I love Semana Santa. Grumpy gringos love to hate it, but I just love it and that’s all. I love the chicharras. I love the air that’s too hot to breathe and smells like wood smoke from a fire in the mountains somewhere. I love the hazy stars. I love the badly-acted religious movies from 1970 that they play every year on TV. I love the maranones. I love the jocotes. I LOVE the rosquillas.
When I first came to Costa Rica as a student in 1991, the only time I got little case of Montezuma’s Revenge was because I ate too many rosquillas in Semana Santa. Gotta watch those little buggers with all that manteca. Talk about indigenous cooking. Ground corn, manteca, that hard salty smoked cheese, salt…am I forgetting something? Probably. They don’t look that good. They don’t sound that good. And the first time I saw my host mother dump a handful of those odd little round biscuits into her tall glass of sweet black coffee? Bleagh! I thought in my innocence.
Oh silly me. Once you start on them, you can’t stop.
I love Semana Santa. I love everything being closed in the middle of the week. I love families sitting in the shade of trees in their yards. I love families playing with their fat little babies on the beach. I love drunk uncles lounging in the shade beside coolers full of cold drinks, tuna and soda crackers. Grumpy gringos love to hate it, but I just love it and that’s all.
It’s been a year since I’ve been back in Costa Rica, back home. Immigration renewed my residence, considering me to have been a resident even during the time I was gone. (I never thought an immigration document could make me almost burst into happy tears but when I read that, I had to take a deep breath.) I missed Semana Santa so much. Not the chaos-at-the-beach part of Semana Santa–all the rest of it. If you live in Costa Rica and you have no idea what I’m talking about, my sincere condolences. There’s more to it than traffic jams at the coast.
They say every year on Sabado de Gloria, it rains. And honestly, it usually does. Maybe it’s the moon, this “Christian” holiday being situated on the Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. The monkeys are in the trees calling for rain. The chicharras call for it. The cenizaros don’t make a sound, but you can see them beckon if you watch.
I love Semana Santa. I missed it so much. Easter is a nice day, but let’s not kid ourselves. Latin America knows how to celebrate a thing in a way that North America never will. Sorry for all the grumpy gringos.