Fri 30 Nov-Sat 1 December - Day 35 to 36 - San José, Costa Rica

Published: December 6th 2018
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Fri 30 Nov-Sat 1 December - Day 35 to 36 - San José

The capital city of Costa Rica, San José, is nestled in a fertile valley among coffee and sugar-cane farms. There is not much left of the colonial era architecture, due to the damage done by earthquakes, but it was certainly worth seeing the National Theatre, built in 1897.

We arrived at our accommodation Hotel LaRosa del Paseo after a 40 minute drive from the airport. It was dark by the time we checked in at around 5.30pm. We went to an Argentinian restaurant for dinner and as you would expect, the meal was cooked to perfection.

Our first full day in this capital city was spent walking along its many pedestrian streets and seeing the main sites of the town. This included visiting both the artisan makets as well as the local food and hardware markets. Both were huge.

I visited the National Theatre and it reminded me so much of the Opera House in Manaus in Brazil. It was old, gracious and with beautiful balcony seat. The woodwork was also beautifully carved as were the staircases. It also had a very light, bright entertainment room which was attached to the building, where functions were held. All the ceilings had special paintings, each with their own story. We loved the National Theatre of Costa Rica (considered the finest historic building in the capital and known for its exquisite interior which includes its lavish Italian furnishings) and the Melico Salazar Theater present drama, dance performances and concerts throughout the year. The National Theatre remain symbols of Costa Rican coffee golden age.

The National Park, with its 10 acres was certainly worth a visit. It included a large lake, massive sports stadium which was being worked on and the grounds were also used for police horses (we saw 7 policemen riding their horses into the grounds), and velodrome where a rollerblading competition was being held. Several soccer fields were being used as it was Saturday.

We also came across an unusual game being played with 6 people on each team. It was called Jugger. I asked one of the players about the rules and where the game came from. He said Brisbane and Germany!!! The game is celebrating its 10th year. I must look this up when I get back to Brisbane.

We visited the Gold Museum, an underground museum below Plaza de la Cultura. Tom (I didn’t go in) saw part of the collection of 1600 pieces of Pre-Columbian gold work dating from 500 AD to 1500 AD. Information was given on the processing and making of the pieces as well as their social, cultural and religious meanings. One floor wasn’t accessible as it was being renovated.

The Jade Museum was on our list as it has the largest collection of pre-Columbian Jade in America. When we got there, and you will see by the photos it has multiple floors for its display, we got tied up with all the information on the trouble in Nicaragua. A photographer had depicted the struggles of the population through some very graphic photographs. I was translating the scripts with the photographic version of Google Translate which visually translate text. It was very interesting and sad. Time got away from us, so we didn’t go into the actual jade displays.

The Museo Nacional, is a building is an old fort called Cuartel Bellavista. In this place the Army was symbolically abolished by the president of the time, Jose Figueres Ferrer on December 1st, 1948 after the last civil war and armed conflict in the country. It unfortunately was closed the day we visited. In the square in front of the building, which is between the National museum and the Jade Museum, several marques were set up and the scouting fraternity and live bands were entertaining us as well as raising money for the Children’s Telethon campaign, just like home!

San Jose is ringed by lush green mountains and valleys. The population of this city is probably half of the whole country. It contains the primary airport, the University of Costa Rica, embassies as well as the museums we saw, cultural venues, hotels, markets, etc. We visited both the Artisan Market and the Food & Hardgoods Market.

The city is the hub of the country. It also has a large China Town avenue. When we were there, they were celebrations and the very long avenue was closed to car traffic and lined with food vans so one night we were there was spent cruising up and down, stopping to have a nibble here and nibble there, a beer here and a beer there, watching the entertainment.

The population grew during the eighteenth-century colonial planning, which was different from the traditional foundation plans of Spanish cities in the continent.

Founded in 1738 by order of Cabildo de Leon, its objective was to concentrate the scattered inhabitants of the Aserrí Valley. To do so, the construction of a chapel near the area known as La Boca del Monte was ordered; this was completed two years later. That year St. Joseph was chosen as parish patron, hence its current name. The chapel, which was very modest, was erected with help from the church of Cartago.

San José had water problems, and that was one of the main reasons that the population grew slowly. However, the water supply was assured by ditches, and the fertility of the surrounding fields along with the installation of the Tobacco Factory of Costa Rica, which would aid urban concentration.

As San José was not founded with a formal act of foundation, it was not considered a city or town, and consequently lacked a city government. It was not until the enactment of the Constitution of Cádiz in 1812 when San José had its first city government. In 1813, the Spanish parliament gave the town the title of city, which was then lost in 1814 when Ferdinand VII of Spain annulled the proceedings by the courts. San José is one of the youngest capital cities in Latin America by year of conception, though it was not named capital until 1823.

Today San José is a modern city with bustling commerce and brisk expressions of art and architecture. Spurred by the country's improved tourism industry, it is a significant destination and stopover for foreign visitors.

Something funny I learned was that on 27 September 2012, San José disclosed plans to install its first street signs, about 22,000 signs and plaques. It is estimated that the lack of proper street names for directions causes the loss of $720 million a year by the Inter-American Development Bank in 2008, due to undelivered, returned or re-sent mail.!!!! Perhaps that’s the problem with Australia Post!!!!

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