Memorable Events to See in Costa Rica
Do you find yourself getting bored with the miles of beautiful beaches and untouched jungle backdrops in Costa Rica? Do you need something more than rum, surfing, squawking bright red macaws and sunbathing? You’re in luck. In addition to all these lovely leisure activities, Costa Rica is home to a number of unique, entertaining, and often times hilarious events and festivals that you won’t find anywhere else. Whether you’re in the land of Pura Vida for the week or for the year, here’s a couple of ideas for your Costa Rica bucket list:
Costa Rica Rodeos and “Bullfights”
Just about every holiday in Costa Rica features a street fair, a rodeo and a bullfight at some point during the agenda. While it might be your first reaction to be horrified at the suggestion of watching what is typically one of the most gruesome and bloody Spanish traditions in the world, Ticos have redefined what a bullfight should be.
In Costa Rica, the roles are reversed as the bull becomes the hunter and the not-so-noble ‘matadors’ become the caped, costumed and wigged huntees. The monstrous and agitated bull is freely released into the arena with anywhere from 5 to 50 anxiously awaiting contestants.
Here’s where it really gets interesting: usually the bull will have a balloon or bandana tied to its back that is worth a substantial amount of money. In order to win, all you have to do is shake, shimmy and dodge your way through a fury of horns and hooves to snag the prize.
To make it even more interesting, these spectacles sometimes include fun props like see-saws, blowup pools, and swings to up the ante.
The best news is that if watching on the sidelines isn’t enough of an experience for you, then strap on your finest cape because anyone can join the ridiculousness. However, as you might guess, a zig when you should’ve zagged could get you a free tour of a local hospital or that horn-shaped tattoo you never wanted.
Indigenous Festivals and Chicha
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, a little more culturally significant, and loaded with homemade hooch, then something like the Fiesta de los Diablitos (literally translated to “festival of the little devils”) celebrated by the indigenous Brunka tribe of Costa Rica might be more your style.
You have a couple of chances to get in on the fun. This annual celebration takes place in both Boruca and Rey Curre, two villages that are home to the Brunka indigenous tribe. The town of Boruca celebrates the three-day festival at the end of December or beginning of January, while Rey Curre has their fiesta during the first week of February.
All three days of the festival, dancers don the well-known, brightly-colored carved masks that represent their ancestors in wild dances around massive fires where the bulls (or Brunkas) try to chase out the diablos, also known as the dirty Spaniards that invaded their territory. (Spoiler alert: while it might seem like bulls will prevail, on the third day, the diablos overtake the poor bulls.)
In addition to the fire, dancing, and ancestral pride, what makes these celebrations particularly festive is the large and plentiful amounts of homebrewed Costa Rica booze, fondly called “chicha”. This alcoholic favorite made from fermented corn is sure to add a whole new level of magic and mysticism to the celebration, especially when drunk from the hollowed-out “guacal” gord.
For a true taste of Costa Rica and hangover you’ll remember for a lifetime, there’s no other way to go.