Today was a day filled with walking, if I do say so myself. We did achieve our goals, in the end, but I’ll get to that.
As we exited the house and checked our bags to make sure that we had everything we needed, and suddenly noticed a “leaf” on the wall. No, it’s a bug! It wasn’t moving, but it seemed to like the lighter shade of yellow on the wall in opposition to the darker shade further to the right.
We were going for a walk. Just because we had kind of oriented ourselves at a certain distance from the one and only intersection we knew of, we decided to be adventurous, and wander off on the street going left. I figured that we were probably going to go for a little while until we figured we better turn back because it might rain.
Coffee and chocolate are commonly grown products here, and one might think that there would be coffee and chocolate products EVERYWHERE. So far, what I’ve found is that when you find chocolate, it’s in the form of a powdered chocolate drink mix, and when you discover coffee, it’s usually in the same supply as that in the United States.
Along the walk to the main intersection we passed an older man and a boy probably my age, both on horses. The old man had a horde of dogs following behind him, all yipping uncontrollably.
Dogs, are the most common animal here so far, and most of them are pets, unlike some of the other places I’ve been. In China, there were no animals, other than their pet birds. In Turkey, cats ran loose, and worked for food by begging at outside restaurant tables. In Morocco, there were cats. Lots of cats out and about. I also must say about Costa Rica that it isn’t uncommon to find Chihuahuas attempting to be big, vicious dogs. They may chase you, in which case, fake a kick. They’ll back off, but you may have to do this a few times.
As we walked down the edge of the street and tried not to run into trees, step in mud, or get run over by the cars driving at speeds way too high for the area, a man running in the road passed us. I have no clue where the dog came from, but he must have thought that the man was a car or something because he launched himself from his hiding place and ran after the man as fast as his little legs could carry him. The yipping was high pitched and frenzied as the man attempted to get the dog to go away by stopping abruptly, running faster, and kicking at it. The dog went away eventually, but probably only because he saw us and decided we would be easier prey. It was a little dog, but he was mighty malicious.
There were huge coffee plants where we stopped and decided to turn around to go back to our house. There was a blue building like a small warehouse that probably said something like, “Coffee irrigation control.” Although this was where we decided to turn back, it wasn’t when the day ended. We had walked a little ways, and we heard a bus pull up behind us. Turns out, it went to Alajuela. We went ahead and hopped on the bus.
Once we successfully got into Alajuela after a somewhat lengthy bus ride of about ten minutes, we stopped at the Mega Super. Mission One accomplished. I’m beginning to think that milk, soy milk, rice milk, ANY milk, is very expensive in Costa Rica. For one, non-refrigerated box of any kind of milk, one must pay five dollars or more. We checked at both the Mega Super and at the Pali to see if we could find cheaper options, but to not avail.
As I was standing and eating my chocolate peanut butter CLIF bar waiting for my dad to get out of the restroom, I contemplated the Mega Super. It looked like it was an older building, like most grocery stores that aren’t Walmarts (at least the ones I’ve been in). I had just begun thinking that it was actually kind of nice when something that hasn’t happened to me anywhere but in my bathroom at home. A spider was dangling in front of my face. I looked at it. It looked at me. Finally, I realized that this little spider would need a lot of space to successfully get back up to the ceiling, which was a long ways up. So I backed up, and watched him as he began his long ascent.
Next, we hopped a bus going downtown, and looked at where we were going. I saw the music store that I had spied a day or two ago not far away from the Mega Super. It was upstairs in a white building in a rather desolate area down the street from a market and near to a ferreteria (hardware store). I made note of this so I could find my way there (maybe).
The bus dropped us off, and I was thinking, why is everyone getting off here? And then I remembered. When everyone gets off the bus, you’re either at the station, or you have just gotten to the tourist attraction that everyone wants to go to. Duh. Out we got, orienting ourselves as well as we could.
The feeling of getting off of a bus in a foreign county is similar to confusion. It’s like you’ve just entered into a new world, and your only connection to the familiar world is leaving you for dead. I could describe it as a mix somewhere between confusion, betrayal, and terror.
After getting off of the bus and walking to the bus station, we walked the block around the station. We discovered many things. First of all, we discovered many shoe shops. Similar to Mexico, shoe shops are a popular thing here in Costa Rica, but, unlike Mexico, there are few women wearing high heels here. I’ve seen quite a few women in high heels, but compared to the Yucatan where it seems like every woman wears high heels, very few women wear them here.
I’m not sure exactly what the Pali reminded me of, but I know it reminded me of something. It’s a line of stores, as far as I can tell. At least it LOOKED like the sign had a corporate-looking logo on it, so I assume it’s part of a line. It was stocked with a number of different foods including chayote, which is an avocado-squash-like-thing that should not under any circumstances be used for guacamole. (UPDATE: Treat it more like you would a potato. Perhaps do a stir fry with chayote and a variety of other vegetables. Do not put it in a smoothie or any other dessert.)
When we first walked into the Pali, the first thing I noticed was the rice. Big piles of bagged rice. People must love their rice here, because there sure is a lot of it where ever you go. Currently, we eat homemade beans and rice pretty often after is a after our excursions out on the town in Alajuela.
Getting home was relatively easy, we just got on one of the buses that said “Poas,” and rode on it until we got to our street in Tambor, and then began the long uphill trek back up to our house. When we got back, the leaf bug was still waiting for us, right where he had been when we left earlier in the day.
(NOTE: This post was written when I was 12. I edited it in 2017 for grammatical errors and other technical stuff, but maintained the content to preserve my 12-year-old perspective)