Sunday, December 22, 2013

Celebration in Sarchi and Grecia

Last Sunday we lost power in our neighborhood, and the good news is, Grupo ice, the local electric company forewarned us with a friendly posting at the gate. After a brief discussion, we decided to make the short trip to Sarchí, passing through Grecia. We have read about the history and art influence of Sarchí and thought it would be a lackadaisical day trip since I am 8 months pregnant and can't be more adventurous. We left early, since the lights were scheduled to be turned off by 8am. Max and Sara were excited, as usual, at the mention of a new park to visit and I was happy knowing the drive was short enough to not make me uncomfortable. For the first time ever, we left the house without bringing snacks, another feeling of relaxation for an expectant mother. It is a carefree feeling not to worry about packing every essential for the family every time you walk out the door. The road from Atenas to Grecia is mountainous terrain with excellent vistas and small villages in between. The elevation is slightly higher than Atenas, but very similar in atmosphere and climate. As we approached Grecia in less than 20 minutes, we noticed the makings of a party. Bouncy houses were being delivered and the park setup was underway for some celebration. The town itself is beautiful and clean with an impressive Cathedral, Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, made of a red colored metal adorned with white Gingerbread trim. 
Across the red bricked street, lay a life-size nativity scene for Christmas. There is a modern bubble structure in the center of the park to house live music and shelter. Since it was still early, we decided to go to Sarchí first and on the way back, stop in Grecia to end our trip, so as usual, convincing the tiny people in the back seat was a challenge of compromise and bribery, with lengthy, repetitious examples of how we were going to another party and we would definitely come back for this one after. By the time the screaming and crying subsided, we were already about 10 km West to Sarchí, the most famous crafts center of Costa Rica, mostly for traditional Oxcarts and hand made furniture and rocking chairs with carved leather. The kids were getting rambunctious, and to our delight, a party was being constructed in Sarchí town center as well. The church in Sarchí is one of the most beautiful we have seen in Costa Rica. It is called the "wedding cake" church and was a collaboration of the local artists boasting handmade ornate carvings and vaulted hardwood ceilings. 
The central park was unlike other Costa Rican parks, containing no trees and park benches, but unexpected and beautiful in itself. The grounds, steps and banquettes were pebbled with mosaic designs and there were 2 large features, both with ornate covered structures with hand-painted designs along the trims. One structure offers shelter for a large band and the other shelters the largest Oxcart ever constructed, supposedly recorded in The Guinness Book of Records according to the Tico Times and several other websites, I have found no record yet though. Regardless, it was an impressive cart, modeled 5 times the size of a traditional oxcart. The exhibit was surrounded by a metal gate; which my son Max penetrated within minutes of arrival. 
 The park was small, so the party did not take long to assemble and while we waited for the bouncy houses to fill with air, we miraculously convinced the kids to eat some delicious food in the diner across the street. As usual, we were treated with complete hospitality and the kids were given candy as we departed the soda. By the time we ate and crossed the street, the park filled up with locals, dancers, face-painters, balloon designers, shaved ice makers, live music, 2 bouncy houses and a large trampoline. The dancers endured several wardrobe changes and glistened in the 80° weather.
The sky was cloudy, so there was not much wind, and as we began to sweat and the kids bounced to their hearts content, so we ordered some shaved ice. If you have not tried one, please, indulge, they are hand-scraped, filled with malt, covered in syrup, scraped again with ice shavings, topped with condensed milk, and incredibly refreshing. The shaved ice in Costa Rica is so much better than the snow cones back in the states, made with care, by hand and less expensive. 
We were surprised to notice this was the only thing we paid for at 400 colones. Max had his face painted and the kids bounced all day for free. Even in Atenas, we always pay for everything with time limits. We kept trying to pay the vendors, but they would not take our money. As if the day could not get any better, the rain rolled in like a wave. Even in the beginning of the dry season, the sky grew dark and the air was chilled as it suddenly rained on our parade. We made a dash to the truck and headed back to Grecia and by the time we arrived, the rain subsided, and the children were asleep. 
We will have to visit Grecia on another day, as well as Sarchí. The parks were lovely and I know our children will enjoy climbing the trees and running down the red bricked streets. It is nice to know we have so many celebrations and parks to consider less than 30 minutes away from our quaint home in Atenas. To read more about Grecia or Sarchí, please visit our website.  I searched the internet, but found no mentions of the cause of the celebrations we were so lucky to stumble upon. Sometimes, we like to think that friends and families just get together all the time and celebrate. Once we grasp the Spanish language better, we will be more informed, but until then, it is always an adventure for our Texas family, traveling through Costa Rica, the Happiest Place on Earth. We always expect the unexpected and pleasantly enjoy a different party, park and celebration or parade everywhere we go, nearly every weekend! 


  1. this is really a wonderful place to visit on the internet!!! One day I hope to visit there for real!!!

  2. Thank you! We will try to keep posting all our adventures and welcome everyone to visit. Thanks for sharing.


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