This post is for two main reasons. The first and primary is that a few people have been expressing interest in some more of the basic facts, basic differences between here and the U.S. I realize the last two posts have been more like diary entries, so I thought I'd get on with the datos and things I've got to say about San José for you. The second reason is that AGAIN we have no tarea, and I guess I should take advantage of this. Get excited.
Hmm, well for lack of a better organizing idea, I'm going to just format this like a list, okay?
1. San José should not be respresentative of the country as a whole. It iiiis where I live, though, and it's what I see most of, so it's hard for me not to talk about it a lot. También it is where about 60% of Costa Rica's population lives. You'd think that would count for something.
What I've read, though, is that this great concentration of population into this middle, landlocked city has only occured since the mid 20th century. Before that the country was pretty spread out, with many many townspeople making money off of pineapples or mangoes or coconuts or whatever other crop was of interest or necessity to the neighbors. With the rise of globalization, though, this lifestyle has become less sensible. The government has chosen coffee and bananos as its main exports, and, as in America, a few great plantations have been sort of encompassing others, buying from them, and doing things large-scale. (I don't mean to say it's to anywhere NEAR the extent it is in the U.S, though!) Tourism, too, has become THE way for Costa Rica to make money, so an extra importance has been placed on going to school to learn to be part of this enterprise, on learning English. Furthermore, entities like televisions and especially computers are more attractive following this globalization, and Costa Ricans come to the city to learn to use the 'puters and make money to buy the television and electricity. All in all, the way to be able to support the family, for many, has come down to learning and working in the city. It is widely held that the people who come here would really RATHER return to the country or to their smaller cities, but there is just no work there anymore. They support futbol teams other than San Jose's Saprissa.
And I really don't blame these people for wanting to go back to their more rural homes. San José is just not a pretty city. I've mentioned before the bars and gates surrounding every house, but it's way more than that; you'll find that in the country as well. There are sidewalks here, but you'd be hardpressed to find a smooth one. It really surprises me when my roommate says she'd like to go on a run. I have no idea how she survives without tripping or twisting an ankle, let alone running up the many hills and crossing the ever peligroso traffic! Plus there is such pollution. Walking to class I get sprayed by 3 or 4 different horrible, visible fumes from cars or buses or motorcycles not quite functioning perfectly. Imagine a walk longer than 7 minutes! And I've mentioned before the street noise, which is just appalling, almost none of the motorcycles having mufflers and everyone doing there every-other-minute honk. Add to this the fact that interesting architecture and upkeep take second place to saving money, and the fact that there is more litter here than almost anywhere I've ever been, and you've got a pretty good reason to focus on the gorgeous weather or the distant mountains when you talk about a walk somewhere. I do think I'll be grateful for the somewhat unattractive replacement of grass with concrete when rainy season comes, though. The last thing we need is mud.
2. I feel pretty bad for just badmouthing San José THAT much. I think I willll talk about the weather (AGAIN) and the mountains and the other pretty little things, cause they do exist. Weatherwise, of course, it can get a little on the hot side, and a little on the gray and dreary side. But both of these are the biggest concerns, and they really are only A LITTLE on their respective sides. Most days here are charming and feel wonderful.
The mountains are really cool, too. They're dark green and pointy and have almost NO houses on them. San José truly iiiis in a bowl of them, sourrounded on all sides by a high ridge, with peaks sailing up from there. Very different and not as useful for telling directions as in Colorado; I like them.
As for the little things I said I'd mention...the first of course is birds. The sounds they make are hilarious. A wooooOOOP! Little whistles, and frequent little squabbles. There are things that sound like doves, and the pigeons and sparrows here look much happier than the ones you see airblown and a bit mangy in downtown STL.
There are beautiful beautiful flowers on my walk from Tita's house to school. Those huge red and yellow and pink things that you see on Hawaiian shirts (can't remember their names) are constantly in bloom and loud and gorgeous. There are birds of paradise in all kinds of yards, and baby palm trees that I just love. Today I noticed the most beautiful shades of roses--orange surrounded by pink--but all the roses are stunning, of course. And there are fruit trees randomly as well. A lime tree grows across the street from my window, I believe.
3. Fast food here is SUPER expensive. I went to the KFC one time when I was starving and slightly annoyed, and it cost me 6 dollars for a medium drink, fries, and 6 chicken nuggets. Granted they were kind of the best chicken nuggets I think I've ever haaad, but...I SPILLED MY DRINK and even without that they still werent' worth 6 bucks. Also, when Anna was here we went to Pizza Hut one Sunday, (Nothing else was open! My first time in Pizza Hut ever!) and our waiter was in a tie and he hustled and bustled and the food was pretty delish. A nice atmostphere, too. Pretty fancy!
4. The water here is potable! I have yet to get sick from it, though I've never drunk any from the tap outside of San José. Still, I'm happy to save so much money just drinking tap water when I'm at home!
Bueno, those were only 4 points, but they were some long ones. I can tell you more later if people express interest in these. :) I hope I'm not doing injustice to my topics. I really do think that the countryside is positively gorgeous, like paridise.