In Rey Curre, a village situated at an Indian reservation where the Brunka tribe lives, a yearly festival is held that depicts the struggle of the Indians with the Spaniards. This three day festival is called the Fiesta de los Diablitos. That translates as Festival of the Little Devils, but its true meaning is closer to the festival of the Ancestral Spirits. In Boruca, another village in the reservation, the fiesta is held at the end of december.
Represented is the Brunka tribe's victory over the Spanish conquistadors. with masks, costumes, and traditions that date back generations. Many village men dress up as diablitos, or the ancestral spirits, with masks and costumes that date back generations. One man is dressed in a square box and wears a bull mask, representing the Spanish conquerors.
The first day I arrive in the village, that is situated right on the Panamerican highway early in the morning to see a group of lanky young men with unfinished wooden masks and a burlap sack over their jeans and the bull going from one compound to another, accompanied by a few elderly men with musical instruments: conch, cow horn, accordion and drum. After about fifteen minutes the owner of the compound shares some Chicha, a fermented alcoholic beverage made from corn. An elderly blows the conch shell and they move to the next yard. The program by the entrance shows: round through the village- round through the village- round through the village. Always with a break. But needless to say the performers become quite intoxicated.
Meanwhile in front of a large hall on the other side of the highway a large trailer disco equipment is unloaded for the evenings performance.
The third day is the highlight. The masks are better and painted and the jute bags the Diablitos wear are lined with green palm leaves. The bull kills, but the Diablitos rise and the fight takes a turn. The bull is caught and there is a long drawn out battle in and around the Pan American Highway, which caused a short traffic jam. At the end the bull-costume is set afire, marking the defeat of the Spaniards.
Meanwhile, an even larger trailer with disco equipment is unloaded.