Last Friday, I decided to hike Barva Volcano. I wasn’t sure exactly where that was, or how I would get there, but I figured that I was comfortable enough speaking the language to explore the surrounding towns on my own, and yanno, not die. So I had a plan, sort of. Throwing caution to the wind, I boarded the first bus to downtown San José to find my way to Heredia. Throughout my journey (perhaps, an Odyssey), I kept notes of my experience as I travelled to the volcano.
Over a breakfast of turkey sausages and bread, my Mamá-Tica says she is worried about my travelling solo out of town. Have no fear, Mamá—I have done much, much more stupid and dangerous things in my life than this. This is nothing I can’t handle!
After giving a quick glance at bus routes on Google Maps on the Veritas computers, I departed for downtown San José on the Barrio Lujan bus. The price was 280 colones (about $0.50). I love how cheap Costa Rican Public Transportation is!
Choking on the air pollution, I have arrived at Parque de La Merced in downtown San José. Now where do I go?
Good news, someone pointed me in the direction of the Heredia bus stop. It was only a few blocks away. Confusingly enough, there were at least 7 empty Heredia buses, idling on the street where I stood. For only 520 colones ($1.00), I had the entire bus to myself.
So that was weird. The bus driver said something to me in rapid Spanish. At the time I had no idea what he was saying. I thought he was kicking me off the bus. However, when I saw a full Heredia bus parked behind us with its rear doors open, I realized he wanted me to board that bus so he could loop back around and, hopefully, pick up some more people. I am finally on my way to Heredia
OMG we just passed the huge Pozuelo cookie factory. It smelled like diabetes, it was beautiful. Did I mention I was hungry?
Cultural difference! The bus driver just slammed on the brakes to barter with a man selling some kind of citrus fruit, through the window, on the street. Unfortunately, he didn’t end up buying. I was disappointed.
Costa Rica has a Hooters?
Two more boring bus rides later to Barva and then to San José de la Montaña, and I have arrived at the base of Barva volcano. This thing is HUGE. This town is the end of the line for the buses. I did not realize that I had at least another 20km to go to the national park… How am I going to do this?
There was a group of three women standing around near the bus station. I asked them, in Spanish if they were going to the volcano. Luckily, they had just called a cab to take them to the top and asked if I would like to join them. Of course, I said yes.
The cab was a red, rusted, beat up sedan. I learned that the women were from País Vasco in Spain and were travelling through Latin and South America. They have travelled all over the world as well. One woman had been to more parts of the US than I!
The cab driver reached a point in the road where he could go no further. 3 km from the top, he said we had to walk the rest of the way. I said goodbye to my new Spanish friends and hiked up the dirt farm roads.
COWS!!! A man was walking 20 cows down the road towards me.
Finally, I made it to the top. I was at the entrance of the national park. Through my experience, I learned how easy it is to use public transportation around Costa Rica. The people are extremely friendly and will go out of their way to make sure you find your destination. I would never have made it to the volcano had it not been for the friendly locals who helped me along the way.