Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mauricio aka Our Daihatsu Terios 4WD Rental Car

Our sexy beast in front of Arenal Volcano.
Before the trip, I was completely against renting a car... but that will be for another blog post. Today, I'm going to tell you that we did rent a car for our trip and his name was Mauricio! We picked up Mauricio, our Daihatsu Terios 4WD, as soon as we landed in Liberia. I was hoping to do some driving on the trip but unfortunately, Mauricio was a stick shift so the driving was left to the boys. Since I can't tell you much about how this thing actually drives, I'll tell you about what it was like to have a rental car in Costa Rica. Driving around Costa Rica was definitely an experience in itself, and I was just a passenger.

A side view of our bad boy.
First of all, there are no addresses or street names. Directions are given using landmarks and respective distances. This is the "address" of our first hostel: North of the church, next to the post office, second floor... Yup, seriously.

A dynamic duo: Travis the driver and Ignas the navigator.
The signs for directions were often ambiguous and it would always be a group effort to decipher their meanings. For example, we would come to a fork and there would be a sign on the right side of the road immediately before the fork. The sign would have our destination and a "left arrow" but we had to interpret whether that meant to take the left road or to take the road to the left of the sign. This was especially difficult when we drove at night, which we did a lot of despite all of the warnings I read about. Luckily, whenever we were at a completely loss, local passersby would point out the way. It really made me appreciate our overhead signs in LA that always point in one direction: downwards onto the correct road.

Also, while driving around Costa Rica, you will quickly be introduced to the "Costa Rican massage," and it isn't a pleasant one. Most of the roads, if you can even call them that, are unpaved, rocky, and insanely bumpy... like possibly-hitting-your-head-on-the-car-ceiling kind of bumpy. Hence, the "massage" you will feel from sitting in the car. We drove around cliffs, through the back country and we also forded rivers. (I'm proud to say we literally forded the Rio Grande! I'll post a video of this later.) This definitely added to the sense of adventure.

Of all the rivers we forded, this one was probably the most shallow...
In retrospect, I'm very glad we had Mauricio throughout the trip. It made things extremely convenient and it allowed us to fulfill our craving for exploration to the fullest. Two final tips: get full coverage and bring a good road map. Yes, BRING one. The owner of our first hostel saved us by giving us his and I don't know what we would've done without that thing.

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