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The Belly Of San José

San José is the capital of Costa Rica, the small Central American country.

In the center there is the Mercado Central area, a neighborhood full of life and that authenticity that we find in everyday places.

The bustle around the Mercado Central is already an interesting place to observe. The crowd of women, men, children, each with a purpose or a destination to reach and it is nice to try imagine their destination.

Like a boulder around which this river of humanity flows, there is the Mercado Central, a covered market, consisting of a cloud of alleys and streets that lead through hundreds of stalls, shops, small shops, snack bars, street vendors, who are the backbone of this pulsating organism.


It is like a small town, with its own streets, but in a dim light, even if the sun of the tropics soars outside during the hottest hours and seasons.


You get lost very easily, especially if you take the "side streets", darker and without any kind of references. If this happen you can only, literally, follow "the light", the natural one, which filters through the various side entrances of the market and reflects on the walls. 

It is immediately recognizable by the different color from the yellow-green of the neon and artificial lights inside the market.


Another way to go is ... By nose! Even smells can help you orient yourself: I remember taking one road or another, due to the smell of the fish counter or the butcher's, or the diner that was frying who knows what.

At lunchtime I decide to eat in one of these restaurants. I order fried chicken, with a mandatory "Imperial", the fresh Costa Rican beer that you can find literally everywhere.


It is an opportunity to exchange a few words with the owner and the speak focuses almost exclusively on what a Costa Rican and an Italian have most in common: coffee!

After paying the bill and making another round, I leave the city in the city (after getting lost several times before), when the morning crowd, begins to vanish and the light begins to fade.

As the famous journalist Tiziano Terzani says, every place is a mine, just let yourself go ... Get on the corner of a market and follow the thread of a skein.


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