Easy Sunday Night in Cartago

Trip Start Jun 22, 2006
Trip End Sep 04, 2006

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Monday, June 26, 2006

It's our third calm night in Cartago so finally we decided to actually sit down and create our first blog entry (and my first travelogue in a series of hopefully many more to come!) It's another quiet and relaxing night in Jorge's family's property in the country, which is about a ten minute drive from the town of Cartago.

Today we decided it was better to relax and rest our feet instead of going out into San Jose. It's only been two full days here without any serious hiking and our blisters are bordering on the unbearable (atleast for pobre Melissa). Today's excitement consisted of going to the farmacia to acquire some gauze, bandaides and polysporen. However we did decide to go for a short hour trek around the large property with our two hispanically-engineered companion boxers. We strolled through the shade-grown coffee plantations before we made our way up two moderately challenging (primarily because of the minefield of cow maneure)large hills that oversee much of the surrounding area with the town in the distance.
Yesterday was far more interesting! We made it into San Jose for 7:30 am to catch a bus to Irazu national park. Irazu is the tallest valcono in Costa Rica (of about 300) which last erupted in the 1960's. It was an impressive sight but Mel wasn't too impressed when I made us miss our bus back to the city. It was an honest mistake: dos y media, dose y media. Can you tell the difference!!?? Luckily (after paying again), we caught the last bus into Cartago at 3 pm with some gringo friends we met along the way. However, Mel refused to hang out with them once we arrived because in her words "we do not associate with people from our culture while we're exploring another culture."
At 4:20 we arrive in Cartago and it looked ominous as the rainclouds rolled in, so we headed to the nearest shelter: the Basilica. The Basilica is in the center of the town and it was an impressive structure- jam packed at that hour with church-goers- a sight you rarely see in Eastern Canada! We headed down to el Mercado and along the way we spotted Las Ruinas which was an old church destroyed by an earthquake and converted into a garden. It's a popular tourist attraction in Cartago and in Jorge's opinion, a must-see while visiting or passing through the city. We finally made our way to El Mercado and immediately put our backpacks on backwards (so they are worn on the front) to avoid any sneaky Ticos. We found our man- the one who offered us a sample of every fruit he had for sale- and bought some banana rosas (Mel's favourite) and some mamones chinos (Jorge's new obsession- he brings some in a bag everywhere we go). We made our way back full-speed to the only bar that had free bathrooms because someone has 'urinary misitosis' (Mel). We ended up by chilling on a step in front of the Basilica in the rain, with stray dogs, chewing mamones while waiting for our ride. We could sense the local's pity as they stared at the poor gringos...
On the 23rd we ventured into San Jose, got dropped off by our bus in the center of the city, and felt completely lost. Jorge felt like a foreigner in his own country! It didn't take us long to get into the swing of things and feel comfortable with our surroundings. We began at La Plaza de la Cultura - the colonial center and tourist hotspot of the city. It is a perfect starting point for exploring San Jose. After a 4 hour walk, we have 5 must-sees: Plaza de la Cultura (a vibrant, busy, and most visually-pleasing area of the city), Museo National (a former army fort which was converted into a museum), Teatro National (probably the only building that's architecturally beautiful that we witnessed), Parque Espana (out of the many city parks, this one is definitely the most lush and exotic), & Mercado Central (a very lively and authentic Costa Rican market- you see the locals in their daily routine).
That's it for now. Tomorrow we are heading back to San Jose early in the morning to explore more of the city and just hang out at the bistros.
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