No, Costa Rica does not have a royal family, but that didn’t stop a mammoth turn-out from among Ticos and expatriates to celebrate at the annual Garden Party for British Queen Elizabeth’s birthday last

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H.M. Ambassador, Georgina Butler opened the spacious Residence gardens to the
public with a refreshing lack of heavy-handed security measures that only underlines the deserved track record that peace-loving Costa Rica enjoys.

Traditional Scottish piper from California

Guards and security services were around, but their presence was discreet and
unobtrusive. Everyone was welcome and a fine time was had.

The garden party offered a full day of music, theater performances, games, pony rides, prize-winning raffles, competitions and enough food and drink to keep the well over one thousand visitors happy and.., with that traditional British summer drink, Pimms, on offer, many guests were very much installed in the ‘happy’ bracket!

Morris dancers

A costumed town crier ringing his bell and shouting out the upcoming events wandered
the grounds, occasionally threatening a show-down with the Scottish piper who
was also parading his tunes among the crowds. Strawberries and cream and cakes with tea or coffee on the Terrace run by a dauntingly efficient team of ladies only added to the authenticity of the occasion.

Every inch of the gardens was in use but behind the seeming casual chaos, months
of preparation and meetings had been going on, wooing sponsors, performers and
volunteers. Apart from a good excuse for a party, the Birthday Celebration is
to raise money for local charities, notably Costa Rican schools in need. Last
year’s funds of $9,000 look to be easily beaten.



With the reflected confidence of a more buoyant economy, sponsors had been especially
generous providing over $20,000 worth in donations and prizes alone and the frantic
buying of raffle tickets meant they were sold out well before the draw.

It’s the kind of show that involves everyone: from just turning up to help adorn
the counter of the Cricketers’ Arms pub to cooking up jars of jellies and jams
or manning one of the many stands for a few hours, if you showed willing you became
part of the team. It’s a great way to meet, greet and make new friends.

Cakes, cakes and more cakes

So it might not be everybody’s cup of tea to wander the various tents and pavilions
witnessing anything from youthful choristers from the international Country Day
School to guessing the number Fruit Loops in a jar to a heavy rock band poised
trap-door like on boarding over the swimming pool. (One can only assume the consequences
had the Ambassador disapproved of the performers.)

In fact, the variety of people was a spectacle in itself: cool youths in shades
draped themselves near the rock music, elegant ladies of very uncertain ages had
bought up the hand-decorated straw hats – this year’s theme – and poised themselves
strategically for admiring compliments.

The Town Crier!

Children were absolutely everywhere but mostly underfoot with painted faces and
hands sticky with candy floss
; the business community, the retiree community of all nationalities, even the
ambassadorial Labrador dog was persuaded to parade in a flowery hat for the prize-giving
line-up (with no comments about crazy Brits and their animals.)

And the point of telling you all this?

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Just as a simple anecdote that this too is part of Costa Rica; a slightly zany, enjoyable mixed-up social event that gets all backgrounds, nationalities and ages together with an end result
of helping out some very poor rural schools.

If this isn’t your thing, then fine, but it is a small part of life here – a
show of the tolerance and mutual support that spreads through the various communities as a reflection, in large part, of our tolerant and ‘simpatico’ host country.

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Written by Vicky Longland – Vicky Longland has spent all her adult life in Latin and Central America originally as head of the translation department for an international human development organisation and currently working as a freelance translator and writer for several national and world-wide publications, specialising in people’s issues, the environment and lifestyles.

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