May 1st in Costa Rica is a national holiday called el Dia de los Trabajadores (Labor Day). Since we didn’t have any classes that day, some friends and I decided to go on a coffee tour in Heredia (a neighboring town about 30 minutes away). We found out from the local tour agency that it’s much cheaper to take the city bus than to spend 15 extra dollars for Café Brit’s transportation. So, being frugal adventurous students, we decided to navigate the public transportation on our own.
We woke up early, and headed into downtown San Jose to find the bus stop. As we approached the street that google had located for the bus stop, instead of seeing cars and normal traffic, we saw cones. The street had been marked off for a parade. Hundreds of people flooded the streets wearing different colored shirts, carrying flags, signs, and balloons yelling various chants.
After listening to the marching bands and megaphones blaring for a good thirty minutes, we decided it was time to find out way to the bus stop. We walked up and down the street, weaving our way through the crowds only to realize that there were no busses operating on their usual routes. We decide to start asking for navigational help. After various attempts to ask for directions from pedestrians who didn’t know where the stop was, I finally decided to ask a police officer. The police man motioned to the left and said two blocks over and across from Samuelitos. Those were the clearest directions we had gotten all morning, and sure enough, he was right. We got on the bus and took it to the very last stop, in the middle of downtown Heredia.
We were running kind of late, so I went up to the first taxi I saw and asked if he knew where Café Brit was located. The taxi driver told me he was waiting to take another passenger, but introduced me to his friend who had a taxi right there waiting. This taxi was not red, had no yellow triangle, and no meter, but for some reason I got in the car and felt like it would be safe. I would never recommend anyone else doing this, but I followed my gut and it was fine. I even had a much cheaper ride than it normally would be (1,500 colones for a 15 minute ride). It was a miracle that I made it there safely and navigated my way to Heredia, despite the parade and the change of bus stop locations.
It was well worth the long way there because the Café Britt tour was fascinating! I love coffee, so for me it was great to learn about the roots of the coffee industry. Café Britt is one of the top export brands of coffee in Costa Rica, and their coffee tour is one of the top tourist attractions in the country as well. We learned about the growing and roasting processes in an entertaining, informative and hands-on coffee experience. Our Café Britt guide handed out chocolate covered coffee beans before we began to get us caffeinated and excited to learn about coffee’s history. In our tour group, there were people from Australia, Nicaragua, Colorado, and Costa Rica so information was repeated equally in Spanish and in English. All in all, it was great to learn about the techniques they use to get different flavors from the beans and to see the beans growing. Plus we got tons of free samples of coffee and chocolate, I was pretty much in heaven!