Hola! Today we saw the beautiful city of San José, Costa Rica’s capital. San José started as a rural community, but grew fast because of the influences of the coffee and banana trades. You can still see some of its rural history in the city. For example, there are no formal street addresses. Instead, to a find a place in the city, directions usually consist of landmarks and blocks, for example: “300 meters from the old Burger King.” This can make it difficult for tourists to find locations, especially if they have no prior experience in San José. After talking to my host mom, though, I think that Ticos are very content with the system that is in place. They are used to giving and receiving the directions that may confuse foreigners. It is just their way of life similarly to how street addresses are common in America.
In terms of mail deliveries from other countries, a lack of formal address would probably cause a bit of confusion. After some research, it appears that a lot of San José residents rent PO boxes, which help clear up issues related to receiving mail from outside the country. Personally, I do not think that the lack of addresses will hold San José back. Most Ticos seem to understand the system well and work well with it, so I don’t think it makes much of a difference to them. The only possible issue I can foresee in the future is some confusion with online orders in an online age. It may be difficult to shop for things online if you do not have a formal street address, but I think that Ticos are fairly flexible with this. There are quite a few ways around the issue (such as the rentable PO boxes) that can easily be implemented.
You can tell that San José used to be a center of trade because there is an important railway system that runs through it. This system connects the city to the Caribbean coast, and was often used to ship coffee and bananas out of the city. Usually, large trade-centered cities have these railway systems connected to them so they can easily ship out their products to other places. In addition to this, you can find the main governmental buildings of Costa Rica located in San José. San José was an important trade city, so the important governmental buildings were located there because of the city’s central location and importance. Similarly to Pittsburgh, San José developed as a city because it was exporting so much product. Pittsburgh grew because it attracted people to work in the coal industry, and I think similarly, San José grew because people were attracted to the coffee and banana industries. Now, however, I think there is less a presence of these two industries in both cities.
Overall, it was a wonderful day of walking, exploring, and visiting museums!¡Pura Vida!