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Ode to Liberia, Revised

Prof. Rodolfo Salazar Solórzano, in an ode to Liberia:

Mi ciudad es blanca,                              [My city is white,

sencilla y risueña,                                  simple and smiling,

con olor a monte                                    with the smell of mountains

con olor a monte                                    with the smell of mountains

y a flor de reseda.                                  and of mignonette flower.


The Rough Guide to Costa Rica (September 2011):

“Known colloquially as the ‘Ciudad Blanca’ (white city) due to its whitewashed houses, Liberia is the only town in Costa Rica that seems truly colonial in style and character…  Liberia’s wide, clean streets are used more by cyclists and horseriders than motorists.”


Cameron Meyer Shorb, in a blog post about Liberia (2013):

Liberia is neither white nor clean.  It smells neither of mountains nor mignonettes, and I didn’t see a single horserider in the city.

Though a few whitewashed houses remain, the majority boast the brightest and sweetest colors of the tropics.  The gutters are littered with trash and rotting mangoes, giving the city a sickly sweet smell quite unlike that mountains or flowers.  The traces of Spanish colonialism meekly cede center stage to the American empire, with McDonald’s and Burger King signs looming high above the crossroads at the entrance to town.  The streets are not much wider than necessary for a car or two to race by its parked peers, much to the terror of pedestrians.

I loved Liberia.  It surged with the life and death that come so easily in these restless latitudes.  It seemed as proud of its progress as it was of its history.  The central church is a magnificent modern cement cathedral, as ugly as it is beautiful, asserting its independence defiantly and celebrating its contentedness confidently.



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