From San José to Monteverde

In San José and Heredia, the scenery is very typical of what I would think of for a tropical city. There are major roads that are connected with grids of orthogonal roads and in between there are some nice central parks, stores, larger buildings, and traditional homes, buildings, and offices. There are also a lot more chain restaurants and retail stores that are less individually owned and appear to be owned by a lot more corporations. Along most of the roads or on the plots of land, there is a lot of trees, wild flowers, and grass where possible. Many times, these cities try to harness as much culture, modernization, and nature as possible in the small area of land.  That is one of the reasons cities in Latin American countries are so unique.


Beyond the city, while still in the suburbs, there are cement houses or houses made of metal tin that line the streets in different communities or gated developments. Many of these houses have a gated area or gates around the home, providing extra security, decoration, and maintaining older traditions that were established when the country was beginning to develop. These homes are usually established close to each other with the gates going to the very edge of the property so they can use as much of their own land as they can. These homes also seem to be on top of each other and even the larger ones grow upward rather than in width to try and have as many houses as possible in each plot of land. These practices are similar to those in cities, even though it is more suburban.


As we move outward from the city, there is a change in the culture and basic scenery. The first thing that mainly changes is the components of the homes. Traveling further and further away from the city, there were noticeable changes in the architecture. First, the poorer homes were mainly made of tin rather than being constructed with cement. In addition, there was a lot more land per household and the houses were spread further apart, even those that were in communities. There were also a lot of homes that were stand alone and in the middle of pastures or vast spaces of land. Finally, the richer homes were more noticeable and rather than building upwards, they were the plots with more land and were made of better materials like wood, cement, and are a lot larger. These homes also appear to be cheaper so all the homes can affords a lot of satellite dishes which is more rare in the city.


For the street shops, in the more rural areas, there are less corporate owned businesses and more family owned. Along the streets, almost all the restaurants were sodas and simple, small convenience stores. Even the souvenir shop we stopped at, although there was a lot of land and a decently large shop, the people working appeared to either be a family or at least close neighbors who lived in the area. This shows the larger reliance on each other for their economic system rather than having larger corporations rule different divisions. This was a lot more effective because it allows the local businesses to have a lot more revenue and keeps money within the country rather than having it flow to other countries where businesses are based.


Overall, there is a different atmosphere between the city and suburb. In the city, most of the people maintain a “hustle and bustle” routine where everyday mimics the same process of getting up early, going to work, making dinner for the family when they get home, and repeat. In the rural areas, it seems to be a lot more relaxed and I think it is almost like people enjoy more of a simple lifestyle with more land, trees, and nature rather than an urbanized area. On the flip side, most of the people seems to have the same amount of concern for others, politeness, and just overall personality.


Since I arrived, I have learned that a lot of people are more genuine and polite in comparison to other countries. I was expecting the same busyness as I saw at the airport, but once you leave that area, there is a completely different atmosphere. In addition, I realized the Costa Rica I envisioned is more like the Costa Rica of Monteverde rather than the cities or suburbs of San José or Heredia. I learned that the country is a lot more modernized than I expected and although sustainability is a big concern, it is not as prevalently seen in the cities in their construction or daily like as compared to the mountains. Even some of the agricultural farms do not demonstrate the sustainability I expected.

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