THE year in Costa Rican culture mirrors the year in The Tico Times’ “Weekend” section, but we hope the hodgepodge of art, music, theater, film and travel stories that graces these pages each week is a reassuring sign of the tremendous variety of offerings here. How best to review 2005? Here is a thoroughly unscientific, far-from-comprehensive recap, courtesy of the alphabet.
Rock legend Alan Parsons thrilled audiences at two February performances at San José’s Melico Salazar Theater. Bananas took center stage in November at the Children’s Museum’s newest exhibit, documenting the life and times of Costa Rica’s other signature agricultural product.
Carnaval, arguably the country’s biggest blowout, went on as usual this year in the Caribbean port city of Limón, with a touch of bittersweet in the aftermath of founder Alfred King’s passing.
The Dominical Little Theater washed a lot of men out of its collective hair in April with its production of “South Pacific,” appropriate given Dominical’s setting on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Cable channel E! Entertainment Television selected Costa Rican Pamela Alfaro as its Chica E! to represent Central American tourism. President Abel Pacheco welcomed paper doll Flat Stanley to the Casa Presidencial in April. The figure roams the world, educating kids about geography.
The grand dame of San José hotels, the Gran Hotel Costa Rica underwent a makeover worthy of a television reality show to mark its 75th birthday this year.
Country Day School, in the western suburb of Escazú, staged a production of John Waters’ “Hairspray.” Inside/Outside is the moniker attached to the permanent art exhibit documenting Tico history in art, which opened at San José’s Costa Rican Art Museum in July. Jacob Marley finally got equal time to tell his side of the story in a twist on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” with which the Little Theatre Group capped off another successful year.
Prestigious California vintner Kendall- Jackson introduced its fine line of wines to Costa Rica last month. San José’s holiday-season Festival of Lights marked its 10th anniversary two weeks ago. The Melico Salazar Theater is undergoing a remodeling and restoration at this very moment; the scaffolding will come down next year. Costa Rican fusion group Malpaís released its second album “Historias de Nadie” in January.
The Tico Times lost a friend this year and bid a sad farewell to poet-columnist Oscar Chavarría. Harry Potter came to Costa Rica twice in 2005, in the form of book six (“The Half-Blood Prince”) and film four (“The Goblet of Fire”). Tico Times photographer Mónica Quesada and former photo intern Marie Arago delighted viewers with a bi-national look at San José’s Central Market in a joint photo exhibit appropriately entitled “Mercado Central.” The Readers’ Theater Group completed two years of four-times-monthly get-togethers for those who enjoy the stage but don’t want to commit to memorizing lines. Crossover Latino icon Carlos Santana packed fans into Tibás’ Saprissa stadium, north of San José, for an April concert.
Opera fans enjoyed productions this year of “Madama Butterfly” and “La Traviata.” The universe is now ours with the July opening of the University of Costa Rica’s Planetarium, a gift from the government of Japan. Argentine Latin rock group Enanitos Verdes entertained fans at Saprissa stadium at an April concert with like-minded Mexican group Café Tacuba.
Burger fans rejoiced at the announcement that U.S. chain Wendy’s will open 15 restaurants in Costa Rica. The news generated much, um, “x-citement” (what are you going to do with “x”?). Architect George Yazbeck designed the cocoon-shaped, forest-setting Monteverde Amphitheater, which opened in March in northcentral Costa Rica. Zebras galloped to the northwestern province of Guanacaste with the opening of Africa Mía, a private animal reserve.
The coming year promises to be just as varied.