As I mentioned in earlier posts, leaving the CCS Home Base at night was not recommended unless in a group or with a male companion. There was no going out to get a drink, no going to the club, just staying back at the Home Base eating a huge meal and hanging out with the group or reading. A big part of traveling for me includes the night life. I love to go out and have fun however I had to respect the circumstances of our volunteer commitment. Since there were no tourists in Cartago, we really stood out and going to the bars (if there were any) in a Catholic town would have looked really bad. I was to learn later just how strict the drinking policy was.

When Santi mentioned an evening outing a few of us practically jumped out of our seats with the opportunity to get out at night. Santi heard that the local Cartago Cultural and Music center was having a free performance in honor of Holy Week for whoever wanted to attend. I could hardly wait to check things out and have an escape.

We left after dinner and it was a perfect evening out. Fresh, light breeze and wonderful. The walk to the Cultural Center took about fifteen minutes heading down windy streets and passing through the center of town. There was not a whole lot going on. People were out and about, doing their business, yet I couldn’t see much in the way of nightlife.

The Cultural Center is a beautiful, traditional Costa Rican building set in the center of town with a gorgeous indoor courtyard full of fragrant flowers, plants and best of all, an opening up to the sky. The Cultural Center offers art and music courses to the people of Cartago at no charge thus you can see artists in residence painting and showing their art and music performances. That evening, we were attending a free musical performance by some of the students in honor of Holy Week. To my surprise, the lights were turned off and the entire piece of music was played by candlelight. It was a quartet of strings and absolutely magical. All the music played was catholic and had to do with Holy Week. There were slides played against the wall that complemented the music. It was very peaceful and put one in the spirit of the importance of the week, even for those who are not that religious.
Here is a picture of the lovely traditional courtyard of the Cultural Center:
After the performance, we walked back to the CCS Home Base and entered a nearby church that was just cleaning up after an evening service. Here are some photos of the outside and inside of the church:

Then, of course, we hit the grand-daddy of all churches, the Basilica light up at night and it was spectacular. Here are some photos:

It was a fantastic evening out and my eyes closed immediately once I hit my bottom bunk. I couldn’t wait for Day 3 at the nursing home. I knew that my friends would be lined up early, on the terrace, anxiously awaiting our arrival with delight.

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