Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Costa Rica 9

Ok, the answer to the quiz is Lake Taupo in New Zealand. Bet you didn’t know you were going back to school!

We arrived back at the bus depot in San Jose with no problems. This time, I got to have a better look at San Jose and the surrounding country. I was struck by how many buildings in the outlying areas were made of wood. I suppose I should not have been surprised. Even though little Costa Rica is about twice the size of Vermont, it is almost entirely covered with forests, both rain and cloud. Even so, before about 14% of the land could be put into protected zones, people managed to deforest over 8000 square acres. Mostly cleared for agricultural reasons. It seems that they put most of these trees to good use anyway, building houses and exported the more exotic varieties.

Downtown San Jose is like most big cities, full of cement and the occasional park. Except the concrete here is really yucky. It is always so damp that mold actually grows on the buildings. Not moss, mold. It makes everything look like it is black speckled. And the whole city could use a good, fresh dose of paint. Maybe they need a nice natural disaster so that they have an excuse to fix things up. Of course, the kind where no people get hurt though. Except for the pickpockets and other various rascally people. They deserve whatever they get…except my belongings of course!

There was one park we passed by taxi several times. It was too far from our hotel to be able to walk to and was not that grand to make a special trip to. But the trees in it were incredible. They reminded me a bit of our white pines in Minnesota. Bare like telephone poles until you get to the top where the branches are. The thing that made them really amazing was the bark. It was a motley mixture of greens, yellows, browns, grays and black. Each area of color was distinct and it looked like they had been done as a paint-by-number project for somebody. I regret not having gotten a picture of them.

After a brief nap and a good cup of coffee back at the hotel, L led us to one of his favorite restaurants. We had eaten “native” the night before so tonight we were going to go a bit more upscale. Like the puppies we sometimes feel we are when L takes off leading the way, we followed him to this great Italian restaurant that now occupies an old mansion downtown. It had been raining when we left the hotel (no surprise there!) but it had stopped by the time we got to the restaurant. Good thing, since the only table available was on the front porch. It was one of those fancy, schmancy places that I like to refer to as shitsky. All atmosphere which usually means darker than blazes. Candlelight providing the only means by which to see. This usually means that I end up not really knowing what is on my plate and hope that when I lift my fork to my mouth there is something on it! I would have killed for some nice overhead lighting! No matter. The food, which eventually did makes its’ way to my mouth, was excellent.

Dinner accomplished, we made our way back to the hotel and fell into bed, all the while complaining about how stuffed we were! But we needed to get to bed on the early side because we had to be up the next morning to catch another bus and leave San Jose behind. I was glad for that. I never really did feel at ease there.

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