There are fruit kiosks all over the city. The selections did not seem exotic like a fruit vendor in Malaysia, but seemed to have the more "recognizable" fruits like apples, grapes and bananas.
Given the dangers of hepatitis and other such germ transmitted disease--I'd definitely wash any fruit bought on a street corner before ingesting.
Churro is a fried dough with fillings, a type of snack on the streets of Costa Rica. It somewhat resembles a donut, except that it shapes like a stick. You can find churro stands along Avenida Central. It costs about US$0.35 for one.
Playing some hauntingly beautiful songs, this troupe drew quite a crowd on the Plaza de la Cultura. We stood and listened for a few minutes, but the jostling crowd and the lack of any place to sit on this busy Christmas Eve meant that we had to push on sooner than we would have liked. I'd say that this music performance, albeit very brief, was the highlight of the afternoon in San Jose.
Not only in San José, but in Costa Rica in general, the list of prices at restaurants and shops generally does not include taxes, which are charged at the final bill. It took a while to me to get used to this, because in my country all prices include the taxes....and I had to pay more than expected a couple of times because of this :-( So, be always sure that the prices offered are the final ones, taxes and other fees included!
The exchange rate is around 1US$ = 517 colones. However, dollars are widely accepted even if the bills are stained or has medium-size fractures. You can use the US$1, 2 and 5 bills to pay little expenses like taxis. Finally, for exchanging colones, you can do it at your hotel/hostel or any bank safely.
As for credit cards, Visa, MasterCard and American Express are also generally accepted. If you have Visa or Visa Electron as I do, and need cash, you can take out your money from the ATM of Scotiabank. I did it in the ATM in Multiplaza Mall and it was completely safe.
Sometimes doing and receiving international phone calls was not that easy, even if you are doing it from a five-starred hotel. A few times my international calls got cut with no apparent reason and the telephone cards offered a little amount of minutes (as for me, I could only call 10 minutes to Peru with a 3000 colones' card). At that moment, the cheapest way was calling through the Internet, but now it's more convenient to use MSN and chat.
As for the internet, the cheapest way is going to the internet cafes located around Avenida Central, in downtown San José. The fee per hour is in average 500 colones (around US$1.5).
don't worry if you arrive at the airport, you are immediately sold the necessary paper for the departure tax (included in the paying of the paper itself) and you hear a warning saying you don't have to buy it out of the airport but at a certain desk, it's valid anyway... I have thought it can simply be a question of commercial competition or of not respected monopoly...???
I like a country where they wait their turn in line. It just seems polite and proper to me. So I like the Costa Ricans because they’re patient enough to wait in line for buses and taxis and cash registers. In general life runs at a slower pace, but an orderly one.
We were interested to see this cemetery of above ground tombs in San Jose which are remarkably similar to those found in New Orleans, Louisiana. But much of New Orleans is situated below sea level, and San Jose is in a high mountain valley.
According to our guide, the tombs here are above ground because heavy tropical rains can saturate the ground to the extent that the water may disturb, or even float, the caskets if they are buried six feet under.
The central district was very busy on Christmas Eve afternoon. Lots of people completing their last minute shopping. But these guys obviously had had enough and chose to wait out the shopping trip in the central plaza in front of the National Theater. Can't say that I blame them since shopping is not a particular favorite of mine either (or couldn't you tell from the plethora of shopping tips that generally appear on my pages.)
If the number of children we saw in San Jose is any indication, the population of Costa Rica must be growing at a healthy clip.
A few of the children we encountered on the streets of San Jose approached us with hands extending asking for $1.00 in return for letting us take their photograph. I'll admit that I've paid a kid (and a few adults) a dollar to take their picture a few times in past travels, but this time I didn't. I've got mixed feelings about the practice. No doubt the person receiving the dollar can use it, but I question what kid of work ethic this is teaching them - and especially the children.
The photo taken here was gratis - and from a little distance away. We saw more than one group of uniformed school children, all wearing black and white freshly laundered uniforms, and bright smiles. Those seen here are waving at our bus as we drive through the streets of San Jose.
Juice is plentiful, and tasty. You can order them usually 2 ways. Con leche, or con agua. With milk or water. With water, you get what you’re usually used to, juice and water. With leche, you get something that is almost like a milkshake. With leche is usually about a quarter more, and since it uses milk instead of water, weak stomachs are safe. I prefer the ‘con leche’ version.
If you venture into a residential area, you’ll notice that all of the houses have metal security bars protecting their windows, doors and yards. Walls are often topped with razor wire and other sharp implements. All of this is in an effort to prevent break-in’s and theft. Apparently, even this is no longer enough as some enterprising burglars using fishing rods to snag items behind the bars through open windows. Just something you might want to consider if you are staying long term or considering buying a house.
I saw this several times walking around San Jose and finally got the courage to take a picture, albeit when his back was turned. No need for machines when a willing arm with a machete is available. Just don’t upset the gardener.
You’ll see (and hear) street vendors downtown with lottery tickets pinned to their wooden tables. Lotería nacional (national lottery) tickets cost c2,500 with a chance to win c40 million on Sunday nights. Chances and Tiempos are sold for c1,000 and have a top prize of c10 million on Tuesday and Friday nights. Foreigners and tourists are allowed to play. Funds from the lotteries are used by Junta de Proteccion Social (JPS) de San Jose for its social program.