Gifts a Cab Ride Away

November 26, 2004

FOR foreign tourists in Costa Rica,finding uniquely Tico Christmas gifts forfriends and family back home is a cinch –coffee, guaro and a gallo pinto recipe. Ifbeverages, beans and rice don’t suit, or ifyou’ve already given them once too often,there are some quality, different and purelyTico gifts available if you know where tolook.When considering how to take a pieceof Costa Rica back home, the first option tocome to mind should be handmade arts andcrafts. They are on sale in markets andstores around San José and the CentralValley, in hotels and on blankets and displaytables on sidewalks and beachesaround the country.To do all your shopping in the sameplace before you board the plane home,Green Turtle Souvenirs has over 10,000crafts, jewelry and gifts made by 150 ofCosta Rica’s best craftsmen. And TicoTimes readers get a 10% discount.IT’S “the widest selection of CostaRica’s handicrafts and gifts,” ownerRichard Lacey said, where shoppers canfind “all the best that Costa Rica has tooffer under one roof.” The bilingual staffhelp shoppers navigate through the thousandsof options without pressure to buy.Lacey has come up with followingChristmas gift ideas: wooden kitchenware,like salad bowls and cutting boards; handmadewooden cigar and jewelry boxes,animals, beer mugs, dice, rocking chairs,miniature painted oxcarts and driftwoodart; Ceramic, hand-painted bowls andplates; and jewelry, such as pre-Columbiangold, handmade solid silver, and jadepieces. There are cigar paper journals,native Boruca masks, natural cosmeticsmade with coffee or mud from Arenal volcano,hammocks, fridge magnets, Cubanand Costa Rican cigars, and paintings. Oryou can go the T-shirt route and choosefrom more than 2,000 styles. There are alsogifts for children.It’s located behind the Hampton Innnear the Juan Santamaría Airport inAlajuela, telephone 430-0211Congo, which also offers crafts madein Costa Rica, has a large inventory ofwoods, such as monkey wood, rosewood,and “all the different tropical woods,”owner Bill Suarez said, and ceramics andpaintings. Wood and ceramic crafts are themost popular for taking outside of thecountry, he said. Congo is in Multiplaza inEscazú, telephone 201-8017.HEARKENING to Christmas’ religiousroots, and in keeping with CostaRican Catholicism, the Plaza Esmeraldaoffers hand-carved wood and ceramicminiature nativity scenes. They come invarying sizes and numbers of pieces andare priced from $3-100.To round out the Costa RicanChristmas, the store offers Christmas treeornaments, and you can give the gift a finalartsy touch with a Christmas card bearing aprinted painting by a Costa Rican artist.Besides the Christmas line, the store offersless seasonal gifts that are always reliable,such as coffee and other flavored liqueurs.It’s located in Pavas, nearly one kilometerwest of the Jack’s factory, telephone 296-0312, and on the Web at www.plazaesmeralda.com.THE Annemarie Boutique is packedwith arts and crafts in woods, ceramic andstone, and it carries some items thatnobody else has.The boutique has the exclusive rightsto sell works by some artisans, such asnecklaces, other jewelry, and ties.Salespeople will pack up wood and ceramicpieces for the flight home, if necessary,and everything sold is of a comfortablesize for packing in suitcases.It’s located beside the NationalInsurance Institute (INS) building in SanJosé, telephone 221-6707, and on the Webat www.doncarlos.co.cr.Costaleather has something different toput under the Christmas tree. It offershandmade leather goods, everything madeof top grain leather. The products are sodiverse you wouldn’t think anyone hadmade some of those things out of leather.“We manufacture an extremely wideline of leather products,” owner MarkGrandy said.THERE are more than 50 differentstyles of women’s purses and handbags; aline of office items including portfolios,business card holders, paper holders, anddesk sets; a home goods line such as pillows,table centerpieces like a leather fruitbowl, and furniture such as leather-coveredottomans, sofas and chairs.The leathers used are nationally andinternationally produced, includingleathers from South America and Europe.“We really hand-make all of the articles,”Grandy said. “Nothing is mass manufactured.We stick to the Old World craftmethods.”He added that they use a variety ofleathers from Costa Rica, South Americaand Europe.It’s located in San Rafael de Escazú,telephone 228-1004, and on the Web atwww.costaleather.com.

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