San Jose Costa Rica boasts great hotels, a friendly population, and plenty of historic Costa Rican culture, but finding a San Jose address can be challenging for first time visitors. San Jose does not follow the same address conventions that are standard in the U.S., Canada, and most European nations.
Like so many other aspects of San Jose Costa Rica, San Jose addresses are creative and unique. Even so, a little advance knowledge about San Jose Costa Rica’s address system will have the most naïve newcomer tooling around town successfully in no time.
Many major buildings in downtown San Jose Costa Rica do have numbered addresses, just like most other parts of the world, but these numbered addresses are rarely if ever used. Instead, a San Jose address is given as a set of coordinates such as “Calle 3 between avenidas Central and 1.”
Armed with this general information it is then up to the intrepid traveler to locate the building in question within that stretch of real estate. Keep in mind that your destination could be positioned on either side of the block. If you are walking the city, this means that you will be getting plenty of exercise until San Jose Costa Rica becomes more familiar and natural.
Some addresses contain additional information, such as the number of meters or varas from a given intersection or landmark. (The vara is a Spanish measurement similar to a yard.) Often the landmarks are simply local bars or sodas, however, which can get confusing for tourists unfamiliar with the city,
If that isn’t enough confusion for you, consider that you’ll also have to contend with the fact that many of the most familiar landmarks cited no longer exist, but the locals continue to use them anyway when giving building addresses.
A prime example of the nonexistent landmark phenomenon is “the Coca Cola.” “The Coca Cola” is used in many San Jose Costa Rica addresses, and refers to a Coca Cola factory that is long gone. A bus depot stands where it once existed, but because using “the Coca Cola” became such a familiar part of various address descriptions, it continues to be used today.
Several baffling San Jose addresses take the “antiguo higueron” as a landmark. This phrase translates as “the old fig tree,” and refers to an old tree in San Pedro that was cut down many years ago.
Happily, San Jose natives and San Jose cab drivers are used to this eccentric system, and with a little practice, you will get used to it too.
If you are wondering how the mail ever gets delivered in San Jose Costa Rica, you need only understand three magic words: post office box! Most San Jose residents rent one, which is called an apardado, and is abbreviated apdo or A.P. in their San Jose address.