San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Trucks Line Up at Community Events

IMAGINE, ifyou can, 200 ormore of those hugetrucks with 10-feet-high cabs, rollingby in a line thatstretches acrossyour vision, withhorns blowing andmaybe even zigzaggingas theypass by. Desfiles detraileros, or truckparades, are thenewest way to callattention to community festivals or fairs.They are Peterbilts, Freightliners,Internationals, Kenworths and Macks.They come in different colors and theyseem enormous when you stand in front ofone. These are the trucks that cross thecountry between the ports of Limón andCaldera, hauling raw materials and finishedgoods, bringing cars in and sendingpaint out, providing fruit for Europe andNorth America and wheat for our dailybread. Imports and exports are all hauledin trailers or containers. On weekends, driversrelax and enjoy time with their familiesand each other by joining the truckparades.A truck parade – cabs only (with trailersbehind, the line would stretch from SanJosé to the coast, either one, and maybeboth) – may include 230 trucks, as one didin San Carlos recently, or 200, as the one inSan Antonio de Belén did when the communitycelebrated its patron saint day.But only 10 showed up for the trekfrom Alajuela to Carrizal late on a Fridayafternoon, because Friday is a workdayand most truckers were out on the road.Even so, 10 monstrous, horn-blowingtrucks in a row is an impressive sight, andtheir arrival in Carrizal was greeted withapplause and lots of shouting.All this was carried live on the Club deTrailero radio show at 6 p.m., which includedinterviews with truckers and residents.And the fun didn’t stop there. Contestswere held that had residents helping tochoose the sexiest driver and the strongest.Some truck parades include a blessing ofthe trucks and collection of funds for thecommunity. And the food and music arealways plentiful.WARNER Cordero, who runs theTienda RR, an accessory shop for truckersin Santo Domingo de Heredia, is the manwho organizes the parades, mostlythrough Club de Traileros, his daily radioshow, on Radio Puntarenas. Truck driversin Costa Rica number 6,000, includingone woman driver, Cordero said. Theradio programs began eight years ago tohelp “rescue the image” of the truck driverand share information on trucking problems,road conditions and life on the road.Drivers even call the program on their cellphones to report information or send a“hello” from wherever they are.The truck parades began about fiveyears ago, but only lately have they caughtpublic attention. They are popular with thepublic and the drivers, who bring alongtheir wives and children.APPROXIMATELY 70% of truckersown their rigs. They can be independenttruckers or work under contract to a company.Sometimes a contract is short-term,as when pineapples or melons are in season.The companies provide the trailers,some of which are refrigerated for haulingperishables, Cordero said.When there is a big cargo such as ashipload of wheat or rice at the port ofCaldera, drivers may make several runs aday, starting at 2 or 3 a.m. and workinguntil the last load is at the mill. Most trucktraffic is within the country, but sometimesthey travel to Nicaragua, Guatemala orPanama.“You have to be prepared with all theproper documents for crossing borders,and the first time you go, you take along anexperienced co-worker to show you theroute,” explained Bayron Jiménez, whoseshiny, new, white Freightliner includes abed, comfortable bucket-type seats, a fewdecorations and a citizen’s band radio, andmaneuvers with nine gear changes.Because drivers assume their own costs,they sleep in their trucks on long hauls.Some cabs even have TV sets.Drivers have their own code language.A number system is used to explain locations,send greetings and report sightingsof highway patrols.Noisy and fun, truck parades are asight to see. Sidewalk gazers smile andwave. The end of the parade means camaraderie,food and prizes, and the feeling ofhelping a community, Cordero said.The next big truck parade is scheduledfor Sun., Feb. 27, from Poás de Alajuela toFraijanes, in the northwest Central Valley.Other events are announced on the radioshow, 6-7 p.m. daily, 91.9 FM.

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