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.