By Colinas Del Sol Blogs
Costa Rica is a country many consider to have the “Happiest People on Earth,” and this may or may not be so, but one thing for sure is that they love festivals. There are festivals throughout the country all year, with the largest number being held between December and March. In our little area of paradise, they can be found in almost every community, large or small. They feature many vendors who serve all the local dishes, including my personal favorite, “meat on a stick” – most often pork or beef that is seasoned, marinated, skewered and cooked over an open fire. Talk about tasty treats!
Another mainstay of the festivals is the horse shows and bull riding. Most have a “topa” or horse parade, and I am always amazed by the beautiful animals and skilled riders that come from all over the country to participate. Each festival has a bull ring where you can see local daredevils ride or taunt the bulls to crowds of dazzled spectators.
We have seen contestants who have spurs strapped to their bare feet, along with professional looking riders, all of whom try their luck at riding massive bulls that are intent on shedding the rider and inflicting damage to the poor soul whenever possible. For the injured, they are placed on boards and transferred to awaiting ambulances through a cut-out in the wall of the ring.
Few wear helmets or protective vests, and I’m sure the payout isn’t much for taking such a risk. Between riders you will see other young men run into the ring and tease the bulls, hoping to make it out quickly, lest they incur the bull’s wrath.
The festivals are a lot of fun, even if you choose not to watch the bull riding. It’s well worth it, with food/beverage vendor samples, arts and crafts vendors, music, rides and other activities.