Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

As our time in Costa Rica draws to an end, we reluctantly bid farewell to an area that has been our home for nearly two months.

Roger has explored the many steep, bumpy trails by mountain bike, one of which leads to a tiny picturesque village called San Jose…

We have also become very familiar with the roads leading to the neighbouring villages of San Gerardo and Canaán, as well as the one to Herradura. En route, you can visit the labyrinthian secret gardens and the hot springs, which sit harmoniously in their natural surroundings.

Herradura translates as horseshoe, highlighting the important role horses have played in the history of the area.

Several local hotels and signs display the artwork of Los Ángeles artist Carmen Monge.

The variety in meals that we have enjoyed impressed us, given the simplicity of the ingredients available. Almost all food is locally produced, with a notable absence of the concept of “food miles”. Our favourites include patacones (fried green plantain), empanadas and tortillas – all of which we’ve been taught to make by the members of our host family. Batidos – fruit and ice blended with water or milk – are available everywhere and continue to be our drink of choice.

Of all the roads, the one we will miss the most is the magical route to our temporary home in Los Ángeles, where clouds hang onto the green, rolling hills…

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… and where we had a chance to try some early season coffee picking (we were dreadful).

Most families in the area keep animals. The family we stayed with keep dogs (which are good for keeping coyotes away and would sometimes take us for walks), cats and horses.

During our stay, we asked several residents what’s best about the area, and the same two things came up in their responses: the nature and the people. We could not agree more; the climate is pleasantly cool (although very rainy come October) and there are numerous walks to choose from – including, of course, the long hike to Cerro Chirripó. The people we found to be humble and friendly; our host family could not have made us feel more welcome, the children in the local school were eager to do extra English lessons and the young adults we spoke to taught us so much about contemporary Costa Rican society. We will definitely be returning to this country with its breathtaking natural wonders and people who have shown us the real meaning of pura vida!

We had grand plans to spend a cultural day in the capital, but due to a bus breakdown, we spent more time than expected on the way to San Jose…

… leaving us no time for museums or art exhibitions this time, apart from modern interpretations of classical paintings in a coffee shop we chanced upon. A coffee shop that could have been in any European city – if it wasn’t for the iron bars on the windows and the door…

This brief stop in the capital marks our final farewell to Costa Rica as we travel on to our third Central American country, Nicaragua!

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