Road Obstacles when driving in Costa Rica
Driving in Costa Rica can be overwhelming when you first arrive. I compare it to driving in Paris, Rome or Madrid, any Latin American city in Europe. It’s mainly the lack of discipline that turns roads into a madhouse, especial at peak hours.
We all want to get to our destination as soon as possible, even if we have to break all the rules simultaneously if we have to. We don’t pay any attention to road signs and road markings; this is the wild, wild west for anyone not used to drive in Costa Rica.
Costaricans are very nice and easy going people, but once they hold a steering wheel in their hands, they’ll go nuts. Since they are always running late, which we call Tico Time, they try to recover lost time on the road. Doing so, they will do anything that is not allowed, no matter how crazy it sounds.
Now, don’t run scared now, if you follow my articles, you will be aware of many of the obstacles you will find, the weird actions that some drivers take and the mistakes made by road planners. In no time, you will be either a careful driver or as crazy as the locals are when driving a car.
Let’s talk about road obstacles first. I got some photos here to try to make my point. This point is pretty easy: you don’t see ‘em, you will hit ’em. So either pay attention or get a will, a good life insurance and a plot on the cemetery.
We have TREES in the middle of the road. Yes, you’re reading it right, they are trees. We love trees, we are very ecological, so when we need to widen the road, we leave the trees where they are and we just drive around the trees.
The famous mango tree in Escazu, or “palo de mango”
The tree in the photo above is actually the famous mango tree o palo de mango, and a well-known landmark in Bello Horizonte, Escazu. The mango tree is not protected and I do not understand why they don’t cut it. Coming from the street on the right and trying to make a turn to the south, you might hit an oncoming car because the tree takes up most of the right lane. (note editor: the Escazu Municipality cut the famous Mango tree in August 2016 because the dead tree was a danger to traffic and passersby)
We also have missing sewer manhole covers. If you hit one of those manholes, you might be buying a new car and visiting the hospital with neck trouble. The good thing that Ticos can be VERY creative in their way of showing you the danger, as you can see in the photos. They use all kinds of ways to show you the cover is missing.
Manhole cover missing ? Here is a great solution so you won’t hit the hole
We have road signs that have fallen down and helpful hands found a way to let us know there is a stop sign ahead. The sign might be a bit in the way if you need to make a right turn though.
A pothole is not an obstacle, but your car will be one, when you hit one of those beautifully deep potholes. Like in many other countries in the world, we have potholes in the streets. But in Costa Rica, we have the perfect warning signs for saying “pothole ahead”.
Potholes? Here are some solutions so you won’t hit them
You will find many streets that were originally not wide enough for traffic and were widened by the road authorities. Communication between the utility companies, municipality and road authorities needs to be perfected, which might take quite a few years. This might not happen until there are a few deadly accidents.
Power poles are a typical road obstacle when driving in Costa Rica
Until you get to know the neighborhood you will be living in well, pay attention when driving, so you won’t have any curious accidents like hitting a power pole in the middle of the road. Or even better, ALWAYS pay attention, you never know what you might hit.
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