All along Palmares’ main street, officially known as La Recta, the crowd was like a parted sea of cowboy hats. They flanked the empty avenue in growing anticipation, swigging beer from Pilsen cans, eating skewers of barbequed chicken, and taking selfies in front of waiting horses. So began the Palmares “tope,” or horse parade, on that sunny Thursday.
Each year in January, Ticos descend on the sleepy coffee town of Palmares, northwest of San José, for the country’s most rowdy fiesta. Palmares hosts a traditional Costa Rican festival with bullfights, horse parades and carnival rides, but also brings in famous international acts and way more beer than is probably necessary.