Wednesday, December 5, 2007

San Jose Costa Rica

We spent our first day in San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica.

The Hampton Inn is at the airport so we drove into San Jose – 30 minute drive.

The lack of city planning and city beautification is rampant. The homes are very poorly constructed and have been positioned next to factories spewing toxics into the air. The air smells like pollution.

Every street is congested – there are 1.6 million people living here. We toured some key city landmarks in the afternoon. We noticed that there is a lack of good architecture – it is really not a pretty place at all – just a sea of people – which is the beauty of this area.

Everyone is very warm and friendly. Jim (at 6’1”) is the tallest man in the country.

We started out at the Cathedral – parking was non-existent. We dropped Jim off and parked a mile away and hiked back. The church is under complete renovation, but is still in use.

From there we walked into the ciudad central. The Banco Central de Costa Rica is another landmark that we stopped at. The building was in very bad shape so we moved on. Walking the streets among the crowds was overwhelmingly or favorite element of the area. We ended up at the National Theatre where we stopped for a coffee. Costa Rica knows coffee ☺.

Perhaps the best thing about a guys trip is the guys. The three of us began to discuss what comes naturally to men – politics, philosophy, and sociology – what is right or wrong with this country and our own.

Robert attended a meeting with his development team while Jim and I continued to walk the streets. Every store here is poorly merchandised and packed to the gills with American products. We met back at the Grand Hotel de Costa Rica for evening cocktails. The Grand Hotel is very much what you would expect in terms of facilities (Like a Ritz Carleton) but the service, food and drink quality was below par. We have taken a pass at the mixed drinks here – mojitos, etc. They do not understand the art of the cocktail so we agreed to only order vodka for the rest of the trip. The good folks from Absolute have found 3 great new friends. (p.s. Patron is $18 per shot here ??????)

We went to the very popular neighborhood of Escazu for dinner. One of the interesting things about Costa Rica is the lack of street signs – there are none. Locations are identified by landmarks – so the place we went in Escazu is literally called the Outback (after the restaurant!). Aside from the Outback and Hooters, there were 5 or 6 different restaurants that were genuinely pretty good. In the European custom, we were greeted by the manager at the door who reviewed the menu – they helped in our search for local sea bass. We landed on a true Spanish tapas restaurant where we ordered plenty and shared a lot – they served perfect Absolutes!

The jet lag finally caught us with us today as we all slept in until 10. Robert ran into San Jose for another meeting this morning and when he returns we will be driving to the south west coast to begin exploring the beaches and jungles that make this country so unique and attractive – San Jose was a bit disappointing and depressing.

I have 2 cameras, so this is only half of the photos. Enjoy.

Victor, Jim and Robert

Photos of the day can be viewed here.

More information about San Jose can be found here.

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