If the Beatles were around today and looking for a place to shoot the infamous cover for their album, “Abbey Road” – San Jose, Costa Rica would not be the place to do so. Lets just say we would have four squished beetles on the road.
Throughout most of Costa Rica, but especially in the capital city, San Jose, there is no such thing as pedestrian rights. Cars have the right of way and they don’t ever let you forget that. With very little to no policing of traffic, drivers in Costa Rica have free reign.
The commute to my University involves crossing a major road within my neighborhood of San Jose. I used to chuckle at the sight of “gringos” (U.S Americans), huddled together in the morning, frantically waiting for the opportunity to cross the busy street. “Such rookies”, I would think to my self – confident in my ability to navigate city roads, thanks to growing up outside of New York City.
But as it turns out, these gringos were not rookies at all and there was good reason for the baffled looks on their faces. The first time I approached the sidewalk to cross the main road, bullets of cars zoomed by, instinctively urging me to pull my body away from the road. “Jeeze”, I thought as my hair fluttered from their passing. I was amazed that not one car stopped to let me pass, even with a backpack and books in my hands. “Ok”, I think to myself, “I’m not in New York anymore.”
As I continue to spend more time in Costa Rica, this pattern of homicidal street drivers remains evident. Navigating through the downtown or even in the mountains of La Fortuna, you must look both ways and then both ways again. There’s a joke among the locals that for every gringo you hit, you earn a number of points. I don’t think it’s a joke as much as it is an actuality. When I was in the doctor’s office at the University, an American girl came in complaining about pain in her foot. Her toes were run over by a driver in Puerto Viejo while she was attempting to cross the road. Ouch. I wonder how many points he got?