A legend lives at Hacienda Guachipelin. For more than 50 years, Justo Pastor Sanchez Castillo – known affectionately to all at Hacienda Guachipelin as “Don Justo” – has made magic with his music on the marimba. He is a living legend playing a folkloric instrument that is fading into history.
You can’t visit Guanacaste, Costa Rica without listening at least once to the distinct resonant sounds of a traditional marimba. Considered a symbol of culture and tradition, especially in the province of Guanacaste, the marimba was declared the national musical instrument of Costa Rica by President José María Figueres in 1996.
The marimba is a percussion instrument consisting of a set of wooden bars, arranged like those of a piano, which when struck with mallets produce musical tones. Resonators (tubes, usually of aluminum) that hang below the bars amplify their sound with vibration.
In Central America and Mexico, a hole is often carved into the bottom of each resonator and then covered with a delicate membrane made with pig intestine to add a characteristic “buzzing” or “rattling” sound known as charleo. Marimba players often simultaneously use between two and four mallets in each hand, and often play with one or two other persons for more complicated songs.
The marimba was developed in Guatemala centuries ago, based on a type of xylophone from African slaves; the marimba is also the official national instrument of Guatemala. The historical musical instrument was brought to Costa Rica from Guatemala in colonial times by Franciscan priests, and spread in the region of Guanacaste and the Central Valley. In Costa Rica, marimba music is synonymous with Guanacaste.
You can listen to colorful marimba music every night at award-winning eco-hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Don Justo plays his legendary songs in the hotel’s bar and restaurant to entertain guests every night, like he has been doing for the past eight years.
“Our guests love listening to the traditional music of Guanacaste,” agreed the Hacienda Guachipelin reception staff.
At the base of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the best places to stay in Guanacaste. The eco-tourism hotel is a working horse and cattle ranch and has some of the best adventure tours in Costa Rica. Hacienda Guachipelin received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014.
Article by Shannon Farley
Here’s a bit of a different Costa Rica vacation for you: Travel the entire country from coast to coast and north to south, but only under your own steam on mountain bikes, kayaks, rafts, zipline cables, and your feet. Sleep under the stars wherever you may be – mud, sand, grass field, rocky stream bed – but only for a few hours at a time. Brave the thrills of mosquitoes, venomous snakes, crocodiles, rain, boiling sun, and sweltering rainforest. Do that for about six days straight with three of your friends, but with the added adrenaline surge of trying to outrace 64 other groups like you all trying to get to the same final destination first.
Sound like fun? Maybe not for the average person, but if you are one of the world’s best endurance athletes, it’s right up your alley … or trail, as it were.
This unforgettable “vacation” is actually the 2013 Adventure Race World Championships (ARWC), coming to Costa Rica from Nov. 29 to Dec. 12. Sixty-five teams from 26 countries will compete for more or less 140 hours non-stop on adventure challenges, covering over 700 km from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and across Costa Rica border-to-border from Nicaragua to Panama. Teams of four competitors will traverse a wide variety of terrain, from long beach walks to high ascents over rugged mountains. They will raft, kayak (ocean and river), mountain bike, trek, climb and rappel, and cross canopy ziplines, among other events. Race organizers estimate that it will take the winning team approximately 120 hours in five to six days to finish. The race will be open a total of nine days (216 hours).
The epic adventure is also the fourth Adventure Race Costa Rica (ARCR), which joined the Adventure Race World Series (ARWS) in 2010. The AR World Series is an international circuit of premier adventure races that since 2001 culminate every year in the AR World Championships. To get to the ARWC, teams have competed all year long in eight adventure races in different countries, leading up to the finals in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches and rainforests, and is also gaining international fame for endurance sports. The “La Ruta de los Conquistadores” (The Route of the Conquistadors) top world endurance mountain bike race celebrated its 20th anniversary Oct. 24-26 in Costa Rica. Hundreds of the best mountain bikers and endurance racers have been crossing 192 miles (310 km) from the Pacific to the Caribbean over these three days.
In June, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín, at the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Costa Rica’s northern Guanacaste region, hosted the international North Face Endurance Challenge. Competitors ran 80k, 50k, 21k and 10k races over rugged ground at the volcano. The eco-hotel then staged the 100-mile (160 km) Rincón de la Vieja Challenge mountain bike race in August. The adventure race was the first of its kind in Costa Rica and Latin America to circumnavigate an active volcano.
Not an endurance athlete, but still looking for an adventure vacation in Costa Rica? Hacienda Guachipelín, a first-class eco-lodge, is a prime destination for adventure and nature lovers – offering canopy ziplines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, mountain biking, nature trails, and thermal springs – all on a working horse and cattle ranch. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín is located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Guanacaste’s principal city of Liberia.
Article by Shannon Farley