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Sao José / Costa Rica

Farewell to the City of Witches

Shohei Nagai / Marubeni Corporation San José Office

I live in a peaceful town along the mountains called Escazú, which is about a thirty-minute drive west of the Costa Rican capital of San José. There are several US and European embassies and ambassador’s residences, and many foreigners live in the area. Construction of large scale condominiums and shopping centers featuring high-end stores has been underway over the last several years as well.

The town is also known as the City of Witches (Ciudad de las Brujas ). They say that witches lived in the old mansion right next to the company housing where I live, and that they caused mischief from there. In fact, even today the locals drive around with witch stickers on their cars.

Taking a post abroad without the family tends to lead to a lifestyle lacking in exercise, so I decided to take a one-hour morning walk on my days off in the area around the company housing. There are a lot of peaks and valleys so it is a pretty rigorous workout, but walking under the clear blue sky makes me feel healthy, body and mind. Today I would like to introduce the scenery that I found on my walk, which cannot be found in Japan.

As I walked along I saw a real estate office, an architect’s office, and a veterinarian’s office. I supposed that these were for the foreigners who buy land, build houses, and have dogs in the area. In fact, I often see special trainers leading beautiful dogs out of some of the large mansions in the area and taking them for walks.

Along with these dogs, there are also many horses and cows. Just as I wondered whether a man in an old cowboy hat would pass by with his trusty horse clip clopping on the road, I saw a garage with a cow tied up inside and a handwritten sign that said “Milk for sale”. I felt that even as Costa Rica becomes more and more urbanized, the traditions that the country was built on—of people working together to foster farming and ranching—were still alive and well in Costa Rican daily life. Also, as I noted that every house was surrounded by flowers and large trees, I considered the rich experience that this area provides.

Unfortunately, it is time for me to leave this City of Witches. In 2009, the 45-year history of the Marubeni Corporation San José Office, built in November of 1963, drew to a close as Marubeni moved its base operations for Central America to Guatemala.  Still, I would certainly like to visit this peaceful, bright, lush green town again if I have the chance.

Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.50 (March, 2009)

  • Stores and houses along the street in Escazú

  • This is the "Witch sticker"
  • A city with many hills
  • An animal hospital with a "Puppies/kittens for sale" sign
  • Looking toward San José from the company housing

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