Four-wheel oxcarts and four-wheel-drive Land Rovers puncturate Costa Rica`s second-largest city. Just three klms from the International Airport on the slopes of the Poas Volcano, Alajuela´s elevated position makes it slightly warmer and sunnier than San Jose. And, altough a big city is its own right, Alajuela is quieter and calmer as well.
Huge mango trees in the central park reflect the pride Alajuela takes in the delicious tropical fruit. It even hosts a nine-day Mango Festival in July. But the city´s most famous citizen is cause for a celebration on April 11 of each year - Juan Santamaria, the little drummer boy who helped defeat the invasion of William Walker, was born in Alajuela. His birthday bringss parades with brass bands, parties, dancing in the streets and drinking in the bars. Juan´s statute is in a park that bears his name, two blocks south of the Cental Park. The Museo Historico Cultural, inthe old city jail, is on Calle 2, Av 2. The central Market dates from the 1930s and is a good place to shop, especially on Saturdays when the market becomes like a fiesta.