An expedition downtown turns up some interesting sights

On a not so windy day this week I took a taxi downtown so that I could enjoy a walk. For some reason I find it easier and certainly more interesting, to walk in San José proper than in the semi suburb where I now live. The pedestrians, the store windows, the street vendors, and the various impromptu entertainers, especially in the Plaza de la Cultura, all seem to give me energy.

It is getting more and more difficult to approach downtown from the west side. If it is not ongoing repairs on a main street, it is a parade, a strike or a closed avenue for a fiesta. Every now and then I dream of owning a Segway, one of those two-wheeled electric vehicles.

However, once there I was pleased to see that what was referred to (on a T-shirt) as Costa Rica’s Air Force, has landed. There are beautifully painted larger than life doves everywhere. First it was cows, now it is doves. I particularly liked the blue one in front of the Teatro Nacional. But I have to admit, the dove on the northeast corner of Sabana Park makes me smile every time I pass it. At its base are butterflies that flutter up the wings as they change into books.

There is a new casino on Avenida Central, just a few steps west of the fountain. It is rather modestly marked on the outside and has a doorman.

Curious, I went in. It didn´t take me long to come out. Dimly lit, with a cold air conditioning wind blowing, it reminded me of a cave of iniquity. It was all machines, slots, and a roulette machine that made no sense to me. I was happy to get back out to the relative warmth of the street.

I also managed to see the Oscar-winning movie “The Artist” at the Sala Garbo. It has been a while since I have been in that theater, which is comfortable and not freezing cold like some movie houses. There is also plenty of room to find exactly the right seat. The acting was fine tuned, and there is a lesson to all of us who have been replaced by technology — move on, stay relevant — or maybe just that the love of a good woman can perform miracles.

Afterwards my friends and I adjourned to the Shakespeare bar next door. It has been years since I have enjoyed sharing a bottle of wine with friends in a bar. Not years, decades. No wonder I used to enjoy it in New York.

I will be returning this weekend to the same bar, but also the Laurence Olivier theatre next door to see “The Mousetrap,”Agatha Christie’s period piece and longest running play in modern times. I read in the LTG newsletter that she is still the bestselling author in the world. I am not surprised. I recall that several of my foreign students at the International House had a copy of one of her mysteries, telling me that the books were very helpful in learning English because they were interesting, and easy to read. It also makes good sense that in its ongoing work with students of English, LTG members are giving a tutorial on “Mousetrap” and theater etiquette to students at the Centro Cultural in Sabana. The students will then attend a showing of the play. Christie is easier to understand than Shakespeare – even for native English speakers.

Years ago I was in Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians” presented by LTG. It has been years since I have been actively involved, but I am delighted to read that there will be quite a few new members, both expats and English-speaking Ticos, involved in this production. Every organization needs new blood and new talent.

Ann Antkiw directed the play. We met when I became a member almost 20 years ago. Not only is Ann a talented director, she is one terrific cook. I know because we were roommates for a time before she left to go on safari in Africa. After she returned, she became food critic for The Tico Times. Ann is a great role model of how to stay relevant with ease, grace and creativity.

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