El Tope Nacional
Yesterday our volunteer family of six..four kids and mom and dad…needed an activity. We found out it was the day of the “Tope de San Jose 2023” or the San Jose 2023 Horse Parade. And as a bonus, the starting was just two blocks away from their Peace Center Hostel. So we walked over there. It was amazing to be so near to all the horse energy
The animals were astoundingly beautiful and majestic. The relation between the horses and their riders was like something out of mythology. A perfect balance of strength. The women riders were calm and composed and definitely in charge of their horses. We saw ponies and horses who were so large you would need a ladder to get on them. And the tails and manes and feet of the horses were braided and intertwined with brightly colored satin ribbons.
There were over 2000 horses and riders. A virtual invasion of San Jose. Full of fierce and controlled strength. But.. cheerful and peaceful, as Costa Ricans should be.
But..don’t mess with them…As our national anthem says..if somebody tries to detain our glory, you will see our people rise up to protect our honor. These horses would make a formidable foe.
As an added bonus right on the corner where the horses walked by, we found a little restaurant called Cahuita. This is the name of the Caribbean village where the family will be staying for a few nights. So we sat in their window eating patti, patacones with guacamole, fried yucca, cheese squares and drinking frog water and lemonade while listening to Bob Marley sing ” Is this love is this love is this love”
And then…since I noticed that these folks were quite adventurous we took off to visit fossil land. This is a place I’ve been to years ago…where there is a crystal cave and fossils of ancient shellfish.
We arrived at the place and were greeted by four very sweet and friendly “guard” dogs. And no human to be found. It was eerily and deliciously intriguing, and a bit scary at the same time.
We walked on rock roads and abandoned paths and buildings. We discovered a building where lye was produced, an abandoned soccer court, a decrepit water slide, remnants of a zip line, leaf cutter ants, antlions, a sparkling clear stream filled with little butterflies to wade in and..oh yes..fossils galore.
Dad is a geologist and rock star..so he was in his element explaining all the history of the rocks and fossils. This experience was like a return to childhood before cellphones and computers got in the way. We took delight in all the unexpected treasures we found.
On the drive out we did find a guy who told us that they had stopped operations because of covid and the owner just passed away three months ago. What a hidden gem this place is.
We then rode down the hill and dropped the family off at the bullfighting arena.
Tomorrow we are off to the Cabecar indigenous reserve, port city Limon, Caribbean village Cahuita and jungle adventure Tortuguero. I think this family is having the vacation of a lifetime.