As if it is not hard enough to find one’s way around Costa Rica, many places that were renamed are more frequently referred to by their nicknames.
Recently, the bridge over the Virilla River on the General Cañas Highway was baptized Alfredo Gonzalez Flores bridge in honor of the president who governed from 1914 to 1917 and to commemorate of the 140th anniversary of his birth. Flores served as President of Costa Rica but was unable to complete his presidency following a coup d’état on 27 January 1917.
It is doubtful that Costa Ricans will ever refer to the bridge by its new name and will always call it, “La Platina”. The bridge has been a major headache (dolor de cabeza in Spanish) for almost a decade. So, President Solís decided to build a new and wider bridge, following a number of failed attempts at repairing the aging structure.
There are other examples of landmarks in Costa Rica that are still called by their former names. The spot where an old dancehall once stood in Curridabat is still referred to as La Galera, although it no longer exists.
Another example is the corner where the restaurant Rancho Guanacaste once stood in the Hatillo neighborhood, just south of San José. Today there is a traffic circle (rotonda) called La Rotonda del Rancho Guanacaste.
In San Pedro Montes de Oca, to the east of downtown San José, there was once an enormous tree called “El Higuerón.” People still use the tree’s name when giving directions.
There is an old building in Barrio Mexico that once housed a pharmacy called La Botica Solera. Although it closed decades ago people still refer to the famous building as a landmark.
Even Costa Rica’s Virgen de los Angeles is always called by her nickname, La Negra.
Although it was closed many years ago, the name of the old Soda Palace restaurant and movie theater on the north side of San José’s Central Park, is frequently used to find one’s way around downtown.
Costa Ricans always have the last word when it comes to nicknames. In fact, most places and people have nicknames here. For example, San José is called Chepe, Alajuela is called La Liga in honor of its football team, the city of Cartage is called Cartucho and the city of San Ramón is affectionately referred as “Moncho.” People’s names become Mau for Mauricio, Vero for Veronica, Vivi for Viviana, Gera for Gerardo and Lore for Lorena, to name a few.