San Jose city tour

Trip Start Dec 17, 2007
Trip End Dec 27, 2007

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hi Everyone,

     We made it safely to San Jose without much problem.  My dad and i are doing just fine.

      The flight from Los Angeles was not as bad as I thought, only about 6 hours. The weather down here is warm in the 70 and 80 during the day. But the humidity is much higher than LA, it almost feels like I am in Miami.  The Costa Rican customs went with out any problem, they are fast and efficient, much better than any county I have been to. One of the things I read about in the Lonely Planet book is that once travelers exit the airport, they will encounter hoard of taxi drivers giving them all sort of crazy stories and trick them into going with them to the hotel of which they are commissioned to. Well, I soon as we left the airport, we headed straight for the Tuasa bus downtown, avoiding any of the taxi driver dramas.

     The hotel I booked is called Hotel Aranjuez and it is located in the northeastern corner of the city. On the map it didn┤Ęt look that far, once we start walking from the bus station, it took us another 40 minutes of "city tour" before we finally made it to the hotel. All the rooms are different and there are small garden in between the different guest room. My dad and I were too tired from the air travel and walking so we quickly fell asleep after we arrived.

     Day 2 of our tour, I woke up frantically trying to book all the rest of the tour for the next 10 days just to find out Hotel Aranjuez is out of room so we moved to Hostel Pangea down the street. It turned out to be an excellent choice because it is WAY closer to the city center and cheaper : )  We visited some of the famous city landmarks including National Theatre, Museum of Precolumbian Gold and numismatics as well as National museum. The Museum of Gold gives a very interesting history of Costa Rica. Most of coins are struck after 1850 the year where Costa Rican army and a fellow named Juan Santamaria torched the hut of the American invader Willam Walker. Walker was a warlord from the American south during the slavery era who wanted to conquer the soverign Central America and turn it into a slavery territory. The Central American fought him bitterly and eventually excuted him in Hondurian fire squad. After this war, the Costa Rican leader Mora started currency such as gold and silver coins. 
     Another part of the exhibit shows the different artifacts left from the Precolumbian period i.e. prior to 1500s. The exhibit has lots of gold figurines depicting animals and the way they lived. It even show the process of how the natives made gold figurine from wax mold to clay pot to eventually pouring the molten gold into the clay pot. It is quite amazing to see them doing such complex metallurgy in ancient times.
     Next we visited Mercado central and did out lunch there. We had some fish soup with plantin. The mercado is so crowded with people and shops. Almost like the ones I have seen in Southeast Asia or in Mexico.
     We then visited the National museum which gave us a good overview of Costa Rican history.  This is quite an amazing country with high literacy rate of 94%, highest standard of living here in Central Americam lack of war and military for over 50 years. The people here called themselves Ticos or Ticas and they believe in the life style of Pura vida or pure life  with no conflict and peace. Their president Oscar Arias even won the Nobel Peace price in 1987 for his peace keeping effort here in Central America. We can definitely see the evidence of it on the street, people of different ages are walking around shopping and having a good time. We my dad and I asked one of the fruit vender about thism je just replied that its December and people are out shopping, tis the season....I guess.
     Although Costa Rica doesn┤t have all the beautiful architectures like Mexico or any other Central American countries, Costa Ricans are proud of their National Parks and wild life. About 27 % of the land in Costa Rica is protected National Park land teaming with 800+ species of birds. I hope I get a nice glimps of these beautiful animals while I am here.
    Tomorrow we are doing the tour of Butterfly farm and coffee plantation.

    Buenas Noches.
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