15 September 2015

Holy Mackerel. What Goes On Here?

September. There’s a lot happening on the planet. Hajj comes soon; Oktoberfest begins Saturday. Saturday is also International Talk Like A Pirate Day (always 19 September), and yes, we have quite a party planned.

Today, however, is especially important. September 15 is Independence Day for Costa Rica as well as Mexico and other Latin American countries. This is the date when Costa Rica celebrates its independence from Spain.

September 15!

Think Fourth of July in the U.S. It's a big deal. The celebration here actually began days ago as the Torch of Freedom made its way through the country, arriving yesterday in Cartago, the original Capital of Costa Rica. Think Olympics torch.

Last night children in cities and villages across the country held parades just after sunset with their illuminated and hand-crafted faroles. The farol commemorates Maria Dolores Bedoya, who carried a lantern through the streets of Guatemala on the evening of 14 September 1821, urging residents to support independence. 

Did I mention that this is a big deal? It's a national holiday and few people work. Flags are everywhere and have been displayed nationwide for days. Again, for you U.S. citizens, think Fourth of July with its bank and market closings, no mail, etc. Here in Costa Rica, those who do work are paid double or even triple time.

Who doesn't love this country?! In preparation for the celebration school children practice for months a variety of show-stopping events, from traditional dances to musical performances. But today's parade, which began very, very early on a day with absolutely perfect weather, also included adult performers and older honor students from nearby high schools. 

Of course, the drummers and traditionally-dressed dancers are always fun. Some children ride a stick pony. Now how cute is that? Bring back childhood memories? Anyone?

It was a very moving experience; and if little Samara puts on a show this impressive, one day I hope to see the festivities in Nicoya, San Ramon, and San Jose.

A bit more history before a few more photos. Since the installation of our flag pole last Saturday, we chose to proudly fly the Pabellon Nacional and not merely the Bandera Nacional. The Pabellon Nacional displays the bandera with the National Shield. . . . versus merely the red, white, and blue stripes of the Bandera Nacional. Both flags are appropriate . . . we merely chose the bandero with a bit more of the country's colorful history, literally. 

The National Shield displays three volcanoes and a valley between two oceans, each one with a merchant ship. The volcanoes represent the nation’s three mountain ranges. Also depicted are the Central Valley, the country’s two coasts, and the cultural and commercial exchange between Costa Rica and the rest of the world. A sun rises over the horizon, representing Costa Rica’s prosperity; and seven stars dot the blue sky . . . one for each of the country’s provinces. 

So rather than bore you with my typical musings, let's just enjoy the photos. You're relieved, I'm certain. As for me, I'm sorry that you missed the live festivities. Perhaps next year.  Lo que hay.