I woke up early on May 8th and put on my blue lace dress, pearl necklace, and white sandals hoping to see the President. No one in my host family had the time or desire to go to the President’s inauguration. It was too early, too boring, or they had too much homework to finish before class. Disappointed, I started to take my necklace off, when I realized I could maybe ask one more person if they wanted to go with me.
Surely enough, my friend said yes! Now that I had someone to accompany me, the only other problem was that we didn’t have tickets. From what I had read online, to get into the ceremony you had to have picked up a ticket from La Sabana Park the weekend beforehand. But, since my program had been out of town, we were going to take a chance and just hope to find tickets. I kept telling myself it would all be worth it if I could just see Luis Guillermo Solis officially become the President of Costa Rica.
We walked into downtown early on Thursday and got on a crowded, one-way bus headed to the National Stadium, along with an approximated 23,000 other Costa Ricans who were planning to attend the ceremony. We walked along the edge of the stadium looking for tickets, hoping we would bump into someone scalping tickets.
Instead, as we were walking around looking helplessly lost, a kind woman came up to us asking if we needed tickets…what an answer to prayer!!! It was so much easier to get in than we were expecting. After a five minute wait in line, we were through the gates and into the stadium. As I walked through the archway, I was handed a free flag and was taken aback by the view of thousands of people bustling in the stands. There were so many people wearing red, blue, and white shirts lighting up the stadium with pride.
The Costa Rican orchestra played their national song, meanwhile helicopters flew around the sky above us bringing in the other Latin American Presidents and foreign dignitaries. It was such a spectacular feeling, energy and excitement in the air as we waited to hear the President speak.
The only thing that could rain on my parade was a little boy seated in front of me was with his huge umbrella that was blocking the view to the President. I had to stand up to see anything. Meanwhile, the sun was blistering hot and tiny red bumps started to cover my body…sunburn!!
It was all worth it though, because I got to hear President Solis give a passionate speech about getting rid of corruption, reducing the deficit, and eliminating poverty. I definitely lucked out to have come to Costa Rica during the Presidential election season, (which only happens once every four years). I live so close to downtown San Jose that I have so many great opportunities to witness political history as it happens.
There are so many other awesome things that happen on a daily basis in San Jose, but sometimes we get into these routines of comfort and get bored here. We don’t choose to ask around what’s happening or take risks to make exciting adventures happen.
I encourage you to make it a point to get involved here. Whether that means asking about volunteer opportunities, guest lectures, cultural activities, or trips….just go for it! Don’t be afraid if you don’t always have each detail figured out. Just get out in the world and make the most out of each moment.