San José, Costa Rica is a colorful capital in spirit, but physically grey with a lack of green spaces. However, it hides in its center a place full of life in all its forms.
On San Pedro neighborhood, very close to San José’s downtown, there’s a chain of green spaces with the Universidad de Costa Rica as its backbone. Universidad de Costa Rica is the country’s leading university and has the longest tradition.
This eclectic space gathers all kinds of life: The busy college life, the everyday neighbor who passes by and multiple species of insects, birds, and mammals. There’s even a beautiful community of sloths.
This place, filled with corners and stories lead Oropopo Experience, a tourism enterprise founded by biology students from Universidad de Costa Rica, to create a funny and affordable tour through classrooms and green spaces. The concept of this college entrepreneurship is to give experiences more closely related to a biology class with the possibility of interact with the culture and people surrounding each location.
From above it is visible how these green spaces create a vital island for San José and for a significant number of species that live or visit our city.
Just as we started the tour, we were able to spot the characteristic Oropendola’s (Psarocolius montezuma) nest on the top of the trees.
In the middle of the tour, we found a good sample of the “Pura Vida way of living” applied to fence building.
The tour starts through gardens and sports facilities, where you can confirm how neighbors appropriate and enjoy this space.
The travel is lived up by descriptions of plants, insects or birds flying by. The day of our visit, the Montezuma Oropéndulas (Psarocolius montezuma ) were the first one to give us the welcome with their characteristic nests hanging from the top of some tall trees.
After walking through the sports facilities, we entered a small forest called “Finca 4” keeps more than two additional hectares of secondary forest next to other 2 hectares of land designated as the protection area for the Torres river.
Sometimes we were able to forget that we were in the middle of San José’s downtown, as we walked on paths crossing trees and vines feeling like we were on some other beautiful place of Costa Rica.
Our tour guide told us that this place was once part of agricultural lands and now is considered by students and neighbors as a stronghold to defend against pressure from real state business, taking into account that these kind of places are rare in a city.
You are cleared for take off! A beautiful beetle (Curculionidae family) a part of our biology class on the field.
Monument dedicated to Clodomiro Picado. Costa Rican scientist celebrated for his discoveries related to antidotes to snake venoms. 🐍
The emblematic “Mural Conmemorativo” from Estudios Generales, created by Eduardo Torijano.
Enjoying the best Costa Rican coffee. Mexican Zanate or Clarinero (Quiscalus mexicanus) on one of the many “soditas,” ready to face a busy day of studying.
After a brief exit from the university grounds, we crossed a few streets and the Ciudad de la Investigación to reach the Ciudad Universitaria, Rodrigo Fabio. This area vibrates with college life, mostly through the class season from March to December. Some monuments of renowned historical figures decorate this place, like one raised in honor of Clodomiro Picado (1887-1944), a pioneer scientist and world level known for the development of many snake antidotes.
You’ll be able to spice up your trip on any of the local “sodas” where you can enjoy an excellent coffee. Café Hangar is entrepreneurship promoted by an accelerator of university ventures, in this place you can choose among a good variety of flavors and brands.
Umbrella Mushrooms (Coprinus disseminatus).
A tree’s height is hard to imagine in the middle of San José City.
Also in the Ciudad Universitaria Rodrigo Facio is located the Leonelo Oviedo Ecological Reserve, 2 hectares of a forest made up by nearly 70 species of trees. On one its border sides and as a final touch we arrived at the Universidad de Costa Rica’s butterfly garden. There the visitors can observe more than 20 butterfly species and have a chance to appreciate the different stages of the life cycle of these insects.
Either you live in this city, or you are coming from afar, this a tour that offers multiple attractions in one trip. The possibility to enjoy its green spaces, to live the spirit of the diverse people that share this haven and without any doubt to be able to feel the importance that the Universidad de Costa Rica has on building the identity of Costa Ricans.
What better explanation than one from a biologist? They are learning from one of the more than 1300 species of butterflies and 8000 of moths that inhabit in Costa Rica.
These beautiful butterfly Esta(Sara Longwing) posed in a goodbye kind of fashion.
You can get more information about Oropopo Experience on their website. You can also follow them on Instagram or Facebook.