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La Guacima, Alajuela

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Pulperia Ventanas Mural in La Guacima

The small village of La Guacima in Alajuela is located about 18 miles northwest of the capital city of San Jose, and can be reached by car in about 40 minutes. Travelers seeking an authentic "tico" lifestyle will enjoy this slightly off-the-beaten-path and tight-knit community. Family is very important to people here, and many of the families in La Guacima are related to one another, and they are extremely welcoming to foreign visitors.

Colorful attractions

The Butterfly Farm is one of the most beloved attractions in La Guacima, and it was the first live butterfly exhibit to open in Latin America. In 1990, Joris Brinckerhoff and Maria Sabido opened their farm where they offer guided tours each day. There are a few options for tours here that include an introductory film, a stroll through the butterfly garden and an insider look at the transformation from larvae to butterfly.

Ticos in La Guacima see butterflies as a somewhat spiritual insect, and at the farm, visitors will also learn about the ancient Greek depiction of these creatures and its relation to human transformation of the mind and soul.

Strolling through town, travelers may realize that the entire community is dedicated to the preservation and education of butterflies. There are 43 butterfly-themed murals that have been painted along town walls since the mid 2000s. Artists were welcomed into the village to create depictions of butterflies. The inspiration for this project came from the Italian village of Bordano, which boasts more than 200 butterfly-themed murals throughout town.

Motorsport Capital of Costa Rica

Travelers seeking an exciting adventure may want to visit the Autodromo. This entertainment center is primarily home to motorsports of all kinds, but it also hosts music acts from time to time. After 35 years in operation, the Autodromo La Guacima is the top Central American stage for motorsports. It could be compared to America's Daytona International Speedway. Some of the fastest cars in Latin America have been filmed at this locale, and it has played a major role in the development of motor sports in Costa Rica.

The Rancho San Miguel, located just a few miles north of La Guacima, is a farm where Andalusian horses are raised. The highlight of this ranch is the Fantasia Ecuestre, which is a one-hour festival of horsemanship with traditional attire and classical Spanish music. The event takes place at night, but visitors coming here during the day should wander through the on-site museum.