Christmas ’22 at CITY MALL

The closest shopping mall to me is City Mall in Alajuela across the highway from the San Jose Airport, the largest mall in Costa Rica and second largest in Central America (Panama has a bigger one). Like all malls everywhere, everything is more expensive than at little local stores, but it is still popular, especially with the younger generations! I go two or three times a year for things I can’t get anywhere else and to see the new Christmas decorations. I went last week for my annual photo wall calendar by CR Photographer Pucci in the big and wonderful bookstore “La Librería Internacional” and some Avery Labels at Office Depot. 🙂

Christmas 2022 at CITY MALL Alajuela, Costa Rica
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Interesting Public Art in Alajuela

On 6-lane boulevard between Walmart & City Mall (mall behind trees & billboards) is this contemporary art.
A metal man pushing a red metal wheel?   Concentric Circles with philosophical meaning? 
Or just something to break up the monotony of occasional bumper to bumper traffic along here?
Alajuela, Costa Rica

I photographed this Monday after Spanish Class and my bus ride to Alajuela, picking up a package at Aeropost, taking taxi to Walmart, then walking the half mile to the City Mall for lunch and a couple of items in shopping. I usually ignore this particular public art, but somehow it struck me today. On this same boulevard past the Mall is a red letter “a” (the little A) and the word “Alajuela” under it, which reminds me of the large red letters in Juan Santamaria Park spelling out “Alajuela” and that someone is trying to coordinate at least some of their public art. Interesting!    ~Charlie


Aerial Video of Atenas
And back in Atenas, someone flew over Atenas in plane or helicopter at different times of day with video of the roof tops of central Atenas. Nothing is labeled or explained so not a very useful video, but if you want to see Atenas from the air:
I guess anyone can put something on youtube.

And in the right column on this blog page is a link to the most current Atenas PR Video I highly recommend!  

Christmas Trees in the Mall

This one has blue elves and a train!

There are more than these two trees at City Mall Alajuela, but these are a sample of how into Christmas people are here. Every store is of course decorated better than the others and people are starting to decorate their homes. Christmas is in the air and Christmas Carols playing everywhere, more in English than in Spanish! In Atenas our Christmas Art Festival is 14-16 December with the Festival of Lights Parade the evening of 16th. It’s really a big deal!

And Poinsettias grow in our yards!   🙂

¡Pura Vida Christmas!

Another Visitor from Tennessee

I like to include breakfast at La Casita del Cafe with a view to the ocean.

And we took the tour of El Toledo Coffee Farm, the only two on the tour!
We then ate Sunday dinner with his family and really enjoyed that as much!
That is John Rasbury on left from Williamson County, Tennessee.
Gabriel is the oldest son of the coffee farmer and does the tours now. My friend.

I also took John to Zoo Ave, City Mall, La Garita plant nurseries,
house hunting (his main goal), and lots of restaurants!  🙂  4 days here.

I did not know John from my many years living in Nashville but met him on the Chris Howard Relocation or Living in Costa Rica Tour in 2014. We have kept in touch since. He is not able to retire yet, but plans to come here when he does and is starting to invest in rental property here for his future income. Like Reagan, his favorite place was sitting on my terrace.

This is the main reason I went a week without posting anything on the blog, just too busy! Muy ocupado!  And I am very tired! Even took a little nap yesterday afternoon, which is rare for me! And I have my Visa renewal trip to Nicaragua Tuesday-Thursday, a birthday party at my house Sunday week, and CAJA application appointment July 8. So not slowing down much yet. But I will. 

Bus to Alajuela Today

Catedral de Alajuela seen from
Juan Santamaria Park

Even though I have rental car, I really don’t like to drive in the big cities and wanted Reagan to experience how I get to town and walk around in the old, simple city of Alajuela – more crowded and dirty than Atenas and with more old buildings. So we rode bus to town where we walked and took taxis to and from the mall. He did not particularly like it until we got to the modern City Mall

Juan Santamaria Statue
Alajuela, Costa Rica

Main entrance to City Mall, Alajuela, Costa Rica

Reagan in the City Mall Food Court
Where he finally got to eat at McDonald’s!

Follow Reagan’s Blog for his view of his visit here!

VIP Star Wars in Costa Rica!

 A STAR WARS Christmas Present . . .

Me and Jason with BB-8 at theater.

One of my Spanish language helpers, Jason Quesada in Atenas, has so far not accepted payment by the hour, just lunches, etc. So for his Christmas gift, regalo de Navidad, I took him with me by bus to Alajuela to see his first ever Star Wars movie. Hard to imagine not having the background of 6 previous movies, but he enjoyed it and I guess the plot kind of stands alone with me giving him a little background on who some of the characters are and a little of what happened in the past.

The new theater is nicer than any I have been to in the States! I bought our tickets electronically with a credit card at kiosk out front not knowing what “Premier” meant, but I chose it because the sound tract was in English with Spanish subtitles. I’m not yet ready for the one with Spanish voices dubbed in.

Well we were both shocked! When we gave the ticket taker our tickets he did not point or give directions to our theater but personally escorted us to the Premier door and introduced us to a hostess.

We entered the VIP private lounge area with restaurant as well as usual movie snacks and luxurious seats around little tables and a bar with bar stools. We were given a menu with a great selection including alcoholic drinks and told we could take the menu to our seats and they would come take our order. Shucks! We had already gotten popcorn and cokes at the regular people snack stand in main lobby. So we decided we might eat lunch in the lounge after the movie.

Then our hostess led us up a short flight of stairs to the Premier Balcony with giant lounge chairs with electronic controls to lift the foot rest or lean back and a little fold out table for food in addition to the built-in drink holder. Wide aisles and lots of space for the recliners! She checked on us twice during the movie to see if we needed anything. Wow! I can’t wait to go back and order from my seat or eat lunch during a movie! But lunch in the lounge after the movie was great too! This is livin!

One little corner of the mall just outside the theater with one of about 6 3-story Christmas Trees. No shopping for me today.
They have finished widening the street out front which helps traffic! The snow park is open outside and
an amusement park is on the roof with a giant Ferris Wheel seen as you drive up. Amazing!
It is the largest mall in Costa Rica and second largest in Central America. (One in Panama a tad larger.)
On the bus ride home I told Jason I really meant to get all 6 of the previous Star Wars movies and watch before seeing this latest sequel. But Netflix does not have and the down-streaming ones on are $16 each (if you order all 6) plus their site said they would not work on my browser if I understood the crazy information right. So I gave up. Jason asked, “Did you try our video store across from the ball fields?” I hadn’t, so we walked by it on our way home from the bus station.  This young man has everything! He had all 6 at about the equivalent of $1.15 each but it would be a few minutes because he had to make copies of number 5 & 6. We waited and I expect to enjoy on my computer the whole Star War series now! Legal? Well. . . just a friend giving me a copy of his DVD.  🙂  Reminds me of the video stores in The Gambia! And we will see what the quality is like.

See also Christianity Today’s online article titled: Why We Get Religious About ‘Star Wars’

Visited New Mall Yesterday

While on business in Alajuela yesterday, I met a Tico friend there and we looked around the new mall. Some photos:

They claim it is 80% finished or maybe occupied, but did not look it to me.

You cannot drive up to front entrance yet because road is not finished! 
The entrance road coming soon!?
The street in front is bumper to bumper cars!
But they are widening it, in time. 🙂

Some Chinese tourists get photos
in front of one of many Christmas trees!

Once I got past this entrance tree I somehow forgot to make any more photos. So I will show the inside the mall another time! It is very large with stores for about anything you could possibly want. The prices were not as bad as I expected, but still expensive. The food court is large and has a good variety, but my friend wanted Taco Bell, so we did! (Somehow it seems wrong eating American Fast Food in another country!) But it was good, even though they serve french fries with every combo! ???

Today, Friday, I spent 4 hours from 7-11 at the Feria (Farmers’ Market) trying to get people to take an angel from our Su Espacio Angel Tree. We gave out 24 and still have nearly 50 left with only one week left to get sponsors. David thinks they will go fast this week. If some are not taken, we have plenty of money to buy gifts for them, BUT someone has to go shopping for them! We’ll see what happens. I may get another job. 

Monstrous Mall Opens Today!

See Living in Costa Rica’s new Blog Article on the Mall

In addition to theater, gym, and 1,600 seat food court, it will have an amusement park with snow-sledding!
The man-made snow will be the first snow some Tico kids will ever see!
350+ stores, 2,000 parking spaces and all just 45 minutes from me on a bus.
Unfortunately it will be expensive and focused on rich people. But us poor like to go see these places!

This afternoon (Tuesday) I went to Walmart in Alajuela and on my way back to the bus station my taxi drove by the above mall that opens tomorrow (Wednesday, 11/11). Traffic was terrible and it isn’t even open yet! The road in front is being widened but of course they are not finished with the road yet (sounds like the states). My driver said there is a big fiesta planned for the grand opening tomorrow. I enjoyed his characterization of the mall as “Gringo Landia” or Gringo Land. You can be sure the gringos here will certainly support the place! At least the rich ones, which is a bunch! And just in time for Christmas!

Shopping at any level is a bit of therapy for my medulla oblongata.
~Theophilus London


Celebrating Atenas’ Patron Saint

In October every year Atenas Catholics celebrate the city’s Patron Saint
San Rafael Arcángel or Saint Rafael the Archangel (link gives details)
It began Friday night with dancing and the carnival on church lawn below
and continues through Mass on 25 October. I hope I haven’t already missed
the masquerade dance which is usually part of it. Last night was just carnival.
I’m guessing next Friday and Saturday nights will be bigger, especially 24th.

Lots of food booths and kiddie rides like these little cars on street by church

Tilt-a-whirl and Ferris-wheel of course for older kids & trampoline for smaller

algodón de azúcar or Cotton Candy at most fiestas
along with many kinds of pastries including meat-filled

And of course a merry-go-round with cute horses is necessary!
Everything here is very family-oriented, conservative and inexpensive.

You guys at First Baptist Nashville can just think of this as their version of your “Fall Festival” for the children. It just lasts longer here! I don’t often go downtown at night much, but hope to go again and maybe catch the masquerade dance, probably next Friday or Saturday night.

  1. X-RAYS EVALUATED by my doctor indicate I have twin babies, Dr. Candy joked with me, baby bone spurs on each heel. For now she has prescribed a pill to take as needed and soak the sore foot (my right one now) in ice water to relieve the pain. If it gets worse she will send me to a specialist who will give an injection in the heel that sometimes helps. Last resort is surgery, a long way down the path if ever for me. 
  2. RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW in my house again the other day. Before I got him chased out (waving a towel) he pooped several times on floor and once on my bed’s blanket (time to wash anyway). Funny thing is the same day I got an email from Bonnie Meriwether suggesting I get a screen door. I’m considering that if the landlord approves, although this is still a rare thing and the insects and lizards cannot be kept out. My sliding glass door does have sliding screens which I close at dark, but usually leave open in day since I twice walked through those screens. An open house is just the way it is done here by everyone.
  3. HABLO ESPAÑOL MAS AHORA (I speak Spanish more now) but still a long way from fluent or even good conversations. It is very slow learning for me and part of the reason is I live alone and don’t socialize enough with Spanish-speakers. I always try to talk about the weather or traffic with taxi drivers in Spanish, order in Spanish in restaurants, and communicate somewhat in other businesses and the bank. Of course the Spanish Class is Spanish-only now and a friend from it will spend time with me “practicing” when I request or schedule, like the time I had him over for pizza.  Poco a poco (slowly, slowy).
  4. MORE RAIN THIS WEEK like it is suppose to be in “Rainy Season” with even more than last week getting rain every afternoon and most nights which is really nice for sleep! Old timers say there is no way to get enough rain to make up for the dry winter and dry season starts in November or December. 
  5. My taxi in Alajuela drove by the new CITY MALL under construction and scheduled to open
    Architect’s Drawing of Main Entrance
    A 45 minute bus ride away for me.

    in November, the largest mall in Costa Rica and 2nd largest in Central America! And Alajuela is already where I go to shop, so I’m ready! While my rich friends drive to San Jose or Escazu shopping where it is more difficult for me on the bus. City Mall already has a Facebook Page, You Tube Videos,  and a bunch of pictures plus lots of articles online and in local papers and magazines. It will have a parking garage for 2,600 cars and is the largest mall ever built in Central America in one stage. Panama has one that was later enlarged that is now larger. Our current largest mall is in the Escazu area of San Jose and will really have a lot of competition now. Alajuela is closer to me and easier to get to by bus than San Jose, so I’m glad, though . . . I am really not a mall shopper where everything is more expensive and even more so here. But I may go to their cinema! 🙂  Or to look for a hard-to-find item. Or to eat in one of their restaurants! 

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.~Mahatma Gandhi