Sunday is the best day to travel inland to downtown San Jose from a traffic perspective according to our host Steve. After consulting Google Maps for directions we headed out, however when we got to San Jose our directions were rendered useless because we had written down street names instead of numbers for our turns but only the numbers are readable from a distance. After about 30 minutes of circling the downtown core we were back where we started at the entrance of the city. Pulling over to check a map and knowing that only street numbers will do, we drove straight to the Museum without troubles, including re-tracing our steps most of the way. From now on when we are going to an attraction we will lookup a few pictures of the building before we leave.
Found a parking lot and then because it was later, got lunch at an Asian restaurant call Tin Jo. The restaurant is divided into several different areas, all with there own themes. We ended up in the “cave room” which is a massive room with super high ceilings. Out from two corners of the room two giant “rock” formations cover about a 1/5 of the room. The washrooms are located in these room formations and are dimly lit and the walls are rough, irregular and painted like rocks so it feels like the bathroom is in a cave. We ate and walked a few blocks to the museum. The food was good too.
We were blown away! The museum is an old fort which was handed over in 1948 when Costa Ricans decided to abolish their military. The first exhibit after the cashier is a butterfly garden which was the highlight of the trip! Beyond the butterflies there are sections which show the history of the fort, a tour of the living quarters of the soldiers, a great archaeological exhibit showing the evolution of Costa Rican society from hunter gatherer to farming societies including a good amount of gold and jade artifacts and a special exhibit on El Silencio. During the pre-columbian era, chiefs used stone spheres as a sign of status and the largest one to date is called El Silencio. It is 2.6m (8.5ft) in diameter and weighs about 15 T. If you aren’t an avid museum visitor then this is likely the one museum in Costa Rica you need to visit due to its generalist flavor.