In an effort to absorb more of the cultural life in San Jose, we decided to attend “The Best of the Opera” at the elegant Málico Teatro Salazar with our friends Wayne and Marguerite. We bought tickets for a five o’clock performance on a Friday.
“We can’t drive in San Jose on Fridays,” said Wayne. Driving restrictions based on license plate numbers have been in effect in San Jose for over a year now.
“Neither can we!” I replied.
Our only option was to drive to the Multiplaza and taxi to the theater. No problem. We found a taxi easily, and arrived at the theater early. After I picked up the tickets at the box office we walked around the block to wait in line at the balcony entrance, but found no line. “We have time to get something to eat,” said Wayne, and we did, but still there was nobody in line.
“Something’s wrong,” said Marguerite. “We’d better check.”
When we walked back to the box office, we learned that the performance was at eight. We decided to return on Sunday for the five o’clock performance instead of waiting around for four hours.
We’d go out for dinner instead. We found a taxi, drove back to the mall, and headed out to the Blue Unicorn, a restaurant in Ciudad Colon that Wayne and Marguerite had found and loved. At the end of the night we were all happy despite the mix-up, and looking forward to returning for the performance.
On Sunday, it was pouring when we left the house at three, building in an extra hour for travel, as always. After about twenty minutes of driving, traffic on the two-lane mountain road stopped, and didn’t go again for three quarters of an hour, but we still thought we’d get there in time. Then we ran into more traffic on the three-lane highway to San Jose. “What the heck is going on?” we wondered.
We were almost to the city when we began to notice people wearing numbers on their chests. In unison, we grasped the fact that they were runners; traffic was snarled because there was a race in the city. When we finally got to the traffic light at the end of the highway, and turned left towards the Paseo Colón, the main artery in San Jose, we let out a collective moan.
The road was blocked off. Wayne, who knows the city best, followed the traffic onto the only open street. “We can turn just about anywhere,” he said.
“I don’t know,” I said.
Undaunted, Wayne took us on a scenic tour of the northwest section of the city. I began recognizing certain streets. “Didn’t we see that when we were searching for the French Ambassador’s House?” I asked.
Round and round we drove, always circling to the left. The performance had already started. “Let me ask this cop,” I said, jumping out of the truck. “Can we get there from here?” I asked. The guard said no, so we agreed to find a restaurant and wait until the road opened, at 6:30. The guard, it turned out, was wrong. If only we’d had a map…
“They probably have an eight o’clock performance,” said Wayne.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“I’m pretty sure that’s what they said on Friday,” agreed Jack.
They didn’t have an eight o’clock performance, but the five o’clock show was still going on, said the ticket takers. We dragged ourselves up the stairs, groped our way to open seats and enjoyed an hour of arias.