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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mamita Tina - Mystery Solved

On August 28, 2013, I did a post about a sign that stands on highway 3 at the entrance to Atenas. I was wondering who Cristina Cabezas Zumbado was and why a large sign had been erected in her honor.

The mystery is solved - thanks to Marietta Arce, publisher of "Atenas Today", and Mamita Tina's great-granddaughter, Ana Lidia González Sandoval. Here, then, is the story as published in the "Atenas Today" July 2014 issue. Thanks to Marietta for giving me permission to reprint this great story and thanks to Ana Lidia González Sandoval for generously sharing the information:

No doubt many have observed the monument outside Alida’s Pizza in Sabana Larga and wondered who Cristina Cabezas Zumbado was. This article will hopefully answer the question and provide many interesting facts which were generously shared by her great-granddaughter, Ana Lidia González Sandoval, currently a resident of Atenas.

On September 17, 1863 Cayetano Cabezas and Maria Zumbado (a couple originally from Barva, Heredia who had moved to Atenas) were blessed with a daughter whom they named Maria Sofia de Jesus. She became known as Cristina or Tina Cabezas Zumbado.

Tina Cabezas married José Salas (from Cartago) on August 16, 1884 in Atenas and they started the Salas Cabezas family. Tina or Mamita Tina (as she was also fondly called) was a small, tanned, slender woman with much beauty and vitality. She was very religious (Catholic) always praying the Angelus at six in the morning and at noon, and saying the rosary at night. She was devoted to the Christ of Limpias.

Mamita Tina was a very helpful and charitable person. She showered everyone with love and gave wise advice. If she saw someone in need, she did not hesitate to help; if they were sick, she would often heal them. Her husband don José Salas was an oxcart driver who traveled from Cartago to Puntarenas and back. After he married Mamita Tina, he purchased several properties in Atenas. Their home was located where the Music School is now. Across the street, they opened a "sesteo" (resting place) where they served the needs of the oxcart driver and his oxen. Don José continued to travel back and forth from Cartago to Puntarenas with merchandise. Later, they converted their home into an inn and worked alongside their children: Ramon, Emilio, Lalo, Carpio, Adolfo and Oliva as well as their foster daughter Dorila Vindas.

Don José and his sons were in charge of the "sesteo". The working day at the inn began at three in the morning with Mamita Tina preparing the meals (beef stew, hash, stuffed pork loin). They ground the corn in a machine to prepare the flour to make tortillas, ‘bizcochos’, tamal asado and tamales. The coffee was brewed by boiling water with the sugar added and then pouring the sweet water through a cloth filter holding the ground coffee. The whole family participated in this work.

Most of the guests of the inn were traveling barefoot or with a simple type of sandal called "caite". Others fastened a leather sole with leather straps to their feet. They wore plain gauze shirts. In winter (rainy season) they were completely soaked by the time they reached the sesteo!

Sometimes people were ill when they arrived at the inn and Mamita Tina would give them a change of clothes and natural healing remedies so that they could get better and continue their journey the next day. The oxcarts were often left overnight in the hallways or backyard of their home. Cattle owners or bosses traveled on horseback and they wore leggings and fancier clothing. The traveling herds were allowed to graze on don José’s pastures. People going to Puntarenas for a vacation would also stay at Mamita Tina’s to rest before continuing their journey.

Cristina Cabezas learned midwifery at San Juan de Dios Hospital in San Jose. She was a midwife for the county of Atenas and brought many children into the world. Women in labor might call Mamita Tina in the middle of night; in the rain; from remote places where she had to walk great distances (like Güisaro or Cajón) and she never refused to go. Often, when she arrived at the homes, she found that the family was very poor, had little to eat and nothing to wrap the baby in. She would return home, take sheets that had been given to her by doña Livia Saravia for this purpose, and go back to properly swaddle the newborn. If a baby was born in the afternoon or evening, she stayed overnight to help the mother the next day. She received no monetary compensation for this work, she did it as a service to God and her community. Many of the babies later became her godchildren.

The beautiful story of Mamita Tina was told by Placidia Sandoval Salas to her daughter Ana Lidia González Sandoval, Mamita Tina’s great granddaughter. We look forward to more stories about this wonderful woman who lived in Atenas when Atenas was just getting settled!

The photos are courtesy of Ana Lidia González Sandoval.

"Atenas Today" is a free English language newsletter for residents and potential residents of Atenas, Costa Rica. It contains informative articles and creative compositions submitted by readers and is distributed via e-mail approximately once a month to over 500 e-mail subscribers. To get on the distribution list or to submit material, please send an e-mail to Marietta Arce at

Compositions from back issues are archived on the Atenas Chamber of Tourist and Commerce website. Click on the English version and then Atenas Today on the business page.


1 comment:

Photolera Claudinha said...

Such a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it with us!