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March 14th, 2013
I have been putting off writing this post for a couple of months now hoping that I could write the complete story. Alas, I can only cover part of it, but the info is important, so I will either add to this post later or post anew.
In the past, any person from another country could easily obtain a Costa Rica drivers license. The process was basically just to go to the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes MOPT office (closest San Jose office is in Uruca) with your current drivers license. your current passport, and some money. You would stop at one of the doctor’s offices located nearby the MOPT and get a short physical called a Dictamen Médico. You would then walk to the MOPT, go in, get in line and maybe two hours later… you had your license! No test. Nothing. Easy!
Not any more.
The new rules now restrict anyone seeking a Costa Rica drivers license to be a citizen of Costa Rica or to those foreigners who possess legal residency in Costa Rica. This means you must now show your current cedula de residencia (your national ID card valid for any form of residency i.e pensionado, rentista, permanent, etc) issued when you received your legal residency. No cedula? No license.
If you would like to know more about this topic… read on!
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Tourism, Drivers License Costa Rica, Driving in Costa Rica, Expatriate Life, Perpetual Tourism | Comments (7)
May 10th, 2011
Before I start… Quite nice feedback to last week’s Costa Rica Tourist and Visitor Advisory. Had no idea it would get the response it did.
Anyway… here is a quickie! Route 32 San Jose to Limón is closed due to landslides. See below why this is important.
Now while these notices apparently are welcome, it now occurs to be I may not be able to update these things on a timely, so my best guess is that it will take a week or so to get it fixed, so best check when you arrive here if arriving soon.
One of the toughest things to get your mind around when living or traveling here is how often you are faced with the odd fact that there are many times few or NO alternative routes to wherever you are going. In the US and many countries, a road closure is no big deal. A minor inconvenience. Not here. An example is, in fact, San Jose to Limón. When route 32 is blocked, you are pretty much screwed, especially if you need to get there quickly. There is only one other (practical) route and taking that doubles the drive time to 5+ hours and maybe more as it is now carrying more traffic.
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Tourism, Driving in Costa Rica, Tourism, Travel, Travel Advisory, Travel to Costa Rica | Comment (0)
April 21st, 2011
So there I was in town yesterday for a 2 minute stop at the drug store. I will admit that I did park next to a yellow curb, so I guess I am guilty, though there were no signs or warnings about how big a sin I was committing nor what was about to happen to me.
So…I grab my pills and start to chat up the regente (pharmacist) as we are old buddies. Almost immediately he asks me where I parked. I pointed and he says “RUN! They wait out there to get you and the ticket is HUGE!!”. How huge I wonder as I am hauling my non-to-light butt outta his store and across the street.
Too Late. There were two of them. One was a municipal cop (generally pretty nice folks where I live) and the other a much dreaded transit cop, also known as “tourism killers”. As I am from the 60′s, you have no idea how hard it was to type transit cop and not transit pig… but those days are gone…. I guess…sigh.
So I try to be friendly which seldom works as nearly every “transito” I have ever met seems to express equal opportunity hatred to every living creature. It seems they all suffer from some form of terminal hemorrhoids that makes them the nastiest sourpusses on earth. I have no idea how many tourists these clowns have offended and caused never to return to Costa Rica, but it is a BIG number if I can judge from the many emails I receive complaining about them… but I digress!
Interested? read on!
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Costa Rica Tourism, Drivers License Costa Rica, Driving in Costa Rica, Ley de Transito, Life in Costa Rica, Tourism, Travel to Costa Rica | Comments (12)
April 7th, 2011
I am sure one of the jobs of any United States Embassy regardless of location is to constantly evaluate the host country in terms of law, infrastructure, political persuasion, stability, attitude towards the USA, geographical considerations and probably a bunch of other stuff of which I have no idea…. like maybe the cool spy stuff! They likely collect info in many ways, but I am not at all sure of the accuracy of their sources.
In fact, one of my favorite sources for pretty excellent info regarding Costa Rica is the good ol’ CIA! Their World Factbook Costa Rica is handy and is quite accurate. A lot of the info can be really useful to folks studying Costa Rica, planning to move or relocate here, considering opening or moving a business operation to the country and for many other reasons.
Costa Rica newspaper La Nacion recently made a deal with those idiots at Wikileaks to get copies of various cables sent by various US diplomats to the State Department that pertain to Costa Rica. If you wish to download a copy of the cable I will be discussing, just click here. Now when you do that, you will supposed see the actual document submitted 4 April 2007, by Laurie Weitzenkorn, an official of Public Affairs U.S. Embassy, but other news sources (La Nacion etc) have published lists of comments that do not appear on that document and while I am pretty sure they are accurate, I have not been able to track down the actual Wikileaks document. All have been published in various online or actual newspapers. The comments by Weitzenkorn and others are a few years old, and perhaps my readers would like to know my thoughts as to whether some of these issues are still valid. Cables like these give the viewpoint of a single person whom we do not know. Did they live here for a a few weeks. months or years? Where did they get their info? Was/is it biased? Quien sabe?
Anyway, here are excerpts… some topics I think might be of the most general interest. If interested, read on!
Filed under CAFTA, Costa Rica, Driving in Costa Rica, Free Trade Agreement, ICE, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, TLC, Travel, Wikileaks Costa Rica | Comments (7)
March 2nd, 2010
Typical of Costa Rica, news reports differ as to how went day one following implementation of the new ley de tránsito (traffic laws). One English language online stated that more than 300 fines were handed out in San José alone. This was kinda amazing as the transit officers union stated in pretty clear terms that their membership would not be handing out tickets except for violations that could be dangerous to other drivers.
I normally only read La Nacion or some other Spanish language newspapers as they tend to get it right… and as I suspected, the information reported was not quite accurate. The actual number of tickets was far less. By 4 PM yesterday, 218 tickets had been handed out nationwide.
These tickets were for:
Using mobile phones without a hands free device or failure to use seat belts. (¢ 220,050 or $400.00) (Yeah!!)
Driving in San José in violation of vehicle plate restrictions (¢ 29,340 - $53.00)
Driving with polarized (darkened) rear window (¢ 117,360 – $213.00) and finally,
two people who were caught driving without a driver’s license (¢ 293,400 – $533.00 ) and whose cars were impounded on the spot. Wow!
Also, La Nacion staffers apparently did a bit of reconnoitering around the country and found that many transit officials had apparently not even been on duty, prompting the response “Promise Fulfilled” by Joselito Ureña, secretary of the Unión Nacional de Técnicos y Profesionales en Tránsito the transit officers union. Interestingly…. Those officers did give out tickets were officers who were working directly under the supervision of Marin Germain, transit director aka the big cheese. Guess that confirms who is the real boss.
So the verdict? None of the big cheeses (transit bosses nor the diputados) are thrilled about the officers not obeying orders and handing out those tickets… still it would be wise to keep your foot under control, not talk on your cell phone, use your seat belts and generally be good little boys and girls!
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Costa Rica Tourism, Driving in Costa Rica, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica | Comments (5)
February 28th, 2010
I have been waiting patiently for many months for someone in the government of Costa Rica (ummm – that would be the diputados), to realize just how idiotic is the new ley de tránsito (traffic law) that goes into effect tomorrow, March 1, 2010.
In fact I have re-written this post about 3 times, the last time being Friday when they decided not to enforce some laws requiring everyone carry fire extinguishers, those reflective triangle thingies, and a couple of other items (like child seats) that they probably should have left in! I was running out of time… but my guardian angel told me to wait until Sunday…
So I did wait, only to learn last night that the least likely group of all (that would be the transit police officers union) voted overwhelmingly to not enforce the new laws, but will enforce really tough drunk driving laws and those regarding reckless driving! Sadly, those are the laws the courts are ignoring with only eleven convictions in over a year. I am thinking now that the police officers (that would be the group with the brains) should perhaps trade places with the diputados!
Interested? Read on!
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Drivers License Costa Rica, Driving in Costa Rica, Expatriate Life, Tourism, Travel, Travel to Costa Rica | Comments (19)
February 7th, 2010
Click photo to enlarge. Dotted line is now completed
The long awaited (30+ years) highway from San Jose to Caldera opened a couple of weeks ago. I had a hunch that anything that long in the making would draw the curious and traffic would be a disaster. Turns out that I called it, and the touted 45-60 minute trip to the Port of Caldera (Puerto Caldera), Costa Rica’s only commercial and cruise terminal on the Pacific coast, took up to three hours for much of last week
Not so yesterday!
Yesterday, I thought it might be worth a chance, so my wife Maria Luisa, my sister Pamela and I jumped on the new highway and found ourselves pretty much alone with pretty minimal traffic. Better yet, we were in Orotina in 45 minutes and in Caldera in 60. Another 15 minutes put us in Puntarenas and walking on the beach. this is a big deal to expats and Ticos and will certainly have a positive commercial effect in all those locations.
Thirty years or not, this was worth the wait. Interested? Read on!
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Tourism, Driving in Costa Rica, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Tourism, Travel, Travel to Costa Rica | Comments (15)
July 2nd, 2009
Last year, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas (MOPT or as North Americans might call it, the Transportation Department) made a rule that drivers could not enter San Jose on certain days of the week, dependent upon the last digit of their license plate. For numbers 1-2 it was Monday, 2-3 Tuesday, etc. I immediately hated this rule as it restricted my freedom. Well, I did not Blog about it… just as well because about 3 hours later, I changed my mind! Suddenly, the traffic in San Jose dropped and while I had to be inventive on Mondays, the other 4 days were wonderful!
Crow tasted just fine. Besides, I knew that some offended person would file an appeal with Sala IV, the Costa Rica Constitutional Court.They did, and just days ago, the court deemed this restriction unconstitutional and thus declared it null and void.
Filed under Cars - Automobiles, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Driving in Costa Rica | Comments (4)
February 13th, 2009
A lot of people are surprised to learn that it is perfectly legal to drink and drive in Costa Rica. It’s true! However, the law also states that you cannot drive while drunk. That means that means that you as a driver are depending on the guy who is drinking to know when he is drunk. File that under things that make you go… “Hmmmmm”.
The government, getting fed up with the huge number of alcohol related traffic accidents and the resultant deaths, passed last December La Ley de Tránsito or simply new driving laws.
Although signed into law and effective last December 2008, I did not blog about it because there were sure to be a ton of appeals to the Costa Rica Supreme Courts, called Salas, regarding the legality of the new laws and the associated punishments which are truly severe. Sala IV has upheld some and is still considering others, but it is time to talk about these new laws. In this post, I will provide my thoughts and more important, a shortened list of the new laws and the associated fines and/or imprisonment. If this topic is of interest, read on! Continue reading »
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Driving in Costa Rica, Hmmm!, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica | Comments (9)