So There We Were ~ Holiday Highways In Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most incredible places in the world. It is wild, untamed, beautiful beyond measure, and the citizens of the land adamantly strive to keep it this way, thank the heavens. There is no place like it for adventure, exploring, and relaxing - losing yourself in the wonder of nature and the simple, sweet people there.
So my friend Traveler and I went for Christmas and New Year's. No crazy holidays for us, thankyouverymuch, we were going to eat tropical fruit, tick off wild animal bingo, and do tai chi on the beach.
We were staying just outside of San Jose, the large capital of the country, which is nestled in between the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Caribbean on the east. San Jose is located just a bit west of the middle of the country. There's a highway; a main vein transportation artery, which stretches from the west coast through San Jose, all the way to the east coast. Highway 27. This is a triple lane highway closer to the city and a double lane highway the further from civilization one gets, which doesn't take long in CR.
So There We Were:
New Year's Day and we rent a dumpy little car (from the Evil & Wretched Hertz *scowl*), we pack our sunblock, suits, and stuff, and head west toward the Pacific Ocean, out on the open road... for about twenty minutes.
We are diverted by barriers off the highway to a large roundabout where sits a lone fellow in a hard hat under the highway overpass. Construction, we decide, and we take the road into the town thinking we will find another on ramp to the highway and continue our trek.
We drive around town. No on ramp. We refer to the GPS robot femme. She stubbornly insists we take the on ramp where we were diverted and no amount of coaxing can get her to redirect us, because we can't get on at that place.
We drive out into the wild country near the highway looking for a sneaky-further-down-the-road option. There is none. We back track. There's no way to get on the highway going west.
We wind up back at the roundabout with Hard Hat Man. Our collective language skills get us to a point of smiles and shrugs and we decide to back track even further - we decide to head east on the highway back towards San Jose until we can find another road to take west again.
A few miles down the road, we see an exit and I whip onto it like it's a lifeline. There's a toll booth with a friendly gentleman waiting to take money from me.
"Feliz Anos!" We greet each other like I know what's going on.
"What's going on?" I ask. I explain our predicament.
"The highway is closed." He tells me. ...no kidding.
"Yes... but where do we get back onto it?" I press.
He smiles at me... poor little lost traveler. Poor tourist. "You don't. It's closed the whole way."
"The highway is closed all the way to the Pacific Ocean? There's no way to get there?" I am completely dumbfounded.
"Right. It's the holiday, of course it's closed." He states matter-of-factly.
"...of course. Does the country usually close the highway on holidays?" I can't believe I'm even putting these words together to ask this question. My inner logical OCD Libra is hell bent to make this make some semblance of sense. So far, I am completely confounded.
"Well, see, everyone in the city goes to the beach for the holidays, so the road west to the ocean is closed on the last day of the holiday so that all the traffic coming back from the beach can use all the lanes of both directions on the highway until they get to this point, and then we separate them again. It helps with traffic jams." I can see fuzzy logic in this, but not much.
"Well, how do we get to the ocean today?" I don't give up when I want something, if it's at all possible that I may be successful in getting it. I've Got Moxie.He tells us to take a little back road and waves in the general direction of the hills behind him. We go.
We drive a short way and Traveler sees a tour bus drive by with a sign plastered onto the back of it: "Jaco Beach" which is our desired destination. "Follow That Bus!" Traveler tells me. I do.
We drive through mountains, jungles, villages, remote places we'd never have otherwise seen, through some rain (standard protocol), winding our way (think original switchbacks), up several thousand feet and back down, and we saw a GOOD chunk of countryside before we came around a high corner and I saw the sun glinting off of the sea in the distance.
It was like the promised land. Water.
After spending a substantial amount of time getting to a place that should have taken us a little over an hour to get to, we were able to find two beaches to play at, just in time to watch the sunset and relax.
Costa Ricans are big on fireworks on the beach for holidays. It was very beautiful and we stayed fairly late before driving back to the hotel (in an hour and a half) on the wide open highway.
Yes, it was worth it, but if you are thinking of heading to Costa Rica over a holiday... this is one of those Good To Know things that you should tuck into your pocket for later use.