The University of Iowa

Lost in San Jose

December 4th, 2014

By Maya Hendricks

The reason why I chose my study abroad city of Heredia was because it was so close to the city of San Jose and, being from Chicago, I couldn’t imagine not living within driving distance of any major city. So, when choosing a study abroad location, the proximity to a “big” city was important.

A statue by Manuel Vargas in San Jose.

San Jose is not much different than any other city I have been to, it definitely isn’t a “big” city but it does have that “hustle and bustle” that typically surrounds you in a major city. There’s an overwhelming amount of people trying to get around and people trying to sell you stuff on the street, as well as beggars and a fast food restaurant on every corner.

The taxi drivers wait in rows for their next passenger and the public buses run like clockwork. The streets are very narrow and whether the cars stop or go at stoplights really is the decision of the driver – driving laws are very loose here and pedestrians do not have the right of way. 

I went to San Jose with a group of about five friends and we all had one goal in mind: go to the hippie market. The hippie market is an outdoor market of a bunch of small shops full of decently priced souvenirs.

Now, San Jose is a small city, but somehow we managed to get big-time lost. Between the five of us, we could not seem to navigate our way through these small city blocks to find the hippie market. 

Asking stranger after stranger for directions, we simply could not seem to find our way. One person would say the market was 300 meters one way. Another would say it was 600 meters in the opposite direction.

The thing about asking people for directions here is that even if they don’t know exactly what you’re talking about or where you need to go, they will still point you in some sort of direction in order to not be “rude.” We finally were able to find our way when we asked a group of policemen to kindly point us in the direction of the hippie market. 

Upon our arrival, we noticed that the hippie market was actually about three blocks away from our bus stop. My feet hurt and I was ready to hop on a bus and go back home, but we all came to San Jose on a mission.  We all went through the hippie market spending obscene amounts of money for things for our family and friends back home.

Spices at an outdoor market in San Jose.

They might not use or appreciate them, but it’s the thought that counts, right? 

Maya Hendricks is junior from Chicago, IL majoring in interdepartmental business and Spanish at the University of Iowa. She is currently studying abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica on the USAC Heredia program.