Our bus ride today revealed another side of Costa Rica. Rather than seeing the hustle and bustle of the city, we were able to see Costa Rica’s natural beauty along the beaches of the Pacific Coast and in the mountain rain forests. I observed many differences between Heredia and what I saw today during the long and bumpy three hour car ride.
The communities we saw today are very different that those of Heredia and San Jose. The houses in Heredia and San Jose are built so that the walls of adjacent houses are touching. Also, the outside of the houses are well kept, there is always traffic, and there are people constantly walking in the streets. I observed the opposite in the communities along the Pacific Coast and Monteverde. Most houses (except the ones along the beach) looked as if they had not been cleaned or fixed up since they were built. I saw multiple houses with holes in the walls and wood panels that were crooked. Also, since the community is rural, the houses are spread apart and each one has its own plot of land. Another difference I saw was that there were not a lot of people walking the streets or traffic, which makes sense because there are less people in a less crowded area. I liked how these areas are quieter and everyone has a plot of land, rather than the houses being built on top of each other. I was also surprised by how many people had satellite dishes on their houses.
The scenery along the Pacific Coast and in Monteverde is also very different than in Heredia and San Jose. Heredia and San Jose both have views of the mountains, but they are from very far away. However, along the Pacific Coast we had amazing views of the beach. As we drove further into the mountains and closer to Monteverde, it seemed like everything became green. I was fascinated by the size of the rainforests and impressed that Costa Rica is able to protect all of this land from deforestation these days. As we continued up the mountains the views became even better because we were able to see the rainforest up close and the ocean far in the distance. Even though the views from Heredia are gorgeous, those that I saw today are even better.
I was surprised to see large American chain restaurants (such as Quizno’s, Taco Bell, KFC, and Burger King) in Heredia and San Jose because I was only expecting to see soda, pulperias, and the central market. Even though these can all be found in Heredia and San Jose, I saw many more sodas and pulperias on the streets on our way to Monteverde. They all looked clean and well maintained. Also, I did not see a lot of diversity in the street shops, most were either for fresh food or groceries.
Heredia and San Jose may differ from the Pacific Coast and Monteverde in a lot of ways, but the Ticos seem to stay the same throughout all of Costa Rica. Whether you are in Heredia, San Jose, or Monteverde, everyone is very nice, friendly, and willing to help. The lifestyle of the rural Ticos is different than those who live in the urban areas. The Ticos that live along the Pacific Coast and in the rainforest have land to tend to, so I think this is why their houses do not look as well kept because they have to worry about a large plot of land.
When I arrived in Costa Rica on Saturday, I expected to see a very old and run down city. However, Heredia and San Jose were not like this at all, as they both have a modern twist to them and are cleaner than I expected. My perspective on the Ticos has changed a lot. I thought they would dislike have “gringos” around, especially a large crowd of twenty of us, but they are always welcoming us to Costa Rica! I am still pleasantly surprised by how polite the Ticos are. Also, I did not realize how modern some aspects of Costa Rica are. For a very small country, they still have most of the technology that we have in the United States. Finally, I am still in love with this country. From the moment we arrived to now, my perspective on the culture and look of Costa Rica has changed, but I still love everything about Costa Rica!
I really enjoyed the bus ride to Monteverde because I was able to see more than just Costa Rican city life. I cannot wait to go hiking tomorrow and explore more of the beautiful country!