Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Holidays, Version: Tic.O

If you subscribe to our newsletter and caught our recent December issue, you likely read the blurb about Costa Rica's grandiose end-of-the-year celebration, the Festival de la Luz (links to the Costa Rican Municipal page). Although it provided a good basis for understanding the premise of the Fesitval de la Luz, you may have missed out on the event firsthand. Here, however, you will find a gringo's review complete with cultural observations (from the traditional to the outlandish) and why interpreting its meaning was about as easy as opening a baby coconut (without the skilled instructor tutorial, of course).

For those who don't regularly read our exciting newsletters, I'll briefly provide the abridged version of what was covered regarding the festival. Here are the pertinent facts:

- Christmas is a big deal in Costa Rica and consequently celebrated on a large scale. The Festival de la Luz is a huge parade intended to ignite the fire that is the national holiday spirit.
-  Much like an American parade, on display are flamboyant floats, marching bands, and of course, a strong corporate presence. Roughly a million Ticos line the streets to partake in the festivities as they drape San Jose in glimmering tinsel.
- Marking the 15th anniversary, this year's theme was "Toys and Games of Yesteryear," which was moderately followed at best. Maybe you'll see what we mean.

With routes altered to accommodate the redirected flow of traffic, we stepped down from the bus which was brimming with animated Ticos. After finding a steady wireless connection from which to send live tweets (if you follow @CROutwardBound on Twitter, you could have been there with us!), we were greeted by the smell of delicious street foods, the sight of every imaginable variation of blinking light-up toy, and the entrepreneurial Costa Rican selling footstools for a better view. Sometimes they just seem to know exactly how to satisfy demand, because those things were selling like our Girl Scout Courses before high season. Some of the children were a little more resourceful with their arrangements, as they preferred the seemingly cozy rod iron window frame.

Upon settling in amongst the many young and publicly affectionate couples, we readied our cameras and waited for the fiesta to really begin. The first float wasn't really a float at all so much as a glorified Toyota advertisement. Five Yaris's later, a horde of Honda motorcycles rumbled down Avenida Dos, revving the commercial engines of the parade. Eventually, the festival lived up to it's name as big, light-adorned floats crawled along brightly announcing their arrival. Most were accompanied by local marching bands, whose repertoire, we should mention, had no shortage of Lady Gaga renditions. P-p-p-poker faces removed, here are a couple of our favorite floats:

 And true to Costa Rican fashion:

All in all, the Festival de la Luz was a great time, despite its lack of proper theme representation - based on the floats, we thought "Latin Disneyland on Wheels" would have been slightly more accurate. If you happen to be in San Jose this time next year, though, it is definitely worth checking out and a lot of fun.

From Costa Rica, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

1 comment:

Costa Rica Outward Bound said...

More photos of the Festival de la Luz you ask? Happy to oblige. Check our Facebook Fan Page -