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Monday, September 19, 2011

Tico Kids' Parade and Jazz in the Jungle

It’s 2:30 p.m. and the rain is pouring down, accompanied by flashes of lightning and loud thunderclaps uncomfortably close by. The computers are unplugged to protect against surges and the lights flicker now and then, but so far so good. In all likelihood, the storm cell will pass over and within an hour or so, the skies will clear. Such is life in the tropics.

We’ve had a busy few days, what with Independence Day celebrations last week and a Sunday afternoon luncheon in a trendy jungle hideaway with a jazz band over the weekend. My volunteer work with the Partido Verde Ecologista (Green Ecological Party) has also picked up steam, so all in all I’ve had little time for blogging lately. Still, I much prefer to be busy than bored so I’m not complaining, especially when the activities are so much fun.

On Independence Day last Thursday, Layne and I hadn’t planned to go into town for the parade but as we started out on our morning walk, we realized we’d probably hit downtown just about parade time. And sure enough, as we approached the Parque Central (Central Park), the youth groups, including drum and xylophone corps, twirlers and marching flag troupes, were circling past the Municipal Building where dignitaries sat. The entire parade is made up of children, it seems, all decked out in the red, blue and white of the Costa Rican flag. I was so pleased to see one large group of children carrying environmentally-oriented signs stating the value of medicinal plants, environmental education, “a tree for a child” and other messages regarding ecology. This year’s crowd was much larger than last year, with layers of people standing six or eight deep along the sidewalks, craning their necks to see the colorful procession. We wandered along and ended up on an elevated sidewalk with a good view alongside our good friend and beautician Mariana.

We watched and took photos for a few minutes before hiking on to our destination, a small Tico neighborhood on the backside of the cemetery. We had looked at a house for rent there recently and thought there might be others in the vicinity. Indeed, one newer Tico house tempted us as the price for a 2 bedroom, 1 bath was only about $300 per month. Once again, it was the kitchen that was inadequate for my spoiled Gringo tastes, but clearly you can find bargains if you look around.

That afternoon we taxied up the hill with Mariana for an Independence Day dance party at a lovely resort and event space called Roma Vista. Our friend Marcial, the sausage maker, was there grilling his fine meats and other Ticos were on hand with picadillo, a typical Costa Rican dish of well-seasoned potato hash folded into a tortilla.

Our festive table!
Although the rains kept the faint-hearted away, there was still a respectable crowd of about 200 people who braved the weather and enjoyed the festivities. We sat with our friend Melanie, who runs an excellent restaurant in Atenas, the Balcon Café (Balcony Café), and her husband and a couple of her Tica wait staff. Plus, we made new friends of Dennis and Suzanne, a charming couple from the States who have settled here in Atenas. It was a suitable way to celebrate Costa Rica’s 190th birthday.

Sunday morning found us heading up the hill once more, this time with our friends Sally and Leonard to take in some live music at Vista del Valle, a spectacular resort and restaurant between Grecia and Naranjo. A colorful Gringo friend named Joe is the drummer for an accomplished jazz band that plays at Vista del Valle the third Sunday of each month. Sitting there enjoying the beautiful mountain views, relishing the lively music, savoring good food and laughing with friends -- Sally said it best: “This is why we live in Costa Rica!”


  1. Nice to see you back in the "swing" of things!

    Forget about unplugging the computers, get a Sycom whole house surge supressor, about 50 bux, have a friend send it down. There will be surges on the line and you won't even hear or see the lightning and pfft, silently goes the laptop...

  2. Please Kat. Let us have more adjectives! Please, more adjectives, and more..."superior writing at its finest!
    Love, cy