Monday, January 26, 2009

Saith Bowie: People on Streets.

I've had a couple requests for my address in Costa Rica. Well, funny that. There are no street names in San Jose, CR, the capital city of around one million people. Mmm hmm. No street names. (Lin, I see you cackling like mad. At least the iPhone GPS would be doubly useful.)

So imagine hailing a cab. You get in, and you say... I need to go 225 meters north of Central Park South and 100 meters west of the Sam Adams statue. It's a green two-story house with a white picket fence. THAT'S how you get around. Now, if your Spanish isn't too good, this prospect is terrifying, and I'll let you know how that challenge pans out when I get to it. (Which is tomorrow morning.) Also... this is how the electric and garbage companies bill you. Your address is, how shall we say?, a narrative to them. The writer in me is amused, but holy cow!! I'm amazed that it can work. There are neighborhoods, so that does narrow things down a bit, and there are a few main roads that are numbered, so that helps too. But try to imagine it... putting an ad in the paper for your business, giving directions or getting mail.

So. No address. Honestly. You can rent PO Boxes of sorts, but we don't have one, and I'm just going to live without mail for a few months.

And now the money. The phenomenon of foreign money feeling fake has been well documented. Even in France, the Euro was like play-money, and cash was pretty easy to burn through. But today I had a pizza for 6,000 dollars! Well, not dollars. Colones. And a glass of wine for 1,500! John will be so proud of the money system, because it makes me better at math... although 500 colones is $1, so it's pretty quick, yet it does still get me thinking.

But, man. A 10,000 bill ain't no thang. And that feels pretty sweet.


  1. Wait, this sounds like an grand experiment. I'm totally sending mail. You'll never see it, but it's going to confuse the hell out of some poor costa rican mailman. (Bwuahaha)

  2. Are you sure you're not in Grenada? Mom keeps asking me for the address of my house...she is not pleased with my response (which involves a lot of roof colors and a palm tree). And yet I still signed up for power and internet, and even more amazing, GOT THEM. It's interesting how some countries, in their haste to keep up with the rest of the world, add things like wireless internet, and skip things such as street signs. Sounds like your adventure is beginning!

  3. No addresses? That's just bizarre. Do people really write out a whole list of directions every time they need to address an envelope? Oh, and meters instead of feet/miles--I'm no good judge of distance even on the system I've used all my life. I think I'd be completely hopeless if I had to tell cab drivers how many meters to travel to get to my house.

  4. Hey Em! Sorry about the last comment (i.e. "Test") I was trying to set up an account so that I could leave comments on your blog and I didn't know if I did it correctly or not-- guess I did! So happy that you got to Costa Rica safely and all is well so far (besides that fact that you might be wandering the no-name streets aimlessly trying to find wherever it is you have to go!) I should make some sort of math project for my 6th graders out of your travels-- all of the currency & Metric conversions would go right along with my curriculum!

  5. I feel like I'm behind, I didn't know you'd have so much posted already! I worked the past two nights and I almost forget that time keeps passing while I'm sleeping the day away! Anyway, it sounds so interesting down there...I'm looking forward to reading about all your adventures! It's supposed to snow here tonight....again. I was thinking how you're going to have a beautiful glow for your wedding!
    p.s. I don't use AIM but I didn't know how else to post!

  6. I am determined to send mail. Mail will be sent, and it shall be received. I don't care how many times we have to do this. I have a new challenge. Unless you (or an actual Spanish speaker in this thread) corrects me, this will be my first attempt:

    Emily Barrett
    Casa de dos pisos verde / cerca de piquete blanca
    225m Norte del Central Park del sur y 100m al oeste de la estatua de Sam Adams
    San José, Costa Rica

  7. Would it be Norte del Parque Central? I'm confused about this whole south thing. I think we'll have more luck with letters Emily if you take a yard stick, a bottle of coca-cola light and spend an afternoon triangulating. No one will think you're weird. I promise.