Each community in Costa Rica has an annual celebration of some sort under the guise of recognizing a patron saint, fruit, vegetable, harvest, horse, you name it. These celebrations can be a few days or a few weeks and are often accompanied by processions throughout the neighborhood led by a priest chanting over a megaphone at 5:00 AM! (Yes, at 5:00 AM.) The larger festivals have several food booths offering delicious ethnic foods and beer tents serving up local libations such as Imperial, Pilsen, Heineken, Bavaria and Rock Ice. For those who like their beverages a little “harder,” there is always guaro, a clear, potent liquid best consumed in small quantities (if consumed in large quantities you won’t remember doing so, I’ve been told). Our little barrio is having a celebration right now. Amusement park rides and food stands have been set up on the soccer field in front of the church. Because it is the rainy season, there are large ruts in the newly sodded “cancha” (field). Although I live more than a block away, I can hear the music (kumbia at the moment) as if it were in my own home. Fortunately, the city makes it stop at 11:00 PM. By then you are more than ready to pull the plug on the generator feeding juice to the sound system.
Our community in the US had an annual celebration to recognize the defeat of Jesse James (how many towns can claim that honor?!). Each year the “townies” would walk among the food booths in the evenings, reconnecting with friends they hadn’t seen since the previous celebration. Sharing greasy food (corndogs, onion rings and funnel cakes), stories and laughter was a tradition not to be missed. The Lions club served turkey legs, the Knights of Columbus dipped corndogs, Kiwanians served tacos and the Legion Club managed the ever-popular bingo tent. It always made me smile to see all ages rubbing shoulders as they sat on recently constructed benches made of boards and concrete blocks. No matter their ages, they all listened intently for their numbers to be called so they could be the one to shout “bingo.” On Sunday there was an enormous parade that lasted over two hours and was attended by people from all over the state. Americana at its finest. I imagine the people here look forward to their festivals with the same anticipation and back on them with the same nostalgia. Tiquicia at its finest.