Thelma & Louise

Costa Rica is stunningly beautiful, but traveling in Central America doesn’t come without its misadventures. The other day M and I took a day trip from Jaco to Manuel Antonio National Park to see monkeys in the wild.


 Our furry little friends

As we drove along the road into Manuel Antonio a park official directing traffic ordered us into a parking spot. He pointed to the police and told us that hikers had to use this particular lot. M and I are usually pretty travel savvy (we’ve done previous driving trips in Belize and Panama) and since the police were watching we thought it was the real deal.  After a few hours of hiking we returned to find the front license plate stolen from our car. After a frantic debate with two police officers (I have to say I was pretty proud of my Spanish) we were told that the transit police took the tag and there was no way to get it back. We drove a few miles to the nearest town and stopped at a (different) rental car company. The sympathetic employee called Budget for us, who then explained that we would have to return the car to San Jose and get another one. Oh yeah, and if we get stopped by the cops they will confiscate the car. Our simple day of hiking turned us into outlaws on the run. Starving and ticked off, we made it back to Jaco without a police run-in.

A desperately needed frappe

A final trip to the Taco Bar

So that left us in Jaco with our illegal vehicle and two choices: tow the car for two hours back to San Jose or drive back in the dark like fugitives. We opted for number two and  left before dawn yesterday with passport copies and the number for the U.S. Embassy on hand (just in case). We made it safely back to Budget at 7:15 a.m. and completed the exchange. With our shiny new (legal) car we headed back to the coast for the second part of our trip.

The Puntarenas-Paquera ferry


 Gulf of Nicoya

Have you had any traveling misadventures? Please share!

P.S. In case you’re reading, Mom… we are safe and sound with a legal car and parking ticket paid.



Filed under Travel & Leisure

7 responses to “Thelma & Louise

  1. Woah, that sounds like a scary mess! Good thing you knew enough Spanish to find out what was going on.

    Back in college, I got lost in Barcelona one time with a guy I hardly knew. He was part of the tour group I was with and had rented a car and taken me out to dinner. We got into the city OK but could not find our way back. Our hotel was on a mountaintop–we could SEE it but had no idea how to get UP there! The problem was that I did not know enough Spanish to understand people’s directions, even though we must have stopped at about 5 different gas stations for help. (And this was before the age of cell phones, so we couldn’t even call anyone from our group.) What finally got us back (like, 3 hours later) was that we ran into someone at the gas station who spoke Mandarin, which my friend spoke fluently! So Spanish didn’t help us out in Spain, but Chinese did. Go figure!

  2. mom

    WOW!! Sounds like an interesting start to the New Year! Glad all is well, call when you get home!! Love You

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