The "Festival de Las Tortugas" was definitely a "small town" kinda thing, but considering that Junquillal is a very tiny community with an even tinier budget, the festival was well organized and a whole lotta fun.
The festival started with a small parade through town led by a number of ox-carts carrying the oldest members of the community. The Costa Rican ox-cart is strongly connected with the economic and social development of the country. Drawn by a team of oxen, the ox-cart was used during the colonial period for the transportation of sugar cane, tobacco, and coffee. Farmers used to paint the carts in very strong, bright colors in order to make them look beautiful and also to preserve them. Eventually, the painting evolved into a kind of competition amongst the farm owners to see who had not only the best team of oxen, but also the most beautiful carts in the area.
Oops, I digress, back to the parade. The old folks ox-carts were followed by groups of school kids playing musical instruments and wearing traditional dance costume. Lastly, there were a few turtle themed "floats"!!
Once all parade participants arrived at the neighborhood park, where all of Junquillal's partygoers had congregated, there were speeches and entertainment. Food and drink booths had been set up, as well as photo displays of the turtle conservation programs already underway in Junquillal and surrounding beaches.
A dance wrapped up the evening, with a DJ playing old disco tunes for the "gringos" and lively Latin tunes for the "locals" (and the few gringos who braved the dance floor to try their luck at salsa!).
The dance was interrupted, however, when a bucket of newly hatched sea turtles arrived. This was, after all, a turtle festival. The baby turtles were so small and so darn cute! Everyone went down to the waterfront where the baby turtles were handed out to the school kids who gently assisted them in their long march across the beach into the water.
Once all baby turtles were safely in the water, the dance recommenced and went on until...well, probably until way past my bedtime!