Here, most of the buses and cars have about one speed all the time, the rough equivalent of 50 mph. The Ticos rarely use the turn signals to change lanes, but only to make a perpendicular turn. Everybody swerves. Ironically, however, pedestrians are probably safer here on the streets and on the sidewalks than they would be in the United States. I, personally, think it’s because of one of the vast, fundamental differences between Costa Rica and the US: personal rights.

In the US, I have a right to walk on the sidewalk and thus assume I am safe from all harm. In the US, I have a right to cross the street when the light tells me to, and if a car hits me for any reason at all when it is my turn, that car is at fault. In the US, if any car hits me (as a pedestrian) at any time regardless, I am free from blame, according to the law.

In Costa Rica, I have no rights, just survival instincts. If the semáforo turns red, but no cars are coming, cross the street (this excludes large streets and refers only to the smaller streets downtown). If the semáforo turns green, but cars are still coming, don’t cross. If no cars are coming on a street and you need to get to the other side, cross quickly. When the cars are stopped at an intersection, regardless of where you are on the street, cross the street. The cars generally swerve to avoid hitting people, or they will stop, and instead of yelling at you to get out of the street, will wish you a happy day, and blessings on your family. It was really disconcerting the first day, when I was with my host mom and she was showing me the bus stop. I totally thought we were about to die.

All the cars down here are stick-shift. My host family teased me because I can only drive an automatic, and my eldest host brother promised to teach me how to drive his car. I hope he forgets he mentioned it.

More later!!


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