Our hometown (maybe)

Our plan today is to visit San Ramon. We know we love this area but we really don’t know much about the town; and, frankly, our initial experiences last October didn’t impress us much. Granted we did not spend a lot of time there then, so today is important to us.

But first, breakfast! We have our delicious drip Costa Rican coffee, fruit salad (cut up the pineapple, cantaloupe and one of the watermelons) and more herb bread. Jeff and I look all over the kitchen for one of those thingies that you use to make juice, but couldn’t find one. That will be our quest today: find a juicer thingy for our big bag of juicing oranges.

We’re off. It only takes about 10 minutes to drive into town and, since it is Saturday, we are super lucky to find a parking spot on the street by the square. The plaza is busy with lots of people sitting and chatting, there is what looks like a kind of “troop” of boys and girls in uniforms with banners on sticks – maybe a boy/girl scout troop? We cross the street from the plaza to the sidewalk and are right in front of the Museo de San Ramon (Museum of San Ramon) and hearing music we walk in. There, in the center plaza, are dancers in bright costumes. Here is a photo.

We were originally drawn to San Ramon because the University of Costa Rica is here and the town has many cultural events. Looks like we stumbled onto one. As we left the museum (we stayed just for the one dance) I saw a list of events taking place all day today…very cool.

Jeff and I are not shoppers, but if you live here and need household stuff or personal stuff like sneakers, we want to see what is or is not available…so today we’ll go into a bunch of stores. We discover an Ace Hardware type of place that has everything from books (Treasure Island, Pride and Prejudice, Don Quixote, all in Spanish), to ginormous commercial restaurant pots. I could have fit inside one! We could buy a nice stainless steel grill for just under $1,000! It is here that I ask one of the clerks to teach me “We’re just looking, thank you.” That phrase came in very handy throughout the day!

Wandering on, we go into a shoe store, a fabric store, a couple of cooking stores and dah-tah! there is a juicer thingy. We spent the $1.10 and are on our walking way again.

Juicer thingy

There seems to be an abundance of Chino (Chinese) restaurants in San Ramon. We step inside one to look at the menu…looks like Chinese food equates to chop suey with salsa! We walk by what looks like a very nice sushi restaurant. There are more fried chicken and fries restaurants or little booth-like store fronts than you can imagine.

While in town, we also want to find the public library and the rec center. Jeff has a general idea of where the public library is located from a rudimentary map we found in the car. Remember, there are no street signs (or very few) or addresses so people navigate by “it is 500 meters north of thus and such.” We get lost so I stop to ask a car watcher where the public library is. “?Donde esta la biblioteca publica?” He says, “Libros?” (Books?). Yes. He gives us directions, and I think the blank and confused looks on our faces concern him – that isn’t at all the direction we thought it was. He gets up from his stool and walks us to…a book store! We thank him very much, give him a tip, wait until he is out of sight and then go back to the plaza (easily found because of the towering church and trees) to regroup and start again. Okay, we set out retracing the route, which unfortunately leads us past the car watcher guy again (at least we are on the other side of the street) and do find the public library – which is closed on the weekend. But now we at least know where it is.

La Biblioteca publica (public library)
University of Costa Rica

Then we walk to the University of Costa Rica campus (we know where this is) and walk around there for a little bit (it is very small). Since it is Saturday there are no classes, but still many student-looking types are scurrying about. Leaving campus, we wander through a nice residential area to where the farmers market is held on Fridays and Saturdays. It has already closed for today which we expected; we’re just learning to navigate.

Now, the rec center. We walk and walk around the area we think it should be. If you had a drawing of our route it would look like concentric circles getting smaller and smaller and smaller. We’re hot and tired and my feet hurt. When in doubt, return to the plaza (main square), which we do. After sitting in the shade in the plaza for a little while, Jeff has a brilliant thought – let’s go back to the museum and surely someone there speaks some English. A great plan! Except the reception guy doesn’t speak English and my “gimnasio y piscina publica” (gym and public pool) doesn’t mean anything to him. I even mimed swimming (fun with charades) and no dice. Right then two guys came in – the reception guy was so happy to see them and no wonder. They were friends of his and spoke perfect English. We explained what we were looking for and learned it was two blocks down and three blocks over (he even knew enough not to give us directions in meters and landmarks!). It is a red building that takes up the whole block. Okay, not sure how we missed that – off we go. His directions were spot on and we had walked by this building at least three times! We thought it was a school. And, it too was closed.

Let’s see, we think we’ve done a good job of exploring and navigating. Our last stop is to find a supermercado (super market). It takes us a little while to hone in on one, mostly because everything looks familiar: was it this street or that street? Maybe it was a street over? Eventually, of course, we find one and pick up the few things you can’t get at the farmers market: paper towels, milk, coffee (which we could have gotten at the farmer’s market, but forgot), and some granola.
We carry our store purchases back to the truck, now we’re really are hot and tired but have had a very good and productive day.

Local restaurant (chicken fried Jeff!)

But our adventure isn’t over yet. As we drive home we decide to stop at the soda near Magallenes. (Magallenes is the area where we are staying.) A soda is a type of tico restaurant. They serve basic food like: rice/beans, chicken and rice, black bean soup, there are sodas EVERYWHERE and they are very reasonably priced. You don’t usually see gringos at sodas. Our soda is open air, the kitchen in the back, a small counter with 5-6 bar stools, three little tables in the front (kind of in the gravel parking lot but not really.) I order and Jeff says the young woman taking our order had the same “deer in the headlights look” that I had. hahaha! But, we did get what we ordered and it was very tasty. I had “sopa negra” – black bean soup which came with 3 freshly made corn tortillas and rice; Jeff had “pollo y arroz” – chicken and rice which came with coleslaw. Yum!

So now we have accomplished the three important things we wanted to do on this trip: investigate Atenas, explore San Ramon more fully and eat at a soda.¬†We think the town of San Ramon is a-ok. We’ll do another exploratory trip, on a weekday, to see how it is then, maybe Wednesday.

Home again we put away our groceries, and after our big lunch at the soda, Jeff takes a nap while I relax in the hammock for a while.

Pokey and Gumby relaxing in the hammock

Dinner tonight is a large salad. We’re definitely eating well.

Tomorrow we are going to get in some touristy stuff..please join us!

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