First, I need to provide some answers to the problems I posed in my first posting on the subject:
The short-term approach to Costa Rica's problems is road improvement--that's going on several places, including a key stretch near the most prominent San Jose suburb, Escazu. The general state of road improvement in the hinterland has to be frustrating: we were there at the very end of the dry season, and they had just finished grading in most areas. They weren't going to have much of a chance to pave anything before the season downpours came and washed away all the roadwork.
I heard that an electric train is being planned between San Jose and the nearby small city of Alvarado, site of UCR's main campus. This could be the beginning of a real 21st-century solution for the country. Train lines could work well through some of the big mountain ridges that are huge obstacles for developing a modern highway system. They should just skip that one, and move on.