Thursday, December 25, 2008

Back At The Cabina

We left the Hotel Dunn Inn walking toward town just after opening presents. San Jose is the largest, and capital, city in Costa Rica with a population in the ball-park of 1,000,000 including outlying areas. The country's economy is dependent upon tourism, bananas & coffee. San Jose is the cultural/organizational head of all of this. 

Granted, it's Christmas in a Catholic country, but there weren't a terrible amount of things to do. The Jade Museum: closed. The Gold Museum: closed. The Teatro National: check. The bohemian Barrio Amon: check. We walked the six blocks to the Avenida Central, which, on non-holidays hosts a strip of stores, an open-air market and a central square. The shops were mostly (surprisingly - see: Catholic country) open and consisted mainly of athletic-type FootLocker-ish shops, Rainbow-esque clothing boutiques and Pharmacias. We walked maybe ten blocks along the strip until the shops started to repeat themselves. Outside the open-air market were locals with blankets laid out with all sorts of knock-off Puma watches, sweatshirts and sunglasses for sale. 

We had lunch at one of the "nicer" restaurants in town (according to Fodor's) which consisted of an avocado salad (Sara) and Arroz Camarones con Frijoles (Me) which came to a grand total of 14.500 colones including tip (about $22USD). I exchanged $100 this morning for 54.000 colones - to give a sense of scale. Costs here are slightly less than comparable to the US. A Coke at lunch: 1.500 colones ($2.77). Our hotel including breakfast: 48.600/night ($90). Gelato: 790 colones ($1.50). 

On the other hand, the 6hr bus across the entire country we're taking tomorrow worked out to be $20 for the two of us. Go figure. 

There wasn't much else to see. We stopped by a couple of parks. Considered renting a motorcycle & driving to one of the outlying coffee plantations - Sara said: "Here we go, Michael with one of his ideas...sounds scary" -  but opted instead to return to the cabina for some downtime. 

The tour books we've read all say this about San Jose: See what's there to see, then move on. We were hard-pressed to find anything (anything!) other than the above to do. This said, the scenery is beautiful, the architecture for one. The hills in the distance. The flora. And it all helps to be overdressed in t-shirts and shorts. 

Tonight we're going to get Chinese food (right?) then hit the sack early (see: 6hr busride). 

Tomorrow's bus will take us from the Central Valley region to the Central Coastal region (the Guanacaste), to a town called Nosara where we will be for the next six nights. Nosara is home to a small town, some of the country's best surfing and a yoga institute. We are staying at the Vista del Paradiso B & B (see link below). Will write more from there. Until then, enjoy the pictures (you can open the slideshow in a new window by double-clicking on it). 

Merry Christmas. 


Merry Christmas World!

Christmas, San Jose, Costa Rica 2008

81 degrees, partly cloudy. Winds from Bolivia.

We arrived in San Jose last night at 10 pm. Sara and I flew from Laguardia to Charlotte, North Carolina where we were offered free roundtrip tickets to fly to Miami, then to San Jose five hours later. Ok, we were offered a pair, each, of roundtrip tickets to anywhere in the Caribbean, Latin America or Continental U.S. So we hunkered down in a drizzly MIA. 

The flight from Miami to San Jose was 2 hrs, 24 minutes. We arrived, picked up our luggage (which had arrived five hours earlier), found a Tico cab and raced the 20 kilometeres to our hotel, The Dunn Inn and promptly passed out. 

Slept like babies. 

Woke this morning at 10 am for our complimentary breakfast in the hotel's restaraunt (pineapple, papaya, watermelon slices, toast, local cheese) and stumbled downstairs. The first thing we hear is the cacauphnic drumming of the FOX NEWS intro music. We turn the corner into the restaraunt and a massive tv is blaring, in English, that's right...FOX NEWS! HAPPY CHRISTMAS WORLD! HERE ARE THE STORIES WE ARE COVERING!!!!

Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Gretta von Republican and a host of other carbon copied plastic personalities re-hashing last night's CHRISTMAS EVE SPECTACULAR (complete with footage of the the pundits playing Pictionary) and TODAY'S NEWS (Man In Los Angeles Dressed As Santa Shoots/Kills 3 Then Sets A House On Fire, Sludge Leek, Travelers Stranded Across the Country, Pacific Northwest Buried In Snow). Completely drowning out the local fauna, the nicest woman you could ever hope to meet who tolerates my Gringo Espanol with Christlike grace (this is no lie, I may have not in my life ever met a more genuine, gentle human), then points toward the heated pot of milk next to the coffee for cream.  

There's a lot to be expected when traveling to a foreign country: language barrier, cultural taboos, misguided travel instructions. But Fox News? Really? I mean...Really? Somewhere God is laughing. (For an excellent story about God, see This American Life, Episode 369 - link below). 

Today we are wandering, photographing, opening presents. More later.