Tropical adventures – Part 2

Why getting out of Drake felt like Matt Damon in “The Martian”

Problem three: Driving from Drake to Jimenez

Why, you might ask yourself, driving out would be worse than driving in? Well, remember the tropical storm that I mentioned earlier? It not only turned our local road into a mud river…but it also provoked some landslides on the road which, we were told by the locals had tilted the asphalted stretch.

So, the locals advised us to drive back early in the morning, when there was less chance of rain and, very important, more traffic on the road so we could get help should we got stuck in the mud. So, with that happy prospect, and once all the luggage was in the car, we left Drake.

If I had to summarize the trip in sounds, it could be something like this:

“Tra Tracatra Tra Tra, Bang, Bang, Miauuuuu” (Matilda protesting when the potholes were too deep).

Two hours later, and lots of tracatra-bangbang-miaus, we reached ….. the main road to Jimenez. All nicely asphalted, with painted lines and all. I almost had tears in my eyes.

I almost felt inclined to get out of the car and kiss the road, like the Pope. After what felt like ages in the jungle, we finally hit civilization. I could finally switch off the 4×4 and drive in silence. And faster than 20 km/hour. It felt wonderful. So much that Frank had to remind me that I was driving too fast ;-).

Lesson learned from problem 3: when going in and out of remote places, plan to do it in rush hour. Not only you might get help if something happens but you can also clearly see the tracks of other cars indicating where to do the river crossing.

Road to Drake_IMG_20200620_091654
A flat part of the road from Drake to Rincón, with the splendid views

Problem four: Worsening of the Corona situation in Costa Rica…and sudden strong mobility restrictions

Our next challenge was related to the Coronavirus. The day before we left, the Government divided the country into orange and yellow zones in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

In the orange zones, car traffic was completely forbidden for 9 days (except for accessing the supermarkets and pharmacies two of those 9 days) starting the following day – our traveling day-. In yellow zones, driving was allowed.

It turned out that our next planned destination was in an orange zone. Damn!


We had planned to stay there for 3 nights and then move to another area of the country – which was in the yellow zone. So, either we stayed in the orange zone for 9 days…and hope that the situation would get better after 9 days and we could move on or…cancel our plans to go to the orange zone & birdwatching tour and move directly to the yellow zone.

Needless to say, we decided on the latter. As Frank reasoned, the situation was akin to traveling by train. When the trains are delayed, you just get any train that goes in the direction of your destination. So, the yellow zone it is.

So, I spent our last evening in Drake on the phone changing bookings. Fortunately, all went fine and we were able to adjust the booking with a minimum financial loss (20 dollars).

Lesson learned from problem 4: In times of corona, make sure that you have zero costs for last-minute cancelations or, simply book the day before…

Problem 5: Driving out of Jimenez without getting caught by the police

There was only one hiccup. We still had to drive through an orange zone to get our main luggage.

Before leaving for Drake (yellow), we decided to leave most of our luggage in our former house (orange, but we did not know that at that time). Our idea was to pick it up on the way back from Drake….which now seemed like the worst idea ever…

So, we needed to get in the orange zone for 14 km, get our luggage and get out of there…without being caught by the police.

We played in our head all possible scenarios. In all of them, we were caught by the police. In some, we would tell the truth – that we consciously drove into the forbidden zone to retrieve our luggage and also deliberately left the orange zone – or not. It turned out that it was not necessary at all for two reasons.

  1. There was no police control.
  2. The government had at the last minute indicated that mobility between zones was possible with the proof of hotel reservation and during the first day of the restriction. Exactly the day we were traveling.

Aren’t we lucky? So, we went in and out without a problem. And we finally headed to what would be our new home for the next week. Until next Saturday, when we can drive again between zones.

Lesson learned from problem 5: Always travel with ALL your belongings. Even if it means dragging along things that one would not need.

A bonus…

2 thoughts on “Tropical adventures – Part 2

  1. This is so interesting, Cristina. I’m so glad you managed to do what you talked to me about when I last visited Sweden.


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