Liberia, Costa Rica; Day 9

Today wasn’t a school day so we packed a picnic lunch and headed out for new adventures. We visited a historic location in the Guanacasta province in the Santa Rosa National Park.

This National Park has two important components. One, it protects a unique ecosystem which is considered a ‘dry’ tropical forest (bosque tropical seco). This area hosts plants and animals found no where else on Earth. We did some short hikes and saw lizards/iguanas, a cave with bats, some unusual mushrooms, several beautiful blue and black butterflies and lots and lots of trees. It was interesting, hot and incredibly humid. The forest might be dry – but we were not.

The second aspect of the park is an important historical site. We visited the Hacienda Santa Rosa which was originally as a cattle ranch built by Juan Antonio Santos in the 18th century.

Costa Ricans remember this location as the place where their national army fought a battle in the 19th century to maintain independence from a United States mercenary named William Walker. He was intending to establish control over several Central American countries including Nicaragua, whose southern border is about 20 miles north of the hacienda.

The Battle of Santa Rosa remains an important historical touchstone for all Costa Ricans. Their army was mustered and deployed from San Jose quickly and routed the Walker-led Nicaraguan force on March 20, 1856. After several more battles, ultimately they prevailed and the Costa Rican national identity was formed. They celebrate their ultimate victory with a national holiday in April, but it all started at this hacienda.

Istmithian Canal in Nicaragua

Walker’s ties to the American commercial interests in controlling a trans-oceanic canal in Nicaragua is a fascinating aspect of this story. It’s particularly timely for Brian who is reading David McCullough’s history of the Panama Canal which includes discussion of the American’s original proposal that it be built in Nicaragua.

The kids were admittedly more interested in our next adventure of the day which was to visit Poza Los Coyote which allowed everyone to cool off a bit.

Poza Los Coyote

This is a stream which is run-off from the near by volcano so the water is refreshingly cool, a blue-green color from the mineral content, and has very interesting rock formations. The River had several places to float and one pool had locals jumping off rocks 10 feet high. These adventurers didn’t try it though – maybe next time.

The Adventurers were able to watch several monkeys eating fruit from the tree-tops while drifting in the stream.

After we got home and cleaned up from the river, Tiffany made her famous stir-fry. For one last adventure for today she added in a strange looking vegetable found hanging out in the zucchini bin at the market. It’s label said simply ‘squash’.

Zucchini?

It turned out that it WAS a zucchini – but round as a grapefruit. And it tasted marvelous!

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