Christmas in Costa Rica

I've been neglecting you lately and the excuse is, I've been sick. Don't worry, I won't bore you with details; I know you don't want them. Being sick is a singularly lonesome exercise. It's a little like death, which is often wished for. In this case Ray also picked up my ailment so we've been suffering in unison—we even cough in unison occasionally which is very entertaining. The fact that it's entertaining tells you something about our lives at the moment. But, I promised I wouldn't go there.

Frankly, I can't tell you much about Christmas in Costa Rica. It's probably different in the capitol, and larger cities, but in our little Manuel Antonio neighborhood there's not much going on.


A man builds bamboo chairs in front of a rare Christmas tree.

Traditionally, we're told, Costa Ricans celebrate the holiday rather simply. There might be music or parades a few days before, but Christmas Eve is a time for church and family, and a traditional after-mass supper of tamales and other favorites. I can assure you that loud fireworks are popular. Santa is not a dominant figure and we didn't see a single picture of him here, or even much in the way of decorations. Instead, children put their shoes out on Christmas Eve and if they're lucky the Christ Child fills them with presents.

We spent Christmas morning in a Skype conversation with the Gilden-Holmes family watching them unwrap gifts and eat sticky buns and chocolate Santas. That proved a little over stimulating so we both took naps and then walked our U-loop to see what holiday celebrations we might detect. Except for a couple of tipsy beer drinkers there were exactly zero signs of the holiday. No children played in the road with new toys, no adults sported new clothes. Clothes did dominate the view though, because the local housewives took advantage of the sunny morning to do laundry, and it decorated lines, tin roofs, and shrubbery all along our route.

Along the highway only two small eateries were closed, both owned and run by Americans. The big hotels and high end restaurants did of course have decorations and elegant holiday dinners planned, and I'm sure the tourists who flock to this part of Costa Rica for the holidays—it's the busiest week of the year—enjoyed it all immensely. Since neither of us could taste anything, we passed.

We are getting better though. Today we managed the walk twice and my taste buds magically came to life in time for fajitas last night. They weren't good fajitas, but still, when all you've been able to taste for two weeks is vinegar, anything is a blessing. That it occurred on Christmas Day I took as a sign.

We both wish you all the joys of the season, including that most important ingredient, good health. We intend to join you in that any day now.