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:
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