Dia de Independencia
Trip Start Aug 08, 2008
43Trip End Oct 12, 2008
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Costa Rica, along with the rest of Central America, gained independence from Spain in 1821 without the need for bloodshed. Costa Rica in particular was of little interest to the empire; it lacked gold and other precious natural resources, the indigenous population that tilled the land in the rest of Central America had been wiped out, and its distance from Guatemala City made trade difficult. The Spanish settlers became farmers in a burgeoning egalitarian society, and today's Ticos are proud of their humble heritage.
The Civil War in 1948 was the bloodiest 44 days of Costa Rica's history, and the new democratic government led by Jose Figureres Ferrer became the first in the world to abolish its military. So today, there are no soldiers to march in Costa Rica's Independence Day parade; it is instead filled with children carrying flags, twirling batons, marching drills, and performing the traditional dances. And they're pretty darn cute.
I watched the parade with Tricia and Caitlin. Having performed with a color guard squad in a few of these back in the States when I was in high school, I was in a pretty good position to evaluate some of the differences between the way small-town Costa Rica does parades and the way small-town (hey, Tustin is a small town) America does them. My observations are in keeping with the way Costa Rica does everything in comparison to the United States.
There is no competition zone, hence no warm-up area or official starting line. The groups just line up and start their routines at different times, and as some of them are floats or animals with no routines, the line-up area is as good a place as any to take pictures. Tricia was going nuts with the slow pace; the procession that took three hours would have probably taken only about 45 minutes where we're from. I didn't see anyone in poses that bore any significant resemblance to the "attention" position, or even "parade rest." There were feeble ropes separating the street from the crowd, but they were easily hopped over by spectators looking for shade on the other side. In short, it was all very relaxed and casual, very Costa Rican.