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ESCAZU

COSTA RICA

ESCAZU

I want to tell you about a strange little place we discovered yesterday… They have named it Escazu, a suburb of San José, about 10 minutes by bus out of the filthy city center. We were heading there for lunch and got so much more.

Chicken tender.
Chicken tender.

First of all, we ate our first proper local meal, Pollo en la legna (chicken grilled over burning wood,) and even though it all looked like KFC to me, Gina and the kids tell me it was delicious, especially with giant Platanos on the side.

Porn.
Porn.

We then took a walk through the village…

Mami!
Mami!

…encountering beautiful things…

I love my saturation tool but this  house was actually this bright pink.
I love my saturation tool but this house was actually this bright pink.

…and incredible views looking up the mountains where the clouds seem to swallow the tops. Just beautiful.

Mordor.
Mordor.

But then, thankfully, we looked down and found the holy grail, a bakery…

Can you smell it?
Can you smell it?

La Casita Del Pan, managed by Juan and his wife Jennifer (yeah, we got close pretty quickly because bread and pies) was a haven of unexpectedly well-crafted goodness in a part of the country we had assumed was mostly devoid of it (see previous culinary experience) but here we were, gnawing the ends of baguettes as if this were morning time in Paris.

Almost as good as home.
Almost as good as home.

I was so happy to find an old-fashioned place catering to the gourmands among us and cared for by people who know what they are doing that I splurged on a Torta Chilena, a probably 1000-calorie layered bomb of Dulce de Leche goodness that I would recommend to everyone on their way up the mountain for some well-needed slow sugars.

Hmmm...
Hmmm…

Then, Juan and Jennifer drove us (I told you we were tight) to Avenida Escazu, the scariest place I’ve been in Costa Rica so far…

Echoes of Stepford...
Echoes of Stepford…

A 10 minutes drive from the have-nothings in San José was built, from scratch, this veritable small town for the have-everythings and it was not cute, not charming, not comfortable. With gates on all sides and security guards everywhere on Segways, it is obvious the haves were not going to let the undesirables into their shops, their impeccable sidewalks, their restaurants… It was rather disturbing and disgusting.

We felt watched in this gated community for the rich.
We felt watched in this gated community for the rich.

With completely empty stores whose shelves were impeccably arranged and full, it was as if nobody ever shopped there, like a model small town, a Latin American Westworld for a grand marketing experiment. Yet there are condos and people seem to live there!

Not cool.
Not cool.

After walking back through a weirdo street lined with mansions hiding behind electrified barbed wire, we took the bus home, glad to be out of this dystopian nightmare, remembering for all time the best little bakery in all of south America, for now…

Phew...
Phew…
2 Comments Leave a reply

  1. daisy A.
    Permalink to comment#

    Do not judge, unless you had lived in a major drug traffic corridor. In Central America their geography has imprisoned them.
    The “have-everything” are afraid of kidnapping, crime, black mail, hostage taking.
    Costa Rica is not equipped to fight the “power of Stealth” of the Mexican Cartels, as drugs trafficking have moved from the caribbean to C.A.
    Homes are not barbed wire just to keep away the poor , but the harmful and undesirable.

    Reply
    • stefan
      stefan
      Permalink to comment#

      What I find disturbing is that the systematic solution is always protection against the consequences of the problem which, in turn, gives people on BOTH sides of that fence a false sense of self. The people inside slowly start to define themselves as “exclusive” and eventually “superior” and those outside increasingly want to wipe that grin off their faces. Building a town “just for us” is, in my opinion, sidestepping the issue, not addressing it, and has little to do with the drug traffic corridor, shielding from which is absolutely understandable. A Barbie store unreachable by 99.9% of the local population is not exactly “defense”, especially as we, in general, don’t bother distinguishing between the poor and the harmful. Or maybe it is, now that I think about it…

      I still believe we humans have much to learn from each other, even to the detriment of some of us, myself included, and sectioning ourselves off will only retard an already slow process.

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