Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Driving In Costa Rica, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Driving in Costa Rica is.................interesting.

I found out from a friend recently that there are no driver's training courses here.  It is very apparent when driving, and Kurt and I only drive from our house to town, which is about three miles away, only about 1 on the highway.  Here are some strange things you will encounter in Costa Rica while driving.  And for those of you who use your phone while driving?  Not even possible here with all the driving distractions.

1.  People do not use blinkers.   And those that do generally turn them on to turn the opposite of which way they are turning.  If you see someone using a blinker properly, they are most likely not from Costa Rica.  We still use our blinkers, but I don't really know why.  Habit, I guess.  So, if you see someone with a blinker on, NEVER EVER assume they are actually turning.  There is a good chance if you do, someone will veer in front of you doing a U-turn to drive in the opposite direction.

2.  Drivers are either insanely aggressive or so timid it's painful.  Speed limit 40?  People will either be driving 70 or 5.  Not kidding.  And the kids (meaning teenagers) in our neighborhood are insane on their motorcycles.  Riding at death speeds with no helmet and laughing hysterically.  I shake my head as they go by on my walks and then I instantly feel like an old person, LOL.  I guess someone died riding like that that lived in our neighborhood, but it has not stopped anyone.

3.  Bikers.  People who ride motorcycles, especially delivery drivers, are truly insane.  They veer in and out of traffic, cutting people off, pass on the wrong side, etc.  I am shocked I have not seen more accidents with bikes while here.  Kurt and I were already hit once and totaled one of the bikes because of crazy drivers and we were not doing anything wrong. Luckily, our insurance is covering it completely.

4.  Driving in busier areas, you will encounter a lot of road issues.  People will cross the road without looking or caring.  People riding bicycles will ride down the center of the road, sometimes with 4+ people on a bike.  they also ride on the side, but will veer into the road where you are driving, simply not paying attention.  Also, at night, people on bikes use no reflectors, so you cannot see them while you are driving.  And even though people seem to love bright colors here, at night while riding their bikes, they tend to wear black from head to toe to compliment their lack of reflectors.  Also in the road, you will encounter various animals.  Cows, horses, snakes crossing, dogs everywhere, toads, cats.  In short, you need to be careful and pay attention while driving.

5.  Downtown Parking Guys.  If you live in an area with a busy downtown, there are guys "working" who seem like they are working for the city.  They don't.  They basically tell you that they will "watch" your car and you have to pay them to do so.  Kurt & I almost never have small coins to give them and they truthfully kind of annoy us since we don't need someone to help us park a scooter or watch it in a lit busy area, so we generally park further down where the parking guys don't go to and walk a couple blocks back down to town.  They basically demand money and to help you and it annoys me.  A friend of ours said, just park and give them a little bit, but I don't want to feed into it.  They all look like they are high and I don't think they are providing any kind of useful service at all.  In fact, one night we parked our scooter and they tried to make us move it as they wanted to keep the space open for a car.  Sorry, not sorry, leaving my scooter.

6.  One interesting tidbit.  Police officers don't pull you over here like they do in the States.  You are not going to see an officer behind you with his lights on.  Basically, they sit on the side of the road, and motion for you to pull over.  There is a great program called Waze where people will mark where officers are doing this to alert you, so you know not to speed through there.  We never speed in our area as there is really no need to, but in other parts of the country where you are on nice, long stretches of road, this program would be helpful.  Officers will also do random checks of passports.  And, they are allowed to pull you over for no reason here, simply to check your passports and make sure you are legal here, or your vehicle is legal.  The only two things the police really seem to care a lot about here are wearing your seatbelt and speeding.  So, if you follow those laws, you should be golden.

Don't get me wrong, driving in the States has it's issues too.  I am glad I almost never have to deal with standstill traffic here, or police officers constantly being on the side of the road with radar guns.  Just wanted to give people an idea of how driving differs here.  I will say one positive is I always have my phone in my purse while driving and won't even glance at it or answer it. 

1 comment:

Barbara in PA said...

I haven't been following your blog in awhile, I'm sorry to say (life!), so I missed why you moved to Costa Rica.

Being Muslim now in the USA is becoming a time of a fair amount of trepidation just to live, and saw that you'd moved, so I wonder if it would be a good idea for us to consider.

Thanks for any input!!