Day Seven: A Long Drive to the Beach and an Afternoon at the Palmares Fiesta.

 

The Lomas del Volcan hotel served up a great buffet breakfast of gallo pinto, potatoes and sausage, waffles, maid to order omlettes, and wonderful juices.

This beautiful mural decorated the restaurant wall.

Chris chows down on some fried plantains. One day, Nina used her best French to chat with two couples from France during breakfast. (Nice to know that I can still speak the language!). Meanwhile, Chris chatted with a family from Poland. They have a daughter named Alexandria whose nickname is “Ola”, so in Costa Rica, when everyone was saying “Hola”, she got very confused!

The formerly quiet town of La Fortuna has changed a lot in five years since our last visit. The town now has a mini mall with a Burger King and a Church's. Nina enjoyed reading the Spanish graffiti on the backs of bathroom doors. Oh how times have changed...

We saw these school children cross walk signs throughout Costa Rica. We also saw yellow paintings on the streets. The paintings consisted of a square with a heart and a halo. We finally figured out that they are part of a campaign to encourage Costa Ricans to wear their seat belts and drive safely.

After a long drive to the beach at Playas del Coco, Kathy opted for a nap at the Hotel Coco Palms, while Chris and Nina got back in the car for the long drive to the Palmares Fiesta.

The fiesta was packed!! Tens of thousands of Costa Ricans and us (one of only a handful of gringos).

Chris took part in the 3 beers for $3 offer from Imperial, Costa Rica's number one, locally brewed, beer. The beers came in a souvenir Palmares Fiesta 2008 can (which we smuggled back in our luggage).

 

The Palmares Fiesta includes all of “our” traditional carnival attractions: rides, games, cotton candy... as well as... bull fighting at the Plaza de Toros.

We were very heavily warned about pick pocketing and crime at the fiesta and told that we would stand out as gringos. We certainly stood out, however, we were sort of novel celebrities. The locals seemed happy and amused that some gringos were at the fiesta. They smiled at us and tried to get in our photos! We didn't have any problems and had a great time, however, we did have to run away from a fight!

The Palmares Fiesta offered lots of entertainment for the kids including rides and kiddie bull fighting! (Hopefully with small calves...?).

 

What's a carnival without a haunted house?

Words and pictures can not describe how crowded the fiesta was. We went on a Sunday during the Costa Rican's summer holiday.

It was great fun simply people watching!

Of course, the fiesta also included several rows of shopping booths with merchants selling straw cowboy hats, boot legged CDs, clothes, sunglasses, etc.

The Palmares Fiesta is all about drinking beer and listening to techo music!

We managed to snap a photo of these Ticos getting their groove on... According to Chris, the ones in front were seriously making out!

On the grounds of the fiesta, there were at least six “make-shift discotheques” made out of scaffolding with multi level stages. This one was called “Bar People.”

Yet another, temporary discotheque blaring techo music.

But wait, there's still MORE discotheques!!

Nina bought ice cream, simply so she could see the creative and fancy end product.

Every order was 10 times fancier than a banana split, with paper parasols, carved out fruit bowls, delicate cookies, flavored whip creams, a variety of sauces and tons of toppings.

Nina proudly poses with her fancy ice cream and Chris' three pack of beer.

This “bank hoochie” passed out free mini calendars from HSBC Bank, “El banco local del mundo.”

The matador takes to the arena to await his nemesis: el toro!

El toro attacks...

Yet somehow, oddly enough, el toro is stumped by a red cape.

Either matadors must be very brave and smart or bulls are very stupid and gullible.

 

But wait, el toro has stolen the matador's red cape and is prancing around the arena.

The matador and el toro have come to a stand off!

Nina basically made Chris drive all the way to the Palmares Fiesta so she could get some churros! She loves those Latin donuts! There was a vendor selling Church's chicken, who walked around yelling “pollo, pollo, pollo.” When he got to us, he yelled, “chicken, chicken, chicken,” then once past us, promptly returned to yelling, “pollo, pollo, pollo.”

Here come the cowboys to round up the bull, and don't forget the clowns.

These horses did some very fancy foot work!

I think he's got it!

Now is the time of the show, when local, brave Ticos storm the arena to taunt the bull and show off their “grande huevos.”

But this bull wasn't having it... It simply stood around looking bored and confused.

 

That's one big Costa Rican bull! Go number 44!

Just when they least expected it, the bull decided to go for it and these two Ticos had to head for the rafters!

Nina simply couldn't get enough photos with her beloved churros. Chris ordered the donuts while Nina was busy taking photos. The confused merchant figured a gringo wouldn't be at the fiesta by himself so he handed the churros to the Tica girl sitting next to Chris! She simply held them while Chris paid the man, then handed them over!

This man dressed in a bunny suit is apparently the mascot of the Palmares Fiesta. He's known as the Boleteria.

In between bull fights, the mood was lightened, by throwing people up into the air on a big blanket!

Now this bull, unlike the last one who seems lost, was ready for action!

He continually lowered his head and stomped and pawed the ground. This bull was pissed!

 

Lining the streets on the way to the fiesta are light decorations in the shape of bulls and ox carts.

We were very worried about our little rental car's health and security during the fiesta, but we need not have worried for it was protected by the lovely Roxanna. She doesn't speak a word of English and our Spanish is terrible, but we still managed, thru much determination, to chat with her for over half an hour! She showed us a picture of her son Dennis and his report card. Smart kid!

Home Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Day 14