In just six days Ash Wednesday will arrive. This is a time for devout Christians to begin the 40-day period of lent leading up to Easter Sunday.
But it also is the end of big parties. The biggest carnivals in the Americas are in Rio and New Orleans.
The Brazilian festivities are scheduled to begin Friday, and New Orleans promises a series of parades over the weekend leading up to Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins.
Wednesday is the day many Catholics and some other Christians are anointed with ash. The Catholic tradition is to remind the faithful that their lifespan here is fragile, from ashes to ashes and from dust to dust.
The tradition is at least 1,000 years old and stems from the biblical account of Jesus Christ spending 40 days in the desert fasting and confronting the Devil.
Costa Ricans do not celebrate carnival, although some may in their own homes. The big deal here is Semana Santa, which is the week before Easter, March 27.
Tourism operators are looking forward to the week, when many Costa Ricans head to the beach and mountain resorts.
Holy Week before Easter is a great time for photographers with processions all over the country. Some tourists visit just to enjoy the colorful pageantry.