Buses in costa rica

Bus service in Costa Rica is reliable and inexpensive. It offers a good opportunity to mix with the people, perhaps in closer quarters than we of

automobile-minded societies are accustomed to. You may actually have to rub shoulders with someone, but you will sense the nature of those people by the time the trip is over. And they might have a glimpse of yours.

My bus travels have revealed a genuinely courteous people-helpful, friendly, good-humored, dignified. No pigs and chickens in these buses. The vehicles are usually clean (unfortunately, a few still carry a sign advising passengers to throw trash out the window rather than litter the bus!) and so are the Costa Ricans who use them. I have encountered some foreign tourists in Costa Rica who must have thought that "back to nature" in the tropics meant going without a bath. Not so for Costa Ricans: for them, personal cleanliness truly is next to godliness.

Intercity fares from San Jose usually do not exceed $15 one-way; once in the provinces, local bus services can usually move travelers to other destinations without a return to the capital.

Sometimes seats can be reserved with advance ticket purchase. If not, go to the bus stop at least an hour early. If the bus line has an office there, buy the ticket and get in line. If there is no office, you buy a ticket from the driver or his assistant. Ask if you are in line for the bus you want. Verify that it's the right bus when you get on. Most buses carry only seated passengers but not always so in outlying areas. Check your ticket to see if it is for an assigned seat; some routes assign seats, others don't.

As for luggage, some buses have compartments underneath; some have overhead luggage racks adequate only for a small pack or bag, and others allow luggage to be stored next to the driver. Newer long-distance buses have adequate legroom, while some of the old ones bring back memories of riding on a school bus: the seats are the same, but you are bigger.

Watch your belongings! If you end up standing in a crowded bus, watch your pockets. Even with those courteous, helpful, friendly, dignified people around you, a bad apple may be on board. Be especially careful with checked luggage. Get off the bus quickly to claim it at your destination. If you put a bag on an overhead rack, keep your eye on it, especially before the bus leaves and at intermediate stops.

On longer trips, carry bottled water, maybe a snack. Don't expect a rest room on board. If your destination is not the town itself, ask the driver to let you off as close as possible. In towns, taxis usually meet incoming buses.

1 look forward to bus trips off the major highways. The driver may stop to chat a minute with another driver if you meet another bus on your route, or he may be flagged down by a housewife asking him to pick up something in town and drop it off on the return trip. These buses are a lifeline in rural areas.

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