Every country has its selection of interesting urban myths. Most people don’t take them seriously. Instead, they act as an enjoyable part of a nation’s culture. A Tico might enjoy amazing tourists the stories, or they might use them to scare children into brushing their teeth. Whatever the purpose of these stories, they’re what differentiate cultures.
Here are some urban myths of Costa Rica. They mainly focus on the myths surrounding children and the weather.
Costa Rica is a country surrounded by water. Since the country is only 50 miles in width at its widest point, you’re never far from the ocean. It’s common to see kids playing in the water. Naturally, their parents want to protect them from drowning. This is where this first myth comes from.
If you give birth to a child, Ticos might say cut the umbilical cord and throw it in the ocean. This supposedly stops them from drowning in the future. You don’t have to throw the whole thing. A small piece will do. Ticos know it’s nonsense, but it’s a ritual which has stood the test of time.
At an early age when your child starts to grow hair, Ticos advise you to shave their heads completely and keep them bald. Doing so will allow them to grow a thicker head of hair in the future.
Interestingly, this is similar to a myth in the UK where if you shave your beard or hair it will grow back longer and thicker. Many people still buy into it, which is why a lot of foreigners will actually do this in Costa Rica.
The Laughing Falcon
When you hear the Laughing Falcon calling from a tree without any leaves it means the rain is about to come. Nobody is quite sure where this myth comes from, but you’ll hear lots about it in the Lake Arenal area.
Leading on from the Laughing Falcon, another myth is once it rains heavily the atmosphere will become hot and humid. If this happens, it means Costa Rica is about to be hit by an earthquake. The myth doesn’t necessarily specify an earthquake size, but the few times it has happened have given this myth some staying power.
The legend of Fulminating Fib is about a character who tells completely outrageous lies. This story appears in so many books, mainly short story anthologies published by the likes of Barbara Ras.
The stories change depending on who’s telling you about them, so nobody is sure what the original stories were. One ‘fib’ which springs to mind is when the character claimed he had a bad tooth. Instead of going to the dentist he tied a piece of string to a team of oxen which pulled it out.
These urban myths of Costa Rica are colourful and charming. These are but a few of them, though. There are myths relating to each area of the country. Regional myths are popular and you will enjoy asking people to tell you about them during your stay in Costa Rica.