La Anexión de Guanacaste!
Guanacaste is one of seven provinces in Costa Rica that offers gorgeous beaches, national parks, volcanoes, & more. This year marks the 195th anniversary of the annexation from Nicaragua.
On July 25, Costa Rica celebrates one of our favorite holidays: Guanacaste Day! This holiday’s Spanish name, La Anexión de Guanacaste, explains what the day commemorates–the day the province of Guanacaste officially became part of Costa Rica.
What was is part of before? Well, nothing. During Central America’s colonial period, it was not divided into the countries that we know today, but into territories, all governed by different officials in Spain. When independence from the Spanish crown was granted to Central America in 1821, territories began forming partnerships and countries took shape. To the north of Guanacaste, this small peninsula that we know and love today as the home of Costa Rica’s best beaches, had 3 main municipalities at the time: Nicoya, Santa Cruz and Liberia (which was called Guanacaste and which eventually gave the province its name). To the north of the peninsula, territories united to form Nicaragua. To the east of the peninsula, territories united to form Costa Rica. In 1824, Guanacaste’s municipality voted and the majority voted to become part of Costa Rica.
Guanacaste and Costa Rica are lucky to have each other! It’s been a match made in heaven. Costa Rica has been good for Guanacaste because of the peace and political stability it has enjoyed. Guanacaste, although it didn’t have much impact in the early years of this happy marriage, has exploded in importance to Costa Rica in the last 40 years as tourism has shifted into the spot of Costa Rica’s # 1 breadwinner. Guanacaste’s beaches, the waterfalls, the volcanos, the national parks that have been created, and the vibrant nature everywhere you look bring thousands of visitors to Costa Rica every year.
The province is also a producer of rice, sugar, livestock & more. The Ticos from this province are called Guanacestcos which are countrymen and woman that are known for their local dishes cooked in large clay ovens such as; rosquillas, pozole, cajetas, tamal asado, arroz de mais and more. They work on their fields herding cattle, growing crops and more. The folk music is a key part of their culture with famous songs such as “Punto Guanacasteco” which is played at festivals, topes, bullfights and more.
All of Costa Rica celebrates Guanacaste Day, but of course, it’s a favorite in Guanacaste! Schools, banks, and government offices are all closed on Guanacaste Day, and almost every town in Guanacaste–from the largest to the smallest–holds some type of celebration. Traditional foods like tamales are prepared in giant cauldrons over open fires, cheerful marimba music is played on street corners, and bull riding entertains the crowds. Traditional dance troupes of all ages in white outfits with multicolored scarves perform the traditional dances of Guanacates, with wide skirts swooshing and cowboy hats tossed in the air.
As Guanacaste Day fades into night, plenty of beer, guaro, and rum are flowing. Every town that holds a festival hooks up the speakers and the dancing starts! What’s not to love about a celebration day like this?
Speaking of Guanacaste, have you noticed that the word doesn’t sound very Spanish like “Costa Rica”, “Tamarindo”, and “Pura Vida”? That’s because it’s not Spanish. The word “Guanacaste” is a Nahuatl word (think Aztec)that refers to a type of tree. Guanacaste trees grow throughout Costa Rica’s dry forest regions–especially in…Guanacaste!
Guanacaste trees are everyone’s favorite shade tree as they can grow to a tremendous size. They’re the ones you see notice dotting the pastures on your ride from the Liberia airport to Tamarindo.
“Guanacaste” means “tree with ears.” So what’s that all about? The seed pods of the Guanacaste tree resemble ears. These pods emerge in the dry season while most of the tree’s leaves are down, giving these giant trees the appearance of being hung full of ears as if they were ornaments. Indigenous cultures used Guanacaste seeds for food and also to make soap, but that’s ancient history. Today in Tamarindo you can find earrings, necklaces, and other jewelry or decorations made of the beautiful variegated seeds.
So enjoy today & celebrate the beauty Guanacaste has to offer. We are lucky to have this gorgeous province part of Costa Rica! Contact us for more information on local celebrations and more!