While it appears like that on the surface, the eleven tragic deaths so far this year on the Route 27 (San Jose – Caldera) highway; having the courage and the “right of way” is arguable, if not fatal.

For some mysterious reason the definition of a free country gets confused with a nation classically irresponsible and to an even larger extent, unaccountable. Certainly these are gross generalizations, but the “tag” stands. Of course we are not close to the bottom of the list, but we seem to be getting closer. (Try Rome, Barcelona, Paris, New York, for driving, etc.)

By rupturing, compromising and flat out breaking law it points out that “yes we are innovative” which has been a constant complaint of both government and business for seemingly endless years. In addition, it gives one the sense of always needing to be on guard 24/7/365

There have been literally thousands of studies that come to a similar conclusion: People, governments and business do not respect the law, they fear it. If there is no fear of being punished, then we would have a lawless society much like what is now taking place in Nigeria and the blatant capture of the 200+ girls from a school, or the reported on going rapes in India that go unabated despite harsh rhetoric and perhaps to a far lesser extent, but equally as appalling, in our own piece of Paradise where young people are sold as a premium. (Deny it, but it is real.)

I am not promoting goose stepping Gestapos nor the bloody switching laws of Singapore for spitting gum on the street. I am promoting the reasonable enforcement of law that will at least dilute but not entirely take away those with the most courage who believe they have the right away.

A simple and dangerous example are Sunday mornings on just about any street in Costa Rica where the newest and most expensive fad is to get exercise by riding big time bicycles.

It is a challenge not to run over one or more riders as they spread out like the pelaton at Tour de France including blinking lights of a volunteer motorcycle leading the way.

They use the highways mostly because the holes (huecos) are limited and the surface smoother so these riders do their weekend exercises on Route 27 to Caldera.

Ooops, coming the other way but on the same side of the road running against traffic and the platon is an adhoc marathon of joggers, while at the same time speeding trucks and cars are jumping lanes to avoid squishing them and looking in the rear view mirror at a bunch of third middle fingers as if they are at fault for not furthering yield the limited road way.

In fact, it is posted by the Transito Police, “no bicycles allowed on the highway.” (No matter how expensive the bike might be.) Runners have rules that are still up in the air.

“Hey” a little courage and the bikes have the right away.

”Even better if cars and motos running red lights, making illegal turns, parking in the middle of a street to talk “cutsie” with the “novia,” and the motorcycles passing on the inside, or crossing double yellow lines to get ahead; now this is big time courage.

However, since there is limited traffic law enforcement, the fear of law itself is limited, until a truck, car, train plows into one or more of these cars/riders/runners. Then it becomes headline news with a tsk, tsk, and to quickly be forgotten as again freedom prevails.

Side Post: Do I stop at a red light on Avenida 8, in downtown San Jose in the dark of night….hell no! I look both ways and then I get out of there for fear of my life. I exercise my right of courage to live.

About Juan Sebastian Campos

Juan Sebastian Campos An expat from the U.S., educator and writer in English and Spanish since 1978 with a doctorate in business administrations (DBA) from the United States and Germany. A feature writer for ABC News, Copley Press and the Tribune Group with emphasis on Central America.


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  1. B D  15 May 2014 at 7:17 am

    The law does not require one to stop at red lights later at night. Freedom is why I came here. Maybe you prefer big mother and big brother, and tidy streets. I don’t. I liked Costa Rica better before middle America arrived with its expectation of toeing the line, Then they discovered the line was blurry and freaked out – and they still don’t know how to act.They like you don’t understand that freedom means risk. Wha wha wha! we want big brother and big mother to protect us, Tell us when and where to go, I wish those in need of diaper changes and printed directions would move on. Freedom means risk. I choose risk – so I choose freedom. Bring me back to the day where men pee on the side of the road naturally, children were not narcissistic brats in training like their Disney Channel counterparts and news sources had editors to insure a level of readability and reason.

    • Juan Sabastian Campo  18 May 2014 at 6:17 am

      B.D. at what time and what law? “Red” says stop?

      • B D  20 May 2014 at 11:34 am

        JSC – Don’t have time to research it but I am 95% certain after 10 pm it’s legal to stop at a red light and then proceed. The red light is treated as a stop sign.

        • Rico  20 May 2014 at 3:35 pm

          DB, I can tell you there has never been a legal right not to stop at a red light, day or night. However, in years past when Costa Rica was the wild, wild, west we never paid attention to red lights at night. Nor did the few traffic cops around at night.

          In the days of the wild west, it was only in the middle of the night we didn’t pay attention to red lights, and mostly due to lack of traffic cops at night.

          In these day so of the west, have to pay attention, not for the few traffic cops that are now around at night, but for other traffic that is doing the same.

          My own personal rule of driving – not the law – is in the scuzzy areas of San Jose, red or green, I am not stopping: slow down for the clear of way and go. In other areas, depends, mainly on the time, my mood and if there is the possibility of a traffic cop.


  2. Juan Sabastian Campo  16 May 2014 at 7:04 am

    Frankly, I kind of like your counter point. If I returned to the U.S., I fear 500 tickets for driving and J-walking. But, within a “free” country, not the Wild Wild West, I adhere to all regulations and law enforcement that protect the people. Here, we do not agree. We just need to enforce law or it is pure anarchy and you win. In fact you are winning! I am the dissenting vote asking to enforce law enforcement :)

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