When Streets Have No Names

I should not have been amused when a funeral service clogged up traffic near our home a few weeks ago. Just as I was returning home after a long walk with our dog, a taxi pulled over to the side of the road and the driver asked me if I knew where the neighborhood Catholic Church was located. I told him he needed to go 400 meters south and then head left at the stop sign. A few minutes passed and another driver pulled to the side of the road and asked me the same question. Each driver was kind and courteous, but I was beginning to sense an important event was taking place at the local parish. Low and behold, less than five minutes passed and a third driver rolled down his window. Before he could ask me the proverbial question, I told the driver how to locate the church. The passengers in the vehicle laughed and suggested I charge for helping the family and friends of the deceased find the funeral site.

A map of San Jose, Costa Rica

A map of San Jose, Costa Rica, where Laura and her family serve with MAF-Learning Technologies.

But what happened next really made me chuckle and understand how far I had come in accepting a culture where streets aren’t named and buildings don’t have numbers. What did I do? Well, I stood at the corner of the street and acted as a human GPS, of course! As a half-dozen or so more cars approached, I pointed south and yelled, “400 meters and head left at the stop sign.” The response of the drivers was hilarious. Passengers rolled down their windows and shouted, “Gracias!” I waved and smiled back.

My walk with Pierre was longer than usual but in the end, I was relieved most folks who passed by the neighborhood that day were able to attend a special ceremony—even without the help of street signs or Google Maps.

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