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Goin’ Local

This past week we’ve had some fun experiences that have made us feel right at home, adding a little “Tico”-ness to our lifestyle. Goin’ local.

It started last Sunday afternoon when we were walking around Liberia, the province capital. We could tell there was a little extra energy in town – the streets had more people than normal and we kept on seeing cars and trucks drive by flying different colored flags. The street around the city park was blocked off and there was a scattering of tents and tables with a team of people at each one. Election Day. As we got closer, we were approached several times and asked if we had already decided who we were going to vote for. When we smiled and said we weren’t Ticos, they always looked at Kelli with a puzzled look and asked, “Really?” We’ve always joked around that Kelli had a little Mexican in her, and now it’s been confirmed. Sweet, we’re blending in. (So why does it seem like restaurants and taxis charge us more than the real locals? Hmmmm.)

Next, earlier this week we started seeing posters announcing this weekend’s rodeo in Artola, a small town about 15 minutes away. Of course we had to check that out. Pure Tico. The setup: carnival games for the kids (two trampolines-not special trampolines, just the kind most of you have in your backyard; the kids loved it), a food stand selling BBQ meat, tamales and horchata, and then the arena. Homemade bleachers that looked like they were made from the drift wood that washes up on the beach. These were for the big spenders that didn’t want to stand up the whole night. Most people chose to watch the whole thing through the fences around the ring, again, drift wood construction which required a few adjustments by chainsaw throughout the night.

So the rodeo. The announcer comes out to the middle of the arena trying to psyche us all up for the riders who are going to “fight with valor for our pleasure.” He calls out the night’s thirteen riders who walk into the arena in two groups each going down one side of the ring, the meet in the middle for us to clap for them, then peel off and return to the shoots – I mean shoot, singular –their name is read. At this point it’s obvious this rodeo is just going to be bull riding. Sweet. We’re all good with that since that’s the whole reason rodeos exist in the first place, right? We wait a little longer, the announcer starts getting more excited, we hear the word “Pull!” and out comes the first rider, both hands flailing in the air. The bull gives him a few bucks and then stops. The rider brings both hands down, grabs the rope that’s around the bull and then gives the guy a few kicks in the side. When the bull starts bucking again the rider puts his hands back up and keeps going…until the bull stops again and he has to give it another kick to go. Finally after a few more bucks the cowboy jumps off, everyone claps, and the announcer congratulates him on his 24-second ride. Those 8-second American bullriders couldn’t hang with these cowboys! Dropped jaw, what-the-heck-was-that look on all the gringos’ faces. But then the real Tico fun started. In between each ride some of the fans that were hanging on the fence would drop down into the arena, take a seat on the grass and drink their beer. They’d climb to the top of the fence for the ride, then when the cowboy was off and the bull was free, they’d jump back down and lend a hand to corral the bull. No, they weren’t helpful. Most would just jump up and down, wave their hands, and then jump back on the fence whenever the bull even glanced at them. But as the night went on, after a few more beers, they got braver and braver. I’d like to say we got to see a drunk Tico take one in the gut from the forehead of a ticked off bull, but we weren’t that lucky. Tico rodeos…ain’t gonna make any of our Texas folk proud, but sure was something to see.

Oh yeah, throughout the night we were attacked by an army of grasshoppers. Large grasshoppers, as big as birds! (We decided that these things should be deemed the national bird of Costa Rica…they do have large talons.) I think Kelli was the only one who didn’t scream when they landed by us.

Ok, last one. We had just left our church building today when, not half a block up the street, our conversation came to a halt when just to our left we noticed one of the neighbors out on the porch washing his windows. Of course we had to circle back from the other side of the street and take a picture. Nice to meet you, neighbor.

Yes, those are on backwards. Now we have to find a new way to church.

We promise to leave the country before we get that ticoed.


Be sure to notice the last minute fence repairs before the ride.

What’s a rodeo without a good soundtrack?

Here you can see the killer grasshoppers in action.

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  • Kevin December 14, 2010, 8:26 pm

    Good stuff! Now that the Kleins have established that Kelli is in fact a descendant of Pocahontas, I’m sure you’ll feel even more at home. Tico’d. Great vids and photos, guys. Those grasshoppers are as amazing as your facial hair, Brad!

    • Brad December 19, 2010, 8:02 pm

      We actually found out about that Native American connection on the same day we had so many Tico experiences. Suspicions confirmed.

      And come on, I’ve been working on this tuft of hair for a month. Definitely more impressive than some ugly grasshopper with a two foot wingspan.

  • Colleen December 15, 2010, 10:32 am

    I am dying in laughter at your neighbor!! I always knew Kelli was adopted so that is not news to me. 🙂 I am loving the facial hair Brad, but I would have screamed like a little girl at the grasshopper. I mean for reals?? That sucker is huge!!! Glad you guys are have a great time. Miss you!

    • Brad December 19, 2010, 7:59 pm

      It gets better. We saw that same guy after church today, wearing the same pair of underwear but this team they were over another, equally saggy grey pair. And he was actually out on the stream dumping out water into the gutter. Nothing like that view full frontal.

      Yeah, Kelli fits right in here. She’s always tried to say she’s mostly German. Ha. Believe me, I had to psyche myself up to grab that grasshopper. (My facial hair gives me more courage.) It landed on a little girl’s back so I had to do it. Then it scratched the heck out of my fingers while I was holding it…even drew blood. Those things are monsters.

  • Karen Ripley January 6, 2011, 5:26 pm

    Love the neighbor. No one dressed like that in Spain. At least not that I saw. HAHAHAH

    • Brad January 11, 2011, 3:50 pm

      Really? We figured they must have learned it from their conquistadors. Hmmm. It was definitely a sight, especially when we got to pass by his house the next week and saw him again!