Tag Archives: San Jose

Las Mariposas, As Borboletas, die Schmetterlinge, Motýli, Бабочки

Butterflies!

When we visited Manuel Antonio Park, we saw Blue Morpho butterflies for the first time. The back of their wings is a brilliant, luminescent blue that lights up like neon signs in the sun. They must be the Las Vegas of butterflies. Of course, it was impossible to capture in a photo while they were moving.

In San Jose, however, our lovely AirBnB host, Annabelle, took us to visit the La Paz Gardens and Waterfalls which has a butterfly garden. The Blue Morphos in captivity did not have quite the same brilliance, but they were lovely none the less. Also, in the garden, we were able to see the incredible markings on the underside of wings.BlueMorpho

Amazingly, we also saw one emerge from his cacoon.LaPazGardens_5717 LaPazGardens_5719

How do you like my hat?

Ack! Where are my minions?!
Ack! Where are my minions?!

 

 

About the Bus Ride to Jaco Beach: Good News and Bad News

First, the bad news. There’re enough stories on the Interwebs about tourists being robbed on the bus in Costa Rica to make one cautious. As cautious as we were, the bus driver and his companion opened our luggage while it was under the bus and robbed Deena’s shoes. They were Keens and the only pair of comfortable, hot weather walking shoes she brought.

Since we were watching the luggage compartment, it was a pretty slick trick. They must have done it while the bus was loading and probably from the other side of the bus. The thieves don’t take the whole checked baggage because then the bus driver would be responsible. If they remove something from your luggage, you won’t notice until later and then it’s too late to report it. It’s a shame both that they feel so poor that they rob their passengers, and also that they ruin their country’s reputation for such a small sum.

The good news is that we got there in time for a Pacific coast sunset and happy hour. The next day, Deena found a new pair of Keens in this little town that fit perfectly. We’re back in the walking business!

CR_Jaco_5415 CR_Jaco_5420_01

 

Photo Impressions of Costa Rica

Everywhere you look in San Jose, the buildings are protected like maximum security prisons:CR_SanJose_5384

San Jose has varied architecture. Some buildings, like this one, are just plain weird. No, this isn’t camera perspective distortion. This building is a quarter of a pyramid. The other two straight walls have hardly any windows:CR_SanJose_5385

The Museo de Arte Costarricense as seen from the sculpture garden. Not only a beautiful building, but also a nice catalogue showcasing the country’s art styles:Museo de Arte Costarricense

 

My First Impression of Costa Rica

CR_SanJose_0319My first impression of Costa Rica is that it’s a country of high contrast. The downtown San Jose buildings are mostly old and decrepit. Everywhere there are locks, security gates, double rows of barbed wire and heavy cast iron bars on all the openings. It all gives one the impression of a poor and dangerous place. Even the Costa Ricans warned us about getting in certain taxis.

In the suburb of Escazù, however, the picture was completely different. The buildings were new and modern. There was a mall with a broad spectrum of shops including the finest names in clothing and other goods. How is it possible? Certainly, the Costa Rican with an average salary of about $550/month is not shopping there.

CR_SanJose_0338_v1I suppose it’s like any other city caught in the crisis of rising prices and stagnant wages. Costa Rica’s economy was probably inflated by expats and tourism. It helped some people become comfortably middle class, but it also increased the demand for imported products with a resulting trade imbalance and inflation. It’s quite a shock to find that the prices here are not so cheap as one expects to see in Latin America.

In spite of the poverty, in spite of the outrageous inflation, the Costa Ricans are happy, friendly and helpful. Those that didn’t speak any English were eager to communicate when we asked for help or directions in our absurdly horrible Spanish. I felt bad that, mostly, I was so flustered I forgot to say “por favor.” At least I usually remembered my “gracias.”

Physically, the city is nestled among the mountains crowned by the vapor of rain that makes this country so fertile. Even from downtown, the vista of street lamps at night reaching up into the hills is amazing. The central, merchant streets are car-free zones and there are unique buildings in surprising places. Parks are scattered throughout the city and happily without too many war hero statutes.CR_SanJose_5361_v1My favorite part of Costa Rica so far? They grow coffee here. It’s easy to find a good cup of coffee! Even the McDonalds chain here has, in many of their locations, an attached McCafe which serves almost excellent cappuccino. The worst impression so far? There’s a Starbucks in the mall. WTF?!