A mix of folklore and faith PDF Print E-mail
The gentle waves along the broad sweep of beach at Samara have long drawn Costa Rican families to the area. Many own beach houses that have been yearly holiday destinations for generations. Interestingly the town has retained a relaxed Tico flavor, eschewing the frenzied development of other regions. Like many nearby towns it has its share of ancient customs and legend.

La Virgen del Mar Costa RicaMore than a tourist beach town, Samara is a thriving community of fishing and farming families although fishermen deliver their daily catch to adjacent Bahia Carrillo. Every July La Virgen del Mar, the patron saint of fishermen, is honored in a colorful floating procession. Boats decorated with tropical flowers and palm fronds slowly navigate the four-mile-wide bay, the lead craft proudly carrying her effigy. The rest of the vessels are filled with local families paying their respects to the Virgin who they believe keeps fishermen safe at sea.

The area's main town, Nicoya, that was the first settlement after the Spanish Conquest, boasts a well-preserved 500-year old colonial church. Today, it is the region's commercial hub melding old and new into a bustling yet mellow center with a vivid sense of history. Following a centuries' old tradition each November dozens of oxen, pulling brightly painted carts, and their drivers head over to farmland belonging to well-known teacher and poet Farid Nema to cut firewood.

After a pre-dawn coffee at the House of the Virgin (or Cofrad�a) in Nicoya, the oxcarts plod along the two miles to the prescribed site escorted by horseback riders, marimba bands and folkdance groups. The cut wood is stacked onto the carts to be stored in the Cofradia before twelve noon according to time-honored convention, after which a well-deserved lunch and hearty chirrete (fermented maize drink) are offered to the woodcutters.

Costa Rica FolfkoreA community cook-out using the now dry kindling takes place one month later in mid-December, the festive meal honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe. Locals parade the image of this dark Madonna through Nicoya accompanied by a little black wooden horse � La Yeg�ita � both bound together in legend and faith. According to the tale, this bonding happened during December 1653 when two native men were returning home from the season's festivities well filled with chirrete and inclined to argue.

A vicious fight ensued witnessed by a native woman who beseeches the Virgin of Guadalupe to stop the bloodshed. Immediately a little black mare emerged from the gloom and pushed the men apart. Legends, lumbering oxcarts and vigilant ponies only add to the magic of this enchanting area.
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