Bus Justice

The public bus system here in Costa Rica varies from good service to bad service. A bus company Lisa and I travelled with this past weekend is on the bad end... for two reasons.

1. Although it's illegal to make passengers stand for more than 40 minutes on a long-distance bus, the driver crammed 20 more people than there were seats... So guess what? People stood. Now at first you might not think that's so bad... until I tell you that travelling the entire distance from Montezuma to San José... is a total of 6 hours. Now there is a ferry ride in the middle, so ''standers'' hope to get a seat on the ferry; however, the ride seems even longer while having to travel standing. Not to mention it's illegal...

2. No one has a ticket with a seat number. Everyone pays the driver as they get on the bus and they receive a copy of the pay stub... but without a seat number, arguments over whose seat is whose quickly escalate because no one has proof that any seat is theirs.

Lisa and I had a seat, we promise we did. Some gringos didn't believe us that we had seats after the ferry ride and insisted that the bus driver make everyone sit in their original seats (''We can't change seats,'' the gringo kept repeating... um, since when do we have a seating arrangement without seat numbers on our tickets?). Well, someone had taken our seats, so we took someone elses, etc. The bus driver barked at us to get out of someone else's seat, and when I said that someone else was in our seats, he asked me where. I pointed at the pregnant woman and her mother that were in our seats... and he told me to tell them to get out of our seats. I said I would rather stand than make a pregnant woman stand, and he said, ''Bueno, como quiera,'' which is like saying ''Whatever!'' with attitude.

So we stood. For 4 hours.

I was honestly so upset for those first 30 minutes or so. I put in my iPod and didn't even look at Lisa because I felt like I had let her down by not getting our seats, plus the gringo behind us was saying that ''those girls'' (us) were lying all along and that it was right for us to have to stand. Bah! I had to physically bite my tongue several times to not let him know what I thought about the whole unfair situation.

I think we had different versions of bus justice... He was trying to catch the culprit... while I was letting a pregnant woman sit in my seat. He thought I was the culprit, so he thought justice had been served... I disagreed (obviously :))

When we arrived in San José, the bus driver commented to the assistant that it was a good thing that cops aren't around on Sundays... because it's illegal to have people standing on a bus for more than 40 minutes! Um, excuse me sir, have you ever had to stand on a bus for 4 hours straight?

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