Independence Day


September 15th is Costa Ricaís Independence Day. This is the day that they celebrate their independence from Spain after claiming back their country in 1821.Of course being new to the country, thatís about all that we knew about this day, until our Tico friend Rosa, who is the Principal/Teacher at the local elementary school, invited us to the school for a celebration on the eve of the 15th.Through our little knowledge of Spanish and Rosaís little English, we knew to be there by 6:00 and to bring a candle. Luckily, I had just brought four pillar candles the day before as they are a necessity living here (as mentioned earlier, we lose electricity often).


While the girls worked on their schoolwork the morning of the 14th, Kurt put his RF engineer talents back into action and created wind blocks and wax catchers for each candle, as there was mention of walking around with our candles (okay Iíll confess, it was communicated more through hand gestures than actual words). Once school work was finished for the day and Kurtís design was approved, we each painted the Costa Rica Flag on our individual wind block constructed out of lined paper. We were quite proud of our finished lanterns and looked forward to the eveningís upcoming event.


With our lanterns in one hand and an umbrella in the other (never leave home without it), we made our way through town to the school that borders the beach. As predictable for this time of year, rain was inevitable, but to our relief it had taken a break during our walk to the school. Once we were to the school, darkness settled in and the rain resumed in full force. There we, along with the many school children and their families, huddled under the schoolís awning waiting for the festivities to begin.


To our amazement the Esterillos Oeste, Costa Ricans really get into the making of their Independence Day Lanterns. They put our once proud lanterns to shame. There on the crammed porch we witnessed elaborate constructions in the shape of a house, school, or church. One was even a large boat. They were constructed out of wood, popsicle sticks, or egg cartons, placed at the end of a pole for carrying overhead. Each illuminated from the candle light that poured through the windows that were covered with colorful velum.


After listening to what appeared to be an announcement from a radio and singing the Costa Rica National Anthem (last least that is what we deducted) we followed the others as we created a parade of lights through the main part of town. Each lantern positioning a spot between the many umbrellas. While the lanterns did a fare job in lighting the way, the occasional bursts of lightening truly were helpful in avoiding the many flooded pot holes on the road.


The parade ended back at the school after taking the beach route to get there. What a beautiful sight seeing the many colors dancing along the beach in route to the school. After more singing and shouts of ďPura VidaĒ at the school, the event came to a close. We felt blessed to have been part of our communityís celebration of this important date and look forward to being a part of it for many years to come. Kurt is already planning his lantern for next year!††


Pura Vida