I am not a city boy. In fact, large cities have a tendency to freak me out. Even Boston, which I have lived near all my life, can overwhelm me some days. However, in the spirit of leaping as far away from my comfort zone as possible, I found my myself in Barrio Cordoba, in the suburbs of San José, the metropolis capital of the tiny Central American country that would be my home for the next five months. Any timid feelings present at the time of my arrival were obliterated after my first week. Between my host family, who accepted my roommate, Charlie, and I with open arms and hearts, and the beauty of Chepe, the affectionate nickname given to the capital, I embraced the culture, and even better, was embraced right back. The thing about San José is that it truly feels alive. In the literal sense, the national parks, which cover the entire city, capture the natural beauty and biodiversity of Costa Rica. Even in a concrete jungle, nature takes hold and center stage with massive trees casting cooling shadows over benches and fountains while flowers of every color stretch throughout, reflecting the peaceful heart of the nation. This is a perfect reflection of a healthy relationship between the people and their land in this modern era of ours, of which I believe we ourselves lack in the United States. Integrated among these lush landscapes are signs of the human touch. In thanks to the ranks of artists and much encouragement from the government, murals, statues, and sculptures are present on every wall, alley, and park.
For any newcomer the best thing you can do for yourself is to walk the city streets and soak in the living art gallery that connects everyone to the creative soul of San José and her people.