How Nicoyans Became Tico Brothers
Guanacaste is Costa Rica’s tourist success story and its long golden beaches are filled with foreign visitors all year round. However, when Costa Rica and its Central American neighbors first gained independence from Spain, the region of Nicoya was left as an area without national identity. It had been governed during Spanish rule by both Leon and Granada, Nicaragua’s two richest and powerful colonial cities, but when independence was announced; it was supposedly a self-governing province. This gave the Nicoyans the unique position of choosing their nationality! In a process similar to a modern referendum, the Nicoyan residents voted to be Costa Rican and the rest, as they say, is history!
Or is it? Maybe it is simply a case of sour grapes, but the Nicaraguan press still harps on about the unfairness of Costa Rican’s adoption of Nicoya into their country. Articles would suggest that far from the Nicoyans freely choosing their homeland; they were intimidated into making the decision by Costa Rican forces using such tactics as burning homes! The Nicoyans though, are proud of their history. Their motto reads ‘De la patria por nuestra volutad’ or ‘Of the homeland by our own will’, as witness to the events of their patriation, rather than as resentment! Historical documents suggest that the town of Liberia was more drawn to Nicaragua, but the other two major towns of the region, Santa Cruz and Nicoya itself, had more links with Costa Rica. It would seem that Liberia simply followed the majority in the end.
Nicoya was officially recognized as part of Costa Rica on the 25th July 1824 and is an official holiday in Costa Rica in celebration of the annexation. All over the nation, school children dress in national costume and dance traditional dances from the region. Ticos have been influenced by the culture of Nicoya and the Marimba music of the region and its huge wooden xylophones are heard in every corner of the land. The 25th is a day when you can hear the Nicoyan traditional ‘bomba’, four rhyming lines of light-hearted poetry delivered in a musical pause. The ‘bomba’ is usually comical and frequently uses a twist or something a little risqué in its final line to raise a laugh from the audience. A famous example would be:
Las ramas del tamarindo the branches of the tamarind
se revolvieron con las del coco intertwine with those of the coconut
mi mamá no quiere que yo me case my mother doesn’t want me to marry
ni yo tampoco. And me neither!
The person delivering the ‘bomba’ will usually then ‘whoop’ in a distinctive fashion which is famously Guanecastecan. The region is known for its cowboys and their skills in rodeo-style bull-riding and baiting.
Presidenta Laura Chinchilla has visited the region as part of its 86th year of Tico nationality and announced plans to repair the shockingly bad road system and to bring improvements to medical care. However, it came to be part of Costa Rica; Nicoya is now clearly Tico and as proud to be so as the Ticos are to call Nicoyans their brothers!