Cabalgata

We were invited to go with our work crew to a “festival” in a nearby town. I have been to a few Costa Rican festivals and while I enjoy the cultural experience, these types of events really aren’t my cup of tea. I agreed to go mainly because I wanted to see more of the country side. We left in the morning and picked up the crew along the way out of town. The journey took us on a winding paved road half of the way and the rest of the way on a decent, yet rough gravel road. We passed through several small villages and over a lovely river. I am becoming more and more familiar with the different trees of this area so I spent most of the ride trying to identify various species.

After driving for about 45 minutes we arrived at the festival site in the small village of Bajo Los Calvo. We parked the car on the sidelines of a soccer field and then migrated to the beer stand. We stood around for a while and watched horses being unloaded from trucks and trailers. At this point John leans over to me and says, “This is when you enter the twilight zone and stand around and wonder what’s going to happen”. It was interesting to watch the trucks back up to the makeshift wood and gravel loading ramp and then to coax their animals out of the trucks.

No festival would be complete without very loud music. This festival had both loud music and a man with a wireless microphone announcing who had arrived at the event with their horses. I noticed the horse owners were lining up at a tent next to the beer stand to register for the event. Each one was given a sign to put on their back. That was when we realized we were at a Cabalgata. What’s a Cablagata? We asked our friends and tried to interpret what it meant. I kept hearing the word “montaña” over and over.

More and more people arrived, mostly by horseback. I was uncomfortable standing in front of the bar, next to the loud announcer and decided to sit on the hillside in the shade. Our crew followed suit. I was happy to be in the new location, the view of the hillside and sky was beautiful. We watched more horses unload and what appeared to be riders practicing the trotting we saw at previous Topes. This went on for several hours until some type of announcement was made and all of the riders rode counter clockwise around the soccer field and then left. I ask John, “What happens next?” We both don’t know…

We ate some food and continued to sit in the grass watching the empty soccer field. From the word “montaña” that I heard I figured the horses and riders were out in the countryside doing something. After a few more hours Mario announces that we should leave at 3:00, 30 minutes away. I thought it was a little strange that he wanted to leave before the horses returned, but was relieved to be heading home.

The crew said we should take a different route home. The dirt/gravel road was like most others we have been on except there appeared to be a motocross practice happening. Several dirt bikes passed us in the opposite direction. And then suddenly, coming fast around the corner and heading towards us, Dukes of Hazard style, was the most hilarious sight. Two guys, wearing motorcycle helmets, were driving some type of old modified demolition derby car, definitely not a 4X4. I don’t think the car had any windows, not even a windshield. John thought it didn’t have seats. In the back of the car we saw the huge smiling face of a black Mastiff. Wow, what a sight! The road was narrow, I was hoping there weren’t more behind them and there weren’t.

On the way home we stopped for more food and drink at a local restaurant. It was only after I got home and looked at the photos and videos I took of the festival that I realized we were basically watching horses and their riders unload and prepare for some type of event that didn’t take place in the soccer field. The announcer was there to get them jazzed up for the event. Maybe something took place, later that evening in the soccer field when the horses and riders returned, but we weren’t there to see it. Maybe next time, or not...

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