With local activities returning after two years of none because of Covid, Atenas had only the second Tope (= horse show or horse parade). For years the city had stopped it because the horse people had been trashing the town with what was almost a drunken brawl. Well it started again just before Covid and with the pandemic over, is on again. And theirs is unique in that it is at night which supposedly allows for more participation. Well, my evaluation is not very positive. The first two dozen or more horses were ridden by serious horse people with well disciplined horses just before it became dark. Then as if queued by the darkness, hundreds of horses chaotically rode all over the streets, back and forth, with a large percentage of the cowboy wannabes drinking beer and other liquor handed them by people in the audience from their ice chests. There was no order and no particular beauty. I would personally prefer a tope in the daylight with no beer or other alcohol. But I don’t have to go next year and probably will not. I like the Oxcart Parade better anyway! 🙂
That’s one pix for the email announcement and online is a slide show of my poor quality night photos.
Last night, Friday, was the first annual Christmas Parade in two years thanks to the Covid Pandemic and the people came out for that and the fiesta in Central Park. I got too many photos to share on the blog, so just a sampling here and then please go to my:
I’ve divided the good photos into 4 sub-galleries which you can go directly to from the link on the 4 pix below representing the sub galleries. First a photo of the church just before dark and the beginning of the light parade, then the sample photos . . .
During the last few days of my walks around Atenas, Alajuela, Costa Rica I have been cellphone-snapping photos of Christmas decorations and the slideshow below this one shot is just a sample of many in homes and businesses. Ticos love Christmas! And it is in our Summer break from schools with graduations the middle of December and new school year starting in February. It’s also the time for family vacations with all the hotels full during Christmas, especially on the beaches. I had to make reservations for my Christmas trip a year ago to get a room at Arenal Observatory. It will be literally full! Tomorrow night (Friday) is our Atenas Christmas Parade and I’ll have photos in a Saturday blog post. A fun and happy time of year here!
I was both humbled and joyed by the number of people who came up to me during the art show and told me they enjoyed reading my blog and especially appreciated the four who asked for me to sign one of my photo books. It helped me to feel like I’m not wasting my time with the blog preparation time. And it reminded me of the experience at Hotel Banana Azul in September when a woman came up to me at my dinner table one night and asked, “Are you the Charlie Doggett of the Retired in Costa Rica Blog?” I said, “I sure am!” She replied, “My mother and I have followed you blog for several years now and we both love it!” Then she got my permission for her husband to take a cellphone photo of us. 🙂
The art show was excellent with a continuous flow of people through it all three days and I sold a lot of stuff, and particularly enjoyed meeting and talking to a lot of people, both Ticos and expats. Its beginning to feel like the pandemic is over here in Costa Rica and of course everyone hopes so! We will have our Atenas Christmas Parade next week, the 16th, which I look forward to; then I return to Arenal Volcano National Park Christmas week, so a busy but happy month! 🙂
Most years in September I make a week relaxation adventure in the “Caribe South” which refers to the southern half of the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica around Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and the smaller town of Manzanillo where I explore two national parks/refuges (Cahuita & Gandoca-Manzanillo) for birds, butterflies, monkeys, sloths and other nature, visit some of the Bribri indigenous villages, botanical gardens, and maybe this year a new butterfly garden (if my tour people say it is okay). 🙂
And not to ignore the northern Caribbean side of Costa Rica or Limón Province; that’s where the provincial capital and port city of Limón is located and then above that a favorite national park, Tortuguero, which I hope to return to in 2023! It’s “The Amazon of Costa Rica” or a river and beach based jungle rainforest full of incredible wildlife and other nature! I can’t wait to get back there! 🙂 So much to see and do here!
But this trip is mostly relaxing in the beachside Hotel Banana Azul, walking a forested beachside road (for sloths, birds, butterflies) and walks or just relaxation on the beach (I don’t swim or surf in the ocean anymore) and this is the only place I’ve found that gives a “Relaxation Massage” that is actually relaxing. 🙂 So it is my only get-a-way that is not totally inside a dense rain or cloud forest (though Cahuita & Gandoca-Manzanillo are dense rainforests), yet still nature-centered and very relaxing. I missed it in 2020 due to Covid and no flights there, but here’s a couple of photos from last year’s post-cancer retreat in the “Howler Suite” or Room #1. 🙂
And just one more of the many things I look forward to each year that I’m “Retired in Costa Rica,” from rainforest and cloud forest photo trips to cultural activities and enjoying my little flower garden in Atenas! I have achieved my idea of pure life in paradise! And this December I will celebrate 8 years of living here! 🙂
And that linked title takes you to this week’s Tico Times article about a community-wide band and dance team from Zarcero which will represent Costa Rica a second time in the Rose Parade, Pasadena, California.
Zarcero is a town (called pueblo here) that is a little smaller than Atenas and north of us. It is known for topiaries in their Central Park, cheese-making and this large and professional community band of all ages. If you are one of those Americans who always watch the Rose Parade on TV, be sure to watch for the Costa Rica band! 🙂
Yesterday, 15 September, was Costa Rica’s Independence Day Celebration nation-wide including here in Atenas. I worked into the night processing my many photos and selecting choice ones for my photo gallery titled in Spanish this time :
With the fading of Covid and mask-wearing in Atenas comes the welcome sounds of the old “life as normal” with concerts and fiestas in the park and our first parade in more than 2 years scheduled for next week, 14 & 15 September, to celebrate Independence Day which is 15 September. Usually there is the parade of lanterns made by elementary school children on the night of 14th and then the big parade with all the bands + mid-day on the 15th. We will see, but you know something will happen because from the side of my hill I can hear three different schools practicing their drumming daily, which they always do a couple of weeks before a parade! 🙂 I’m still searching for a schedule of events and may have to go by the city hall for that. 🙂 Here’s some photos of previous years bands drumming before Covid . . . a single shot, then a gallery . . .
A quiet morning walk, a special breakfast, the songs of birds in my trees, and a bouquet of lilies in my house replace my old traditions of Easter Eggs for the children and a “dressed up” Easter Worship in a Baptist Church for most of my life. That old tradition is not me now.
This majority Catholic country has both traditions and superstitions that I explored those first few years here. This week’s Tico Times online article Processions and Superstition Mark Easter Week in Costa Rica describe only some of those and my blog posts & galleries linked below describe even more.
Costa Rica’s answer to the American Halloween tradition is “Day of the Masquerade” or Dia de la Mascarada (Wikipedia article) and today I experienced a tiny fringe of it at my favorite Supermarket . . .