My Love/Hate Relationship with Downtown San Jose

I hate downtown San Jose. Let’s dicuss…

I walk about 30 minutes to get to the heart of downtown from San Pedro (near the University of Costa Rica). Normally a 10 minute, 255 colones (which is like 50 US cents) bus ride. I was strollin’, explorin’, pumped to be ogling my new city!

As I’m wandering around, I think to myself: Did I really just commit to 6 months of working in a country I’ve never been to and really don’t know much about???? Girl, you’re so cray. Lolz. Yolo!

I’m not sure if it was the urine soaked sidewalks/graffiti’d walls, air pollution from public transport, calles brimming with masses, beggars on every other block, the thieving taxi drivers, or the lack of noteworthy architecture and landscape that turned me off most.

It’s just the first week, they said. It’ll grow on you, they said.

This isn’t anything like ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ promised me it would be. Really though, who does that?? Who just leaves on a whim? Oy vey.

bostonianbroad, graffiti, san jose, costa rica

Potentially Urine Soaked Street Art

THANKFULLY, I was based in San Pedro which isn’t nearly as crowded and has its own little thang going on. I did grow to love my little area and definitely loved all of the people. I venture downtown with a few different people here and there, still not enjoying it, but in the spirit of doing new things and hanging with new people I would go along.

bostonianbroad, san jose, costa rica

Hugging Giant Balls at the National Museum

Then, something odd happened. Occasionally, I would find myself on a bus and I’d always get off at that same foul smelling mobbed spot.

Why did I just willingly and intentionally come here? Don’t I hate downtown??

I walk up familiar calles, and when I was feeling frisky, down some new avenidas. Popping into bead shops, shoe stores, ludicrously overpriced pharmacies. Sometimes I’d plug my ears listening to whatever latin music was popular at the time A.K.A “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony and ‘Tu Sin Mi” by Dread Mar I.

Ugghhh, okay. It’s not THAT bad.

Other times I would walk with naked ears, just listening to everything that was going on around me. Sometimes I’d sit in pigeon park (that open plaza next to the National Theatre), like my old hostel roomie Frank would do. Constantly flooded with an array of people, street acts, and of course, pigeons.

Turns out, ‘they’ were right. This son of dingo city DID grow on me.

I’d find myself coming here when I was bored, or just felt like it/had nothing else to do, or feeling a little lonely, or a mix of all those things. Maybe it was being surrounded by all those people, maybe it was passing other foreigners in the middle of the car free pedestrian only Avenida Central, or maybe it was the homeless man catcalling me… whatever it was, it kept bringing me back.

My absolute favorite thing about San Jose and what I found to be most enjoyable was the surplus of random activities and all of the people who perform/participate/show up to them. On any given day you’ll find drum circles, free concerts, dance parties in the park, free museum entrance nights, street performances, etc etc.

Old Love in Parque Morazan

Love in Parque Morazan


Please pay close attention to the dude in the light blue jeans, dancing with the lady in the red top:



San Jose, you are one sneaky mofo and I’ll (probably) miss ya.

Have you ever been to San Jose, Costa Rica? What’d you think?!


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