travel

September 11, 2014

The days are flying by here; I can’t believe I’ve already been in Costa Rica for two weeks.  But I’ve already seen a lot of San Jose and the country.  On Sunday, I went with Carlos and Mary to drop off their friends Roger and Susie at the airport and we took a different way back so I saw some more of the city; we drove by La Sabana, the huge central park, and the National Stadium (which is huge), where there was a rodeo going on, with people in cowboy hats lined up around the block to get in.  It’s a really big deal here apparently, with competitors coming from all over Central America, Venezuela, Argentina, even the US.

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And we drove by this little settlement:

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There are more structures behind these, an enormous hillside covered with little patched together ramshackle homes.  Carlos says this section of town is inhabited entirely by Nicaraguans, or “Nicas”.  They immigrate to Costa Rica for jobs, for the free public education, and medical care.  The structures are made from all sorts of leftover construction scraps:  I saw walls made from plastic, cardboard, sheet metal, boards and plywood, and roofing tiles, all covered over with rusted tin roofs.  The immigrants build them on government land and so far the government just lets them.  Most of the Tico people seem to look at these immigrants disparagingly.

On Tuesday, I got to see a little of Puntarenas.  Carlos and Mary just bought a house there for their son Carlito, who goes to the University of Costa Rica in Puntarenas.  So I drove there with them and we moved all of his stuff from his apartment to the new house, which was less than two blocks from the beach.  I didn’t have any time to really sightsee, but I did get to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time:

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I love the ocean, any ocean, but I don’t think I’ve been near one in almost ten years. Puntarenas is a small city but busy, with the university and the port, with cargo ships and cruise ships coming in.  After moving everything, we got lunch at one of the many sodas along the main street.  Lunch is usually a casado around here: a plate with green salad, rice, black beans, fried plantains, and some type of meat, chicken in this case.  And everywhere they serve fresh fruit juice, which is delicious.  Carlos is staying there to help get everything settled with the new house, so Mary and I took the bus back the same afternoon.  Fare here is really cheap, less than $5 to travel between towns, or about $.65 within San Jose.  The bus dropped us off in front of the Multiplex, the biggest mall in the city, and we shopped for a while.  They have a lot of the stores we have in the States, but the prices are almost double at some stores.

Yesterday morning was nice, I got up early to take a short walk around the neighborhood. Which turned into a long walk when I tried to retrace my steps and missed a crossroad somewhere.  I ended up walking in circles trying to find a landmark I knew.  Finally I just started walking uphill since I had gone downhill on my way out, and stumbled into El Colegio de Scion, the big school a couple of blocks from the house.  Then I went to run errands with Mary, to EPA, which is like a Lowe’s or Home Depot, the bank, and to lunch at a little Mexican restaurant, with really authentic food. I had some chorizo tacos: corn tortillas with crispy sausage, tomato, avocado, and lime, which was really good, and the house drink which, as far as I could figure out, is milk with cinnamon and sugar.

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We got home just in time.  I have noticed that on the rare days when it doesn’t rain at all it will rain twice as hard the next day, often with thunder and lightening thrown in, as if the sky is trying to make up the difference.  And since it didn’t rain Tuesday, yesterday afternoon was an absolute downpour, well into the night even.  But I like the rain here, the sound of it on the tile roofs, how cozy and predictable it is, and how fast it makes everything grow.

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