Friday, June 08, 2007


La Bus El Broken O Down O

As I said in a previous blog there is a mode of transportation in Costa Rica called the Collectivo. Remember, it's that 1983 broken down thing that sometimes passes for a truck? Anyways, for Troy and I to get back to the town we started from, we had to take the Collectivo again. This time we were not as fortunate as our last Collectivo ride and got the wooden plank seats instead of the cushy padded seats. The wooden planks ended up being the least of our problems.

Troy and I were the only passengers the morning we left which also ended up not being a good thing. After Ricardo (I have no idea what our drivers name is, but Ricardo works) finished his leisurely breakfast, he roll started the truck and off we went. Roll starting his truck was another sign things were not going to go well. The road we are on is about as crappy as they come. So our friend, Ricardo, is taking his slow sweet time going over the potholes. So slow that he stalled. As we all know, this is normally not a problem. Just restart the car and off you go. But since he had to roll start the car originally we knew this was not going to be so easy since the road we were on is as flat as they come. Up to this point all we cared about was getting to Puerto Jiminez to catch the noon ferry.

What does Ricardo do when the truck stalled? Nothing. Literally nothing. He sat there, draped his hands over the steering wheel and did nothing. We didn't know if he thought Puff the Magic Dragon was going to come along and save the day or what (another Troy quote of the day). After a few minutes of nothing, Troy says "Amigo, you going to start the car?" Reluctantly he gets out, opens the hood and does the obligatory poke and prod of the engine to make it look like he is doing something. Troy steps up beside him and sees that the battery cable is corroded and is causing the problem. Troy twists the cable on tighter and tells Ricardo to try again. Ricardo says no. What a stupid man. Troy says ¨Try again!¨ Reluctantly Ricardo does a few times and the engine tries to start but still not enough power.

What do we do next? We push the truck along the flat, dirt road to try to push start it. This does not work after several attempts. What does Ricardo do next? He walks off. He doesn´t even say anything to us (not like we would understand him anyways). We figured he was going to walk around the corner where we couldn't see him and sit and do more nothing. So Troy and I are left with this broken down piece of shit in the middle of nowhere Costa Rica. About 10 minutes later, Troy tries the ignition again and lo and behold, the car starts. Whoo hoo!! Troy says "What do we do?" I said "Let's go. Let's go find our driver!" So Troy jumps in the driver seat and off we go. I'm still in the "passenger section" scanning the forest around us trying to find Ricardo. We drive for about 5 minutes with Troy honking the whole way and eventually come across a lady who had not seen a guy walking along the road. She is looking at us like "Why do these 2 gringos have the Collectivo?" This is not a good sign. We're thinking he took a shortcut path and we totally missed him. So we look at each other and say "What do we do now?" Do we keep keep looking for Ricardo, do we hi-jack his truck and try to make our noon ferry? We eventually decided to keep looking because we thought it would bring us bad karma to steal the dudes truck.

We shortly came across a turn-off to a lodge. I waited with the truck while Troy walked to the lodge. Half-way there, here comes Ricardo. So off we go again. About 20 minutes later we pick up two more locals and the truck is doing well. But, 15 minutes later, the truck starts freaking out again. It doesn't stall but starts doing this bucking bronco kind of lurch. Kind of like when a 15 year old is learning how to drive a stick shift. It is jerking so hard that we are flying around the back of the truck and I am laughing so hard I am crying. The truck doesn't stall on the flat part of the road but decides to stall on the downhill of a very muddy, slippery part of the road. Since we can´t use the gears to down-shift and slow down, we are slipping and sliding precariously close to the edge of the ravine. By this time, my tears are not from laughter anymore.

We safely get to the bottom of the hill and because he didn´t make the most of the downhill opportunity to roll start again we are dead in the water. What happens next? We start walking... with 19km to go to get to town. The driver and the 2 other passengers turn off at the first sign of a beer (which sounded like a good idea at the time) but Troy and I forged on. 10 minutes later at our first water crossing I realize I have lost one of my beloved flip flops. Troy was not happy with me. Luckily we found it half-way back to the truck and we continued on with our journey.

It is hot and humid with very little shade and we knew things were starting to take an even worse turn when vultures started circling above us. About an hour later only 3 cars have passed us, all who were unable for various reasons to give us a ride. Ahead of us Troy sees a car pull onto the road. He is able to whistle and flag it down. By the time we caught up to it another car had pulled up behind us. Inside this second car is our driver, Ricardo, and the 2 other passengers. I am looking at them in this car and we are both thinking ¨There is no way we are leaving this spot with out a ride of some sort! Even if it means we pull Ricardo´s ass from the car he is in and make him walk.¨

We got a ride with a very nice man who took us all the way back to Puerto Jiminez where Troy promptly got our money back. Needless to say, we missed our noon ferry ride. Ricardo needs to do a serious overhaul of his Collectivo.


I'm really glad to hear the collectivo drivers are breaking you in nicely. I hope (in vain, I'm sure) that it's your last POS taxi.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:28 PM  

wait 'till you see the collectivo we have for you in switzerland!

El jefe at the wheel!!

remember the flintstone mobile???


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:52 PM  

hey kids, rob is back in the US of A and not so damned happy about it. franticly (sp?) calling contacts made in bocas to secure my inevitable return. fair winds and far places. godspeed. keep blogging


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:56 PM  

That was hilarious!
Looks like you guys are having fun!We are totally jealous! :-)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:19 AM  

Looking for a family vacation in the Osa Peninsula in January. Is there any reliable transport from Puerto Jiminez towards Carate besides a rental vehicle?

By Blogger pianomom, at 6:05 PM  

There are lots of bus options - they have a pretty good bus network. However, the roads a bad and it can take a long time. We used the bus system.

By Blogger Troy & Shelly, at 3:17 PM  

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