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Santiago de Puriscal, San Jose

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View from Santiago de Puriscal

Overlooked by a stunning church, the land of Santiago de Puriscal is as beautiful as it is important to agriculture in Costa Rica. It is common to hear this area referred to as either Puriscal or Santiago. Located about 12 miles west of Ciudad Colon, Puriscal is the capital city of the canton of Puriscal in the San Jose province. This is a quiet, rural community where many native Ticos go for a relaxing vacation; however, there is also an increasing amount of foreigners who are attracted to this town. Despite the influx of tourists, this destination it is often a day trip for those staying in larger cities such as San Jose - it is about a 40-minute bus ride from the nation's capital.

Travelers looking for handmade goods, fresh produce or top-quality tobacco products should carve out time for an adventure through Puriscal. Vegas de Puriscal is a family-owned tobacco farm that takes advantage of the ideal climate and volcanic soil to produce from of the world's best cigars. This factory has been in business for 80 years, and because of the perfect proportion of rainfall, humidity and dryness, there is no need for the use of pesticides. Visitors can come to the factory on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cestería Quitirrisi is a wonderful spot to visit for people who are hoping to get an inside look at the real lives of Ticos in Puriscal. For more than 50 years, a family has passed down the art of crafting kitchen accessories and home decor inspired by native culture and nature. The woman here work with natural dyes to turn material such as pita, tule and chidra from the stems of plants to create colorful hats, bags, baskets, decorations, table runners and much more.

About 18 miles southwest of Puriscal sits a 219-acre farm and private wildlife refuge: Rancho Mastatal Environmental Learning Center and Lodge. Boasting more than four miles of nature trails through a pristine forest, this ranch reserve is dedicated to teaching travelers the importance of sustainable living and environmental justice. This reserve hugs the La Cangreja National Park that protects 2,240 hectares of virgin tropical mountainous forest. It is home to more than 200 plant species, several of which are only or primarily endemic to the area.
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