culture Tag

Bajos del Toro, El Silencio, local tour, Costa Rica
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Off the track in Costa Rica

Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica Every Costa Rican town – even the smallest and most remote – has the holy trinity, it’s explained to me. They each have a church, a soccer field and a bar. With these three things, the people are happy. It doesn’t take me long to see all three of them in the small town of Bajos del Toro, high in the mountains of central Costa Rica. There are only 200 residents here and it feels that way. The main street doubles as a highway and is home to all the limited commerce in town. A few sidestreets lead to some more houses beyond the main road but walking any further than that takes you into the jungle. Bajos del Toro has a school but only 35 students go there. It also has a medical clinic but an actual doctor only visits once a month – the rest of...

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27 January
Yorkin Indigenous Reserve tour, bribri community, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
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“Now I feel free on my land”

The Yorkin Indigenous Reserve, Costa Rica We’re battling against the current as we head up the river. In a long wooden dugout – carved out of one single tree – two members of the indigenous Bribri tribe are taking me to one of their small communities at the very edge of Costa Rica, alongside the border with Panama. It takes us about an hour to navigate our way along the waterway, pushing off rocks and avoiding the strongest parts of the fast-flowing river. But the efforts to reach the settlement are nothing compared to the struggles these original people have had to keep their land and their heritage. Like many indigenous races across the world, the Bribri people have become disenfranchised because of the spread of colonialism. Spanish and other Western immigrants treated them like primitive natives and they were denied the same rights as other residents of Costa Rica. That created...

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21 January
Arus na ngael, Galway, Irish language pub
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The Galway Gaelic

Club Aras na nGael, Galway, Ireland The pub looks like many others in Ireland – some people drinking, the taps of beer dominated by Guinness signs, and some friendly barmen standing behind them. But there’s a difference in this one that is noticeable straight away. There are no signs in English. Not the name of the pub, not the posters on the wall, not even on the doors to the bathrooms (which could lead to an embarrassing encounter, I’m sure!). Here in the Irish city of Galway, at Club Aras na nGael, everything is in the traditional Irish language. “Irish occupies a very strange place in the Irish psyche because the majority of Ireland was Irish-speaking up until maybe 150 years ago,” barman Micheal O Leiohin tells me (after he’s poured me a pint). “The great famine and years of immigration devastated the language then at the foundation of the state there were efforts...

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27 June