Getting a Copy of my Costa Rica Marriage Certificate

Hot damn!  Sorry to cuss, but this process so far exceeded my expectations that I am still in awe an hour later.

My wife and I got remarried in Atenas, Costa Rica on Valentine’s Day, 2016.  While I had been wanting to renew our vows after 35 years of marriage and this was a great event to do so, the main reason to get married in Costa Rica was for immigration.

We are temporary residents and need to renew our credential every two years.  One of the required documents for renewal is your marriage certificate.  Initially, we ordered our marriage certificate in Georgia and had it notarized and apostilled while still in the US.  Those forms are good for six months when making your initial application.

When we renew at the end of the year, we will need a new copy of our marriage certificate (notarized and apostilled again) but it can no be more than 30 days old, I think.  For us, that means probably flying back to the US just to get a fresh copy with all the approvals, which is time consuming and costly.  A local service will do it for us for $250.  Trying to do it by mail can cut it close to the 30 day limit.

Some innovative gringos came up with a work-around by getting married in Costa Rica.  My wife and I traveled to the central park in Atenas and participated in a mass wedding with 70+/- other gringo couples. With a CR wedding, getting a marriage certificate means simply going to the a government office and picking up a copy versus having to fly back to the US for the US marriage certificate.

So my task today was to see if I could get a copy of my CR marriage certificate before I need it at the end of the year when my renewal comes due. I had a lot of coaching from Pat Wegner who, along with her husband John, organized the mass wedding in Atenas.  She instructed me on what to do and where to go. Rafael Valverde of Outlier Legal, who officiated the mass wedding and recorded our certificates,  also gave me some pointers.

The Online Request

The instructions on how to get a copy are on the Tribunal Supremo De Electiones website.


Initially, I had some trouble entering my name.  I kept entering my first, middle and last name, but the form just wanted my first and last name – Vaughn Evans.


So the result above is all the people matching the input data.  Luckily, I am the only one with that name. An aside: the webpage is in Spanish, but my Chrome browser translates it into English on the fly, which is why you see the mix of Spanish and English above.  Also note: it returns Vaughn “Will Not” Robert Evans, which I think means they know I do not have an extra family name like Ticos have.

The site responds with instructions and caveats.  A few notes: #1 – the clerk provided the stamps at no cost; #2 – Note the timing restrictions so you do not show up before it’s ready.  Personally, I have heard people just walking in and getting the certificate, so I am not sure how important pre-ordering the certificate is. Maybe, if things are crazy, it helps.


After reading the notes, press “Continue” and you come to the screen below. Note, the “Will Not” and “Do Not” entries.  Do not worry about them.  Select the number of copies you want and press “generate Application” button at the bottom.


Note on the bottom of the screen shot above, there is a pull-down box for where you prefer to pick up the certificate.  You can see my choice was “Central San Jose” which I will give directions to below.  If you do not want to come downtown, pick a location closer to where you live.

The next screen tells me my request was successfully submitted and the detail of that request.  I printed this form and took it with me to the office and handed it in to the clerk.


Picking up a copy of the certificate

“Central San Jose,” the pickup location I selected above, translates into the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones building in the center of San Jose. Map

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The building is well known to taxi drivers and easy to find.

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When you enter the building, you first pass through security and a metal detector.  There is an information booth up front and in each section of the building to direct you to the right area.  For marriage certificates, you go to the right and keep going until you are at the back of the building.

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“Certificaciones” is the area where the marriage certificates are issued.  I arrived at 8 a.m. on a Thursday and they were not busy.

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Head to the back of the seats and you will find a ticket machine to get your number for service.


If you are a senior (+65), you can choose the third button for the senior line, but if younger, press the first button for “usuario general.”  There were not many people there when I was, so it probably made little difference in wait time.

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Note, I was given K003 and when I sat down they were on K002.  It looks like a DMV in the states, it’s really easy to navigate, and the service was quick.

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After a minute (!!!) my number came up and I went to window 28 and handed the clerk my request form. She went to the back where I assume they had printed my marriage certificate beforehand, brought it back to her desk and attached two stamps and stamped the paperwork.  I had heard it cost some small fee but when I offered money, the clerk said there was no charge.

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So this is the final product–a computer printout with two pasted-on stamps and three rubber stamps.

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So back to my cussing at the beginning.  I think the entire process took 3 or 4 minutes.  I had loaded up my phone with an hour’s worth of reading, but I was in and out before I knew it.  Here is a picture of the room, which you can see is almost empty.  I guess they would not have all those chairs unless they needed them, so maybe it is crowded at times.  For reference, I went there on a Thursday morning at 8 a.m.

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I want to mention the building is beautiful.  It is well laid out with great signage, easy to traverse, and architecturally interesting.  I would enjoy working here.  Also, there is a cool park out front you should take the time to enjoy.  And finally, the train station to Cartago and Heredia (Estación de Ferrocarril al Atlántico) is by the park for folks who might like to come into town by train to pick up their certificate.

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I noticed that this is where I would come for a replacement cedula, and birth and death certificates too. Again, you can see everything is clearly marked.

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Overall, an easy and great experience.

September 8,2016 update

I changed clinics and had to get an updated marriage certificate.  You know the whole can not be older than 30 days rule.   So, I followed the process above again but they through a slight twist in the mix this time.  I went to the counter like always and this time the clerk told me to go to the last window where a woman appeared to have all the requested out ready to go.  Last time, the clerk must have walked down to the last window and gotten the paper for me.  Second change up was this time the clerk directed me to the Caja to buy a stamp while last time the clerk got the stamp and did not charge me???  It was c50 (10 cents) for the four stamps for the two copies I had requested.  I took the stamps back to the last window clerk who affixed them and stamped them and I was set to go.

Last window clerk has folders of internet requested certificates ready to be stamped.
Here is the window where you buy your stamps

Finally, I noticed this warning for gringos who might go crazy dealing with Costa Rican bureaucracy.

2016-09-08-08-51-00 Dear Users Threat to an official shall be punished with imprisonment from one month to two years who threatens an official cause of his duties, addressing him personally or publicly, by written, telegraphic or telephone communication through official channels. amended by Law No. 8224 of 13 March 2002, repealing the offense of Contempt) Article 309

Lastly, I was curious where the date stamp was such that the clinic knew it was less than 30 days old.  The date you request the form is shown at the bottom of the form spelled out in words


Medismart (Prepaid Medical Plan)

I have been trying to find the best way to use all the medical resources available to me here in Costa Rica. This country is blessed with many talented, affordable medical practitioners and several options from public to private doctors, as well as pharmacists, and independent labs. My challenge has been to piece all these parts together in the best, most affordable solution.

I first laid out my initial healthcare plan in this article.  The summary is: get healthy, use the pharmacist first for burns, rashes, bites, etc., followed by a public /private doctor followed by a public / private hospital.  Some folks feel you are “cheating” on the CAJA if you use private doctors or labs, but really each person has to make choices on what is right for them, which might include using a combination of the best of all options.

The problem I had with my initial plan was I am not keen on searching for the best doctors, gynecologists, dermatologists, nutritionists, ultrasound, etc. when I need one.   There are not many resources for finding medical resources in Costa Rica. A question on Facebook might result in plenty of doctor recommendations all over Costa Rica, many of whom would be difficult to reach without a car. One resource I found useful and would recommend is Hulihealth which lists many doctors (not all) with their bio, charges and customer ratings. You can even set up an appointment electronically if calling on the phone intimidates you.  But even using Huliheath can involve running all around Costa Rica from doctor to specialist to lab to pharmacist trying to address a medical issue. Since we do not have a car, working with doctors spread across Costa Rica is problematic, and I was hoping for a more centralized solution.

I first heard about about Medismart from “The Real Costa Rica Blog” in which the author recounted his cancer treatment in Costa Rica  Post.  I was drawn to Medismart because the program appeared to have all the doctors, tests, and specialists I might need in one place under one plan that offered a discount for using them.  For folks not familiar with Costa Rica currency, here is the trick.  In round numbers, the exchange rate is 500 colones to $1. So, below, a gynecologist’s normal price in Costa Rica of c45,000 is about $90, but through the Medismart plan you pay c9,000 or $18 and save c36,000 or $72.  The same appointment could cost $150 in the US (for reference).

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Note, Medismart is NOT an insurance program. MediSmart is a Prepaid Medical Plan that offers a wide range of medical services through the Metropolitan Hospital with discounts that will save up to 80% of your bill.  Here is an example of the specialties and the discount offered for each.  Again, using the conversion trick, General Medicine c6,940 is about $13.88.

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MediSmart is a company of Grupo Montecristo. I noticed similar programs in Nicaragua and Panama where you affiliate with a specific hospital, pay a monthly fee and get discounted services. Think of Medismart like a Costco membership. The deal is UNLIMITED usage, $12 plus $3 per dependent per month with NO restrictions, age limits, etc. I notice they offer optometrist exams, dental and veterinary service too. Since I do not have any pets, I cannot vouch for the veterinary services.  The discount by speciality is listed here.

I started my journey by sending an email to the contact address on their website. It took a week to get back to me. I figured they were searching for someone who spoke English to respond. Nancy Solis sent me an email answering my questions. We corresponded back and forth until I decided to just call her. Unfortunately, I discovered Nancy could read and write English but not speak it, so I was happy to stay with the email. After feeling satisfied that my questions had been answered, I went online and registered. Medismart charges your credit card monthly. If you want to cancel, you have to give them two months’ notice. My monthly cost is $15 ($12+3) for my wife and me.

I emailed Nancy to make my first appointment and she told me I had to call the appointment phone number. My heart was beating fast thinking, will anyone speak English? I called the appointment number and said hello in English, which caused a long silence and lots of commotion until Jeffery came on the line. Jeffery speaks great English. He noticed my wife’s details were not correct and fixed them.

One thing I like about the Medismart program is they use Hulihealth’s medical appointment software which sends me an email with the appointment details that can easily be added to my calendar so there is no confusion over dates and times.

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Of course, when you join any group plan, they assign you a number and give you a membership card. Medismart’s process to is “mail” your card. I put quotes around mail because I had never seen mail delivered in Costa Rica. I provided my “Tico address” which is based on landmarks. My address is “across from the electric company substation, 300 meters north and 50 meters east in an apartment with #1.” As fortune would have it, the motorcycle messenger came to my house while I was outside and we connected. That was a good sign.

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I started our Medismart journey with an easy test of having my wife see a general doctor about some concerns she had. Jeffery set up the appointment for Thursday at 2pm. Normally, because of the rain, I prefer to do things in the morning, but I sucked it up and accepted the time slot. We headed over at 1pm to give ourselves plenty of time since we had never been in that part of town before. Hospital Metropolitano is a little south of Parque de La Merced and not hard to find.

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The Hospital has two buildings across the street from each other. The smaller building on the east side appears to be an ER and is open 7×24. We also went there for the ultrasound. There appears to be plenty of parking around the hospital, though we take the bus and walk so cannot comment on the cost. We went through the parking lot of the west side building for our appointment. So entering the building might not be obvious to folks from the States since you go through the parking lot and then through the cafeteria to get to the receptionist’s desk. The receptionist directed us to the cashier.

The casher took our information and charged my credit card BEFORE the appointment. The discount (descuento) was clearly shown.

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We sat in the comfortable and uncrowded waiting room until the doctor came.

The appointment was at 2pm and the doctor called my wife in at 1:57, so right on time. After the appointment, the doctor came out to the clerks and helped set up appointments for some tests she wanted done. Thank God I didn’t have to call the appointment number and hope Jeffery was in the office.

We came back the next week, again pre-paid at the main building and took the appointment and receipt across the street and presented them to the receptionist. I thought it would be pretty clear what we were having done using the appointment document and the receipt, but there was slight confusion and luckily one person spoke English and got us set up. We accidentally walked into the ultrasound area. I think we were supposed to wait for our name to be called, but they took my wife anyway 20 minutes early.

The specialists and technicians were professional and friendly and spoke English. The one technician who did not still was able to give clear instructions. Unlike in the US, they gave immediate feedback and gave Jeni her x-rays and ultrasound photos before we left.

After receiving the test results, we walked back across the street to review them with the doctor. I think we should have made an appointment beforehand. The doctor saw us waiting and scheduled a follow-up appointment. We waited an hour for that time slot and the doctor reviewed all the results, gave my wife some options and a prescription. I was prepared to pay for another visit; this visit did not cost anything. We decided to use the convenient hospital pharmacy, which had all the medications the doctor prescribed, and the 7% Medismart discount was applied. Again, I am not a fan of running around town trying to fill a prescription, so I liked that convenience, though I cannot say whether or not it was a deal. Another thing I like about the comprehensive arrangement is when the pharmacist has a question, he can walk down the hall and ask the doctor.

Having accomplished test #1, we took another baby step and scheduled a dermatology appointment. I called the appointment line and got Jeffery again. He set up the appointment with the dermatologist the following week. He was very helpful and made sure we got an English-speaking doctor.  In addition, he gave me his email so I would not need to call in and could handle appointments electronically.

When I went in for the dermatology appointments and tried to prepay like previous times, the cashier directed me to the dermatologist’s office which is on the first floor directly behind the cashiers. The dermatologist’s receptionist spoke great English. We had our appointment, had our questions answered, were examined, paid our bill and left. So, very easy and inexpensive.  If you are a stickler for details and predictability, the only “glitch” was that we got the discount for the consultation as listed above, but burning off the suspect spots was extra.  Also, if you want any plastic surgery, botox, or tummy tucks, those procedures are not discounted under the Medismart plan.

So, here is what I have spent so far.  For $15 first month’s fee, I have saved $160.

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I am happy with this solution so far.  Medismart offers me all the doctors, specialists, tests, and drugs I need in one location.  The plan is a low $15 a month for my wife and I, conveniently charged to my credit card each month.  The two-month cancelation policy seems low risk. The prices and discounts are available on their website, and making an appointment is very easy by phone or email. And email confirmation makes adding appointments to my calendar easy.

I think this is a good plan for anyone who wants to take control of their healthcare where convenience (location, specialists, appointments and payment) is important.  Remember my initial plan was to get healthy and be proactive, which this plan allows me to do.  Since we do not have a car, going to one location to get everything done is perfect for us.

Here is another article on the company link

A final note.  Since we are typically at the hospital for our appointments around lunch we have been happy to find this place to get a meal and would recommend it to anyone doing the same.


While shopping at the Escazu feria (farmers’ market), my wife, Jeni, noticed her purse was gone. She quickly retraced her steps through the market while I used FindMyPhone app to locate her phone and purse. I located her phone up the mountain in San Antonio, so we set out looking for it. As I approached the block where the phone was, I thought, this is stupid. If a criminal stole her purse, how am I going to confront them? Bust down their door? We met a friendly shop owner who called the police, and they arrived fairly quickly.

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I do not understand police procedures in Costa Rica, but they seemed to indicate they could not help me until I went to San Jose and filed a criminal complaint. All the time I kept thinking Jeni’s phone battery is going to die or the possible thieves are going to realize they could be tracked and I will lose the signal. Eventually, with the help of another shop owner who translated for me, I convinced the police the purse might be lost, not stolen, so we should go now and see if someone is trying to return it instead of filing a complaint. They agreed and I rode in the back of the police car, which is much more comfortable and less intimidating than the back of US police cars. I don’t think they knew what to make of my GPS tracking. Ticos use physical directions instead of street addresses and do not seem to love maps like I do, so we made a few wrong turns as I called out street numbers where the phone was located. I began to think it was going to be a failure. The Apple app is only accurate to within a block, and Tico houses in town are tightly packed. Surely we would not go door to door. After we got out of the car, the police strapped on their vests and had their guns ready, and I felt like I was in an episode of Cops. I couldn’t believe they let a civilian come along, and I wondered if I would be involved in a shootout. We walked up and down the alley ways until the policeman saw a woman working in her yard and told her the gringo lost his phone and they were trying to locate it. She replied that her son found a purse on the bus and was trying to contact the owner. Her son then brought out the purse and phone and I thanked everyone for their help. Meanwhile, Jeni stayed with the boutique owner and noticed the shop has some lovely clothes. Additionally, the owner is very attractive, so Jeni asked her where she gets her hair and nails done. The woman immediately called and set up an appointment with a neighbor she always uses, so that’s another item checked off our list of services to find. So, today, we are grateful for: FindMyPhone (which works but is not perfect); the helpful Escazu police; the friendliness and honesty of responsible people; and the discovery of a good clothing shop and hair/nail salon! The outcome of losing Jeni’s purse was so much better than I first predicted.

Escazu Police Facebook Site

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My wife was so happy with the haircut


List of Trips to Take

I wanted to share the bus trips I am working on.  It may take the rest of my life to complete these but as my father told me, “Enjoy the doing as much as the done” which I am.  I enjoy planning and executing these trips because it helps me to learn Costa Rica’s history, geography and geology plus it is low cost fun.  I created a file for each tour and am collecting information, blogs, posts, etc. to plan my trip.  Maybe in10 years, I will have completed CR and can start on Nicaragua.

Grand Adventure: SR-SJ-CA-SI-DO-JA-PU-SR

This is a big loop from my home and back which I figured will help me learn more about the bus system.  Staring with San Ramon (where I live) to San Jose to Cartago to San Isidro to Dominical to Jaco to Puntarenas back to San Ramon.  Google Maps says the trip should take 9 hour by car (at 60 mph peeing into a cup to save time) and I figure I will do it in two weeks.  I just want to see if I can do this because – no other reason.  Well, maybe places like Cartago interest the history buff in me.

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Google Maps – Grand Adventure

Best Beaches in CR tour

I know there are 300 beaches in CR.  I am going to try to discover a way to visit the 10 best beaches by bus.  I am sure I will get a lot of grief over any list of 10 I create since there are so many favorites.  I have a list of what the tourist department encourages visitors to see which I am going to start with.  They include: Playa Flamingo, Playa Conchal, Tamarindo, Santa Teresa, Manuel Anonio, Uvita, Cahuita, Pureto Viejo.  I wonder if I will be beached out after seeing so much sand?

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Google Maps – Best Beaches

Scouting trips

Google Map to Playa Hermosa

National Park Tour

Costa Rica has 27 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas/mangroves, 11 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves, as well as 12 other conservation regions.  I think I will try to pick the top 10 and try to see them by bus.  I think these might be challenging because the availability of buses to these locations.

National Park Tour

Volcano Tour

Costa Rica is home to six active volcanoes and another 61 dormant or extinct ones.   I figure I will try to bus to the six active ones unless I find out there is something interesting about one of the 61 dormant ones.

Google Maps – Volcanos

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Costa Rica History Tour

Since I live in Costa Rica now, I would like to learn more about history of this beautiful country by visiting famous places.

Hot Springs Tour

I love hot water and would like to see and sample the hot springs in Costa Rica

Map of CR Hot Springs I have found Map

Trip to Tabacon and Free Hot Springs in La Fortuna

Hot springs photos

People we meet

Children We Meet

(Jeni) The trip back from La Fortuna was so pleasant with this adorable honey entertaining me. She sang, played peek-a-boo, and used her words (all of them) to name the geographic features on the way. When we would fly around corners or down hills, she would spread her arms and cry, “Wheee!” All the thrills of a Disney ride for much less dinero! Children find joy in the most ordinary things!


La Fortuna to San Ramon
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Playas del Coco to San Jose
Costa Rica ambassador welcomes us to MEPE bus station on the way to Puerto Viejo 


Here is the story of a taxi cab driver who helped us in Liberia Debt Paid


Bus Food

Most significant bus trip and take some time so it is best to prepare with a little food and water.  I typically bring a small bottle of water in my backpack to make sure I don’t get dehydrated and I refill it when ever I am need a water source.  One of the biggest underrated assets of living in Costa Rica is the water is drinkable.

The second part of the equation is food.  The bus stations all have food but it might not be what you want or need.  It appears to me the food in the station is “heavy” meaning it is fried and probably would not travel well.  I try to 1) eat light while traveling on the bus to make sure I don’t encounter something that will upset my stomach and 2) I am never 100% about food I randomly encounter and it’s quality, ingredients, etc.  Remember there are no bathrooms on the bus like you might have seen on a Greyhound in the States.  I carry a “barf bag” from an airline trip but there is no easy cure for an upset stomach.

So, one of the items we have been experimenting with are Rambutan which are quite ugly on the outside but sweet and juicy on the inside.  The thick outer skin makes great protection while traveling.   Unfortunately, there is not a lot of “meat” in the fruit so it is a nice snack but wound serve as dinner. An apple, would be much better travel food but they have to be imported and are expensive.

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I think a combination of fruit and nuts might be the most condensed food selection to satisfy your hunger in a small, easy to keep and transport package.  Unfortunately, nuts are expensive in Costa Rica but we use these packages to hold us over until we get to a place that serves the kind of food we prefer (more vegetables and less frying).

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What I have learned

Here are some life tips I have learned while riding the bus in Costa Rica.

Waiting for the bus

It all starts with catching and getting on the bus.  You might start at a rural stop (parada) which may or may not have a shelter like ours pictured below.  Or the parada may simply be marked by a painted stripe on the road.  If you are going in the opposite direction, wait across the street from the marked stop or shelter.

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A simple yellow stripe on the road can mark a bus stop
My bus stop i well marked and has a roof to protect you in case it rains.

Sometimes in town, you need to pick up the bus at a beat-up sign on the side of the street.  Don’t get discouraged, but think of it as a scavenger hunt and rise to the challenge.


And sometimes you will have a modern bus terminal with seats, shops, and good lighting like this one in Palmares.


Here is the new $10M bus station in San Jose that I can not wait to visit.


If the bus stop is by the side of the road, many people will simply put their stuff down to mark their place in line.  Here you can see from our red grocery cart that we are third in line.  Once marked, I can retreat to the shade to wait on the bus.  I have never seen anyone bother anyone’s bags, but you should still remain vigilant and don’t mark with obvious valuable items like computers or cameras and keep an eye on your belongings.  It is just common sense while traveling.

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Here is another example at my local station in San Ramon of people marking their place in line.


Bus Environment

Costa Rica confuses me.  In the states, being exposed to the people on public transit meant getting sick.  Sure, I washed my hands and covered my mouth and nose in the States, but it never helped and I would invariably catch cold.  The only conciliation was I thought maybe my immune system was getting super charged from exposure to so many germ variants. Since riding the bus in Costa Rica, I haven’t been sick. In fact, I don’t get the impression others are often sick either.  You know the image I have in mind of a crowded bus or train in the US with hundreds of people sneezing and coughing on each other.    Maybe it is because US buses are air conditioned so the windows are always closed and everyone is locked in a petri dish passing germs.  I have been very healthy since moving to Costa Rica.  Since there are no major temperature changes in Costa Rica, the US winter cold phenomena in the winter does not pertain.  Maybe it is the sunshine or the fresh air or lack of cold weather that makes germ transmission lower?   I say all this because, if you have been one to avoid pubic transportation because of possible contact with germs, all I can say is I am not seeing the rampant transmission like I experienced in the US.

Here is a great article that may explain what I experienced.  It appears the flu strives at 40 degrees which is when season change in the State, added to returning to school and being inside all make germ transmission easier.

Why people get sick

On many of the buses, there will be simple sliding windows to get fresh air as seen below.  I have been surprised that many times when I board a bus the windows are all closed and the bus is stuffy.  Why?  I think the behavior might be due to frequent monsoon rains that would otherwise come in the window and soak everyone so it is not a habit to open all the window wide.

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What I look for is regular departures since they make my life easy.  Notice the schedule below for buses leaving from San Jose going to San Isidro del General.  Notice the schedule show three bus companies  – Musoc, Transp. Blanco and Tracpoa – all servicing San Isidro.  But what catches my eye is Musoc hourly departure (7:30, 8:30, 9:30).  The reason is because I know with regular departures I have plenty of slack if something goes wrong.  Given, I have to get to San Jose initially by a combination of local / long distance buses and taxis, I could get very anxious if my schedule depended on a making a connection with infrequent departure times.  Think of all those people you remember running frantically through the airport.  That feels too much like when I was traveling for work and I had to constantly monitor the time, looking up the gate, etc.  With regularly hourly departures, I can sit back knowing if the traffic is bad, there is a wreck, a protest, or a volcano erupting, I can eventually just catch the next bus leaving.

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One of the difference between my old life working for a living and being retired is that life has slowed way down.  I use to schedule my day in five minute increments and now I do it in one hour blocks and sometime daily blocks.  So, in my mind, when we travel slowly, I visualize catching the 6:00am bus to San Ramon, 7:00am from San Ramon to San Jose, and 9:00am bus from San jose to the beach.  Typically, the result is that I spend 30 minutes to 2 hours cooling my heels waiting in a bus station.   That can be very frustrating to people who are on a schedule and who think “Time is Money”.  That difference in outlook is the main reason I enjoy riding the bus and many others with real or perceived time constraints hate it.  So, what to do with all the down time –  read, people watch, learn Spanish, etc.  Once you think of the bus ride as part of the adventure, it changes the experience and makes the time waiting enjoyable.


I initially worked very hard optimizing my trips such as trying to catch buses mid-route or trying to never backtrack.  It was a lot of work fraught with potential failure and it started to be less fun.  Now, I have accepted the inevitable and I am running with the rule to always get to San Jose as my starting point.  I really hate traveling one hour east to retrace the route west but face it, San Jose is the countries transportation hub.   It just goes against my sensibility but sometimes, “A man’s got to know his limitations” (Clint Eastwood, Magnum Force) and make the best of things which I am doing by planning my trips to originate from San Jose.

Bus Stop

Be aware that the bus drop off may not be the bus pickup point.  Our local bus into San Ramon terminates a few blocks from the place we line up to return. It works really well getting everyone off the bus so that when the bus pulls around the corner people can start getting on.  It is not a big deal now but when you are brand new, a few blocks can be scary.  So, first be aware and do not assume.  Second, ask everyone who you think can assist from the bus driver to passengers.

Getting Information

I discovered a new information resource at the bus station … Mormon Missionaries. They are easy to pick out of the crowd, speak English, don’t have cars so walk and take the bus. They were very helpful yesterday find the right bus.


Another great resource are the vendors who sell fruit at the bus stops.  They work the location every day and know when every bus comes through and where it stops.


What you do not see

Once I was standing on the steps to get into the bus and the bus driver politely asked me to move.  I did not understand at the time but later noticed that some buses had an optical counter they probably use for accounting to make sure the receipts match the passenger count.  By me standing where I was, I probably made the counter go wild cause a headache for the driver at the end of the day when he reconciled his accounts.  So, be aware and patient and quickly move past the scanners when your time comes to enter the bus.

File Oct 12, 2 44 45 PM File Oct 12, 2 45 28 PM