Costa Rica News – The group known as “Amigos del Torres RiverWalk Costa Rica” have a number of goals. The first goal is to encourage the government to clean the Rio Torres, which runs through downtown San José, and to keep it clean. A second goal is to establish a “River Walk.” This will be a nature walk along the banks of a clean Rio Torres that will become a popular destination both for residents and for tourists.
While much of the discussion among the Amigos regarding these goals focuses on the environment, it is also helpful to consider the economic benefits. A clean river and a popular River Walk will be beneficial to businesses and to homeowners near the river.
One such business is Talentum, a combination restaurant, coffee house and art gallery. Talentum is located in the heart of historic Barrio Amon on Avenida 11, next door to the Mona Lisa Hotel and Casino. And it is just one block from the Rio Torres.
If you don’t know Talentum, it is hard to miss. The building was previously a staid and proper private home built in the 1940’s. But the artsy folks who run Talentum decided to attach chairs to the outside wall. It will definitely get your attention.
We recently spoke with Talentum’s owner, Gabriela Catarinella. In addition to being a business owner, Ms. Catarinella is also an Amigo of RiverWalk Costa Rica.
“We all want to see the river clean.” She says. “It is a goal that will take a lot of work. We need to encourage the residents and the businesses along the river to respect the laws and regulations, and we need changes from the city’s waste water treatment.”
Ms. Catarinella can also envision a day in the future when a clean Rio Torres and a popular River Walk will be a big attraction for the area. “If more people are visiting this neighborhood, then more people will be visiting my restaurant.” Says Ms. Catarinella. “This will be a boost for all the businesses in this area.”
Each weekday, Talentum offers a lunch special in addition to their standard menu, which includes soups, sandwiches and pizza. Later in the afternoon, patrons will often drop by for coffee and one of Talentum’s home-made pastries or pies.
alentum is not just a restaurant. It is also a popular center for, what Ms. Catarinella calls, “emerging” Costa Rican artists. Everywhere you look you will see objects of art; some of them whimsical and a bit silly, and others that are more traditional pieces. They range from mobiles hanging from the ceiling to oil paintings to carvings and ceramics.
Among the pieces on the ground floor, one of the standouts is called “Invisible Woman.” It is a fascinating work that was carved in Costa Rican hardwood by Jaquielin Cordoba. You will have to stand back and look at it for a minute. Take your time . . . look . . . take a breath, and suddenly, like magic, you will see the invisible woman. It is a very creative and interesting piece of art.
Talentum has been a very positive development for the area known as Barrio Amon. This part of Downtown San José, stretches from the Holiday Inn tower, north to the Rio Torres and the Simon Bolivar Zoo. During the first half of the 20th century this was the most fashionable part of the city. But for decades, it has been a neighborhood in decline.
However, in the last few years, there has been a resurgence of new businesses. There are new restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, and even a jazz club that have located in Barrio Amon.
“We are just at the beginning,” said Ms. Catarinella. Steps taken now to clean the Rio Torres will help Barrio Amon return to its prominent past. A clean Rio Torres will not just be an environmental success, but it will be an economic boost as well.
Talentum is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Wednedays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed weekends.
This is all part of The Real San José. Michael Miller is the author of the first and only guidebook that focuses on Downtown San José, Costa Rica, titled: The Real San José.