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11 March 2010

Alone in San José: The Inadvertent Adventure

1:00 PM. Thursday, March 11, 2010.

A mission I didn't sign up for...

OH MAN! I am incredibly relieved and exhausted. I just spent the last hour wandering the streets of downtown San José by myself. I was on a mission, one that I didn't sign up for: Trying to get Christina's cell phone to work again. It was my only way to communicate and only way to get home. And it was locked! So I had no way of getting in touch with my cousin or my host.

The phone locked itself after I inadvertently I turned it off. I was stranded and alone, with no way to get in touch with anyone I knew in this crazy city.

It was definitely an adventure. Details follow...


1:30 PM.

First things first - right now I just bought a creme frappe con mango at Pops. Yum - it's a creamy blend of mango and coconut! Definitely helping me cool down as I write...

So today's adventure went as follows: This morning began with me waking up on the floor of Anna-Maria's apartment and not knowing where I was. I must've been really into my dream. Anyway, I caught Luis as he was heading out to work. It was only 6am, so I rolled back into my sleeping bag. Christina woke me up an hour later as she headed out for her conference. I chilled in the living room for a bit, watching the morning news for Denver (I don't know why their US channels are all based in Denver). It was 25° this morning - 25°F in Denver, 25°C in San José (haha). I showered - once again, using a typical Costa Rican shower- which means that the showerhead is an electrical-powered water heater (!) and that the water doesn't drain well. The back of my neck has been slightly sunburned and from what I can see (through the small mirrors) it's already dark brown there. I suncreamed and bug sprayed myself up and was soon out the door to catch the bus into central San José.


1:45 PM.

I just got a phone call from Anna-Maria; she's just leaving her place because of some delay with her dog. Christina also called a few minutes ago; she's relieved that I was able to unlock her phone, and informed me that she didn't book a hotel for tomorrow night, so we'll be staying with Anna-Maria.

The adventure continues...

I got a bus for only C160 into the centro; it dropped me off right at the central park, and I explored a bit on foot (buying an empanada for breakfast) before heading to Parque Morazan to meet up for my "tour" at 9:45. It was a "tour" because it was just me and Stacey. Nonetheless, it was informative and interesting! I got to see the highlights of San Jose's architecture, culture, a bit of history, and a lot of art - especially street art. It's really eye-opening, because even many Ticos themselves dismiss San Jose as a grungy, cultureless urban pit, but it's really an active and dynamic city, with pocket of art and history strewn all over the grit of the inner city. Exploring the city - any city for that matter - on foot is really the only way to appreciate such small details.

[This is Marito, a long time street musician in San Jose. When an international cattle convention came to the city in 2008, artists were commissioned to decorate various cow sculptures to be put up across this city. This sculpture is dedicated to Marito, who now stands guard next to his cow everyday.]

And along the way, I was able to attain my goal: I found a wall-sized Costa Rica flag! YES!

Anyway after my tour ended, I called Anna-Maria to meet up. While hanging up, I must've pressed the "end" button too hard, because the phone turned off. I turned it back on, and it was locked (i.e. needed a PIN to turn back on)! FUUUUUUCK. How was I gonna get back to the apt tonight/contact Anna-Maria/contact Christina?! I was definitely worried and kinda freaked out for a few moments, then I found a celulares store and asked the guy there (trying to pantomime and using my poor Spanish). He directed me to the ICE (national cell phone company) office just a block away. I went there, through the security and asked the Informacion desk for help. They needed either Christina to be there herself or for me to have the phone number of the phone (which I didn't have on me). BOLLOCKS. I left feeling even more helpless for a moment, then I realized that Christina had emailed me her phone number a few weeks ago!

Renewed with an urgent sense of hope, I hopped into an internet cafe (which was right in front of me!) and looked through my email, and voila!, had the phone number. I returned triumphantly to the ICE office. The same guy was there, and it only took a short minute for him to reset the phone's PIN. Whew - crisis averted! SUCH a relief. What a thrill and a great challenge - I felt like I was on the Amazing Race!


2:55 PM

A former cafe...

I'm eating at the "Food Mall Palace" or whatever; it used to be a big cafe that has served Che Guevara and Fidel Castro (together), and JFK during his visit to Costa Rica. Now it's a Church's Chicken/Burger King/Papa Johns?! Incredible, haha. The chicken I'm eating (from Church's) is salty but still tastes like real chicken (i.e. not stuffed with preservatives/hormones). The honey biscuit is also good, but the ones stateside seem better.

Anna-Maria should be meeting me shortly nearby.

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