The school Don Quijote offers an excursion to San José. It turns out that we are the only participants of that excursion. Michel is our guide. For 315 Colones, the bus takes us from Santo Domingo to the busy city center of San José. We can feel, hear and smell that we are in a city. People are rushing in the narrow streets, street sellers are shouting out, what they have to sell and the many busses are exhausting stinking, black smoke. This is the sprawling center of a metropolitan area of about 1.6 mio inhabitants. It is the capital of Costa Rica, but it had to fight for that. Until 1823, the older city Cartago was the capital. In the battle of Ochomongo, San José won and took over.
On the way to the Plaza de Cultura – some shopping
The bus station to Santo Domingo is not far from the post office, elegant in yellow.
A surf shop? Ursula buys goggles for swimming. A book shop with a German name, Lehmann?
Yes, says Michel, around 1900 many Germans immigrated to Costa Rica. Right, my grand uncle and grand aunt also came to Costa Rica then. We enter and buy a children’s book by Joaquín Gutierrez – he is an author from Costa Rica and Michel loves this book. Let me see, it might come in handy for my telling fairy tales, when back home.
The Teatro Nacional at the Plaza de Cultura
The Plaza de Cultura is full of Josefinos. It is dominated by the Teatro Nacional, built in 1897. The first enactment, I hear, was Goethe’s Faust.
Inside is a beautiful lobby with statues.
On the ceiling there is the famous painting about coffee and banana plantations that has been produced in Italy and shipped to Costa Rica. The theatre has this plush atmosphere that we both like, for me it is a “real” theatre. It reminds me of Buenos Aires and Ursula of Florence.
The cosy coffee bar inside the theater serves excellent coffee (from Britt) and has enticing cakes. I take the fresh fruit juice named Saraquipí.
Towards the Museo Nacional and the Parque Nacional
The Museo de Oro closes soon, and we put it on our agenda for later. We follow the Avenida Central. From this street I could see the Museo Nacional six years ago (when I was here with Ernst), but now a modern building stands in the way. It has been built in 2014 and hosts the Jade Museum. Also for later.
The Museo Nacional is in the former arsenal that became superfluous, when Figueres eliminated the military after the civil war of 1947.
I liked this museum six years ago – it gave an excellent overview of the history of Costa Rica.
We continue to the Parque Nacional and admire all the government buildings of San José. In the parque there is amemorial that reminds of the battle of Santa Rosa (1856), when Costa Rica defended itself successfully against invadors from the North.
In the Auto Mercado, we buy Swiss cheese and risotto. We want to cook some Swiss meals for our homestay family. Thank you, Michel, for helping us to find everything and then helping us to carry it.
In the Friday evening traffic jam we return back to our quiet Santo Domingo. The air is much fresher here. We breathe deeply and are happy to have decided to stay in peaceful Santo Domingo.