Driving in Costa Rica can be quite the adventure, as my husband Steve and I learned one late afternoon while returning from San Isidro de El General to our rental home in Uvita. Uvita had caught our interest as a potential place to settle down, so we decided to explore the nearest city with a sense of excitement and curiosity. The journey began on a well-paved road over the mountains, offering breathtaking views all the way to town.
After exploring the sights and making a stop at Walmart for supplies, we decided to take a different route back to Uvita, opting for the second option on Google Maps. We thought it would allow us to see even more of the beautiful country. However, our optimism was quickly overshadowed by the reality of the situation. We found ourselves navigating muddy dirt roads that were clearly not meant for our vehicle.
Despite our best efforts, the slippery road conditions got the best of us, and the car started sliding uncontrollably. Thankfully, Steve managed to steer us toward the side of the mountain, narrowly avoiding a dangerous drop-off. Stranded with no immediate help in sight, we made the decision to hike down the mountain on foot, hoping to find assistance along the way.
Unfortunately, my choice of footwear, rubber Birkenstocks, was not ideal for the treacherous terrain. I ended up fracturing one of my toes during a fall. With a broken toe and no other options, Steve called 911 and provided them with our GPS coordinates. We continued our descent, a few miles later coming across a German man and his young daughter facing the same predicament as us – stranded without cell service.
Steve shared our phone with them so they could check in with their family. In a stroke of luck, an ambulance eventually arrived, about half an hour after we met the Germans and just before sunset. The heroes who came to our rescue were driving a rugged Toyota Land Cruiser ambulance, perfectly equipped for the challenging conditions. We all squeezed in, mud and all, and safely made our way down the mountain, even crossing a river that our small car would have never managed.
At the mountain’s base, the police met us and offered the German family a ride, while the paramedics took us to the hospital for my broken toe. It was an unexpected adventure that taught us a valuable lesson: when in Costa Rica, use Waze instead of Google Maps! And always be prepared, especially during the rainy season, with a vehicle that can handle the challenging road conditions.
As wild as the experience was, it only deepened our love for Costa Rica, a country of both beauty and unexpected challenges that we now embrace with even greater respect and awe.