After such exertion I was glad that our next day tour was a city tour and we would mostly ride. This ended up being exceptional because we were the only people on the tour and the tour guide said "ask anything you want" and he showed us different places apart from the tour that interested us personally like the American Embassy.
I had read that prostitution was legal in Costa Rica and asked about that...the prostitutes (men and women) have to get a medical check up weekly and they live in certain houses in the down town area. Most are from adjoining countries like Argentina.
There were beautiful building like this art museum
and this beautiful Spanish architecture building in disarray...he said there were plans to restore it.
The most interesting things to me were learning about their culture and lives and he spoke freely about that...here are some interesting things he shared. The country is by law Catholic..the President has to either be Catholic or become Catholic to be President and he may serve only one four year term in his lifetime. Right now their President is a woman and there are two Vice-Presidents. Other religions are allowed to practice their faith but the guiding principals of their laws and etc. are based on the Catholic faith.
They grow all their own food sources and do not import any foods.
Their biggest imports are autos and gasoline. They are paying 25,000 colons ($5.00) per gallon for gas right now.
$1.00 = 502.20 colons at the moment. It gives Americans an advantage in some areas but not in others.
The average monthly income is $500.00 American. They have government health care and he said it was rated very good by the U.S. insurance companies. Their water bills and electric bills are very cheap compared to U.S. and most of the people eat a stable food of meat, beans and rice and lots of fruit (wonderful fruit).
They are mostly a socialist country but do have a conservative party.
You never go anywhere without an umbrella any day any time of the year.
Here is an interesting twist....The government pays the children to go to school and make passing grades. Most families have strained incomes so the parents insist their kids go to school not only for the education but also the extra money it provides for the family. Free college is also available by testing the students and top scores get those opportunities. There is very little drugs there and no gangs. I have to admit we never saw gang looking kids anywhere and very little graffiti.
The people in general are calm and excepting of all. There are hundreds of people walking everywhere and yet they are calm and go about their business.
Not too many beggars on the streets and the city was pretty clean.
The bars on the buildings were commonplace even on their homes...the reason? There is only 10,000 police for the whole country and according to our guide they do this to do their part in not having to call on the police very often.
They preserve this building riddled with bullet holes to remind the children of the horrors of war and this monument stands tall and proud
This was during their last civil war in 1948.........
According to the traditional account, on April 11, General José María Cañas (Salvadoran) suggested that one of the soldiers advance towards the hostel with a torch and set it on fire. Some soldiers tried and failed, but finally Santamaría volunteered on the condition that, in the event of his death, someone would look after his mother. He then advanced and was mortally wounded by enemy fire. Before expiring he succeeded, however, in setting fire to the hostel, thus contributing decisively to the Costa Rican victory at Rivas.
After this war the country released all it's military. I asked him what would happen if they were attack...he first stated they wouldn't be because they have nothing other countries want...no oil.....and if it happened the U.S. and Canada would defend them. Sounds strange? Think back to Nicaragua and Ortega.
I have to tell you the most amazing thing I received from our City tour guide....Pride in his country. I don't know how many times he said "I am so proud of my country". That really got to me...I mean when was the last time you said how proud you are of your country? It is very sad that most of us Americans aren't very proud of our country as it is today. He also said that they see their country has some problems like traffic (will share about that later) and they are working on it.
The market place.................
(to be continued)