The cab dropped us off at a gas station. The asphalt glowed in the early morning sun. Kylan and I glanced at each other. Where are we? read our expressions. We had never visited this part of San José, and we were too groggy to appreciate the new sights. We followed the directions specifically: One hundred meters east of the gasolinera. We found the specified corner, and then we stopped and gawked.
We had expected one man and one vehicle—a Jeep Grand Cherokee, parked on the curb. Instead we found two men, wearing camouflage cargo pants and bandannas over their faces, and a Jeep half-covered in tarp. The men glanced at us. They looked like cartel hit men. Then they went back to work, waxing the exposed half of the car.
The owner appeared, trooping eagerly toward us. Sergio had severe facial features and a receding hairline. He welcomed us briskly and then pointed to the car.
“How do you like it?” he demanded.
“Why is there a tarp?” asked Kylan.
“Oh,” he said, and strode over to the car, then lifted the plastic out of the way. “Because of this.”
This was a massive concussion in the side of the Jeep. This was a bent chassis and two missing doors. This was a car that had clearly been T-boned at an intersection, and for whatever reason, Sergio had never fixed it. This was damage so serious that we would have to spend thousands of dollars on repairs and replacements before we could even drive it home.
“What do you think?” said Sergio hurriedly.
“There aren’t any doors,” said Kylan.
“Oh, well, there was in an accident,” said Sergio.
“Right, but in the pictures online, it didn’t show any missing doors.”
Sergio closed his eyes, as if pained by our nitpicking. “I could only upload five pictures. There was a sixth picture that showed this side of the car, but I couldn’t upload any more.”
“Okay, well, I don’t think we’re going to take it,” said Kylan.
“No?” He looked disappointed that he had wasted his time.
“No. We need a car…” How to describe it? Kylan finished: “We need a car in better condition. Sorry.”
Want to read more? You can order “The Green Season” by Robert Isenberg from The Tico Times Store and Amazon. In Costa Rica it’s also available in Britt Shops and Librería Internacional stores in Mulitplaza Escazú and Avenida Central in San José. Read a review of the book here.