October 12th Costa Rica Colombus Day: Día del Encuentro de las Culturas

October 12th Costa Rica celebrated el Dia del Encuentro de Las Culturas, otherwise known as Colombus Day in the United States, “Dia de la Raza” in many American countries, Discovery Day in the Bahamas, and “Dia de las Americas” in Uruguay. This holiday marks the anniversary of Christopher Colombus’s first journey to the Americas, and the merging of different cultures between Europe and the Americas.

He put his foot on America land that day in the year 1492,  on an island in the Bahamas, which he called San Salvador. He came to America with his three “Carabelas” ( Boats): La pinta, La Niña y La Santa Maria.

The existence of the American continent was ignored (by Europeans) for long time. But an expedition  by Columbus allowed its “discovery”, conquest and colonization by Europeans. The discovery was made on October 12, 1492. However, Columbus thought that  came to Asia coast, in India that’s why our native people were called “Indians”. In the moment that all the explorers penetrated in our  coasts, rivers, lands, they realized that it was actually a New World.

Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus) landed on the Atlantic coast of a wild land, what is now the port city of Limón, on September 25, 1502 during his fourth voyage to the new world.

September 25, 1502 : Columbus arrived to Costa Rica:

The fourth and last voyage of Columbus was ten years after the first and it iss more important to Costa Ricans, as they came to the land of our country.

On this trip came 140 men in four ships called The Captain, Vizcaya, Santiago and Galicia. Columbus landed on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica on September 25, 1502 and rested on Cariay, now known as Puerto Limón. He visited the island called Quiribrí and gave it the name of La Huerta, now known as Uvita island.

He remained in Costa Rican territory 17 days during which enjoyed of the natural beauty of our land being impressed by it and by the gold ornaments worn by the natives.

La pinta, la niña y la Santamaria
La pinta, la niña y la Santamaria

The approvation of Cultures Day confirmed that the  roots of Costa Rica and   all  Latin American countries come from three interacting cultures since 1492: Spanish, native indigenous and African-Caribbean, who made us in a multicultural and multiethnic nation. The establishment of this celebration also help to recognize that, since the middle of last century, our country has benefited from European immigration, American, Asian, Hebrew and Arabic, and others.

Legacy of the Conquest:

In our timeline, this historic event has helped us to create a unique cultural identity and freedom as American. Let’s not forget that despite being discovered by a “civilized” culture , our colonization  was bloody where our ancestors were underwent a marginal slavery, violently, and cruel bondage.

The contact between Europeans and native indigenous had enormous impact in both cultures, such as:

New Diseases: Epidemics brought by the Conquerors caused the large Aboriginal population decline since the discovery and conquest.

The spread of plant and animal species: The Spanish brought from the Old World to America some native products for commercialization and to guarantee their usual food . Some of them were the sugarcane, who was brought by Cristóbal Colón in his second Journey, wheat, grapes, citrus and rice ( Originally of Asia). At the same time they had brought to the Old World  the native products such as corn, potatoes, cocoa, tomatoes and several varieties of chili and beans. Potato was very important, because it helped to alleviate the famines that periodically occurred in Europe and theTabacco  that expanded rapidly in Europe (used by Indigenous for ritual purposes).

Many different species of animals were introduced by Europeans, right in the third journey, Christopher Columbus brought cattle, pigs, horses, cows, sheep and chickens. Indigenous quickly learned to use animals for transportation as the horse which became a prized possession the Indians who lived in prairies of North America.

The environmental impact: It is not doubt that there was an impact on forests due to de-forestation to make room for the large plantations of snuff, sugar cane,  grazing and uncontrolled agricultural techniques. The exploitation and plunder of our GOLD bringing it almost the extinction of it caused also the extermination of whole tribes ”  in the Middle Ages, the price of A single bag of pepper was  more than  the life of a man, but gold and silver were the keys of the Renaissance and they were used to open the gates of paradise in heaven and the gates of the capitalist mercantilism in Earth “(E. Galeno).

Culture shock and Military: It was made thank to the Military victory of Europeans on American civilizations subjecting them to slavery and evangelism, economic exploitation of the vanquished and the introduction of European cultural patterns: language, customs, food, religion, etc.

The Indigenous lost a great deal of their knowledge when the Spanish Conquistadors ravaged the native nations.

The Conquest of Costa Rica:

The conquest of the present territory of Costa Rica, with exeption of Nicoya, was obtained too late, because it was not until the 1560s when the Spanish were able to penetrate into the interior of the country, after repeated failures.

By the mid-sixteenth century, the indigenous population of Nicaragua  was decimated , due to the export of slaves, epidemics and overwork. The need for new Indigenous labor and to find more riches (Gold and silver)  were the motives of Spanish that were living in nicaragua  that led to plan the conquest of Costa Rica. Juan de Cavallon expeditions to Costa Rica finally succeeded in 1569.

Whether for good or bad, we were conquered and my blood is indigenous and Spanish. Because of this I am the best of both worlds. I consist of both cultures, enjoyable and attractive and if up to me if I want to keep the bad parts.

“When you have to choose between two paths, ask yourself which of them has heart. Whoever chooses the path of the heart is never wrong.” (The Popol Vuh)


Article Zurqui from NaciónNewspaper

Book from UCR: Estudios Sociales Unidad 4: La Conquitas de America. 

Book: The Popol-Vuh

Book of  Eduardo Galeano: Las Venas Abiertas de Latinoamerica

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