We’ve purchased three cars since we arrived. Importing cars to Costa Rica is beyond cost prohibitive, so everyone is constantly resuscitating their 10-20 year old vehicles. Every year, all vehicles must be inspected for mechanical soundness, I guess. Inevitably, everyone must return at least a couple times to finally get a passing sticker that must be displayed prominently in your windshield. We’ve had to replace mufflers, lights, etc., but what is shocking, is the amount of foul exhaust that pours out of the majority of vehicles here! Certainly, NOT what one would expect from a country that prides itself on its’ planet friendly pursuits. Very few folks living here can afford to purchase a new vehicle, and I honestly, can’t understand the purpose of the annual vehicle inspection, as we frantically roll up the car windows to avoid certain asphyxiation each day! The import taxes have to be lowered for this problem to be resolved, but until then…we are the dotting parents of Goldie, a 1990 Honda Accord, and Hyundai with a Hex, a 1997 Hyundai Elantra Grand Touring. Sounds fancy, but, to be accurate, it is a piece of junk with a never-ending roster of problems than need repair!

Our first purchase was a Nissan Sunny which ran like a champ, and was missing all its adornments, which really was the perfect car for travelling in and out of San Jose. No “steal appeal!” My husband started getting a little nervous in the midst of the last rainy season, though, as the floor was so rusted out, there was two inches of water rolling around at all times. Literally, the poor guy was going to be Fred Flintstone any day! Fortunately, my mom had come for a few months and bought a car, and when she left we bought it from her. Once the dry season had begun, we were able to find a new “Papi” for Sunny.

When we bought Goldie, we felt confident we wouldn’t have to replace much on her, because her last owner showed us all the receipts for what he’d had done, but no… She’s had her share of “spa time.” I call it that because the garage we’ve been going to charges a fortune, and takes days to get our vehicles back. We plan to cut the cord with them, but we won’t finish paying them until the most recent problem with the Hyundai with a Hex is actually fixed. Goldie, however has found a new Svengali!

The kids and I needed to drive back up to their old school in the mountain town of San Isidro de Heredia. Ten kilometers from the school, Goldie began overheating, the latest in a series of maladies which her spa was unable to find an appropriate treatment for. We gingerly made our way up to the school, gave her a short rest at the school, then began heading downhill in search of a gas station or at least a hose. We found nothing, I mean nothing! We travelled at least fifteen kilometers, all the while, I had a panicky white knuckle grip on her steering wheel. Suddenly a Lubricentro appeared in the distance! I tensely turned into the lot and Goldie gave a final gasp as we rolled to a stop.

A young man came out to meet us, and I “charaded” our problem to him. BTW , (by the way), I have really honed my skills at this game, so challengers are welcome! Anyway, our young fellow quickly realized he was in over his head a called for some help…

No kidding! He rounded the corner and out came a young Marlon Brando, but with blonde highlights and a longer cut. As he came toward us, a hush fell over the other workers. The fellow who had been helping us didn’t need to say a word, Marlon stepped up to Goldie and began gently manipulating her “parts.” There are some people who seemed destined for their career, Marlon was one of those. You could tell he knew every inch of an engine and would be able to diagnose her problem in short order. Like a gifted surgeon, he was all over her testing her reflexes. I had him tell my daughter what his diagnosis was, and then called my husband to let them discuss her prognosis. It was decided that he would fix her and asked for only an hour in his garage bay nearby. We left her, confident that she was in good hands.

We returned from a walk in about 50 minutes and she was ready to go! He had replaced the top of the radiator, fixed some wiring, replaced the thermostat, and a few other things, and asked for only 25,000 colones, about $50.00, TOTAL! Who could have known, in our hour of desperation, we would pull into a garage and find a Master Mechanic!

I know I sound a wee bit taken by this young man, but I never found Marlon Brando the least bit attractive. I think I was taken by his confident command of our girl Goldie. Now, Goldie on the other hand, has put her tire down and we will now be driving over an hour each way to see Jason whenever she needs any further treatment!

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