A walk through San José. CR4

We are in San José, where we will soon rendezvous with family, and travel on to the Southern Zone of this country. In one way or another, many a Costa Rica guidebook says “Don’t bother with San José”. The notion is often prettied up with reasons like “you want to see the REAL Costa Rica” or, “outside of a few museums, there’s nothing to do here”, or “it’s dirty and noisy, wouldn’t you rather be in the jungle or on a beach somewhere?”. It’s true that I might not want to stay here for a month, at least not without a focus or purpose for being here, but a person could easily spend a lot of time in this city, and never scratch the surface. I like San José. The streets are full of life. All ages and all sorts of people may be seen. Our first day here, we walked from our hostel to the National Museum of Art, a place we’d been meaning to go for years.


We hadn’t left the door and there was something neat to see. Courtyard of the Casa Ridgway Hostel. There is a lot of corrugated steel roofing in Costa Rica. Much of it has great colors…rust, coats of paint, the passage of time give it fascinating patina.

At daybreak, the city center revs into life.


Early morning, San José.

No, I don’t know what it is, but water tower might be a good guess.


San José tower, behind stepped facades. (Note, a taxista we met told us that yes, it is a water tower.)

Everywhere you go, old and new juxtapose.


An island of the past, with dog at gate, is surrounded by the new.

Here and there, vacant lots wait for their next incarnation. To the sides of these lots, neighboring buildings’ sides are often imprinted with the “shadows” left by what once adjoined them.


“Ghost” building.

To watch the people in this country is fascinating.


Mother and child, Avenida Central, San José, Costa Rica.

People walking, people at work.


Out with the old. A study in yellow and blue.

There was boldness, waiting at a bus stop.


At a center city bus stop. Read the fine print.

The sides streets have a certain calm.


Old and new are everywhere.


Talking teen and tired street vendor, San José, Costa Rica.

The worn-down and down-and-out are here, too.


Blue and white and down and out.

New and old. City and town.


A country man comes to the city.

A mother shops.


A child waits for its mother.

Back “home”, later in the day, we looked out a window on the other side of the hostel building.


Two talkers, San José.

And yes, the National Art Museum was work the walk. We’ll visit there in another post.


3 responses to “A walk through San José. CR4

  1. Nice writeup and pictures, I’m glad to see others who want to experience more than just the flashiest parts of a country. I love looking for the unusual in a place too.

  2. Well, if you live on Martha’s Vineyard or any place like it, you know that if you need a guidebook you’re not going to find the real anything. And if you think you have found “the real such-a-place,” you probably haven’t been around long enough. Best thing to do is keep your eyes and ears open. Love that guy’s Marlboro T-shirt. 🙂

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