Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Mystery of San Isidro de El General...

There is a town in Costa Rica called San Isidro de El General. It is the largest city in the Pérez Zeledón canton with a population of about 45,000. A two hour drive from Costa Rica's tallest mountain- Chirripo (3,820 m), and 45 minutes from the popular beach resort town Dominical, but apart from a decent central market, there isn't much to do or see here. With one exception...San Isidro de El General is widely spoken of as home to the most beautiful women in Costa Rica. 

I was in a convenience store in the quiet, expat-friendly beach town of Uvita (a little over an hour from San Isidro) when I first heard this expressed. A stranger heard my friends and I speaking English and struck up a conversation. He had lived in the US for a few years, but his language skills were a bit rusty. He explained to us that he had lived in New Jersey for a while, and that there are actually many Ticos (Costa Rican people) there. In fact, this was echoed by many people throughout the country- a high population of Costa Rican men go to New Jersey for work. I'm not really sure why Jersey became the hub of Tico expats...I didn't think the small state had much unfilled labor need, but I guess once a significant number were there, it became the place to go. There is even a Tico newspaper published in New Jersey! This trend of going to the Garden State has had an unintended negative consequence on the women of San Isidro. It is rumored that a unusually high number of men from San Isidro have emigrated (at least temporarily) to NJ. I have heard estimations as high as a 3:1 female-male ratio! The lack of men and the stunning beauty of the women make San Isidro a favorite town to visit for guys in the region, and people like to joke about the poor lonely, beautiful Ticas of San Isidro.

Theories as to why San Isidro has such beautiful women include the idea that the lack of men makes competition fierce, so women work harder to make themselves look good (my theory). Also, I read that many of the people have German blood due to large waves of European settlement during construction booms just after WWII, so they are often lighter, sometimes blonde- a trait considered very beautiful in Costa Rica. 

I was in San Isidro de General for about 5 minutes and never left my car, so I can't personally vouch for the women, but it is definitely a widespread, well known stereotype. A friend of mine visited not too long ago and took a few pictures- in some of them you can see people! If you zoom in close, you can decide for yourself if these women look more beautiful than in other cities in Costa Rica...I think it definitely looks like they dress better, at least!

Additionally, I did some Googling and came up with these pictures allegedly of San Isidro girls. I can't vouch for the authenticity, but since our photographer (Victor) was too shy to get closer, I thought it would be good to add these. 

This is from a parade in 2006...they don't just go out onto the street like this everyday

Also this is a video tour:  

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