Blustery Season of Barrels and Bulls
Unlike parts of the world with temperate climates, Costa Rica has only two seasons. Ask anyone who lives here and they’ll talk about both. We all have stories about the low/rainy season’s storms. Conversely, we have plenty to say about the high/windy season, marking the start of our summer and many cultural events all over the region.
Both seasons offer unique experiences that come with their own warning labels. Both have a distinct cause and effect on how you go about life in the Tico time zone (TTZ).
Now that we’ve welcomed high season, let’s review the high points in Guanacaste from Nov. 15 to Easter week.
The rains have ceased — or at least, we hope they have — so you can count on three major events to mark the change of season. I call it the B3 phenomenon: 1) blustery winds, 2) barrels in the water and 3) a whole lot of bulls!
With the skies parting in mid-November comes the magical announcement that it’s beach time again. After a six-month hiatus, the winds start to blow offshore almost every morning and most of the day. These ferocious winds, known as the Papagayos, are a product of northern cold fronts in the United States. Contrary to popular belief up north, this is our most dangerous windy time of year. Being forced through mountain passes amplifies these winds, which can reach speeds exceeding 80 mph. A mere spark or garbage fire can flash out of control in an instant, so keep those butts to yourself.
Once the winds reach Guanacaste, they perfectly groom the surf, creating epic conditions and sweet barrels of fun. All the beaches and point breaks love offshore winds, and most break best on incoming high tides. Just pop into a local surf shop or bar and you’ll get the lowdown on what spots were going off on any given day.
Once you’re done in the water, you can head to a local fiesta and watch the local monta de toros for classic Guanacaste entertainment at its finest. Just make sure you stay on your toes around the ring.
Back in 1999, we were tailgating around the ring in La Garita when the third bull out had his own plans. He shot out of the chute, ejected his passenger and ran straight through the ring and out into the crowd. Everyone’s escape plan seems to falter when a bull breaks out of jail. As people scrambled for cover, the bull headed straight for the bar. He must’ve been thirsty after all. The bull knocked over a few Imperials before the two local cowboys in close pursuit managed to rope him back into his chute. No one was hurt, but to this day, I always, always make sure to double-check the sturdiness of the corral.
So if you’re looking for a good time, just ask a local, “¿Dónde están las fiestas esta semana?” They’ll point you in the right direction to enjoy your afternoon in the TTZ.