Three of our articles about the Carnival (Carnaval as it is known here) in the port city of Limon Costa Rica were published by A.M. Costa Rica, an English language daily news source.
They are all here, the most recent first, with some photos of the days festivities. If you plan on attending in future years this might help you plan ahead.
Day of Limon Carnival – October 20. 2013
A person could visit the city of Limon on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica 364 days of the year and leave with the impression that the Limonese carry around with them an inherent sadness. The city looks like it is all work and no play from November through September. There are few smiles shared by strangers on the street.
It is because the Limonese are a private people. In their past they have been used (think early railroad work camps), shunned (Limonese were not allowed to travel past Turrialba until after 1949) and 22 years ago an earthquake dislodged the foundation of prosperity and stunted the cities growth. In every generation there has been a need for young people to re-build the efforts of their grand-parents. In Costa Rica, outside of the province the city has a reputation of crime and darkness.
Then for two weeks after October 12th, the Day of Cultures or Columbus Day as it is known in other countries, there is the Carnaval. Carnaval is a two week celebration of culture and passion. The original carnaval made its debut in 1949 and was orchestrated by a Limonese community leader known as Mr. King. The parade was designed to celebrate the new constitution that was enacted by Jose Figueres, a three time Costa Rica President who gave the Jamaican immigrants of Limon citizen status and allowed women to vote. Figueres also abolished the Costa Rica army the same year.
The main event, the Grand Carnaval is actually just a huge parade that mixes local marching bands, sexy dance troupes and palm leaf decorated semi-trucks carrying floats through the streets. A beauty competition at the beginning of the two week festivities births a Carnaval Queen who this year was romantically displayed as Botticelli’s’ Birth of Venus with the Latin touch of half dressed male dancers to titillate the crowd. This year’s parade also included a section of carbureted toys such as choppers, 4 wheelers and a dune buggy. Anything goes as long as it is loud, funky or sexy.
The crowd left very little room for the parade to pass. People in equally colorful clothing pushed closer and closer to the action. The crowd at Carnaval is one of the most diverse that can be found in Latin America. Black, White, Red and Yellow or Afro-Caribbean, Tourists, Indians and Chinese made up the stunning kaleidoscope of people that lined the streets.
Most people brought coolers full of their own refreshments and used them as a comfy place to sit for the 2 hours of waiting past the 1pm planned start time. The bars along the parade route were selling beers for a meager 1000 colons. Street meat smoke added to the dancer’s mystique and if a family member forgot a hat, chair, toy or cotton candy there was always a vendor nearby to make sale.
Once the streets are cleaned Limon will probably go quietly back underground to plan for its future. A future which includes an investment of $400 million to expand the main highway, route 32, a new refinery and $948 million in Moin’s newly designed shipping port. Will this be the catalyst for making the streets come alive the other days of the year? The answer will surely be found in next year’s Carnaval.
Limon Carnival Schedule – October 18, 2013 edition
Limon Finally Comes to Life for Carnaval
By: Kimberly Beck
Limon Centro is starting to pulsate. The streets like veins have continual motion. People have waited an entire year since last Carnaval and are now getting restless. A few days ago the mascaradas could not be found. Mascaradas are people who wear masks or giant heads along with colorful costumes and run through the streets chasing children. Now after midday, people are looking up from their cell phones and to their surprise directly into the chest of a colorful giant.
Chatter on the corners involves plans for the next day’s activities as young women carry colorful outfits and high heeled boots underneath their arms as they hurry down the street.
The food vendors have stepped up their game offering yuplon’s covered in salt and chili’s, fresh squeezed orange juice and healthy servings of hiel, a sugar cane ginger drink sometimes known in other areas of Costa Rica as Agua de Sapo.
The schedule of Carnaval 2013 events is as follows:
Every day :
12 Noon – Fireworks to signal the start of the day
12-6pm – Mascaradas running through the main streets and vendors selling hand-made crafts and furniture
6pm – Cultural Activities such as music, dancing and art displays
8pm – Fireworks Display
2pm – Feria of Women Entrepreneurs, Parque Vargas or Vargas Park
9am – Intercultural Day parade by the College of Limon, Vargas Park
3pm – Largest Rice-n-Beans
12 Noon – Firework to signal the start of day
1pm – Grand Carnaval which starts in Jamaica Town and winds through the streets until it dumps party goers in and around the post office near Vargas Park
7pm – Public Concert
10pm – The grand fireworks display, Vargas Park
9am – 5k marathon and walk to benefit Aldea S.O.S. starting from Asis Esna Park in Barrio Trinidad
12 Noon – Fireworks to signal the start of the day
1pm – Mascarades in the streets
2pm – Basketball game at Playa Los Banos
12am – Fireworks to signal the end of Carnaval 2013
The information office is now open and is located in the green building at the Southwest corner of Vargas Park or Parque Vargas.
Puerto Limon Getting Ready for Carnival – October 14, 2013 edition
Carnaval Costa Rica
Carnaval started in Limon this weekend but it wasn’t exactly in full swing. The Bomberos were in the process of washing their boat, the vendors were drowsy in their rocking chairs and no one seemed to know where the children’s parade was. The mechanical rides were working but not even half full, like they were in test mode. A schedule of activities was nowhere to be found.
The only thing that was swinging was Big Boy baseball stadium. Two dollars bought a ticket to see a double header between the visiting Siquirres team and Limon. Siquirres won the first game 8-7. The second game was delayed by two females fighting in the stands, when the umpire yelled out “strike” they obeyed.
Casey Bahr of San Isidro de El General drove his family 6 hours to see the festivities. “There wasn’t a lot going on Carnaval-wise but it was interesting to see the people and the architecture.” Casey, the author of a dull roar, a popular Costa Rica blog, drove to Limon expecting to see dancing in the streets and children on parade but left a bit unsatisfied after a walking tour of the city left him with only hearing one reggae song and none of the famous Limon party atmosphere. Casey says “I’ll be back next year but maybe during the weekend of the Gran Carnaval.”
Carnaval goes through October 20th and the Grand Parade is at noon on October 19th. If you are heading to Limon there is increased traffic in the streets which can be dangerous to both the pedestrians and drivers. On Sunday the 13th an unidentified man was struck by a car in front of the hospital. He was quickly gurnied and carried by foot into the emergency room. Please be careful but most importantly have a good time.