Getting to Know My Costa Rica Neighborhood
by Margie Davis
I have moved to my new home in the Rio Oro section of Santa Ana. I like it a lot and am glad I made the move. The bus right outside my gate is very convenient; it's an easy ride to downtown Santa Ana, Escazu and San Jose. There is a school abutting my back wall, but I'm getting somewhat used to the children's shrieks during recess and the teacher's loud chalk on the blackboard during classes.
Usually I give my address as the place with all the Christmas lights. During Christmas season, there's a light show in my yard that is famous, and people come from all over the Central Valley to see it. Juan, the main guard/gardener/honey-do/go-to guy, strings thousands of lights over all the trees and shrubs and buildings and assembles Christmas scenes and characters. This past Christmas there were electric icicles hanging from the roof above my upstairs windows. I never decorated with outside lights before, so this was new for me. A man named Arturo was hired to give escorted tours to visiting families in the evenings to see the lights.
I'm a walker, and I have been exploring my neighborhood. It's a cross between busy main street and rural and suburban living. I live on the Calle Vieja, which means Old Road. On my walk, I usually pass the parochial school (Isabel la Catolica) next door and turn down the side street, leaving the vehicle fumes and noise behind me. Walking toward me one recent morning were a cow and two calves being led by a farmer in tall rubber boots. They were right in the middle of the street! Then at the end of the side street there was a white horse eating grass. The horse's owner sat comfortably in the grass, chewing on a straw while he kept an eye on the horse. Cars, trucks and motorcycles zoomed by, but the horse and its owner and the cows seemed oblivious. I thought, this is where First World meets Third World.
I followed the road to the end, about another 500 yards, where it formed a T at the autopista, the highway. And lo and behold, I discovered there were bus stops on both sides of the autopista - one going toward San Jose and one going toward Ciudad Colon, a more rural town to the west of Santa Ana where the Universidad de Paz (University for Peace) is located. This is a unique college that the United Nations started that offers a masters degree in Media, Conflict and Peace Studies. People from all over the world go to this school, and I have met several of them this year. I was happy to find the bus stop to Ciudad Colon because I have friends living there who keep bugging me about visiting them, and until that morning on my walk, I didn't know how to get there outside of taking a taxi.
Where the side street runs into the autopista, it also turns left and I followed this frontage road until it wound down and under the autopista and came up the other side. I roamed around that neighborhood, also called Rio Oro, which is a very nice suburban area with newer houses and lots for sale. Just about everyone I passed wished me Buenos Dias, and I thought, what a friendly neighborhood I have moved into. I circled around to the autopista again, and crossed it to return to my side street and then to my home.