Planting the Seeds of the Future: San Jose, from Rural to Urban

For today’s adventure, we traveled to San Jose for a walking tour.  Along the way we learned about the history of Costa Rica, from the indigenous people who occupied the area to its colonization by the Spanish and ultimate independence. San Jose reminds me of me of Pittsburgh in a couple  respects, such as its use of bus transportation as the city primary means of transporting large groups of workers. Still, as a country whose economy developed quickly due to the successful exportation of coffee beans and bananas, the once rural state of the capital still creeps into aspects of the now quite modern San Jose.  For example, originating as a agricultural center has made the development of mass transit systems such as trains slower. The train system we took today had few carts, traveled at relatively slow speeds, and ran very sparsely for a mass transit system. An effective rail system is a common mark of a populated urban center, and one which San Jose lacks to a certain extent.

In addition, houses in San Jose rarely use house numbers, relying on nearby landmarks to identify locations.  For example, as an address a house might be identified as being a certain number of meters from a local bank, or even a restaurant that recently closed down.  I feel that the lack of street addresses has a negative effect on logistics, significantly reducing the effectivity of mail and package delivering services. Tourists and Ticos from other cities who do not know the neighborhood are instantly thrown into a world of confusion upon hearing that their destination is certain distance from a landmark which does not not even necessarily still exist.  For a country whose economy is based on tourism, its populated capital which is the subject of a lot of the tourist activity should not be hard to navigate. While Ticos’ helpful nature helps to make getting around easier, the organization of housing addresses definitely functions to hold back San Jose as it develops further as a city.

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