San Jose - Cows and Paranoia

Trip Start Jan 04, 2008
Trip End Dec 17, 2008

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Saturday, May 3, 2008

Arrived in San Jose on Friday early evening, pretty tired after a late and rather alcohol-fuelled night last night in Fortuna and a long bus ride. San Jose is another one of those Central American capital cities that has a seriously dodgy reputation - other travellers and the guidebooks alike urge a sense of caution and according to the locals just about every street corner is highly "peligroso" (dangerous), all of which builds up a sense of trepidation and an expectation that you will be robbed at every turn, somewhat similar to Guatemala City. In this context, I was walking rather briskly at dusk from the bus station to hostel in my flip-flops carrying my large rucksack, which resulted in me somewhat mangling my big toe by stubbing it on the lethal pavements here, breaking off half the nail and grazing the rest of it ... ouch! Grabbed some food at the hostel and a much needed early night before shrugging off the rather painful toe to walk around the city sights on Saturday. San Jose is also similar to many of the other capital cities Ive been to in the sense that its a pretty interesting place to spend a day wandering around without offering outstanding sights or anything hugely compelling to warrant a longer stay like in Mexico City. One of the most amusing features of San Jose is the current "Cow Parade" on show - around the citys most popular areas are 120 cow sculptures decorated in different designs and styles by different artists. "Cow Parade" has been a public art exhibition in cities all over the world over the past 10 years and apparently was in London in 2002. It's a charity fund raiser aswell with the cows being auctioned off at the end of the exhibition (see .... me thinks you would need a rather large garden to place your purchased cow in - still I suppose its one up over the garden gnomes next door. My personal favourite cow in San Jose was "Cow-nopy" in Parque Nacional which was a cow hanging high up in a harness from a zipline between two trees - very entertaining (see my Monteverde entry to get the reference point if it's not immediately clear - there are tourist canopy tours all over Costa Rica). The cows aside, the other aesthetic highlight of San Jose I would say is the Teatro Nacional which was built using coffee money in 1897 and is highly ornately decorated and must be great to actually see a performance in. San Jose has a number of parks and plazas, a large cathedral, a few other notable churches and is naturally a bustling shopping centre. I also visited one of the museums, the museum of pre-hispanic gold, which was actually more interesting than I was expecting, with a range of gold objects created by the indigenous peoples and some insights into the clever processes they used to create their gold objects. So that was San Jose - glad I took a day to see it but tomorrow I leave for a day trip down to the Manuel Antonio national park on the Pacific Coast, which is one of the most visited places in Costa Rica apparently.
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