My Tico friends tell me that a Tope, which always accompanies the holidays, is about the horses. but I’m not so sure. My Spanish dictionary says tope means a collision or encounter. To me, it looks like a really great party.
A tope in Costa Rica is a country party hosted by a ranch on a summer Sunday afternoon, inviting ranchers and cowboys from all over the province of Guanacaste. It’s an opportunity to collide with your neighbors and encounter people you don’t see so often. It’s an occasion to eat and drink. The only thing served is barbecued beef – no side dishes, no salads. And two beverages are offered: Imperial beer and Johnny Walker Red.
A princess is selected. There is dancing. There are surely some horse trades negotiated. It all goes on for a few hours, the dancing and talking and drinking, with the horses tethered under the trees.
Then, when everyone is sated (and snockered), the horse show begins: a parade of riders who “dance” into town. Tico horses or Criollo Costarricense have this elegant snappy little walk that is the result of breeding and serious training. The tack is sometimes simple, often expensive, but always well polished. The requirements for attendance are c10,000 and a hat.
Cangrejal, at the west end of Samara Beach, will host a Tope 1 January 2012.