My life in Costa Rica (Part 2)

While downtown San Jose may not be celebrated for its rich cultural and architectural heritage or historical significance, I found great joy in the capital of the country, primarily through the extensive network of friends I made during my years as a bar owner there. Despite the fact that the social scene for locals was predominantly in the suburbs of Escazu, San Pedro, and Rohrmoser, downtown San Jose attracted a tourist crowd. My bar, “El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte,” was the hotspot in San Jose, especially on Wednesdays, drawing everyone from the entertainment industry. Another favorite spot of mine was in San Antonio de Belen, outside San Jose, where I had a circle of friends who embraced the “Pura Vida” lifestyle to the fullest. I cherished the times spent with these friends in this charming Costa Rican town.

A few months after opening my bar in San Jose, I met my first wife. We settled in Escazu, witnessing the early development of fast-food chains like McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Burger King, etc., alongside the emergence of new American malls featuring international stores, marking the beginning of a new era in San Jose.

At the time, my immigration status was that of a tourist since I wasn't legally married, necessitating my departure from the country every three months. An affordable option was a three-night trip to San Andres, Colombia, for under $400, including hotel, which was more appealing than an eight-hour drive to and from Nicaragua. San Andres offered a paradise with five shades of ocean blue, pristine white beaches, and a duty-free shopping experience. It was so close to the airport that I could walk to my hotel, avoiding the need for a taxi. During one of my flights, I indulged in smoked salmon, a rarity for many "Latino" travelers who preferred the alternative grilled chicken option, making it a fortunate day for me.

After three years of cohabitation, my first wife and I married in Atenas, a typical Costa Rican village, in a ceremony attended by 150 guests. Despite the absence of my family, except for a few friends, the event was a success until a power outage ended the party early, leaving only close family and true friends to continue celebrating.

The joy of becoming a father came while I still lived in Escazu. My son, Jourdan, was born in July 1993, a healthy addition to my life in my 30s, marking a period when I was ready to settle down after enjoying my single years.

The opportunity to sell my bar came when a Quebecer, awaiting funds from his partner, proposed renting the bar for three months. Seeing no downside, I agreed, eager for new ventures. During this period, I relocated to Esterillo, near the vibrant beach town of Jaco, embracing a life of leisure with my son and friends. However, the tranquility was disrupted when I learned of a fire at my bar, caused allegedly by a disgruntled employee. Thankfully, the damage was minor, and the business was saved.

Returning to San Jose to finalize the sale of my bar, I celebrated by dancing in the streets with the sale proceeds in hand, ready for new beginnings in 1994. My next step was purchasing a home in Atenas, near my son's Tico family, in a neighborhood renowned for its climate and culinary delights, including stuffed grapefruit, Jocotes, and the famous “Chicharones” at Yayo, a bar known to every Costa Rican.

My journey continued as I received my permanent residency, marking the start of my next adventure.

Click here to read Part 3 of my story

Updated Feb 18, 2024

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