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This is my last post on Costa Rica; stay tuned for my series on my Alaska trip next! We’re also still posting a bit more from this trip on our travel blog if you haven’t gotten enough of this tropical adventure.

When we travel, we usually try to make our dollars (or colones) stretch as far as possible.  This was a special occasion, so we splurged on the Doubletree Resort in Puntarenas.  We were surprised by how much it actually offered!  Besides air conditioned rooms (which alone were worth the price), it had several pools, three excellent buffet-style meals every day, and unlimited beverages.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It also featured nightly shows.

When we first read about them in our welcome packet, we thought they were amateur, visitor-run events, akin to a talent show.  We took a chance and checked it out our first night, and boy, were we in for a treat!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Beautiful dancers spun on stage with brilliantly colored skirts, bright smiles on their faces.  Athletic men accompanied them in frilly costumes, dipping them and hoisting them up upon their shoulders.  The more we watched, the more we were impressed; this was a legit production!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

After the first number, we met who we would later come to call Rico.  He had a humorous act miming a vigorous drum solo, and this, too, was on-point.

The show continued like this for about an hour, alternating between spinning skirts and acrobatics and comedic skits.  It was far more entertaining than either of us anticipated.

We were further surprised the next night, when the show was entirely different.  New dance numbers, new costumes, new comedy routines.  This seemed like a lot of effort for maybe a hundred guests in the audience.  They could have charged for tickets, but these wonderful shows were completely included with everything else.

One night featured a full fire show.  One had dancing robots.  Another had songs themed for Beauty and the Beast, Minions, and Moana.  And we learned our entertaining tico comedian had a habit of taking his shirt off to reveal the word “RICO” written on his belly (thus our nickname – I think we heard later his name is actually Jeffrey, and he goes by Puertipo on Facebook).  The acrobatics were superb, and the dancing blew my mind.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Sadly, a lot of the comedy was lost on us, as it was predominantly in Spanish, but we could piece together bits here and there, enough to still find it entertaining.  One gentleman on stage was even kind enough to deliver each of his lines twice – first in Spanish, then again in English.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

They pulled out all the stops for their Friday night show – a full two hours centered around the theme of “around the world.”  The comedy troupe travelled from Spain to China, the Middle East to America, all accompanied by appropriate regional dances.  I found it fascinating how they view America; apparently we all wear jerseys and colorful baggy pants (it’s always interesting to see the stereotypes other countries distill from overseas :)).

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

There was an illuminated Chinese dragon, sumo wrestling, and fantastic costumes.  Of course, it ended with the message that home is best (with all its “flora y fauna“), awash in the Costa Rican stripes of blue, white, and red.

I love shooting events (I photograph several conventions each year), so it was difficult for me to sit back and just watch, resisting the urge to go into coverage mode. It was made somewhat easier by my refusal to cart along my bazooka around the resort. Limited by just my little commuter camera (with my fast 50mm lens), I could scratch the photographic itch while mostly enjoying the show firsthand.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The performances were all wonderful to shoot, but they were even better to watch – much more than I expected on a little resort stage.  And they do this every night!  Each day was something new; I wondered how many different shows they had rehearsed.  The energy needed must be incredible, and in that heat!  It was impressive.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

We loved our daily explorations in Costa Rica, but we looked forward to those shows each night.  They made the resort an experience, and if we ever make it back, I hope they’re still there.

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