San Jose, Costa Rica: First Impressions.

I’ve been in the San Jose for about three days, so let’s consider this my inconclusive list of first 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, maybe now…

1. WEATHER: Humidity, sun, rain, sun, rain, thunder, sun, overcast, rain. That was the weather from 1:00-1:30pm today.

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. I, too, was massively impressed.

3. ADDRESSES: These are not a thing. Seriously. Driving in San Jose requires exceptional treasure hunt capabilities or, at the very least, a Master’s degree in sorcery. 

Example: Supermarcado, boca de incendio, 55 N y 20 E, casa azul 5W, Calle Concordia

Translation: One street 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.

4. FOOD: I enjoyed a plate of arroz y pollo (rice and beans), or perhaps more accurately, I had a plate of cilantro with a side of arroz y pollo. They really like cilantro. Personally, not a big fan. For my second dinner that night (becuase is one dinner really ever enough?) my new Argentine friend and I decided to make pasta (I can’t escape the pasta). This is actual dialogue direct from the carb aisle:

New Friend: Should we get 2 bags of pasta for the four of us?

Me: That’s more than enough.

New Friend: Well, how hungry are you?

Me: Not very.

New Friend: Okay, we’ll get 3 bags.

Wait… what? Let’s just say that 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 appeared. I swear I just saw a little boy run past my door and when I sat down for dinner and then 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, due to its central location, it is a nice home base for jungle and beach adventures.

Yesterday I traveled 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, however, proved to be a challenge because you have to wave down a bus on a busy highway road. Four buses passed me as I stood in a thunderstorm looking like a soaked, sad llama. (For a visual representation of this, please click here.) Finally a man walked into the middle of the road so the bus could either stop or hit him. A real gamble, in my humble opintion, but lo and behold, the bus stop a few feet from him. And with that, I learned that there is a very direct way of getting things done around these parts.

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, of course.


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Sloth enthusiast, Nutella extremist, and all around sassy human with a deep love for hoppy beer and discovering the world's many gems. Currently gallivanting the globe while drinking more coffee than necessary.

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