Want to get the most out of a trip to Costa Rica? Then, I have one piece of vastly important advice for you…
Rent a car!
But wait, there’s more!
Actually, as with all unsolicited advice, there is a catch.
If you are going to follow my lead and rent a car to get around Costa Rica, (preferably one with 4 wheel drive) it is absolutely essential (in that, always put on clean underwear before you leave the house kind of way) to rent (or bring) a GPS!
Our initial reaction when the rental car salesman in San Jose, Costa Rica started urging us to also rent their Garmin GPS, was something like “Sure, gouge the tourist for more cash!” However, there was something in the earnestness of his insistence (and, the fact that Costa Ricans in general tend to be vastly straight forward about things) that made us finally relent and rent the GPS for $8 per day. It didn’t take long (about two blocks) to realize the complete and utter necessity of the gadget.
You see, the Costa Ricans, while a lovely people in general who really know how to host a traveler in their beautiful country, have a cultural abhorrence for street signage…anywere! Technically the streets all have names – the maps are loaded with them – but trying to find an actual street sign anywhere in the towns and cities is like looking for a teenager without a phone in hand. Even Costa Ricans, when queried about this phenomena, expressed their own difficulties when travelling to a town they had never been to before.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You will get enough signage to get the general sense of your place in the world,
I think I know the way to San Jose…
But, other directions will look like this:
We must be almost there…
Or, come from locals (and even printed in online directions) in the form of relational positioning such as “six blocks from the Church”, or “around the corner from the store”, or “over there (points to some distant corner of the town)”. Of course, success with directions of this sort is dependent on knowledge of where the actual “church”, “store”, or “there” is located.
I think he knows where we need to go…but he’s not talkin’
By the time we had completed our first drive from San Jose to La Virgen, successfully winding our way around myriads of unmarked streets as the electronic voice told us just where to turn, we were ready to get down and kiss the proverbial feet of our precious rented GPS. (just in the figurative sense, of course – we did not want to look weird). The truth is, without the GPS we would probably still be driving in circles around the mountain towns of Costa Rica (which wouldn’t be so bad, aside from the bothersome reality of work, school and pets demanding to be fed).
About now I suppose you are asking yourself why the crazy Sweet Spot chick is encouraging you to risk driving around Costa Rica at all! Perhaps some perverted plan to send travelers randomly driving in circles around the wilds of Costa Rica?
For one reason, and one reason only – really, the only one that matters.
If you don’t get in a car and drive yourself around Costa Rica, you will miss seeing things like this:
Rio La Paz. Drive from San Jose to La Virgen
Mountain farm – drive from San Jose to La Virgen
Drive from La Virgen to La Fortuna
Sheep farm between Jaco and Quepo
Beach between Hermosa and Quepo
Driving into La Fortuna
Drive from Jaco to San Jose
The Defense rests.
For other posts on Costa Rica:
Costa Rica Part 1: Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer
Costa Rica Part 3: The Eco Adventures
For more Sweet Spot Travels: GO HERE