July Ends with Calypso in Limon
Puerto Limon may have had its glory days, but its Afro-Caribbean population are unwilling to let their cultural heritage fade and decay, like its buildings.
The fourteenth annual celebration of African heritage begins on the 20th of July with lectures, storytelling, food-tasting, music and parades. Activities will be across the country, but concentrated on the Caribbean port of Limon -- which is where a large percentage of Costa Rica’s Afro-Caribbean population reside.
The final days of the celebrations will be focused on cultural activities in the historically important Black Star Line building from the 28th to 31st of August along with a parade leaving from the Parque Vargas in Limon center at 3:00 p.m.
Usually, tourists to the Caribbean resorts of Manzanillo, Puerto Viejo, Cahuita and Tortuguera give Limon a wide berth and it is only a few camera-toting cruise ship passengers that wander around the streets of Limon snapping at the colonial buildings and colorful fruit stalls. However, these celebrations remind the visitor that Limon has a history to tell to those interested in culture and roots.
The English-speaking, black population descended from Jamacian and other West Indian immigrants who came to Costa Rica to build its railway and work its banana plantations about a hundred years ago -- also joining a few small pockets of turtle hunters who had settled there earlier.
They brought their language, spicy cooking and carnival culture to this coast along with their religions and traditions. To this day, you’ll hear calypso music playing and smell jerk chicken cooking as you walk through the city. Whether you visit during the ‘Back to Roots’ festivities or the far more popular carnival in October, take a moment to see the sights of Limon yourself!
Reporting by Sara Ford
• Freelance writer for Vamos Rent-A-Car