Costa Rica Directions

I’ve been driving around Central America for five weeks now. I’ve gotten lost, splashed through rivers in a car that had no business going offroad, scraped that same car on hundreds of speed bumps, gotten lost, been surrounded by cows, had a window busted, eaten some stellar tamales on a toll road in the middle of the desert and gotten lost again. I’ve learned a lot of things on the road, but the most important is this: Never ask a man for directions when you can ask a woman.

Is this gender stereotyping? You bet it is. A man will rarely tell you he doesn’t know where something is. This is especially true if you’re looking for something that’s typically seen as a male-dominated business, like an auto glass shop. Ask a man on the side of the road for something like that, and if he doesn’t reply immediately, you know he doesn’t know. He knows he doesn’t know. But you can’t leave just yet. He’ll scratch his belly, look down the road, look the other way, and suddenly give you very specific directions to a place that doesn’t exist. Do you follow his directions? They’re all you’ve got, and now he seems so confident. So down the road you’ll go, till you find another man who tells you to go the other way.

Next time, ask a woman. If she doesn’t know, she’ll probably tell you so. Half the time she’ll tell you she doesn’t know before you’re even done asking. And down the road you’ll go, none the wiser but none the dumber either.