Wednesday, 5 November 2008

... Central America: ¿Habla inglés? No entiendo.

My first Costa Rican purchase was ...... a box of bandaids for my blisters! My blistered feet have so far taken me around the downtown core soaking it all in whilst trying not to stick out like a sore thumb. Teatro Nacional is allegedly the city's most impressive public building (as per Lonely Planet) and it was worth checking out for the cool architecture and the statues that flank it.

First thoughts on San José, or 'Chepe' as it's called by Ticos, is that being here is a necessary evil before I head out to the REAL Costa Rica. Unfortunately I'm finding San José to be grimy & busy and nothing much is standing out to make me think 'wow'. It could be anywhere in the world with the office towers, malls and fast-food joints. The latter are everywhere!  Apparently local families will save all week and dress up to treat the kids to Pizza Hut or McDonalds at the weekend.
I am trying a). not walk to the really dodgy places b). not to get lost in the decent ones and c). buy myself a snack for lunch, not necessarily in that order.

Street crime is the major concern for most travellers here and pickpocketing is common. I've padlocked my backpack and I am wearing my US$ & passport around my waist in a money belt. It's kind of sad to think you have to be this much aware BUT violent crime is low compared with American Cities!

Avenidas run east to west and Calles run north to south (like back home). The avenue/street numbering system doesn't suck per se but there is a severe lack of signage. I've got it figured out which side of the main avenue (Avenida Central) & main street (Calle Central) the odd & even versions are otherwise. This is half the battle won for my return to the Hotel!

I tried buying a bread roll to make a banana sandwich from (those of you who know me know I live off these for lunch). I thought 'hablo un poco de castellano'. I ended up with 3 bread rolls. Hmm. No entiendo. Too funny.

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