Whether it’s your first time traveling abroad or your 30th, adapting to a new culture is always a challenge. Different types of food, lodging and a language barrier can all add up to be somewhat overwhelming – even for the most experienced travelers! It should come as no surprise, then, that Costa Ricans have a handful of behaviors that may confuse foreign visitors. Want to be prepared for your trip to Central America? There are a few things you need to know before visiting Costa Rica.
We are Friendly – REALLY Friendly!
If you’re shy and have trouble starting conversations, then Costa Rica is the place for you. You’ll notice that locals of all ages love to talk to visitors, learn about where they’re from and ask for their thoughts on politics, travel and all aspects of life. It isn’t uncommon for people to invite you into their home or to ask you to join them for dinner. In Costa Rica we welcome everyone, and we will go out of our way to make you feel like you belong in our country.
That being said, if you ever feel uncomfortable or like you don’t want to talk to someone, that’s fine too. There are some aspects of Costa Rican culture that are noticeably machismo, and female visitors might feel uncomfortable with the compliments or catcalls that are made by local men. Although these remarks are typically harmless, they can become tiring if you’re not accustomed to this kind of attention. Remember that you only need to converse within your comfort level. Just nod or say nothing and continue on your way.
Costa Rica Isn’t Cheap
It’s not insanely expensive, either, but many people come to Costa Rica expecting prices to be similar to those in Nicaragua or Ecuador. Spend a few days in San Jose, however, and you’ll quickly learn that beer, food, lodging and shopping expenses can quickly add up if they’re not closely monitored. Gas is nearly twice the price that it is in the United States (ahem – it’s hard for us to get it here!) and adventure tour costs mirror those you might find in Europe. As a safety precaution, it’s always good to budget more money than you need on your trip, so you can travel without worrying about pinching pennies.
We Run on Tico Time
If you’re from anywhere other than Central America, chances are that you’re going to feel like those of us in Costa Rica are a little slow. Why? Well, simply put – we just don’t see any reason to hurry! When you live in paradise, it’s the middle of summer and the humidity is creeping up to 80%, it’s better to move like a sloth.
Most often, travelers notice that restaurants and bars in Costa Rica move at a remarkably different pace than they do in other countries. It’s not uncommon to wait 5 to 10 minutes (or sometimes even longer!) before you speak to your server. Just remember: sitting and waiting is all part of the dining experience. You will never be rushed out of the restaurant to make room for someone else. We are happy to have you, and we want you take your time – just like us.