A Quick Look At La Concepcion

As I’ve mentioned previously my current position as house sitter here in Potrerillos Arriba ends in November. I have written how I like the small town of Dolega down the hill a ways. But I decided to expand the possible places to move by taking a look at the town of La Concepcion yesterday.

When I first started looking for somewhere to live while I was in the States I’d made contact with someone who lives in Boqueron to the west of David. After some initial correspondence he said he had found someone who wanted the spot. Then, a little while later, he said that person had backed out and had fallen in love with the town of La Concepcion and decided to move there instead. By that time I had found this current gig so Boqueron was out.

I’ll start out with the one good thing I can say about La Concepcion…the buses run there every few minutes and transportation would be much better than it is here near the top of the hill.

I got out early yesterday and at the terminal in David was on a bus to La Concepcion within minutes of my arrival at the terminal. It wound through some city streets so I no know how to get to a couple of places that I’d normally taken cabs to before. A spike in the learning curve.

In short order we were on the Interamerican Highwyay and out in the countryside and it was interesting since I’d never been out in that direction before, headed towards the Costa Rican border. We passed a few dozen small fonda type restaurants and a bunch of auto junk yards on the journey and turned off the road towards downtown La Concepcion.

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression and my first impression of the place was “what a dump.” Trash everywhere. Now David isn’t the cleanest place I’ve ever been. In spite of the copious amounts of rainfall at this time of year there seems to be a “dusty” crust to the commercial area that doesn’t seem to wash away. But there are neighborhoods in David that rival many you’d find in southeast Florida. Nice, well-kept houses in clean neighborhoods. The residents of Dolega take pride in their town. For the most part it is clean. Very little trash is to be seen along the sides of the streets. That’s not to say there aren’t some lots and houses there you wouldn’t want to live next to but for the most part Dolega it seems to be a nice place to put down roots. I like it. La Concepcion, on the other hand. . . well, let me put it like this. . . when I got off the bus at the town center all I wanted to do was FLEE!

Some people would say it’s vibrant. And there’s a lot going on right there in the center. There are small kioskos selling all kinds of goodies. Sort of mini WallMarts. Cheap plastic crap.

There were pickup trucks pulled to the curb selling fresh produce which is a good thing.

And the people enjoy their park. It was filled with people just watching the passing parade. But underlying it all was litter. It was as if the people just didn’t care. On the other hand, in Dolega last week while waiting at the bus stop for my ride back home an Indian family came to wait a short distance away. There was mom in her native costume, a little girl dressed like mom and the husband and son were dressed in jeans and shirts. The kids were maybe four or five and each eating some ice cream in cups. When the little boy finished his he dropped the cup on the ground and was instantly cuffed on the back of the head and made to pick up the cup and take it to the trash can about 50 feet or so away. When the little girl finished her ice cream the little boy took her empty cup and ran to deposit it in the trash. I like that.

But I didn’t get that sort of feeling in La Concepcion. Now, it’s a much bigger and busier place than Dolega by a long shot. Around the square there were at least four banks and two decent-sized super markets which are missing in Dolega. There you have a couple of small markets where you can buy basic staples but nothing approaching supermarket status.

There were furniture, clothing and jewelry stores around the square. Pretty much everything you would want you could get right there without having to go in to David as you would have to if you lived in Dolega. I walked out side of the commercial center for a ways but all I could see was trash. Maybe that’s only my perception of the place but it overwhelmed me and in about an hour I was back on a bus headed back to David.


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3 responses to “A Quick Look At La Concepcion

  1. Hi Richard:

    Sorry about your journey to La Concepción. I was born there. After my parents left Changuinola in Bocas del Toro, they settled in this town to enjoy their retirement.

    I lived there occasionally when I came from Costa Rica during my school vacation. I don’t remember seeing all that garbage that you mentioned. It wasn’t all that busy and full of commercial sites either. It was just a small lazy town resting in a flat land where rice was the most abundant product

    I’m sorry to learn that all the charm of this small town has been lost. It’s not a matter of money as we all know; it about attitude, like you pointed out with the kid being scolded because he littered the street.

    Best Regards,


    I don’t know what I expected to find there, Omar, but whatever it was was missing. Perhaps if I’d gone farther from the center of town things would have been better, but I just got the feeling of trash. Perhaps I’m over doing it, but that’s how I saw it. I did notice the positive things that would make it, in some ways, a more comfortable place to be than a small town like Dolega, but overall I like Dolega better. And you’re right, it IS attitude and I was impressed by what that Indian dad did. You’re big on family values and that father is instilling GOOD values in his kids. Let’s hope it continues.

  2. Wow, Richard. What a disappointment. I’ve never walked around in La Concepción – just driven through there on the way to Volcan or to Mida – but I don’t recall being hit in the face by the trash. Too bad.

    Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, and maybe others might not see it the same way, but that’s just what caught my eye, especially when you take a look at the condition of places like Dolega and Potrerillos. And believe me, I’m no neat freak. I’m one of those guys who tends to hang his clothes on the floor. But people used to make fun of the condition of the back seats of my cars. They were always filled with trash. Discarded cigarette packs, around Easter there were empty Peeps boxes, old magazines, etc. Stuff too many people chuck out the window even in the States. I always used to say it was camouflage…anyone thinking of breaking into the car would see all the trash and say, “if this guy’s such a slob there’s probably nothing worth stealing” and move elsewhere.

  3. Places do have personalities, “feels” to them. Atmosphere, I suppose. The flip side of your experience was my trip up to Minneapolis/St. Paul years ago. I’d never flown into that airport and when I came into the terminal, my first thought was, “This place is cleaner than my house!” It sparkled. There wasn’t a bit of litter anywhere. The floors were reflective and I never found a smudged bit of glass.

    Those danged Scandinavians, I suppose. I grew up with them, and they were pretty big on cleanliness.

    I laughed at your comment about the back seat of your car as anti-theft device. I’m driving Mom’s old car, which is an Olds Cutlass Cierra – 1989. I rather enjoy driving a car made of steel, and it still gets terrific gas mileage, but the cosmetics leave a little to be desired. Specifically, the clear-coat is peeling away, as it often does on those old burgundy, blue and forest green cars.

    Anyway. Mom fusses and says we need to buy a new car because it look so bad. I tell here that, in this car theft capital of the world, it’s the best guarantee no one will make off with it 😉