Exploring San Jose: Flags, Pirates and Stilts, Oh MY!

Jordan Dobrowski is a student at Augustana College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jordan is currently studying abroad with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Patriotic Street Vendor
Patriotic Street Vendor

When studying abroad in a country as rich and vibrant as Costa Rica, it can be tempting to use every free opportunity to take off and visit a more exotic locale. It’s as though the expansive beaches and thundering rapids beg for your travel. Nevertheless, I decided to remain near home this past weekend and get to know my host city of San Jose. How happy I am to have stayed, because how else would I have discovered my new talent? As it turns out, I’m pretty good on stilts.

A few of us students went downtown to the main street to see what all it had to offer. More interesting than the stores were the vendors in between. A bohemian man demonstrating his handmade ocarinas (a Costa Rican handheld wind instrument), two women selling toys that walk on their own, and everywhere you look flags for sale because Costa Rican Independence Day will soon arrive.

An intense game of checkers
An intense game of checkers

To our surprise we later stumbled upon an exciting festival of games, music and other activities. I’ve since learned that this program, ¡Enamorate de tu ciudad! (or “Fall in love with your city!”), happens every Saturday.

As we were playing games, a band started up and masqueraded figures of the Pink Panther, pirates, and more came out to dance. The dance then turned into a parade in which children and mothers followed the band on stick horses and whatever else that could find as a prop. Nobody was shy; I distinctly remember a woman coming up and neighing at me.

Parade through the streets of San Jose
Parade through the streets of San Jose

When we crossed to the other side of the park, we discovered several sets of stilts lying around for people to use. Children and adults alike were trying their balance at the skill, some with better luck than others. I think the worst part of it all is just mustering the courage to put both feet on and start walking. Once you get going, you just won’t want to stop. In a way, that summarizes my first week here in Costa Rica. I found it intimidating at first being immerse in a new culture and a new language, but now that I’m here, I can’t wait to see what the next four months will hold!

Author: J. Dobrowski

photographer, writer, yogi, anthropologist

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