Growing up half Costa Rican had its perks. My father and his family are from San José, Costa Rica, so I was able to enjoy the traditions and cultural history of this beautiful country along with my Mexican roots. Below are nine things that everyone who grew up Costa Rican can definitely relate to and share stories on.
One of the most popular and well known expressions known to Costa Rica is “Pura Vida” which means “pure life.” More than anything it’s the way of life in Costa Rica. Such a beautiful country with amazing views and beaches. Simplicity at its best. A term also used in Costa Rica to greet others and bid farewell.
When in Costa Rica do as the Costa Ricans do, enjoy life and forget about all your worries for a while. Imagine being there and throwing your hands up in the air as you stand admiring the ocean while yelling “Pura Vida!”
If you’re from Costa Rica you’re definitely proud of being called a Tico or Tica. A Tico is a Costa Rican man, and a Tica is referred to as a Costa Rican female. These are the endearing names associated with anyone who has Costa Rican roots. “Oye usted es Tico, un placer conocerte!” A phrase I heard quite often from my papí whenever he came across someone else from Costa Rica.
La Carreta – “The Oxcart”
Pretty much all Costa Rican households have a Costa Rican carreta (oxcart) as a decoration in one room. Colorful objects symbolizing the rich history of Costa Rican transportation at one time. “It was designated the National Labor Symbol on March 22nd, 1988.”
Although, used throughout Central America, the Costa Rican oxcart is unique due to the various patterns, colors, flowers, and animals that are painted on. No two are the same. Each one is unique in its own style and decoration.
Probably my most favorite thing to talk about Costa Rica is the delicious recipes and traditional meals. A Casado or “married man” is a marriage of sorts of a few favorite foods shared together on one plate to create a beautiful union of a meal.
A traditional casado includes an entrée with chicken, beef or fish, white or Spanish rice, black beans, a salad, and plantains. My tía Letty makes the best mixture of these dishes for a Casado that will leave you wanting more. She usually adds “arroz con pollo” or “carne en rodajas en salsa” as the entrée. I can taste it now!
Costa Rican Tamales
A traditional food during the holiday season to serve up are Costa Rican Tamales. You could say they are Mexican Tamales gone wild! Wrapped in green banana leaves spread with masa and filled with chicken, vegetables, potatoes, rice, and then tied with a string. The presentation is just beautiful, and you feel as if you are about to open the most delicious gift. They are so good you just can’t have one.
A great recipe can be found at costa-rica-guide.com, but my tía Letty makes the best!
Costa Rican Churchill Postre
According to my cousin and dad, the Churchill Postre is a staple among Costa Rican desserts. It is the standard go-to typical snack of Costa Rica made various ways, but each delicious in its own rite. A mixture of fruit such as pineapples, strawberries, apples, mixed in with condensed milk, flavored syrup, ice, and some even add ice cream.
“Although the Churchill is a Puntarenas institution, other coastal areas have their own versions. In Puntarenas, there is even a “Churchill Coloso” or colossal Churchill with scoops of ice cream and the works,” shared The Tico Times. All children, including my dad, grew up enjoying this delicious concoction. Sort of like a shake married a snow cone and created this refreshing desert.
Costa Rican Coffee
Tico’s swear by it. By far one of the most flavorful and favorite coffee blends around the world. I’ve even seen restaurants offer varieties of it, along with grocery stores, but none compare to an original bag straight from Costa Rica ready to brew up in your coffee pot.
My favorite is the Costa Rican Tarrazu. It is a smooth, sweet blend with a subtle hint of chocolate amid citrus flavor. That aroma just inspires memories of Costa Rica with each sip you take.
Almost everyone I talk to from Costa Rica grew up having a parrot as a pet. My abuelita had a beautiful one we called “La Lora” who repeated everything you said. Some of my favorite memories of her house include that crazy bird.
In Costa Rica, macaws and toucans are some of the most beautiful species of birds to be fortunate to come across.
According to CostaRica.com, “of the 42 toucan species in Latin America, six are found in the lowlands and rainforests of Costa Rica. These flashy, colorful birds are among the most recognizable in Central America, thanks in part to their trademark bill.”
Festival de las Luces
You know the Christmas holidays are here when the Festival de las Luces kicks off a month long celebration in December. There’s more lights than you can imagine illuminating the city of San Jose.
Celebrated the first week of December with fireworks, concerts, and memories to pass down generation after generation of the beauty of Costa Rica at Christmas time.