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Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Festive Climate Fair and Oxcart Parade

Happy Birthday to our two wonderful grandsons, Kai turning 15 and Orion who is 12 today! Hope your day is just what you want it to be, full of fun, good food and lots of love from your family and friends. And we hope you both get to visit us in Costa Rica very soon!

Jumping right into my topic, last weekend was the Atenas Climate Fair and Oxcart Parade, an annual celebration in recognition of Atenas' reputation for having "the best climate in the world" and its historical significance as a key site on the road taken by the oxcarts carrying coffee to the port of Puntareñas on the Pacific Coast. Unlike our first year in Costa Rica, this fair day opened to a bright blue sky and the promise of a good day for the vendors in the central park selling jewelry, leather goods, clothing, knick-knacks and aromatic foods. There were trampolines and face painting for the kids and music and dancing for everyone.

Monumento de Boyero
But rather than head into the park, Layne and I had plans for a Sunday hike with Marcial and Seidy. Several of the "Santa Eulalia gang" were off on a trip to Nicaragua for their required "visa run" every three months so they can stay in the country legally, which left only the four of us for our weekly walk. So we gaily hopped on the Santa Eulalia bus for a quick ride into town, then hiked down the main road toward the Monumento de Boyero, dedicated to the oxcart drivers who plied their trade along this road since the time the trail was created in 1843. Although coffee transportation has evolved, the tradition of painting the carts and training the oxen has survived here in Atenas as well as in other parts of Costa Rica.

Along the way we looked behind us and saw a big group of Scouts, boys and girls, skipping along and singing. When we slowed near a bus stop to take a breather, the kids caught up with us and Marcial learned that they were in position to offer refreshments to the parade participants when they went by. It seemed the perfect photo op and the youngsters agreed, smiling and waving for the camera.

"The Last Supper" Bar
We were early for the parade so we continued down the side road into the barrio of Los Angeles where Layne and I lived for more than a year. Stopping at the local pulperia, or small grocery store, only a few blocks from our old apartment, I greeted the nice woman who works there and bragged to her on my improved Spanish language skills. After Seidy bought a bottle of water, we were ready to head back up toward the Monument where we planned to view the parade. But it being mid-morning and this being the remnants of "The 10:27 Club," somehow Marcial found a tiny bar right next door to the pulperia, with only a few stools. Indeed, being located across the street from the Catholic Church and having such limited seating, it enjoys a nickname: La Última Cena, or The Last Supper. Layne and Marcial enjoyed a beer (or two) but Seidy and I stuck to water for now. 

With most of the audience gathered in the Parque Central, the un-crowded Monument park was the perfect place to view the parade, especially since the route took the oxcarts down the main road to a turn one block away and back up on the other side. This being another refreshment spot where volunteers carried tortillas filled with grilled meat to each participant, we had ample opportunity to view the magnificent beasts and the colorful oxcarts, often filled with laughing occupants. There was even some dancing in the street!

Such a beautiful face... 
Atenas High School's Project Blue Flag, made from plastic bottles!
Another colorful cart
Docile oxen gets a pat from his boyero
Marcial chats with a boyero during the stop for refreshments
Beautiful detail in the cart wheel
After the last cart passed by, we trekked the mile or so back to town. Although alcohol is technically prohibited, Marcial and Layne managed to smuggle me a tequila in a plastic cup from the corner bar where they hung out while Seidy and I sat on a park bench and watched the last of the parade circle the park. 

Relaxing in our dead-end street
A visit from a Toucan
Always a thrill!
Catching a taxi back home, the four of us enjoyed the late afternoon view from our front driveway. We were delighted when a beautiful Toucan landed in the tree nearby, the perfect punctuation to a day of Tico culture and good friends. 

Check out Layne's book "Moral Turpitude," available for only $2.99 at High adventure with corporate intrigue, danger and romance; from the exotic jungles of Borneo and Costa Rica to the erotic jungles of San Francisco. Sample or purchase at -- 


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