Rambling through the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica

I spent the summer of my second year in law school working at an international human rights firm in Washington DC. My friend Tiff joined me there a month into my fellowship to begin one of her own at the US Dept of Fisheries & Wildlife. Needless to say, we had a great summer. We traveled up and down the East Coast multiple times, and at the end of our stint, we found really cheap tickets to Costa Rica. I mean, really cheap. $300 roundtrip cheap. The catch was, we had to fly through Chicago. Fortunately for us, Tiff’s brother Jon was living in ChiTown at the time. We bought tickets to Chicago, hit up Lollapalooza for three fun-filled days, then jetted off to Costa Rica!

Costa Rica was very much a last minute trip, so we didn’t do much planning. We visited several towns, mostly on the coasts, but we did spend a little bit of time wandering the capital of San Jose.

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We traveled by bus and had a great breakfast of empanadas and Costa Rican coffee at one of the early morning stops. The coffee in CR is to die for. san jose (2) (Small)

In San Jose we stayed at this quaint little hotel, the Hemingway Inn. It wasn’t anything to write home about, and the maid definitely snoops through your stuff. But it was in a good location at a decent price.

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Plus you get free breakfast every morning, which is one of my favorite things when I travel. san jose (4) (Small)

And there’s a house cat. san jose (5) (Small)

The hotel had a million of these weird caterpillar-like bugs everywhere. They scrunch their entire body up when they move. It was the oddest sight.san jose (6) (Small)

Tiff got all fancy for our walking tour of the city.

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San Jose is a really interesting city. We were warned multiple times to remain guarded and cautious at all times. The city is rampant with muggers and petty crime, we were told. So we definitely stayed on our guard, but like most big cities, you just need to avoid certain areas, don’t stay out past dark, and mind yourself. san jose (8) (Small)

There was a lot of art and murals focused on children.

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Some European influence. Or like the Jefferson Memorial in DC. san jose (10) (Small)

There is a pretty big art scene in San Jose.

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These sorts of pieces and such.

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This is the main shopping area in San Jose. You can get all sorts of stuff here for very cheap. san jose (13) (Small)

One of the art installations. san jose (14) (Small)

In every country that I visit, I stop by good ‘ole Micky D’s to see what’s on the menu. Here, they have the traditional stuff like Hamburguesa con Queso and McNuggets de Pollo in addition to more nontraditional fare like the McPinto Deluxe. Spanish rice, potatoes, eggs, sausage and potato slices. Nom.san jose (15) (Small)

They were selling flowers everywhere!san jose (16) (Small)

The main market, loaded with more things than you could ever not want in your life. san jose (17) (Small)

They’re a very religious society and we saw women selling these religious scripts everywhere. I’m not exactly sure what the back story is behind this, but they were on every street corner. san jose (18) (Small)

We ate a lot in Costa Rica. The food might not look like typical American fare, but that’s one of the best parts about traveling. san jose (19) (Small)

Slippaz fo’ days.

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This market seriously had piles and piles of things you’d never need. san jose (21) (Small)

Except for these machetes. Everyone needs a machete, right? Seriously tho, I bought my grandpa a belt buckle from this store.

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We also bought fresh Costa Rican coffee from this guy. And it was gooooooooooood. They roast it that day, right in front of you.san jose (23) (Small)

Pickled veggies fo’ days. san jose (24) (Small)

The weather in San Jose was pretty gloomy while we were there. But at least they paint their building in Rastafarian colors 😉san jose (25) (Small)

More goods that you can buy on the streets.san jose (26) (Small)

We stopped into this surf shop and these guys hustled hard to get us to buy stuff. They were fun. P.S. I bought two of those hip fanny packs in Puerto Viejo for $3. I know, I know. They’re fanny packs so go ahead and hate. But they’re “side” packs and I love being hands-free 😉san jose (27) (Small)

We had one fancy dinner one night and this is what we got. san jose (28) (Small)

This too. Sorry for the shoddy low light photos.san jose (29) (Small)

This was some sort of Costa Rican sorbetta that Tiff was into. She’s so photogenic, ain’t she.

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Religious murals on the walk back to our hotel.

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On our second day we did a trolley tour of the city and its neighboring towns. The rear view mirror in this pic is perfectly positioned, don’t ya think?san jose (32) (Small)

When I travel I normally like to take the double decker hop-on hop-off bus tour. This one wasn’t quite like that. It was more of the … street version. We did drive past all the requisite sites and buildings though, like this one. I forget its significance, unforch.

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And this one. University? san jose (34) (Small)

My road trip compad. san jose (35) (Small)

We stayed in San Jose, but we definitely left the “safer” tourist areas and headed out into the neighborhoods. It was an interesting look into people’s real lives. Every single house and building in certain areas were chained and fenced. They even go so far as to run barbed wire on top of their crow bars.  They said that burglars run rampant in these neighborhoods. The next few pics are samples of what I’m referring to.san jose (38) (Small)

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Still, even in the middle of all the chained up homes, they have art murals of children playing, restoring a little faith in humanity. san jose (42) (Small)

And of course, like all major cities, they have graffiti artists!san jose (43) (Small)

Different styles.san jose (44) (Small)

And these kine too 😉 Tiff and I thought this was classic. I dunno if you follow @Arnold_Daniel on Insta, but this reminds me of the kind of shots he takes in NYC. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This little babe smiled at us the entire ride.

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More children art murals. I really should look into this and see if it’s an official “thing.” san jose (47) (Small)

Aside from the barbed wire fencing, this could be a street in a Honolulu neighborhood, say 10th Ave in Palolo. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More food. This looks pretty local doesn’t it. san jose (49) (Small)

We got some fried fish too. san jose (50) (Small)

Oh, and the makeup. As I mentioned before, you can pretty much get anything you’re looking for in mass quantities for very cheap. We found a makeup and beauty supply store and went haywiresan jose (51) (Small)

No seriously, it was madness. This is just the front of the store. san jose (52) (Small)

Momona. It’s Hawaiian, look it up.

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We found the one really “modern” restaurant in the entire city and had beers for lunch. san jose (54) (Small)

And a side of this. san jose (55) (Small)

Yup. san jose (56) (Small)

Looking back on these photos, I’m realizing just how artsy this town really was.san jose (57) (Small)

They also had a jade museum that Tiff wanted to check out, but it was pretty pricey, so we just window shopped. san jose (58) (Small)

And well, that was it for San Jose. I wouldn’t highly recommend it, honestly, but if you’re heading to Costa Rica, it might be worth a stop for a day. Particularly if you’re really into murals of children. Hasta!san jose (59) (Small)

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