History buffs with good shoes can retrace the march of the Costa Rica army in 1856. The Museo Juan Santamaría is sponsoring a series of hikes that travel the same path that Costa Ricans did marching to war.
This was when the president, Juan Rafael Mora Porras, called upon the country to defend against the filibusters led by William Walker, who was operating in Nicaragua. Costa Ricans met and defeated a band of invaders at Santa Ross de Sardinal March 20, 1856. Then they marched into Nicaragua for the decisive battle of Rivas April 11.
It was in that battle that Alajuela native Juan Satamaría died a hero and from where the museum gets its name.
Marchers today need not be as sturdy as the soldiers of the 19th century. The hikes will be in nine sections from Aug. 20 to Nov. 24. There is a fee and a limit on participation.
The series of hikes is called Sobre los pasos de nuestros héroes. The army had about 2,500 soldiers on the march, and the difficulties were many. There also was considerable
fighting along the Río San Juan in northern Costa Rica.
Many historians look on what is called the Campaña Nacional 1856-1857 as the establishment of the Costa Rican identity.
All did not end well. Despite prevailing in Nicaragua, the soldiers brought cholera home and 10,000 Costa Ricans died.