Wonderful Weather

IMG_9607 -Blog-WEBOne reason for choosing the “Central Valley” area to live in my retirement in Costa Rica was the weather and more specifically Atenas is the weather, which averages around 72° year around and a National Geographic article writer once stated that Atenas has “the best weather in the world.” Thus on the back of all our buses is the slogan: “Viste Atenas – Mejor Clima del Mundo.” (Visit Atenas – Best Weather in the World)  No one here has air conditioner or heater in their house! I sleep under just a sheet or one blanket with all my windows open, year around. Header photo is view from my house terrace. 

For example, today’s AccuWeather forecast has Atenas with a high of 79° and low of 64°https://www.accuweather.com/en/cr/atenas/111860/weather-forecast/111860     I formatted it for U.S. English and Farenheit temps but if it comes up Spanish and Centigrade you can change at top of page. Compare that to the U.S. weather forecast! (Rain, snow, ice)  Or here to other expat communities like cold & rainy San Ramon and Grecia or hot & humid coastal areas or smoggy San Jose .

I enjoyed visiting the ocean Christmas Week, but would not want to live there because it is very hot and humid year around. But some prefer that. And most expats who move to the coast have air conditioning in their house, a big additional expense, year around! Plus generally everything else is much more expensive there (think tourist prices) AND they are further away from the best medical care and the best shopping options.

Christopher Howard today posted on his “Live in Costa Rica” Blog an article that says even more than this about the weather here:


¡Pura Vida!

Back Home Buses

Orosi Scouts in Cartago (through a dirty bus window)
These five teens are Scouts from Orosi who rode the bus with me to Cartago, for an event I imagine.
Girls and boys are all in the same Scout program here, wearing bright blue shirts & navy pants + scout neckerchiefs.
But note the two girls and one of boys have on jackets because it was in the 60’s farenheit this morning.
And yeah, that is very cold here! And they got off the bus earlier than me is why the bus window shot.
Cartago, Costa Rica

“Coca Cola” Bus Station in San Jose
It is on the site of an old Coca Cola bottling plant and thus the name.
I waited only about 10 minutes for this bus to load and no wait in Cartago!
But the bus from Cartago went to the Lumaca Station and I took a taxi to here
which was another 10 minutes!  Note the row of pay phones, a disappearing sight, even here.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Most working people in Costa Rica travel by bus rather than by car (only rich people have cars) and thus it is a good way to get to know people and culture here, not to mention the language! I used my rough Spanish a lot this week since not too many in Orosi cater to English-only North Americans. 
It has been a good week and both bus trips were good and fairly easy. My biggest learning experience on this trip was that I will try to avoid B&B’s in the future. First because I prefer to have a “built-in” restaurant and/or close to good restaurants. Second, she had 3 big dogs and 2 cats and thus almost no birds and the animals hovered a lot when I was out of my cabin, wanting my attention. Plus she did not mop the bathroom the whole 4 nights I was there and provided only one hand towel and the one knife in the kitchen was not sharp enough to cut the peeling on all the fruit she provided for my breakfasts. Not my favorite lodging in Costa Rica, but the birding and local tours were great and I have a lot of photos! The Orosi area is a beautiful and great place to explore AND bird!
¡Pura Vida!

Bus Schedules

The two most important, most used for me are to Alajuela & to San Jose, at Atenas Bus Station:


These printed schedules can be changed easier than the old painted ones.
I go to Alajuela for Aeropost, Pricesmart, Walmart, movies, restaurants, mall
But can’t stay too late, last bus back is at 10:30 pm!  🙂  Past my bedtime!
45 minute ride station to station either way

I go to San Jose less often for lawyer, US Embassy, government offices
and sometimes museums, concerts, other cultural events.
It is also the hub for buses to anywhere in Costa Rica.
Next month I will go through San Jose to get to Orosi, Costa Rica.
1 hour ride station to station either way except rush hour is longer

I keep copies of these inside my closet door in case I’m going at an irregular time. The schedules are also posted on the website www.coopetransatenas.com  Click “Horario” and then the dropbox down arrow to click the town you want to go to. “Buscar” after choosing the town will give you a full week schedule like the above. In Costa Rica thousands of people use buses every day to go to work or take care of business, medical appointments, shopping, etc.

SALE = to leave or go out of
L aV = Lunes a viernes or Monday to Friday
SAB Y FER = Sábado y ferias or Saturday and holidays
DOM = Domingo or Sunday

FOR BUS SCHEDULES BEYOND ATENAS you English speakers are lucky that there is one in English available at http://thebusschedule.com/EN/cr/index.php  in which you fill in the form for where you want to travel, the date and time of day and they will give you a bus itinerary for your trip and often several options. It is what I use to plan my trips. It couldn’t be easier, but some Americans are still afraid to try the buses which go to almost every town in the country. This is the way local people travel! And yes, it is slower than going in your car but at an enormous savings and I would say generally safer plus more social with more cultural experiences and certainly more relaxing than driving. Where I do spend the money (still cheaper than a car) is to avoid some long bus rides I will take one of the local airlines to more distant places. Lazy old man! 
One of the Coopetransatenas Buses leaving the Alajuela Station
In San Jose there are lots of other bus companies to other towns
and most have similar equipment, from Germany, China or Korea usually
¡Pura Vida!

Waiting in line – Esperando en la fila.

Through the front window of my Alajuela bus is the line of people getting on the San Jose bus.
Like I had earlier done for my Alajuela bus with all ages and all walks of life waiting patiently.
Waiting in line is a part of life in Costa Rica; buses, banks, post office, medical services, etc.
It builds patience and patience builds character. Pura Vida!   🙂
The bus broke down on the outskirts of Atenas today and in about 10 or 12 minutes another bus was there to collect us all and on to Alajuela. We arrived 15 minutes later than expected. Not bad! In more than 2.5 years this is only the second bus I’ve had to break down and both were replaced in minutes! Our buses are on time, efficient service, nice, large and modern equipment from different manufacturers. Some are labeled “Daewood” which I think is a South Korea company, but not sure. I think others are from Europe or other Latin American countries. Affordable and efficient transportation is necessary to get people to and from work, school, shopping, and in the case of one couple I met last Saturday on the bus, to go walk in the pilgrimage to the Cartago Church.
One of our Atenas buses leaving Alajuela.
Yeh, I just missed it! But there’s one every 30 minutes in afternoon.

On our Atenas Costa Rica Info Facebook Group the other day a retiree considering a move here asked the question, “Can you actually live as a retiree in Atenas without a car?” And of course a bunch of us responded that we are doing it! I’m pleased to be going on to nearly 3 years without owning a car! And the excellent bus systems in Costa Rica make it possible to visit anywhere in the country or to other countries by bus! Plus walking is good for me.

Bus to Turrialba & Afternoon of Nature

An hour to San Jose & 2 hours on this to Turrialba, deboarding here
Transtusa Bus Station, Turrialba, Costa Rica

The nicests bus station I’ve been in yet
Turrialba, Costa Rica
My Cabin  #6 at Rancho Naturalista
Near Turrialba, Costa Rica
A pair of Blue-crowned Mot Mots behind the dining room
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica
A juvenile Snow-capped Hummingbird
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

White-necked Jacobin
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica
Rufous-capped Warbler bathing
Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

I have a beautiful Tico young lady named Mercedes as my guide this week and we start with my checklist of wanted birds at 5:30 tomorrow morning. I expect to grow my collection of CR bird species photos this week from my current 223.  Two of the above from this afternoon are new for me, the Snowcap Hummingbird and the Rufous-capped Warbler.

A great day again in beautiful Costa Rica! Enjoying retirement!

Today’s Bus Trip

Return trip was on a Double-Decker, air-conditioned bus, painted cool!

Going and returning we stopped about halfway at Baranca, a little village
near Puntarenas, at this super-bus-station, restaurant, stores, huge bathrooms,
for our needed potty break and snacks! 20 minutes!
Our tourist van stopped here on all the Visa Runs to Nicaragua my1st year.
And John & I stopped here on our trip to Tamarindo.

On the return trip I got off the bus in Alajuela (before San Jose) to speed up my

return to Atenas by more than an hour, maybe two! At the bus stop in Bijagua were three young adults from North Carolina on their adventure trip (2 girls & 1 guy) and I enjoyed visiting with them. They had been all over the country by bus from coast to coast for 16 days! Ahhhhhh! Youth!  Yet I probably have as much adventure as an old man, just at a much slower pace in little short trips! What a life! 

By Bus to Bijagua

I road my familiar bus to San Jose Coca Cola Station and then
a taxi to Pulmitan Station where I waited for the bus to Upala with everything
indoors at this station, including the boarding of the buses. I nice terminal.

And if I had not eaten breakfast at home, I could have eaten here.
I did have coffee of course and read a little of a Spanish language
newspaper and the latest book on my Kindle while waiting. 

It was the same bus all the way to Bijagua with many brief stops picking up people. Yes, it was a “collectivo” stopping anywhere someone was at a stop and went into Alajuela Central to pick up a lot of people there. It was definitely best that I went to San Jose and got my favorite seat, the front right seat looking out the windshield all the way up! It was most of the way on Highway 1 and from Baranca on a very familiar route to me which we used on our “Visa Runs” that first year. And the Baranca bus station is also a restaurant with shops and big restrooms that I have stopped at many times, so quite familiar. We had a 20 minute break there. All other stops were along the road including my stop in Bijagua in front of a Soda. I found an unmarked taxi that took me to the lodge.

After arriving at Celeste Mountain Lodge I wandered around with my camera for a few birds in the garden and a bird-less hike on a rainforest trail which I will try again in the morning. The room is basic and nice but the food is fantastic gourmet food! At least dinner was tonight! 3 more dinners plus the other meals. It will be amazing if they keep up the quality of food we had tonight. It is one menu for everyone each night with something new everyday. We started with the best 3-cheese quesadilla appetizer with homemade peccadillo that I could have made a meal of! Then sliced chicken breast with this scrumptious sauce accompanied by three local fresh vegetables all cooked differently, with their own sauces. My Planter’s Punch went great with this and it was topped off with a delicious chocolate layer cake. Wow! Beats bus stop food!  🙂
I have a lot of pictures from this afternoon here, but will save them for sharing tomorrow. Tired and sleepy now! And it is cool tonight! Down to 17c or 62f.   ¡Buenos noches!

My Spanish line is ready for the San Jose bus station in the morning.

Necesito el bus a Upala, saliendo en Bijagua. Favor de por entrada de adulto mayor.

I need the bus to Upala, exiting in Bijagua. A ticket for one senior adult please.

It pays to be over 65 here (adulto mayor), giving me discounts on all buses and national parks, museums and theaters, etc. 

I emailed my self the Spanish line so I can open it on my phone and read it if needed. Or more likely I will wing it! The first sentence is easy now, and the second can be shortened to “para un adulto mayor” as I hand him/her my cedula and gold card.

The bus trip is part of the adventure!  🙂

Seeing Costa Rica by Public Bus

Looking out my bus’ front window at others waiting for different buses.
Coca Cola Bus Station, San Jose, Costa Rica

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Robert Louis Stevenson

I’ve already mentioned that I am traveling to my next adventure destination by public bus. For fellow travelers here or you in other countries planning to travel here on a budget, let me share one more help for this kind of travel. It is a Facebook Group Costa Rica by Bus. It is a free, public group but you have to join to be notified of postings. 

The Robert Lous Stevenson quote above in on that group’s heading and possibly typical of the many young adults who like to travel all over Costa Rica. 

I just posted a statement of how I changed my plan for this week, learned from Juan, my new helper at the bus station here in Atenas. Here it is  in case you don’t see it there: 

I learned a new trick today to make my bus traveling maybe a little easier, thanks to Juan at the Atenas Bus Station. I’m going to Tenorio Volcano National Park, closest town Bijagua. The online scheduler had me going from Atenas to Orotina, then on to Baranca where I catch the pass-through bus to Upala after a layover. Juan suggested that even though “back-tracking,” it would be easier, maybe quicker, and surer to go to San Jose where the Upala Bus starts. When I’m on that bus (seat guaranteed if early) I never have to get off or worry about missing a connection or waiting for a bus or having a seat. Since the Atenas & Upala stations in San Jose are close, I’m going to try that this trip. Any comments or suggestions? Or something I or Juan didn’t think of? 

And I think I already shared the site where you can plan a schedule in English online:
 http://thebusschedule.com/EN/cr/   To have it show my revised schedule above, I just add in the box “By way of” the words San Jose. And we will see if anyone comments on paragraph above. You can learn a lot from fellow-travelers! 

There are many bus companies in Costa Rica and we have one in Atenas:  http://www.coopetransatenas.com/

Most Atenas buses are nice modern vehicles like this Mercedes-Benz
But most are not air-conditioned which really isn’t needed here.
This one is German-made, others Korean or Chinese – all imported.
Buses to very rural areas are sometimes old school buses.

And if you want something else to ride a bus to, try San Jose’s Fiesta de Gallo Pinto

The Last Cell Phone Post & Home Again

I’m glad to be home but good photos not processed yet, so here’s more cell phone shots:

White-water rafters seen from the terrace of my cabin in cell phone.
Selva Verde Lodge, Chilamate, Sarapiquí, Costa Rica
on the Sarapiquí River 

Rafters zoomed-in and cropped from cell phone pix.
Selva Verde Lodge, Chilamate, Sarapiquí, Costa Rica
on the Sarapiquí River 

Yellow-throated Toucan cell phone shot cropped to 1/4 size to enlarge.
Behind dining room, Selva Verde Lodge, Chilamate, Sarapiquí, Costa Rica.
Good photos of this bird coming in next few days. Saw him everywhere! 

Lower Falls at La Paz Gardens
Seen from highway enroute to and from
Selva Verde Lodge Costa Rica this trip.
You don’t see this on your paid visit
inside the park!  🙂

I drove a rent car through the mountains above Alajuela to avoid going through the nerve-wracking traffic of San Jose, but not sure how much better with all the hairpin curves! It is a tiring drive of less than 60 miles that takes 3 hours. (Yep! I averaged 20 mph!) And rent cars with full insurance are expensive! So next trip will be on public transportation even though I am still not fluent in Spanish. With friendly Ticos I can struggle through the language with less stress than comes with driving through city traffic or mountain curves AND it will be a whole lot less expensive! And slower is part of the adventure. ¡Pura Vida! I was told at Selva Verde that the bus from San Jose was the equivalent of $4, but of course mine will be discounted with my senior adult card.  🙂

I’ll try to start posting Sarapiqui bird photos tomorrow and over the next few days or probably a week since I made over 3,000 photos. And I promise that most will be much better than these cell phone shots I’ve been forced to share since I forgot my USB cord on this trip. 
I drove straight to the airport with one stop for snack and baño. The bus to Atenas and cab home. A suitcase is no problem on bus since there is storage underneath the bus. Then a taxi home. The Selva Verde buffet restaurant was all Tico food and the sit-down restaurant with waiters was pasta and pizza, so I took Anthony to Donde Bocha for a hamburguesa tonight. Nice change!