Santa Ana

Another part of the Meseta Central that attracts North Americans to become residents is Santa Ana, a sunny mountain valley just another 6 kilometers to the west of Escazu. The altitude here is lower than at either Escazu or San Jose making it slightly warmer and drier. A number of small rivers cross the rolling valley, and rounded mountains provide a scenic backdrop.
Santa Ana setting is also more rural than Escazu, with crops such as sugarcane, rice, beans, and coffee growing all around this town of 20,000 residents Roadside stands sell braids of garlic and onions, garden- fresh /vegetables, and jars of rich local honey. (Despite Africanized bee’s nasty reputations, they produce high-quality honey and more of it than ordinary bees.) All roads converge upon a central area, giving Santa Ana the feeling
Of a downtown center, rural yet sophisticated. High above the town, on the mountain Cerro Pacacua, is a 20,000-acre forest preserve and bird sanctuary, keeping nature ever present in the local ambience.
A few generations ago before it became an easy thing to drive to the beach for vacations San Jose wealthy families maintained summer homes in Santa Ana. This was the place to spend weekends and school vacations, a place for the upper crust to host parties and entertain lavishly. This old tradition left its traces on today’s community, with nice homes scattered about the area. Some rather attractive developments, complete with swimming pools, gardens, and twenty-four-hour security, are found here. This is the place for polo matches and international equestrian competitions. Seasonal festivals bring an impressive parade of horseback riders who ride their high-stepping steeds along the streets to the central plaza where the main celebration is under way. (Don’t try to drive along the parade route on festival day; horses have the right-of-way.)
Santa Ana has a deserved reputation as a working artist’s colony, with a number of writers and amateur artists present as well. The town is famous for ceramics, and production of excellent pieces is a major industry, with almost thirty workshops and 150 local people engaged in the art. Excellent restaurants, a first-class supermarket, and shopping of all descriptions are at hand, eliminating the need to go to the crowded world of downtown San Jose for odds and ends. Yet when such travel is necessary, it’s but an easy 10-mile drive along one of the countries few stretches of superhighway. One of the largest and most elegant shopping malls in the country is found between Santa Ana and Escazu on this highway: the Multi-Plaza. It is worth a visit.
Every community seems to have an especially popular hangout where Mex restaurant gather to socialize over a few drinks, lunch, and dinner. The Tex-Mex restaurant in Santa Ana seems to be the place for this. English is spoken here by a ratio of 10 to 1, and the place always seems to be crowded. I believe there is also a Tex-Mex restaurant in Ciudad Colon, as well.

Of all the Meseta Central retirement locations, I suspect that communities from Santa Ana west to the town of Ciudad Colon may have a great potential for development and property appreciation. The reason for my belief is planned extension of the divided highway from San Jose through Ciudad Colon that will someday hook up with the Pacific Coast. Highway 34. This highway, by the way, is one of the few made of cement instead of the usual mixture of asphalt, gravel, and brown sugar (or what ever they mix wit asphalt to make a dissolvable road surface), lt lasted without damage even a tiny pothole—for about fifteen years, Surely, the government transportation bosses will someday realize the value of cement highway construction as opposed to disappearing asphalt surfaces.
Anyway, traffic moves right along on this highway, zipping back and forth to San José with surprising ease (surprising for Costa Rica). When the highway is extended to the Pacific, this will dramatically cut the driving time to the popular beach communities With Pacific beaches just an hour drive from Santa Ana, the convenience will make the area even more attractive as a place to live, and real estate could become a good investment. When I mention this possibility to my Tico friends, they shrug their shoulders and say, “Don’t count on that highway in the near future. We’d be delighted if they’d just fill the potholes on the roads we have!”

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