San José in Costa Rica: Pura Vida

After Belize we arrive in Costa Rica and spend a few days in San José, the capital. We often read and hear that San José is not nice and it is only good to spend a night here before visiting other more interesting places. Today I wish to show another point of view about this city. I find it very interesting. San José is rich: culturally, historically and architecturally. It is a capital with many possible activities; moreover it is in constant evolution

We joined one of the free walking tour organized. During 3 hours we visited different part of the city. Our guide, a professional actor, transmitted the love of his country and the sweetness of the Costa Rican way of life. Across various anecdotes and historical explanations we saw San José with different eyes.


During this tour we walked through one of the most unavoidable places in San José: its market. In my opinion, it is in this type of place that we can find the true soul of a city. Here we can feel the pulse of the local life and the inhabitants. Here we can feel the way of life of the citizens, if they are in a hurry and irritated or on the contrary, quiet and lovable. The marketplace is being in the midst of this local life, and it is full of noises, smells, tastes and people.

And I must say it was a pleasant surprise. The video below unfortunately does not gives you an idea about the smells neither the smiles of people, nor the taste of ice-cream mixed with cinnamon, cloves and other unknown products. It gives only a small glimpse of our experience here. Our experience as the Costa Ricans would say was “Pura Vida”.

Through our walk in San José it is a city of artists that we discover: operas, exhibitions, theatres, paintings, music. Even in our Airbnb accommodation as well as in a youth hostel we could see many paintings. They covers the walls and it is sometimes an explosion of colours that arise at the bend of a corridor or in a street and our visual amazement is total.

Art and people? We did not expect this when coming to Costa Rica. It seems that the country is not only rich of natural parks … We were in the uncertainty about our next destination in the country when, at the turn of a small museum / shop called Chietón Morén, we were attracted by nicely painted wooden masks. They are the work of an indigenous tribe living in southern Costa Rica: the Borucas.

After getting more information from the museum about their community, the place where they live and how we could go there we decided to continue our adventure out of the beaten track and meet this small community of about 2000 people. To change, we will do a bit of social and cultural anthropology.

Map of Costa Rica showing the area where the different tribes lives. The red arrow shows our destination: the Boruca’s community

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