The moon is shining, the clouds are low and heavy, and all of Guanacaste is celebrating. The rain this year fully quenched the thirst of the land, and in response Pachamama, our Mother Earth, decided to celebrate in full force, pushing up bountiful fields of flowers and meadows of green. It is a cry back to the past, one with no memory of recent drought and tough times, the return to a plentiful paradise is still blooming even as we near February. Soon the fields will again turn brown, and the color change brings with it the fires. The fire is destructive, but it also brings new creation, new life once again. The land is renewed, and this cycle of life continues on unbroken, undeterred, and undefeated.
As the Earth celebrates, the feelings of hope and rebirth permeate through the people as well. The season after rain is the season of fiestas, an ancient time of festivals. The gatherings last for months, moving from town to town every weekend, spreading the energy of the season as it goes forward. All the towns are touched; they celebrate the Earth, the sweetness of good harvests after hard work, and they celebrate life. People come together, eat, drink, and are merry. During the time of the fiestas is when it is truly apparent that Guanacaste is simply another reincarnation of the Wild West.
Ranchers and cowboys come from all over the region to share their largest and meanest bulls. How do they celebrate? By setting the toros loose in a ring with a rider abreast their back, and a host of targets in front of their face. Once the bull sheds the rider, it may take its pick at any of the openly daring and inebriated people running through the ring trying to gain its attention. The ambulance stands ready to receive any injuries, and the toreadors are watching to distract the bull from causing any potential serious harm.
Inside the ring is a great place to gain perspective on the whole event. The bulls are immense; they weigh over a ton and their skin ripples over their hulking muscles that seem to be bursting outward. I am truly a blade of grass in front of a tornado as the bulls tear around the ring like a whirling dervish. No way exists to predict their actions, and simply by stepping inside one casts lots with the universe to determine one’s fate. But how ALIVE I feel as I skirt the dangerous precipice between life and death, put my life in the hands of randomness and trust in myself to be safe. Everything tastes sweeter after a bitter drink, and everything seems more vibrant with the chance of pain behind it.
But is that not life? Fortune favors the bold. The easy path and the risk free way can always be found, but the unknown and unpredictable is so much more real, so much more intense. I want to live life, and to the max, and push myself the entire time. The status quo is far too boring; let’s embrace randomness, let’s embrace change. Let’s embrace life, and live it. Love.