I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that “Chola al viento,” by Manuel Vargas, is my favorite piece of Costa Rican art. The good news is it’s very easy to see her when you visit San Jose: she presides over the entrance to the city center from the west. (Her sister, the older and more famous “La Chola,” stands near the Central Bank offices further east on the same boulevard.)
This has been a hard week, and this statue, who stands so resolutely at one end of the city’s main pedestrian boulevard, is my inspiration today. She is surrounded at almost all hours of the day or night by a pulsing sea of people behind her and a herd of cars in front of her. Nothing can deter her or rob her of her peace. Just take a look: both this image and the featured image are from La Nación.
The way she is standing, with her chest thrust forward, reminds me of the saying “A lo hecho, pecho.” My husband says it all the time. It’s like “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” but it works so much better: the next time you need to hear this in your life, say this to yourself and push your chest out with pride. Literally, it’s “To what’s done, chest.” I think it means to move onward, but also to hold your head up high, put your shoulders back, brush them off and carry on.
At least, that’s what I take from it today. An that’s the message I get every single time I look at “Chola al viento.” Thank you, don Manuel, for putting this serene and badass woman at the heart of our city.