How To Avoid Extortion By Costa Rican Authorities

in #lawless9 months ago

I considered opening this article with “this only pertains to white people” but just because I’m in Costa Rica doesn’t mean my actions and remarks have to mirror every.single.local Costa Rican I’ve crossed paths with—racially motivated. So, I’ll sugar coat this opening paragraph and say “English speaking” instead—what I’m about to say only pertains to English speaking people. Engulfing ourselves in the culture here for six months has opened our eyes to the sad and inexplicable divide between locals and expats.

You’re a mark in Costa Rica—period. Locals don’t see you as a human being here, you’re seen as an open target to be taken from and they’ll take anything they can from you without hesitation. The difference between visiting Costa Rica and living in Costa Rica is a smile, when you’re just visiting, they smile when they’re stealing from you. The only difference between a local civilian and local authorities is an assault rifle.


See the cones in the back of that police truck? Those are used to set up temporary road blocks all throughout Costa Rica and, if you’re non-English speaking, you have nothing to worry about. This is for everyone else—the other 250 million marks who visit this country each year.

I was warned by every.single.English speaking person I’ve encountered in this country about corrupt law enforcement. Many of them were kind enough to explain in detail how to avoid being harassed, they each had their own recommendations. I was told if I get pulled over while driving here I should have my wallet exposed and ask “is there a way around this?” That’s one, I was told several. “Can we settle this right now” is another one. Each of these examples will bait the authorities into opening negotiations with you—don’t do that. If you plan on driving a vehicle in Cost Rica, follow these five steps:

One—first things first, learn how to say “Dios te bendiga.” Muy importante! Get a translation app, google how to properly say it in Spanish, whatever it takes, just know how to say “God bless you” in Spanish—Dios te bendiga. Say those words before “hello,” “good evening,” anything. Say Dios te bendiga before you say anything else!

Two—wear a crucifix around the rear view mirror of your vehicle. Between the cross and Dios te bendiga you’ve immediately made the corrupt law enforcement official aware that you both answer to the same authority:


Three—never drive a vehicle without your passport. Your drivers license doesn’t work in Costa Rica, it’s foreign, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle in Costa Rica without being in possession of your passport. Your passport is linked to your vehicle insurance, without one, you don’t possess the other and you’re in violation of the law—don’t operate a vehicle without your passport.

Four—“implements.” They’re sold as a set, you can get a bag at most super markets, Walmart, and especially from the vendors at either the Panamanian or Nicaraguan border. It’s a small duffle bag containing a fire extinguisher, a reflective vest, battery cables and a reflective roadside triangle—implements:


Five—only when applicable. If you’ve followed the first four steps, you shouldn’t need to use step 5, “I’m at your mercy.” These four simple words will not bait the officer into opening negotiations with you, “I’m at your mercy” simply indicates you’re unaware of the current implications the officer can impose. If you’re following the rules; Dios te bendiga, passport, crucifix and implements, you essentially are at their mercy anyway so you might as well acknowledge it out loud: “I’m at your mercy.” Your won’t bait the officer into bribing you with those words and, don’t worry, the officer is going to speak perfectly clear English. Extortion is big business for these guys, it would be foolish of them to place anyone other than an English speaking officer at your driver side window.

Remember who you are, remember your language and don’t forget where you’re at because at the end of the day, without English speaking people, Costa Rica has zero revenue. They call Costa Rica “lawless” and, for the most part, I agree with that term. On foot and in public, you’re on your own. Don’t initiate conversation and avoid eye contact is my best advice for traveling on foot, you’re already an open target, avoid announcing it. In a vehicle, however, follow these steps and you’ll be alright:

  • Dios te bendiga!
  • Passport.
  • Crucifix in the mirror.
  • Implements.
  • “I’m at your mercy.”



✔ Costa Rica off of the list of possible vacation destinations. What a shame, and I feel it might be the same scenario in many other impoverished countries.
I thoroughly detest any situation in which I feel as though I have no control over the outcome, especially when I feel that I'm being taken advantage of.
At least here in the states you can voice your displeasure without the fear of some major repercussions.
As you continue your journey, I hope you find that little oasis.
You may find that it is right back here in the states.

There is only one place I really wanted to visit outside of the 48 contiguous states, and that is Egypt. I am fascinated by the pyramids and making my way to Egypt would be the top thing on my bucket list.
With that said, unless things change drastically this adventure will never happen.
Dios te bendiga, and stay safe the both of you @dandays and @puravidaville

Just another black mark for humanity.
Tell it like it is!

My man! Good morning, Bob, thank you for making it by here sir, I’m glad you liked this one. I wouldn’t recommend against vacationing here or a quick visit to at least get a visual of the stunning scenery, just know you’re going to be robbed while doing it.
It’s a shame, brother.

How’s this for an example. When we were in Golfito Bay just a few months ago, remember where I was describing how incredibly hot it was with heavy air? Yeah, that place. Well, it’s in the bay.. ok, down at the docks where we’d hang out at night, along the handrail that guides the steps to the boats are little outboard engines—6-12 outboards. I asked why and was told that’s what they all have to do with the smaller trolling engines, several boat owners around that have access to that particular dock, they remove their outboards at night because the locals paddle out and steal them.

I had a grocery checker get me for 5 Colones once, that’s the lowest denomination of currency here—5. They don’t have a 1 like we do a penny. 5 Colones is valued around $0.004, it doesn’t even register on a calculator. She looked right at me when she gave me 5 Colones when we both knew she owed me 10. Out of the ones I’ve noticed.. that one was probably the lowest. Looked me right in the eye, no smile, no “gracias,” nothing, and intentionally stole from me for $0.004.

Egypt. You and me both! Absofrikkinlutely it’s on my list of to-do’s. There’s only a few places I would refuse to go right now but I wouldn’t go anywhere I couldn’t get right back on a plane without ever leaving the airport. Somalia and Honduras I wouldn’t go. Probably should stay out of Syria too I guess.

:secret: It’s just you and I here, right? Psst, I’ve already been checking out prices in Florida. Ha!! “Plan” is a funny wOrd. Go here, go there, do this, do that....
.....I hope we get to see a lot of the globe. I hope to be able to stay in Europe, Southeast Asia, a lot of places. I thought 1 year would be enough in a spot, I’m learning 6 months, depending on the size of the country, 6 months is plenty. But if it keeps going like this: America 3 Central and South America 0, Florida is where we’ll be. I like it there, the weather is right up our alley, no state tax, cheap property, low property tax, expensive insurance though.. it checks a bunch of boxes.

I wrote a long one again didn’t I?? Dios te bendiga, senor!!

Thanks for stopping by @thebigsweed.

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Being ripped off for any amount is no fun especially when both parties know exactly what is going on.
While back in NJ last week, I stopped to get gas, and asked the attendent to fill it up. As the attendent tried to put that extra .50 cents in the tank so that the total sale reached a nice round number, I stoped him. I hate when they do this, as the smell of the gas permeates the vehicle. Well, the total came in at $58.73. When I handed him three 20 dollar bills, he handed me back a single dollar. When I asked him where the remainder of my change was, he gave me a dirty look. He stated that he needed to go inside to get the change. I guess he was trying to bust my b---s, as it took him a couple of minutes to return.
When he handed me the remainder of my money, I thanked him and smiled, boy didn't that piss him off.
I could write a book, and I'm thinking about doing a post on the events that have transpired over the past 6 months with DirecTV and their shenanigans. They are thieves.
I so enjoy conversing with you that any response of yours in always a fun read, the longer the better my friend.
God bless and watch your back.

I cancelled directv a couple of years ago and obviously, being way down here, I’m out of the loop—what are they up to?

Certainly! I have the best protection in the world, sir. 👍🏿 God bless us all!

Got a dude flying in from Washington State tomorrow to buy the truck. He’s moving his family down here August first but understands the bargain I’m selling the truck for so he booked a plane ticket. Poor guy is racing against time because I lady is set to buy it on the fifth.

I love it when things work out the way they’re supposed to and I love it when people get what they deserve—both good and bad. I love it when we get what we deserve.

Ok, I’ll ask again, “discord?” I’m only being persistent because it’s looking like we’re going to be in NYC sooner than later. Which airport is closest to the ranch? I want some of that syrup!!


Back at you. DTV is up to no good.
The dude flying in from Washington State, now don't let him know about the locals until you get the cash in your hands😁.
With you guys making your way to the Big Apple sooner or later, both may work out as far as possibly meeting face to face. We feel that would be very cool.
All airports in the metropolitan area are in striking distance. You mentioned JFK, Newark Liberty International airport in NJ is a major hub, and not as hectic as JFK.
If @purividaville also thinks we could pull this off, game on.

As far as discord goes, I have used once, but have no idea about how i would kick it up again. After my miserable attempt at using discord, I am not even sure how I would get started.

You never know. @dandays



My F’ing phone just did what we were talking about again! Where I had an entire response written out and it deleted itself when I captured this screen shot for you:


side note That little erasing bug is gonna piss people off!

As I was saying before I was so rudely deleted... cool! I’ve never been to Jersey! About Pura Vida being cool with it.. can’t ya’all see our wings from there?

Yeah, he’s moving his whole family here. Either he’s oblivious to reality or he’s aspiring to be another whi English speaking guy on the hill.

Now then, back to discord. You have that app, right? I just messaged you over there again, it says “message.” If you haven’t found it yet, you can find me by clicking the bars at the top left. It will open a page that says “start conversation” just punch in my name right there and it’ll take you to me. Then I can exchange emails with you so we can go get some got dang syrup!

👍🏿 You’re the man, Sweed.

Good morning, I do believe we have the discord thing down, left a short message to verify that we are hooked up.

Confirming my coolness with the meet up right here 🤡

Dios te bendiga a tu :)

It’s crazy to think how our perspectives have changed from vacationing to living here.… you sugar coat nothing and I love you for it. Muah xoxo

Me, sugar coat? Eh, but how cool would it be if just one fraction of my story wasn’t 100% accurate?

iheartu all the time beautifullest.

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Would’ve been a whole lot cooler if everyone was cooler but it enables us to go check out the coolness of other locals in other countries now… so, not that bad 🤷🏼‍♀️

What if I learn Chinese before I move there. Would that help?? Maybe walk around in a one-sided man-brief with one flip flop. 3 foot long Dred locks and chest hair like Austin Powers sticking out of my 90’s tank top. If that would t keep me safe down there I don’t know what would. Lol

On a serious note, this is some good info to have in one’s tool bag when moving to many countries I believe. I don’t think that CR is a special case. Way to be straight up about what really goes on.
Cheers Homie
God Bless

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Right on splatz, I’m glad you liked this one. Thank you acknowledging the ‘straight up’ part, I didn’t want to offend anyone with this one, I just told it how it is. I considered pulling back but why? I didn’t sway away from the truth at all.

As for Chinese, sure, just know Dios te bendiga and don’t sweat the one sided mankini, I rock mine all the time.

Thanks for stopping by @jlsplatts.

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Now this is really sad since I am planing to move to costa rica.

is this in san jose? @dandays

I escaped from the nightmare which is my country, Venenezuela and then moved to Argentina where i have been recoverning, getting a better life and saving and I have some business opportunities in costa rica but reading this is extremely discouraging.

Do you have any other stories like this from CR?

Yes, the stories are countless, here’s a few quick examples. I’ve had between from 10-100 Colones stolen from me by toll booth attendants three times that I’m aware of.

The last taxi driver to steal from me got me for 50 Colones (USD $0.08).

The last grocery clerk who stole from me got my for 5 Colones which doesn’t even register, it’s equal to about USD $.004.

The last gas station attendant who stole 1 million Colones from me was pissed off when they were forced to return the money.

These are every day occurrences, like I said in the article, the only difference between authorities and non-authorities is an assault rifle—authorities extort you for much larger values, ranging anywhere from $100 to $1,500.

In my honest opinion, it’s worse in San Jose, it’s worse in all of the metropolis areas simply because there’s more people—more people = more thieves.

Thanks for stopping by @nero0x.

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Woah. So sad man, and I am planning to move there. This is "malandreo" in pure form.

Malandreo is what we Venezuelans call to a specific behavior it's like a way of life, a very wrong and evil way to live that is common in most poor areas in Venezuela.

Now I am not generalizing, its not all Venezuelans, actually is less than the 10% but that kind of behavior, where people don't give the correct amount of change, where they don't stop on a red light, or when they steal something because no one is looking, where people steal an electricity cable to not pay the electricity bill, a behavior that congratulates the thievery and makes fun of the honest, is a disease and I particularly run away when I see it.

As a local and sadly I have to say that it is true. On the other hand I've had this kind of experience and I can also tell that the officers will have mercy if the driver is a female and the opposite of you are a male. If you are pulled over in the morning there are good chances you are going to be forgiven but forget about it if it is after lunch ticket will always be a real thing.

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Thank you for the additional tips, raserrano, good lookin out!

Eh, when I wrote this one, I thought About you. I didn’t want to offend you with this article. Thank you for reading it and seeing things the same way I do. It’s too bad, really.

On another note, how’s Austin?? Man, we haven’t been there for about 3-4 years, what a cool city. I saw you mention something about a data plan. I would recommend that over navigation in the car.

Thanks for stopping by @raserrano.

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Hey yeah, I can't lie about what is truth. Sadly it doesn't mean everyone here will try to take advantage from you but I hate when that happens. I'm traveling to Austin in 2 weeks and will stay for about 2 weeks

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Even when we came here in January, we just rented a hotspot so we could navigate with our phones. You’re gonna have a great time!

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Thanks for the good vibes, I'll keep you in the loop!

howdy sir dandays! wow I'm sorry I missed the voting time on this dog gonnit, that's why I set up the autovote. Hey! dang, your 100% vote is worth .12? wow. my lousy vote is only 5 or 6 cents at 100%. It's my most frustrating challenge.

I even have to lease sp every month just to give everyone a pitiful one cent vote. can't wait to get better.

Sorry for complaining but I so appreciate your big vote on my post. This post is so good! People have no idea that it's that way. It sounds like Costa Rica doesn't produce anything, except tourism? So extortion and bribery is a way of life there. That's pretty sad.

Have you talked to people who've paid them off, how much does that cost?

That’s all it is, Janton, tourism—100%. I’m so naive I actually thought “high season” and “low season,” a local Costa Rican’s way of life, was referring to agriculture—nope! They’re referring to tourists.

It’s sad really. It’s disappointing and too bad but I’m glad we engulfed ourselves in the culture otherwise I never wouldn’t known nor understood the truth. So you know what?? I have a buyer for the truck coming by tomorrow morning and two on the back burner if he changes his mind. But he’s flying in from Washington state to purchase it only to fly back and won’t be moving here until August so I believe it’s sold. One of the restaurants across the street wants the few cooking tools Pura Vida has, those are sold. Know what that means, sir? It means we’ve had enough of this trap—they can have it! “Dust your feet off,” that’s how it goes, right?

About missing the voting period on this one, I’m used to you doing that, Janton! 😉 Ha. Eh, but really, I’m just thankful you enjoy reading what I have to say, I don’t care how late you get to it.

About my vote, well.. it used to be $0.21! Haha. I figured I haven’t been by your page in way too long so I needed to give you a 100. Puras votes are worth more than mine—sounds about right, right?

Oh yeah I’ve talked to plenty! I heard $300 cash for two seatbelt tickets, that was the most expensive one I heard, it all depends on what they can get you on. Typically they’ll just fork out $40-$100 and be on their way but you know what I think?? I think all of these English speaking sissies who pay off the cops around here are disgusting and need to have a talk with the mirror and ask “are you a part of the problem or a part of the solution?” Paying off someone who’s job is to help you is hideous. I have a really good book I love to read daily, I believe it’s your favorite book too and nowhere in there does anyone spell out how to bribe fellow humans.

And about that 1 cent of yours—it’s perfect! I’m always grateful for your Lincoln’s. <— How in the F my phon knew I wanted to spell “Lincoln’s” with an apostrophe S out of L.i.N is beyond me. So weird these devices.

Thanks for stopping by @janton. I always love hearing from you.

Ps—this one is still generating Janton, you didn’t miss anything. 👍🏿

howdy sir dandays! People paying the corrupt cops are definitely part of the problem, wow. That's unreal and if you were just visiting then ok, maybe once or twice to just get them to let you get on with your day but if you lived there and you were white and they tried to shake you down for the rest of your life??That would get old fast!

But you guys are exactly right to dust off your feet! There are many wonderful places out there for you to discover and it sure is going to be fun to see what you find.

What do you think of the new hardfork? I;ve read several posts about it, seems no one knows for sure if it will do what they want or if it will hurt the platform.

I'm glad to see this post is still generating, think of someone thinking of visiting there and how much hassle you can save them!

I’m just as guilty as most of us as far as paying attention to the hard fork specifics. Correct me if I’m wrong but this is the one that’s going to generate a downvote pool, correct? I don’t know what else is coming with the new fork but I think rewarding downvotes is a terrible idea and I hope it’s not the platforms demise.

Either I was wrong about the pay period or you got in at just the right time because this one is done now. Thanks again for taking the time to read it.

What do you think about the hard fork? Do you have a pros and cons?

And thank you, too, for being interested in our travels—that really means a lot.

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Howdy again sir danday! who WOULDN'T be interested in your travels? That's my question. gosh what you guys are doing is the dream of so many people. Not mine that's for sure, but more normal people who don't tend toward hermit traits. I think it's an amazing grand experiment.

The big change coming on the hardfork is they're changing the pay distribution for authors getting 75% to just 50% and making curation 50% instead of 25%. They think that will force more people to look for and vote for good content. But so many people are saying that it won't work that way and like you said..creating a downvote pool most think is a horrible idea.

From what I've read no one has any idea if the changes they mean for good will work at all. They might have no affect or they might have damaging affects. But it has so many convinced that it's a terrible plan that they're powering down and leaving.

I think steemit will probably survive and eventually thrive but maybe that's IN SPITE of the leadership. It IS a little frustrating to read about other blockchains making brilliant moves and making astounding progress and then you look at steem and you wonder why they never make improvements to help the little accounts make it or to help the platform grow.

Each hardfork we've seen has made it much more difficult for the small accounts to grow. So once again I'm adopting a wait and see attitude to see if this hardfork actually improves the platform but I'm not holding my breath.

Hmmmm... This is very interesting and really good tips. But I think I won't be driving in Costa Rica. And even if I was, faking a Religion is not my style. 😛

Hey what’s up trincowski, how’s it going? Yeah, I’m the only English speaking person amongst the many I’ve met who hasn’t been extorted although the policia has tried—twice! I’m not faking anything though sir, I assure you of that. Wether or not there’s other techniques that work, I’m unsure, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s better tips out there though. So far, however, I’m 2-0 so I won’t be changing anything except for our location.

Insert that little pissing guy you see on the backs of car windows here—I’ve seen enough! Our original idea was to stay here for 1 year and well.... 6 months is about 5 months too many, trincowski! We’re crossing the Atlantic next.

I’m very disappointed man.

Thanks a lot for stopping by @trincowski. I appreciate your support and always look forward to hearing from you.

Ah, but I would have to fake it, since I am a disbeliever.

What are you disappointed with? Costa Rica?

Yes’ir Trincowski, Costa Rica. The divide between expats and locals is shameful. The longer you stay here the easier it is to see. Everyone we encounter either despises us, steals from us, or both, there’s no happy medium.

Just today actually, I got ripped off again—true story! I took the truck down to get it washed, the gentleman and I exchanged some info, he told me “seis mil” (6 million Colones which is equal to ‘about’ $9) and he needed two hours. I even held up 6 fingers and repeated him, “seis mil?” “Si,” he said. I went to the gym, did my thing, when I came back it was siete mil (7 million about $10.25). It’s like that everywhere you go—it sucks!

And when it happens, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it because it’s lawless here. The worst crooks are the policia, they have guns.

Well, if you come to Europe, there's a bit of that anti-foreigner feeling in many of the capitals. On the other hand, in the second and third largest cities of the same countries, foreigners are usually very welcomed. 😉

Ah, you’re the best!! Thanks man, that’s good to know. You’re in Portugal, correct? Any and all tips are much appreciated @trincowski. Unwelcome isn’t as bad as prey.

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And hence the reason I do not drive in foreign countries, walk around in mis-matched rags, with almost no cash on me, smiling and looking confused.

90% of my transport is on public transport - not cabs or anything else I have to negotiate. Being an old lady helps too. I remind people of their Grandma so they go easy on me.

I figure the small amounts I get ripped off makes up for the must-be-awful experiences people have when coming new to the us.

Hey, good morning fitinfun, this sure is a pleasant surprise! Long time no see, I hope all is well and your travels are smoother than ever—happy Friday!

I’ve often done public transport too, it just depends where I’m at and what our objectives are. This country is so small but the fun things to do require 4 wheel drive, etc. we just wanted to be comfortable but, as we’ve rudely been made aware, it’s tough to get comfortable on a place you’re unwanted.

Yes, I could see where the ‘grandma type’ we be a huge benefit. Eh, God bless you in your travels fitinfun and thanks for the tips. See ya around. 👍🏿

Thanks for stopping by @fitinfunfood.

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keep a clean nose, watch the plainclothes
you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

Nailed it! I feel the wind loud and clear, sir.

Thanks for stopping by @carklevicci.

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Hello @dandays, how are u doing. Reading your writing makes me know Costa Rica better. This country is almost the same as my country where corruption is very rampant. But what is very unique in my country is that extortion is actually done to citizens of their own country ..ha..ha..ha..funny, isn't it? Every car carrying goods goes in front of the traffic police they must give money to the police. The number of illegal levies on the road makes the price of goods at the destination become expensive. Enjoy your day, sir.

Your last two responses have been awesome! You humbled me last week by making me aware not everyone in your community has an oven and often times food is cooked over a flame.

Now this! That’s terrible, I’m sorry to hear about that. I’m certain there’s always somewhere or someone who has it worse. What do you think happened, where did humanity go so wrong that extortion between two brothers is acceptable?

Thanks for stopping by @elianaelisma.

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@c-squared runs a community witness. Please consider using one of your witness votes on us here

Yes! It’s always a pleasure to see you guys, thank you! And thank you for the Resteem, too. 👍🏿

Dude...scary! In your experience, is this more common in smaller communities or is this true even in San Jose?

How’s it going sir? Thanks for reading this one, as I was writing it I thought about you and Roserrano and didn’t want to offend anyone, especially him, I’m just being real, I was glad to see he agrees with me.

In my opinion, the metropolis areas are worse. There’s more people, more people = more thieves. The smaller beach cities, as you can imagine, are much less likely you’ll make eye contact with anyone so it’s less likely, not unlikely, just less likely to be approached.

I’m disappointed man, that’s the worst part, the disappointment. My wife and I were excited to come her and we’ve received nothing but negativity since we arrived.

Thanks for stopping by @jrb450.

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I appreciate 'truth' being told, so I applaud you for it here @dandays . Costa Rica is among the many countries that money making entities attempt to lure the unsuspecting innocents too, by hiding sad and dangerous facts...

Unfortunately...many, most beautiful countries, are not inhabited by mostly people of beautiful heart..

My pleasure sir and I appreciate you reading it, really—happy Friday!

Thank for you for the heads-up, I’ve been here before but, like I said, my previous visits were as a tourist. It’s night and day for touring vs living and we couldn’t have known without engulfing ourselves in the culture.

I’m willing to put it all on the line right here and say everything everyone reads online about touring, deals, get aways, vacations, etc. is not a good deal and you’re going to have a hot pink, twirling, music making, reflective target on your back—no bueno!

Thanks for stopping by @angryman, I always look forward to what you have to say.

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Forgot to ask but I might be driving in Austin what advise do you guys have for me? @dandays @puravidaville @jrb450 car is from a car rental service and I'm really planning to drive much but from previous experience in Oregon I'll say it will be kinda easy but @pdxlove told me Seattle traffic or LA is very different, what can I expect in Austin, TX?

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Austin traffic is nothing like LA or Seattle. It’s a lot smaller so you’ll have more congestion but it’s not for much area. Austin is a really cool city, @raserrano, you’re going to love it! It’s a young type of hip sorta crowd and real easy to mingle with.

Make sure to have lunch at Dick’s for bizarre service and really funny entertainment.

Austin is a real nice city. The most developed city in all of Texas probably.

Amazing thanks for the suggestions :D

Traffic is pretty heavy during rush hr., not gonna lie. There are limited routes north/south east/west that contributes to the slow down. You'll be in the Domain part of town which is sorta north west. Trust Google Maps for the traffic situation. No worries! You'll do fine :)

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Alright thanks I guess it would be nice if the car has navigation or maybe I'll need to buy a data plan for the days I'll be around.

Thank you @curie—ya’all are awesome!

 9 months ago Reveal Comment

Hola senor! I’m glad I was able to tell you something you didn’t already know.

Thanks for stopping by @serkagan.

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