Monday, October 29, 2012
Kids Saving The Rainforest, a not for profit Costa Rican organization and US non profit 501 C 3, was founded 13 years ago with the Monkey Bridge Program, and later expanded by an overwhelming community need to include an Animal Rescue Center for the Quepos and Manuel Antonio area.
Founded by two young girls who recognized the need to help the local wildlife as tourism developments began to effect their natural habitat, this will be Kids Saving the Rainforest first fundraiser since it was founded. Accustomed to bringing in enough proceeds for the Rescue Center through their own souvenir shop, with the downturn in the economy, this badly needed facility would have been forced to close it's doors if they couldn’t raise enough money to cover their monthly expenses. Now granted, the $5000 raised is only a temporary solution, but is gave KSTR some temporary breathing room to brainstorm more ways to help make the center self sustaining. Along with that, the added exposure of the Center's needs, has resulted in a substantial interest in participating in their volunteer programs, as well as increasing the number of paying visitor to their daily animal feeding tours.
As mentioned in our last KSTR post on this blog, "A full time resident vet, animal caretaker, volunteers and a guard
all live on the property helping to rehab the many injured or confiscated animals. Unfortunately, this comes with a certain fixed cost, not to mention the food, maintenance, vet supplies and numerous other items required to care for a variety of exotic animals.", laments rescue center coordinator Jennifer Rice. "The rescue center is the only legal facility in the Central Pacific area, and is a very necessary part of our community." adds Ms. Rice.
All injured wild animals are brought by the community or by MINAET, the government entity in charge of overseeing the National Park system. At present there are some 55 different animals being treated to include exotic birds, 4 species of monkeys, 2 species of sloths, armadillos, agoutis, coati mundis, marmesets, timirins, and other exotic wildlife. Most are eventually re-released in the wild, though some are beyond rehabilitation and must stay permanently at the rescue facility.
“Saving injured wildlife is an integral part of living in this area.” says Kimberly
Barron, Director of Marketing at Hotel Byblos. “This was not just a feel good fundraiser; these beautiful animals are one of the main attractions for tourism in our area. Local Manuel Antonio hotels and tourism operations that depend on National and International visitors cannot afford to ignore the need for a full service animal rescue center, and we are impressed that the community stepped up for the occasion. With the increase in awareness tours of the facility to area visitors, the rescue center's continued operation is a win win for all concerned and we are very excited about it's future if we can continue to keep the word out there.” adds Ms. Barron.
This fundraiser was just one step in the overall animal rescue plan for the Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica area, and with ongoing corporate and social responsibility programs of tourism operations
www.bybloshotelcostarica.com, not only will the local wildlife benefit, but the local tourist economy as well. If you would like to help, it’s easy by shopping at the Kids Saving the Rainforest souvenir store located at Hotel Mono Azul. All proceeds go directly to saving the rainforest and the endangered animals of our area. For more information about how you can make a donation please call 506-2777-2592 or you can donate directly by clicking on the Kids Saving the Rainforest donation page.
Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and Hotel Makanda by the Sea.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Hours: All hours!!
If you are presently on vacation in Costa Rica, or planning to make your getaway soon, Costa Rica's port town of Limón on the Caribbean side of the country, converts to an all out party every October to celebrate “Carnaval”! Vaguely disguised around celebrating Columbus Day (October 12th) or “Dia de Las Culturas” (as we know it in Costa Rica), locals as well as every strange character you can think of join together in the overconsumption of alcohol, while dancing and parading the streets of Limon to the popular Latin beats of blaring Calypso, Reggae, Samba, Salsa and many other tropical rhythms! A good time is generally guaranteed, all in the name of history, culture and a legitimately good reason to Party!
Background of Limon:
Limon (Spanish for Lemon) is the largest “city” on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, as well as the center for Costa Rica’s largest commercial shipping port in nearby Moin. Serving as the capital city of the Limon Province, Christopher Columbus set anchor in 1502. It is said that Limon was named after the large lemon tree that used to grow where the City Hall is now located, but that rumor has not substantiated over the years.
Also known at the Pearl of the Caribbean, Limon is an exotic province characterized by the friendly openness of its culturally diverse population, as well as the richness of its Afro-Caribbean customs.
Limon’s economy is based primarily on banana, cacao and pineapple production and exportation, as well as the raising of cattle, though the yearly cruise ship season brings a large influx of tourism to the area. Considered to have the largest population of black people in all of Costa Rica, the Afro-Caribbean culture derives from mostly Jamaican descent. Originally brought to this area as slaves to build the railway connecting the Atlantic coastline with the Central Plateau (San Jose) for the shipping of goods by land, a large Chinese immigrant population also remains from this same ambitious project.
Highlights of “Carnaval”:
The first Carnaval (that is the correct spelling for Costa Rica), was held in 1949 and was the brainchild of the late Alfred Henry King and friends, who felt it was a good opportunity to unite the Costa Rican culture (originally descendents from Spain) together with the primarily black Caribbean Culture (mostly African, Caribbean and Chinese descendents), which had suffered strained relationships throughout Costa Rican history. In just over 60 years, the Carnavales de Limon is now considered the most popular Festival in the entire country. It’s interesting that Costa Rica does not celebrate Columbus arriving to “America”; it celebrates the uniting of cultures. Pretty forward thinking!
During Carnaval, throngs of people line the streets to watch and cheer on the “beauty queens”, loud marching bands, and to see the brightly colored costumes of the “Comparsas”. Colorfully dressed and adorned coordinated dance troupes, the Comparsas wildly and skillfully shake their booties (booties of ALL ages and ALL sizes!!)to the loud tropical beats of mostly Brazilian Samba & Latin Salsa for miles and miles. It is quite a loud drum banging, hip swinging, cuchi cuchi type show, worth the 2.5 hour drive from San Jose!
My own Adventures at Carnaval:
Having lived on the Caribbean coast for 10 years, I have had the pleasure to personally attend Carnaval. Beyond the great live music throughout the 10 days of the event, one of my favorite parts (and there are many) is the Carnaval Infantil (Children’s Parade). Large macho men run around wearing large “muumuu” style dresses with HUGE handcrafted masks on their heads (see picture).
The “Mascaradas” as they are known, consist of men who play a game known as “Rass’em”. The lucky guy wearing the large mask (check out the peep hole in the picture, so they can see where they are going) chases the other men in the group, and when he is caught, the next guy has to put on the mask and dress and start parading around. A pretty amazing sight for this “macho” society, and really quite entertaining, if not a little creepy!
At night, the Limón Carnaval really comes to life! It’s like an enormous block party with everything located outside in the warm tropical air, just like a county fair, only A LOT crazier!! Rows and rows of booths (or “chinamos” as they are called here) of food, drink, handicrafts, local delicacies (more on those later), and dance floors dot the area and there are always people dancing in the streets (literally)! I personally love the Reggae music coming out of houses, offices and every corner of the city, that is my kind of music “mon”. My biggest challenge is trying to understand the Jamaican Creole dialect. I speak English and am fluent in Spanish, fortunately so are most of the inhabitants of Limon, as otherwise, I would be at a loss for much of what they are saying in their unique dialect. Whoppin? (What’s happening?) Watcha got? (What time is it?) Just a few examples that caused initial confusion on my part, but now seem a natural part of conversation!
The Food of Limon:
Visitors have not had the full Limon experience and definitely not the Carnaval experience without trying some true, authentic Caribbean style food. First and foremost, you must try the “Rice and Beans”. This is not your everyday “gallo pinto”, though it does look the part. This “rice and beans” is made with coconut milk, and if you are really lucky, has a touch of the super hot Panamanian Chilies thrown in for a surprise kick. Some other favorites of the area are the ubiquitous “Pan Bon”, similar ”cajeta”. A delicious coconut candy with the texture of very firm fudge, this candy can be found sold on almost every street corner, store, bus stop or “chinamo” throughout the City. (I have some stashed in my refrigerator right now.)
If you haven’t had the good fortune to visit the Province of Limon during your Costa Rica vacation, it’s not just about the beaches to the South, or the endangered Marine Turtles to the North! The actual City of Limon is worth a visit, and I can’t think of a better or more exciting time to visit the area then during the yearly celebration of Carnaval!
Author: Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and Hotel Makanda by the Sea.
http://www.insiderslimon.com/CH1Page.html (Photo & Audio credits, please support their cause!)