Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The WAZE to get around in Costa Rica, or GoogleMaps?

Everyone who has ever rented a car in Costa Rica or those of us who live here know the roads can be slow, filled with obstacles such as: crater size pot holes, trenches, road closures, construction work, boulders on bridges, police checkpoints, 18 wheelers, busses and just the normal, everyday broken down vehicles on the road. This is all compounded by the lack of multiple lane highways, lack of shoulders, narrow mountain roads, 1 lane bridges, with the inability to accommodate the growing population. And to top it all off, there are no street signs to be found. So how does one navigate around this country effectively, whether you have lived here your whole life or are a foreigner in this country? One small mistake on the roads of Costa Rica can be an absolute disaster, whether it be not being able get off the highway for several miles to turn around, or you make one mistake and end up in an undesirable part of town.
When we arrived in Costa Rica, we struggled through the normal stopping and asking directions and looking for landmarks to find our way. Often, this led to trouble because the Costa Rican culture would rather give a polite, nice answer than say no. Therefore, they might lend very friendly directions, having no idea where you are going, which is in no way helpful when you are already lost. We brought our Iphones with us, though the Iphone map application does not work in Costa Rica. We downloaded Google Maps. This turned out to be a lifesaver, never to be lost again. Google's database has a detailed lay of the land and navigating through some of the most complex areas of San Jose became easy, though we still avoid the area like the plague. Unfortunately, with Google Maps, it does not warn you of any of the hazards that may be forthcoming on your journey.
While delivering Beef Jerky to one of our customers in Heredia, she texted me her WAZE location and suggested I download the App. This introduction to WAZE was absolutely lifechanging. WAZE is an interactive, realtime app, very much like facebook. Really, you can check my location right now with life traffic! Not only does it notify you of upcoming hazards, you can actually collect points for notifying other drivers of upcoming hazards, traffic, police, as well as checking in local gas prices and/or new and revised street names, which could be helpful in Costa Rica, if we had street names. So all users begin as BabyWazers graduating up to Royalty, a description of avatars is below.
Some of the gameability settings are cool too. You can select your favorite football team. You can set your mood, Trex, Robot, Meow, Woof, moods are endless. Not sure why mood is important. You can also give yourself a nickname and connect to friends on facebook and tweet locations. Great if everyone wants to meet up at the beach. This will also be great when our kids get older, and we can track their locations. The display setting can be in 2D or 3D. One of the safety features of WAZE is if the vehicle is moving, it does not allow you to type. The lock screen asks if you are a passenger or driver, only allowing the passenger to interact with the application. What I like about WAZE is that I can customize my navigation to highway only, no dirt roads shortest way and the fastest way, which will automatically take me around hazards and traffic. 

In fact, one time on our way to Cartago, the WAZE directed me off the normal 2 lane highway that takes us straight to Cartago. So in my "Knowitall" nature, I assumed the WAZE was incorrect and I continued down the highway, only to find that the Transit Authority had closed this major highway for the afternoon. I quickly changed my ways, lol, and started to listen to the voice directions of Elvis (my chosen profile) as he directed me away from the road closure, but added 30 minutes to our trip, all because I thought I was smarter than WAZE. If I had only listened my Elvis WAZE 10 minutes earlier, I could have avoided the anguish of the road closure and the "I told you so" from my wife. Lesson learned: Always listen to the WAZE. 


Though Costa Rica is not officially one of the countries designated as completely mapped, we have yet to find any deficiencies in their database and we have explored obscure locations, giving that database a good test. Google recently purchased WAZE, but has no plans to change the interface, leaving the original work force in Israel, where the company was founded. This is good news for us WAZERS, leaving better things left alone. In the REPORT screen, I just can't seem to find the icon for a "Horse in the Road", as this is a common occurrence in our area of Costa Rica. Pura Vida!




6 comments:

  1. Really interesting story. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Con Gusto! We are always trying to offer our experiences in a new country. Pura Vida!

      Delete
  2. Will be driving in CR this December... hoping Waze is the best choice!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Steve, we still use it daily, I hope you find it helpful! Pura Vida!

    ReplyDelete
  4. We're heading to Samara from Liberia and be there for a week. How is the coverage over there? Or should I preload the maps? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mike, thanks for following! You should not have a problem once the map is loaded. Be sure to map your destination before driving anywhere and even if you fall out of service between mountains, it picks back up within each city. Samara has good internet and so does the airport so you should be fine:) Enjoy your trip and Pura Vida!

      Delete

Gracias! Thank you for your comment! Follow my blog with: http://bloglovin.com/costaricahappy