Expressway to THE BEACH!

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

When you look at a map of Costa Rica, and you look at the distance between San Jose and Caldera would seem to be almost nothing, but for anyone who has driven or taken the bus to the coast, it’s hardly a picnic, walk in the park, piece of cake or any other cliché you can think of. I’ve done it a number of times and after the novelty of the first trip, I can’t say I found much to recommend it, other than the pretty scenery, which doesn’t exactly whiz by, so you have lots of time to savor every eye full.

Ah, but this is all about to change, if things go according to schedule, on Wednesday, when the new highway is opened to traffic. Lookout Coast!

The new highway joins the old highway in Orotina, where the old highway finally straightens out and you can safely, speed limits permitting, go as fast as 80kph (between 50 and 55, which will seem amazing compared to the crawl through the mountains on the old highway from La Garita to Orotina). At Orotina, you can continue on to Caldera (perhaps to meet a cruise ship?)

or head to Jaco and/or points south.

The trip to Jaco used to take around two hours, when traffic was light and you didn’t get stuck behind a bunch of trucks and buses. But NOW… they say 45 minutes. Round trip in an hour and a half? Wow. Since the road isn’t yet open, nobody can say how long it will take with actual traffic on the road, but it can’t be worse than the old route.

Conventional wisdom says this will be a boon for tourism in Jaco. My contrarian nature makes me wonder a little. First of all, it’s a day trip now much more so than before. Those who just want to spend a day at the beach can get up at a reasonable hour (that would be noon, for me) and be in Jaco early enough to get sunburned and back home before 7 pm. It is possible (not saying likely) that hotels may not see much of a bump, as some people choose to return home rather than rent a room. Another possibility is that those who are looking for cleaner and whiter beaches, or less commercialization, may choose to keep on going to Quepos and Manuel Antonio, or other not-so-far-now beaches/towns.

This will also have some impact on Atenas and La Garita, both of which will see less traffic pass by. For residents who cherish their tranquility and safety, this will be a good thing. For commercial enterprises, not so good. But no matter what happens in the future, the new highway is here and it’s here to stay!

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