The Ark Of The Diaspora: Costa Rican Calypso


A Note From The Gull

I looked at the video above and loved the sound of the voices singing calypso. These are not recent arrivals from the Caribbean? Though the style is old calypso, they are singing in Spanish. When the singer switches to English it suddenly becomes difficult to hear the words. The explanation could be that the singer was just too far away from the recording device at that time, or was singing carelessly or if none of the above are true, could it be that his English is remembered English, very much like the vaguely remembered Spanish that some Trinbagonian paranderos dust off and use enthusiastically only at Christmas time. Are these street performers employing this calypso style because they have not had the same series of influences as the Trinbagonian calypso, and have therefore retained an earlier style. Is it possible that one day, Trinbagonian calypso coming out of Trinidad and Tobago will no longer sound anything like this and performers like these will be the ones who will keep it alive? The oxbow lakes of our culture cut off and preserving themselves in pockets all over the world!

Searching for more examples of Costa Rican calypso, I found this review by Louis Gibson of an album of calypso music available at called "Costa Rica: Calyspo"
"When someone says "calypso," one naturally thinks of Trinidad. But hidden here and there in the Caribbean are little pockets of the old calypso tradition, somewhat static, but still vibrant. This album looks at the virtually unknown English-speaking calypso community of Spanish-speaking Costa Rica. While these artists have a "frozen in time" sound to them, the music is nonetheless wonderful. In solo settings and small ensembles of percussion, guitars and voices, the older generation of Puerto Limon sets out a rootsy, gritty music with a generous dose of enthusiasm. The pop-influenced New Revelation offer pleasant tunes; the gritty Charo de Limon performs some good social commentary, accompanying himself with one of the rawest guitar sounds this side of Joseph Spence. The best of the lot is Cahuita Calypso: with a banjo and rhythm box courting the call and response of the vocals, they offer the most African-rooted sound.
--Louis Gibson
Also on the same page another reviewer reveals that the performers of the CD were not even aware that the music was going to be sold and did not receive any payment for their music...
"This is one of the greatest original calypso cds available. The BIG problem is that I personaly met and know these men when i lived in Cahuita, Costa Rica, and found out that a visitor recorded them without telling them he was going to produce a Cd to sell. SO NONE of the musicians recieved 1 penny. This label is also doing this to a lot of other poor people from 3rd world countries!"
Long live Trinbagonians, at the source and wherever they find themselves in this world!

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!