Costa Rica is a beautiful small country, which has a lot to offer. In the 16th century it was called the "rich coast", because the local natives had a lot of jade and gold. Nowadays, that we are capable to appreciate also other things – not just money –, we can see, that Costa Rica is extremely rich with natural beauty, volcanoes, magical beaches, and diverse fauna. Its wealth is also a folk tradition.
Some tribes always lived there and some came there from the North, because they escaped bad luck in their own land. Until 1000 AD all of the tribes lived nomadic life as they migrated when they exhausted surrounding natural resources, but than almost every tribe steadied and stop moving. They became farmers and stockbreeders. They began to cultivate certain simple crops and animals were domesticated. Small tribes were connected to each other only because of the trading, of mutual necessities, and rare conflicts.
Oral traditions have been preserved from generation to generation, which in turn gave birth to many legends and myths, still living today.
Animals and supernatural
Initially, supernatural was limited to animals and their inborn power. Shamans sometimes interpreted the dreams of the villagers by explaining the symbolic value of some animals that the people dreamed. It is still known today, that if you dream a vulture, it is likely that your body is hosting a parasite, if a child dreams of a parrot, (s)he could become a healer or a doctor.
Pregnant women often did not dare defy the myths; therefore they hid the foot of the water opossum in their hut, so the child would be a good fisherman. Same thing could be done with legs of many other mountain, sea or forest animals and the future of the child would look brighter.
If you visit Costa Rica, you will surely visit at least one national park, rich with varied fauna. Ask your guide to reveal you his favourite legend.
Men, be afraid!
But the Costa Rican myths and legends are not only about animals, but also mythical creatures such as goblins, witches and strange creatures, like La Cegua, beautiful woman who can kill hunters with impure thoughts. One of the most famous Costa Rican legend says that La Cegua initially takes her time by the lake, where she combs her hair with a golden comb, and then awaits her prey with long curls, dark eyes and enviable stature. She greets horseback riding hunters along the road, where there are a lot of trees and bushes.
Sometimes they notice her because of her wonderful singing, and sometimes they feel sorry for her because this beautiful lady looks tired and in need of help. Hunters are always happy to offer her a ride. Not until then they notice that the girl does not have a woman's face, but a horse's skull and fire in her dark eyes.
If the horsemen had impure thoughts taking her with him, she kills him with a kiss, and if his help was selfless, than she let him live, so he can continue the legend and warn the living.
Children should not be left alone, or Duendes will get them
Unusual creatures that often take part in the Costa Rican legends are “Duendes” - fairy- or goblin-like mythological creatures.
The human imagination has always seen something where there is nothing. Or so we like to tell ourselves. Elves and goblins are generally considered to be of unobtrusive colours so that they can blend into their surroundings. In addition, they may appear and disappear anywhere in the blink of an eye.
Superstitions with the help of goblins often warn the parents not to leave children alone since then can be found by a goblin and it will lure a child into the woods. There a child can be pinched until it begins to cry.
Bot don’t worry. Sometimes goblins and dwarfs take care of children that got lost. They delight them with sweets and addressing them by a nickname that their mother gave them. That’s why children trust them and follow them to the home door.
No matter how many days you will be in Costa Rica, take one day for getting to know the locals. Go into town and talk with them and ask them to reveal their favourite legends.
What if you two meet?
Most definitely you will hear about Zereta the witch, which turned the whole town of Aserri into stone and residents in wild animals, because the local governor did not love her as she was in love with him.
If you encounter a small, chubby lady with two black braids, black eyes and zippy eyebrows, you rather be nice to her. Just in case. Perhaps, though, she’ll have mercy on your financial problems and give you a fruit basket, like she – according to the legend –often did, if she took pity of the poor soul she met. When one brought their basket home, it would be transformed into a pile of gold.
So, if you ever visit Costa Rica, have a good heart and pure thoughts, and you wont leave your child unattended, we are sure that you’ll have a perfect holiday! ;)
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