TICO BULL — I have a new address this morning. Have had it for a few days, but I hadn’t realize it until this morning. And all without moving.
How is that so?
Very simple. in Costa Rica, we do not use the conventional street name and house number for addresses: we use reference points, the nearest landmark, then a distance from this, from that, in that direction, and finally the colour of your or your neighbour’s house or gate.
In San José, despite the erection of signs with street names, the reference point system still prevails. On the one hand, no one knows the names of the streets. On the other, the signs won’t be around for a long time. Governments in Costa Rica, be it the municipalities, the transport ministry, etc. aren’t very good at maintenance. They put up a sign, a bridge, a building and then expect it to take care of itself.
One example is the bus stops. Take a look at the signs put up by the MOPT (Transport ministry). They are all faded, some can’t even be read. Rusting away, bent over from being struck by vehicles, littered with stickers, you really have to know the bus stop because the sign is useless.
In contrast are the bus shelters, you know the glass and metal structures with seats and advertising. Being a private project, a private company erects and maintains them, money for maintenance coming from advertisers.
But I digress, back to my address.
My neighbour decided to paint the exterior of his house, which in effect changes my address. I still am the fifth house from the corner, a block west of the commercial centre, around the corner from the Mexican restaurant, on the west side of San José. Or I could a reverse, coming from a different direction.
Part of my old address was the colour of my neighbour’s house, a bright yellow. Now, that it’s a neutral colour, I have a new address. Or I should drop the use of my neigbour’s house, in any event I still have a new address. Same location, but a new address.
Many “Nortes” (what I call those from the U.S. and Canada) ask me how can I live that way, without an address? How do I get my mail? My bills? How do people find me.
Simple. One, no one gets mail anymore. Especially in Costa Rica. Two, the bills always arrive. And on time. And, third, why do I want people to find me?
OK, gotta go, have to update my address…