Tope ~ March 17, 2013

Every December and March there are local fiestas in Villa Real, the small town outside of Tamarindo.  These fiestas are small town carnivals complete with food stands, carnival rides, LOTS of drinking and drunk people and of course, a  bull ring.  

There's lots of fun activities that go along with the fiestas. One is the Baile de Polvo (the Dust Dance) which takes place in the bull ring (minus the bulls!!) and marks the beginning of the fiesta.  It's called the Dust Dance because well, when you get a few hundred people dancing in a dust ring, you make a big dust cloud.  

Another event that takes place during the fiestas is the Tope -- a horse parade where riders meet in the center of Tamarindo (the Circle) and ride to the fiestas in Villa Real - about 2 1/2 miles away. 

The Tope this year took place on St. Patrick's Day, Sunday, March 17.  I personally didn't care to ride.  It looks like a lot of fun, but sadly I'm not too keen on riding horses.  I think they're awesome to look at from afar, but I'm actually a little afraid of them.  And they say animals can sense fear so I thought it would be best not to take any chances.  However, the hubby and our good (hilarious) friend Fabio decided to participate so I opted to be the photographer for the day.

For those wanting to actually mount up and ride, you pay a nominal entry fee which entitles you to ride with the group, a free lunch and of course, a complimentary "drink" - which to most people means beer.   

Good For One Drink
If you have your own horse, that's great, but if not you can rent one from Jeronimo, who seems to be the go-to guy for the best horses.   He has a house and stables in Villa Real and for $30 you can rent a horse for the event.

We arrived at his place around 10:30 a.m. and hung out there for a bit watching him prep the horses.  The horses definitely sensed that a party was in the air.  I'm sure these horses have been through a million of these things before.  I'd think it's as big a party for them as for the people.

Around 11:30 or so, the guys finally got their horses and the party officially began!

After doing a bit of riding on the dirt roads behind town, me and the guys met up in Tamarindo to people watch, and of course, have a few drinks. Little by little, spectators, horses and their riders filled up the Circle.  Salsa music floated through air and everyone, including the horses, was in a festive mood.

Every year this guy mounts up his own sound system to his horse and blasts salsa music.  Classic!

By around 2:00 p.m. the show got on the road and the riders started heading out of town.  About midway between Tamarindo and Villa Real there is a rest spot (aka drinking depot) where the riders cash in their drink and meal tickets.  I'll take a long shot guess here and assume that most people have more than their "1 drink ticket" entitlement!

Us "non-riders" got in our cars and headed out to the fiestas.  It took the riders around 2 hours to get from Tamarindo to Villa Real and by the time they did, a good number of them appeared to barely be able to stay on their horse.  Poor horse!  We all stood along the side of the road like we were cheering runners coming over the finish line.  

I love this dancing horse!

As the sun set over the backdrop of the fiesta, people met up around the food and beer stands and in the cantina and shared laughs about the day.

Until December.......

Here's a gallery of all of my photos from the Tope.
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The Age Game

Growing.  Growing up.  Grown up.  Growing old.  Old. 

Why does it seem that everyone is getting younger and younger?  Or is it just that as I go through my own life journey, I realize how very young I was when I was that age??

The area I live in has a tourist season which brings lots of young people from all over the world.  Late teens, early-mid 20's.  Free. Traveling.  Having fun.  No worries (or from this perspective 20 years later knowing that there were rarely any real worries in the long run!)  Not worrying about tomorrow, today.  Not having a care.  And now that you mention it, not yet knowing exactly what it is they should be caring about in the first place. Ahhhh, the bliss of youth.  

A girlfriend of mine had a chuckle the other day.  I'm 41 and she's turning 42 soon.  Since we do live in this youth attracting area, it is really just about the only place on earth that we've been considered an "older woman".   What a hoot!

I caught myself watching a table of 3 of these "youngsters" at a bar the other night.  I'd say they were between the ages of 18-20, from somewhere in South America.  Young.  Flawless.  Beautiful.  Free.  Laughing.  And (hopefully) with their whole lives ahead of them. They can choose anything at this point.  I started to flashback/daydream about myself at the age.  The choices I made.  The roads those decisions led me down.  And it's funny because at that age, you have no idea what the outcome will be.  Or how much potential you have.  You only come to those realizations by making the choices, good or bad, and traveling the roads to which they lead.

But you know, "youth" is a funny thing.  It's determined from what point in time you take a look.   I may look at these travelers I encounter and think they are so young and with the vast world in front of them.  But 20 years ago, I was that young woman to someone and to someone 20 years older than me, I still am.

This occurred to me recently when I met two women I'd estimate to be in their early 70's.  We chatted about how I came to be living in this tropical paradise and all the standard questions "do you like it here?", "did you come alone?"  The one woman looks at the other and says "ahhhh, to have so much time and opportunity left." 

And she's right.

What a strange world it is that puts so many head-trips on the impossible task of remaining young forever.  I think it is so easy to lose sight of the fact that no matter where you are in this youth-game, you still have what's ahead of you - ahead. 

In the end, you just gotta embrace where you are and realize, that you are TODAY the youngest you will be for the rest of your life.