Friday I went to Alajuela early for my appointment at the government hospital to get an appointment scheduled with my Cardiologist in Nov-Dec for my annual checkup (yeah, its weird to have an appointment to get an appointment), plus I had a package to pick up at Aeropost and a couple of items to get at PriceSmart.
Wow! I had not been to Alajuela since the Coronavirus scare hit and it has nearly as many cases as San Jose as the second largest city (and my provincial capital by the way). EVERYTHING WAS DIFFERENT!
1st, to get to the hospital early enough for shorter lines, I took the 6:30 AM bus, which is usually packed with people going to work, shopping, appointments, visits, etc. There were just 5 of us passengers on the bus – scattered out one to a seat. And at the entrance to bus was a bottle of hand sanitizer.
2nd, as the bus arrived in Alajuela I could immediately see a difference with fewer cars and people – some streets like a ghost town!
3rd, no wait for a taxi with few people there to use them.
4th, when I got to the hospital, there were few people out front as I was expecting by now, but I wasn’t expecting to be turned away! When I got to the door a guard was stopping everyone and I showed him my cita (appointment paper) and he rattled off several things rapidly that I did not fully understand but I think he was basically telling me “no” that “all appointments not emergencies are canceled.” Bottom line, he would not let me in! 🙂
I got there early on purpose to avoid a long wait, yet I still expected to spend an hour or more. But I spent only 5 minutes there and it was now about 7:20 AM, with Aeropost not opening until 9 and PriceSmart at 9:30. Ugh! Oh well, I drank no coffee at home that morning and had only a bowl of cold cereal, so I took my time walking about 8 blocks to the nearest McDonald’s for breakfast.
5th, I entered the biggest MacDonald’s in Central Alajuela with only one other customer inside! Like the bus, they had hand sanitizer at the counters. I took my time with ham & eggs and lots of coffee while reading the Washington Post. At about 8:30 I began the 6 block walk to Aeropost, getting there 10 minutes before they opened officially.
6th, at Aeropost I only waited a few minutes before one of the clerks, who recognized me through the glass (I’m a regular), came out with my little package, so I did not even have to be one of their limit of 3 customers inside the store – see sign below. And the bright red & green sign reflected backwards in their window is a MegaSuperMercado, a downtown chain-supermarket across the street! The English translation of their home-made sign: “Maximum 3 customers within the branch.” In what they call a “branch office.” That is also the feature photo and the recommended “Social Distancing” to help stop the spread of the virus. Costa Rica is doing its part one little business at a time! 🙂
7th, Because of the time I saved from the hospital rejection, I had about 30 minutes before PriceSmart even opened, so I just walked the 12 or so blocks to PriceSmart which opens at 9:30. This is one way I get my exercise! 🙂 And in so doing, I walked by Alajuela Central Park which, like the one in Atenas, is closed with yellow tape wrapped all around the whole block:
8th, at the entrance to PriceSmart (our store like Costco or Sam’s Club) they not only had a bottle of hand sanitizer, but specifically asked me to please use it while the lady wiped off the handle of my push cart. But unlike everywhere else I had been that morning, they were full of people and at opening time! Full with long check-out lines! And still some crazy bulk-buying by the panicked!
I actually don’t like this store which is too expensive, too large a quantity of things, and not consistent in their stocking; BUT they usually have about 5 or so items I cannot get anywhere else – things I really like. (Another option might be at AutoMercado, an American-styled supermarket specializing in American brands, but their location is not as handy for me as PriceSmart, as a bus rider.)
When I got out of PriceSmart it was a little after 10, meaning I had just missed the 10 o’clock bus! In the mornings the return buses only run on the hour (tho every 30 minutes in the afternoon), so I just slowly walked the 6 blocks to the bus stop for Atenas and still had time to read a little of my new mystery book before it left at 11. Oh well, another morning is gone! But hey! I’m Retired in Costa Rica and this kind of virus-influenced inconvenience is simply part of my daily adventure! Its what you do when you are retired in Costa Rica! 🙂
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”