not ignore the traditions of the Guanacaste Province and be willing to enjoy them.
The northwest region of the country is extremely rich in culture, being one of the biggest outstanding and striking areas. Music, dance, gastronomy, and traditions, they all collide in a colorful way that everyone can enjoy, regardless of where they come from or the language they speak. Therefore, keep reading and discover how you can live and delight in them by yourself!
Delicious Guanacaste gastronomy
Corn is one of the most used ingredients in Guanacaste. There are plenty of traditional dishes and beverages made from it: guanacastecans tortillas, arroz de maíz (corn rice), tamal asado (a type of corn bread), and drinks such as pozole, chicheme, chicha pinol, and more.
In most houses, several of these recipes are cooked in clay ovens. It is also worth noting that the traditional cooking methods, which required manually grinding the white corn, now can be done more easily with machines. This, absolutely, takes nothing away from the flavor.
For tourists, the best places to enjoy these meals and drinks are Liberia, Nicoya, and Santa Cruz markets. Alternatively, if you prefer guided tours, we can help you visit a sugar mill or rancho after a two-hour trip along the Tempisque River. You will see how sugar cane is processed, do a rum tasting, and delight with a Costa Rican lunch.
Another local traditional drink is coyol wine, made from “coyoleras” or palm huts. Despite its name, it is not a wine but the fermented sap of coyol palms (Acrocomia aculeata). This beverage is quite popular in summer, from January to March, and it is a must-try. If you feel daring enough, try to prove the urban legend by yourself: it is said that after a hangover if you spent any of the next days in the sun, you will feel intoxicated again!
Curious oral traditions
If you like tongue twisters, poems, and the battle of wits, then you will enjoy the bombas and retahilas. Even if you do not know Spanish, you will delight yourself watching locals shout “¡Bomba!” in the middle of a festival to stop the music and recite these four-line poems.
The retahilas or ensaladas are a succession of couplets that can have meaning or not. If you are tempted to a challenge, try to learn by heart any of them! In Guanacaste, both retahilas and bombas are already written, so you will only need to focus on memorizing the pronunciation.
Music and dance folklore
During festivals, you will appreciate the folk music, where the marimba tunes of the Punto Guanacasteco are played. Most songs tell a story, and the couples dance “sueltos” (without holding each other) with steps that seem like little jumps. Women wear white blouses with long multicolored skirts, while men dress in a white ensemble of hats, long-sleeve shirts, and pants with colorful sashes.
You may hear the traditional “¡Weepeepia!” shout, which comes from folk dancers asking for coconut water (¡agua de pipa!) during performances. Today, you will also find it during bullfights, rodeos, and similar events since this expression has become a Guanacastecan expression of joy.
What about holidays?
Costa Rica is a country with a rich Catholic tradition, which means Patron Saint’s Days are huge celebrations. During them, you will see masses, processions, cattle exhibits, bull riding, and horse parades. As you may expect, Holy Week (Easter) is the most important festivity during the year.
If you happen to be in the country during Good Friday, visit the town of Ortega in Santa Bárbara de Santa Cruz, where an activity called “la Lagarteada” takes place. The residents visit the Tempisque River to capture and take a crocodrile to town. The animal is not hurt but released the next day after the festivals, where people celebrate with music, shows, and meals.
The most important holiday in Guanacaste, however, is on July 25 during the celebration of the Annexation of Guanacaste. On this day, you can expect concerts and cultural events, bull riding, and horse and cattle shows in the districts of Nicoya and Liberia.
There is a lot to see and enjoy in Costa Rica. At the Blue Zone Resort, we aim to make your experience as complete as possible. Do not wait more and live an unforgettable adventure being in contact with the traditions of the Guanacaste culture!