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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Jade Museum and Dim Sum

On Tuesday morning of this week, we rode the Atenas bus to San José to visit the Jade Museum (Museo del Jade y de la Cultura Precolombina. This link is in Spanish but can be read in English by using Google Translate). The building is located on Central Avenue on the west side of the Plaza de la Democracia. The phone number is 2521-6610 and it is open Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.


If you are going to the museum by taxi and your driver does not speak English, the phonetic translation is: "moo-seh-oh del hah-day". If your driver is still mystified, it will not be because of your pronounciation, it will be because he has no idea where the museum is. Our driver solved this problem by phoning up his supervisor, who spoke English, and Lance talked to him and we were soon on our correct way.

The Jade Museum was founded in 1977 by Marco Fidel Tristan Castro, the first president of Costa Rica's national insurance agency, the INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros). The INS is an agency of the government. The new and present location opened on May 26, 2014, and the building itself is designed like a piece of jade. It contains 7,000 pieces dating to the centuries between 500 B.C. and 1500 A.D.

Entrance fees for residents is 5,000 colones but we got in for free once they looked at our cedulas (identification cards). I'm assuming this is because we are seniors.

The museum exhibits one of the most important Pre-Columbian jade collections in America that come from all the archaeological regions of Costa Rica. Five floors show the cultural and ecological scenarios where the societies that produced the jade were developed.

Las Bolas - the stone spheres of Costa Rica


Hall 1 is called "Threshold". In Hall 2, named "The Jade", the process of jade preparation is demonstrated and its symbolism, social use and role in shamanic ceremonies. "The Day", Hall 3, highlights activities of daily life. Hall 4, "The Night", was unfortunately not open on our visit. Hall 5 - "The Ancestral Memory" - shows the importance of archeology, showcasing Pre-Columbian body ornaments, musical instruments, utensils and so on of the indigenous and non-indigenous people of Costa Rica.

Floor in one of the halls.

Because of the "no flash" rule, it's difficult to take sharp photos without a tripod.


Lastly, Hall 6 - "The Visitable Collection", has shelves and shelves of objects from different materials (jade, ceramics, stone, bones, shells) that come from the three different archeological regions of this country: Grand Nicoya Region, Central Region/Caribbean and the Grand Chiriqui Region. I couldn't stop myself from briefly touching something here, even though there are signs clearing stating not to do this. My fingers touched something made by someone else so very long ago.


The museum collections and displays are incredible and I highly recommend a visit. There is a small cafe on the main level, where we had flavored iced coffees, rather pricy at 2,400 colones, but good. They also offer small sandwiches and pastries. 10% off everything with the museum entrance fee receipt. If you are taking photographs, no flashes please. And no bags can enter but there is a secure locker area just inside the entrance. Also, all the displays provide information in both Spanish and English.

Oh yes, across from the museum there are a couple of Ropa Americanas. All the clothes were nicely organized, lots of high end brand names for amazingly low prices.

Then it was time for lunch and we had both been wanting dim sum for quite a while. We took a taxi to Restaurante Casa China, in the Los Yoses area of San José, located at avenida 10 and calle 25. It was the typical Chinese restaurant we were used to eating at in Richmond, British Columbia, home to a gazillion authentic Asian restaurants of all types. Restaurante Casa China is a huge open room with large round tables covered in white cloths. At one end was a very large screen with a soccer game being shown. You can see into the kitchen which was humming with activity.


The dim sum cart was being pushed around the room and we pointed at what we wanted. Don't ask me the names of all that we ordered - they are in Spanish and Chinese on the menu. The food comes in small steamer baskets, usually three items to a basket. Everything was very good but ordering the steamed pork buns (pan relleno con lechon al vapor) was our downfall because they are huge. We couldn't even eat the third one.

Total cost was 11,800 colones and that included four ginger ales. We'll definitely be going back here when next we crave dim sum.

Tiime to head back to Atenas. We taxied to the Coca Cola bus station and caught our bus.

On the bus.


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