Always Room for One More…


…Or, Travel Globally, Sweat Locally I must have passed introductory sweating and graduated to intermediate. The bus from Quepos to Dominical takes about and hour and a half. It left at 11:30, the beginning of the hottest hours.

The bus was manufactured by Marcopolo, a popular school bus designer in the US. I recognize their work. Stained, dirty green upholstery. The money the saved by not using shocks was not spent on a/c. But the windows open. Where people have chosen to do so.

It´s 90-frickin´-degrees, the smells alone in this thing could fuel a rocket, and you don´t open your window?!? The official seating capacity is 55 people. Standing room: everyone else in the world! Okay, that´s an exageration. I rummage for my glasses to do some research (only the highest quality writing for you!) 35 passengers on foot are permitted. We started with that many, with several stops in the last half hour. It must be a Costa Rican flash mob alert: “¡Amigos! ¡The bus is full and hot! ¡Vamos!”

Crying babies are endearing in any culture, are they not?

I hope it doesn´t sound like I´m complaining. I signed up for this. Have a local experience and all that. Things have eased up over the last few stops. Enough people got off that everyone is seated. Or there are bodies collapsed on the floor out of my range of vision. We´re on a highway and going fast enough to create something of a breeze. The scenery here is astounding. Jungle-swathed mountains form the background and plantations of palm oil trees line the road, intercepted by maize, banana trees, and other farms.

I am incredibly sleepy. Late dinner, early morning writing. The warmth and swaying of the bus lull my senses. If I sleep there´s no telling where I´ll be at the end of this trip — not terrible, but I´m so looking forward to Dominical, a recommended beach town. A private room for tonight is tempting.

When I went from Playa del Coco to Tamarindo there were a series of transfers to negotiate. Leg 1: Perfecto. I saw a sign toward the next stop, Santa Cruz. Other people at the stop — a dusty, sunny shelter on a highway — confirmed the direction.

Leg 2: Fun. I asked around as we boarded the bus about when to exit. A young woman in front of me spoke excellent English and offered to help. We sat together and chatted for half and hour. Ariela had just graduated and is an English teacher at an elementary school. She spent a year in California as an exchange student in high school, going from zero English to relative fluency in three months. She shared about the frustration of acclimating to a new culture while having limited communication skills. I´ve read numerous accounts of the three-month immersion method to reasonable fluency. You abandon your native language. Study like crazy. Strive to find stituations in which to practice. Voila, you have another language. My new amiga said she had an unusual upbringing  for Costa Rica. It´s not unusual for kids to live with their parents until the elders pass. Not only is there no stigma to it, it´s rather expected. Her parents encouraged her independence and education — her plan is to return to school for an advanced degree, eventually earning her PhD. She told me of her boyfriend, who wants to start a family in the next year. Ariela is in her early 20s  and doesn’t want kids. She said all men in Costa Rica want children; they’re not even engaged and his mother constantly tells her that she needs grandchildren while she’s young enough to enjoy them.

****Bird alert: a toucan just flew by my window!****

This chica displayed a sureness in herself that is rarely apparent at home, and I know it’s not encouraged in women here.

Leg 3: Efficient. Ariela knew a shorter bus route. We deboarded near the middle of nowhere to wait for the next connection. A man informed us it was at least an hour wait. However, one’s friends often drive past the stop and would offer a ride if they did, which occurred as the words left Ariela’s mouth. We went as far as her boyfriend’s mother’s restaurant, where I could catch another bus to Tamarindo.

Leg 4: Rapido. It came along in about 15 minutes, just as I had decided to hitch a ride. And this is why I want to learn to sweat.

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About ThesePartsUnknown

I write, I travel, I make art.
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