A.M. Costa Rica
Special report on 
Cahuita
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 20, 2003, Vol. 3, No. 13
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
It's playtime in the trees for this pair of congo or howler monkeys.

If you have never heard them at 4 a.m., you are in for a scary surprise.

By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Last week I visited the Caribbean coast with the assignment to find out the effects of the heavy storms that battered the area since May.

The trip did show that the highway through Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo outside of San José and in other places there was heavy damage. Street signs were twisted and mangled, bridges were down and rebuilding was going on.

But despite the disaster, Limón and the rest of the Caribbean shows that it is populated by resilient people who are strong and have courage. In addition, a host of government agencies and President Abel Pacheco are helping to bring the area back into shape.

As an example, Pacheco and other government agencies have awarded a number of blue flags for environmental success in the province.

Cahuita National Park is a good example of organization of a community over the last six years to show that they cared about the natural gift they have received, an environmental paradise.

The interest of the community has made major changes in the quality of the ocean water, development, security and maintenance.

Rúben Pacheco, minister of Turismo, has recognized Cahuita and Limón as a symbol for all the countries and the world, and he is proud about the courage residents of the Limón area and points south displayed in their fight against offshore oil drilling over the past several years.

Three years ago Cahuita got a black eye when two U.S. young women were murdered there, and residents took it hard. tourism was affected. And many felt that the area was being criticized for an isolated, individual act.

For Lucia Chavarria Ramírez, a guard and tourist guide at the park entrance at Playa Blanca, the Comite de Manejo of the national park has worked hard in cleaning and providing security in the park. Everything is getting better, and Cahuita has just started a program to instill environmental concerns,  culture and conscience in the new generations, she said.

Cahuita is not only rich in nature, the land also is rich in spirit of people who make Cahuita one of the outstanding tourism destinations of the country.

The trip was not the first time I visited this amazing national park about 35 kms. (about 21 miles)  south of Limón on the Caribbean coast.

This is a place for people seeking pollution-free 

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
The prime park attraction is the vegetation

oxygen, and an understanding of Caribbean culture is thrown in as a bonus.

The best part of the park (although this is personal choice) is Playa Blanca where at the entrance workers will ask you for a voluntary donation to help with upkeep.

Safety is taken seriously here, and the guards insist that you not get involved with animals, use designated spaces for walking and eating, plus make good use of strategically placed garbage cans.

The oceans can be dangerous, so the park workers stress the power of rip tides.

Red flags are placed around the park to designate dangerous locations, be they pitfalls, ledges or other conditions that can turn a tourist visit into a nightmare.

As you walk through the trails, monkey troops will be moving together as a community overhead. This helps to change the mood of nearly everyone.

Then you have the option of being a beach bum and just laying down on the white sand or to follow a more educational plan and patrol the forest with its snakes, blue morphus butterflies, and congo and cappuchin monkies, which might be more in evidence at Punta Cahuita.

Then there always is that food and the good sense of humor which distinguishes the Caribbean Zone. 


 
The incredible variety of plants and mini-environments found in the park attracts naturalists for recreation, study or both.
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
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