Costa Rica saw its fair share of major crime and political stories in 2013, but some of this year’s most viral headlines steered away from controversy and instead were just plain weird. Here are our choices for the year’s most bizarre Costa Rica headlines.
5. Costa Rica sets Guinness World Record for largest fried rice bowl
Move over, gallo pinto. Ticos have a new favored rice dish. OK not exactly, but the country is now the world record holder for cooking the largest bowl of Cantonese rice. For the Chinese New Year, chefs from 25 Chinese restaurants cooked up 735 kilograms of the dish, feeding 7,000 people.
4. Cattle theft costs industry $1.5 million
Forget typical inconveniences like drought and disease, Costa Rican ranchers have good old-fashioned bandits and gunslingers to contend with. Cattle rustlin’ cost the Costa Rican beef industry more than $1.5 million in 2013, with the theft of more than 2,000 animals between January and October.
3. NBC cuts pirated Miami signal
Costa Rican cable providers sent out a notice that they would no longer carry their U.S. NBC channels. When their customers complained, the cable providers blamed the major broadcasting network, but failed to mention that the signal was pirated. Cable providers distanced themselves from the incident, blaming a mysterious Canadian company they say sold them the channel.
2. Costa Rica mayor invents Disney park
Luis Gerardo Casteñeda, mayor of the northern tourism hub of Liberia, made a surprise television announcement that Disney was planning to build a theme park in his town. The predictable fanfare and media frenzy followed, until Disney denied the story. The bumbling mayor then admitted that no paperwork had been filed for a park and he denied ever confirming it, despite making the original pronouncement on camera.
1. Costa Rican legislature accidentally passes same-sex marriage
In a sign of accidental solidarity with the Costa Rican LGBT community, lawmakers passed a measure with language that technically qualifies same-sex couples for marriage and domestic partnerships. Though judges have since rejected applications for gay domestic partnerships, appeals have been filed and another judge could still approve the partnerships.
This year also saw a presidential candidate drop out of the race two different times, the U.S. and Costa Rica go to war … over soccer in the snow, a crocodile attack victim sympathetic to his attacker and violent criminals released due to prison overcrowding.