September 8, 1502 Christopher Columbus arrived on the Atlantic Coast of Costa Rica near the present city of Limon. The native Indians greeted the Spaniards with interest and brought them cotton cloth, gold pendants as well as weapons-clubs, bows and arrows. The Indians wore gold mirrors around their necks. The Spaniards were impressed because they were in quest of gold to take back to Spain. Columbus named the newly discovered land Costa Rica which means rich coast.
Costa Rica was not to be ” a jewel in Spain’s crown” because the Spaniards found very little gold. The terrain was mountainous with impenetrable rainforest and raging rivers. Also the Spaniards encountered many diseases and a shortage of food. The Spanish settlers had a very hard time surviving and were reduced to living like the savages they encountered. Groups of Indians with diverse languages and cultures lived throughout the jungles in small chiefdoms and were mostly agricultural people.
It took sixty years from the time Columbus arrived to Limon until the first Spanish settlement was established in Costa Rica. King Ferdinand of Spain continued to send settlers to this new land. Their first small settlement was named Catago and it became Costa Rica’s first capital. As time passed many more settlements were established. Gradually these Spaniards longed to be independent from Spain and form their own self rule. On September 15, 1821 this came to pass and the Costa Rican people declared their independence from the faltering Spanish Empire, and began the process of nation building.
Today September 15, 2015, Costa Rica’s celebrates 194 years of independence. Festivities are happening in each small village. There are horse parades and children’s marching bands. People dress in red, white, and blue-the national colors of Costa Rica and dance to the music of the marimba. A big event is the parade of Lanterns (desfile de faroles). These Lanterns are hand made by the school children and each lantern depicts something very typical and special in the life of the Costa Rican child. Here are some photos. I want to give credit to Alberto Font, photographer for the Tico Times who captured these children thru the lens of his. of his camera. Costa Rica Vacation planning by Ann: visit her web site www.costaricalearn.com