Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Typical Tico Neighborhood

We ended a recent trip to Costa Rica walking the neighborhood near our hotel in Santo Domingo de Heredia, about 15 minutes north of San Jose, the capital city.  Most of the population of Costa Rica lives in an around San Jose in the Central Valley, which is surrounded by mountains. Water flows out of the mountains down into the valley, which is a major reason why most settlement occurred in this region. The suburbs outside of San Jose tend to be more desirable than San Jose itself -- they are less crowded and have less crime, though overall Costa Rica is probably the most stable and safe country in Central America.  

After riding around in a small bus for 12 days, visiting private preserves, gardens, farms, and national parks (all worthwhile mind you), it was nice to walk at our leisure and have a more intimate view of Tico homes.

Mid-century modern flair 
Immediately around the hotel is a pleasant residential area of well kept homes.  The architecture ranges from modest one-story bungalows to larger older homes with Spanish, even Victorian, flourishes, as well as a few more modern styles.  Several houses reminded  me of ones you'd see in New Orleans or older parts of Florida.  And just about everyone has a gate, wall, or fencing of some sort that separates them from the street, and decorative, sometimes elaborate, window grates.  It's debatable whether these barriers are for security or status, perhaps both.  We certainly felt perfectly safe as we walked.

Clever green wall hangings

The local super market

Quite a few locals are avid runners and walkers

Recognizable in many Tico front gardens are things we grow as house plants or tender perennials, such as these Dracenas, but they often get much bigger, like the Croton street tree you'll see below or shrubby Lantanas, which are often used as foundation plantings.

These two women sitting on their front porch are smack up against the sidewalk.  And despite the bars of the fence they were very happy to have their picture taken, quickly sitting up straighter and smiling.  Ticos are generally warm, friendly people.

The razor wire above the small orange wall is sort of amusing.  Why would anyone be concerned about someone jumping this wall when they can just walk around it?

That's a Pointsettia growing at the corner of the house 

This little guy brought out the whole team when I stuck my hand through the gate to photograph.  See below

The Croton tree

The local nursery

This handsome dog is sitting among the cuttings from the evergreen above him where his owner (I presume) is standing on a tall orchard ladder pruning his juniper with a machete.  Machetes seem to be common tools among gardeners and farm workers.  I was surprised how perfectly even the result was for such a big blade.

This woman was gathering up some cuttings to take home.  And I saw another woman walking her dog with a bag full; once I came upon the pruner I realized where they came from.  They smell good.  I guess they might use them in an arrangement or to perfume the house?  It was January, so past the time for Christmas decorating when Ticos use conifer cuttings as we do in North America.

This house had what I assume is some sort of water tank or cistern
A municipal building with an Art Deco flair

Tending to the plants in an alley

A nice purple-leaved Clerodendron in this front garden

We saw so many fabulous big Agaves throughout our trip
This tree is some sort of white-flowered Euphorbia.  And Bougainvillea is everywhere
All these photos were taken with my cell phone, which seems to default to a very shallow depth of field so many photos are fuzzy.  Maybe that's because I'm always hitting the screen to engage the focus?  I need to learn how to improve the phone photo quality.