Land’ ho Costa Rica History and the Last Unconquered Tribe

Land’ ho Costa Rica History and the Last Unconquered Tribe

Land’ ho Costa Rica History and the Last Unconquered Tribe

Imagine yourself an explorer. You’ve sailed a long and arduous journey fighting off starvation, scurvy, and death. You’re exhausted, and you’re ready to set foot on dry land. The salt air fills your nostrils as waves break beneath the bow of your ship in warm coastal waters. You put your looking glass up to your eye and scan the horizon in a slow, sweeping motion, right to left. Ah-ha! You spot an emerald green coast lined with palm trees and lush tropical forest. You grin ear to ear then cry out excitedly from the crow’s nest atop the mast, “Land’ ho!”

The Rich Coast

Wow, what a journey that would have been. Can you imagine? It must have been incredible to discover such a beautiful place like Costa Rica, “Rich Coast” in Spanish. If you’ve ever seen the beautiful and majestic coastline here, you’ll understand its name. Do you know who “discovered” and named Costa Rica? Take a guess.

Voyage in the Late 1400s

So, did you guess? You might be surprised to learn that Christopher Columbus named Costa Rica the “Rich Coast.” He sure was right. The coasts here are incredibly rich with beauty. Columbus may have been right on the name, but I’ll tell you something Columbus got wrong. Columbus thought he was the first person to discover Costa Rica. When Columbus and his crew landed on the picturesque tropical shores, they were surprised to find Indigenous tribes had been living here for almost 10,000 years before their arrival.

Spanish Conquest

In 1524 Costa Rica became a colony of Spain. During this time, Costa Rica was part of a vast country called Captaincy General of Guatemala. This country was basically all the countries in Central America lumped into one, which the Spanish ruled for 300 years. Spain set out to enslave the natives, plunder their riches, steal their gold, and make them pay tribute (taxes) to Spain. As you can imagine, the indigenous tribes tried to band together to ward off the Spanish invaders and expel them from their sacred lands. They fought off the Spanish conquistadors bravely. Despite their valiant efforts, the well-armed and well-equipped conquistadors were no match against their primitive bows and arrows. The tribes fell one by one, except for one.

Evil Mountain Spirits

Danza De Diablitos | Photo Credit: Tilyian Morrin, Peace Corps Volunteer,
(Festival of 2017 – 2018) |

Imagine you’re wielding a machete trekking through the mountains in a dense tropical rain forest. Your hands are sweaty from the intense heat and humidity, your body is weak from lack of nutrition. With each slash of the blade, you grow weaker. The Capitan orders you “adelante” (forward). You swing your machete again and break through the dense undergrowth of the humid jungle into an open field. Your heart stops, your eyes widen as you gaze upon the most terrifying thing you’ve ever seen. It’s standing right in front of you in the clearing. Like they’ve been waiting for you.

Large, brightly colored feathers shoot out from the tops of their masks like a crown. They have large distorted scowling faces, long noses, dark empty eyes, jaguar like fangs protruding from their mouths. Their bodies are painted in bright colors. Some of them are covered in spotted fur like the ocelots you’ve seen and hunted for food in the jungle here. Others look like the jungle brought to life covered in leaves and glowing eyes. Their mangled hands clap together, and they let out an otherworldly bellowing sound as they charge towards you. Panic sets in, it’s fight or flight. What do you do? You run, that’s what you do. You run the fastest you’ve ever run in your life.

They Ran!

During the Spanish conquest, they encountered one indigenous tribe that made them quiver in their armor. Believe it or not, this tribe caused the conquistadors to flee back to their ships in terror. I know it’s hard to imagine this happening to the brave conquistadors, but it did and to this day the tribe lives peacefully in the mountains of Costa Rica. They still celebrate warding off the conquistadors with a big festival. The tribe is called Boruca. Stay tuned for the next chapter featuring the Boruca tribe.

See You Soon

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more details on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.