The 4th of July - U.S. Independence Day
Piedades Norte Travel Blog› entry 10 of 12 › view all entries
Well, i've always been proud of my heritage and gracious for the life i've been granted. So when U.S. Independence Day rolled around it put Blake and i in great moods. All we wanted to do was celebrate. But Costa Rica obviously doesn't recognize the 4th of July as a national holiday, so we had to work, haha. We didn't want to, but we knew it was the right thing to do, so we went. Dona Ana promised us she would make us hot dogs and french fries for dinner in honor of Americans' unhealthy eating habits, haha.
It was a beautiful day that day. More beautiful than all the other beautiful days, for this was the day that marked the foundation of a free country that fought against oppression for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and has slowly but surely has continued to promote these liberal ideologies to this day, until finally becoming the strongest nation on Earth.
But to us, this is the one day of the year we are determined to prove our appreciation for what our forefathers died for. It was the one day i would completely forget about trying to look, eat and act like a Tico. i could go back to being a Tico tomorrow, but on the 4th of July i'm a patriot. The same goes for all of my travels. i don't always agree with the president, especially not the one in power at the time; i don't always agree with the Congress or the Supreme Court or the speed limits or many other laws. But i always agree with what we supposedly stand for. And what better way to show our patriotism as Americans than to blow stuff up with fireworks? So as Blake and i dug a hole for Luis to put a septic tank for his new house, we talked about fireworks.
"This," he said, "This will be the first time i will ever celebrate Independence Day without fireworks." i suggested maybe we could find some. i didn't know where, but maybe we could find some somewhere. "But all the shops in town close shortly after we get off work," he said. Well, we had to find a way to get out of work early then.
As i said before, Luis was not an easy guy to get along with. We were just volunteers, we weren't paid, so we could leave whenever we wanted to. But we didn't want to offend him at all, and he already seemed like he hated us. So we didn't want to ask him if we could leave or simply tell him we were leaving. No, we went for another strategy. We sang.
We sang "God Bless America," "The Star Spangled Banner," "Proud to be an American" and "Born in the U.
What we didn't anticipate was that the next bus wouldn't arrive until 4 p.m. So we had to hitchhike, or "Riding" as they call it there. They literally just use the English word "riding," as in, "Tuvimos que ir 'riding.' " Anyway, we didn't know where to look for fireworks, so we found people around our age and asked around. Most people had no idea where to find fireworks, but some kid told us to try a party supply store, duh. We got to the party supply store, but they only had pop rocks. No, we wanted fuegos artificiales, man.
"NO!" we both blurted out. "Queremos fuegos artificiales que van BOOM!" He said he couldn't help us, but he had one more idea. The clerk left the store and walked us two blocks down the street and introduced us to a police officer in an orange vest directing rush hour traffic. San Ramon doesn't really have much rush hour traffic, but that's what happens when you have a huge socialist bureaucracy i guess, haha. i dunno, maybe he was helping little kids cross the street after school, but when we got there, there were no students, no traffic, nothing, haha. Anyway, he wrote an address on a piece of paper for us. Tell him i sent you, he said, without giving us a name.
The house was about a mile away. It was in a beautiful neighborhood with large houses considering where we were. And it was the largest house of these large houses. A guy who looked like Tony Montana came to the door. He has a hot wife, two young children and a boxer-type dog that was the tamest dog i ever saw. We didn't ask him any questions about his line of work. He could have been Pablo Escobar for all we cared, we just wanted some fuegos artificiales. And, oh wow, did he have some fuego that goes BOOM!
He sent his kid to pick up a bunch of fireworks from a room in the back of the house. The kid came back with everything from sparklers to those little jumping kind to half sticks of dynamite. "Ummm, tiene los que van en el aire y van BOOM muy alto en el cielo?" we asked.
i don't remember the price, but they were the cheapest fireworks i've ever bought by far. The kid asked us where we'd be setting them off so he could watch them from his porch tonight. Tony Montana even offered us a ride home. Well, we were carrying huge boxes of fireworks, so it was best that he drove us. i still don't know if those are legal there or not. We had him drop us off about a block away ... just in case ... i mean, he really looked like a violent arms dealer no matter how nice of a guy he was.
We had no idea to what extent the neighborhood was tightknit until that night. After dinner, children from the neighborhood started stopping by the house asking when we were going to light off the fireworks. "Fireworks?" Dona Ana asked us. Wow, how did everyone know? We only told Felix!
Well, we planned to light them off by ourselves, but the family wanted to come with us, and they knew an open lot about 500 meters away that would make a good spot. Well, once we set off for the lot at 9 p.m., there were neighbors already waiting outside for us. Old ladies and young children alike all followed us down to the lot.
We lit off the first mortar of 20 as the neighborhood watched in excitement. Blake and i started singing the Star Spangled Banner as we watched the colorful fireworks explode in the sky. This time it was him with tears in his eyes. I could see the reflection of the lights twinkle in his watery eyes at the sound of each explosion. Then one came out sideways. It was a pink-colored one and it exploded on the side of somebody's house about 15 meters away from us. We panicked and looked over our shoulder as the last couple fireworks shot off from that bunch. We decided to find a bigger field to light off the rest.
There was a huge field about 500 more meters up the street, so we headed there. We lit off another round of mortars and relaxed and watched them in the sky. "Canta! Canta!" a couple of the kids began demanding from us. We just smiled. "Canta! Canta!" more people started demanding. "O se can yu si! O se can yu si!" We smiled and sang a little more for them. Other people in this area had come out and sat down in front of their houses to watch the show. A car alarm started going off, but no one seemed to mind. It felt good to see them as happy as us. Too often we take crap sometimes for being patriotic -- as if Jim Allocco is solely to blame for all of the problems of his country and the rest of the world. Sure, it was wrong for us to walk into their neighborhood and impose our culture like that. But for that one day, we honestly didn't care. We would go back to being Ticos tomorrow.