Friday, June 22, 2007

A Slight Misstep

By and large our trip to Costa Rica was a smashing success. Sure, there was a bit of a disappointment in that we couldn't do our canopy tour due to the rain, but that was offset by the opportunity to toss down shots of local rum. On the other hand, there was one side-trip that we purchased that I would have to suggest you skip. That was the visit to an "authentic" Maluku Indian village.

The Great House

I guess this was authentic if the Maluku have existed throughout the years by operating a giant souvenir shop.

Interior Of The Great House

We were treated to a demonstration of a native dance and ceremony that did have a bit of poignancy about it. It was largely a lament of how the environment was being destroyed by the white man and the Maluku way of life was no longer possible to sustain. They also passed around a variety of masks that were used in their ceremony and explained the meaning of each one. Again, this would have been a bit more impressive if each one didn't also have a price tag.

Maluku Dancers

We all got to join in the dancing but, because we were all dancing, there was nobody to take a picture. I did get one taken of me after the dance was over though.

Bar Man And Instrument

There were a few native huts that we could see, but they were totally empty so it was pretty obvious that nobody actually lived here.

A Typical Maluku Dwelling

At least they did make the souvenirs that they sold and they weren't just some knock-offs from Asia or India.

The Factory

Now I wouldn't have minded this whole thing if there wasn't the continual insistence that this was an authentic Maluku village and that the people really lived here. I just didn't find that plausible. The only "livestock" that I spotted was a nice looking turkey who didn't seem like he would be anyone's meal anytime soon. And, as I mentioned, none of the dwellings looked inhabited or habitable.

The Turkey

Sadly, this reminded me of when I was just a little Bar Boy living in Minnesota. On our family drives up north we would pass, and sometimes stop into, "authentic" Indian villages, complete with a tepee or two and one or two Native Americans (as they are now known) dressed in buckskins and feathered headdresses selling little birch bark canoes, drums, bows and arrows, and other similar stuff.

One of the other draws of this side-trip was the promise of a frog and butterfly garden. For some reason I thought this would be an outdoor area where we would see a variety of frogs and butterflies in their native habitat. That too proved to be a bit of a disappointment. There was a meshed enclosure for the frogs and I spotted two. The Mysterious Chinese Woman claimed to have spotted a third though.

Frog 1

Frog 2

The butterflies were kept in a similar enclosure and, again, there didn't seem to be too many of them. I did get a picture of one though.


All in all I would suggest that if this little side-trip is offered to you, just say no. By the way, everyone in our little group felt the same way and, sadly for the Malukus, nobody bought any souvenirs.


Marty Freeman said...

Treasure Island, one of those Minnesota tourist traps you mention, is still going strong in Randall, Mn, just the way it was when we were kids. Like going back in time. Also "The Claw" Baron von Rashke has one north of Grand Rapids, Mn somewhere. A politically incorrect "Chief Wahoos Wampum Hut" or something like that... complete with his own line of "Claw" fishing lures. ahhhh but that stuff is irresistable for us kids.

1000 Bars said...

I just tracked down a copy of The Wrestler featuring Vern Gagne and watched it last night. A real classic. The Baron didn't make an appearance but Wahoo McDaniels did. Ah, the good old days when wrestlers looked like bulked up truck drivers. Not a pretty body builder amongst them.

paula said...

Those "instruments" the natives are playing look just like the fire works they are selling just down the street from me.

Oh what I wouldnt give for a good old "grab bag" from the bins just inside of the doors of these infamous tourist traps. What fun.

Can we stop here please please?