May 30, 2006 (from the past)
We decided to take the express bus to UCR today. This is in what used to be the town of San Pedro, but has since been absorbed into San Jose.
We were waiting at the bus stop with two others, when we saw “our” bus move on without stopping ;(. Well, one of the others waiting for the bus asked us (in Spanish) if we knew the other route for San Pedro. She said that the next bus from this stop would be an hour and a half! We said we didn’t and she took us under her wing – for the rest of the trip! We followed her to the San Jose bus terminal (the one we had taken before), got on the bus, and left right away. She was wearing heels, and walked in the street. This is apparently how the locals navigate (or not) the cracked sidewalks without falling down (now we know!). When we got to the stop in San Jose, she told us when to get off, then said it was a long walk, so we would take a taxi. We piled into a taxi and drove off. She is chatting away with the driver, and we’re just trusting that we will get where we need to go. When the taxi stopped, she didn’t even look at us to pay our share – she just paid the driver and hopped out, beckoning us to follow. We got out at another bus stop, followed her onto the bus, and as we were trying to figure out what to pay, she again beckoned us to follow. She explained that we were continuing, and so don’t pay again. She just told the bus driver that, and all was ok – no pass, no voucher, no nuthin! We still weren’t sure if she was going to UCR, or just somewhere in San Pedro. So, when the bus stopped and she got off, we floundered – she said “come on” and so we did. It was just an ordinary corner – no university in sight. But we followed, and lo and behold – UCR! Campus! Students! And a whole row of bus stops that look like expresses to/from everywhere! Yay! We thanked her, and then I asked if she knew which bus stop was the one for the return bus to Alajuela. I thought she would simply point and go on her way. But no! She walked us down about a block and a half out of her way and showed us the right bus stop sign. And then she asked where we wanted to go on campus! We saw some signs for music and arts, and thought “why not?” She then walked us down the path (more out of her way). We thought “yikes! We can’t take advantage of her any more!” and thanked her (very profusely). She was so nice through the whole trip – truly our San Pedro angel.
We walked around campus for a while, and ate lunch in one of the cafeterias there. The restrooms don’t have toilet paper (bring your own), or soap (bring your own), or towels (byo). There were a lot of people brushing their teeth – we have heard that Costa Ricans are very careful of their teeth, and this seemed to prove the point.
We walked around the area immediately surrounding the campus, looking for live music venues, and checking out the scene. We stopped at a campus information office, and got a map (free!). The campus is pretty big!
We got back to the bus stop and waited for our bus to show. It came ~15 minutes early, and they let us on (usually you can’t get on a long-distance bus that early), and we waited. But the bus filled up before the posted “leaving” time, and so… It left! Early! Something to remember…
This was the express, so we came straight to Alajuela. And its route went right by the old hospital, so we got off close to home! Good thing, because it was raining.