San Jose - Cows & 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 & 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 & 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 & 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 & 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 & 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. Its 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 its 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 parques/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 how they created 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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