Tipping Your Car Over on the way to the Feria
We’d been in Costa Rica a couple of weeks, and one of the first things you learn is that driving here is different from the states. First of all, everyone shares the road, in what I consider the nicest way possible. The Tico way. Horses, pedestrians, cars, cows, cowboys, dogs, monkeys, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. Then, the road itself, especially during rainy season, is a series of potholes. I know in Michigan we complain of potholes but these are a different level. Craters? Gaping maws? Fissures? I mean they’re big. And sometimes, on the sides of the road, or on the side of the parking lot at your kids’ school, there’s a sheer cliff going down ten feet. So backing out of your parking spot gets dicey. What I’m saying is you’ve got to have your wits about you when driving in Costa Rica. And anyone who knows me knows that my wits are rarely about me, I usually leave them tucked into a book on my bedside table, or the kids get them out and leave them someplace.
The Tamarindo Féria, the local Farmer’s Market, is in a field by the beach about a mile from our house. The first week we walked. In the scorching heat. With four kids. They weren’t crazy about the forced march, so we decided to drive this week. Mike and Maya were relaxing, so I packed up the other kids, got his ceviche order and we drove.
There’s a dirt side road to get to the Feria which people park along, but it was crammed with cars so I slowly drove in, making sure not to hit anyone or anything, turned around, and saw a spot on the right. (As a sidenote, if you see a spot on the other side of the road it is perfectly legit to drive over there and park in the opposite direction of traffic.) As I pulled to the right my front tire found ground but my passenger side rear tire, and then the whole passenger side of the car, was in a ditch. Well, more of a giant hole. So the earth is swallowing my car and Gigi, age nine, screams, “MOM THE CAR IS TIPPING OVER I’M SCARED”.
“Okay. Everyone get out, NOW!” I yelled. I got Jude out of his carseat, while Esme and Gigi hopped out. By this time, quite a little crowd, and also tears behind my eyes, were building up. “Ayudame, por favor,” I yelped to one of the locals watching. He spoke to me in rapid fire Spanish, telling me exactly what to do. Or maybe it was the meaning of life. Or maybe calling me a stupid gringa, although I doubt it because I’ll say it again and again, the Ticos are really nice. In any case, my high school Spanish 25 years ago had not prepared me for this situation.
I motioned for him to hop in the driver’s seat- for him to get my car out. “Tu?” You? Will you do it?
He got in and two other nice fellas sprang into action, putting cardboard under the wheels so they weren’t spinning in mud. My neighbor came over and took my kids. In Spanish the driver asked me a question, I looked at her to translate. “He wants to know, didn’t you see it?” she told me, “It’s big.” He was talking about the hole that swallowed my car. No, as a matter of fact I didn’t. In my home state of Michigan the holes on the side of the road filled with water aren’t as deep as the Mississippi river. He pulled forward and my rear driver side wheel was off the ground, going round and round in the air like the fidget spinner of my nightmare. I was 50% sure that it would be upside down within seconds. The crowd let out a collective, “Oh!”
One of the vendors ran over. “I’ll get my truck,” he said. He drove over with his tow strap and hooked my rental car up. With the help of a couple pushers the car was out in a matter of seconds. With tears in my eyes I thanked them profusely. “Muchas, muchas gracias!” I told them. Have I mentioned how nice Ticos are? I drove down the dirt road and pretty much parked in the middle of the road.
Now some may have just gone home, defeated. NOT I! I went to the fucking feria, and I got myself some beautiful tropical fruit. Here are some new fruits to try when you’re in Costa Rica:
- Dragonfruit or Pitaya
This was described to me as a cross between a kiwi and a beet. It is the most beautiful fruit I’ve ever seen, and it’s good in smoothies.
- Goldenberry or Uchava
Ahhh goldenberries. Lucious sweet savory mix. It looks like a yellow tomato, and when it’s grown it looks like a tomitillo, but the taste…oh the taste. It’s definitely a berry, but not like anything I’ve ever had in the states. My absolute fave, must try!
3. Mamon Chino or Rambutan
This one is crazy. You break the spiky, hairy outside off, and then there’s a sweet, kind of coconutty little white inside that you suck until you get to the pit. Yum.
So when you’re in Costa Rica try these fruits. A quick google search shows how nutritious they are. They probably provide essential things that keep your brain sharp. Yes, I’ll say it: Tropical fruits may help in the prevention of driving into giant ditches. Now go try some.