Food, History, Family

January 19, 2016

in Central/South America, Costa Rica, Heather Brevard, Winter Intersession 2015-16

El Blog de San José #11

viernes, el 8 de enero 2016

La hora local: 19:08

This entire past week has been filled with great spouts of homework and four hours of class a day to boot.  At least I’ve finally gained the freedom to sleep in.

Another challenge that’s needed overcoming is how incredibly sick we all seem to be of Costa Rican food.  For me, I’m just going for anything other than rice and beans.  To that end, we’ve encountered a cheap Chinese restaurant about two blocks from Maximo.  The whole atmosphere of the place is amusing given its menu that contains both English and Spanish, but no Chinese.  To compliment this interesting fusion of cultures, the decor of the interior seemed somewhat selected to reflect Chinese culture meanwhile the architecture of the building itself was unmistakably Latin America.

Chinese Restaurant Menu

Chinese Restaurant Menu

Another rejection of local food landed me in Taco Bell of all places.  The tacos, compared to those of the U.S., not so flavorful and even the crispy shells seemed to lack anything other than rampant blandness.  So the next day, we tried the Pizza Hut down the street only to be confronted by difficulty in communication, high prices, and an unbearably long wait time.  I swear though, that must have been the tastiest pepperoni pizza in my life.  Perhaps this was only constructed by the contrast to rice and beans.

By the end of the week, I was asking Cari for restaurant recommendations. My specifications: delicious food, loved by the locals and inexpensive.  She came back at me with McDonalds, Taco Bell, Subway and KFC (Ka Efay Say).  Apparently Costa Rica hasn’t had the opportunity to really develop any of its own chains.  I finally got out of her the name of a Colombian restaurant not far from Maximo which we subsequently tried for lunch.  The food was easily the best I’ve had so far, fried tortillas loaded down with avocado, mushrooms, onion and pork.  Unfortunately, the portions were tiny and the bill steep.

I also took to exploring a “Liberaría” Bookstore with a friend.  Most of the books were American or European novels translated to Spanish with only a small section dedicated to Latin American novelists which was sadly smaller than the section devoted to books in English.  A room adjacent to the bookstore sporting a new age theme and Tibetan relics amongst stacks of Spanish books with subject matter ranging from the occult, Buddhism, Mandala coloring books, Chakras, Karma, energy, and meditation.  Highly contrastive of the fact that one is literally unable to swing a dead cat in San José without hitting a Catholic church.  They’re like Starbucks in Seattle, they exponentially multiply.

I’ve finally hit the point in my speech that when talking to my host sister, I now longer state very obvious things to subconscious prove to myself I can speak Spanish.  I’ve also become used to the fact that every here uses the formal you form of usted instead of tú, even when talking to the baby.  However, there are still times when I’ll buy something at the grocery store and not understand what is being said to me.

I’ve really grown to like Cari, my host sister, and Mance, my other host sister’s daughter. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with them the most.  Unfortunately, my host mom is still in the hospital with an infection in her back and I have no way of knowing when she’ll return.

Today, before class, a few of mi amigas and I decided it was time for an adventure, so we headed into San José to hit up the National Museum.  We walked up to the guard at the counter to pay and he told us, in English, that we owe four dollars for admission.  Joke was on him, none of had any American cash on us, so we asked for the bill in colones.  Stereotyping amuses me.  The museum was composed of a greenhouse full of butterflies, hundreds of ancient relics dating back to the indigenous civilization fossils of animals who lived during the ice age, an exhibit featuring the Spanish contributions of art and décor to Costa Rica among other artifacts.  Scattered throughout the museum were these enormous and perfectly spherical boulders which were created and revered by the ancient people.  Despite the relative tininess of the museum, I am glad to have went because learning the origins of a country makes living and studying there so much more interesting.

Rock Art

Rock Art

Profundo

Profundo

Museum Facade

Museum Facade

Mariposa Green House

Mariposa Green House

View from the Museum

View from the Museum

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