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Calle de las Artesanías, Moravia
Downtown San Jose
Everyday urban landscapes
Hydroelectric dams
Other interesting stuff
Emergency vehicles

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Calle de las Artesanías- Moravia

A touristy detail I suppose. Moravia is famous most of all for this particular street, where there's a large number of souvenir shops offering anything from carved wooden ornaments to rocking chairs and hammocks. Nice if you're looking for something to send the folks back home.


Downtown San Jose

These three are a panoramic view of the downtown area. Among the larger buildings are the Banco Nacional building, the new Mercedes Tower office building and in the last one Centro Colón and the church in Barrio México.

Street in the downtown area near the Morazán park. In the background is the Aurola Holiday Inn building.
The downtown area and it's 2 lane streets... real fun to drive on at rush hour.
The pacific train station on the downtown area's south side. Trains became obsolete in Costa Rica due to lack of maintenance and upgrades several decades ago. Passenger railroads were shut down about 5 years ago and the station is now abandoned.
La Sabana, San Jose's largest park. Initially this was Costa Rica's international airport, but as the city grew the airport was moved to Alajuela, where it's currently located.
Contraloría General de la República. This is where the State inspectors keep track of government spending and make sure money is well spent, well, they try to at least.
Paseo Colón, San Jose's primary transit route. It runs until the San Juan de Dios Hospital, and there becomes the Central Avenue, although some consider is turns right and becomes Second Avenue. Either one is valid I suppose.
The Mercedes Office buildling, one of San Jose's newest office building and I suppose the only "smart" buildling around. Inside it houses a Mercedes Benz dealership, offices for Alltalla, and dozens of smaller commercial and administrative offices.
The Mercedes Office buildling, seen from Paseo Colon.
Central Park.
The National Theater (Teatro Nacional) is probably one of the downtown sites most visited by tourists. It was structurally wrecked by the Limón earthquake in 1991, but later salvaged and reinforced to withstand future quakes.
Think driving where you live is nerve wrecking? Try the downtown area at rush hour.


Urban landscape

What the normal everyday city looks like.

The Outlet Mall in San Pedro. San Pedro's second largest mall after the Mall San Pedro. A large part of the building structure is made up of styrofoam panels sprayed with concrete, which leaves engineers endlessly debating about how well it will respond to seismic shockwaves.
An interesting contrast between the old and new city. In the foreground the church at San Pedro, basically a block of monolithic concrete, and in the back the Outlet Mall, basically a block of concrete covered styrofoam.
A closer view of the church at San Pedro.
The University of Costa Rica is one of San Pedro's urban bubbles. In the middle of the concrete and pollution, the UCR incorporates trees, controlled traffic and large green areas. In the photo the Engineering Faculty.
Another picture of the UCR. The green building is a library, and the orange one houses humanitarian departments such as history, geography, etc.
Mostly every city and suburb has a park somewhere, which is many times used as a waypoint. This one's located in downtown Heredia.
The church in Heredia's central park.
Many parts of the city preserve their original architecture, sometimes due to municipal restrictions, others due to simple owner preference. Traditional architecture merges with modern commerce to form... well... some strange hybrid I guess.
Adobe is a technical name for mud bricks. Bahareque is something similar to reinforced concrete, only that it uses wooden sticks and mud. Both types of construction are banned by codes due to seismic instability, however many traditional mud structures still stand in cities like Heredia.
A close up of the construction technique. This type of construction would eventually fall apart during earthquakes. The problem wasn't really the mud falling off the walls, but the fact that the roof was usually clay shingle, which is extremely heavy and something you don't want to be underneath if the supporting walls fail.


Hydroelectric dams and stuff

In Costa Rica it rains a lot: to give you an idea of how much water we get, there's places that receive as much as 8000 mm per year. That means you could fill up a swimming pool a couple of Km. square and 8 meters deep. The large amounts of rain mean large, full flowing rivers, which can be used to generate electricity through hydroelectric dams. Hydro dams are some of the most interesting and massive structures built in Costa Rica to date, and account for the vast majority of the country's power supply.

Cleaning out the Cachi hydro complex. A collection of photos of the dam that show just how much power the thing can put out with the push of a button.
The Angostura hydro complex. This is one of the ICE's largest hydroelectric plants. It generates 110 MW of air pollution free electric power.


Other interesting photos

Other interesting stuff I've photographed.

You might live in the city, but that doesn't mean you can't find interesting wildlife. Found this thing crawling across my living room one afternoon.
Cachí is another of the ICE's hydroelectric plants. It can generate 64 MW of power. The artificial lake generated by the dam extends several Km back along the river, and has prompted many restaurants and tourist related attractions to set up nearby.
An imitation of a precolonial sphere. These were made way before the hispanics arrived and the originals are currently kept in museums and some state buildings. It's still unknown how something so massive was given that perfectly rounded shape: the imitations are obviously cast round in concrete and smoothed out, but the originals are solid rock, were made in a time when concrete didn't exist and by people who hadn't begun to imagine what a power tool was.
A traditional oxcart. These are kept mainly as decorative relics, and are still manufactured and sold in Sarchí. Each oxcart is hand painted, and no two ever come out alike.


Lights & Sirens

What can I say, nothing like crossing town priority 1 in 5 minutes flat... <grin>.

One of the more nicely equipped Red Cross ambulances. These serve the downtown area primarily.
One of the older transit police units, but nicely refurbished. Abundant in suburbs and rural areas.
Public Force mobile officers. Yes that's a rotating light they have on the back of the motorcycle, and yes, that's a submachine gun they carry next to their sidearm. Guy in the photo wasn't in trouble BTW.
Public Force squad car. These used to be white, and still are in some parts, but recently they've been switched to blue.
Public Force personnel mover. Actually just a regular pickup truck, but hey, it'll move at least 6 officers in the trunk to where you need 'em.
Fire department rescue unit. Fire departments are funded by the National Insurance Institute (INS) and normally outdo the Red Cross in response speed, equipment quality and organization.
One of the INS funded fire trucks. These are present at most fire stations and handle most metro calls.
Fire department HAZMAT unit.


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