In Costa Rica when we say complete it should not be confused with finished. A case in point is the Virilla or “platina” bridge. We can give a lot more examples, but there is not enough space on the world wide web to do so. So, lets stick with this one and maybe a more recent one, like the San José – Caldera.

When in Costa Rica we say completed, it means, well for the most part it is finished. That is there are still things to do, but in general the work is done and over with. This applies not just to road construction, but to about every part of life and activity in Costa Rica.

Is your homework complete? Yes, but one more page to finish it. Did you complete your shopping? Yes, but one more store to visit to finish. Is the road repair complete? Yes, but we still have to pave it to be finished.

I think you get the gist of the difference between “completed” and “finished” in Costa Rica.

So lets look at some of the more recent “completed” and “finished” differences that effects everyone and everyday life in Costa Rica, its roads.

Such is the case of the Virilla or “platin” bridge as it is commonly known. The contract called for a “completed” date of February 21, but that did not mean it would have to be “finished”.

Generating controversy, though nothing will ever be done about it – is the San José – Caldera that was “completed” and inaugurated on January 2010, but still not “finished”. As a matter of fact, the road is closed as of today for three weeks between Atenas and Orotina that will include some, but not all, of the “finish” work.

I was one of the many invited on the January 27, 2010, to “officially” mark the “completion” of the highway. The ribbon was cut by then president Oscar Arias and lots of government officials, marking the completion of the highway that took some 30 years.

But was it or is finished? Noooooooo….. there is still lots to do like the building of pedestrian overpasses.

But the completion means the concessionaire can charge tolls to recover its costs and make a profit. Convenient, eh?

Back to the ‘platina” bridge.

Today, Monday, February 21, marks the “completion” day of the work. But anyone can see that the bridge work it is still not finished. Far from it.

Obvious to the naked eye are the missing parts of the guardrail, the concrete median between the opposing lanes that is now pylons, the signage, the painting of the lines on the pavement and still, we believe the final asphalt coat, just to name a few. What unfinished work lies under the bridge, hidden from sight is only known to the experts.

To the inexperienced in the ways of Costa Rica this would never be acceptable. Hey, it shouldn’t be either. But in Costa Rica, and that is the way it is.

In this case, as is in all the cases respecting road work, the ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT) – the government agency responsible for road construction, re-construction, maintenance and the lack of, is ok with it.

Today they accepted the bridge. No ceremony, no one standing around saying, ok, its is done, not even a ribbon to cut. The contractor removed its workers from the side, citing the date on the calendar. Now, it will be up to the MOPT to finish it, whenever they get around to it.

You see this body is overburdened with projects and little money and manpower. Just look around your own area and you can surely make a list – a long list – of “completed” projects that have yet and surely may never be “finished”.

I suppose we can be thankful to this group that at least tries, starting all sorts of projects here and there that one day. In the past it didn’t even do that.

We leave you with the fact that this article is complete, but not finished.

Pura Vida, Mae!


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