I took the public bus from Heredia to San Jose to pick up the mail that was being held for me in San Jose. The bus filled up quickly, and the aisles became crowded with people.

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Costa Ricans have less limits on personal space than do United Statesians. They are a touchy, feely folk, who like to pat you while they talk to you and stand so close to you, even in line, that a Norteamericano can become uncomfortable – like, what is this guy’s intentions?

Even on a bus that is almost empty, a Costa Rican, man or woman, is quite likely to seat themselves next to you rather than take a seat off by themselves.

At one stop, a blind man got on the bus. After a short while, he began to talk really loudly. I thought he was some sort of evangelist on a preaching mission, but soon I noticed that almost everyone was glancing around at each other with shy smiles on their faces. Soon they were snickering. A few would laugh outloud as he continue to rant about something.

Then the blind man began to sing, what sounded like a hymn of some sort – or maybe not – because suddenly everybody on the bus was bursting out laughing and soon they were singing as well – and not just one song! When that one was finished, they all sang another. I was in the middle of some kind of spontaneous party, complete with the bus driver honking along in time to the singing!

When the song was done, everyone shook hands with each other, patted each other on the back and kissed each others’ cheeks, and the blind man made his way to the door, talking loudly (cracking jokes, I had finally figured out), and exited to applause.

Who was that masked man, and what was he doing on a bus in Costa Rica?

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