The 4th of July - U.S. Independence Day

Piedades Norte Travel Blog

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Blake and "Adam Corolla"

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.

Another shot of the site after two weeks.
OK, well let's hope we still stand for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. i know a lot of people would disagree. There's a really large Gray Area. Got it.

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.

Karen and i taking a break from some tough work.

"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.

Karen and Esteban in front of their old house.
S.A." at least five times each. Then we sang "America" by Simon & Garfunkel, my personal favorite. Then we sang songs from the movie "Team America," haha. And we even sang a bit of "Surfing U.S.A." just for good measure, ha. Perhaps even "American Girl." i really can't remember, but we sang any song that had anything to do with our homeland. Finally, Parra had heard enough. He pleaded with Luis to let us go home so he wouldn't have to listen to us anymore! Luis told us we could leave once we finished digging the hole for the septic tank. So we hauled ass. We finished the 6-foot hole by 2 p.m. And it's not easy to dig a straight, narrow hole. The shovel keeps hitting the walls once you're inside, and after about 2 feet the ground just kept getting harder and harder.
Luis' old house.
We also dug through a colony of ants, which kind of helped since they had already pre-dug some of the earth for us. i think if we had sung anymore, we would have been digging our own graves. But it worked. We left early.

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.

Karen with her father Luis.
The clerk told us to hold on and he called someone on the phone. He returned. "Fuegos artificiales como Sparklers esta bien?"

"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.

Karen showing she is queen of the world!
Umm, OK, haha.

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.

It was cloudy during the day, so my shots aren't good. Also, you can't see the lava during the day. AND my pictures at night didn't turn out! BUT i swear there is nothing more beautiful than watching lava spew out of Vulcan Arenal!
"Ohhhh, si, si, si." he responded. He sent the kid back and the kid returned with mortars holding anywhere from five to 20 fireworks. Our eyes lit up like a couple of kids on Christmas morning. We pointed at the one that held 20, the kid went back and grabbed three more, and we were set.

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.

These are the rocks that came out of Arenal during its last major eruption. Heads up!
It wouldn't have been hard to find us though, we were the only gringos in the neighborhood and everyone knew us -- even if we didn't know them!

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.

Walking up and down these 10 times a day was not fun and fun at the same time.
This was the first time anyone had ever brought fireworks to Barrio La Ranchera, they told us. The church lights off fireworks in downtown San Ramon for Christmas, but, other than that, they never have them in the city. Really? Wow.

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.

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Blake and Adam Corolla
Blake and "Adam Corolla"
Another shot of the site after two…
Another shot of the site after tw…
Karen and i taking a break from so…
Karen and i taking a break from s…
Karen and Esteban in front of thei…
Karen and Esteban in front of the…
Luis old house.
Luis' old house.
Karen with her father Luis.
Karen with her father Luis.
Karen showing she is queen of the …
Karen showing she is queen of the…
It was cloudy during the day, so m…
It was cloudy during the day, so …
These are the rocks that came out …
These are the rocks that came out…
Walking up and down these 10 times…
Walking up and down these 10 time…
Piedades Norte
photo by: JimLNA