Buses are smoother, but strolling in the city is the best yet

Times change, and so do we. Riding through the city the other day, on my way to keep an appointment with my dentist in Guadalupe, I was aware, as I waited to get on the bus, that today it is young women who are letting me in line or giving me their seat on the bus. 20 years ago it was the young and not so young men who offered me their seats. In this case, I think it is I who have changed, not the times.

I also noted that more and more of the busy throughways, usually the avenidas that buses and taxis take to cross the city, are getting a new face of cement to replace the old asphalt. The rides are much smoother, and there are fewer potholes in the city. The only drawback is that some of the drivers are cowboys, and the ride becomes almost as exciting as a roller coaster.

Just the other day I was remembering the young woman I used to see so often when I was walking downtown. She always was dressed and made up as if she were going to work and she walked with purpose. I wondered what had happened to her. Then this week, as I was about to cross Avenida 3 to catch the bus, there she was, also waiting. Less than two feet tall, she was standing on her sandaled hands as she waited for the light to change. Her face is thinner, and her hair is dyed black and is longer, (mine is white and shorter) and she was not wearing a hat. We both have aged, but I know my life has been easier. She has legs, but they are tiny and almost like frog legs barely peeping out of her skirt. I always marveled that she got around so well and with absolutely no help from anyone. But I was totally blown away one day when the bus I was on stopped at a bus stop and she boarded completely under her own steam. I and others have often complained at the height of the steps of buses. She climbs on using her arms. She is my antidote for self-pity.

I asked a taxista if he had ever seen her. He replied he had, and that she had been featured on TV and he thought the government had given her a house to live in. I hope so.

Christmas is coming to town with great fanfare. I am not a Christmas person, but I am happy for the people who celebrate the season with parades, crèches and happy Christmas songs. I am busy getting done all the business that needs to be done before everything – stores, banks, anything governmental – closes down. Once so many have gone to the beach, it is my favorite time to be downtown.

Over the holiday I hope to stroll the pedestrian walk in the newly opened Calle Chino. I am sure many of their stores will be open, and I want to see the changes in the street that used to be El Paseo de los Estudiantes, one of my favorite haunts when I lived on the east side. I did my banking, my grocery shopping and my lunching out on that street, or, on special occasions, I had lunch at Tin Jo on Calle Once (11th Street), right around the corner but in keeping with the Asian motif. China paid for much of this mini Chinatown, which is a symbol of the friendship between that country and Costa Rica.

I hope not to be one of the statistics in the gift that the U.S. made to Costa Rica this week. The government of the U.S. has donated $500,000 in computers and training to track crime in different parts of the country so that the police can more efficiently combat and prevent it. I guess the Police have started in their own ranks because eight police officers were sentenced to a total of 108 years in prison for stealing narcotics from the traffickers they were arresting. I also read that there is twice as much crime in the Jacó area per capita as in San José.

All in all, it is becoming apparent that I want to live in the city again, closer to the places I like to walk. It is nice where I am, but I am a city girl and I miss being able to walk outside and being there.

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