Costarican idioms (loosely interpreted)
Frito means “in trouble,” sort of our way of saying, “It’s toast.”
It used to be wild down on the Atlantic side of this country. It’s called the Free Zone because it is the area between the Panamanian frontier and the first puesto de policía (police check point) at Cahuita. Twenty years ago there were only two police officers stationed in Puerto Viejo and the government didn’t fund them very well, so people took care of things themselves.
There was a wreck on a one-way bridge close to our property several years ago. A car and a four-wheeler had played chicken about who had the right of way. The four-wheeler lost the contest—no surprise there— and was upside down under the bridge when we arrived. The car, parked in the middle of the bridge, had a large dent in the front end. The female driver stood next to it waiting for the police. A small group restrained the owner of the four-wheeler who wanted to mix it up. Cars, trucks, and a bus were backed up on both sides of the bridge, and a group of men argued with the woman, imploring her to move her vehicle. She refused.
When there is a car accident in Costa Rica, drivers are supposed to leave their vehicles in position and wait for the police. They then write-up a report and turn it over to the governmental agency that handles all things Insurance.
That may work in San José, but all of us knew the police were not coming. I once called them about a fight that had broken out between one of our workers and another local over some stupid insult. The police told me, “When we can borrow a car, we’ll be down to check on it.”
The men finally convinced the woman to move her car off the bridge, but it was probably the bus’ air horn that made the biggest impact. Traffic resumed. My husband and I went on into town to run our errands.
We bounced over the rough road into Puerto Viejo and were just in time to see two men pushing the police car down the dirt street toward the police station. More trouble with the engine. ¡Frito!