03 October 2010

independence day

In September, Costa Ricans commemorated the 189th anniversary of their independence from Spain.

To celebrate this occasion, the school where I work held an Acto Civico the day before Independence Day. Most of the students came to school dressed in traditional costumes, and during a morning assembly we enjoyed many song and dance performances by the elementary and primary school students.

We also got to see traditional dances performed by the Huetares Indians, whose village we visited a few weeks earlier. Here are some pictures from their dances. The first two are from their bird dance, during which they dance around and around in circles to symbolize the circle of life and how birds mimic this cycle through their graceful flying patterns and subsequent return to earth. The bright fabric strips hanging from their arms represent bird wings.

My favorite part was seeing the small children dancing side-by-side with the older dancers. The tiniest girl is standing second from the right in this picture and is almost hidden by the microphone.

This picture was taken during a dance thanking the earth for providing crops to eat.
(Sorry for the poor quality...I was sitting pretty far away and didn't want to be a tacky creepster by going up closer to take pictures!)

The next day, we had a mid-week holiday from school, so some friends and I went downtown to watch the Independence Day parade. We stationed ourselves right outside the Teatro Nacional, one of the most famous landmarks in downtown San Jose.

The crowds were pretty thick but we stood up on a planter/bench thing to get a better view.

About 20 years ago, I would have been totally jealous of these girls for their snazzy baton-twirling outfits...and I'm still loving the gold trim hanging from those great little capelets and the patriotic pom-poms on their shiny newsboy hats!

There were lots of characters like this guy walking around. Someone was even dressed as a giant Elmo, but I (unfortunately) did not get a picture of him.

Rain or shine, an umbrella is an essential accessory in Costa Rica. In wet weather, it keeps you dry, and in dry weather, it protects you from the sun. These people were smart enough to bust theirs out during the parade.

After about an hour of watching the different parade groups (acts? units? shows?) go by, we decided to change it up and check out some new places around the downtown area. First we headed to the Mercado Central, where you can buy food, pets, spices in bulk, souvenirs, home goods, flowers, and pretty much anything else you might need. Even after wandering around little hallways here and there for over an hour, I'm pretty sure we saw only about 1/4th of what's there.

We also walked by the National Museum, which is known for its jade collection, but decided to save that for another day. However, we couldn't resist a quick photo-op with this sculpture outside.

Our last stop before lunch was the all-purpose department store Universal, which we were drawn to by a huge Legos display. (Did anybody else really like Legos as a kid, or was that just me?) Inside the store, near the jumbo Legos, we found some interesting notebooks. This one in particular cracked me up because I drive a [really old/with 220,000 miles] Impreza, and as much as I love it, I never thought I would see an Impreza on the cover of one of these Hot Rods notebooks. I mean, maybe on a Field and Stream magazine cover...
This store was also completely decked out for Christmas. Between all the trees, ornaments, garland, and wrapping paper, it was hard to remember that it was still September. I think I even caught a whiff of artificial pine scent at one point. By the time we left Universal, we were pretty hungry and decided to try the restaurant Vishnu, a vegetarian fast-food place that I remembered from my visit to Costa Rica two years ago. We left the downtown area around 1:30. As we were leaving, we saw that the parade, which had started at 9:00, was still going on! I'm glad we went to it, but I'm also glad that we didn't stick around until the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment