Monday, November 10, 2008

Fun with addresses

Because here in Costa Rica, we don't really have any. Well we do, if you consider "go north from X building about 200 meters, then west another 100 meters, and down to the big tree, turn around and touch your toes, do the hokey pokey, etc. etc." I don't really consider those addresses though, more like terrible directions.

And after eight years here, I still haven't quite gotten the hang of it. Today, I was e-mailing someone about a friend's new cafe and its location in Escazu. I said it was 100 north and 125 west of a certain plant nursery. The person e-mailed me back to ask if I didn't mean to say south, because if you went north, you'd be going into the mountains. I asked esposo, and he said, no, north is correct. South would be in the directions of the mountains. She wrote back again, still confused about where the hell I was talking about, thinking that north was in the direction of Hipermas/Wal-Mart. So at this point I really wasn't sure, and esposo and I looked it up on Google Earth. Sure enough, even though the satellite of love pictures weren't taken recently and there was no Hipermas/Wal-Mart on the picture, you could tell the main road into San Rafael de Escazu, and the way of the cafe was, indeed, north. Rather, north-ish. But let's say north, because you don't tell people to go northwest. Looking at Google Earth also made us realize that we should have said 225 west, not 125 (a city block is about 100 meters long here, so you figure about two and a quarter blocks are 225 meters). I wrote her back again to say yes, it was indeed north, but change that 125 to 225.

Sigh. This all would be so much easier if I could have said the cafe was at 127 Oak Street. Or something.


  1. Dear "liberal neo-hippy vegan mama" - Pura Vida! My name is Samantha and I am a Journalist Intern for We would love you to write a guest article for us! Please drop me a line at so that I can send you more information. Many thanks. Samantha

    P.S. Street addresses ... such a nightmare!

  2. One Latin-American block is supposed to be 100 "varas" (100 Spanish yards), which are really 83.6 meters... (Google for "define:vara"). When you say "125 meters" in addresses, people will know that you really mean "125 varas".