Curubandé: Natural and Cultural Heritage of Liberia

The community of Curubandé is in the district of the same name, in Liberia Canton, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica. It has a population of about 2,600 inhabitants, where more than half are women.

The community of Curubandé shows a pattern of dispersed residence, where most families have access to small tracts of land (less than 12.3 acre - 5 hectares), which are dedicated to subsistence agriculture. Currently, there is a rural school where classes are taught from first to sixth year. In relation to basic services, there are: electricity, drinking water, telephone service, health service and public transport.

In the middle of the 80's (specifically in 1985), the community began to have continuous contact with the tourist activity, following the implementation of some shelters in the area. Some adventure offered activities are: canopy tour, horseback riding, rafting, ecological walks, hot springs and abseiling. Definitely, all these investments have arisen around a renowned attraction, as it is the Rincon de la Vieja National Park.

There are archaeological resources near the community of Curubandé of great tourist attraction. There is a whole series of sites with petroglyphs in its surroundings, which evidences the place was quite important for the indigenous groups that inhabited these lands, during the years 300 a. C. up to 800 d. C. They are a total of nine archaeological sites, the ones closest to the community, which represent 8 funeral sites, and one of petroglyphs on the banks of the Colorado River. In the engravings there are zoomorphic figures, associated to the spiritual aspects and shamanistic rituals. The shaman, shared a direct relationship with animals, and even, he/she could be transformed into one of them. "Costa Rica's shamans were transformed into birds, snakes, saurians, jaguars or whatever was necessary for the rituals they had to perform (Reynoard, 1996, in Zeledon 2010). The petroglyph closest to the community of Curubandé has these characteristics, and is in the so-called Viscoyola Site, which, "is a wall in an area of 50 square meters; this entails, to the supposition that this engraving could not have been executed by a single person, but because of the complexity that it presents it can refer to a group of craftsmen. (Zeledón, 2010).

There are also contemporary cultural manifestations in the community of Curubandé, characteristic of peasant life, agricultural and livestock life, typical of the Guanacaste province.
​According to the Rural Development Institute (INDER – by its Spanish acronym for Instituto de Desarrollo Rural), in 1978, the purchase of three farms was made to contribute to the development of the community. At that time, there were about 50 families in a linear distribution (43 dwellings along the way). From this moment, the activities of the community that revolve around the agriculture are initiated; then tourism generated by the presence of mountain hotels; and recently, by the geothermal project developed by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE).

Rincón de la Vieja Legend

Many mysteries enclose the volcanoes that shake our skins; these unpredictable chimneys that extend to the heart of the planet will always catch our attention...

From our aboriginal past, as volcanic material, emerges the following legend that gives the name to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park and its neighboring town ... Curubandé.

The exact location where the story unfolds is unknown, although the old accounts say that it took place on the slopes of "the mountain of the nine chimneys", which at the time was very active. What is certain is that over the years, this story was wrapped in mystery and legend.

The most beautiful flower that adorned the forests around the volcano was the beautiful princess Curubandá, daughter of the great Cacique Curubandé; she was so beautiful and graceful that no one could ignore her beauty. Woman of royal caste, proud and erect; endowed with singular charm, dark and with big black eyes full of mystery.

Curubandá walked through the places of those forests, by paths and sidewalks illuminating with its beauty each corner. It was in these very woods that she met the love of her life, a burly warrior named Mixcoac. In this way, the forest was the only witness of the immense love they secretly had. In time, the secret could not be kept anymore and Curubandé, recognizing Mixcoac as a member of an enemy tribe, captures him and throws him to the boiling lagoon at the top of the mountain.

In vain, he tried to comfort the young princess, who at that moment carried in her womb the fruit of that fleeting love. Disconsolate, she left the tribe and went deep into the forest, since only it who had been her accomplice understood her terrible anguish.

After giving birth, Curubandá took the creature and threw it into the crater, thinking that in that way he would meet with his father in the afterlife. After this heartbreaking fact, Curubandá never knew earthly love again. Over time she grew older, spending her time getting to know the mountain better, which was now home to her two loves.

The legend tells that shamans (guardians of the knowledge of mother nature and its healing properties) met once a year in their sacred places, to perform acts of purification, meditate and treat subjects related to the advance in natural medicine. In these meetings Curubandá was often referred to as "the old woman in the corner – La vieja del rincón" (in the distance from her home). For this time Curubandá was considered an authority in the knowledge of how to use the elements of the "mountain" to heal (plants, thermo-mineral waters, volcanic mud, insects, etc.). Over time, not only did these people (chosen by the deities to receive and keep knowledge of plants and their healing effects) aware of the existence of "La Vieja", but many other people made pilgrimages to Rincón de la Vieja to be healed.

Thus it was received the name of the National Park and its nearby community, today when walking the trails if you pay attention you can still hear the whispers of Curubandá in the wind and observe the rivers that sprouted from the tears that shed for their impossible love. His sweet voice taught singing to the waterfalls and the souls of Mixcoac and his son flutter the woods in the form of blue butterflies. Today we invite you to discover the warmth of a village that retains its cultural roots.
​Curubandé Cultural Tour
Tourists will be able to get acquainted with the community of Curubandé, which presents yesteryear Guanacaste attractions, combined with elements of contemporary sustainability.
La Pulpería de Barrio (Small neighbor store): It represents a distinctive element of the rural towns of Guanacaste, where you could get all kinds of necessities in every town.
La Saca: A meeting point where the image of the brave guanacasteco (A person from Guanacaste) was forged, and in the midst of some drinks, they were shared sorrows and joys among many people.
Old house Curubandé: This place represents the place to share some typical dishes that are elaborated in the community and of the province of Guanacaste. These dishes are associated with the cultivation of corn and other grains, tubers, and also milk by-products; As well as sharing a coffee (“cafecito”).
Multipurpose room: on this site you can develop multiple activities, both for the community and to offer representations of local customs.
Redondel (bullring): This structure allows highlighting the traditional aspects of life in guanacaste cattle ranches.
Square of cultural manifestations: it is a very typical park of the towns and cities of the country, where the children and big ones spend some time of leisure.
Sales of handicrafts: you can buy handicrafts made by the inhabitants of the community of Curubandé.
Mural of clean energies: it will allow to know the way in which the community of Curubandé was inserted to the production of clean energies in Costa Rica (geothermal and wind); as well as showing processes that cannot be seen in the fields of generation.
Institutional environment: there are other facilities, such as: The School, because in Costa Rica education is free and compulsory. The Church, since the spiritual aspect has always been the important component of "being Costa Rican". The Basic Teams of Integral Health Care (EBAIS – by its Spanish acronym Equipos Básicos de Atención Integral en Salud), since most Costa Rican communities have access to state-subsidized medical care. The Police Delegation, since citizen security is one of the priorities in the country.
​Paul Mora Vanegas,
Phone: (506) 8703-9704