Having a well-planned out itinerary for trips is definitely major key however, allowing yourself some time for random exploring is never a bad thing. This is exactly how I stumbled upon one of my favorite parts of my trip to Costa Rica. We had just finished eating and decided to take a little stroll through Puerto Viejo to see what they had going on in the souvenir department. As were walking through the town, we saw the Casa de la Cultura Marcus Garvey (Marcus Garvey Culture House). Now y’all know I HAD to stop through.
From the looks of it, the space is a community center. The building had a main multi-purpose room, office, library and patio on the side for outdoor activities. At the time we walked in, there was a Spanish class going on for what looked like non-Costa Ricans. From a schedule that was posted inside, the center offers classes in: art, English, Italian, French, rhythmic gymnastics, Zumba, and much more.
I later learned that Marcus Garvey and Costa Rica have a pretty long history. In 1910, Marcus Garvey lived in Puerto Limón working for the United Fruit Company as a timekeeper and publishing a small newspaper. In 1917, he established the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) New York City division. The UNIA sought to promote racial pride and self-sufficiency through economics amongst blacks; eventually forming a nation that was both independent and black. The organization went on to create numerous businesses. One of which was the Black Star Line, Inc., whose home office was located in Puerto Limón. Both the UNIA and Black Star Line had numerous offices throughout Puerto Limón. Today, all along the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, you will find buildings that are still standing from his previous businesses or that were erected to honor him.
While I enjoy traveling in general, places with ties to the African Diaspora are much closer to my heart. Visiting sites like this center and learning about black history in those places (and how it may relate to African-American history) is one of my main goals in traveling. If you know me in real life, then you know how pressed I was LOL. I can’t wait to see what other treasures I come across in my travels this year.