A night at a former prison, and it is all for the Women’s Club

In my opinion, the Children’s Museum is one of Costa Rica’s greatest architectural makeovers.  It stands high on a hill in San José and looks like a fairy tale castle.  But once it was a prison.  Today it is the venue for many cultural and social activities.  Saturday night it was the setting for the Women’s Club of Costa Rica’s big fund raiser.  The setting was impressive. You enter and walk through the long hallway which is lighted by huge scone torches of fire along the walls.  The central hall is large, with high ceilings, but surprisingly warm and intimate.

The Women’s Club was auctioning off a variety of ordinary chairs, made over by local artists into uniquely beautiful and charming creations. The money they raised will go to fund scholarships for deserving Costa Rican children so they can attend school and university.

The chairs were on display throughout the hall so bidders could get up close to them. Also on display were folders and pictures of the many gifts and certificates from Costa Rican enterprises, also to be bid upon.

Along one side of the room were tables laden with bocas prepared and being served by the people from some of the most prestigious restaurants and caterers in the Central Valley, as well as imported wine and cheese.   White clothed tables and chairs filled the center of the hall so people could relax and enjoy the food and wine and conversation with old and new friends.

Everything was donated, and private citizens also contributed to make the fundraiser a success.

The motto of the Women’s Club is “Friendship through Service.”  Over the years, thanks to

The Women’s Club of Costa Rica, women of all nationalities have become friends, and together, in the last five years alone, the Women’s Club has donated more than $250,000 to support education in Costa Rica.

At this point in my column I was interrupted by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake. Its epicenter was not far from the west coast of Costa Rica in the Pacific Ocean. I have experienced my share of earthquakes. The last two noticeable ones flooded one apartment and the other so damaged the building I was living in I had to move. A more recent one caused a large mirror in my living room to crash to the floor. So this time I raced into the living room to see if its replacement was secure. Then I rescued a bottle of Cointreau that was about to totter off the edge of my small liquor cabinet top. Everything else looked safe, so I hurried into my bedroom and crouched down beside my bed because that is what I read one should do in case the roof fell in. After about 30 seconds it was over (except, of course, for the aftershocks.)

Since then I have been watching the two political conventions in the United States. The Republicans seem to be saying that if you succeeded, you built it yourself. If you failed, the government was to blame. The Democrats are saying, we all are in this together, and that is how we will help each other make it. Part of what we do together is called “government.”

And I thought, what a brilliant idea the Costa Rican government had to turn a prison into a beautiful setting where people could gather and work together to make a success of a charitable idea, and I thought also of Sabana Park. It used to be Costa Rica’s only airport, when they built the new one in Alajuela, instead of turning this valuable city property into businesses, the government made a park for the people. Art festivals, concerts, football and exercise happen there.

This entry was posted in Friday Column. Bookmark the permalink.