Being from California, I am new to bus systems, and a bit anxious about them. So, we took taxis to and from the hotel in Alajuela. What a mess that was! The taxi to San Jose was ok, but not the return... The first taxi we hailed said he would call a taxi that could take us to Alajuela (instead of just around town in San Jose). When that taxi showed up, we got in, and were half way to Alajuela, when we were handed a cell phone. Someone on the other end explained that since this was a city taxi, and it was taking us to Alajuela, it would cost more – and the meter meant nothing. Grrr. (and this was no place to just get out of the taxi in protest) So, the return trip cost us $17 (going to San Jose cost us $15). Knowing that the bus would have only cost less than a dollar, we are determined that when we go again, we take the bus (no time pressure…).
We found the bus station for San Jose – buses leave there every 15 minutes, so no real wait time. Norman had told us how/when to ring for a stop, and so we naturally confused the heck out of the bus driver. But he let us off (didn’t kick us off) right across the street from our bank (now *that* sounds strange – ‘our’ bank, in Costa Rica). It was a very busy street, but we just followed others when they crossed, and made it (it’s good to be a lemming sometimes ).
We asked at ARCR for directions to the bus stop to return to Alajuela. We got there just as the bus was ready to leave, so no waiting! I think that “waiting” circumstances happen so often, that “no wait” is surely a time for celebration!
This was the bus that went to the “antiguo hospital” – it let us off only ½ block from our hotel – yay! We beat the rain!
On later trips, we walked a visiting family through their first Costa Rican bus ride (they got to skip the taxi ride to San Jose), and rode the buses to several outlying towns for day-trips. I think I'm getting used to this!
The bus system is amazingly complete and convenient, but the stops are a maze - different locations, and signs that are obvious to the experienced.