Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mis Barrios

Well, I’m quite proud of myself because I negotiated my way to the correo (post office) which included getting directions in Spanish, walking there, crossing several busy intersections, and mailing my post cards. Then I took the autobus back to the area near the hotel. I certainly hope the post cards make it to the United States.

I’d like to describe this area a bit. San Jose sits in the center and is a city of Barrios to the east, south, west, and north. I don’t know how many, but there are several. Hotel Boutique Jade and the language school are in Barrio Dent. Barrio San Pedro is adjacent and the Universidad de Costa Rica is located there.

Addresses in SJ are quite unusual as there are no house or building numbers and most of the streets don’t have well marked names. Avenidas run one way; calles another. So, a typical address is Avenida B, Calles 2 y 4 which means Avenue B between Streets 2 and 4.
Boutique Jade is on the east side of the city and its address is: Hotel boutique Jade, Bo. Dent, near Subaru, 300 meters north. Actually some of the directions and addresses aren’t that much different from Chattanooga’s “turn right at the street just past where the old Wal Mart was”. Javier told us that some home addresses may be something like: the third house past the corner, next to the blue garage. When a postal delivery person changes jobs it causes quite a mess. Most of the people in rural areas do not have delivery, but pick up their mail at the post office.

This section of Barrio Dent is a mixed use neighborhood with homes, condos, commercial buildings, offices (e.g., Deloitte), the language school, Columbia and Paraguay embassies, plant market, commercial soccer field, one or two restaurants, and the hotel. The 3-story Mall San Pedro is a short walk away. I will describe that in greater detail later. It is quite walkable although we were warned about pick pockets, etc. which I’m sure is standard operating procedure. I have passed many people young and old and always receive a ‘Buenas’ which is Costa Rican for Buenas Dias/Tardes. However, I do not go out walking after dark.

Hotel Grano de Oro is in Barrio San Bosco on the west side of the city. Paseo Colon is the main street and it fills with both cars and buses during rush hour, so much so that it is almost impossible for cars to get across an intersection. I also have noticed that there is no such thing as pedestrian right-of-way, so crossing an intersection can be interesting. Last night a taxi to a restaurant four blocks away took almost 20 minutes because of the traffic. That’s the good news/bad news about eating early here. Good news: no problem getting in and being served; bad news: good luck getting to the restaurant.

Because there is so much traffic through the center of the city, drivers must now stay out of the city one week-day a week, depending on the last digit in their license plate. So, sometimes one must borrow a car with a different last digit in order to drive to certain locations on certain days. This reminds me of the gas rationing in the early 70s when we could purchase gas on certain days, depending on license plate numbers. This is yet another unique and interesting Costa Rican quality.

No comments:

Post a Comment