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Liberia is a center for the ranches and farms in the area !!

Last night as I lay on the prairie, And looked at the stars in the sky, I wondered if ever a cowboy, would drift to that sweet bye-and-bye. ~ song: The Cowboy’s Dream, anonymous

The capital of Guanacaste Province is the growing city of Liberia, now complete with an international airport that accepts occasional charter flights. Overlooked as a tourist destination, the dusty colonial town is a center for the many ranches and farms in the mostly agricultural area.

The sun shines more in Guanacaste especially in the dry season, but even in the rainy season when things are green, you get more sun time here.

The year-round weather down on the plains is hot and hotter, but the town offers some respite in its cool, shady central square and mercado. Liberia is a more colonial town than any we’ve mentioned before. Spanish architecture survives in corner homes that have puertas del sol (wooden doors on each side of the corner, one to let in the morning sun, one for the afternoon); clean, straight streets lined with flamboyant trees; brilliant white-washed walls; adobe and stucco; brown tile roofs; wooden porticos; bright color trim; and bougainvillea peeking over garden walls.

All these elements combine to make a pleasant stroll in the early morning or late afternoon.

The bright sparkles in the walls of older buildings are reflections of quartzite contained in the white coral limestone used to build most of the original Ciudad Blanca, the White City.

If you’re walking around, stop at the Casa de la Cultura, three blocks south of the main plaza. It features a display (in Spanish) of the area’s cowboy, sabanero, heritage. Another destination could be the Iglesia de la Ermita de la Resurreccíon (Church of the Hermit of the Resurrection), thankfully shortened by locals to La Agonía, The Agony. The simple, quiet, colonial-style church dates back to when this corner of Costa Rica succeeded from Nicaragua.

Liberia holds a major festival each year on July 25 to commemorate its succession from its northern neighbor. Count on cowboys, rodeos, parades, processions, fireworks, concerts and bloodless bullfights.

Set along the Inter-American Highway, Liberia is the last large city before Nicaragua, 75 km/47 miles north. For sea lovers, it’s a crossroads for traffic headed to the beaches on Nicoya; nature lovers use it as a gateway to the Santa Rosa, Guanacaste, Palo Verde and Rincón de la Vieja national parks, plus San Ramón (Lomas Barbudal) Nature Preserve.

If you are staying, here a link to Hotels in Liberia.

Our favorite place to eat in town is Jardín de Azucar (Sugar Garden) near the Central Park. Las Tinajas is a good burger/pizza fast-food joint (pizza and Chinese food seem to be local staples).

The best food outside of town is on the road to Nicoya at Restaurant Pókopí (which means “very much” in the Chorotega language). It will surprise you with its “very much” continental menu – a delicious change from typical Tico casados and gallo pinto.

This is cattle country, and the steaks at La Tablita Steak House (. 506/666-7122) couldn’t be bigger or juicier. They’re on the highway, one kilometer south of Liberia. Have an ice-cold beer for us.


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