Cultural Notes

Cultural Highlights

At Selva Bananito Lodge we pay tribute to the cultural heritage which has shaped our history and our idiosyncrasy. Specifically, we highlight three main elements which, with the passing of time, have been replaced and forgotten. These are: the traditional and original work Ox Cart, the remains of the wheels and rails of the Donkey Rail and the ever so significant "Pilón". We invite you to take your time to read about these cultural icons and to reflect upon their significance.

The Ox Cart

Is the national symbol of work, peace and prosperity. It was used to transport primarily coffee and banana produce as well as people, and it is still a common practice in some communities. Although ox carts were used in the same way all over Central America, only in Costa Rica they were decorated like this. One explanation is the differences in the coffee production of the countries.
In Costa Rica families owned small coffee farms and transported it to the "beneficio", where further processing took place (owned by big companies). These families took care of their carts, and started to paint them to make them unique. In the rest of the countries both the plantations and the beneficios were owned by big companies instead of families.

The Donkey Rail

Is the predecessor of the rail road here in Costa Rica. It started on the pacific side, uniting Puntarenas and Caldera in 1857. Later it expanded and was used to move crops and people between the ports and the capital until steam engines replaced them. In the Caribbean the donkey rail was used primarily to transport produce like bananas and cacao to the rail road infrastructure which was established by Minor Cooper Keith in 1877 and finished by 1890. The construction of the rail road uniting the Central Valley and the Province of Limon changed Costa Rica forever. People from Italy, China and mostly Jamaica, came to work on this project. The Jamaicans were more fit to work under the tropical conditions. This changed the food, the number of languages spoken in the Caribbean side (Spanish, English, Patua, Mekateliu) and Costa Rican Spanish as well. Their descendents are among us still, along with their rich cultures and traditions.

The "Pilón"

Is a wooden mortar and pestle of great size used to peal grains in general, but most commonly used for pealing rice in Costa Rica. It is an instrument that has been used widely around the world for a long time. Most "Pilones" in Costa Rica were typically made from heavier and more durable hard woods, like "iron wood". In Costa Rica it was a culinary instrument and was a typical element in any colonial kitchen. In other parts of the world these mortars and pestles were made of materials like metal or granite, and their uses were also varied, like for example in Asia, where huge mortars were manufactured to grind meat and in ancient Greece some were used to break stones for buildings.

Civic and Religious festivities

Additionally, we take the opportunity to share with you the most relevant civic and religious holidays in Costa Rica and the Caribbean. We invite you to participate in any of these events during your stay in our country, as many of them are celebrations or processions which are colorful and distinguished.

  • April 11th Juan Santamaría, Juan Santamaría Day, National hero from Rivas Battle
  • July 25th Annexation of Nicoya faction (Guanacaste province)
  • August 2th Day of the "Negrita" (a dark skinned indigenous Virgin Mary), nation wide procession to the Basilica in Cartago
  • August 31th International black heritage day
  • September 15th Independence Day
  • Oktober 12th Christopher Columbus discovers Costa Rica, Limon Carnival Starts around this date