The first half our day today was spent on a 4-hour bus ride up to Monteverde. On the way, we drove through an area that was quite a bit less developed than what we were used to seeing. After almost a week in the Heredia/San Jose area, we had gotten accustomed to busy roads with many motorbikes and red taxis. Once we got out of the city today, we saw a much more rural area, with small, simple houses. Pets and farm animals were roaming free on the dirt roads, and there didn’t seem to be a very high regard for automotive safety. There were a few times where I thought our bus was getting a little too close to either other cars or the edge of the road, but we made it safe and sound.
Another thing I noticed along the way were all the sodas. While the name sounds like a type of beverage stop, a soda is a typical Costa Rican roadside eatery, in which the family inside will prepare anyone who shows up a meal. We saw quite a few of these, and we hadn’t seen many, if any, in the city. I think this is because the rural areas are more tightly knit, and therefore households are more willing to open their doors to guests.
Overall, as I reflect on these last five days, my perception of Costa Rica has definitely deviated from my expectations coming in. Based on what was covered in our pre-departure meetings, I expected Heredia to be a crime-ridden, disease-plagued, and impoverished area. Looking back on it, I’m sure they were only preparing us for the worst. Another thing I did not expect, and something that I alluded to in an earlier blog post, is how kind the majority of Ticos are. In my previous post where I mention this, I had only been in the country for a couple of days. As more time passed, I continued to have positive experience after positive experience with the locals here. As my Spanish has been improving, I’ve begun to feel more comfortable greeting Ticos on the street, as well as conversing with cab drivers. I’m extremely confident that by the time we all leave, we will have all had many more meaningful interactions with the people here, and our perception of the country will continue to improve.