Costa Rica is a beautiful country but unfortunately we only got a glimpse of it. Puerto Viejo was an appetizer for a country with many wonders to discover. From Tortuguero to Manuel Antonio National Park, there’s a world of wild and beauty to be uncovered, but our clock was ticking, so we had to start our journey to the capital, San Jose, to catch our flight out of Central America, with the unwritten promise to come back very, very soon.
San Jose is a very recent city (dates from early XVIII century) and does not have the historical flair of the other capitals that we visited in South and Central America. It is however a very fast growing city, and you can feel that in the constant buzz in the city streets. There’s hardly a free space on the sidewalk, with lots of people rushing everywhere.
Our first stop was in the Dr. Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia museum, located in a beautiful old mansion, with cracking hardwood floors and high ceilings, where we learned about the country’s rich and interesting contemporaneous history. Costa Rica is nowadays one of the most developed countries in Central America, but that is the fruit of decades of investments in economy, health and education, halted by some troubled years of discontent and civil war. It is a well worth trip back in time, that helped us understand the events that shaped the country.
San Jose will not be in our top Latin America cities. It lacks some charisma and old times flavor that we got in abundance in the other places we visited. But one thing that we will always associate with this city is good food. Actually, let me rephrase that, excellent food! Everything we ate here was scrumptious, from the culinary treats in our backpackers hotel, to the amazing food in the nearby restaurants. The other thing carved into our minds was everyone’s sympathy: all our requests were promptly received with a heartfelt ‘con gusto’ (with pleasure) and a broad smile.
Despite the lack of artistic and architectural beauties, San Jose is extremely rich in a much rarer thing: warm, genuine and welcome people!
Running now to catch the flight to a totally different vibe: California!