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San Jose
Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Hey, You Look Just Like A Fat Woman

It’s the holidays, and that means that San Jose’s streets are absolutely teeming with shoppers, gawkers, hustlers, helpers, and all in between. On the Avenida Central a couple of days ago, I spied this curly-haired fellow strumming his guitar. Once he started playing a Christmas tune some people turned their heads, but these other two gentlemen got up close and joined in. When the song was done, they parted ways.

La Chola, to the right, and her lookalike.
La Chola, to the right, and her lookalike.

Just down the avenue, La Chola (loosely translated as The Countrywoman), a work by Costa Rican artist Manuel Vargas, pays homage to the hardworking women of Costa Rica’s rural regions. As I was snapping a photo of her, the fellow on the left walked by. Two women behind me happily – and loudly – exclaimed, “He looks just like her!”

Instead of taking it as an insult, the Chola double said “I wish my body were as firm as hers!” We all had a laugh, and then went on our way.

These little bursts of humor, art, and effervescence are what make walking just about anywhere in Costa Rica an adventure. There is an overwhelmingly positive public attitude, and interactions like these not only make trudging through the crowded streets tolerable, but interesting.

If you spend any time in San Jose, try to get out and walk around. Grab a seat in one of the city’s many public spaces, and watch the theater of daily life in the big city unfold.

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