A Few Days in Costa Rica’s Fruit-Friendly Capital

I’d heard a lot of pessimism about San José:

It’s just an overpriced big city. There’s no reason to go.”

The main reason I drifted to this city was to make some ground through Costa Rica, as San José’s centrally located as the country’s hub.

I optimistically thought: I like cities. Why not get something out of it? All places have worthwhile things to see and take in.

I’d probably been in San José for a few days longer than I had originally planned; however, I felt the need to stay put for a short amount of time after spending less than 24 hours in both Tamarindo and San Juan del Sur.

In search of a fruit breakfast, I enjoyed the energy of a seedy neighborhood that I just happened to be drifting around in one morning. The Spanish there was challenging as the people spoke quickly with a dialect I’d never come across.

I met a 71-year old man who looked 55 or 60.  How old do you think he looks? He told me that his aging has been slowed due to a vegetarian diet.

Judging from the ubiquitous meat and fried chicken offered in the city, and people looking at you perplexed when ordering only a salad, you’d never know that vegetarians existed.

The kind man appeared pleasantly surprised when I told him I wanted a full blender of four or five fruits mixed together.  He mixed in watermelon skin and papaya seeds, explaining that these parts of the fruit offer amazing health benefits, yet they’re almost always overlooked. While he prepared my mammoth shake,  he added spirulina and organic honey.

A prostitute in a bikini appeared on the other side of the bars asking for a light.  A moment later, a young man who looked like a gang banger asked him something.  He had the tough guy wait, and then started to talk to him as I walked away with the second half of my drink.  He bagged it and placed a straw through for me.

He charged me $4 for the huge smoothie which was blended to perfection.  The kind man told me that it’s best to sip it slowly, as he saw me down the first half with a gluttonous velocity.

On the street, I also enjoyed ordering pipas (coconuts) that are freshly cut open with a straw placed through.  Usually, it was possible to order a freshly squeezed OJ from the same mobile street vendor.  A ready to drink coconut and a freshly squeezed OJ cost just over a dollar.

Tip: After sipping the coconut juice with a straw, ask the vendor to open the coconut. I’ve found that nine times out of 10 he’ll (it’s always been a male so far) cut the coconut into two pieces and create a makeshift spoon from a piece of the cocoonut for scooping up the meat.  This comes at no extra charge and adds value to an already tasty and healthy breakfast or snack.

The ability to easily eat fresh fruit  is a huge perk to being in the tropics.

Like all Latin cities, San José boasts a colorful market.  This a must if you’re a market aficionado like myself.

There were at least six Ceviche restaurants in the market, not to mention various restaurants that boasted typical Costa Rican Fare.

Sitting at 1,150 meters or 3,772 feet, San José sits at a perfect climate.  The days this time of year are seasonably sunny and warm while at night the temperature cools considerably, enabling sleep without a fan.  People wear sweatshirts or jackets at night.

In my opinion, San José is not a must see destination, but if you end up there because it’s the travel hub of Costa Rica, you can surely get something out of it.

However, unless you have a reason to stay, I recommend checking it out for a short time.


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