Ruta La Paz XII Race for La Paz Scholarship Program

Ruta La Paz XII was a grand success here in Playa Hermosa! Even through the pouring rain, everyone was all smiles and full of excitement. So many members of the community came to support the runners and La Paz school’s scholarship program.

In case you missed my previous blog about the La Paz scholarship program please click here link or watch this video. To give a quick overview, the La Paz school offers a scholarship program that is donor-funded. Community leaders that participate within the school seek out underprivileged children in the local communities and offer them the opportunity to learn at La Paz with one of these scholarships. The goal of the scholarship program is to help these less fortunate children become future leaders and raise up the underprivileged communities they came from. Ruta La Paz is a race hosted by La Paz school to help fundraise for these scholarships.

Saturday, June 11th, was the day of the big race! Parents, volunteers, sponsors, and kids were all working hard since 11am to get ready for the event. Music was playing, kids were laughing, tents were being set up, and donations were being collected. Aquasport, the beach front restaurant that was the kick off for the entire event, was filled to the brim with community members working together to get the beach race ready.

My wife Karla, Julia and her husband Mike, (Julia is my right-hand assistant, not sure what I would do without her) helped set up a large tent by the finish line to hand out bananas, mandarins, and apples to all those who ran in the race. It was such an honor to personally be a Diamond sponsor for Ruta La Paz and to know that so many underprivileged kids will now get an educational opportunity of a lifetime! I was also so proud of my team at Tres Amigos Realty Group for coming together and also donating to the La Paz Scholarship program. Collectively, Tres Amigos became the Principal sponsor of Ruta La Paz XII by donating $20,000.

At 3pm some dark clouds started to roll in and the wind picked up. But that didn’t stop all the great energy and enthusiasm for the race which was to begin at 4pm. The kids started dancing in the rain to warm up beforehand and the adults continued to work hard to get everything ready.

Finally, at 4pm the first race began. The little ones (2-4 years old) lined up at the starting line and shot forward like little shooting stars across the sand. The crowd went wild! Everyone cheered on the littles ones as they ran as fast as they could. It was so cute to watch!

Soon after, it was time for the main race to begin. A 5 kilometer run across Playa Hermosa beach. The runners assembled into place and took off at lightning speeds at the end of the countdown. Hundreds of runners were scattered across the entire beach. No rain or wind could stop them from running for a great cause!

Finish line for Ruta La Paz in Costa Rica

As the runners started to cross the finish line the sun began to poke through the clouds. Beautifully carved coconut medals were passed out to the runners and everyone was high-fiving! The rain was a blessing in disguise, keeping everyone cool and hydrated.

Joseph Emanuelli at the podium of the Ruta La Paz race

Ruta La Paz XII raised $120,000 in donations! This amount will allow 10 underprivileged kids to receive a full scholarship to La Paz for a whole year. A full scholarship includes uniform, laptop, books, transportation, lunch, school supplies, special services such as home visits, workshops, and field trips.

Interested in helping out and sponsoring a local child? La Paz is always accepting donations! No donation is too small. If you are interested in donating, please reach out to me at jaaechef@gmail.com. See you in Playa Hermosa soon!

Rainy Season News

Rainy season is finally in full swing here in Guanacaste. The mountains are lush and you can no longer see over the grass! This year we are expected to have an intense rainy season and we are already off to a strong start.

Rain falling near Playas del Coco and Playa Hermosa

The Rainy Season is Affected by La Niña

Due to the “La Niña” phenomenon, the National Meteorological Institute predicted an exceptional 2022 rainy season. At least 14 tropical cyclones are being anticipated for this season. Thankfully, here in the Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco area we never receive the full effects of any tropical storms that may hit the Atlantic side of Costa Rica.

Even though we don’t have to worry about hurricanes, be prepared for larger pot holes, fallen trees or rocks in the road, and definitely don’t park under palm trees! Be cautious when driving during an aggressive rainfall and check for road closures if traveling to other parts of Costa Rica. Playa Hermosa and Playa del Coco even get some “surfing waves” during this time of year! You better be a good surfer or you could get hurt.

Use the Rainy Season to Check on Properties

For homeowners, there are plenty of important things to keep in mind when the rainy weather begins. Make sure your gutters are clean. If the gutters become clogged, rainwater will not drain and possibly cause damage to the interior or exterior of your home. Inspect the trees on your property, weak trees can snap or become uprooted from strong winds. Cover and protect your outdoor furniture and put away any items that can become blown away.

If you are not in Costa Rica, it is important to contact your property manager at the beginning of the rainy season to double check that your property is ready for the season. Lot owners that have their properties listed for sale should have the grass cut at least once a month to keep the lot accessible.

For those interested in purchasing property, this is a great time of the year to see if there is any flooding, which in 14 + years living here I have never seen any. You will also be able to see if there are any roof leaks and how quickly water will drain away from the property. For those looking to put in some new landscaping, there is no better time than the rainy season! Plenty of rain will help establish new plants and promote root growth.

Surprising Differences in Rainfall

Oddly enough the difference in rain between Playa Hermosa and Coco can be quite drastic! It can be a sunny day in Playa Hermosa but down pouring in Playas del Coco! For many years I have been keeping a close eye on daily rainfall throughout the rainy season. It’s fascinating to see how much the rain varies!

For example on June 5, 2022 in Monte Seco (Playas del Coco) it rained 1.2 inches vs in Los Altos de Cacique (Playas del Coco) it rained only .6 inches. But then on June 6, 2022 in Monte Seco it rained .9 inches and in Cacique it rained 1.4 inches! For the month of May it rained a total of 18 inches in Monte Seco and only 11.5 inches in Los Altos de Cacique.

Even though it may be the rainy season, expect plenty of sunshine! Here in Guanacaste, you can still enjoy many sunny beach days. Thankfully the rain usually sticks to the mornings and nights with a possible shower midday every once in a while. This is my favorite time of the year! Come see for yourself the beauty of the green season.

How To Prepare For Escrow

Escrow is an important element in any real estate transaction. It is used to protect both the buyer and seller throughout the transaction. Knowing how to prepare for escrow will make the process go smoothly and lead to less frustrations.

Due to the money laundering laws of Costa Rica, escrow is actually the most difficult part of purchasing a property. However, once you meet the due diligence requirements, it is a piece of cake. So put on your patience hat.Person signing an escrow document

What is Escrow?

Escrow is a legal arrangement in which a third party escrow company temporarily holds money until the fulfillment of a purchase agreement. Escrow companies are legal financial entities authorized and licensed to hold funds as a neutral third-party real estate and other dealings. Escrow companies in Costa Rica must be registered with SUGEF.

What is SUGEF?

“SUGEF” stands for “Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras” (Superintendent General of Financial Institutions). This organization audits financial institutions such as banks, savings and loans, and employee credit unions, as well as institutions or persons that handle large money transactions such as real estate agents, escrow companies and even property management companies to ensure they are complying with federal and international financial regulations. SUGEF is similar to the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) in the United States.SUGEF headquarters in Costa Rica

How to prepare for Escrow

Have your documents ready! Every transaction must be supported with the following documents. Each individual depositing funds into the escrow account needs to provide the following items: All documents must be in English.

  • Copy of your passport or Costa Rican cedula for locals & driver’s license. It must be a color copy and full page of the picture and signature page. Even all four corners must show of the passport and drivers’ license.
  • A “Know Your Client” form filled, printed and signed with ink. This form will be supplied to you by the escrow company. Your signature must match exactly the same signature you have in your passport.
  • The latest tax return/tax filing/tax assessment. This is to comply with FATCA law (U.S Citizens) or CRS Reporting Standard for other nationalities.
  • Bank Verification Letter issued by your bank indicating the age of the account and average balance. If the letter is generated outside Costa Rica it must be apostilled by the Secretary of State
  • Documents that support the origin of funds to be received by the escrow company. This may be, but not limited to, proof of property sale, salaries, dividends, inheritance, or any other document considered to support where funds have originated.
    • Please consider if the origin of funds are salaries and/or savings from salaries you must provide bank statements of the last 6 months showing funds available to cover the transaction.
    • If the origin of funds are dividends payments you must provide proof of ownership of shares*/financial statements (certified by public accountant) or tax filings from the corporation*/and last 6 months of account statements where funds are allocated.
    • If the origin of funds is a real estate sale you must provide all closing documents (sale deed and closing statement) and proof of payment (incoming wire to your bank account).
    • If the origin of funds is inheritance you must provide legal document that confirms inheritance or beneficiaries* and last 6 months of bank statements where funds are being held.

Example of an escrow document

*Legal and financial documents need to be certified and apostilled for the bank’s purposes.   

Please also take into consideration that if the funds are transferred from a company/corporate bank account, the escrow company will need the incorporation documents. Documents coming from outside Costa Rica must be apostilled by the Secretary of State.

When wiring funds they must come from the same accounts you provided for compliance purposes. If you plan to send the initial deposit and final closing amount of funds from different banks or financial institutions, all documentation from each bank/financial institution must be supplied in the beginning process to make the final closing as smooth as possible.

All escrow companies will require you to send documents via a secure link or portal to ensure the safety of your documents.

The last word on setting up escrow in Costa Rica

Escrow companies may seem like a lot of paperwork and headache but they are truly advantageous to both buyer and seller. Escrow tracks the entire purchasing process and gives the buyer a verification when everything is completed. For the sellers, the escrow company ensures payment. Both parties are well represented and taken care of. The process does not have to be difficult. Good preparation and a solid understanding of the process will make the transaction go smoothly.

The Time To Visit Costa Rica is NOW!

Masks off, travel advisory lowered, and spectacular deals on flights…The time to visit Costa Rica is now!View of the Pacific in Costa Rica

Just this past Wednesday, (May 11th, 2022) President Chaves mask mandate removal decree was published in “La Gaceta”, which is a requirement for decrees to become laws. You no longer need to wear a mask in an enclosed space. Masks are only required for medical personnel and patients requiring medical attention.

In April, the U.S. Department of State lowered the travel advisory for Costa Rica to a level 2 of 4. Prior to the pandemic Costa Rica was at level 2. Lowering the travel advisory is positive news in regards to tourism and helping the Costa Rican economy recover. During the first quarter of 2022, Costa Rica has recovered 63% of visitations registered in the same period of 2019.

Speaking of visiting… There have been some amazing deals on flights lately. The list below shows all non-stop flights to Liberia, so you can be on the beach in no time at all!Jet plane flying

Non-stop flights from Europe to Liberia

Edelweiss Air: year-round flights from Zürich (ZRH).
KLM (SkyTeam): seasonal flights from Amsterdam (AMS).

Non-stop flights from the US to Liberia

Alaska (Oneworld): year-round flights from Los Angeles (LAX).
American Airlines (Oneworld): year-round flights from Austin (AUS), seasonal flights from Charlotte (CLT), Chicago (ORD), year-round flights from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Miami (MIA) and seasonal flights from New York City (JFK).
Delta (SkyTeam): year-round flights from Atlanta (ATL).
Frontier Airlines: year-round flights from Orlando (MCO).
JetBlue: seasonal flights from Boston (BOS), Los Angeles (LAX) and New York City (JFK).
Southwest Airlines: seasonal flights from Baltimore-Washington (BWI), Denver (DEN) and Houston (HOU).
Sun Country Airlines: year-round flights from Minneapolis (MSP).
United Airlines (Star Alliance): seasonal flights from Chicago (ORD), year-round flights from Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO).

Non-stop flights from Canada to Liberia

Air Canada (Star Alliance): seasonal flights from Montreal (YUL) and Toronto (YYZ).
Air Transat: seasonal flights from Montreal (YUL) and Toronto (YYZ).
Sunwing: seasonal flights from Toronto (YYZ).
WestJet: seasonal flights from Calgary (YYC) and year-round flights from Toronto (YYZ).

If that’s not enough to draw you in… Netflix has been featuring Costa Rica’s incredible wildlife in new TV shows. The show “Wild Babies” presents white-faced monkeys, sea turtles and jaguars all learning to grow up in the Costa Rican Jungle. Most of the content was actually filmed in Santa Rosa National Park which is only an hour and 20 minutes from Playas del Coco & Playa Hermosa! Netflix’s “Our Great National Parks” show features Costa Rica’s very own Manuel Antonio National Park. This lovely documentary talks about the importance of 3 toed sloths along with all the incredible flora located in these ecological havens.

Last but not least, The Costa Rican Institute of Tourism is partnering with the Outdoor Adventure Show, at the International Center in Toronto, Canada to attract adventure loving Canadians to this beautiful country! Canadians are an important factor for tourism in Costa Rica because Canada is the 2nd country generating more visits to Costa Rica, after the United States. The goal is to promote Costa Rica as the ideal destination for all those who love adventure.Tour boat in Costa Rica

The list goes on and on for why the best time to visit Costa Rica is now. The easiest way to find out why, is to jump on a plane and check it out! See you on the beach soon and contact me if you have any questions or are interested in purchasing a place in paradise.

Transfer of Presidential Power and New Decrees

 

On Sunday May 8th, the transfer of presidential power (traspaso) took place. Rodrigo Chaves assumed his position as the 49th president of Costa Rica. Chaves signed 3 decrees that day, one of them being the removal of the mask mandate!New president eliminates the mask mandate

Other decrees included the removal of mandatory vaccination of employees in the public sector and declaring a national emergency due to the hacking of the Ministry of Finance or “Hacienda”.

The new president has put his trust in the Costa Rican people to use logical measures in regards to Covid-19. Removing the mask mandate does not mean stopping the fight against Covid-19 but instead letting the people decide what works best for them. The use of masks and mandatory vaccination will now only be enforced for front line public health care workers.

Rodrigo Chaves also made mention of the additional decrees he hopes to put into place within the coming weeks. The new president plans on strong reforms in the financial management of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE). He hopes that these reforms will result in a reduction in electricity rates.

Chaves also assured the Costa Rican people that they are working on the processing of decrees that would have the objective of reducing the prices of rice and agrochemicals. As well as decrees to lower costs in areas such as medicines and agricultural supplies.

During the traspaso, Rodrigo Chaves gave a speech to the people of Costa Rica. The following are a few excerpts that stood out and gave an overall feeling of his ideals and what he wants to accomplish during his time as president.

“The outrageous waiting lists of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, these waiting lists have subjected thousands of Costa Ricans, not only is it a systematic violation of the health system, but they are humiliating for the people for whom medical care means life or death”.

“I assure the LGBTIQ population that we are not going to go backwards in recognizing the rights that they have achieved throughout their struggles for equality and appreciation for diversity, struggles that I respect and that I guarantee will continue unscathed in their victories”

“To public officials I say that the responsibility of their positions bears the weight of giving the country the commitment and dedication to serve their fellow citizens and support them, but they know that abuse and exploitation will not be tolerated.”

Chaves also made mention of his opposition to environmental policies. He confirmed he will not ratify the Escazu Agreement which was put in place to protect environmental defenders.

Many dignitaries attended the event. Such as the King of Spain, the President of Colombia, the president of the Dominican Republic, the president of Panama, the president of Haiti, and the president of Morocco. As well as foreign ministers, vice presidents, ministers, vice ministers and deputies from El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Japan, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, the United States, Ecuador and Peru were present. Even the first indigenous cacique women of Costa Rica attended the event alongside representatives of the Costa Rican indigenous ethnic groups.Ceremony of the transfer of presidential power

Chaves has a long road ahead of him taking over an economy that is currently in decline and rising with foreign debt. Hopefully his strategy with decrees will be beneficial and effective.

Cyber Fraud Attacks

Cyber fraud attacks are on the rise. As many of you may have heard, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Finance (also known as the tax administration called Hacienda) was hacked. But the Ministry of Finance isn’t the only one at risk… Criminals have also started hacking email accounts and sending fraudulent wiring instructions to clients involved in a real estate transaction.

Ministerio de Haciendo Costa Rica logoFirst, a little more information on what happened to Costa Rica’s Ministry of Finance. On April 17th 2022, the Ministry of Finance noticed malicious activity and proceeded to shut down the servers. Conti, a group of Russian based hackers, claimed to have hacked the Ministry’s website and taken 1 terabyte of taxpayers’ information. Ransomware had infected the Ministries system encrypting all the information and restricting access. Conti requested the government of Costa Rica to pay them 10 million dollars by April 23rd 2022, or they would release the information. Costa Rica has refused to pay the bribe.

The Ministry of Finance is still working on getting all their servers up and running. The Virtual Tax Administration (ATV) and Customs Information System (TICA) platforms are still out of service. Many obligatory tax filings are being postponed while the systems are being repaired and reinstated. For more information or if you have any concerns, reach out to your Costa Rican accountant or attorney for help.

Image depicting a cyber fraud attacks

Now let’s go over how to best protect yourself during your real estate transactions. Cyber criminals have been hacking the emails of lawyers, brokers, agents, etc to divert funds to the criminal’s bank account. The usual method used by these criminals is by sending an email with fraudulent wiring instructions. These emails unfortunately look very legitimate but there are ways to protect yourself.

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to always call the escrow agent and verify the instructions before sending any wire. Be skeptical, if any information looks off, do not hesitate to call the escrow agent. Keep an eye out for changes in the bank, branch location, account name or number. Also take a very close look at the email address, some hackers are smart enough to use a very similar email address but may change one letter in the email address.

It is important to verify wiring information by telephone (through a secure number) or in person to guarantee the information is accurate and legitimate before sending any money.

image with the word security

Here are some important tips to always keep in mind when doing a bank wire transfer:

  • Communication is key, always stay in direct contact with your escrow agent and make sure to ask for their phone number at the beginning of the real estate transaction.
  • Be wary of “updated/revised” wiring instructions. Always call your escrow agent and personally confirm wire/disbursement instructions. Do not agree to forward wiring instructions to other parties unless these instructions have been verbally confirmed.
  • Do not open attachments from unknown sources or click on any links in emails that look off or strange. They could contain viruses or allow hackers access to your computer.
  • Always confirm the routing number/swift code, the account name that is entitled to the funds, and that emails with sensitive information were received with the escrow agent via phone or in person. 
  • Always use a secure password for all your online accounts and change it frequently. Only use secure wifi networks.

By following the above advice you can greatly reduce the chances of being a victim of a cyber fraud attack.  This digital age comes with many new risks and problems but with the right amount of vigilance and skepticisms you can better protect yourself against fraud. Most importantly, never hesitate to call or meet in person with your lawyers, escrow agents, brokers, or real estate agents. Although it may not be as convenient as an email, you can keep yourself safe throughout your real estate transaction.

Costa Rica’s Presidential Election 2022

A new record was hit in Costa Rica! The largest number ever of presidential candidates ran this year. Out of 25 candidates, Rodrigo Chaves won the Presidential Election of 2022. Although this didn’t happen with one shot. Did having so many options to choose from make this presidential election particularly difficult?

During the first round of voting on February 6th, out of 3,541,908 registered voters only 1,818,725 voted. This means that over 50% of the voting population did not vote. So many voters felt overwhelmed and undecided about which candidate they believed in.

With a total of 25 candidates, Figueres received 27.26% of the vote and Chaves 16.70%. The president of Costa Rica is elected using a modified two-round system. For a candidate to win they must receive at least 40% of the vote in the first round. If no candidate wins in the first round, a runoff will be held between the two candidates with the biggest quantity of votes.

Round 2 was a definite nail biter. Especially since 73.94% of voters did not vote for either Presidential candidate. It was up to citizens who didn’t particularly care for either to pick which president they disliked less.

In the second round the turnout for voters was only a little bit better. Out of the 3,541,908 registered voters only 1,927,270 voted. Only a 55% voter turnout… Even after all the encouragement from the government and media to go out and voteRodrigo Chaves president of Costa Rica. After all, it’s the citizens responsibility to care for the country and its democracy.

Finally they tallied the votes… it was a close one! Rodrigo Chaves had 52.84% of the votes and Jose Maria Figueres had 47.16%. The people of Costa Rica chose Rodrigo Chaves of the Social Democratic Progress Party (PPSD) to shake up traditional party politics.

Many Costa Ricans eager for a change said they were looking for a break with the politicians of the past. They feared that Figueres, who comes from a very well known political family, would continue with the ideology of the past.

Only time will tell if Costa Ricans made the right decision. Is shaking up the most stable political system in Central America the right way to go? Will this solve the widespread discontent in the country? Can Chaves inspire the Costa Rican people to once again have hope in their government and become more active members?

Let’s hope so… because this year’s turnout was the lowest in decades as voters expressed frustration with Costa Rica’s struggling economy due to the global pandemic. As Presidential Elections seem to become more and more difficult across the world, always remember it is your responsibility as a citizen to stay involved and participate. Illustration of a vote in a presidential election

Costa Rica’s Environmental Initiatives

April 22nd is Earth Day! Every year since 1970, the world celebrates Earth Day to demonstrate support for environmental protection. In the spirit of being green, let’s learn about some of Costa Rica’s environmental initiatives

Photo of rainforest plants in Costa Rica

Costa Rica prides itself on being a green and ecological country. Even pioneering ecotourism in Latin America! Small yet mighty, Costa Rica has already protected 28% of its land and 30% of its territorial waters. This is especially important for a country that holds an estimated 5% of the world’s biodiversity! 

Creating protected areas is just one small piece of Costa Rica’s big green picture. In 2021, Costa Rica banned all single-use plastic products such as disposable bags,Egret in Costa Rica cutlery, straws, cups, coffee lids, stirrers, and bottles. Styrofoam was also on the hit list. On July 15th 2021, the importation and sale of styrofoam was also banned. 

Since 2002, Costa Rica no longer permits oil and gas exploration and exploitation. This decree has been extended to 2050 and has kept oil and gas companies out of Costa Rica. The Legislative Assembly is working hard to turn this decree into a law to ensure a sustainable future. 

Costa Rica is also one of the first tropical countries to end deforestation! In 1987, the deforestation was so terrible it led to nearly half of the country’s forest cover being lost. Things had to change and Costa Rica actually reversed its loss of nature. Almost 75% of Costa Rica’s land is once again covered in forest and jungle. This reforestation effort was such a success that Costa Rica was awarded the Earthshot Prize in 2021. 

Costa Rica environmental initiatives

On to some more great environmental initiatives! Since 2014, Costa Rica has been a global leader in renewable energy use. Over 98% of Costa Rica’s electricity comes from 100% renewable resources! Incredible resources such as rivers, volcanoes, wind, and solar power generate electricity for this beautiful country.

Striving to always be forward thinking, Costa Rica has undertaken many initiatives to start becoming a carbon neutral country. The transportation sector, which is one of Costa Rica’s larger carbon producing sectors, has acquired 322 electric vehicles for their government institutions. Costa Rica has made progress in sustainable construction. As of 2021, 736 buildings and 29 municipalities have received the Ecological Blue Flag Award. The goal is to be carbon neutral by 2050. 

Currently, Costa Rica is taking the leading role in many global environmental initiatives. The first is the 30×30 initiative that proposes to protect 30% of the planet’s ecosystems by 2030. The next environmental initiative involves Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Colombia. These countries announced the strengthening of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor. They intend for this area to become a Transboundary Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO. Costa Rica is always eager to participate in initiatives that will lead to a greener world. 

White faced monkey with baby in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s green reputation is well deserved. It is a country that strives to do what is right for future generations and for the preservation of natural beauty. Costa Rica understands the value of nature. After all, what is a trip to Costa Rica without seeing any of the incredible flora and fauna this country has to offer. 

Dry Season Flowering Trees

Believe it or not… the dry season actually bursts with color! The hot arid weather brings about the most spectacular blooms. During the dry season you have stunning blue skies, crystal clear aquamarine waters, perpetual sunshine and an endless display of colorful flowering treesFlowering trees during the dry season in Costa Rica

The Yellow Cortez Amarillo

Let’s start with the gorgeous sunny yellow blooms. The Cortez Amarillo (Tabebuia Ochracea) is a crowd favorite here in Costa Rica! It puts on a short but spectacular display that only lasts about 4-5 days. Synchronizing with all the Cortez Amarillos growing in the area, the hills become speckled with pops of golden yellow. Not only is it beautiful to us but the monkeys and hummingbirds crowd around this tree to enjoy this short lived bloom. 

Cortez Amarillo blooms on the ground in Costa Rica

The Caña Fistula (Cassia fistula) or golden shower tree blooms almost all summer. These glowing flowers hang down like long pendulums and cover the entire tree in yellow! Almost no leaves can be found when this flower is in full bloom. This golden rain sends a signal for all the butterflies and bees to flock to this tree. 

Red Malinche and Poró

Next, let’s check out these red hot flowers. Often called the flame of the forest, the Malinche (Delonix Regia) tree is an incredible sight! These scarlet flowers are a definite show stopper. Beautiful and useful, the tree’s umbrella shape and quick growth make it a perfect shade tree. You can enjoy these exquisite blooms and very medicinal seed pods the Malinche has to offer during the hot dry season.

Blossoming Malinche, one of the many flowing trees of Costa Rica

When you spot a grouping of Poró (Erythrina poeppigiana) trees, there may be a coffee or cocoa plantation nearby! Porós are often used as shade trees in these plantations. This tree is often even called madre de cacao or mother of cacao. The bright red Poró flowers are edible and can be enjoyed in a refreshing salad. 

The Pink Cortez Negro 

On to the next color speckled in the dry Guanacaste hills. The Cortez Negro (Handroanthus Impetiginosus) explodes with thousands of beautiful pink flowers! Pollinators rejoice over these blooms and swarm to collect the delicious nectar. This tall, slow growing tree has extremely valuable lumber along with medicinal bark. 

Beautiful pink flowers of the Cortez Negro tree

Imagine giant pink pom poms on the end of every branch. That’s exactly what the Roble de Sabana (Tabebuia Rosea) looks like when it bursts with blooms. This showy tree is actually a very important timber tree in Central America with a variety of uses. Flowering occurs mainly in January and February, make sure you catch a glimpse of this incredible tree! 

At first glance the dry season is very deceiving. Majority of the trees and plants look completely dried up! But when the right time comes, they burst at the seams with the most extravagant colors. Come check out this incredible spectacle in the Guanacaste region! 

Semana Santa in Costa Rica

Semana Santa is the week leading up to Easter Sunday, and it’s a BIG deal here in Costa Rica! Safe to say, it is one the most important holidays in the country. Almost every Tico has the week off of work and the kids are out of school. The celebrations and festivities are endless!

Costa Rica’s population is 76% Catholic, hence the reason why Semana Santa is especially important to the culture. This week-long celebration is centered around religious processions, prayers, mass, traditions, and spending time with the entire family.

Religious Traditions

In every town, the Catholic Church organizes events to take place on Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. One of the most important religious traditions is the grand procession which is a reenactment of Jesus going to the cross. People from all over Costa Rica travel to Cartago on Friday to witness the biggest procession in the country.

When traveling around, you may notice purple-draped crosses in many front yards or on houses. The purple represents Jesus and then switches to black drapes on Good Friday and white drapes on Easter Sunday. These decorations are important for practicing Catholics.

Superstitions

Many Costa Ricans believe that you should not swim in the ocean on Holy Thursday or Good Friday. If you do, God will become angry and turn you into a fish! Or climbing a tree may cause you to grow a tail…

Another superstition involves an indigenous fig tree. At midnight on Good Friday the Higueron de cabuya blooms but Satan hides in the tree. If you are able to pluck a flower without the devil noticing then you will win the next lottery and be rich forever!

It is also rumored that hot weather causes more earthquakes to happen. On the bright side, Semana Santa is also thought to be the week with the most beautiful sunsets! Pacific sunset in Costa Rica

Semana Santa Foods

Due to Holy traditions, many Ticos do not consume any pork or beef during Semana Santa. Instead families enjoy plenty of fish. Arroz y frijoles con  (Rice and beans with fish) and ceviche are the main dishes on the menu.

Chiverre is another staple of Semana Santa. This large squash is in season for the holidays and ends up as a filling for various pastries or empanadas. The preparation of chiverre can take days!

In Guanacaste, many take advantage of all the mangoes in season. Families gather these juicy fruits and make mango marmalade. Sweets are a definite favorite for Semana Santa!

 

The Beach

An estimated 1.5 million Ticos visit the beach for Semana Santa! For those who aren’t very religious, Semana Santa is also the time for partying. You will see a mass exodus to the beach from the central valley. Be prepared for crowded beaches, packed restaurants, and plenty of traffic!

Semana Santa is one of the busiest weeks of the year. Make sure to be well stocked on groceries and have your reservations in place. As long as you don’t mind large crowds of people, Semana Santa is a very exciting week. It is one of the best times to experience traditional Costa Rican foods, culture, and celebration.