Puntarenas Makeover & Train Return

Puntarenas is Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast Port and the closest port city & beaches to Atenas where I live. Christopher Howard has a nice little article on his blog/website that tells all about the coming changes:

PUNTARENAS GETTING A MAKEOVER FOR COSTA RICANS, TOURISTS AND EXPATS TO ENJOY THEMSELVES. I’m especially excited about the return of the train from San Jose to Puntarenas which will probably again make a stop in Atenas. Another way to travel to the coast! But there is no way the train tracks will be ready by 2022, especially if they have to rebuild that Rio Grande Bridge in Atenas!

My first experience with Puntarenas was from a 2011 Tampa to San Diego Panama Canal Cruise when the cruise ship stopped for a day in the port of Puntarenas. The Feature Photo at Top and the one below are from that trip as well as the following slide show:

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Highway West Going 4 Lanes!

You spoiled Americans may say, “So what?” but this is a really big deal here in Costa Rica! For years Ruta 3 was the only route from San Jose to the west coast, a narrow, 2-lane, winding mountain road that went right through downtown Atenas (when travelers got to see this charming little town) and then over another set of mountains & one-lane bridges to Puntarenas and Jaco Beaches.

Ten+ years ago they finished an outdated toll road called Ruta 27 from San Jose to Puntarenas with a side branch to Jaco Beaches, much straighter through the mountains but unfortunately most was still just 2 lanes and all the bridges are 2-lane!  🙂  There are 3rd lanes or “passing lanes” on many of the uphill sections to help get around slow trucks, but that is it! Poor planning for the long-term future! See the operator’s video on Ruta 27.

Now it seems the legislature has approved a coming upgrade to widen Ruta 27 to 4 lanes all the way to Puntarenas and Jaco – a huge improvement for those who drive this busy route when it is finally finished, though they are not even starting until 2021! Read all that I know about it on the “Live in Costa Rica Blog” article. 

And for those fewer people like me who really like the Atlantic Coast or Caribe as we call it here, you probably know that the widening of Ruta 32 from San Jose to Limon (the flat part beyond the big mountain range) was approved a long time ago and is being widened to 4 lanes right now. It is an easier, quicker job after you get through the mountains of Braulio Carrillo because of the flat land between Guapiles & Limon and I assume they will eventually widen it through the mountains too. Both of these widened routes are important not only for retirees and tourists but especially for commercial trucks delivering goods from our two big shipping ports of Limon & Puntarenas to warehouses in San Jose.

In smaller, poorer countries like Costa Rica this kind of “progress” is slow & expensive, but sure as in this case. I don’t want us to become “too big” or “too developed” but one main highway from coast to coast is a good thing for everyone, though you will sure miss seeing a lot when you zoom by!  🙂   And it passes on the outskirts of Atenas just like the old coast to coast train did in a previous century.  🙂     ¡Así es la vida!

¡Pura Vida!

Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.    ~Charles Kuralt

The Shock of a Robbery

Today I took a last minute trip with the Atenas Community Band (Banda) to Puntarenas, the port city on the Pacific side. They were celebrating a local political hero with a parade that had bands from all over the country. I road with the band on the charter bus (and paid my share of bus cost), then watched them get ready and watched most of the parade with many bands, most made up of almost all drums. I’ve been told that is because most schools can’t afford to hire teachers to teach how to play other instruments, nor afford the instruments. All the drums belong to the schools or community bands, not the kids. Anyway, it was a nice parade even if not as colorful as 15th of September Parade. I made lots of photos that I no longer have.

At least Nicole enjoyed his
“Churchill,” a slushy with ice cream!
Can you imagine that?

A group of 6 of us went to eat at a beach-side cafe where I absent-mindedly laid my camera bag (backpack) on the concrete floor behind my chair next to the sidewalk. We ate, visited, and had a good time together. As we got up to leave I realized my backpack was gone, easily grabbed by someone walking by. I should know better! As someone suggested, I paid my “Gringo Tax” or more accurately my “Stupid Tax.” I did feel stupid, but also a little empty, violated, hurt, and helpless. We told a foot patrol
 policia  who just told us we had to go down to headquarters to file a report and the bus was leaving in 15 minutes. Nothing else to do.

With no cameras beyond my cell phone, I cancelled my Monzanillo Bird Watching trip (which I had thought about doing anyway with my busy schedule and expenses) and will use the money saved to help buy a single new camera and a better lens that I have been wanting anyway. But it will cost a whole lot more here, whether purchased locally or on internet with import taxes. Maybe the duty free shop in Nicaragua will have a good deal tomorrow, but I doubt it. And in the mean time I honestly feel sorry for the thief, who must live a hard life. Does he give any thought to the person he robs? He can’t think very well of himself!      

Tomorrow early I leave for Nicaragua border to renew my visa. G’night!

He who is a partner with a thief hates his own life . . .     Proverbs 29:24