Oxcart

Oxcart

The University of Costa Rica, organized around individual buildings housing each major area of study, has a nature preserve at its heart.  Covered walkways are prevalent which is practical given the frequent rains.

The Jade Museum, located on the first floor of the headquarters of the National Insurance Institute, has several rooms exploring historical-archaeological themes.  Objects made from jade, ceramics, stone, gold and other materials are shown.  The importance of jade is demonstrated by the variety of objects and in their use by religious leaders and high-ranking families.  The fertility cult exhibit displayed a realistic portrayal of human sexuality.  Interestingly, all of the jade comes from Guatemala as there is none in Costa Rica.

The Gold Museum, sponsored by the Central Bank of Costa Rica, has thousands of examples of pre-Columbian gold artifacts.  The building is situated under the Plaza de la Cultura and extends three stories down in an upside down pyramid shape.  Our tour guide, Wendy, shared her love of country and the amazing techniques of artisans to create such detailed, unique pieces.  Many pieces were intricate representations of local animals.  Some pieces use a combination of copper.

The National Theater, completed in 1897 and declared a national monument in 1965, was designed in the neo-classical style with lots of Italian marble.  Costa Ricans take pride in this cultural symbol for good reason.

Razor wire protects homes and businesses throughout San Jose.  The bars across windows and garages lead to the conclusion: this area is not safe.  Contrasted with this image is contact with citizens who convey support for tourists, and their dollars.   The reason for razor wire may be more complicated.  We learned that for some citizens this is an addition to show that the inhabitants have arrived at a more comfortable lifestyle.  It is similar to “keeping up with Joneses.”  Casa Conde Apartotel is an interesting enclave in a less desirable neighborhood.  [Please note that my perception of the neighborhood changed by the end of our stay.]  The nearby Peace Park, Parque de La Paz, has a police station with horseback patrols.  The food at the hotel and at Nuestra Tierra was excellent.

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