On Saturday we woke up to warm coffee and breakfast. After realizing that I don’t drink coffee, Doña Flor made me hot chocolate. From then on, every time there was a pot of coffee to drink, there was some hot chocolate waiting for me. Her hospitality was incredible!
We walked around the homestay and took a small hike. We learned about what the students do during their stay here: make trapiche (a candy made from sugar cane), milk a cow, make tortillas, and do a waterfall rappel. We also saw their electricity set up: a generator run by hydro that powers lights and outlets in the house.
We decided to make the short walk to the festival. (Remember all those people who came in late last night? They slept at the Lopez house because they are the nearest house to “PB City”.) The festival is only held once a year, and was a fundraiser for the town. From my understanding, some of the money goes to the school (where 1 student is currently enrolled) and some goes towards paving a road closer to town.
The “city” is a house, a one room school house, a building with a kitchen and eating area, a covered bar area, and a soccer field. Each building is a traditional wooden building with half walls. The soccer field is pretty hilly and the goals are three sticks/tree trunks. However, each team was decked out in proper jerseys!
We ate a lot of yummy food, watched a couple soccer matches, then went home for a few minutes. When we got back, they were having a riding contest where you gallop your horse down and try to catch this little ring on a pen-like stick you’re holding. (The ring is the size of a nickle.) Before I really understood what was going on, I was being shoved toward a horse. There was a very drunk guy standing way to close to me “helping” me get on. I asked Allison to translate what he was telling me (thinking it may be important). I understood her response to him, “Can we just focus on the horse now? We can talk about that after.” She later explained that we has asking if we can talk in the future. Oh geez.
I may or may not have gotten on a horse in shorts, chacos, and without a helmet. But when in Costa Rica…. right? My poor pony was so tired, but very kind to me. He knew his job well, but I was terrible! After multiple passes, I never got a ring. 😦 It was fun anyways, and the guy I was “competing against” seemed to be a good sport about my lack of skill. It was really nice just to be in the saddle again.
I later found out that there was a whole “behind the scenes” story to getting me on the horse. The men were not going to let me ride at first. They told Orlando that it is too dangerous for a gringa. They see the sport, think it’s fun, and then get hurt trying it. Orlando basically had to promise them that if I die, it’s on him. (Gotta love liability releases around here!) On the hike home, Orlando was telling me this story. He said after my first pass, several of the ticos told him that he was right and I could ride. It was really neat to hear that they gave approval of my riding.
The other half of getting me on occurred with one of my roommates and a man we named “Senior Blue Eyes.” (Since you don’t exactly meet a lot of blue eyed ticos, it fits him.) I guess the gentleman who owned the horse was only going to let me ride if a paid a large amount of money. Bethany negotiated him down to a little less, and then Senior Blue Eyes walked over and convinced him to let me ride for free. Again, I had no idea any of this happened!
We had some amazing food that night. I had one of the best tamales I’ve ever had (and it had rice in it). These tamales had a ton of masa, but it was so delicious that you could almost eat it alone! We were also introduced to tamal asado which is half way between corn bread and cake. It’s amazing!
Overall, our festival was successful as a fun and entertaining day.