A Word on Driving in Costa Rica

I’d imagine that making your way around Central America can have it’s challenges, no matter what form of transportation you take.  My travel mate, Janet and I opted for a rental car while in Costa Rica, which you would think, would provide ease and independence.  That was mostly true.

Did you know that Costa Rica doesn’t have addresses?  Yes, you read that correctly.  Nothing has an address here.  Try looking up a website for something in Costa Rica.  The address will be something like… Amazing Beach View Hotel, 300m north of soccer field, Cute-little-town, Costa Rica or it might simply list the town.   I’ve seen almost no street signs, but there are signs for towns and tourist sites.  We knew this ahead of time and we opted for the GPS to see if this would help.  We intended to use maps, using the GPS to get us out of trouble.  Soon enough we were just using the GPS.   It confused us a few times, but all in all, it was worth getting.

Then there are the roads.  Some are wonderfully paved, two-lane highways where passing is a national pastime.  Some are like driving on a creek bed, which, I bet in the rainy season is one in the same.  The latter, for example, was how we reached Tenorio National Park where we hiked to the beautiful blue waters of the Rio Celeste that you saw in my last post.  Eight kilometers of bouncing down this road caused much laughing, mixed with concern over whether one spare tire would be enough.  But the BeGo (our little 4 WD rental) made it in and back out with the tires and our spines intact.

The driving, we were told is aggressive and a little crazy.   I haven’t found it to be bad at all, but we didn’t drive in San Jose which is supposedly the worst.  In San Jose, according to my travel book, there will be stop signs in addition to the street lights at the intersections, just to remind people they are supposed to stop there.  Now if the light is green then you don’t stop at the stop sign.  I love that.  And at the same time, glad we didn’t go there.

I also loved the system at a road construction site we encountered.  When only a single line of cars can pass, a flag is given to the driver of the last car going through.  When he or she reaches the other end and hands it to the worker at the other end, they know you were the last one and they can allow the cars in the other direction to go, repeating with the flag handoff in the other direction.  This was a particularly windy road so the workers weren’t visible to each other.  So simple.

There will be more on everywhere we went next time.  But let me assure you, there was much lounging and very little excitement overall.  It’s been awesome.

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