Monday, April 20, 2009

Folklorica in Cartago

Maria Fernanda took me to the beautiful city of Cartago on one of the days I stayed in Costa Rica. Papa Fernando sent us off to the bus terminal. It was just an hour ride to the site. This city was founded in 1563 and is located in Cartago Province at an elevation of 4, 707 ft above sea level at the base of Iraznu Volcano.

We visited first the highly revered and wonderful Basilica de Nuestra Senora delos Angeles where the Black Virgin or La Negrita image was enshrined. It is an impressive Byzantine style of church which is the national religious shrine of Costa Rica. A pilgrimage on foot to honor the image and pay homage to the favors conceded is usually held every year that coincides on the feast day of the Virgin. This is to commemorate the miraculous appearance of a tiny carved image of the virgin to a young local lass in 1635.

The actual rock which the image appeared at can be seen at the crypt below the altar. We have seen a board which contained the metal miniature body parts such as limbs, heart, kidneys which devotees usually offer to the Virgin for favors to heal this diseased specific body parts. Some other items were also offered. There was a spring at the back of the church where its water is believed to cure illnesses and helps in fertility problems of couples.

We went to see the Santiago Apostol parish church ruins. It was built in 1574 however in the year 1910, it was massively damaged by several earthquakes. It was abandoned and now forms a centerpiece of park in the heart of the town. In front of the ruins were people setting up stage and Maria learned from them that they were staging a festival of dances at that night. I was happy to know that I could see a festival outside of my country.

So I went back alone in the town to witness it. It was just in time when my bus arrived. People were on the streets and watching. It was street dancing where several groups performed. It was followed by dance showdown in front of the ruins with many spectators around. I was able to get photos with the dancers in their colorful costumes including the la caretta and the bulls.

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