Saturday, March 21, 2009

Museo de Arte y Diseno Contemporaneo, Parque Nacional, and a Quinceanera?

I ate lunch at the Mercado Central again. While eating the counter of a soda, a Dutch tour group came in and I struck up a conversation with their guide, Darren. He's taking the group of 10 through Costa Rica for 22 days. He told me that he takes his tour groups to this particular soda because they have the best food in the Mercado. I think the soda was Soda San Cristobal. I had a pollo de tortilla for 1900 colones (about $4.) From the Mercado, I retraced some of yesterday's steps east along the Avenida Central and then north to Parque Morazan at Calle 5 & 7 and Avenida 3 & 5. From there, I walked east on Avenida to the Museo de Arte y Diseno Contemporaneo, at Avenida 3 and Calle 17. This contemporary art museum, along with two theaters, rehearsal space, a plaza, and other exhibition space is part of the Centro Nacional De Arte y Cultura. Everything except the Museo de Arte y Diseno Contemporaneo was closed for the weekend. The Museo was founded in 1994 and houses contemporary art and audiovisual work from artists around the world in five separate galleries. The Museo is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30AM to 4:45PM. Admission is $3 for foreigners, 700 colones for nationals, and 500 colones for students.

Stepping out of the Museo, I crossed Avenida 3 to Parque National. The tall trees at this city-block sized botanical garden offers ample shade while stone benches provide seating. A small stone bridge leads deeper into the Parque and towards a plaza with a large bronze statue of several women on a stone pedestal. Bronze reliefs on the pedestal depict battles from Costa Rican history. I stopped at Parque National briefly on Thursday. Then, the park was full of people walking through, or stopping to eat their lunch. Today, the Parque was nearly deserted.

From the Parque, I moved southeast on Avenida 3. This walk took me through a gritty neighborhood where I passed shuttered businesses, ruined streets, an abandonded train yard and station, and plenty of graffiti. Avenida 3 crossed Calle 23, and I followed the latter north east. At the corner of Calle 23 and Avenida 9, I found the Church of Santa Teresita. A security guard addressed me in Spanish and I think he asked me if I was part of the ceremony. I smiled and said I didn't speak any Spanish. He didn't speak English so we laughed and I bid him goodbye. Walking past the church, I noticed a crowd parents and teenagers bearing gifts. Was it a wedding? I walked across the street and took pictures of the church's bone white exterior and its crimson dome. Then, I turned back and passed the security guard a second time. He addressed me again and this time he looked concerned. He spoke several sentences, but our language barrier was impassable. Finally, he explained his concern to a passing couple. The man told me in broken English that the security guard was wondering if I was lost or needed help. I laughed and said no, that I was just a tourist taking pictures and that I was fine. The couple walked on, and then the security guard motioned me to follow him to the assembly room next to Santa Teresita. Standing in the doorway were three Latin women dressed in Chinese costume. I motioned to my camera and they happily struck a pose. I peeked into the assembly room and there were Chinese lanterns, Chinese dragons, and Chinese characters about the room, as well as about 30 tables covered in white linen with four chairs around each table. An adolescent girl's smiling face beamed from a video screen in the back. I think I stumbled onto a quinceanera. I thanked the security guard and introduced myself. He introduced himself as Giovanni. I thanked Giovanni again and headed southwest along Calle 23, northwest along Avenida 3 to Calle 21, and then south on Calle 21 to Costa Rica Guesthouse.


  1. That's awesome, looking forward to the Sunday report. We've been enjoying the warmer weather up here, and hiking in the mountains yesterday. Find any Doner Kebabs down there?

  2. No Doner Kebabs down here (I'm disappointed, too, Gordon) but Costa Rican food is really good anyway. A typical dish is casados, which is a combination of rice, beans, salad, plantains, and chicken, beef, or fish. Yum!