After four days in the calm, peaceful, and rustic Orosi, I was all ready for San Jose. I was about to step out after a quick lunch when the gods above opened the fire hose. It came down hard. And it kept pouring for an hour. Finally, when it seemed to have eased up, I darted out with my camera in one pocket of my cargo shorts and my wallet in another.
An advantage of the hilly terrain is that once the rain stops, the water is all gone. No big puddles at all. For three hours, I walked. With a ten-minute sitting down, which is the real story. But, let me give you the long version.
I never walk around aimlessly though. I had a plan--to take in the sights and everything else and end up at the Mercado Central. I was equipped with a map. It is just that I never strictly follow the plan but I improvise along the way.
I stopped to take photos of parks, monuments, and people. What incredibly beautiful young men and women, and older men and women! I wish I could have taken photos of the beautiful women and handsome men who rushed past me.
I stopped to explore the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica. I scanned the displays and found that there would be an opera performance the following evening. A premiere at that! I got myself a cheap ticket in the nosebleed section.
A couple of minutes from there and I was in the thick of the shopping area. I saw a sign with an Indian name, Surya, and selling a whole bunch of Indian stuff including the stick-on forehead dots. Imagine that! An Indian fashion store in Costa Rica!
I resisted the temptation to walk into the store and find out whether the owner was an Indian or a Tica.
A few more minutes of walking, and now another store--this is Chandra. What the heck, right? It seemed like there was very little overlap between the merchandise in the two stores. Plus, Chandra seemed way more upscale.
Let me remind you that this was all in San Jose in Costa Rica, not in California.
A few more steps and on the other side, yep, another store with a name that could be based on an Indian one:
What is going on? Did I miss a bunch of readings on the popularity of Indian stuff in Costa Rica? Do young men and women dance to the Bollywood beats at the discos in town? Has chicken tikka masala diffused into the Costa Rican culture too?
I had to walk into this Gangas store. The women working there didn't have any distinctly recognizable Indianness in them. It was like a clothing store in India--bundles and rolls of cloth and people buying whatever they liked at lengths to suit their needs. It looked so Indian. Including this roll that said "chiffon print"
I certainly hadn't expected so much of India in the shopping area. I was even more energized with this unexpected twist. I entered Mercado Central.
The smell from the food stalls was not always pleasant. I suppose too much of authentic food smell can be overwhelming to those not used to it.
A fruit stall got my attention. As I neared it, I saw guavas. My favorite green guava. The ones that I buy when in India.
The guavas were being sliced. Then into a plastic bag, with a little bit of lime squeezed into it, and a pinch of salt.
I started drooling.
As soon as those customers moved away, I said "uno guayaba, por favor."
She said something and I told her "no Espanol."
She picked up a guava, weighed it, washed it, and sliced it. When she reached for the salt, I showed via hand gestures that I didn't want much.
After paying, I knew exactly where I wanted to sit down and enjoy the green guava that was in a plastic bag of freshly squeezed lime and salt.
I sat on a cement bench in the promenade right outside Chandra and slowly ate the guava. One small bite each time, one slice after another. For a few minutes, I lost track of the fact that I was in Costa Rica, and was transported to those magical memories of years of green guavas in India.