Thursday, January 29, 2009

Costa Rica - Day 7

In the breakfast line, I could feel my stomach churning because of the greasy smelling food. Even juice repulsed me. I knew I should eat because I haven’t for three days, but I just couldn’t find it in me. The drive later would be long, and I am not about to spend four hours in the car feeling ill again.

Strangely, I look forward to being driven through the rain forest on my way to the next destination. It really gives me a sense of the town and the culture. This day, like most we have spent here in Costa Rica, it is raining with a chance of meatballs. Thick clouds swirl around the summit of one of the mountains we cross, making it difficult to see. But it adds to magic of the misty rainforest. Ten feet from the side of our van, is a jungle ravine that plunges straight down. Inches from our wheels, there is a drainage run-off area that is nearly three feet wide and just as deep. The road switches left, then right and then left again. All the while, aggressive drivers pass on blind curves and double yellow lines. Our own van is too close for comfort to the next car in line. I can barely read the next license plate number from my position in the middle seat. Giving in to the fact that this is third world driving, in a foreign county, I decide it’s best not to tell the diver how I think he should be driving. I just kept my eyes on the road. Seconds later it all turned to shit. Two car spaces ahead of us a jeep misjudged the power of the wet road. They tried to correct and that only got them in more trouble. The passenger wheel grabbed the edge of the drainage ditch and started to pull the jeep in. Just like it was rehearsed, the back wheel left the ground and the underside of the rental car was visible. The three tires I could see- all in the air, where all spinning. As the jeep continued to go over, glass sprayed across the road and the top crunched in like a coke can. The jeep finally came to a rest, perpendicular to the road and upside-down in the ditch. I could see luggage tossed about, looking like linen in the dryer. Another car about ten behind us skidded in to the drainage area after it came around a blind curve. The eight or so of us in the van were dazed and grateful for our own safety. Watching the car to see if any emerges, I bravely claim, “what if they’re hurt, we need to help them!” All us snapped out of the daze and went for the door. In the second between getting out of the car and looking up again, someone else was already reaching their arms into the overturned jeep. Out came a woman looking more concerned about what was still in the car more then her own life. Our driver then shouts in Spanish to get back in the van, and close the door. A man is now being pulled from a broken window. He has blood on his arm from the glass, but looks mostly ok and undamaged. With us safely back in the car, the driver starts to direct traffic around a blind corner while others direct around the other blind corner behind us. Minutes ago at the summit, I saw a yellow emergency truck that looked like it could go any where and tow any thing. I thought it was odd to be parked at the summit waiting for something to happen. But this is their turf, not mine. They know that when the clouds touch the ground and the roads are wet, people are at the mercy of the rainforest. It would only take a few minutes for word to get around the corner. Drivers eager to get to where ever they are going, start weaving around parked cars and over shoulders that don’t exist. Other drivers start to pass each other and there is now two lanes of cars honking in both directions on a lane that barely contained two single lanes of order. The flashing lights of the truck on steroids crept around the corner. With traffic going every which way the road was impassable. Grabbing their gear, the crew ran to the jeep and starting assessing the situation. Being that we were at the front of the traffic jam, the driver started the van and left the tourist in better hands.
Arriving in San Jose still shaken from the accident, we decided it was best to go to our rooms for a while before dinner. The city was dirty and dark with a creepy vibe even though the sun was still up. Our room couldn’t be more opposite to the city. With a double sized Jacuzzi tub as the main feature of the room, white linens over a king sized bed and d├ęcor that felt like it was out of a magazine, I felt like I had found a retreat from all the adventure.

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