Thursday, September 15, 2011

Independence: A history

Today, September 15, is Costa Rica's Independence Day!  The festivities started when outside the Guardaria where I volunteer, a parade of irritated high school students and ecstatic young kids marched by.  I didn't have my camera on hand but the girls played stand up xylophones and the boys hit drums.  They were followed by toddlers chaperoned by adults.  This is about what I saw:

Oscar came to pick me up, we hurried and put the fancy bow on Perlita and walked over to where the big spectacle was.  As we were walking around, Oscar explained to me what exactly was going on.  After all, this took place last night, September 14.

The history of Costa Rica's Independence: (as told by Oscar)  Costa Rica never fought for their independence.  Instead, when Guatemala won, they declared all of Central America free as well.  The way the word was spread was a torch (representing freedom) was ran all the way from Guatemala to Panama.  To this day, a torch is ran from San Jose to different schools to reenact the famous day in history.  At exactly 6:00pm, September 14, everyone in the country sings the national anthem.  After a larger torch is lit, people march to their houses with their own lanterns.

This is what we saw last night.  A dozen students run with the torch escorted by a firetruck.  The students are selected based on academic merit (Oscar was never selected).  At exactly 6:00pm everyone (except this gringa who has yet to learn the words) sang the national anthem.  I think perhaps my favorite part of the night was seeing all the different types of lanterns.  Back in the day, traditional lanterns were used.  But now students make all sorts of lanterns representing different parts of the country.  They stick these models on top of sticks and throw a candle inside.  Viola!  Lantern!  I attempted to get pictures of the lanterns, but it was dark and people were moving quickly.  Some of my favorites were a helicopter, glowing red-eye frogs, ox-carts, a volcano, and houses.  Here's some of my pictures, though they're not the greatest.

Waiting for the torch to arrive

Some of the lanterns

Some more lanterns

Here comes the torch!

I did not take this picture, but it's a better shot of some of the lanterns you'd see around.

I also made a bow for Perlita and she was a big hit at the parade.  Though I ran into one of the ladies I worked with and she (very seriously) asked if Perlita was a girl or a gay male.  *sigh*  This is a side note, but I've been noticing how intolerant the people I work with are.  But that's for another post.  For now here's my cutie puppy being adorable in her independence day bow!

So this all happened last night.  Another parade was this morning and all the shops are celebrating independence by not opening.  But, Oscar has clued me in to an Independence Open-Bar, which I am looking forward to.  I might have to put a flag in my pony-tail or something!