This blog post is dedicated to my oldest brother Peter... the one who, despite the business of the fantasy football season, always takes time to read my blog.
1.Arrival: The key to taking a bus is arriving one hour (give or take an hour) before the bus is scheduled to arrive. That way, you will, without fail, reach the bus stop just as the bus is pulling away and have another hour (give or take) to wait at the bus stop contemplating life's many mysteries.
2.Humiliation: When the bus is at last in sight, you must flag it down. There are a variety of waves you can use in order to signal to the bus that you wish to get on, ranging from the barnyard poultry (the rapid lifting and lowering of one or both arms in a chicken-like flap) to my personal favorite: the grim reaper (the slow, deliberate raising of the right arm, signaling to the bus with the pointer finger).
3.The Climb: As you are getting on the bus, there are several important things to remember. First of all, this is not the time to remember that the only available money you have is 300 colones in 5-colón pieces, and a few US dollars. This is, however, the time to make sure you got on the right bus, and that it is going in the correct direction (towards in lieu of away from your chosen destination), as well as time to choose a seat. If the bus is emptyish, which it will be unless you are riding any time between 5am and 9pm, you may can choose any of the seats except the handicapped ones and the sketchy ones in the back, and the ones that already have people sitting in them. If the bus is full, you may have to stand (more to be said later).
4. continued.: it is now time to sit down (who would've thought that this would be a process in and of itself, right?). As soon as you have scrounged around and found the correct change and given it to the driver, the bus will normally give a small lurch forward: similar, I'm sure, to the 'lurch' the Titanic gave when it hit the ice burg. For you newcomers, you will probably be sprawled upon the narrow floor of the bus at this time, but don't worry, the seat backs and vertical metal poles lining the bus pathway are there to help you back up. Since the bus stops are always in the middle of a hill, in order to make it to your seat, your task (depending on the hill) will be to either scale the bus, pole by pole, upwards... or brace yourself from plummeting downwards.
5. Survival: Once and if you have managed to take a seat, it is time to relax. Your only task is simple: to avoid awkward situations and possible muggings, make yourself as unapproachable as possible. You can scowl, avoid eye contact, even emit a low growl or two to let people know that you by no means want anything to do with them. But remember that this is your free time so you can people watch, read, even sleep if you want to... although sleeping runs the dangerous risk of overshooting your destination. If the bus is full, hold on tight because your adventure is just beginning. You will spend the next half-hour to hour with your head precariously smashed below someone's armpit, and your arms in either a Swiss knot, or stretched in cruciform across three or more rows of seats. But enjoy! there is plenty of opportunity for people watching in whatever place you are fortunate enough to land.
6. Out of the Frying Pan..: After pressing the bell to signal that you wish to get off the bus, you have exactly 5 seconds to fit through the two rows of people filling the bus aisle and make it outside. This is actually the easiest part. As soon as you get past those four final steps and out into the free air, you realize that all the pain, all the trouble was worth it in the end because you have reached your destination alive, well, and without being put at knife-point! As the heat of the sun, or wetness of the rain beats upon your brow you will look out upon the world with new vision, a great fondness and appreciation for cars, and new motivation to conquer your next task......
.......crossing the street.
Miss you Pete,