By: Krisandra Provencher
This weekend the Gap cohort journeyed to Cahuita, a small beachside town on the Caribbean coast. The town is mainly composed of a handful of streets lined with brightly lit restaurants and shops, and is easily one of the liveliest places I have ever been. Cahuita was one of the first towns settled by the Afro-Caribbean people of Costa Rica. It is rich in culture, diversity, emotion and history. Its people, having originally come to Costa Rica to work on the construction of the country’s Atlantic Railroad, founded the town on their own values and beliefs, making it very different than the rest of the country. Its buildings are all brightly colored and rarely bare the tall iron gates so common in San Jose. In the evenings children run and bike through the streets with ice cream and candy bars in hand on their way to the park, where the adults are playing ping-pong and chattering animatedly about their lives. At night the sounds of Calypsonian bands playing or a crowd cheering on their favorite soccer team on the television in one of the many brightly lit restaurants is unavoidable.
With its sandy beaches and thick rainforest, Cahuita is home to more than just humans. On our first night we saw a sloth dangling from a powerline, fast asleep and completely oblivious to the seventeen Americans gawking at and taking pictures of it from the bus. The next day we saw half a dozen monkeys prancing through the trees that lined the path to the beach. They glanced at us curiously and then hurried on their way while their babies clung tightly to their backs. Later that afternoon we found a small viper coiled around the crux of a tree branch. It looked at us lazily through half closed eyes and then went back to sleep. At all times of the day we could hear the slightly terrifying sound of howler monkeys from somewhere in the forest near our hotel. Cahuita’s animals and people coupled together to make our trip simultaneously exciting and tranquil.