Back in March we finally bought a car. It is an older car, 2002 Hyundai Accent. Only had about 65,000 kilometers on it. Car was imported directly from South Korea. We even found a 10,000 Won bill in it. I will tell you that cars here are not cheap by any means. We have a very high import tax and they hold their value over the years. If you are looking for an SUV or something with four-wheel drive, you are going to pay for it. Cars can cost twice as much as they do in the US. I have seen used cars here that you would pay $3,000 for in the US cost around $7,000 here. No joke. Not to mention the price of gas as well. For regular unleaded you are looking at just under $5 a gallon, diesel is a little cheaper. But we don’t produce any of our oil and it all has to be imported. I can tell you that we are not the most expensive in the world, but we are definitely not the cheapest either. We do have the highest gas prices in Central America, and the worst roads.
The roads here can tear up your car pretty quickly if you are not careful. In the city it’s not too bad, but once you get out into the country side and find those roads that aren’t paved, it can get pretty rough. The street I live on is not paved. We have a hole so big down the road that the neighborhood kids could use it for a kiddie pool. Plus with all the rain we have had lately, even the good roads have holes in them now. When we go out we get to play my favorite game while driving, pothole dodging.
Driving here is another adventure. The Ticos are the most laid back and relaxing people in the world, until you put them behind the wheel of a car, or on a motorcycle. They drive like maniacs. The speed limit in our area is right around 60 kph. We will go 80 kph and still get passed like we are going the opposite direction. I think they believe the speed limit is the slowest that you are allowed to go and anything over that is fine, the faster the better. A stop sign is for decoration only, it has no meaning. Just make sure you look before pulling out, not everyone does. A double yellow line is to make the road look pretty, it has no meaning either. I have had people on motorcycles pass me on the right without a second thought about it also. Stopped in traffic, people on motorcycles will just cut down the middle in between the cars, why not? They are small enough to fit through there. Out of the city also, it is not uncommon to see a family of three or four on one motorcycle; and that little 125cc is really struggling. It doesn’t matter if it is raining, they are still out on the family bike.
Now for the maintenance. We have had a couple of small problems with our car, after all it is older. We had a leak under the dash that was pretty bad actually. My friends step-son is a mechanic and works at their house. We took the car over to have him check it out. He found where the leak was coming from, had to take the corner panel off the car to get to it, had to put silicone around a cable to stop it, and did a tire rotation for us. Total cost was under $16. The door handle on the passenger side broke. We bought a new one for under $10 and are having it installed for under $6. My husband used to be a mechanic in the US, we just don’t have the tools here for all of this, and said that one of the places he worked at charged about $150 to replace the door handle. He took the car for an oil change a while back, they checked everything on the car, even the suspension, and he was charged about $30 including the oil. (Oil is expensive here.)
So, always find a mechanic that you can trust, it can be difficult to do. Make friends with the locals and you won’t have any problems finding what you need. Until mañana, Pura Vida!
Just found this a few minutes ago and wanted to add it in. These are the fines for traffic violations. Don’t use your cell phone and drive.