Word of the week: “Sur”: South
Let’s take a trip to ..Puerto Viejo, Talamanca, Limon, Costa Rica.
Located on the southeastern border of Costa Rica, Límon is one of Costa Rica’s 13 provinces and sure to catch the attention of tourists. It has a host of beach points that each have their personalized sands, blue water tints, and radical waves, perfect for surfers! Here is the point, one can appreciate the heavy Afro-Caribbean influence that derives from Jamaica. Here you will find a mix of Costa Rican natives (or Ticos) that engage in a more laid-back lifestyle with common cultural references to Rastafarian and the reggae movement. One of the rare beauties in the Costa Rican culture is its cultural diversity. Roughly 200 miles north of Puerto Viejo in San Jose, there aren’t many African Americans who share the same physical features as compared to those in Límon. Again, in reference to the large influx of African Americans from countries such as Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, etc., the southernmost port is a mixing pot of Afro-Caribbean culture.
~ ONE LOVE. ~
I promised a follow-up in reference to my recent blog on my perception of colorism here in Costa Rica. However, I did not want to expand until I felt I had visited a few difference provinces and could expand on my true understanding. As someone who is of Afro-Caribbean/African- American descent, I have a keen interest on the topic. From personal perception, I will attest to the racial tension in some parts of town being a little stronger than in others. For example, the stares in the eyes of some locals. Their gazes all similarly read “you’re different.” My bleached-braided hair, my American styled clothes that all the depths of my now-dark brown skin all send a message before I have the opportunity to open my mouth.
Aforementioned, the racial barriers are apparent, especially in reference to educational advancement. Legalities keep oppression at bay, but opportunities for economic advancement is an issue for this country. Jobs are scarce in Costa Rica in general and many do suffer, as it is considered a third world country. However, African Americans here tend to take the shorter end of the stick due to their preconceived stereotypes. Interestingly, there is a common denominator in the same stereotypes of African Americans in the US, as well as here. Having been given feedback from ethnic locals and doing my own personal research, most Afro-Ticos tend to stick together in their small communities of their own. Sidenote: this isn’t to say that they are ALL poor either or living in below average conditions. The strong sense of unity helps maintain their economic structure within their own communities. Like in many other instances in Towns like Puerto Viejo, being so close to the Costa Rican/Panamanian border employ many locals through tourism. This too is an essential component of their lively hood. Needless to say, there are towns that do need innovation, resources and financial assistance, but I can truly say this overall low-income province of minorities makes what they DO have work!