Hit the Road in Costa Rica


This is what the tourist industry would like you to think of as a traffic jam in Costa Rica.

Or, even better, this:

Unfortunately, the reality is more like this. The dreaded Lindora Radial linking the two sides of the Central Valley  which you are obliged to take unless you fancy driving all the way to  San Jose and then out again.


Those of us who have to suffer it know it all too well…but, on the airport side at least,  there should be a notice stating

‘Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate!’

And probably a Red Cross station handing out bottles of water and sandwiches, for once you enter its maw you have no way of knowing how long it will be before you are disgorged at the other end.

It is a planning nightmare.

There are factories – thus works buses and delivery lorries.

Offices – every man in his own car.

Shopping malls- every woman likewise.

Access roads to all of above used as rat runs to try to beat the jams and thus making them worse as their users try to rejoin the main road.

It is the road to the airport….it has bridges where the road is reduced to two lanes….light controlled junctions in gridlock….

It makes for the worst journey in the country.

So why not bite the bullet and drive up to San Jose and out again?

Because the rush hours are like this:


Mark you, the traffic does at least move, unlike  the Lindora Radial…but it is dispiriting to drive in these conditions into the capital and then out again, not to speak of the danger of La Platina deciding to do its worst.

This is La Platina:        platina

A plate, as its name suggests, in the flyover which takes the Interamericana highway over junctions leading to major towns, busy suburbs and the airport.

A plate which is supposed to expand and contract with the changes in temperature.

A plate which doesn’t.

I cannot remember a year since we moved here when the blasted Platina has not played up, requiring repair work which severely disrupts the already treacly traffic movement.

This year it has been decided that ‘something must be done’ and major works, instead of patching up, is underway. Consequently nothing much else is.

Back to the Lindora Radial, then….

Traffic congestion has become so appalling that the current government have had to take it seriously….apart from anything else, it is embarrassing for a country which hawks it green credentials at every opportunity to have such a grave problem of pollution.

It has been proposed that as many civil servants as possible should work from home rather than travel to San Jose to work…but no one has proposed taking their expensive cars away.

There is a project to reduce the number of buses running into the city centre…but the bus companies are kicking up and a remarkable number of ministers supporting the project have bitten the dust.

There was going to be provision for tax relief for electric cars…but the legislators voted it down  before going home from the National Assembly in their gas guzzlers.

Take the train?

Thereby hangs a tale.

One Figueres, son of the founding father of modern Costa Rica and President of the country in his turn in 1994 closed down the railway system that took goods from coast to coast and passengers from the major towns into San Jose, thus leaving the country at the mercy of the road haulage and bus interest.


Only recently has the suburban network been restored and connection with the major towns around San Jose  re established, but it is a ramshackle affair, a narrow gauge railway running through the streets of the capital and only at rush hours:

Figueres junior now wishes to return to power after a lengthy spell spent living in Switzerland: he is seeking his party’s nomination for the next Presidential election.

His campaign posters are everywhere…..

Given his record with public transport I suspect that he will lose more votes than he gains by having his posters put up alongside the Lindora Radial



39 thoughts on “Hit the Road in Costa Rica”

  1. The first time we were in Costa Rica in 2013, the traffic was crazy in San Jose. We rented a car and drove to LaFortuna and Tamarindo during our week stay. I have to say I thought the roads were good, except for people driving slow. How is your husband doing? After this horrible election, we are coming back to Central America. This time we are headed to Nicaragua. Have you been there? Any travel tips you can share? Thanks so much.

    1. This government have really been making an effort on improving the roads….and people tend to drive slowly because of past experience with potholes. If you see a branch sticking up ahead of you – steer clear, it marks a pothole!

      Leo is not too good…but at least we are here!

      Nicaragua is superb…you will love it. The obvious place to go is Granada – you shouldn’t miss it, but it is now very touristy so use it as a base to go to villages like San Juan de Oriente – home of ceramics – and to Masaya for its markets.
      We like the north…Matagalpa in particular…and as we aren’t beach people i can’t offer any views on San Juan del Sur. Omotepe is beautiful, but is becoming, well, not exactly developed, but known about…
      You could go to the Rio San Juan and visit the Spanish fort there…all travel is by river…

  2. Respect! Your adopted homeland is obviously a magnet for city ‘planning engineers’ from around the world. Istanbul, a city with three times the population of CR has been putting into practice the lessons learned from your tutors. A good example being the world’s widest suspension bridge (and the third across the Bosphorus) named after Yavuz Sultan Selim – the ‘Slaughterer of the Alawi/Alawite’, was opened for the exclusive use of trucks and coaches and became an instant lorry park due to access/egress imbalances. As for the illustrious sultan, he didn’t succeed in getting all the apostates/heretics as there are about a million of them still here and reproducing despite localised pogroms from time to time.

    1. Luckily, unless we have an early appointment at the hospital in San Jose we can go later and avoid the crush…and San Jose has a lot going for it. The same cannot be said the the Radial….which we have to use to get to the airport.
      However, help is at hand. After some years of talking about it a cross country road is being asphalted between our little town and the town on the other side of the great divide – and the bridge, which used to boast more gap than slats, has been repaired too so we can get to the airport that way.
      Scenic, but I’d rather use the time looking at the scenery than sitting in Lindora any day!
      Leo’s health goes in cycles…always unpredictable. At the moment he is quite content to stay at home, far from the traffic jams and watch the toucans on the tree by the balcony.

  3. The first traffic jam, I could watch that all day. The rest, forget it! I remember when I was in grad school at UCLA and had a 2 hour commute to get there. The first 3/4 took 1+ hour. The last 10 minute took 3 hours. That was the Sepulveda pass where the new Gerry Museum overviews goes from the L.A. valley into West L.A. It drove me nuts and nearly caused me to stop grad school. Now we rarely make that drive and when a visit to L.A. area comes up it is that that is foremost in my mind. Happy weekend to you, Leo and the gang.

    1. I used to commute to London by train…and on one stretch of the line you could see the jams on the motorway as you trundled on your way.
      Unless, of course, there was a signal failure…or the wrong sort of snow…or leaves on the line…
      Friends are here, so it will be a good weekend!

    1. I don;t want to go back top the ox cart…but a civilised train journey would be fine….they are planning a new airport out near the coast….can you imagine how that will complicate things if they don’t build a rail line to connect with the capital. The toll road which exists now could never take that traffic, even if widened to four from two – yes, two – lanes as at present.

  4. Predictable how the politicians propose all sorts of radical green measures, which then promptly get put on hold as all the vested interests do their lobbying and block everything. The Belfast road network normally just about copes with the volume of traffic, but it only takes one serious pile-up and a closed main road to send the whole city into gridlock, which is what happened a week or so ago.

    1. This chap who wants another go at having his hand in the national purse is now involved with all sorts of foundations promoting ‘environmentally friendly’ projects….one of which is backed by Branson.- a person you would not trust with your money, your malt or your maidservant.
      Watch out for all sorts of carbon saving scams heaving over the horizon if he gets in.

  5. Within the past month, the department of transportation in my state, in a bid to get lawmakers to increase the gas tax, argued that our roads are “more deadly than war.” The agency made this claim based on the fact that more people died on the roads in my state than fighting in Afghanistan in 2016. The newspaper that printed the story, which has long advocated a gas tax increase, breathlessly repeated the idiotic comparison, with no thought about how factors such as drinking and driving, texting and driving, failing to wear seat belts, reckless driving, contribute to deaths, no matter what the quality of the roads.

    What someone needs to do is show these clowns some images from your roads. That would shut them down in heartbeat, if they had any scruples (which they don’t). Your roads certainly look more interesting – though I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

    1. Scruples? I doubt, as you say, that they have any…or would even recognise such.
      Main factors here – apart from those who will try to beat the train at unmanned level crossings in the rush hour, or insist on walking along the tracks with their music playing in their ears – are people running off the road down precipices, motorbike versus lorry collisions and, of course, the booze, the weed and those who cannot put down their mobile ‘phones for a moment.
      Things are getting better….bridges which used to have more gaps than slats are being replaced – and even our little bridge is under repair though there seems to be enough material being supplied to build another Aswan Dam. I The surplus will no doubt be wheelbarrowed away at night…

  6. Makes les noirs look positively tame! I wandered into the tourist office in Grenoble where we are finally now settled for the next few months on Saturday and asked for a map – he produced one and helpfully pointed out that the key gives roads for cars and paths for foot, bike or horse. I said I would bear the horse thing in mind since of course I keep one in the flat should the need arise! Great piece as ever and oddly even this makes me curious to explore your borough!

    1. Well worth exploration.
      San Jose is much under rated – and there is always much amusement to be gained by watching the American tourists dressed as if for Jurassic Park in the civilised setting of the caff in the Teatro Nacional…
      Countryside is stunning…no less…
      People (generally) very nice indeed….
      Politician are, of course, politicians, unfortunately but nowhere’s perfect!

      1. I have given up Politicians for Lent and being non-religious I have no idea when Lent starts and ends so I’m just giving them up for as long as I like! Sold – Costa Rica, that is …. I’ll make it over some day!

    1. It used to take us one hour to get into San Jose…now at least one and a half in the morning rush hour.
      And the Lindora radial is a nightmare at any time…which is a real pain if you are meeting people at the airport, or, worse, getting them there for their flight!

  7. Just a quick not to say, I have nominated you for a Liebster blogger award, you can see the details on my latest post. I hope you’ll accept it.
    I’ll also send you the link to the award separately.
    Very best wishes
    Cherrylynn 🤗🔆

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