San Jose – much better than expected!

Every guidebook I read said not to bother with San Jose – too much traffic and crime, not much to see. International Living focuses on other areas of Costa Rica as ex-pat retirement destinations, for the most part. So our expectations were low, so to say San Jose exceeded them doesn’t mean much. What has actually happened is that staying here has added a new major consideration: Could we have the business in Puerto Viejo and a house in San Jose?

We are staying in San Pedro – Escalante area, and were shocked to find how quiet things are – there’s very little traffic, especially the noisy, polluting motos. Not only that, but the street we’re staying on has many – dozens? – of restaurants. They range from fast-foody to bars to more elegant restaurants. All are within a short walk. We highly recommend the place we rented: it was spotlessly clean, safe and quiet location, has everything, and you can walk just about anywhere within 30 minutes.

Escalante AirBNB

On Sunday, we walked downtown in approximately half an hour. The walk was safe and so is downtown. Downtown itself is quite large and reminded Adriana and Elvia very much of Cali’s El Centro. There are sodas (small, local restaurants) offering breakfast for 3,000 colones, roughly $5.25 CAD ($3.90 USD, 15,200 COP). By comparison, the restaurants near us are more upscale (but not upscale), touristy, and offer more like a nice patio and fancy cocktails. For a similar breakfast, they charge 6,200 colones. (See Tipico.)

There are also countless small stores downtown selling pretty much everything from fish to clothing, along with a big Mercado Central (closed Sunday). We went back there on Monday and bought all kinds of spices and vegetables for low prices – much less than in a major store. There are also buskers: we saw at least two musical groups and one ‘frozen’ guy, much like Plasterman who used to busk in downtown Victoria. Much of Avenida Central is pedestrian-only, which is pleasant. There are big public squares at various parts, too. It’s impossible to capture in one brief video, but this gives you an idea.

San Jose is in the Central Valley and as such has a very nice climate: typically mid-twenties in the daytime and high-teens at night. We’re here in the dry season, but apparently even the rainy season means a bit of rain each day and otherwise mostly sunny. And so far, no biting insects detected.

The plan was to eat more healthily while in Costa Rica, but there are so many restaurants within a five-minute walk…. Golden Rush claims to be The Spirit of Costa Rica, but this is the first any of us have heard of it. It appears to be a 30% liquor made from gooseberries, or Golden Berries. We haven’t tried it.

Ultimately, we San Jose was so pleasant that it’s now in consideration as a potential home base for Gordanza. The retreat is still going ahead in Puerto Viejo, but San Jose has a nicer climate for living, and also lots more to do. No beaches, though…

So it’s off to Puerto Viejo for at least 5 weeks to look at property and consult with the people who live there! Sanji is ready:

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  1. Janey
    February 28, 2024

    More Sanji cameos! Love these posts! Thank you!!!!

  2. Kathryn
    February 28, 2024

    Looks quite special, Adri y Brian. A que distancia esta San Jose de Puerto Viejo? Enjoy!

    • admin
      April 10, 2024

      Hi Kathyn, it’s a 4-6 hour drive or bus ride.

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