Spending nearly two months in the neighbourhood of Barrio la Cruz, Liberia gently eased us in to the pace of Costa Rican life. For those of you who are unaware the inhabitants live by the mantra ‘Pura Vida’ loosely translated this means live and work slow but drive at ridiculous speeds weaving in and out of any obstacles that are unfortunate enough to block your path. Much to our joy we became the obstacles!
The Pan American Highway runs down from Mexico through all of central America to Panama, acting as a haulage route for large lorries and through traffic travelling between countries. From our small neighbourhood on the edge of town we would have to join this stream of ‘Pura Vida’ traffic and negotiate our way into the centre of town to buy groceries. Always a slightly terrifying experience we began to notice the large amount of small children, pedestrians and cyclists (not always sober) who joined us on the hard shoulder to travel to and from town. Evidently this was well used by the locals however the oncoming lorries had clearly not received the memo about the additional human traffic on the road and would issue a loud honk just meters before crushing you to your death thus allowing you enough time (in their opinion) to swerve into the ditch.
One evening as we were cycling home at dusk we came across a gentleman who had a rather novel way of dealing with the stress of his commute. Dressed in dark colours and positioned in the middle of the lane, and of course, blind drunk (I fear this may be vital to attempt his strategy) he weaved his way down the highway. Luckily for him at that point there was no traffic, although Ben nearly ran him over on the bike, the light was fading fast and he was not visible in the dark.
After this we pledged to find an alternative route into the town, setting off from the house we navigated our way through the various surrounding neighbourhoods and after heading down innumerable dirt tracks we found ourselves well and truly lost in the woods. Feeling somewhat panicked I suggested trying to re trace our steps, Ben had other ideas. ‘I think we should go this way’ he said lifting his bike over a barbed wire fence, although having few navigational skills myself I was aware of the universal use of barbed wire to prevent people entering private land. After a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of being attacked by an angry Costa Rican we decided to continue in the direction we were originally heading and hope for the best. An hour later we found ourselves back on the Pan American, only this time we were entering the city on the road of death from the north side of town instead of the south.