So you know what you are getting into before you decide to visit or invest in Casco Viejo, here are 5 good rules that may save you the trip. If any of these apply to you, Multiplaza Mall or Decameron might be better places for you to spend your valuable vacation or investment time.
1. Squatters: If you are nervous around people outside your socioeconomic level-ie people who are living on what amounts to a few hundred cents a day-you may not like Casco Viejo. While many find this population to be endearing and simply part of what you sign up for, you may be thrown off when you see Paco in his living room skinning a newly-killed hen.
2. Animals: If you are scared by stray dogs and wandering cats, you may not like Casco Viejo because this place is filled with them. Under cars, in the cracks of buildings, hiding in bushes: stray animals and their happy little excrements can be found everywhere in Casco Viejo.
3. Disneyland: If you regularly visit Disneyland, you may not like Casco Viejo. The glitzy castles and new-age technology you may be accustomed to on vacations will be sharply contrasted in the old world colonial-like feel of the Casco community.
4. Completion: If you are one of those people, as a friend so accurately pointed out, that looks at the falling floorboards or crumbling limestone and wants to know “when will it be finished?” you may not like Casco Viejo. Thing is, the beauty of the Casco is its development and the feeling that you are being part of something ever-evolving. If you want a perfect finished product, perhaps try New Orleans?
5. Dirty shops: While it does have some of the city’s most posh restaurants, if you are disgusted by dirty convenient stores selling fly-encompassed meats and other perishable goods without refrigeration, you may not like Casco Viejo. The neighborhood’s small grocery stores known as chinitos have dirty floors, screaming shoppers, and some of the most unhygienic shopping conditions around. Coca Colas cost twenty five cents.
Casco Viejo is not for everyone. The neighborhood gives off a vibe like no other: a feeling of culture, of life, and of being reborn. But in order to fully appreciate it, from outside the double-paned glass of your tour bus, you must accept the Casco’s imperfections just as much as you embrace its beauty.