July 25 marked the 184th anniversary of the 1824 vote in the city of Nicoya, in which the majority of what is today the northwestern Guanacaste region seceded from Nicaragua and joined what was then the province of Costa Rica.
“Today, Nicoya is the capital of Costa Rica,” exclaimed Fabricio Sánchez, a local doctor. On Friday, the culmination of the festivities, young Nicoyans performed folk dances during the Pasacalle de Guanacastequidad, a colorful street parade honoring the region’s heritage.
President Oscar Arias, Vice President Laura Chinchilla and Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias attended the day’s events, underscoring the importance of the annexation in the nation’s history.
Dancers flapped their sashes and skirts and filled the otherwise overcast afternoon with brilliant purples, yellows, reds, greens and blues. They also recited bombas, staccato verses of traditional poems.
Attendees dressed in white and red and munched on atoles, chorreadas, and elotes, all traditional corn-based food.
“Everyday of the fiestas has been beautiful,” Naty Toruño, who works at the Nicoya municipality. “So beautiful!”
As night fell in the public square next to the city’s colonial church, artists performed trova, a Cuban guitar-based folk music symbolic of the province, where cattleherding cowboys on horseback routinely hold up highway traffic. Musicians included Olman Briceño, Max Goldenberg and Luis Gabriel Loría, three iconic Costa Rican trova performers.
While July 25 was the official anniversary, the national holiday was observed Monday, shutting down schools and all government and most private businesses throughout the country.