Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December Bullriders

12/17/06 (Sunday)

Today is the last day of a festival near Nosara (we passed the site on our way in yesterday, and asked about it). We are determined to go! It starts at 4 and goes till about 9. We asked to get a taxi there and for it to return for us afterwards. Got a big hmmm errrr emmm tsk (apparently a difficult thing to accomplish). But, one driver agreed to take us for $10 (did we get taken? Hard to say; it was several miles away, on that *bumpy* road). When he dropped us off, we asked about returning, and he said that there would be plenty of rides back. We generally took this to mean that he didn't want to return for us...

The festival – Recorrido de Toros – was great! The arena is just raw boards hammered together to form a ring with seating. There were two types of tickets – the cheaper tickets got you on the bull ring fence or just outside it (no seats); we opted for the seats, like a stadium, and sat up at the top (there were probably 5 rows of benches total, starting above the top of the bullring fence). Before the bull riding started, we ate from the booths at the festival. There was also a midway of sorts, trampolines for the kids, and a ride (can't remember the name, but it is like a ferris wheel with enclosed cages). We finally determined that the tickets they were selling were for viewing the bull riding, not for the rides, and so we bought them ($5 each).

After we got our seats, they introduced the riders, had them draw lots for the bull they would ride, and introduced the sabaneros – cowboys (on fabulous horses) who rope the bull at the end of the ride. They all paraded around the ring to cheers.

The bulls are almost all Brahma, and have somewhat ironic names. Some translate to “dandy/sissy” and “sleepy.” They are BIG! The riders (10 of them) came from all over the country, and *all* wore red.

The first couple didn't stay on very long, but some came out riding without holding on (look Ma, no hands)! After each ride, the bull was loose, and people from the audience would run around and tease the bull – at one time, there were about a dozen men in the ring with a bull, and many more hanging on the inside of the fence. One bull was particularly ferocious, and there were a *lot* of people on the fence instead of running in front of the bull.

There was on guy who obviously does this a lot – he was an expert at attracting the attention of the bull, then running just in front (less than a foot from the horns) and leading the bull in circles.

When the bull had had enough, they opened the gate and the sabaneros would either rope him and pull him towards the gate, or he would find it on his own. You certainly see that you can't *chase* the bull towards anything.

Every once in a while, they would set off fireworks – one boom followed by two very loud bangs.

About half way through the bull riding, they had a demonstration of roping by the sabaneros – some pretty fancy stuff! The horses have an interesting gait – they prance/lope almost in place. One guy had his horse seem to dance to the beat of the music they played as he rode out of the ring.

Then they paraded the queen and her court, and also had a walk-around money-drive for the Cruz Roja.

Then – back to the bull riding!

At the end of the last ride, the stands emptied, and we headed out. Many people stayed for more rides and eats; AND they set off a bunch of fireworks!

We looked a little bit for a taxi (but not too hard) – it is hard to tell which are taxis, since they don't follow the code of “red with yellow triangle” (ours out to the festival was a beat-up blue jeep). We started walking, and there were others behind us. Someone pulled over and gave them a ride (I didn't see their trick, but assume it was a thumb). We just kept walking... Fortunately, we had our flashlight with us, and it had cooled considerably. We had walked about half way home, when someone pulled up and asked if we wanted a ride (whew!). She spends half her time in Nosara, and half in Holland. She dropped us off at the turnoff to our hotel, and we walked the rest of the way – all told, it took us about an hour.

My hair was almost completely wet (sweat and condensation) by then, so we took showers and conked out by 10:00.

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