A Quick Walk in San José

My boss told me a story about a group of Germans who booked tickets to San Jose, thinking they were going to Costa Rica. When they stepped off the plane, they were in California, instead. Who knows if that story is true, or if it’s an urban legend.

So let’s take a quick photo tour around downtown San José.

Churches are one of my favorite things to photograph overseas. Not only because they are usually some of the oldest structures around, but because people tend to pour all their creative energies into the buildings for their object of worship. Mosques and temples are the same way.

Having grown up in Latin America, I’m always interested by the way Spanish colonialism left its mark in the region. Catholic church, check. Plaza out front rimmed by other key buildings, check, check.

Even the smallest towns all over Latin America will have a square shaped plaza in the center of town. It’s usually a manicured park where you’ll find old men and teenagers hovering over benches.

Markets are a new interest of mine. I see markets as a symbol of the cultural values of a place, so I like to take a quick swing through and see what’s for sale. Food and how it’s sold is such an integral part of daily life for people, so I imagine what it would be like to live and shop in a place.

Get your juice on the street on your way to work. Or, if you get hungry, stop by this window and grab a banana or coconut.

On your way home, you might run in to what is supposed to be typical Costa Rica:

But really he’s just there for the túristas. He’ll want a tip after you take his photo. Look out also for the sunburned girl with a baby who asks for bus fare back to some town. There’s a really urgent reason why she needs to get there, and someone stole her purse. After you hand her some change, she’ll turn around and show it to her boyfriend, trailing unobtrusively behind. They’ll probably use it later for beer.

And now, it’s probably time to head back to your hotel for a nap.

Just don’t expect your bed to be too great.

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