Grecia Trip – Wycombe for Fairtrade – Afternoon Wednesday 18th May 2022

Day 6 Weds 18th May 2022 – Early Afternoon

Visit to Grecia Cathedral

After an excellent lunch on the veranda at the CoopeVictoria Cafeteria, Mike and Sheena King were driven by Marie Angela to Grecia centre where we met Nora Suarez, the Deputy Mayor of Grecia, and Shirley from Grecia Fair Trade Committee, who showed us around the beautiful Roman Catholic Cathedral (Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes), which is made entirely from sheet steel.

 Caption: Sheena, Maria Angela, Shirley, and Nora Suarez in the central aisle looking towards the main entrance.

Caption: Interior of Grecia Cathedral looking towards central altarpiece.

The bright red house of worship was built in the late 19th century out of plates of imported Belgian steel. The separate plates have been plainly riveted together and the whole building painted red.  Given the odd make-up of the building, several legends regarding the reasons behind the church’s construction have appeared over the years. One zany theory is that the church, having been imported from Europe, was meant for Greece, but got sent to the slightly similar sounding town of Grecia. Another story says that it was meant for Chile but, due to bureaucratic quicksand, the building simply settled in Grecia. However, the truth behind the building would seem to be the one answer no one wants to believe: that the church was simply purchased by the local government and a group of investors.

Caption: Beautiful Cathedral side chapel altarpiece containing many carvings and statues.

Caption: Looking back to main Cathedral entrance with organ loft and lovely stained-glass windows giving good idea of scale.

The Cathedral is located in the centre of the town in front of the park and a pond. It is the focal point of Grecia and is as imposing as it is impressive. The interior of the Cathedral is just as impressive as the exterior, with beautiful stained-glass windows, icons, and alters with carved figures and statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.

Caption: Grecia Cathedral interior with many carvings, icons and relics devoted to various saints.

Farewells: Municipal Council Chamber and Tour of Grecia Municipal Market

We returned to the Grecia Municipal Council Chamber to say our fond farewells to Nora and Shirley. They gave Mike and Sheena King gifts including a superbly baked cake and a bag of gifts for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of High Wycombe. Mike was interviewed along with Marie Angela by the local newspaper report and live radio broadcast. After coffee and pastries, we were also shown a couple of videos by the Grecia Municipal Market Manager of the town as well as the historic indoor market.

Indoor Market

Nora, Shirley, Marie Angela, and the Market Manager then gave us an interesting tour of the famous indoor covered market. This had been going for over 100 years and currently was occupied by 94 small, family-run, independent stallholders selling local, homemade products such as food, clothes, shoes, crafts, snacks, and artisanal goods based on local crafts. Large supermarkets and chain stores were banned from this area. There were many interesting murals adorning the tiled walls and passages in the market interior. The local craftsmen and artists had created some inspiring and beautiful depictions of Costa Rican wildlife, animals, birds, forests, and water scenes, as well as depicting historic crafts reflecting the local indigenous culture.

The covered market was open 6 days a week with around 1500 people during weekdays rising to 5,500 visitors on Saturdays. Our impression was of a thriving market providing a good meeting place for the local community as well as offering good quality organic food at reasonable price in the “sopas” (snack bars and mini store).  

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