As the sun began to set on Costa Rica’s 2014 elections, supporters lined the Inter-American Highway in San Pedro, east of San José, cheering wildly and honking their horns with a maddening cadence: Beep beep beep, BEEP. Beep beep beep, BEEP. Helicopters flew over the mass. Car alarms sounded. Strangers smiled at each other, gave high fives and hugged, despite the colors of the flags they held. In Costa Rica, election time is a celebration of democracy.
At the rotunda, or roundabout, in front of the San Pedro Mall, which houses the Fuente de la Hispanidad, motorists created a traffic jam that nobody minded getting stuck in. Passengers leaned out of windows. Some jumped out of their vehicles to run through traffic waving flags. For the most part, those flags flew the colors red and yellow for the Citizen Action Party. If you didn’t know Liberation’s Johnny Araya and Broad Front Party’s José María Villalta were the election frontrunners, you’d probably assume Luis Guillermo Solís had it in the bag.
But San Pedro, the college kid capital of San José, doesn’t represent the entire country. Although support for Solís was strong throughout the city, voters in the San José province make up only about a third of Costa Rica’s 3 million voters. You couldn’t tell that to this crowd, though.
“Quien va a ganar?” This was the question a transgender woman with flowing blond locks and a microphone was asking people in their cars. Then she stuck her microphone in their faces and her camera crew filmed the response. “Solís! Solís!” a young girl screamed, dangling out of a sunroof. Then the girl danced around with a flag, her side ponytail flying on the wind.