BACK in the day, the young Don Juans of the northwestern province of Guanacaste would walk through the villages of the province with guitars strapped to their backs and romantic serenades and fantasies of love in their heads, always prepared to sing up at a glowing window to those special women who had captured their hearts.
Today, the tradition has all but left Guanacaste, with the shadows of love-struck minstrels that fell across the cobblestone streets and the echoing clop of horses being replaced by the glow of streetlights and the roar of motorcycle engines.
But if you find a quiet evening in your home or apartment and slip in the new CD, “Al Pie del Balcón: Serenatas de Guanacaste” (“Under the Balcony: Guanacaste Serenades”), and open the accompanying book filled with images and stories of the romantic musicians of Guanacaste, you can be transported back to the golden years of traditional Costa Rican romance.
THE collection of music, which includes famous Costa Rican love songs, was composed and performed by some of the country’s most popular contemporary musicians, including classical guitar soloist Mario Ulloa and members of nationally renowned groups Malpaís and Editus.
The ensemble has produced a variety of different types of traditional Guanacaste serenade music, such as the fast, upbeat piece “Liberianita” (“Girl from Liberia”) and the slower, melodic love song “Ojos Verde Mar” (“Green Sea Eyes”). Other highlights of the 14-track disc include the smooth, mambo-esque melody of “Mi Ángel” (“My Angel”) and “El Hombre Macho” (“The Macho Man”), a traditional rural Costa Rican song in the cimarrona style.
Detailing the serenading tradition popular in 1950s Guanacaste, the book takes readers on a poetic journey through the practices, methods and customs of the amorous troubadours as they wooed their ladies, entertained the families of their betrothed and bellowed their love troubles at the bar.
THE book, presented in both English and Spanish and numbering nearly 100 pages, is filled with photos that illustrate the era of Guanacaste serenades, allowing us a personal glimpse of the artists who composed the music and helped make Guanacaste serenades what they are today.
As part of promotion efforts for the new CD-and-book combination, Papaya Music, the album’s distributor, will be sponsoring concerts in Guanacaste this weekend: Dec. 17 at La Fulana Cosa in Nicoya; and Dec. 18 at Mohanda’s in Liberia.
“Al Pie del Balcón” is available at Vertigo and Music Box music stories, Libro Max and Universal bookstores, San José’s Seventh Street Books and other participating stores throughout the country for approximately ¢14,000 ($28.50).
For more information, visit www.papayamusic.comor call 225-2492.