This is an article I wrote for my school newspaper. In my experience, the only music I have heard is what I have on Itunes or CD’s copied from home and I have not seen any dance. Granted I haven’t gone many places; there as been no beach day so far. I have tasted local food, a lot of beans, rice, potatoes and eggs.

Costa Rica is a Central American country located between Nicaragua and Panama. The average temperate is 21-27°C It is home to 5% of the Earth’s biodiversity, 20,000 different spiders and 10% of all butterflies. Every morning at 7am the national anthem is played on the radio. The literacy rate is 96%. Visitors are often surprised to see people walking around with a machete because they are the Costa Rican duct tape.

The food of Costa Rica is hearty, savory and always satisfying. A staple in their diet is beans and rice. At breakfast time they make a dish called Gallo Pinto; which contains rice, black beans, onions, red bell peppers, scrambled eggs, fresh cheese, and fried plantains. Over the lunch hour they have a dish called Casado, in which the beans and rice are paired with choice of meat or seafood and a side (fried plantains, stewed squash, spaghetti or salad). Rice and beans at supper time is called fried rice with chicken and it is served with salad, French fries and a dollop of salsa rosada (pink sauce made from ketchup and mayo). The most popular meat is pork. Pork chops, pork rinds, pig skin and pig’s feet can be found in many recipes, although locals also eat chicken and beef. Ceviche is the most prominent seafood dish in Costa Rica. It is made by marinating a variety of seafood in lime juice, red bell peppers and onions; then served with chips. Tilapia is commonly served with Casado, but other common fishes include Mahi-mahi, red snapper, sea bass and tuna. Closer to the coast, lobster, clams, calamari or crab can be found in delicious seafood pastas, stews or coconut-cream sauces. Fruits and veggies are a huge part of the cuisine as well and they accompany every meal as an appetizer, salad, dessert or juice. Bananas, plantains, pineapple and watermelon are commonly exported as well as enjoy by locals. Giant green avocadoes, mangoes, tamarind, lychees, guava, star fruit, passion fruit, and coconuts are just some of the many fruits Costa Ricans enjoy. The last major part of their diet (also a huge export) is coffee, which has been grown there for over 200 years.

Music is a huge part of the Costa Rican culture. When the Spanish came over to colonize, their music mixed with that of the indigenous people to create a sound unique to the area. Guanacasteca, musica aldeana, musica limonense, and musica generalena are the main styles of folk music and although similar, they have some significant differences. Classical music is also thriving in the culture of Costa Rica. The National Symphony Orchestra has received international acclaim. The Costa Rican Youth Symphony Orchestra is also very popular along with the first professional choir in Central America; The National Symphony Choir. The National Theatre in San Jose offers classical guitar and solo piano performances. Several cafes around San Jose offer excellent jazz music. The nation’s most famous jazz ensemble, Editus, won a Grammy in 2000. The country hosts a semi-annual jazz fest. Calypso is a music style that the African Caribbean people used to tell stories. Cahuita’s Walter Ferguson is a very popular calypso artist. Reggae, typically played in Jamaica, is actually quite popular across the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Local artists include C-Sharp and Fuerza Dread, who often perform at bars. La mochila is a bar that hosts Reggae Nites every Friday. Ghandi, Cantares, Balerom, Evolucion, Akasha, El Parque, Gaviota, Percance, and Debi Nova are famous Costa Rican contemporary musicians. In August 2011, Malpais, one of Costa Rica’s favorite contemporary bands, suffered the loss of Fidel Gamboa, a founding member and lead singer.

Visitors who are not so good at dancing can take classes in order to improve their skill. Merengue is one of the most popular Latin dances; homes, clubs and the radio are common places to hear this music. It features fast footwork and swaying hips. The man leads the woman as they dance tightly in a small circle. Grupo Mania, La Makina or Los Hermanos Rosario are famous merengue artistas. A dance that originated in Cuba, but is common in Costa Rica is salsa. Like most of the dances the man leads the women, this time in a three step rhythm. Experienced salsa dancers often add complicated spins and intricate steps. Clubs often play Elvis Crespo, Celia Cruz or Salsa Kids music. One of the favorite tropical rhythms is cumbia. Drums are the main instrument used to create the iconic sound. Cumbia originated in Colombia and even though the beat is the same, Costa Ricans added some new moves such as bouncing steps and small kicks. Jugo de Pina is the most widely known cumbia song and the best artists are Alberto Pacheco, Lucho Bermudez y Su Orquesta, Lisandro Meza and Edmundo Arias. Another dance style is folklore. Each dance tells a unique story. The Punto Guanacasteco is the most recognizable dance is La Cajeta; which tells the story of creating Costa Rica’s iconic caramel candy. Borucan Diablitos is a dance that tells about the native people.

In Light of the vibrant culture in Costa Rica, it is no surprise that so many Canadians make it a travel destination. . 5.6% of all tourists are from Canada, showing how popular it is.