New Year's in Coco, Costa Rica
Arriving to Costa Rica just a couple days after Christmas, the first thing on my agenda was New Year's in Coco. Let me first say that I'm not a huge partier per se. A kick ass night for me is chugging a couple beers, eating pizza, and watching a good action flick or college basketball game. The first image that pops in my head, and maybe yours, is a 27-year old Homer Simpson. Nonetheless, Canadian expat Cheryl had hyped up Coco pretty big, so I knew I couldn't miss out on it. As I was cooking dinner I could hear people coming back to the complex talking about how busy and crazy it already was in town. This was my first time being in another country for New Year's, so despite being under the weather, I had to check things out. New Year's is somewhat of a week-long event in the small Costa Rican beach-town of Coco, with pre-New Year's events getting grander each night. Fireworks had been going off nightly and on the evening before New Year's Eve I was treated to the sounds of music, fireworks, and the beating of drums. The sound was reminiscent of the Ma Licky Licky scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I was waiting for Jack Sparrow to be carried by any moment, tied to a bamboo rod.
As I've grown older I've tried to keep high expectations to a minimum. It was traumatic enough finding my parents writing "Santa" on my gifts on Christmas Eve years ago, so I try to suppress high expectations. Nonetheless, they were pretty high for Coco's New Year's Eve bash, and I wasn't disappointed. What followed was a mashup of block party, plus Big Ten tailgate, plus outdoor nightclub. I was immediately greeted by an older gringo with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in another, only for him two seconds later to greet the asphalt, face first.
I walked up and down the crowded street a couple times, just taking it all in. Lining the street were SUVs and trucks with families and groups of people sitting in the back sharing drinks, food, and dancing to latin music blasting from their car stereos. Further down the street was where the real party was taking place: kids lighting sparklers, teens dancing on the top of cars, teenagers spraying champagne in the air, and fireworks being lit from the back of a pickup bed at the top of every hour. Although it's dark and quality isn't great, the following clip will give you some idea.
There were primarily two scenes taking place on the streets of Coco. One was on the actual streets and sidewalks, with music blasting, dancing, fireworks, and drinks. The next was on both sides of the streets, in the bars and restaurants where many of the gringos, tourists, and travelers were enjoying the scene. I ordered a beer at Coconutz and pulled up a chair at the open air bar, which looks out over the main street where most of the action was taking place. I met the owner, Dan, who had been in Costa Rica for 15 months and had loved it so much when he first arrived, that he bought Coconutz and turned it into a sports bar and restaurant. I spent most of the evening talking with a family from Alberta, Canada, who come to Costa Rica every winter for a couple weeks and were telling me their favorite beaches in Costa Rica.
Quite the contrast from holidays spent in the deep south of the U.S., New Year's in Costa Rica was quite the experience and one I won't soon forget. While my first week in Costa Rica primarily consisted of catching up on work and getting acclimated to my place, New Year's Eve was a good submersion into the culture. It was a great end to a roller coaster year. While I didn't make any resolutions or goals, if the end of 2010 was any indication, 2011 should be a banner year.