Frequently expats will bemoan the loss of the old Costa Rica that they knew when they first arrived here perhaps 15 years ago. They have no idea.
The Archivo Nacional has opened an exhibit that explores the process of Central American independence. The topic is relevant because Thursday was the Día de Independencia. The exhibit runs until Sept. 30 at the archives in Zapote.
As part of the exhibit, the archives has on display early photos of Costa Rica. They are believed taken in the middle of the 19th century, perhaps as early as 1853, and show daily life.
One depicts Cartago market day complete with an ox cart and livestock. Another ox cart, this one loaded with hay, shows up in a photo of Agua Caliente and a local woman posing for the camera. A third is of the historic La Casona in Santa Rosa,
Guanacaste. The structure figured in an 1856 battle in which Costa Rican forces prevailed over the filibusters of William Walker. La Casona is so important to the history of the country that when it was destroyed by fire in 2001, lawmakers voted to replicate it.
The archives also has a number of documents on display on 11 metal panels. The exhibition also contains information on the first years of independence, including the designation of San José as the national capital instead of Cartago, and the birth and death of the Central American Federal Republic.
The archives now is part of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud. It is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. Although it was formally set up in 1881, the holdings include material that go back as far as the early colonial days. The Spanish were strong on keeping records. There also are many other historical documents on display or available.