I have been a bit surprised by the chill in the air while we have been in San Jose. Even though the weather network tells me it is +25C here, it feels more like about 15C with the wind and lack of sun. I have been wearing a light jacket or sweater since we arrived. Today, we are finally seeing a bit of blue sky! (not complaining though - this is still much better than wearing winter coats, gloves and boots)
Today has been a quiet day. We were up early but not as early as yesterday. We packed up, ate breakfast at the buffet at our hotel before heading out for a small site seeing outing.
The breakfast included with the hotel was very good. It is buffet style with the typical scrambled eggs, breads and cereal but there is also the traditional Costa Rican Gallo Pinto (beans and rice) and we have also had breakfast sausage prepared Costa Rican style and today we had a pulled chicken dish with a tomato based sauce and pastry wrapped cheese. It was delicious! And of course the fresh fruit is amazing - watermelon, pineapple, papaya and banana - all fresh and so juicy and tasty.
We planned on visiting the Gold Museum this morning - it sounded interesting featuring Pre-Columbian gold items. It didn't open until 9:30 so we took a walk to Morazan Park not far from our hotel. The location of our hotel has been excellent for exploring the city (although two days was definitely long enough in that location). At the park, a gentleman introduced himself to us obviously recognizing the tourist in us (I guess the camera and white skin gave it away). He told us about a zoo that was not far away so we changed our plans and went there instead. Before leaving the park, a Costa Rican park maintenance worker showed us a number of interesting things in the park. He couldn't speak English so he communicated through pointing. We saw many things we would not have otherwise - a paperbark tree, orchids in the trees, nuts fallen from the trees - all amazing!
The zoo was another two and a half blocks from the park so about 4 - 5 blocks from the hotel. I had read about the zoo in my research and although I love going to zoos I hadn't considered it on this trip as I thought it was further away than it really was. I was also a bit hesitant as I had read it was a bit run down although recently there had been improvements made. As much as I love animals and seeing them, I don't enjoy it when they are in small cages and looking distressed.
This is a map of the downtown area of San Jose. We covered a lot of this area by foot along Avenida Central and a block or two each way.
The zoo - officially known as Zoológico Simón Bolívar - contains a small variety of animals such as Jaguar, Lion, Racoon, Tapir, Spider Monkey, White Faced Monkey, Ocelot, Alligator, Turtle, Toucan, Scarlet Macaw, Green Macaw, to name a few. Some of the containment pens allowed the animals to roam and play and some were too small for my liking. The lion, for example, did not have a lot of room to roam and he was on his own with no mate. I always feel bad for animals that do not have a partner with them - how lonely would that be confined in a cell with no one with you to keep you company. Sounds a bit like prison to me....
Here are a few photos from our visit:
We are now checked into the Barcelo Palacio - the first hotel on our tour. It is a nice hotel closer to the airport than to the downtown area of San Jose. It has more property than the downtown hotels and has nice gardens on the grounds and an outdoor resort type pool. Unfortunately it isn't warm enough to be lounging around the pool... Tonight we have a briefing and the tour begins in earnest tomorrow. Looking forward to our next adventure!