In the style of node what you know. This is the kind of shit that can drive you crazy. Check it out.

In San Jose, Costa Rica, the capital, all the streets have names. The area near downtown is quite neatly laid out in a grid pattern. There is a major dividing avenue, Paseo Colon, that runs east to west, or west to east, depending on what direction you are going. North of that street, east-west streets are labeled 1, 3, 5, etc. South of the Paseo Colon, the streets are 2, 4,6 etc.

There is a dividing line that runs North-South. East of that line, the streets are 2, 4, 6, etc. West of that line the streets are 1, 3, 5, etc.

All the houses/buildings on any given street are numbered. So, for example, one might live at 23 5th street. Or, you might live at 120 4th ave. But can you send a letter, or take a cab, to such an address?


For some reason, all addresses are based on a geographic understanding of the city, using well known landmarks as major points of reference. For example, 55 6th street might be: 200 meters north of the Toyota, 100 west, 200 north, blue house with black fence. ( The Toyota is the main Toyota dealersip on Paseo Colon, west of downtown.) Or, 400 south of the Kentucky Fried Chicken, 100 east, red house. (Each city block is refered to as 100 meters.) WHY OH WHY?!? I don't know.

What makes matters worse for the first time visitor is that some of the landmarks no longer exist. But the cultural memory of the city is such that it refuses to change the landmark to the new thing that the landmark is. The prime example of this is the COCA COLA landmark. There was a time when the Coca Cola company had a bottling plant west and north of downtown ( much more west than north). About 30 years ago, the building ceased to be the Coca Cola bottling plant, and was turned into a bus station. Is it refered to now as the bus station? HELL NO! There is another bus station that is a landmark. The new bus station is still refered to as the Coca Cola. ( Note: no need to call it the Coca Cola bottling plant, just call it the Coca Cola.) Other landmarks have changed as well, but they are still refered to as what they once were. It can drive you crazy.

This pattern of addresses holds true for the entire country. All towns have some landmarks, and all addresses are based on those landmarks. If you were to write a letter to someone, you would address it using this screwy system. For the first time visitor, it can be very confusing, although after a while, I have found it grows on you. It is an amusing, and hell, almost a lovable way of indicating where something is.

Want a mind trip?

Most Central American countries employ some version of this address system.