Cahuita, Costa Rica

Dreadlocked Costa Rica

Welcome to Cahuita
Verdant and colorful billboard promotes a series of businesses and attractions of Praia Negra de Cahuita.
Punta Cahuita
Aerial view of the Cahuita Peninsula, the most popular stretch of the eponymous park.
twilight at 2
Couple share the end-of-day beauty of Round Rock Beach.
Almost Private Caribbean
Visitor at the entrance to PN Cahuita
Plaza Cahuita
Scene from the life of the central square of the pueblo de Cahuita.
Anchoring for Leisure
Owner of a tour boat, anchored in Punta Cahuita in the homonymous national park.
Hermit on Pilgrimage
A hermit walks along a long fallen trunk of PN Cahuita.
Scene from the life of the central square of the pueblo de Cahuita.
Raccoon (mapache)
Guaxini in search of snacks approaches the beach of PN Cahuita.
coconut only
Coconut palm on a coral sand in Punta Cahuita.
Pelican Squad
Pelicans in formation fly over PN Cahuita.
good head game
Couple trains football on the dark sandy beach of Playa Negra.
Caribbean view
Couple enjoys the rough Caribbean Sea as night falls over Cahuita.
bathing football
A resident of Cahuita on a break from her beach soccer training.
Traveling through Central America, we explore a Costa Rican coastline as much as the Caribbean. In Cahuita, Pura Vida is inspired by an eccentric faith in Jah and a maddening devotion to cannabis.

Even under the scorching mid-afternoon sun, the walk along the dense coconut forest and successive dips in the Caribbean Sea gave us an intense tropical rejoicing.

We were prepared to extend it for several kilometers were it not for that place, without any dispute, one of the most sedatives on the face of the Earth, had surprises in store for us.

As is common all along the coast of Costa Rica, both the Pacific and the Caribbean, we could hear the expansive howling of howler monkeys.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean, howler monkey

One of Cahuita's many howler monkeys justifies the name out loud.

From time to time, we spotted one or two more curious specimens hanging from the treetops.

It wouldn't be the first time – in this same Central American tour – that one of these furry primates would try to assault us.

Accordingly, we left our clothes and backpacks at the water's edge.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean, Capuchin monkey

Capuchin monkey interrupts traffic on a bridge on the PN Cahuita.

We approached a river named Suárez and its confluence with a stream they called Kelly.

The rains had been sparse in the past few weeks.

The flow remained barred by the high edge of the sand near a small mouth.

We skirted the small muddy pool. We prepare to enter the even wilder domain of Cahuita National Park when a gust of bloodthirsty mosquitoes attacks us mercilessly.

In affliction, we ran off, let go of what we were carrying and headed for the most obvious refuge from the sea.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean, bathing in the Caribbean Sea

Visitor at the entrance to PN Cahuita

Mosquitoes abandon the chase. They leave us, on the surface of the skin, a destruction, barely visible at once, but which spread with each beat of the racing hearts.

We felt the irritation spread. With no idea of ​​how serious it could become, we decided to cut short the return to the village.

By the end of that afternoon, the inevitable drools had turned to a vast itchy redness.

A Rasta Healer

We come across a native armed with a machete that recognizes the misfortune so common in white-skinned visitors. Talk here, talk there, entices us with a quick relief from suffering.

"I see they caught you well, those bastards!" he throws at us in greeting. The guy has the typical cavernous voice ragga that resonates through the Caribbean domains that European settlers once populated with slaves. “Don't you dare scratch. If you like, I'll explain to you how you can get rid of it.”

Despite the somewhat suspicious look of the interlocutor with long dreadlocks and dark glasses, we are willing to hear what he has to divulge. “Alright, I save you. Just tell me how much you think I deserve for the good deed and I'll deal with you now”.

The discomfort of the itch, the uncertainty that we might be dealing with both an opportunistic charlatan and a providential healer, makes us even more uncomfortable.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean, bodyboarder

Bodyboarder leaves the Caribbean Sea off Cahuita.

And it is in this precariousness of spirit that we decided to put our faith in the cavernous and somewhat hallucinated speech of the Afro-Caribbean. We gave him 4000 colones (about €6) for his hand and we were left to see where he was taking us.

The man kisses the half-curled notes in a mixture of gratitude and superstition. Take five or six steps and pull a bunch of herbs from the opposite side of the road. “Forget the pharmacies there. I assure you that this is the best medicine!”. Soon, he is quick to exemplify the treatment.

Group the herbs into a convenient small piece. Pick a coconut from a lower coconut tree.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean, terrace overlooking the Caribbean Sea, coconut tree only

Coconut palm on a coral sand in Punta Cahuita.

Cut it in half in a single blow of the machete. Then, wet the sap with coconut water, squeeze it with all your strength and spread the reinforced sap over your arms and shoulders. “That's all you have to do.

I'll catch you some more so you can repeat. You don't always have to mix coconut water, tap water will also do. They'll see how it disappears in an instant.”

After a few minutes, the softening effect of the mezinha was already obvious. We were unreservedly grateful for that sorcerer's thunderous but effective intervention.

The Chinese Minority and the Indian and Afro Origins of Cahuita

We returned to the family inn where we had stayed. We went back out to do some occasional shopping in one of the grocery stores that dotted the dirt road that was the center of the village.

Welcome to Cahuita

Verdant and colorful billboard promotes a series of businesses and attractions of Praia Negra de Cahuita.

We entered three of them in search of refrigerated products.

We soon realized that all those cluttered businesses belonged to Chinese families that the villagers got used to calling simply “The Chinese”.

Another minority that, despite being more elusive, resists once formed the exclusive population of this region.

The pre-Columbian inhabitants of Cahuita and surroundings were the Bribrí and Cabécar Indians. Today, more or less acculturated communities subsist on two or three of the few indigenous reservations in Central America.

It is a given that Christopher Columbus even anchored in the vicinity of Puerto Limón.

Faced with the insurmountable density of the Caribbean jungle, both he and subsequent Hispanic discoverers chose to explore the area from the Pacific Ocean.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean, boat in Punta Cahuita

Owner of a tour boat, anchored in Punta Cahuita in the homonymous national park.

For this reason, the Indians remained isolated until almost the turn of the 1870th century. Around XNUMX, Minor Keath, an American businessman, took over the construction of a railway between the capital San José and Puerto Limón.

Its purpose was to transport the coffee produced in the central valleys of Costa Rica to Europe.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean,

Aerial view of the Cahuita Peninsula, the most popular stretch of the eponymous park.

The Growing of Coffee and Bananas and the Introduction of Slaves in the Caribbean of Costa Rica

Thousands of new settlers were recruited from the West Indies, particularly Jamaica, and the China, charged with carrying out the project. Many of them succumbed to work accidents, malaria, yellow fever, dysentery and a whole panoply of other tropical diseases.

Once the railroad was completed, competition from other stops in the export of coffee and the reduced number of passengers made the line commercially unviable.

Until the tycoon launched into banana production. He did it in such a way that he soon took over the American market for that fruit.

The Afro-Cahuitensians we come across and with whom we live are the descendants of the labor force of these initiatives, who have long been held back in the region by poverty and natural isolation.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean, by quad bike

Friends walk along the unpaved road along Playa Negra.

Another day passes. We give ourselves to new walks.

An Afro-Rastafarian Football

We explored the volcanic beach Negra and neighboring Blanca. We follow the Perezoso river trail facing the wide coral reef that surrounds Punta Cahuita.

We also ventured through Playa Vargas. There, faced with the rapid sunset, we reversed gears.

We return to the heart of the village with an unplanned passage through a grass in front of Playa Negra where a football match is about to start.

We installed ourselves next to an expectant third team and got our legs back.

the core of Bob Marleys footballers are torn between smoking marijuana and pretending to warm up for the match.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean, terrace overlooking the Caribbean Sea, head game

Couple trains football on the dark sandy beach of Playa Negra.

Nor do they resist approaching outsiders. With us starting the conversation, they end up showing a strong pride in their remote origins.

“Here in Cahuita, we are all Smiths. One of them is even more extroverted than the rest.

Long before all these stories about the railroad and bananas, an Afro-Caribbean hunter named Will Smith who lived in the Bocas del Toro (now Panama) area followed the migration of the turtles.

He ended up settling here with his family and a few others. That's why there are so many businesses around here called anything Smith. It's not just that the name is popular.

Well, it's us playing. This weed made me want to tear them apart."

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean, terrace overlooking the Caribbean Sea, football player

A resident of Cahuita on a break from her beach soccer training.



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