Last year, living in Tamagringo, September 15th was just like any other day. But now, living in a town that has more than 2% Ticos, I did actually get to partake in the annual festivities. The property owners of the apartment where I live invited me to join them in the Independence Eve festivities. Grettel had made her kids the traditional faroles (lanterns) the week before, and just before 6 p.m., we headed into town for the annual festival.
The Faroles are a traditional part of Independence Day in Costa Rica. And much work can go into creating them. They are made of all kinds of materials and decorations (ranchos, turtles, traditional lanterns) and then mounted on sticks. Either small lights or real candles (yikes!) are placed inside.
Unlike every other activity here in Costa Rica, it appears that Tico Time does not exist when it comes to the lighting of the torch and the evening’s events. 6 p.m. sharp the festivities began with the national anthem and traditional music, dancing, speeches and announcements. This was followed by a band procession that led everyone through the streets of Quepos. Kids (or more often than not), the parents carried the faroles as we walked through the town.
Arriving back at the Malecon, the judging of the faroles began. All the faroles were lifted up into the air in front of the main podium in order to be judged. Music continued to play as the younger kids drifted off to sleep in their parents laps.
As things were beginning to die down, we sat down at a food vendor and Carlos offered me buy me an arroz con leche which appears to be a traditional dessert. At least, I hope it’s a dessert as it was super sweet.
The next day, the streets were again shut down and the parade started promptly…I know because as I was leaving my house at 10, I could already hear the music. Kids representing their schools walked through the streets, some playing instruments or waving batons or flags, others sitting on decorated trucks with palms and bananas hanging off of them. Imagine the Rose Parade but with tropical fruits and plants.
Most everyone was dressed in the country’s colors of red, white and blue. Little girls and boys were wearing traditional dresses and outfits. Lots of red bandanas and soft white hats. (I was even wishing I had a hat – it might be the middle of winter but the sun is still blazing hot overhead!). As the parade was finishing, I ran into a friend who was there with his young family – one of his kids was marching in the parade and the other two were dressed up in traditional clothing. It’s fun to see so much patriotism.
Costa Rica isn’t really known for its culture but if you visit during one of its holidays, you’ll get to experience a deep love of country amongst its people. Weeks before, homes and businesses were already putting up festive decorations and flying the flag. Even the Catholic church hung gigantic ribbons in red, white and blue off its front entrance.
Enjoy the slideshow. This week, I’ll try to finish the video and upload it to YouTube…