Día del Negro y Afrodescendientes!
Limón is the most culturally diverse of Costa Rica's provinces marked by an Afro-Caribbean heritage that has made a significant impact on local culture, influencing dress, music, food, and languages spoken throughout the region. PCV Jose recounts his experience celebrating the region's Afro-Caribbean roots with fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and staff members during festivities for Dia del Negro y Afrodescendientes!
Día del Negro, as it is known locally, is my favorite holiday I have had the joy of celebrating during my Peace Corps service in Costa Rica! Early in the morning on August 31, I headed to a local celebration in Limón Province with a few fellow Volunteers. I did not fully know what I was getting myself into, having never attended or celebrated the holiday before, but was blown away by the festivities! I feel incredibly fortunate to have shared the experience with fellow Volunteers and the lovely PCCR Nurse Jennifer who was born and raised in Limón.
Thanks to the gracious hospitality of the US Embassy, we had the pleasure of meeting US Ambassador Sharon Day over breakfast at the start of the day and had the chance to speak with her about Costa Rican culture as well as meet other members of her team. We also were fortunate to share stories with her about our time in service and discuss current community projects. As we spent more time with the Ambassador, we found that she was ready to laugh, dance, and enjoy all the celebrations the festival had to offer.
Apart from our time spent with Ambassador Day, one of the highlights of the day was getting the opportunity to meet the current President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado. We were surprised at the President's willingness to immerse himself into the crowd the way he did during the parade, meeting many people face-to-face. As one can imagine, there were many people on all sides attempting to get the President's attention. Among all the chaos, we were fortunate to take a picture with President Alvarado and Vice President Epsy Campbell Barr, shake their hands, and exchange a few words. We were incredibly grateful for this rare opportunity and enjoyed the meet and greet.
The day's festivities concluded with a parade, which we had the great fortune of enjoying while riding the US Embassy float, dancing for hours to the music of a live jazz band. We saw beautiful traditional Afro-Caribbean garments worn by parade participants and everywhere we turned it seemed we were surrounded by people having so much fun, smiling and dancing along to the Caribbean music. The atmosphere was overflowing with love and happiness.
I am grateful that I was able to be a part of the celebrations of Día del Negro y Afrodescendientes. It was a remarkable experience to see the locals of Afro-Caribbean descent display their unique heritage and culture through music, food, wardrobe, and, above all, community unity.