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Parking Your Car in Costa Rica? Be Careful

Costa Rica News – For all you tourist and new expats living in or visiting Costa Rica the simple task of parking your vehicle can actually require extreme caution if you want to avoid damage to your car or it possibly being stolen. 

parking in costa ricaSomehow you got your car here from the States or bought one here. With the enormous amount of money you spent on driving or shipping your car here and paying taxes or paying double the price to buy one here, you had better be really careful where you park it!

Apartments that come with parking spots often cost only minimally more than others. It’s worth it for the safety of your vehicle as well as yourself. Some fancier apartments even pay private guards for their parking lots. You may be responsible for paying a small fee or helping to clean the parking lot spot.

In highly populated downtown areas it’s often unsafe to walk many blocks to your destination. You will want to look for a close by “parqueo” or parking lot, whenever possible. These are usually privately owned and worth a lot of money. There are laws that protect against damage that occurs in these lots. Just make sure to call traffic police before moving your damaged car.

If you have no other choice you will have to leave your car on the street. Virtually every street is claimed by a watchman (known as a wachiman), a self appointed guard who claims to look after your car while you are at a restaurant, store, or event. They are very insistent that you pay them even if you don’t want them to guard it. I once saw one of these men breaking into a car..it might be better to just pay them some change so they don’t cause any damage. Many wachiman are homeless alcoholics. They carry no weapons and don’t even have a cell phone to call police in case of an emergency. I have seen damage done to a car right before one of these guard’s eyes and he did nothing! Don’t leave valuables in your car. At best the wachi allow you to park in a nearby spot with the illusion of safety.

By Kerry La

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