Finding My Way in San José

At first, the title of today’s post might sound symbolic or metaphorical, but I can assure you it is most definitely literal. This afternoon, I legitimately had to find my way in San José (the capital city of Costa Rica) by asking a local for directions. When giving the directions, the local used a combination of meter measurements and landmarks to point me in the right direction.

In this case, the lack of street address information had a significant impact on locating my specific destination and definitely added a bit of complexity to my already stressful situation. In San José, house numbers are not used. Instead, a location is found by its relative location to landmarks and specific features. Although I still found my way in the end, the process of directions seemed rather complex for the nature of the city and added a bit of confusion to the entire process.

I think this system holds the city back (to a certain extent). From the beginning, coffee and banana trade in the area served to jumpstart the success of the economy and served as a catalyst for the selling-based atmosphere/environment. In our stroll through the streets to the market, it was obvious that San José was becoming more modernized. This is achieved through the expansion of stores (with both goods and services) to accommodate both tourists and locals. That being said, I think this city could benefit from a more specific approach to this address system, as it is moving from a rural community to a large(r)-scale city.

In relation to Pittsburgh, I think San José differs in a lot of ways. As far as logistics go, I think San José lacks a certain sophistication that Pittsburgh has. Similarly though, both cities have an equally aggressive amount of traffic and equally aggressive people willing to cross the street even when it is not the correct time (aka every day on Forbes Avenue).


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