Beauty with a twist

sunset-2331736_1280I was looking forward to my much-needed vacation in Costa Rica in Central America. We had planned an itinerary which would allow us to visit different parts of the country.  There was so much more to see as we investigate the possibility of moving here when we reach retirement age.

Costa Rica

This country is beautiful with its exotic flowers, waterfalls and white and black sand beaches.  It has rugged terrain, volcanoes, and rainforests which is home to many animals. We arrived in San Jose and stayed at a hotel called the Barceló which I would recommend for its  view of the mountains, tropical gardens and great customer service. My husband and I have stayed here before and they are always more than willing to make your stay with them as comfortable as possible. Costa Rica is also known for its gourmet coffee beans considered among the finest in the world. I couldn’t wait to enjoy a cup at the Barcelos free breakfast buffet.

After leaving the hotel in San Jose, we traveled with some family and friends to places like Guancaste, Puerto Limon, and Cahuita. We saw volcanoes, waterfalls and bathed in   natural hot water springs. There is also a nice hotel near the volcano called the Baldi with several layers of hot water springs which is a must if you ever visit Costa Rica. You will not be disappointed.

20170806_121625We stopped in Liberia and went fishing where I actually caught my first fish.  We saw a monkey as we stood on the beach going through the trees. We tried to get his attention and took some pictures. As we stood near the water, the same monkey saw our stuff on the log, came down from the tree with a group of his friends in order to grab our things. Luckily, we got to it just in time. That was one of the many highlights on my vacation.

20170813_201152Our next stop was Quepos where we experienced an outdoor market which featured fresh fruits, vegetables and souvenirs for tourists. The Beaches in Manuel Antonio near Quepos were very relaxing and the rough waters did not deter us from taking several dips. I was dying to take a chance ziplining across the landscape but maybe on my next trip to this beautiful country.

Silent Racism

I like to write about the good bad and ugly in life because that’s reality. You can’t have one without the other. There is no time like the present to express my thoughts about the racism which exists everywhere in our world. Costa Rica is not different in that regard because it’s simply glossed over or ignored. Voted as one of the best places for retirement, a tropical paradise, environmentally conscious Costa Rica has its share of problems like any other country.

I am an African-American woman with a Caribbean heritage. I like to observe various aspects of life no matter what country I visit. My husband speaks fluent spanish and therefore he was able to communicate with anyone he came in contact with. On several occasions as we got into a cab, during their conversation, the word Limon would be spoken by the cabby.  I do not speak the Language but I understood why they assumed he lived in Limon.  A Little annoyed, my curiosity got the best of me so I began to dig deeper.

Costa Rica has four small minority groups which are Blacks, mulattoes, Amerindians and Asians. About 8% of the population is of black African decent from 19th century Black Jamaicans. They are considered Afro-Costa Ricans. I understand it’s a small minority of the entire population. But a country which boasts of a high literacy rate, why haven’t these minorities assimilated more into the major population?

Does all black people live and work in Limon?

Why does every cabby assume we come from Limon? Is this a segregated country? While driving through different areas, I couldn’t help but notice very few Blacks in professional jobs or casually sitting enjoying the beaches or restaurants on the pacific side of the country. So I began to look at this issue a little more closely.

Puerto Limon

Limon is closer to the Caribbean Sea and considered one of the most pristine and lush regions of Costa Rica. It’s a very busy port town shipping products like bananas to different countries and welcomes hundreds of cruise ships each year. Limon is also one of the country’s most geographically diverse regions and features everything from mangrove wetlands to towering mountains.This province also has white-sand beaches which are lined with coconut trees. In spite of this, Limon remains as one of the least traveled regions in Costa Rica, allowing for exploration of untouched prehistoric rainforests and unmatched beauty compared with the rest of the country.

Many Afro Costa Ricans have made there homes here and continue to raise their families in the Caribbean culture. The minority population who live here are marginalized due to underlying racism. The Politicians have invested very little on this side of the country. Limon is considered off the beaten path and usually not recommended for Tourists. There are not many jobs here due to the lack of investment. However jobs like dock hands, truck drivers, and cargo hauler are few and far in between. What are the options for those who complete their education?

As I drove around the country I saw a considerable amount of investment on the pacific side. New roads, new shops and restaurants like Crate and Barrel, Starbucks P.F. Chang and more. Fast foods like Quiznos, Subways, Kentucky Fried Chicken, even McDonald’s has made its home here. There are large malls featuring all kinds of designer shoes and clothing. Yes, they even have food courts with Asian, American and Costa Rican cusine. Yet in Limon, very little investment is focused on this side of the country. In my opinion, that’s why I consider it silent racism because this exists in some capacity everywhere, even in the United States.

This country is clearly segregated with the majority of blacks living primarily on one side of the country which is underdeveloped and neglected. Our Taxi driver assumed we were from Limon because he knows that’s where black people primarily live. Although I can honestly admit a lack of knowledge about the politics of Costa Rica and why things are the way it is, there is clearly a disparity between the two sides of this country.

The struggle of Blacks in this country is very similar to other South American countries. I have not been treated unfairly here due to the color of my skin however I couldn’t help but look into the matter of race. Limon was the clincher and if I am considering Costa Rica as a possibility for my future home, all aspects of this country needed to be explored. An interesting article to read although written years is by a lady named Rosebell.

https://rosebellkagumire.com/2010/02/19/costa-rica-democracy-and-why-it-doesnt-mean-much-for-black-people-here/ . She goes a little more in-depth as to the problems and I’m not sure if much has changed based on my observations.

Race is a Factor all over the world even in a democratic country like Costa Rica. I hope the government will implement policies to change discrimination practices which marginalize minorities in their communities.

Costa Rica is  indeed a beautiful country and has the opportunity to make some much-needed changes in order to make their country more inclusive for all their inhabitants. We are living in a world that can only move forward when we become more accepting of others regardless of race or ethnicity.