SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis –

11 Feb

chapter 26 continued

Well, it’s obvious he knows but he couldn’t tell me how he learned it.  He’s lived there nearly fifteen years.  Maybe it comes to you by osmosis. 

I may never work up my courage to try a local bus because the solution to the dilemma of how to get around S.J. is very simple… a taxi.  You can travel for fifteen or twenty minutes in a cab for $6 or $8 and those guys are amazing at knowing exactly (most of the time) where you need to go.   The reason I say amazing is because, as you may have already read, there are no addresses and no street signs in C.R.  S.J. and its surrounding cities contain approximately 2.8 million people.  It’s exactly like L.A. in the sense that there is no division of cities or any indication that you have entered a different area.  But you can give the driver the name of the edifice you need or an approximate location and no problem, you’re there lickety split.  Two examples: Al lives in Colonia Kennedy, enfrente el parque, al lado norte de la auto pista, casa verde (for those of you who speak Spanish, those are the words I say to the “taxista”).  That’s about a fifteen minute white knuckle ride for about $4 and worth every scary penny.  I’ve been to his house many times and no way would I try to get there and back to my hotel in downtown S.J. on my own.  The other example: I couldn’t find the item I wanted at any of the hundreds of stores within an easy walk of my hotel and someone told me to go to a store called Yamuny.  Here are the directions I was given.  100 meters north of the national gymnasium.  No problem, I was there in less than five minutes by cab.  And S.J. is like many of the European cities that grew from nothing to a city of millions with not much planning and before there were many (or any) cars. 

Like European cities there are little narrow streets going in crazy directions.  Also similarly, a need arose to create one-way streets.  But in C.R. in many of the towns, including S.J, you can be traveling down a one-way street and come to an intersection where you meet head-on with a one-way street going the opposite direction.  That’s a little disconcerting.  They will at least have a sign across the intersection from you that says “no hay paso” (sometimes) and one on your side indicating which way you need to turn (sometimes).   I have driven around S.J. a little when I know I can travel on major streets and be able to make normal left and right turns. 

But my preferred method of getting around S.J. is a taxi.  That can be a real white knuckle ride however.  They have no concept of obeying signals, stop signs, speed laws, the rights of other drivers, pedestrians or even that you may wish to arrive at your destination in one piece and most of the cabs have been so beat up by all the potholes in the streets their suspension systems are shot. 

So you bounce along while the driver goes like a bat out of hell swerving to avoid potholes and other vehicles with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the horn.  It would be downright comical if it weren’t so terrifying.  If you sit up front with the driver you can at least put on a seat belt. 


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