Costa Rica

San José – Museo Nacional del Jade and Barrio Amón

Joséphinos love looking at tiny little things in museums…or, at least I assume this is the case as we walked through 5 floors dedicated to curious jade and ceramic artifacts at the Museo de Jade today.

That was the main feature of the day, but first, let us talk about breakfast.

I love breakfast…I would have eggs with ketchup, bacon and toast for every meal if my waistline could get away with it. It’s also my favorite meal to cook, and since I’ve been working at home for the past 2.5 years, I’ve had a lot of time to perfect my technique without worrying about running out of time before I rush out the door. It was good training for the three months in Europe, where I made bacon and eggs every morning. There’s something so wonderful about the ritual of making breakfast and then tucking in, book/newpaper/kindle in hand and sipping on coffee. I can make breakfast last for hours.

I must say, Costa Rica does a good brekkie. There is usually soft white bread, smeared with butter and some kind of jelly (passion fruit and guava have both been sampled so far). Pineapple, watermelon and cantaloupe are usually hanging around somewhere. Eggs are predominantly scrambled, which is just fine by me. However, all these items are merely side-kicks to the ubiquitous breakfast item in Costa Rica: gallo pinto. Gallo Pinto, or spotted rooster in spanish, is essentially rice and beans. Chop up some onions, thrown in some cumin, some cooked beans (red or black) and white rice and top it all off with cilantro. Delicious! That is, delicious for the first 5 times you are served a softball sized scoop next to your eggs. Then it starts showing up at other meals…suddenly, you realize that are eating it three times a day. What was once a “oh, isn’t this fun, we are in Costa Rica!” experience, turns into a chore…like if you don’t eat it, you are snubbing a whole culture. Maybe that’s my own worry-wart nature, but each new person doesn’t know that I’ve had it during almost every meal for the last two weeks…and the last persona I want to perpetrate is the red-headed gringo that pushes away the native food.

I can’t think of a single food, main or side, in the States that is served for all three meals…unless you count diet coke. This morning, our breakfast companion, an Ex-pat from New Mexico who has lived in CR for 15+ years said “They serve it to you, whether you want it or not.” For the first week, John kept wondering aloud “do you think your body can acclimatize to eating beans every day, therefore produce less gas as a result?” I can tell you now, folks…the answer to that is no.

Anyway, after breakfast, we sat around in our room for a while. We consumed several music videos and pondered such questions as “how exactly is Taylor Swift appealing? and “is Fancy the best country song ever?” The answers are 1) black sorcery and 2) yes.

We left our hostel around noon, intending to stroll around the residential district of Barrio Amón, supposedly the loveliest of neighborhoods in San José. It was definitely an improvement over the central downtown area, where the open storm drains are 2 feet wide, causing you to leap over a trash filled chasm every time you feel like risking your life crossing the street. There are many large houses in Barrio Amón, the majority of which are the previous mansions of coffee barons. Surprise, surprise, it started raining just as we found the neighborhood, so our tour was fairly limited.IMG_1632.JPGParque National

IMG_1633.JPGDon Quixote panel on the Casa Verde de Amón

IMG_1634.JPGThe Bishop’s Castle

Soaked as sewer rats, we made our way to the Museo del Jade, which houses the world’s largest collection of Pre-Columbian jade and ceramics. The pieces in Jade are mostly large pendants that were parts of necklaces. They were typically carved to look like animals, or sometimes, stormtroopers.IMG_1631.JPGIMG_1624.JPGMy favorite part of the 5 floor museum were the exhibits dedicated to terra-cotta jugs and other vessels. There is an incredible sense of humor in a lot of these pieces; the human or animal expressions captured had a delightful goofiness which made me laugh out loud several times. IMG_1630.JPGDurrrrr….hey, you guys!

IMG_1627.JPGI had several goofy rubber gremlin pencil toppers that looked a lot like this guy. Anyone else?

IMG_1629.JPGI think all of Tim Burton’s creations were inspired by Pre-Columbian ceramics. What a cheeky cat this is!

The following pots are a little more stern in nature, and they were given to warriors who had just beheaded their enemies.IMG_1625.JPG



There was also a display case featuring, erm…NSFW items. I had to elbow a gang of giggling school boys out of the way to get a shot of this John Thomas

We called it a day pretty early, as we have a very early start in the morning; we are being picked up for a tour to Tortuguero…a national park in Costa Rica accessible only via boat. The main attraction is a night hike to watch sea turtles lay their eggs, but there are plenty of jungle trails and canals to explore (with a professional guide) which promises more exciting wildlife action.

In preparation for this trip, we visited the Vanderbilt Health Clinic several times. John and I walked away with conflicting prescriptions and advice and a whole lot of advice that seemed a wee bit silly. For example, we were told not to drink the water in Europe. Amongst our pills and potions, we were given a prescription antibiotic to ward off leptospirosis, which you get via water contaminated with urine from an animal with the lepto bacteria. The antibiotic that we have knocks out a lot of things from anthrax inhalation to malaria to acne…we were instructed to take two pills the week before we got on the river, two during the week we were on the river, and two the week after the river. We were also given a set of typed instructions in shouty capital letters that directly conflicted with everything the doctor told us verbally, including dosage and directions. After doing a bit of research, we found out that the antibiotic is prescribed to treat Lepto, not prevent it…so we are reserving these pills for if we actually contract the damn stuff as opposed to pre-loading up our system…especially after reading the potential side-effects. “Rebecca, darling…would you like some increased brain pressure?” “No, thank you, dearest. I am currently enjoying my permanent tooth discoloration.” “Splendid, sweetness. Whoops! There goes my bloody diarrhea!”
Hopefully, we won’t get infected pee-water in our eye and ear-holes during this trip. More news as it happens!

P.S. My previous employer, the Tessitura Network is holding it’s annual conference in Dallas this week. This means the 70% of the people I care about are all together, in one place, hugging and drinking beer…which makes me very happy and very homesick at the same time. This morning, I watched a live webstream of one of the general sessions. If you work in the performing arts, do yourself a favor and watch my dear friend (and all around badass) Andrew, deliver a very important message. Andrew is the third and final speaker in the series and his message is well worth a viewing. Love and miss you guys!

Categories: Costa Rica

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