Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 13 - National Oxcart Driver Day

aka Día Nacional del Boyero, is a day to celebrate the oxcart drivers of Costa Rica.  The weekend celebration started Saturday, but having just returned from a week at the beach, we decided to just go for the parade on Sunday (with a little hope for some pre-parade music).

Plan A:
- leave at 7:30-ish, catch the San Pedro bus into San José
- catch the Sabana Cementerio bus to the Coca-Cola terminal
- catch the 8-something bus to San Antonio de Escazú
- get there in time to see the folk music at 9

Plan B:
- ask people at Coca-Cola about the best bus and stop for the fiesta; change if it make sense
- if we can't find the music, find a café and wait for the parade to find us

What Really Happened:
- left about 7:50, caught the San Pedro bus, then the Sabana Cementerio bus to Coca-Cola
- walked around a bit looking for the right Escazú bus; caught the 8:30 bus.  "looking for the right bus" included asking people in line about the fiesta (one blank look, immediately followed by a "you bet, San Antonio" from her neighbor).  Confirmed with the driver, who was a bit caught off-guard by the question.  Listened as another passenger asked the driver more specific questions about the fiesta.  Managed to mention this fact to the French couple behind us, who were also going (done in French, thank you very much!).  Watched said person like a hawk, and followed him all the way to the festivities :-).
- left the bus at 9:00, walked the 6 blocks in a few minutes to the San Antonio church area.  No folk music.  Food stalls were getting set up, but definitely not ready for us.  Had coffee and pastry at Musmanni's - now why is it that I can never tell if I'm spelling that right?  It's a bakery chain all *over* Costa Rica, and I stop in regularly!
- found a seat in the shade; waited, listened, watched
- 10:30 - heard that the parade had started (we were at the finish line).  More people start to show up.
- 12:30 - no oxen. Getting hungry.  Getting a sore behind.  Sunburnt.  Still enjoying watching the action and talking to our neighbors. 
- We wait a bit longer, then decide to eat.  Meander down to the food booths - I got a chorreada (YUM!), and some real food.  I soooo love fiesta food!
- 1:00 - finished lunch, walked around a few minutes, and lo and behold, there's the first part of the parade!
- cameras are out!
- 1:30 - look for our bus back to San José and home!

Next time:
- leave home about 10:00, wearing sunscreen
- take the San Antonio de Escazú bus to the terminus, walk 3 blocks to the church
- eat fiesta food lunch
- watch oxcarts come in, get blessed, and judged
- eat more fiesta food :-)
- bus home about 3:00

Front of the parade - brass band and giant heads, followed by.... OXEN!
At the very end of the parade, the oxen - and passengers :-) are blessed by the priest - cool water at the end of a long hot ride.
Somewhat smaller participants:
Even smaller fiesta-goer!
The After-Party Crowd

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