The social scene was often ‘feast or famine’ back in the UK, but here in the rural sticks, two good things in a fortnight qualifies as a feast!

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First, the visit of Cornell University Wind Ensemble. Their music school has a wonderful friendship with Costa Rica and they returned on a tour to play with our music schools.

The ensemble arrived in Perez Zeledon during our students’ summer camp; immediately plunged into joint rehearsals and 24 hours later, delivered a brilliant concert in San Isidro. In that short time, the ‘joie de vivre’ was tangible – lots of bright young people making new international friendships through their common passion for music.

We missed the concert last year but heard of the poignant ending. Robbers had broken into our music school – always strapped for cash – and stolen all the tickets sales money, intended for new instruments.

The director spoke of this sorry event and, in silence, at the end of the concert, the Cornell students walked forward and laid their instruments on the floor – their gift to the school. This beautiful gesture brought the audience to tears. This year, they ended again with the donation of some instruments, so very greatly appreciated.

The call went out for ‘Moms’ to home-host the visitors and we were delighted to welcome five young men for the night. All are studying different subjects but continuing their musical careers as well. All highly intelligent, charming, good-looking, good fun – AND talented! – lucky young people, the world’s their oyster. Their visit was a pleasure and an honour; we hope to see and hear them all again.

Celebrating Burns Night In Costa Rica.

Last weekend we headed to the bright lights of San Jose and the posh Escazu Country Club for the Burns Supper – the annual tribute to the Scottish bard Robert – ‘Rabbie’ – Burns.

Organised by Ian Young and other stalwart Brits, Burns Night is a terrific night of Scottish culture, complete with haggis, ‘neeps and tatties’ (turnip and potatoes!) Amazingly, the haggis is made by Claudio Pacheco, the Costa Rican husband of our British Embassy’s Vice Consul – excellent haggis, what a special man, definitely an Honorary Scot!

Costa Rica Burns Night 2010 Video: To watch this short video, please click on the small white triangular Play button in the middle of the screen below and allow a few seconds for the video to begin.

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The music was provided by Peregrino Gris, a fantastic Costa Rican group who play celtic music, including the bagpipes – what a surprise find in a distant little country that was never part of the British Empire!

All this and a load of kilts and tartan and the patriotic blood got flowing.., up for the serious business of Scottish dancing but for we exiles who live our lives in boots, wellies or flip flops, four hours of jigging in high heels sure crucifies the feet!

But it was worth the pain, an excellent night out and good company enjoyed around the table with Scott (Oliver, that is!) and his guests. Many participants wouldn’t understand the old Scots tongue, or half the words of the Address to the Haggis – ‘Great chieftain o’ the Puddin-race’! – but no matter, we did the Eightsome reel with two Ticos who’d been to the dance ‘rehearsals’ – in perfect step and they would have put many a Scot to shame.

That’s what its all about; a great time had by all and we are indeed lucky that good people go to so much effort to maintain this quaint but wonderful tradition.

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Here’s Vicky Longland’s terrific, poetic response to the laddies:

The response to the laddies has fallen to me
Replying to Ian, and his comments so twee.
To chat about menfolk, where does one begin?
Perhaps with young Rabbie, since we’re here because of him.
Of verses and epigrams he wrote quite a few
Especially about all the women he knew.
No matter that many were already wed,
He wooed them, pursued them and straight off to bed.
There were Anna and Alison, Nancy and Bessie,
Peggy and Jeanie and Mary and Jessie,
Delia must vie with the likes of young Molly
While Katie and Chloris must have hated fair Polly.
It’s there in his poems how he rolled in the clover.
Can our laddies compare with this paragon lover?
As Ian has mentioned, we are like a computer
Storing away every tiny mistake.
Our hubbies need never remember their errors.
We remind them from night to daybreak.
But computers are masculine, it can also be shown.
They have lots of data but no minds of their own
And as soon as you get one, you wish that you’d waited
To enjoy a new model that’s not quite so dated.
Yes we feed them and care for them, make sure they don’t smell
And then they make out it’s like living in … heaven.
And when you’re abed and thinking of foreplay,
Or maybe some new Cosmo magazine sashay;
You better not wait to turn on the charm
Especially if he’s had more than his usual wee dram.
It’s a quickie you’ll get, as fast as a wink
Then over and snoring before you can blink.
But our laddies are dear to us, no cruelty I’ll condone,
Their company means much to us, especially ones they own.
And a man is being foolish who thinks we’re perverse
When however much he fills it, we empty his purse.
‘Tis as God intended, their earnings to disburse.
Men have to understand we have our basic needs,
Shoes and handbags mostly, it’s not worth it to impede
Our jaunts to Multiplaza to prowl its latest wing
We have to feed our retail hunger and see what’s coming in.
Just because they use that same old shirt
For year on threadbare year
That brings on threats of partings bitter
If to place it in the bin we dare;
Ay, new clothing makes them jitter.
Men, listen well about being cheap
Or you may suffer till you weep
Recall young Sandy on his date
His father waiting up till late
“Oh son, did ye hae’ to spend a lot?
Money to waste we surely have not.”
“No fear”, said the lad
“Just six quid, dad.
She said it was all that she’d got.”
It’s true God created man before woman without any assistance,
He needed the practice to perfect His piece de resistance!
But it’s not for us lassies to sell our men short,
And for that, they should be consoled.
They are brave, they are tough and can be stalwart
Until they come down with a cold.
Then it’s tissues and pity and round-the-clock care
And excuses to take aspirin with whisky.
And everyone must tiptoe in silence, I swear
Till the master is feeling more frisky.
Then once more he appears, foot removed from the grave,
Set to singing loud Scotland the Brave.
Ay lassies, it sure has to fill us with mirth,
They don’t have to cope with giving childbirth.
In so many drams of best malt they’d be sunk
The poor babbies would probably come out quite drunk.
But our dear laddies must never complain
For the love of your lassies you’ll always sustain.
We are different for sure you can tell at a glance,
And I don’t know the Gaelic for Vive La Difference.
But our laddies are like true pipers from the Glen,
So raise your glasses, lassies, and thank God for men!

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