Other than the arch that told me I was in “Barrio Chino”, the only difference of the area known as Paseo de los Estudiantes was that I was walking the Calle instead of driving on it.

Barrio Chino cost ¢800 million colones (US$1.6 million dollars), of which ¢500 million was donated by the government of China. And the only thing I could see for my share of US$1.1 million dollar contribution was a paved walkway and the mounds.

It did not feel, look and smell like a Chinatown. Nothing like the Chinatown I know on Spadina Avenue in Toronto. Or the Chintawon in Hong Kong I visited some years back.

No chickens hanging in the store windows. No dried snakes and other exotic animals. No Orientals all over. In fact, the only Chinese stores in San José’s Chinatown are the same ones that have been on Calle 7 forever, before it was inaugurated as Chinatown.

To quote my long time friend and long time resident of Costa Rica who accompanied me on my walk to Chinatown,  “yet another disillusionment”.

I suppose we have to give it some time!

Enrico Cacciatore,
Chief cook and bottle washer at the Q!