We often write about walking into town (Atenas). Just for fun, we thought we'd take you along on one of our walks, to let you see some of what we see. Put on your walking shoes (unless your boots were made for walking) and follow me...
We'll head out of our 3rd floor apartment and down the stairs:
Down the grass embankment in front of the building and then down the steep part of the driveway:
We get down to the flat part of the driveway, leading out to the main gate (which is closed at night). On the left is Phons' carport and the workshop. His large house (where the swimming pool is located) is out of the picture, to the right. The apartment office is the yellow and green building on the right side, just inside the gate:
We'll make a left outside the gate and walk across a small bridge over the Rio Cajon (Cajon River). We'll proceed straight ahead, up the steepest part of the road into town:
As we walk across the bridge, we look to the right and see the Rio Cajon is flowing quite strongly. It stays full this time of year, with rain on almost a daily basis:
By the time we reach the top of the hill, our hearts are pumping pretty good. We will continue on toward the left. It's still uphill, but not nearly as steep. We cross the street, since there is a sidewalk on that side:
When I say "sidewalk," I'm using the term rather loosely. I mean that you don't have to walk in the street. Some of the sidewalk is more of a path, and it is often interrupted by driveways or drainage. You really have to watch where you are walking or you can easily trip:
At the top of this stretch of road is a "Y" intersection and a triangle-shaped island. On the narrow (near) end of the island is a butcher shop. On the wide end is the church we attend. Depending on where we are headed, we'll go left or right. Since we're heading downtown, we'll stay to the right:
On the right side of the street, we'll pass a bike store and a couple other shops, including this mini-supermarket:
Across the street from the market is our church, Iglesia Biblica (Bible Church):
Here are the street signs you see on the corner by the church (not very good planning):
To the right of the signs (above), you see the famous "flashing yellow lights" of Atenas. These are the only flashing yellow lights in town (I'm pretty sure they are the ONLY traffic lights, period), so they are often used for giving directions ("3.5 km from the flashing yellow lights"). Only a tourist would ask, "Which flashing yellow lights?"
Walking on, we cross the highway and head down a one-way street:
As we get close to town, we have one more significant hill to climb:
Nearing the top of the hill, we start to see some shops. Note where the Monge sign is (center of picture).
When we get to the corner where the Monge sign is, we are looking at "downtown". This is part of the central business area. Looking to the left (below), the Central Park is one block down. The Gollo store on the corner has lots of household items: small and major appliances, TVs, furniture, motorcylces, and more. Their specialty is selling on credit - they show the monthly payments on their price tags. Gollo is on the 1st and 2nd floors and a health club/gym is on the 3rd floor.
Looking straight ahead, there are a lot of small shops on the left side, including a number of stores that are on the "inside" of the block (off the street), in mini indoor shopping malls:
Across the street from these shops is the Municipal Market, which also includes the bus depot for local buses (surrounding towns). The bus depot for the Alajuela and San Jose buses - the ones we normally take - is a couple blocks away.
Here's a quick tour of the Municipal Market. Vendors here sell fruits, vegetables, eggs, all kinds of meat, fish, and more. We've become friends with one of the produce vendors in the market, named Rosario. The picture with all the fruits and vegetables displayed is her "shop". The bus depot, on the side of the Municipal Market, has a bunch of food stands, for hungry travelers - you can get a quick plate of pollo frito and papas fritas (fried chicken and french fries).
When we finish our shopping, we reverse the route and take the walk back to the apartment. Fortunately, it's almost all downhill until you get to the apartment complex (then the steep driveway and the stairs). There's a lot more to Atenas than what I've shown you here. I just wanted you to be able to take a walk into town with us. I hope it didn't tire you out.
Wait! Just as I was heading back, I caught a glimpse of the famous "Smallest Taxi in Costa Rica." It was coming around the corner, right in front of me, and I just managed to get a quick picture of it. It's really quite remarkable:
Posted by Mark