What do you think of when you think of Costa Rica? You might think of volcanos, rain forests, jaguars, and Tucans. Costa Rica has all that, but it also has cities and towns where a lot of people live. Its capital city, San Jose, is very cosmopolitan, and filled with culture and art, great restaurants, music and even high-end shopping. The courtyards in the city are beautiful open spaces with performance art, and art being sold in the streets. It’s like a perpetual art fair but it’s not chaotic. There are many museums and beautiful old hotels filled with art.**
Other than the perpetual outdoor street fair atmosphere, and immersion of the average San Jose resident in all of this, all the time, there is also the more common “mall” shopping in San Jose called the Mercado. And, there are the people walking on the streets, riding the buses, and sitting in the outdoor cafes. The streets are filled with people, apparently, all the time. I was there for only a few days before heading for La Fortuna, but all three days people were in the parks and on the sidewalks, not cooped up inside in air conditioning, like in so many American cities. Costa Rica is a country where people spend a lot of time outside, or in open air stores and restaurants.
My watercolor depicting the “city people” of San Jose, above, is approximately 12″ x 19″, matted and framed. See it for sale in my Figures Gallery here.
**You can read about the downsides and “dangers” of San Jose in many places, but those complaints are written by Americans who think the rest of the world should be sterile and ‘just like America’. Personally, when I’m in a foreign country, I don’t want it to feel or seem like the US, and San Jose does not disappoint in that regard. They do not speak English either, they speak Costa Rican Spanish, and that’s how it should be. You will have to learn some Spanish to get around there. There are ex-pat communities here and there however, and on the southeastern coast we met many Americans who had moved to Costa Rica from the US.