San Isidro de General
San Isidro is the seat of the Canton (county) of Perez Zeledon in the Zona Sur (southern zone of Costa Rica) and locals affectionately refer to it as Perez. The city is located 136km (84.3miles) south of San Jose on the Interamericana (Hwy2). From Cartago the highway climbs steadily over the Cordillera Talamanca crossing the Cerro de la Muerte (mountain of death) at an elevation of 3491m (11,520 ft.) The road then drops steeply to San Isidro de General (702m or 2317 ft) at the northern end of the Valle de General. The mountain got its name long before the road was built when it took 4 or more days to cross by foot and horseback. The paved highway today is fairly well maintained but it is steep, foggy and climbs into the clouds. During the rainy season there are occasional landslides but the highway is rarely closed for more than a few hours. It is a beautiful drive passing through various climates and elevations with ever changing scenery. It is recommended to drive this highway only during the daylight hours.
The mountain range created a formidable barrier between the central valley and northern Costa Rica before the highway was built, limiting trade and development in the southern zone. This is not the case today. San Isidro is fairly modern and the most important town in the south. It is an important transportation hub and commercial center for the surrounding smaller communities, farms and ranches. It is also a gateway to numerous activities and sites of interest.
Many tourists pass through today on their way to Parque Nacional Chirripo, located only a few miles from the center of town, to climb Cerro Chirripo, Costa Ricas highest peak at 3820m (12,606 ft). From the peak on a clear day it is possible to see both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Other tourists head an hour away over the coastal mountains to several pacific beach towns beginning with Dominical and continuing southward toward Cortes. From Domical 2 busses per day head northward to Quepos and Manual Antonio. Other tourists continue their journeys from San Isidro southward to the Osa peninsula to visit Corcovado Nacional Parque, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.
Though growing at a rapid pace the city still retains its rural small town village atmosphere. There is certainly less traffic than in the metropolitan central valley and with that there is less pollution and noise. Because of the smaller community feeling and residential pride it is also cleaner and safer than its northern neighbors. Sunday mornings the neighborhood streets are a parade of freshly scrubbed and well dressed families walking to their chosen houses of worship.
Medical - There is a modern hospital and several quick care clinics in the city. There are doctors in all types of specialties. There are many dentists in all specialties to meet all your needs. You have your choice of several pharmacies for prescription needs and several macrobioticos (tico version of health food and supplement stores).
Shopping There are outlets for most major grocery chain stores as well as several locally owned supermercados. There are more than enough clothing and shoes stores. Supplies for almost anything you can think of can be found within the city. The central mercado is open everyday with a variety of fruit, produce, meat and fish outlets and a variety of small shops and sodas for inexpensive dining. Thursdays and Fridays the local farmers market or feria is held near the center of the city. There you can purchase most of your fresh food needs at the best prices. There is a rapidly expanding Organic food section in the feria offering a variety of locally grown organic fruits and vegetables.
Legal - You have a large selection of lawyers to handle all your legal requirements and many of them speak English.
Repairs and parts - There are many repair shops and parts stores specializing from autos to domestic appliances.
Sports - The city hosts its own futbol (soccer) team which plays in the premier league, the major league in Costa Rica. Some of its players have been chosen to play on world cup teams.
Cultural events - Throughout the year there area variety of festivals and events held in the city or in the surrounding communities. Occasional concerts and plays are held in the rather small city cultural center.
To San Jose - Musoc bus company provides daily service between San Isidro and San Jose. Busses leave every hour on the half hour starting at 5:30AM until 5:30PM. The trip takes 3 hours including a 10 to 20 minute rest stop near the half way point of the trip and costs about $4 each way. The Musoc terminal in San Isidro is located just west of the Interamericana hwy about 200 meters north of the city center park. The San Jose Musoc terminal is located at Avenida 20 Calle Central. The Tracopa bus company also services San Isidro with 3 or 4 busses per day. Leaving San Jose near the Coca Cola and San Isidro adjacent to the Interamericana 100 meters directly east of the Church and central park.
To Pacific Coast - 4 busses per day travel between San Isidro and Dominical. Two of the busses continue south from Dominical to Uvita/Bahia where you can make connections to the Osa Peninsula or to Panama. The other two continue north from Dominical to Quepos with connections to Manuel Antonio or north to Jaco and San Jose. About 1 hour to Dominical, 2 hours to Uvita/Bahia and 4 hours to Quepos. Busses cost about $1 per hour.
To Panama - Tracopa offers bus service from San Isidro to most of the towns in the southern zone. There are 3 or more busses each day which go all the way to the border at Pasao Canoas and 1 or more which continues on to David Panama. From San Isidro to the border takes from 4 to 5 hours and costs about $5.
To the Osa Peninsula - There are 3 or more busses each day which travel between San Isidro and Puerto Jimenez, the gateway to Corcovado Nacional Parque. A little over 5 hours to Puerto Jimenez.
Local It is possible to live here without a car. The majority of Tico families do not own vehicles. Walking is healthy and free. Taxis are cheap charging from $1 to $2 to or from anywhere in the city. Carga Taxis, small trucks, are available for slightly more cost for carrying large loads or items. Inexpensive local busses serve the surrounding neighborhoods and villages. For exploring the surrounding area and running errands, motor scooters and small motorcycles are becoming very popular. A small scooter or cycle can be purchased here for about $1,300.