Expats can see Guanacaste at its best this weekend at the fourth Expo Marimba in Santa Bárbara de Santa Cruz.
The two-day event promises plenty of music from the country’s emblematic musical instrument, plus folk dancers, clowns, a trail ride, lots of traditional food and dances both nights.
The marimba, of course is that double keyboard instrument that grew up in Central America probably with the expertise of African slaves.
The instrument has been modernized, and many professionals in orchestras use instruments with man-made materials.
Still, a marimba can be folksy primitive in the style of Colonial instruments. Each key has a resonator affixed below. Traditionally these are of wood, but some native builders use gourds.
The musician usually plays with multiple mallets specially designed for the keys they hit.
The event is being organized by the local Comité de Cultura with the support of the Instituto
Costarricense de Turismo. The first festival was in 2011 with the avowed purpose of rescuing the marimba as a cultural icon and also to show off what Guanacaste has to offer tourists.
Santa Bárbara de Santa Cruz styles itself as the cradle of some of the great marimba musicians, and a handful of local groups will perform, including the Marimba Orquesta Maribel.
The festival also will feature local ceramic items for sale. The location is not far from the Ecomuseo de la Cerámica Chorotega in San Vicente de Nicoya where residents have been making their unique pottery since the days of the Mayan empires.
The expo begins Saturday morning with music and an inauguration. At 8:30 a.m. the marimba groups Los Pochos, Mi Parroquia and Soltisios perform. Those competent in Spanish can adjourn to the nearby Casona for stories of the Chorotega world.
There is a presentation at 10 a.m. by the Danza Foliclorico Mantambú.
Music and dance presentations continue through the afternoon until the 6 p.m. trail ride and the 8 p.m. dance. There are similar activities Sunday except that the dance begins at 6 p.m.