Saturday, March 30, 2019

Costa Rica Retrospective: Driving

I had no intention of driving in Costa Rica prior to arriving.  I had seen driving in our parts of Latin America and had been terrified of it.

But we quickly realized that the areas in which we had hoped to live could not be navigated without a car.

Renting cars was interesting.  The prices fluctuated so much.  One week, an SUV could cost $5000 / month, the next week it might be $500 for the same month.

We spent more on fees and insurance than on the cars themselves.  You are required to have liability insurance on cars and your insurance from the US does not apply.  So insurance was about $350-$600 per month.

While Costa Rica driving laws appear to be similar to the laws in the US, people have adapted them to their circumstances.  It is common to have tractors driving down highways, people on bicycles or walking down the road.  So there has to be some flexibility for traffic to flow.

While we regularly saw police officers, their primary concern was for the people, not for catching traffic violations.

In general:
1. cars drove the speed that they felt safe and appropriate
2. cars would pass each other whenever it felt safe and appropriate, regardless of the lines painted on the road.  There were solid and dashed lines and various points, but they were not followed.

Traffic flowed well and despite the lax enforcement, it actually felt more liberating and just as safe to drive here.

THE BIG EXCEPTION: SAN JOSE.  Driving in San Jose was pretty crazy and stressful. We did it and survived.  The Waze app helped a lot.  The roads were steep, windy, narrow, and confusing.  Waze added a little bit of order.

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