Sightseeing in San Jose

National Museum in San Jose, Costa Rica
National Museum in San Jose, Costa RicaButterflies at the National Museum in San Jose, Costa Rica
Indigenous rock sculpture at the National Museum in San Jose, Costa Rica
Butterflies at the National Museum in San Jose, Costa Rica
View from the National Museum in San Jose, Costa Rica
View from the National Museum in San Jose, Costa Rica

The common phrase in Costa Rica is Pura Vida, offered everywhere from t-shirts to friendly greetings between friends. It roughly translates to pure life and I can see why, with such natural beauty to offer. Of course the family I was staying with laugh at any attempts to interpret the meaning of such a common phrase, but it seems apt nonetheless.

After my summer in New York I took a little trip here, to stay with Andres and meet his family.  They live in the country's capital of San Jose, in a beautiful house nestled in the mountains, and I spent the week playing tourist as they showed me the sights. Pretty much the entire country is a jungle and the area around San Jose is incredibly mountainous, meaning the views are spectacular. 

My favourite part of the city, however, was visiting the National Museum. The building is a most spectacular yellow, set in an old fortress that was once military barracks when they had an army. Now it is home to a number of archaeological treasures, but before you can unearth those germs you must wander through a Butterfly House. The mariposas were such stunning colours, and flitted across the expanse as we walked through; several times I even leapt back in surprise as one fluttered close to me. 

Inside the butterfly room I saw the great stone orbs, and was fascinated to discover that they were made my the indigenous people of Costa Rica. Historians aren't really sure what their purpose is, but the giant rocks have been found all over the country in varying sizes and I later saw many throughout the museum. They were incredibly smooth and I couldn't help but wonder what inspired such designs. 

I adored my time in San Jose. Much of it was spent meeting family members and enjoying our time together, but it was also wonderful to explore a place so different from anywhere I had been before. It was my first taste of Central America, and it definitely left me wanting more.