San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Coco Capsule 10/01/10

Fodor’s 2006 guide to Costa Rica described Playas del Coco as “messy, noisy, colorful and interesting,” with a dirt main street that turned to mud in the rainy season. In this and upcoming columns, we’ll explore the many changes that have occurred in the last half decade to transform this fishing town – once most popular with San José’s college kids on break – into a viable and clean community, while respecting the town’s roots and traditions. Readers are invited to send their experiences and observations.

Among the more noticeable transitions has been the development of a true art scene in Coco, apart from the many fine crafts for which the area is known. Much of this art has been in clear public view, starting with the concrete cylindrical pipes closing off vehicular traffic to the beach. These have been transformed into beautiful planters by a team of more than a dozen artists and landscapers, supported by donations from area businesses. Each marks an entrance to a specific part of the beach and has been named for one of the special types of wildlife here.

Since then, numerous other projects have appeared, including the 300-foot mural on the road to Ocotal and, more recently, the mural on the wall of the recently opened Banco Nacional branch in the center of town. All celebrate the history and feeling of the community and add to the pleasure of residents and visitors alike.

The season’s first benefit event, The Monkey Party, held at Coconutz, raised more than $1,100 to build monkey bridges over the main streets of town. We’ll follow this project as it progresses and hopefully have pictures of our furry friends using the bridges once they’re completed.

Tomorrow, join friends at an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at Hidden Garden Art Gallery, five kilometers west of the Liberia airport. The event is sponsored by Chef Andre and Say Cheeze Cheesecakes, and proceeds will be given to the Coco Animal Rescue and Education (CARE) program that does so much for area pets and their owners. While at the breakfast, enjoy the organic market and the art now on display. Tickets will be sold at the door for ₡3,500 (about $7). The event starts at 9 a.m. and continues until noon.

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