The big secret to driving like a Costa Rican is the honest belief that your fate lies in the hands of a greater being.
If you have seen a bus driver cross himself before long journeys then you know what I mean, even if they aren’t regularly in church, the vast majority of Ticos think that their fate is something beyond their control.
And if that’s the case, then the way that you drive is unimportant, hence the ‘throw caution to the wind’ approach to road skills that Ticos usually have.
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Use that horn!
A blast on the horn is an acceptable method to alert the vehicle you’re overtaking of your presence so that your car isn’t swerved into inadvertently or when a vehicle is reversing towards you.
It can also be used to signal your displeasure at a dangerous manoeuvre of a fellow road user. The most common use of the horn though, is as an alternative to a door bell. Rather than politely exiting car and pressing the bell or knocking on the door of the person you are picking up, just pull up outside and sound your horn.
(Important note from Scott: Please and I mean PLEASE remember that this tip is for driving in Costa Rica and not other countries in Central America where using your horn “to signal your displeasure” could get you shot!)
Overtaking on the bend?
Cutting ten seconds off a journey can justify a life-threatening overtaking manoeuvre into oncoming traffic, preferably on a blind bend.
Fortunately, when you are on vacation the need for speed is not a prime concern…, so cruise and enjoy the view instead of risking life and limb on a windy mountain road!
If the vehicle ahead of you is swerving across both lanes in a seemingly alarming fashion, do not panic. The driver could well be under the influence or, more likely the driver is taking an intricate route through the lumps, bumps and gaping holes in the highway.
If this is the case, then follow their route and save the suspension and undercarriage of the vehicle you are driving.
Remember you also get a free GPS with your affordable Costa Rica Car Rental only if you mention you saw the video on WeLoveCostaRica.com
Up until very recently the sight of cars swaying in response to their drunken drivers bad steering wheel control was a common sight from any fiesta, but strict traffic laws and high fines have resulted in less drunk driving.
If in doubt, it’s best to book a cab or nominate a teetotal driver for the night if you are planning to party!
Ignoring all weather conditions.
Many Tico drivers seem to assume that driving rain is a challenge rather than a reason for caution on the roads and fail to reduce speed or adjust their driving habits in any way.
Perhaps spending half the year driving in such conditions hardens you to them, but unless you live in a tropical climate and are accustomed to driving in rain that falls in sheets rather than drops, pull over until the worst of it has passed before you return to your journey.
How to survive driving like a Tico.
You would be wise to assume that every Tico drives with a death wish or at the very least a flagrant disregard for longevity and you should be just fine.
In all seriousness, the combination of poorly maintained roads, mountainous terrain and wild driving can be a little hair-raising to begin with, but driving the highways and byways of Costa Rica is a wonderful and rewarding experience which allows the tourist glimpses into the ‘real’ Costa Rica and views that really will take your breath away.
So put your seat belts on securely and head off for that adventure in Costa Rica!
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