San Jose

The non-stop rocking of the plane on the tarmac before we left Toronto was an indication that our journey was going to be interesting. We were right in the tail section of the flight. The old bucket of bolts vibrated all the way to San Salvador and landed with a grumble and shudder to the applause of the crew in the tail section – not very confidence inspiring. My two seat mates popped pills and drank wine through most of the flight – I guess they knew something we didn’t :-))) The plane from San Salvador to San Jose was about 50 years newer and the flight a smooth one. The service and food on both Avianca flights was excellent – North American airlines could learn a few things from their foreign counterparts.

After arriving at our hotel late last night, Carol and I were fortunate enough to secure two spots today on one of the Barrio Bird walking tours of the historic part of the city, plus visit to the main market and an excellent local lunch. Our email to the tour company owner at close to midnight was immediately answered and we were booked. The taxi from our hotel to the starting point of the walk was our first introduction to driving in San Jose.

Navigating in San Jose is an art form. Street addresses mean nothing. Landmarks are used to find locations- kind of like the directions you can receive on the Canadian prairies. My heart always sinks when some one says just go down past the green building on your left, behind the slough a few kms past that and turn right – you can’t miss it… We managed to get to the meeting point with the help of a very understanding taxi driver, whose use of a translation app that fed audio through his cab speakers just about put us through the roof of the vehicle when he used it the first time. But it worked and we could communicate :-) One tip – use only red taxis with meters if you go and do not want to haggle over the fare in advance.

Our walk started in the Parque Morazin which used to be a favourite hang out for the ladies of the night. The bandstand in the park has also served as a dance floor for courting couples in the past. Its main use now is as a nice shady spot to while away some time people watching.

We walked the main historic streets, saw some amazing street art,

checked out historic buildings, museums and had some very interesting people watching sessions. Our walk ended in the Mercado Central – a warren of alley ways full of everything from an extensive apothecary, to flowers, to all types of meat, produce, textiles and some excellent restaurants. We had lunch at one, splitting a tamale and an enchilada -washing it down with Cas – a Costa Rican fruit smoothie. Lovely way to end the trip.

We were very impressed with Barrio Bird walking tours. You can find them on the web at Our guide Carla was excellent and we recommend the company and Carla whole heartedly as a resource during a visit to the city of San Jose.

The weather is perfect, mid 70’s. We have a room over looking the inner courtyard and swimming pool. The louvered windows are open and a nice breeze is coming through the room. We meet our other group members this evening and leave for the Carribean coast of the country tomorrow morning.

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