Puriscal

Yesterday, we took our first public bus ride to Santiago de Puriscal, known as Puriscal. The 30 minute one way trip cost a little less than US $.60 The ride took took us up a two lane paved highway with numerous switch backs until it crested on a mountain ridge. The views were spectacular. In some areas we could see the canyon to Ciudad Colon on one side and a different canyon with even more mountains on the other side. The entire area is agriculture. The forests have long been cut down. What is left are steep hill sides with terraced ledges that the cattle use to access grazing pastures, farms and areas that appear to have been reforested or have some type of mono crop. Dotted through the hills are homes of various construction from elaborate concrete/stucco estates to simple metal houses. Every house seems to have chickens, at least one small dog, goats, horses or cattle.

Prior to passing through the town of Guayabo there were roadside stands where the natives from a nearby reservation were selling their colorful crafted goods. I saw hats, bags, hammocks and art made from clay. The bus didn't take us through much of Guayabo, or maybe there wasn't much to see other than the church, soccer field and a few stores.

We got off the bus in Puriscal in front of a chain grocery store called Pail. Puriscal is higher in elevation than Ciudad Colon. I wore long pants in anticipation of cooler weather. Our mission was to see what the town has to offer in the way of goods and what the general feeling was. We walked up and down a few streets until we came upon the city center park. The main landmark in town is an old church in ruin. I believe it was damaged by an earthquake and deemed not worthy or too expensive to repair. It is now fenced off and in various stages of decay.

Puriscal is larger than Ciudad Colon. The town has multiple of every type of store to cover many needs. We saw home building materials, clothing, shoes, food, musical instruments, animal feed stores, restaurants, beauty shops, fabric, internet cafes, souviner shops and trinket stores. We found whole coffee beans in town. Ciudad Colon sells only preground coffee. Strange for a place that grows so much coffee. We ate lunch at a little hole in the wall restaurant. The lady owner and her middle school aged son looked stunned to have two gringos enter their restaurant. We asked for the menu but there was none. The woman listed what she had to offer. We ordered chicken which turned out to be a tasty fried leg, thigh piece on top of a few tortilla chips. I can't recall the last time I had a piece of fried chicken!

We walked up and down every street many times taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the town. We spent a long time sitting in the park discussing the area and what it has to offer. The town is relaxed and felt non-threatening. We visited the bus station a few times to determine when the next bus left for Ciudad Colon. The security officer told us to come back at 2:30. We came back around 2:00. A bus was loading so we asked the same security guard if it was going to Ciudad Colon, he said yes. We waited in line, I asked the driver if he was going to Ciudad Colon, he said yes. I handed him our fare he looked at it and said we needed the other bus. We were about to enter the express bus to San Jose, yes it goes through Ciudad Colon but does not stop. Lesson learned, do not get advise from the security guard at the bus stop, ask only the bus driver.

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