You never can really tell how a new city is going to feel, much less a new country. I don’t know exactly how to phrase it, but I’ve always felt that there is a personality imbibed in each city. Somehow the people who have shaped the skyline, altered the land and lived out their lives here have given some part of themselves to it. Their collective experiences have given life to the city.
San Jose has a distinct personality. It is an oxymoron: constantly challenging itself and existing in a conflicting state. It is vibrant and alive and colorful. It is also weathered and withering and dull. The people achieve a delicate balance between being in a frantic rush and knowing that they have all the time in the world. The air shifts from sewage to roses at the change of a breeze. The people smile while yelling in angry voices.
I’ve only spent a day walking its streets, but San Jose has made me feel every emotion in the book. From near death by motorcycle to a quiet moment enjoying gelato to dodging flying pieces of vegetables in the Mercado Central, I have experienced this city. I think it is a place you could come to enjoy as you grow to know it.
San Jose is the cantankerous older gentlemen at the coffee shop dutifully reading his paper and sipping his espresso while lecturing those around him about how it used to be and throwing vaguely insulting comments out to those in earshot. He may not be welcoming at first, but once you’ve talked to him for a while you see him for his stories, the life he has led and the lessons he can teach.
I think in time the lessons San Jose has taught me will solidify into concrete ideas. For now, I walk away with the intimate knowledge that I was not made for the big city streets. At least not these city streets.