In case you were worried, I went to check for you: Barrio Escalante is still here.
The eastern San José neighborhood that constitutes Costa Rica’s hipster capital is quieter and very masked than usual (I can’t resist giving Saúl some product placement here, because – well, who can resist a masked zebra?). But man, it feels good to stretch your legs on those sidewalks. It feels good to buy something, ever so carefully, thinking to yourself, “We’re OUT in the WORLD!” In my case, it was a pastry at Franco and a bar of Sibú Chocolate and a few books at the Librería Francesa, which looks out onto an empty, closed-off Parque Francia. I cast plenty of wistful gazes at the mostly-empty restaurants.
The small businesses of Escalante, like others around the country, are hanging in there and waiting for us. Whenever we can get there. They hope it’s soon.
I’m lucky to have been able to work from home – so, so lucky – but boy, have I missed chepeando, that perfect word that describes the experience of being out and about in San José. It’s a troubled city, but with so many hidden marvels, all of them best experienced on foot.
I hope we’re never separated from it for quite this long again.
I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; learn how to join my Overwhelmed Writers’ League, every Saturday at 1 pm EST; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! To learn more about how to support Costa Rica during the crisis, visit my COVID-19 section – or for ways to enjoy Costa Rica from afar, visit Virtual Costa Rica.