Costa Rica Is Mostly Not Like Mexico — By Jennifer Shipp
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Costa Rica Is Mostly Not Like Mexico — By Jennifer Shipp

Here we’re walking to the yoga studio from our house in Tambor just outside Alajuela.

In my mind, when we came here, I thought it would be a lot like Mexico…only better. But, Costa Rica is not Mexico. It is like Mexico in some ways: people speak Spanish here and they hang out around the house sleeping in hammocks during the hot part of the day. But this place is very different from the Yucatan where we spent 6 weeks last year. I’m still trying to put my finger on it.

Today we made our way down to the central bus station again. Yesterday, we ended up at the central station by accident. Today, we meant to do it, which was an entirely different experience. Lydian had a breakdown once we got there. She was feeling out of control and totally “capped” as she put it. She yelled at me for a while near a fruit stand and then cried before we were able to move on and search for the Yoga studio that we never found. We did, however, locate a park that hadn’t been mowed in perhaps three weeks where a prolific number of people had gathered to sit and relax amidst the mosquitoes. I’m pretty sure that some guy in a hoodie identified us as good “targets” and started following us but couldn’t keep up and decided we weren’t worth the energy.

Originally this morning we set out on foot. John and I were curious to see how far the nearest business district was on foot. Turns out, it was a long way. We walked about three miles and then gave up and went back to a bus station to do the journey in a less strenuous, less dangerous way. The little business district had the usual fare: mechanic shop, shoes, fried chicken. I pushed my nose against the window hoping to see something interesting like language classes or even a church. But the church was deserted and the only thing I spied through the window on the other side of the bus was something called the Centro de Educacion y Nutrition. I wrote it down in my little notepad, but I wondered what they’d have to teach us in a nutrition course. How to eat fried chicken?

Seriously, there’s a lot of fried chicken here. When I think of Latin American countries, I think tacos and nachos, but here in Costa Rica, there is a fried chicken venue on every block. Even in our little suburban area, there’s a guy with a sign selling Pollo Frito just down the street. It smells heavenly, but it would certainly kill us either with salmonella or via clogged arteries.

The MegaSuper Mart was not what I expected, though I was proud of us for getting there. It wasn’t exactly disappointing. There was a small Macrobiotics shop inside that had a few essential items and we were able to buy powdered soy milk for what seemed like a slightly more reasonable price than what paid yesterday for the boxed variety ($5.00 per box of Silk). John lingered at the Macrobiotics place trying to explain to the clerk working there that you can use Metamucil as an egg-replacer. This is hard to explain in English, but he can be very persistent about trying to explain obscurities like this in broken Spanish. There are, unfortunately, no appropriate charades that can make sense out of a thought like this once it gets rolling verbally.

I was pleased to see a pharmacy on the way out the door. I always like to take note of where the pharmacies are located when we travel because you just never know when you’ll really need one.

The sun goes down at about 6:00 PM here, which is okay, though it’s a bit earlier than at home in Nebraska. Nonetheless, the days at home are growing shorter in leaps and bounds while the length of a day here isn’t going to change more than 15 minutes the entire time we’re here. This is a bit disorienting, but probably in a good way.

I saw a gringo jogging today. It seemed a little dangerous to me, especially going around blind corners, but perhaps he’s just used to the peril. About fifty yards ahead of us, I saw him fend off a small Chihuahua that tried to attack his heels, but I never saw his body lying in the road, so he must have survived his workout intact.

That being said, I did see an ambulance today. The drivers were smiling, which made me wonder if they were perhaps just out for a joy-ride. Or maybe they just really like their jobs. Anyway, I was impressed to see an ambulance. This is something I never once saw in Mexico.

On our way back to the house, a car started to pass our bus in the other lane, going uphill around a blind corner. The bus driver honked and I thought to myself that he must be upset with the dangerous behavior of the car. But then, as the car pulled around in front of the bus, the driver honked twice and then put his hand out the window to wave amiably to the driver of the car who waved back as though they knew each other. I supposed that as long as neither party could see the dangers of what was going on, it was “okay”.  But in the United States, the bus driver would have been honking at the car in an angry way and perhaps even calling it in to the police.

Related Posts:

Much Walking, Two Buses, and Seemingly Dead Leaf Bugs — By Lydian Shipp

Our Fun Costa Rican Neighbors — By Lydian Shipp

Finding the Alajuela Yoga Studio — By Jennifer Shipp

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