Long, straight streets, cars speeding by everywhere. more fast food shops than good is for humans, shoe shops every fifty meters and people with green, orange, pink, long, short and strange hair everywhere. This is San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. A buzzing town full of busy people, who don’t look amazed when they see a tall guy, with a funny rooster head walking be. It’s good to be anonymous again.
I love Nicaragua and I fell in love with the San Juan de la Concepcion. It’s easy going, back to basic, but I will always stand out there: being 1.89 meters tall and having blond hair. Well, a little bit of blond hair, because the only bit I keep is a little stripe in the middle, standing up straight and tall. It makes all the schoolkids giggle when I pass by. Nice, but sometimes is just nice to be anonymous again. In San Jose that’s no problem at all. This is a cosmopolitan city. Chinese, Japanese, Europeans, Nica’s, Ticos (the way Costa Rican people call themselves) all work, live or are visiting here.
Especially visiting, because San Jose seems to be the gateway to Europe, Canada and the United States. Tourist come, stay the night and go again. Maybe discouraged by the review of San Jose in the Lonely Planet, because this old backpackers bible described the city as: ‘not a pretty city, with unremarkable concrete structures, clogged pedestrian arcades and fast-food monstrosities dominating its cityscape.’ Okay, it does say as well: ‘Once you get the hang of it, Chepe – as San Jose is affectionately known – quickly reveals it chams. Take your time poking around the more historic neighborhoods, the museums of gold and jade and national history.’
But San Jose has to offer more. If you take your time to stroll around the city, you will discover little parks filled with relaxing people everywhere, you will discover beautiful squares with people having lunch outside in the sun, little market stands, in between the big shops, packed with fresh fruits and birds singing their songs in trees in the middle of packed streets. You can take all the time in the world to see it, because whoever you are, whatever you look like, you’ll be anonymous in San Jose.