After nearly two years of living (and Driving) on Costa Rica’s scenic highways, I feel inspired to submit the following wisdom to my fellow gringos. I speak with the voice of experience, having been a taxi driver in Chicago and New York City. I’ve also lived in mexico, driven there and other parts of Central America.
So, without any hyperbole whatsoever, I give the following advice.
1. DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE POTHOLES: Three are too many of them! Trying to avoid the potholes will only cause you to crash into other cars and/or pedestrians.Best thing to do is buy yourself a monster Sports Utility Vehicle (or Hum-vee, tank, dump truck, etc.) and drive over all obstacles, including beaches, ditches and animals.
2. IGNORE ALL STOP SIGNS, TRAFFIC LIGHTS AND SIGNS: Everyone else does! Besides, the traffic lights are usually positioned in awkward places too hard to see. Stop signs are bent, broken, faded or hidden behind shrubbery. Translations: “Alto” “means speed,” “Ceda el paso” means “get the hell out of my way!” If you find yourself in a rotunda, pretend you are in the bumper-car rides at the Parque de Diversiones (local amusement park).
3. PARK WHERE YOU WANT: That’s right! In the middle of the street, on the sidewalk, anywhere your little heart desires. No one will give you a ticket; no one will tow your car away. Continue talking with your car in idle to Don Profundo while other frustrated motorists honk their horns and curse.
4. DRIVE AS FAST AS POSSIBLE: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. You may pass on the right, drive on the sidewalk, pass on the left going up hills against oncoming traffic, it’s all fair game. Furthermore, this is a free country, and you don’t have to wear a seatbelt if you don’t want!
5. DO NOT TRY TO BRIBE A TRAFFIC COP: It will cost you more! Yes, he’ll think your just another rich Gringo who overstayed your tourist visa. Wait until he offers to let you give him the propina (tip). The barter, always barter. Show him the certified Tico driver’s license you procured from a cereal box.
6. DISCARD YOUR MAPS: Maps are usless without strret signs or addresses. if you want directions, stop and ask three or four different people, who will probably tell you three or four different ways to get there.
7. DON’T LET THE PEDESTRIAN HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY: People think they own the roads! Run them over! That also includes kamikazes on motorbikes, people on bicycles, horseback riders and oxen pulling colorful oaxcarts.