A Tope Too Scary for Horses
Yesterday, the small town where I live in Costa Rica had a Tope – a kind of horse show where horse owners and can show off their horses by riding them back and forth on the main street of town. There is always a lot of drinking going on, but that does not usually lead to violence. But yesterday it did – and I got to experience it first-hand.
I kept wondering “Where are the police?” Because no one was directing traffic, and sealing off the road from vehicular traffic. Cars and other traffic were going right into the parade, right into the oncoming horses. The noise was deafening.
I was at an intersection where the horses, seeing the violent crowd ahead of them refused to go on. I saw a fight break out between what appeared to be street gangs. Instead of moving away from this violence, the crowd moved closer, the better to see it. I was shoved around roughly by the crowd, who wanted me out of the way.
There seemed to be plain-clothes policemen breaking up the fight, and they must have called in the heavy reinforcements. Immediately, a lot of motorcycle policemen barged into the crowd, and there was a police car, a paddy-wagon, and an ambulance – which could go nowhere. Police vehicles started blowing their horns for what must have been an hour.
The crowd, many of whom come by bus, went home satisfied. They had seen a Wild-West show.
The only unhappy people were the horse owners. Many of them had to dismount and lead their horses through the crowds. And some left the parade completely.