It was strange to be departing Costa Rica this morning to catch a flight to Ecuador.  We have a schedule that is pretty much the opposite of 90% of the tourists that travel to Costa Rica: we arrive at the tail end of the rainy season, and leave when the rain stops and the beautiful Costa Rica blue skies (and all the tourists) appear. 
 
Driving to the airport, it was fun to mull over the way that Costa Rica celebrates Christmas traditions with the same enthusiasm we do. Well, not wanting to sound like one of the rich & famous that talk smack about US commercialism…but maybe no one else celebrates Christmas with the same commercial enthusiasm we do…but hey–they still celebrate in their own more subtle way!!
 
For the past few weeks we watched Christmas decorations go up on houses as we headed to the river.  And saw the Christmas trees set up on front porches. Interesting but many Costa Ricans display their trees on their porches for everyone to enjoy rather than tucked away in the house.  Every once-in-a-while we would even hear traces of a Christmas carol blaring from a blown out set of speakers. 
 
It is pretty funny to see collections of Santa Clauses adorning the homes of folks that have never seen snow! 
 
And as the first days of summer descended upon Costa Rica, so did the tamale making.  Probably the strongest Christmas tradition in Costa Rica is the making of Christmas tamales.  The tamales consist of tortillas full of a corn, meat, and stuffing of cilantro-type herbs, etc.  And then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked.  On one of our last days on the Reventazon, we were delayed from leaving the takeout while a group finished collecting up banana plant leaves used for wrapping up Christmas tamales. 
 
And this week families all over Costa Rica are elbow deep in tamale preparations.  The whole family joins in. Take for example the family of our second driver Johnny (his family defined as the size of a full-blown soccer team) They get together and make over three hundred tamales for the holidays. And eat every last one of them! 
 
Somehow this is a tradition that seems to sure beat the idea of suffering through multi-generation fruit cakes!!