When one thinks of minefields, the first thing that comes to mind are the world’s worn-torn zones where armed conflicts take place. Nobody would ever picture peaceful Costa Rica as having minefields since the country has not been at war since the late 1940s. In fact, on December 1, 1948, President José Figures Ferrer abolished the military after victory in the civil war that same year, thus ensuring peace for future generations.

In this case let me redefine the term minefields.

Costa Rica does not actually have minefields. However, I have used said term figuratively in order to define a real danger for pedestrians of all ages — the country’s unsafe sidewalks.

A few weeks ago a friend was strolling down one of San José’s sidewalks, about a block from the city’s Central Park. All of sudden he stumbled on a crack in the sidewalk, fell into the street and struck his head. A couple of bystanders raced to his aid when they saw what had occurred. They helped my friend to his feet since he had a gash oozing blood above his eyebrow, was dizzy and slightly disoriented. Fortunately, this untimely accident occurred only a few blocks form the Hospital Clínica Bíblica.

My friend made his way to the hospital’s ER room and the staff quickly admitted and stabilized him. They treated his scrapes and stitched the cut over his eye. He was lucky to have not suffered a more serious injury like a broken bone, concussion or even death. In some cases head injuries can be fatal.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country with a stellar reputation that attracts thousands tourists and expat retirees every year. But the country’s sidewalks pose a real hazard because of their deplorable condition. They are uneven, cracked and in most cases in a state of disrepair. To make matters worse during the country’s rainy season they are extremely slippery.

After hearing about my friend’s mishap I made it a point to really check out the sidewalks that I use every day. Unbelievably, I discovered every block has four or five places where a person can trip and fall. That is precisely why I compare the country’s sidewalks to minefields because of the imminent danger lurking with every step a person takes.

I have been in the relocation business for over 30 years and the majority of my clients are over fifty years old. Anyone knows that falling at any age can cause a series injury. Costa Rica is a wonderful country with an almost flawless international image. But tourists should be aware of the many hidden dangers like ocean riptides, dangerous driving conditions and even the country’s seemingly harmless sidewalks and streets.