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Although it was expected, Costa Rica the sudden sharp loud blast that would come at dawn and shake the air, my sleep, the cot and the heavens, would never cease to surprise me. I would get up and run to the window, just in time to see the black and white smoke that accompanied the large bang, Costa Rica followed by the discharge of firecrackers. From old Costa Rica house, I would watch the fireworks shoot up into the sky and explode with a deafening noise. It was September 1st: The fireworks, the large bell and the smaller bell rang out in the morning, announcing the feast of the Costa Rica which was to take place on the fourth Sunday of the month. The shaking of the windows and the walls caused me some fear, but it was the announcement of the feast. I preferred to watch the fireworks up close, and for a few years my cousins and I would get up early to go to the chestnut groves—vegetable gardens with fruit trees— and hide behind the trees a few meters from the stoker, Costa Rica to see the flash of fire followed by the loud explosion of the firecrackers.

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The anticipation of the feast lasted at least twenty days. September was very beautiful, tender, and sunny. The holidays never ended. The hours extended into days, and in the fields we could still find figs, sweet grapes, and red dates that we would eat in the square as we watched cowboys and Indians, sheriffs and bandits fight it out on a sheet stretched between two walls.

Waiting for the feast was the best: We started to gather information on the band, the singers, on the fireworks, and launched skirmishes with our friends in the confraternity of the Holy Rosary. The playful insults between the “red sheep” and the “white sheep” were part of our childhood games, our worldview and our sense of belonging.

The truck with the illuminations, the arches and the stage usually arrived at the start of the holiday week. Strong men with foreign accents unloaded boards of all shapes and colours with holes and joints, poles, strings, wires and bulbs which they transformed, with skill and patience, flying up the stairs and on the balconies or along the poles, into magical, beautiful constructions and fascinating scenery in which to perform shows and rituals. We counted the bulbs, watched the shape and colour of the arches. For the Feast of the Crucifix the arches stretched out to the curve at the house of the Papa and at times even further down. This was the area with a larger presence of crocifissanti.

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