On a Friday night, there are a thousand people gathered in a shadowy park dominated by huge rain trees. Every single person is holding a drink. It’s only eight o’clock, and they will stay there until one or two o’clock. It’s not any weekend of partying in a Latin American city.
Who said that the rumba is in the dance clubs? There is nothing better than enjoying a healthy environment, where the only cover is that provided by the leafy treetops, with a drink that does not cause brawls but guffaws.
In Cartago, the wholesome way to party is with coffee.
The park used to be just a pasture, where during the day the children swung from the branches of the gigantic rain trees. At night, the youth continued to celebrate a soccer match with afterparties in the park. They parked their cars with the doors open and the music at full blast, annoying all the neighbors.
With the intervention of the mayor, the drugs disappeared and the party scene changed. An outdoor gym was installed, promoting healthy exercise. Then the healthy rumba arrived. All four blocks of the linear park were filled with coffee vendors. Every three meters you can find someone selling iced coffee and cold cappuccino to beat the heat.
The heat of Cartago doesn’t begin to diminish until the sun sets around six o’clock. People venture out at eight to start a night of drinking coffee, and that’s enough to have a good time. With all of that caffeine in their system, it’s a very late-night culture.
We had insomnia in Cartago, but not because of the deafening music from nightclubs. Our partying was simple and quiet: chatting respectfully and sipping one black coffee after another.
*Translation by Carrie Cifuentes of “Lección de café de Cartago #2: Rumbear con café“.