You know that you’re in a good hotel when the first thing the hotel staff give you is the wifi password. Yes, good hospitality has come to that; a combination of letters and numbers to make you feel more connected to the rest of the world upon arriving to a brand new country. An indication of amazing hospitality is being presented the wifi password without even having to ask for it (if I ever offered any guests the wifi password before offering water, tea, coffee or juice my mother would beat my fine Punjabi ass and if she wasn’t home when guests arrived she would beat the hell of our my conscience with a belna). Of course we were greeted with a hello and friendly welcome to the city of San Jose but the hostel staff were quick to get down to business and so were we. After connecting to the internet I felt a little more relaxed being in a new and unfamiliar city and calling the hotel home for 7 days but not quite comfortable enough to poo. Yes. I said poo. I’m sure it is a common sentiment shared by many but spoken by few. Nothing makes you feel like you’re at home than the ability to take a shit comfortably and until you’re able to get to that level of ease it’s difficult to adjust and feel that you are “at home” when you’re not at home. I got there eventually but it took a while.
I really thought breakfast would have been a teeny bit fancier but it pretty much was the quite basic: scrambled eggs, toast, beans and rice, fried banana with a side of fruit. I appreciated it but I am no longer able to eat rajma and chaul for a good 6 months. This was my breakfast every single day.
Off to the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum which was literally a hop, skip and jump away from our hotel. It was a pleasant walk and it really helped us get a vibe of the city. The gold museum was very cool! It was a museum contained over 1600 artifacts of pre-Columbian gold dating back to 500 AD.
The stuff in there was incredible. Gold coins, gold figurines of humans, animals such as frogs, fish, crabs, turtles, lizards. Jewelry with animal representations. Their gold depicted animals because the Costa Rican people believed in the importance of their natural surroundings in relation to human beings, there was no distance between humans and animals, no superiority of humans to non-humans. The stuff in the gold museum reminded me of Aboriginal art in Canada. Just like the Natives of Canada, the Natives of Costa Rica had a bond with nature that transcended the physical. Nature had a supernatural element, it was sacred. Humans were “at one” with other life forms such as animals and plants and did not distance themselves from it, instead nature was incorporated in their rituals, myths and beliefs.
The best part about the Gold Museum was the free wif! I’m kidding. No I’m not. It had free wifi and air conditioning and amazing art work by beloved Costa Rican artists. I fell in love with this painting by Teodorico Quiros. I think, I’m pretty sure that I am attracted to it because of it’s simplicity and use of blue.
After a tour of the gold museum me and my dad began to wonder the streets. Quite honestly, San Jose is not much different than Toronto except only that there is no visible in-your-face-and-ears multiculturalism. By visible I mean that everyone looks Spanish. San Jose houses the same brand name stores, fast food restaurants, home to eclectic colourful sneaker wearing teenagers with skateboards and lip piercings laughing and playing on street corners, painters, street performers and of course love birds both young and old. As we walked along aimlessly just enjoying the sounds of people speaking Spanish and the sounds of the chirping birds (which usually annoy the fuck out of me in Etobicoke when they begin to chirp at 6 am in the morning, seriously my weak bladder is my natural alarm clock (it usually wakes me up every 3 hours, I’m such a granny like that, if I go drinking I’m the first person to run to the washroom unless of course I’m sipping wine or brandy which in that case I’ll last a little long before I gotta go) I did not sign up for a bird-wake -up-call but in another country it was refreshing, music to my ears!) my dad stumbled upon the San Jose Central Market that was on my places to visit in San Jose
I of course take my time looking at things so I told my dad to go on ahead without me so that he can look at things that are fascinating to him. The market consisted of jewelry shops, cafes, souvenir stands, fruit stalls and much more. After leaving me for only 5 minutes he came back to me where I was looking at nose rings and told me that we will walk through the market together because people are taking pictures of him. That’s right, unlike Canada Sikhs in Costa Rica are a rare sighting. Locals were so fascinated by my dad’s outwardly appearance (his red turban and greying beard) that people would look at him, take pictures as he walked past and talk to him. You know what, no one would say Ola to me first they would all be hello-ing my dad as *we* walked by. Below is my favorite wall painting at the entrance of the market.
Here are some of my favorite pictures that capture San Jose’s essence through my eyes.
My favorite flower.
Bananas. Just hanging around.
Scunchies on the street.
Lunch time at a vegetarian restaurant called Vishnu.
After some more aimless walking we end up in Plaza de la Cultura which is pretty much a park full of pigeons. It’s where I had my DDLJ moment in Costa Rica.
Followed by some ice cream at *covers eyes* I hate to say it, McDonalds.
I found India in Costa Rica! Lunch at Vishnu and a shop named Radha. No matter where I travel India follows me because I left a piece of my heart in India.
That was day 1.