The night of Thursday, July 24 was unusual; perhaps it was unique. Events that evening had a purpose – to leave no visitor or resident with doubts about the colonial city’s history.
The night was part of the Cultural Festival of the Annexation and featured the Vamos a Turistear walk (“Let’s Go Be Tourists”), a historical tour through the district’s most important sites.
More than 100 people attended the event, which started at 7:30 p.m. at theCabildo (town hall), the first meeting point featured on the tour. There, the event’s organizer, Cesar Barrantes, welcomed the participants, speaking through a sound system. He promised that they would relive the history of the country and, of course, that of Guanacaste.
Celebrating the 190th anniversary of the Annexation, Barrantes explained that the Cabildo was the place where, on July 25, 1824, an open town meeting brought together residents of the Party of Nicoya. In an act of pure free will, the residents decided to join the Costa Rican republic. In addition, Barrantes explained that the Cabildo, located across from Recaredo Briceño Park, was the place where the act that made the annexation official was signed.
The event was sponsored by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT – Instituto Costarricense de Turismo), so the majority of participants wore identifying white T-shirts with the Vamos a Turistear logo.
The wind was refreshing for the walk through the sweltering colonial city, which proceeded to the Cofradia (Brotherhood) building. There, participants watched a private show of the lovely tradition of the Baile de la Yegüita (The Little Mare’s Dance). At that building, Jose Antonio Aiza, the administrator of the Cofradia, gave a detailed explanation of the dance’s origin, which dates back to 1914. Put briefly, two men were going to kill each other for the love of the Indian woman Nantiume. However, because of the people’s prayers, a small black mare appeared and stopped the fight.
Upon leaving the Cofradia building, a cimarrona band (one with giant dancing puppets) joined the procession. More than a few took advantage of the occasion to show off their best Guanacastec-style yell and a few dance steps.
Vamos a Turistear caught the attention of Ticos and foreigners alike, as in the case of New Yorker Gabriel Cei, who said he was amazed by Guanacaste’s architecture. “The homes are very beautiful; I loved that traditional dance a lot. It’s incredible! I also like those drums [of the cimarrona]. I feel like it’s the World Cup,” he said.
In addition, some central valley residents took advantage of the holiday to visit Nicoya. That was the case for Yeorlene Contreras, who said that she was on a vacation in Tamarindo with her family when they decided to participate in Vamos a Turistear.
“It’s something new for me; it’s something incredibly well-organized. Today I have learned a lot about the history of Nicoya canton. Everything has been very lovely,” said Contreras.
The tour also stopped by the colonial church and a few homes in the La Cananga neighborhood. During the nearly 1.5 hours that the tour lasted, the participants were protected by officials from the public force and an ambulance that was available for emergencies.
The history lessons weren’t only for visitors, as some Nicoyans, such as Leida Ruiz, also learned something new about Nicoya’s history. “These activities should be constant – this preserves traditions. As a Nicoyan, there were a lot of things I didn’t know, like the history of many houses in the La Cananga neighborhood, and they explained it very well,” asserted Ruiz.
To finish the tour, a group of marimbas livened up the fiesta at about 9 p.m., leaving many satisfied that they had participated.