Our drive from Jaco to Nuevo Arenal took about 3 1/2 hours on good roads and didn’t cost us a penny. Well, actually there was one inexpensive toll but our journey almost cost us $600 USD!
The roads in may areas were winding and the speed limits varied from 40- 60 km/hr and there are no passing lanes so long lines formed behind slow vehicles and slowly cars would pass the slow poke, usually on double yellow lines and occasionally legally on passing lines. We were very patient.
After a while when you are doing 25 km/hr in a 60 or even 80 zone you can tend to get a little anxious but we were in no rush so we were actually quite relaxed.
One after another the long parade of cars ahead of us took their turn and passed the truck that was in no rush and then our turn came to be ready to pass.
One curve in the road and then another. A straight away ahead? Nope. Another turn, slow to 15 kms/hr, speed up to 25 and then another curve and then, okay, my eye caught a sign that indicated an intersection ahead but the road was long and straight and clear and had double yellow NO PASSING lines.
There were no cars coming from the opposite direction. I made an executive decision (these often don’t turn out well), pulled out onto the oncoming lane, stepped on the gas and then nearly had a heart attack when a traffic policeman stepped out onto the highway and directed us to pull over.
We were warned that traffic tickers were expensive in Costa Rica.
The traffic cop meandered over to my window, smiled, I smiled back, and without asking, I pleaded guilty. I know what I did was wrong and just because everyone else can get away with it doesn’t make it right and I have never had a ticket before and I blah blah blah. So he tells us that the fine for this offence, passing on a double yellow line and with an intersection thrown in to boot, is $600 USD payable at any bank and can I have your passport, registration and drivers license please.
I hand over the required documents while Joyce pleads to reduce the fine amount and I suggest a warning would be appropriate and, sorry, what did you say? Do you live in Costa Rica? No, why do you ask? Is it our 17 year old rental that might suggest we do?
I didn’t actually say that but in fact our rental is a 2006 model so it would seem quite likely that we lived here because who in their right mind would rent such an old vehicle?
I think it was pity that I saw in his eyes when he said he can help us out. We were elated by his comment. Help us out! Yay! But in the back of our minds we were wondering. Do we have to figure out a nice way to bribe this guy?
He meandered over to his motorcycle, pulled out a small remote printer terminal and printed out a very long traffic ticket. He then wandered back, handed me the printout, explained there was nothing on the printout of any import and that nothing was registered back at HQ and he disabled the video camera that was monitoring this whole sordid mess. We were off the hook!
We thanked him profusely and he seemed to linger just a little, was he waiting for a monetary thank you? We don’t think so and we think if we did offer some sort of gift this could very well have offended him and caused us some serious crapolla.
We both waved and smiled as we pulled out into traffic. Joyce with her hand over her heart and me wondering if our smiling and waving was caught on his video camera.
We had three nights booked in Nuevo Arenal and stayed at a really nice B & B, Casa Donna Rosa which was operated by two extremely friendly and helpful gentlemen named Werner and Carlos. The house was originally owned by Carlos’ mother and was completely renovated into a four suite B & B, not including the owners main suite.
Carlos was the cook of the household and every morning he prepared an excellent breakfast that included the freshest fruit we have ever tasted. The room we had was large and comfortable with an outside terrace overlooking lake Arenal.
The B & B was quite close to a few good restaurants and Sodas. Having arrived into NA just after noon we had plenty of time to wander down to the village and have some excellent lunch at a local soda. I had a traditional Casados which is Costa Rica’s signature plate and is served with rice, beans, fried ripe plantain, fried egg, salad and your selection of protein. Joyce had the chicken tacos and both were delicious!
Two nights of our three night stay we ate at a really good local Italian restaurant owned by an Italian women with a very interesting sense of humor. The name of the restaurant was “Eatalien Food, UFO Zone Restaurant”. The food was excellent and the owner was a wonderful lady.
Overall it was an excellent place and location to stay and use as our base for a couple of days where we planned on visiting Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges and Los Lagos Hot Springs over the next couple of days.