At 5am, I wake up to what sounds like grenades exploding in my backyard. Then I hear a loud, obnoxious marching band drive through my neighborhood. The band sits in the back of a pickup truck, playing their tubas and trumpets as if the rest of the world isn’t asleep.
They do this every day for the duration of the civic festival in Liberia: February 25th to March 6th.
A little before noon almost every day, the soft sounds of marimbas can be heard in Instituto Estelar Bilingüe. There are marimba ensembles stationed on the corner of every block on the Calle Real, where the school is located. The peaceful music is soon interrupted by more gun shots, fireworks, and marching bands. The Tope (horse parade) begins, and Costa Ricans crowd in shady spots along the Calle Real to watch with beers in hand.
All afternoon, families and groups of friends head to the fairgrounds where they can shop, eat, get sick on carnival rides, watch bull riders, listen to concerts, dance, and, of course, drink plenty of alcohol. The weather is hot, but that doesn’t stop cowboys and girls from wearing boots, jeans, collared shirts, and wide-brimmed hats. The rocky terrain doesn’t deter women from wearing high heels…and nothing holds men back from flirting with those women strutting by. Latino blood runs hot here! Ay yi yi!
There are horses everywhere, and I ask a cowboy why they are lifting their knees so high with every step. They look so uncomfortable! He informs me that a horse that walks normally and naturally is not a good horse. He adds that it’s the same with women, and I nearly choke on my beer.
One thing is certain: these people know how to party. Toothless smiles and the traditional Guanacaste blood-curdling screams abound, and every one, young and old, is bursting with life.