Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pura Vida...A Good Life...

I had one final walkabout of Granada before getting ready to pass into Costa Rica.  The old colonial town has a good feel to it, and I enjoyed my short visit there.

It has taken me a few hundred kilometers and a couple of days to feel like posting.  I left Granada rested prepared for a tiresome experience at the Nicaraguan/Costa Rican border.  While it was all of that, I did manage to get through in about two hours or so.  I did have some help on the Nicaraguan end, but the guy was straight up, and I did not feel like I was been taken.  Met a fellow from Calgary who was bus trekking, and felt a lot better about my freedom to ride.

As per expectations, soon after I finished with the two border issues and was on my way, I was stopped by Costa Rican cops.  I was prepared for shenanigans, but the guy was straightforward, just wanting to see my passport and license.  He shook my hand, and the other guy, in broken English, said that he hoped I would have a good time in Costa Rica.  That was the last cop that I talked to, and becuase Costa Rica has decided to invest in education rather than their military (they disbanded their army in 1949), I have not had one issue with guys and guns in the last two days.

About 10 minutes after I left the two Costa Rican police, I came upon a huge line up of trucks and buses.  As is my habit, I split lanes and got to the head of the line, only to discover that there had been a horrible accident.  A SUV had smashed head on into the front of a chicken bus (converted school buses) and there was parts and pieces of both vehicles all over the road, not to mention about 500 people watching the police and bomberos do their thing.  It was pretty clear that speed was the issue, as the SUV, which I think was a Dodge was pretty well destroyed.  The motor and front end of the bus was taken out, and the bus was on its side, with peoples' stuff strewn all over the place.

After a short wait, we were able to move forward, and I quickly got in front of the slow moving trucks and buses.  It was then that I noticed the police pickup in front of me, with a body in the deck of the truck and a thin sheet covering it.  I had to follow this makeshift hearse for the next 20 km. until the cops turned off.

With the dead guy leading the parade, it was sobering and uneasy feeling that soon became part of my day.  This guy had left Libertad just before me, with all sorts of hopes and dreams for the Saturday morning.  In an instant, either through his neglect and carelesness, or the bus drivers' he ran his last ride.  It is unfortnate that machismo seems to rule so many of these drivers' wheelhands: if they would not pass on blind corners and not undertake stupid moves, maybe more of them would be alive.  From what I can see, it will take a huge upswing in enforcement, and an even greater focus on improving the roads so that slow moving vehicles, ox-carts, and even wagons do not contribute to the frustration and angst which leads to people taking stupid and deadly chances.

I have seen more than one vehicle coming at me in my lane, and they are assuming that I am a moto because of my one-light.  I wonder what would happen if that speeding bus were to come upon those one-eyed tractor trailers that I have seen as well?  We know the answer to that one, and that is why there are so many crosses beside the roads, although the further south I go, the less I see the remembrances to dead drivers, even though the fatalities and stupid practices continue.

Well, rest in peace, poor soul...

On a lighter note, I can say without a doubt that Costa Rica is a jewel of a country.  The trees and foliage are absolutely stunning, and just when I think things cannot get any greener, I run across a field that is glowing green in the sun.  Everything  and everyone  seems to be brighter, and certainly happier than either Honduras or Nicaragua.  The Costa Ricans possess a self-assurdness and a world view that clearly gives them a perspective which is unique, and to my mind, very healthy.  Costa Ricans look after their country, and the dirty rivers and dirty streets that I had come to expect in Central America do not exist in Costa Rica. People take care of themselves, and their environment.  I am very impressed with the country, and I understand why so many Norte Americanos are moving here, which must piss some 'Ricans off.

 Twin Volcans on Lake Nicaragua

Way down on the western coast of Costa Rica


 I had to stop and get a shot of this place: it reeked of money

The Costa Ricans do it right: a turtle in every pond...

What a delight to have highway signs that let you know where you are, where you have been, and where you may be going....

Apparently I missed San Jose, but that's okay too.  Next stop, Panama...