I’ve been in the city for about three days and this is an inconclusive list of my impressions. I’ll be here for a few months so we’ll see how these change over time, however, I wouldn’t be opposed if #3 changed, oh I don’t know, like now..
1. Weather: Humidity, sun, rain, sun, rain, thunder, sun, overcast, rain. That was the weather from 1:00-1:30pm.
2. Roads: I’m not sure why they bothered to paint lanes, put up stop signs or install stoplights because everything seems to be more of an option rather than an absolute. At least they didn’t waste money on street signs (see below). But street entertainment is alive and well, and when I say “street” I mean literally in the middle of the intersection. I had the honor of seeing a young man hula hooping on one leg while doing air-swimming motions with his hands. Please don’t act like you’re not impressed.
3. Addresses aren’t a thing. Seriously.
Example: Supermarcado, boca de incendio, 55 N y 20 E, casa azul 5W, Calle Concordia
Translation: One street of out of 50 gets a name so for the general area of the location you start at Calle Concordia, then go 55 meters north from the supermarket, then 20 meters east of the fire hydrant and it’s the fifth blue house on the west side of the street.
Basically driving in San Jose requires exceptional treasure hunt capabilities or at the very least a Master’s degree in sorcery.
4. Food: I enjoyed a plate of arroz y pollo, nay I had a plate of cilantro with a side of arroz y pollo. They really like cilantro. Meh. For my second dinner that night my new Argentinian friend and I decided to make pasta (I can’t escape the pasta). This is actual dialogue direct from the carb aisle:
Friend: Should we get 2 bags of pasta for the four of us?
Me: That’s more than enough.
Friend: Well how hungry are you?
Me: Not very.
Friend: Okay, we’ll get 3 bags.
Wait..what? I ate a lot of pasta that night… And now I get 2 months of my host Mama’s glorious cooking! Blessed bendito.
5. The more the merrier: When I arrived at my host family’s home it was only a precious older couple. Then there was a parrot. Then a nephew. Then their 3 adult children. I swear I just saw a little boy run past my door and when I sat down for dinner a Japanese girl appeared. No wonder Mama is always cooking so much food!
All in all, the city of San Jose leaves a bit to be desired, but I’m thinking it will be different living here versus merely visiting for a few days; I’ll get acquainted with it’s quirks, meet the people and discover all it’s little gems. Also, it is a nice home base to hit the jungles and beaches due to it’s central location. Yesterday I went about an hour out of the city and hiked three trails in Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo; it was luciously green and rugged. Getting back to San Jose though proved to be a challenge because you have to stop a bus on the busy road. Four buses passed me as I stood in a thunderstorm looking like this. Finally a guy walked into the middle of the road so the bus could either stop or hit him. It stopped. Apparently that’s how you get things done around here! Well, I have my first day of work tomorrow and like that man and the bus I hope to take Costa Rica head on, only slightly less literally. Slightly.