Well, really I was sold on the little town of Grecia, Costa Rica when I first heard that people living here did not have heaters OR air conditioning in their homes – you just don’t need it! That’s right – Grecia is supposedly the “perfect” temperature, year round. This sounded perfect to Greg & I, who are both a little hot natured. Also, it makes it easy on the electric bill. Temperature’s get down to as cold as the high 50’s (fahrenheit) at night or in the rainy season, and rarely hotter than the low 80’s during the day. See what I mean? Perfect!
Grecia (which means “Greece” in Spanish), has a population of approximately 16,000 people, and is the capital city of the canton of Grecia, in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica. Grecia is in the Central Valley and has several “ridges” as they call them, which are mountain ridges that veer off from one side of the city like spokes of a wheel. The ridges have gorgeous views of the valleys between them. We live slightly outside of Grecia (7 miles appoximately), up along one of these ridges called “El Cajón” (in spanish, El Cajón means “the box” – I was recently told that when the El Cajón community first started, it had the shape of a box). Where we live, El Cajón has an elevation of about 4,500 feet, which is much higher than Grecia Central, and helps contribute to our cooler temperatures. So even when it is 80-90 F degrees in town – it is always much cooler, and with a breeze, in El Cajón.
When most people think of Grecia, they think of the church in the center of town – Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, which, you can’t really miss it, if you’ve been here. It is large and red, in the center of the town right across from the park, and was built entirely of pre-fabricated steel plates. When you ask for directions to some place in Grecia, they always start with “well, you know where the Church is, right?…”. There are several urban legends of where this church came from and how it came to be here in Grecia (see Wikipedia):
- The metal church was a donated gift by a foreign country meant for Greece, but alas was shipped in error to Grecia (remember, Grecia means “Greece” in Spanish).
- The church was meant to be shipped (in parts) to Punta Arenas, Chile, but instead went to the port of Puntarenas, Costa Rica and later sent to Grecia where it was assembled and put together (another shipping mistake).
- And, in case you’re interested, this is the true/boring account: the building of the church was a organized effort between the Costa Rican Government, the Catholic Church, the population of Grecia and Alejo E. Jiménez Bonnefil (a Costa Rican coffee producer/exporter).
Why did we choose Grecia? Well, the perfect climate was our #1 reason. #2 – there is not a lot of tourism here. It is a very small, cute, cozy town, but seems to have enough of what we need – several small grocery stores, soda’s (which are small café’s), banks, even a “mall” – which is pretty small, but truly has quite a few clothes shops and even a movie theater(!). We wanted to live in a “local” place – with not a lot of tourists, or tourist shops. I mean – we weren’t moving to Costa Rica for a vacation – we were coming here to live. We wanted to try to get to know the Ticos (the local Costa Ricans) and live amongst them as best as we could. Also, Grecia is not too far from one of the international airports, and is also close to San Jose, where we needed to go to start our residency process.
For now, we are very content to stay in El Cajón de Grecia. We like the climate, the small-town-ness, the NON-tourism-ness, and mostly the people we have met here (both Ticos and Gringos alike). Grecia is home. Pura Vida! — Jen