Walking the Streets in Alajuela, Costa Rica — By Jennifer Shipp
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Walking the Streets in Alajuela, Costa Rica — By Jennifer Shipp

ImageI missed a few days of writing because we’ve been either busy or really exhausted from being busy. Finding our way in and out of Alajuela for our classes takes quite a bit of energy right now. We’re still working with how to make our way home from the classes safely. If we take the bus from downtown Alajuela (which cost the three of us about $1.60 USD), we have to walk about 30 minutes up the street with the wreckless drivers to get to our home. If we take a taxi each night, it costs between $10 and $15 ($10 USD if we take the bus first from downtown to the MegaSuper and $15 if we just take the taxi all the way from downtown).

I talked with Francisco, (the van driver who picked us up at the Alajuela Costa Rica airport) about possibly giving us a discount if he drove us around a lot and he seemed a little turned off by the idea. I’m not fluent enough in Spanish to be a savvy negotiator either.  All I know is if I want John, Lydian, and I to get dropped off at the front door, we’ll have to pay about $40 USD per week to do it. According to Victoria, our landlady, it may be worth it because the bus stop at the bottom of the hill gets a little “dodgy” at night. And night, of course, happens around 6:00 PM all year round.

ImageI’ve been trying to develop a reasonable plan to get us into and out of Alajuela from our little suburban jungle (complete with a lion, thank God, or we’d never find our house). The buses in Alajuela  run from 5:00 AM to 10:30 PM. The abastecedores stay open until about 8:00 PM every night along Calle Vargas apparently, except on Sundays. As long as we get to the street sometime before 8:00 PM, it seems likely that the street would still be relatively safe because there would be places to go for help (maybe?). It’s a long walk to the top of the hill after doing 2 to 4 hours of martial arts or yoga downtown.

Last night we took a bus part of the way home to the MegaSuper and then caught a cab. The taxis run 24 hours a day, but they get more sporadic the farther away from downtown Alajuela we get. We pass through the San Jose barrio (neighborhood) on our way to Calle Vargas and I’m wondering if we should try disembarking from the bus there and then catching a cab. That might be a little cheaper even still, but we’d get to end up on our doorstep instead of a mile and a half away from home. The only problem with the San Jose barrio is that the bus that I’m familiar with stops in this desolate little area that’s covered with gang graffiti. It seems rather rough looking through the bus window on our way to downtown, but I have no real experience with the place other than peering through the glass. I hate experimenting with the safety of new places without having a big can of bear spray on me or a 900 volt tazer. It’s not like we’re in Nicaragua or Iran or something, but when it gets dark out, it feels irresponsible to perform dangerous experiments like walking along new streets in unfamiliar Costa Rican neighborhoods.

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