The city streets are not nearly as mean as some visitors claim

I was sitting on my balcony the other morning concentrating on my breathing  A bird singing somewhat frantically caught my attention, and I sang to myself:  “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta sing.  No, that’s wrong.  Birds gotta breathe.  We all have to breathe.  Some fish maybe not.”  Don’t the people in the world realize we all must breathe good air to survive – then we can fly and sing.

Obviously there is a time of the year when Ticos ignore that truth.  Willy-nilly they burn, well, I am not sure what they burn, perhaps left over crops or weeds, but the sky over Sabana Park has darkened with smoke, and the smell is so forbidding and invasive I closed all of the windows in my apartment. The only comfort was that I knew it would end soon.

I am amazed so often at how little we humans have learned in our long evolution.  Case in point:  Lately, with spring and summer on its way up north, everywhere: in print, on signs, on the radio, on TV, people and companies involved in anything related to tourism and travel are advertising their offerings or talking about tourism and traveler-related activities, whether it is building more hotels, adding new routes to cruises or touting adventures in exotic countries.

At the same time, the world governments are considering taking up arms against other countries, talking about cold war tactics, lines not to be crossed without “consequences.”  And although they are not saying much, the so-called military-industrial complex is probably breathing a sigh of relief that they are not obsolete

I wish at least one economist would tally the profitability of tourism to a country and to people and compare it with the profitability of war.  Who profits? Who loses?  What is learned? What is taught? What is built? what is destroyed? Who is hurt?

I ponder this as the civil war in Syria continues and the crisis in Ukraine grows, and Semana Santa, sometimes known as Spring Break, approaches.

I also ponder this thinking about my day zipping, or crawling around San José in taxis the other day.  My dentist is in Guadalupe, so I get the opportunity to drive around and through San José.  To get there, my taxista went via curvaceous and hilly Barrio Mexico and two outlying barrios, the names of which I was pleased to learn, but have forgotten.

After my appointment, a taxi from Guadalupe to AutoMercado downtown gave me a glimpse of the parks I love so much: the Parque Nacional, Parque España and Parque Morazán. As I stepped out of this taxi, a nice lady on the corner told me my purse was open and stood there making sure I zipped every compartment, which I dutifully did, thanking her for saving me.

The second taxista took me to the post office in the Colón building near the end of Paseo Colón, once the street of mansions.  We chatted a lot (you have time to do that if you take Avenida 1 to Paseo Colón.)  We both thought it a shame that tourists were led away from visiting the city. It’s a very interesting city besides having museums, music and the mercado, there are bustling, happy pedestrians.  This taxista complained about the heat. I loved it and told him he should move to Cartago, knowing he would reply, “I live in Cartago!”

In Costa Rica you can drive 35 kilometers and find a new climate. I would be shivering all the time in Cartago.

I was at the correo (post office) to pick up my new cédula, my old one having expired. This was my second renewal.  The last time was frustrating and time consuming.  This time it was a simple trip to the Banco de Costa Rica on Paseo Colón.  After doing the paperwork, I was given a date to pick up my cédula at the post office, so here I was, on the very date, not expecting to get it on the first try.  But the attractive lady behind the counter leafed through a small stack of envelopes . . . and found one with my name!  My lucky day.  I had to sign a couple of proper papers, so I put my bag of groceries on a handy chair behind the door. I carefully put the envelope with my new cédula in my purse and zipped it up.  I walked to the corner to hail a taxi and a nice looking taxista pulled up.  “Sabana Norte,” I said, quite pleased with myself.

We had almost reached the ICE Building when I realized my bag of groceries was not with me. It was, I hoped, on that chair.  I told the kind taxista my plight, and he kindly turned at the next street and back we went.  He waited for me as I, knowing all hope was lost, went back to the window.

The pretty brunette was busy at her typewriter. I found my bag of groceries and held it up to show her why I had come back, explaining I had forgotten it.

“¡Que milagro!” she cried.  Two customers had come in, she said, and yet my bag was still there!  A miracle, indeed.

I climbed back into the taxi, and the kind taxista congratulated me on my good luck and off we went to my apartment.  I had been through the whole city and arrived safely at home without having to dodge a crossfire. I hadn’t stepped on a mine. I had met some kind people. I had a tour of the city. My taxi arrived safely, and I had some food, which no one took away from me.  The air was clear, and the sun was shining.

The only invasion San José has to prepare for is the festival of yoga teachers, this weekend, among them some Kundalini yogis to teach controlled breathing.  Just what that little bird and I need.

In Costa Rica they know what profits a country.

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