Send in the cavalry: Palmares tope draws thousands

April 10, 2014
3 Comments

All along Palmares’ main street, officially known as La Recta, the crowd was like a parted sea of cowboy hats. They flanked the empty avenue in growing anticipation, swigging beer from Pilsen cans, eating skewers of barbequed chicken, and taking selfies in front of waiting horses. So began the Palmares “tope,” or horse parade, on that sunny Thursday.

While Palmares is a fairly humble coffee town in Alajuela province, the hamlet balloons with visitors every January, when the Fiestas de Palmares overrun its fairgrounds and fill every shop and bar with revelers. Organizers expected more than 60,000 people to attend over the course of the week, and if you attended the tope Jan. 16, you probably believed that prediction: The Palmares bus terminal in San José boasted lines around the block, and the highway into town was so gridlocked that hundreds of drivers resorted to urinating by the side of the road.

The parade began with special riding clubs, carriages, ponies, and several queues of mounted police. Beauty queens waved from horse-drawn wagons – like country-style floats – and as the procession moved along, the marchers became more informal: True vaqueros of all varieties trotted down the avenue, riding everything from elegant mares to shaggy oxen. The parade continued for hours, as festivalgoers cheered from the sidelines.

The tope included at least one celebrity: Presidential hopeful Johnny Araya, a Palmares native and former agronomy major, rode a patterned brown steed down La Recta amid a cadre of supporters wearing green bandanas.

The Fiestas de Palmares continue through Jan. 27.

 

You may be interested

Cold front claims fourth victim in Costa Rica
Weather
1749 views
Weather
1749 views

Cold front claims fourth victim in Costa Rica

Katherine Stanley - December 12, 2017

High winds claimed the life of a fourth victim in Costa Rica as the cold front that has been moving…

With Keylor Navas battling injuries, Real Madrid eyes January swoop for Bilbao goalie
Keylor Navas
616 views
Keylor Navas
616 views

With Keylor Navas battling injuries, Real Madrid eyes January swoop for Bilbao goalie

AFP - December 11, 2017

Real Madrid's first foray into the January transfer market will be to snap up Athletic Bilbao's promising goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga,…

Our High Season Print Edition is here! Here’s where to find it
The Tico Times
780 views
The Tico Times
780 views

Our High Season Print Edition is here! Here’s where to find it

Katherine Stanley - December 11, 2017

In the weeks since the relaunch of The Tico Times on Sept. 1, we’ve been hard at work to reconnect…