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Costa Rica - Expo Paris 1889

Costa Rica at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1889

Although built entirely of iron, perhaps because of this, the pavilion of the Republic of Costa Rica is very attractive.

In the four corners are bronze statues of a soldier, a peasant, a locksmith and a blacksmith. You reach it by a small and very elegant staircase. But why does the view immediately fall on a collection of ophidians. You would think this was the land of snakes.

There are huge ones, and then there are tiny ones that look just as unsafe as the big ones. They may all be in alcohol, or stuffed, but at first it makes a strange impression.

The pavilion is very small.
In the first showcase is a whole collection of birds of all sizes with varied and lively plumage. Above is a beautiful collection of butterflies. Along the walls is a beautiful series of watercolours representing the flora of America, which is remarkable.
The other showcases contain more birds, especially parrots. The central showcase contains a series of dried plants from the country. It is a real drugstore, we can see the ipecac, the sarsaparilla and, above all, the mikania guaco, thanks to which we will be able to visit even living snakes with impunity. In fact, the Indians take the juice of these leaves and drink them in spoonfuls to protect themselves against the bite of venomous snakes, and in order to sustain the action they take them five or six times a month. In addition, they carry the leaves with them, claiming that the smell alone produces a stunning effect on snakes. American doctors hold this plant in high esteem. As for its effectiveness, it is only effective if the juice is absorbed before the bite, because afterwards there is no effect.

Nature does things well, by putting the remedy next to the evil, but it seems to me that she would have done even better if the remedy was curative and not only preservative.

Finally, there are large jars containing coffee and cocoa. The coffees are of the mocha variety. The cocoa is excellent. This culture is a real treasure, for if it requires five years of preparation, without profit, after that it produces a very abundant harvest, without the slightest fatigue, and if one took a little trouble to pull out the weeds, it would be something else, but the natives do not like work.

The weather in this little state is most agreeable; it is a perpetual spring.

Its import trade amounts to 18 million and its export to 26 million. Exports consist mainly of coffee, sugar, leather, cocoa, timber and minerals.

In the past, an isthmus was planned to cross this small state. It was the project of Messrs Blanchet, Lull, Menocal, Amnen, Belly. It ran from Gregtown on the Atlantic Ocean side to Brito Cove on the Pacific Ocean, through the states of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, over a distance of 292 kilometres with 25 locks. But the Panama project prevailed.

At the time, this was greatly welcomed in France, but alas, times have changed.

©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition - Louis Phalanchet.