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Published: February 23rd 2012
San Jose city is a city of a million people (only 4.5 million in the whole country), so I find it big and crowded with narrow roads and crazy traffic – like any big city I guess. The difference here are the roads – narrow and winding, we would call them 2-lane roads, but at busy times of the day, they can be 3 or four lanes, depending on how many cars decide to try to squeeze together. Plus, the motorcycles weave in and out of traffic, and Moms holding the hands of little children weave around the cars to cross the street---scary stuff for us, but normal here. But this is only in the downtown area. In the other neighborhoods outside of the city centre, it looks much like home.
The temperature in the central valley is between 24 and 26 degrees C all year round, so it was the first area to be settled when the Spaniards came. The country is only 60 miles from coast to coast, with volcanic mountains in the middle, and we will see both coasts as well as the mountains on our tour.
La Boruca B&B (where we stayed the first night) is just outside of San Jose in what we would call a semi-rural area. People have cattle in pastures between houses, one house had a barn attached where we could hear the sound of goats, others keep chickens or geese. It is up in the mountains (5 thousand feet), so the nights are quite chilly and damp, but the days are nice. Kenneth and his wife are wonderful hosts; they arranged the taxis for us, the bed was comfortable and the food was wonderful. The sounds of lowing cattle and lots of birds woke us up at 5:30 – but no complaints here.
We took a walk around the neighborhood and down by a river in the valley. A couple was swimming in the river – he said his doctor told him to swim in the cold water to help him recover from a surgery he had. It was all we could do to walk across the slippery rocks without falling in. By the roads there are no sidewalks, so you walk on the side of the road and be
prepared to step off the road quickly when cars and trucks come barreling around a corner.
We saw the biggest ant hill ever! Lots of birds too, but it was difficult to get them to stay still long enough to get a picture. The weather was cloudy and a bit windy, but still warmer than at home. The view of the mountains with the clouds scudding by is quite pretty. The housing here looks a lot like much of Mexico – one storey concrete block buildings, sometimes sheeted with metal siding or wood, and metal roofs. We are told that the metal corrugated roofing is the best thing for a place where it rains 8 months of the year. Everything seems to be in a perpetual state of construction – somebody is building a new fence, somebody else is putting in a new window, somebody else a new roof. It may be that people build a bit at a time as they can afford it, like they do in Mexico also. Because of the rain, so there has to be big ditches to allow the water to run beside the roads. One street
we walked down had concrete bridges across their drainage ditch from the street to their property.
This afternoon we went to the hotel to meet up with the Caravan group. I didn’t want to check any luggage, so I needed to buy a few things. There is a nice shopping mall across the street from the hotel, so we went over there to get a late lunch and do a bit of shopping. We weren’t prepared for the sticker shock! A can of Banana Boat spray-on sunscreen is a little over $6 at home. It was $17.37 here! A small can of Suave hairspray was $6.25. Yikes! Anything imported into the country is quite expensive. But local fruits and vegetables are plentiful and cheap. (Good too!!)
It took us a while to figure out how to convert Costa Rican colones to dollars. 500 colones is 1 dollar. So the price of everything is in the thousands of colones. But I finally got it through my head: multiply the price by 2, then move the decimal over 3 places, and you get dollars. So, 1,000 colones =
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