Monday, January 31, 2011


This weekend was the big Nosara Fiesta, held once a year and much anticipated by everyone. Carnival rides, horse parade, the crowning of the Fiesta Queen, music, food, and, most importantly, bulls. A giant wooden bullring was constructed in a large field just for the event, which attracts folks from all over the region. This is when the BIG bulls are brought in.

We went to the Fiesta twice but both times opted to avoid the bullring. Having been to a smaller version last month, we already had our fill of watching men try to ride bulls and fall off, at which point other men (mostly inebriated) jump into the ring to "distract" the bull from the fallen rider. Sadie was absolutely petrified, didn't understand the point, and hated the whole thing. I felt sorry for the bull and decided I didn't need to see any more (though the cowboys at the end who actually rope the bull were definitely cool). As a consequence we missed lots of exciting moments at this year's Fiesta such as this:

And this:

But we had our own exciting moments.

The Fiesta included several carnival rides, trucked in on the dusty roads from who-knows-where. They were standard issue carni, circa 1970. A little rough around the edges, if you know what I mean.

Plus in what other decade would you name a ride the "Hustler"?

Naturally, the Hustler was exactly the ride the kids were drawn to.

Sadie and her friend Ella desperately wanted to go, as did Ella's younger brother, Lucas. Trouper that she is, Ella's mom, Maggie, gamely accompanied the three vulnerable small children on the spinning nightmare while the other adults watched grimly from a safe distance. At the conclusion of the ride, the kids hopped off excited as could be, followed by Maggie who mouthed "that was not fun" as she stepped gingerly to safe ground.

The thrill of danger coursing through their blood, the kids raced back to the gate to ride again. "Maggie," says Scott, her helpful husband, "they can't go alone!" So off to the Hustler again went Maggie. This time they were joined by two other people in their car, which seemed to greatly increase the velocity of the spin. Once again, when the ride stopped the kids jumped off with huge smiles. Maggie followed them slowly, looking a bit pale. She smiled gamely at us all, walked around to the side of the ride, and...puked. Way to go, Maggie, thanks for taking one for the team!

(No one rode this one. Gorgeous though, isn't she?)

After the Hustler, the kids desperately wanted to ride the bumper cars. Sadie and Ella were beyond excited for this important carnival rite of passage.

They climbed in a car together all smiles and waves and then...BAM!!

Shock and disbelief covered their faces and Ella's hand went protectively to her neck. Not to be dissuaded, however, the girls gritted their teeth, grabbed the steering wheel, and slammed on the gas. They meant business.

BAM!! Suddenly Sadie was gone! I stared, horrified, thinking that she toppled out of the car (seat belts in Costa Rica? Come on, now!) and was lying unconscious on the bumper car floor. Suddenly I saw her head poking up from under the steering wheel. She hauled herself up from the floor of the car and quickly gave us a big grin and a thumbs up. Pedal to the metal again and they were off. I stopped looking.

After the rides, the adults were all a little unhinged so we sent the children off for a beer run. That's right. We sent three small children by themselves to the beer tent with some money and they brought us back bottles of beer with absolutely no trouble. Gotta love this country.

In addition to being able to send your children for beer runs, you could also get a tattoo at the fiesta. A real one. Just like you used to be able to do at carnival midways back in the day. Probably about the time when that bumper car ride was first built.

Our last day at the fair was Sunday and we went specifically to see the "parade of dancers" which we knew nothing about. The parade was to start at 3, so we arrived at 3:30 in an effort to account for "Costa Rica time." At 6:00 it finally began. As it turned out, the event consisted of two Comparsa groups - a smaller (probably high school) troup, and a larger, fancier professional one. Wikipedia told me today that a Comparsa is a parade of dancers and musicians (drums and horns) associated with Latin American carnivals. It was loud and colorful and fun.

After the parade, we made our way back to the car to go home and wash off the dust and cotton candy and try to get a good night's sleep after an exciting weekend.

And that, my friends, was the Nosara Fiesta. Fun for everyone (except maybe the bulls).


  1. 50's Rico style! I probably did some of those rides way back!

    Pobrecita Maggie. She deserved a couple of beers and muchas gracias!
    But the girls looked so excited! What fun--for them!

  2. That looked like fun. Kudos to Maggie. I would have never set foot on the ride. Puking is not my thing. Glad Sadie had a good time.