Okay. The Grano de Oro is an upscale hotel in San Jose, the capitol. It's got all the characteristics and flavor of other big cities in Latin America. Noisy buses, crowded sidewalks that are like concrete obstacle courses. It's imperative to watch where you walk--it would be easy to take a spill in such rugged terrain. The hotel is a block and a half off the main drag of Paseo de Colon. So it's quiet and pretty luxurious for $155 a night. Staying here is like being more than half way back to America. I even watched the NBC Nightly News last night via satellite TV in the room.
I left the real Costa Rica a little after 9 AM and arrived in San Jose about 12 noon. It's not that difficult getting back here from Platanar though I had a close call with a semi truck taking more than half of his side of the road on a hairpin curve. Once here I followed the hotel's directions and immediately got lost. I wandered around a bit, gassed up the rental car, then tried to head back where I thought I'd missed the turn just past the Pizza Hut. Stopped for directions and got back on the main street, found the Pizza Hut and the hotel in fairly short order.
I checked in and made arrangements for a taxi to pick me up and take me to the airport Sunday at 11:30 for my 2 PM flight to Miami. The desk clerk drew on a map of downtown the location of the Gold Museum and after I got settled in the room I started off on foot. Paseo de Colon turned into Avenida Central, a pedestrian mall. Half of the Costa Rican population was shopping diligently.
I think the guy above was selling Spiderman masks--I guess there's a market here for them. A number of stores along the way had clowns and hawkers trying to pull in the shoppers. I only had to ask for directions twice because I was using my map to find the museum. When I found it I was disappointed to learn that it was closed for renovations. Oh, well, that's the way it goes.
I had another mission on my walk and that one was more successful--to buy a CD of typical Costa Rican folk music. That also helped me use up my supply of colones. You can't exchange them back in the States. I found a Lebanese restaurant that the hotel clerk told me about and came back there for dinner--spending another good chunk of colones on a dinner platter that was pretty tasty compared to typical fare here--not as good as the "authentic" Lebanese food you can get in Jacksonville.
After an uneventful Saturday night in the room and a good sleep I got up and had a Tico breakfast in the restaurant in the hotel. It's fancy but the prices aren't too steep--especially for a hotel catering mostly to tourists. Here's the view from my breakfast table:
I can sum up my two weeks in Costa Rica with two words: Pura Vida!