Acerca de Cartagena de Indias
For much of the 20th century, San José was predominantly an agricultural city. However, following the post-war baby boom, increasing urban migration completely transformed the capital in a few decades. Between the 1950s and 1980s, the city’s population increased exponentially, and explosive growth, abysmal architectural preservation and unregulated development transformed the elegant capital into a sprawling and unsightly metropolis.
Today, Chepe, as it’s called by Ticos, is the most cosmopolitan capital in Central America. The city is packed with office towers, shopping malls and fast-food restaurants, though booming capitalism has left a large portion of the city’s residents disenfranchised. With each passing year, the outlying tugurios (slums) become more desperate and increasingly more violent, and the city is struggling to manage the growing crime rate that is atypical of the pura vida spirit.
For most travelers, a stopover in San José is regarded as a necessary evil before heading to the ‘real’ Costa Rica. However, to josefinos, as inhabitants of San José are called, San José might not be a thing of beauty, but it is the center of it all.
A few days in San José can offer a perspective on the true face of the nation and indeed there is truth to the concept of ‘beauty on your doorstep.’ The markets are vibrant and the nightlife is as sophisticated (or debaucherous) as you want it to be. San José is home numerous museums and there are a few neighborhoods where colonial stylings still radiate. More importantly however, San José is home to over one-third of all Ticos, and the assault on the sense that is Chepe is perhaps your best opportunity for understanding modern-day Costa Rica.