Mar 01 2016

A Windy Day Bus Ride in Bajo La Paz

KnoxWithDogby Andreas Knox Turner

A Day From My Journal: Wednesday, Feb, 10, 2016

The value of a long-term residency here is that you truly come to realize how magical worlds are created by certain kinds of weather that, to be honest, are really quite hostile to humans. First, we are technically in the dry season as of December, which means we have front-loaded all the rain we need during the torrential months of May through November, but climate change is slowly changing that equation. Here in Bajo La Paz we are now in the sixth day of driving winds between 80 and 110 kph with saturated air breaking out into rain curtains and pellet rain. Night and day. The daily buses creep along the Piedades Norte ridge, unprotected as it is. Yesterday, the bus’s left side wheels lifted off the ground from a spectacular wind gust. The locals, unperturbed, leaned strongly to the left, as if riding their own bike. The dispositioning of the bus caused a metal floor plate to pop out of place. The driver pulled up the emergency brake and stamped the plate back into place. Passengers laughed, as if they had seen this many times before.


On this stretch of the Piedades Norte ridge, there is no shoulder. The road itself is paved, but a 1.5 lane road simply drops off into oblivion. If this stretch were your stop, you would use the other traffic lane for walking home, further up, to your house, which might be accessed by a sharp cut-back road into the side of the ridge. In heavy rain, this might double as a stream. But in any case a vehicle turned on its side by wind, or whatever, would most certainly translate into certain death, to be recorded by someone, much later, maybe two hundred meters below. Still, the bus crowd was a pretty upbeat group.

One could claim that ignorance is bliss. But that is not the case here. Oblivion is beautiful. The world rises and falls in rich greens and swirling clouds with spears of sunlight punching through to highlight a distant village, the crest of a ridge, a river basin. In Spanish, one often hears the tag line used when plans are made, “si Diós quiere.” (Literally, if God wants it to be.) Fatalistic? Maybe. Expecting a kind of invisible luck to keep one safe? A truly personal relationship with their God? I don’t know. What I do know is this. At the end of a scary morning for me, the world around me laughs it off, and the two women I know from Bajo La Paz who were sitting in front of me never missed a beat in their conversation about a shoe sale taking place at a new place that opened across from Supermercados Molina.

Bajo La Paz, San Ramón, Alajuela
República de Costa Rica / Centroamérica

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