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Did You Know???

Here is a collection of fun and interesting facts about Costa Rica and Costa Ricans that can help one adapt to the differences found in the Costa Rican culture.

  1. McDonald's, Burger King and many other fast food places all the others have HOME DELIVERY in Costa Rica. Even the local ice cream shop Pops has delivery.
  2. Fast food in Costa Rica will look and taste different and offer different options such as gallo pinto for breakfast.
  3. Ticos are in general short statured people; therefore, chairs, couches and other furniture sometimes are built about 6-8 inches lower than standard US furniture.
  4. Cigarettes are comparatively less inexpensive and cost around $1.50 per pack.  For this reason many Europeans come and buy cartons upon cartons of cigarettes.
  5. Children take their father's last name followed by their mother’s last name.
  6. Costa Rican women do not take their husband's last name. The woman uses her full maiden name for life.
  7. When someone dies here they are buried the very same day or very soon after. Sometimes there is a quick service called a “vela” to say goodbye to the deceased.  There is no embalming process. Obituaries are big in newspapers and in between news segments on TV.  Death is viewed in a very serious manner here, and there are no wakes. Also, usually people will pray 9 days after someone dies in large groups.  Monthly and yearly anniversaries of one’s death are commemorated with a mass and used as a time marker to decide when other important life events have occurred. To read more about death in Costa Rica click here.
  8. Getting around in Costa Rica can be challenging because there are very few street signs and even fewer addresses.  All addresses are in terms of a well-known building or landmark-often the local Catholic Church, cemetery, or another fixed location. Sometimes addresses are phrased in terms of building that may not exist anymore like the Old Hardware Store etc.To read more about travel in Costa Rica click here.
  9. People will often give directions using North, South, East and West and will be given in meters; however, meters usually equates to city blocks ie 100 meters would be 1 city block.
  10. Here Diet Coke does not exist even though one might be fooled by Coca Lite.
  11. In many small towns and areas every Saturday or Sunday there is a farmer’s type market where you can buy produce cheap.  Many times offers are 4 kilos of mangos for 1000 colones or $2 USD. It's pretty sure you can’t buy 1 mango in the US for that or 3 pineapples for a dollar, one in USA costs around $7 USD.
  12. Tangerines are called mandarins here. Limes are limónes.  Yellow lemons are only found at specialty stores.
  13. The word for handcuffs here “esposas” is also the same word as wives.
  14. Locks in Costa Rica almost always turn backwards.
  15. We say in English "She had a baby" or "She just gave birth", but in Spanish they say, "Ella dio a luz" or translated, "She gave light."
  16. When a woman is about to have her baby, they always ask “cuando se mejorara?” or translated "When is she going to get better?” They really know how bad pregnancy is huh?
  17. Front doors of almost all commercial establishments almost always open INWARDS.
  18. If going to the immigration office for any reason or to the police station for fingerprint do NOT wear shorts!  They will turn you away!  Shorts are considered disrespectful.
  19. There are bullfights in Costa Rica. There are also a bunch of silly and dangerous games that average people play with the bulls like the human see-saw. Additionally, there is some stiff competition about who has the biggest, baddest, and meanest bull in the country which makes the news here.
  20. There are also very intricate secret rings of people in Costa Rica that host very elaborate cock fights with prize roosters.
  21. Refrigeration of items could surprise most people. Milk, eggs, and many other items that one has been trained all one's life to refrigerate are available off the shelf (un-refrigerated) at almost every super market.  Also, if venturing inside many Ticos refrigerators you will find that they just put things away without covering or using containers so often that piece of sweet cake could have a little onion after bite.
  22. In most Tico kitchens you are not likely to find dishwashers or hot water at the sink. Dishes are rinsed with cold water and scrubbed with a sponge which is why when one person in a family gets sick everyone gets sick. It is not the most sanitary thing, but they seem to live a long time here, so they are doing something right.
  23. Some Tico showers are metal or plastic and have a bunch of wires. These heat water as it comes out, but be careful not to raise the arms too high or one might get a shock literally.
  24. The word for HOT, in Spanish, is caliente.  Caliente begins with a "C".  Water faucets imported from the USA almost all have a "C" on them.  If your Hot Water never seems to get HOT in Costa Rica, try the handle with the "C".  Note, this may change from bathroom to bathroom within the same house.
  25. Lots of Ticos do not have clothes dryers. If living with a family, they will wash and line dry clothes, so sometimes the end result is “wings” on your shirts where the hanger left an imprint.
  26. Ticos love to iron everything, even underwear and especially tablecloths and napkins.
  27. Ants are everywhere here, and they out number us about a zillion to one. If planning on living in Costa Rica's tropical environment, one will have to deal with it. Although in cooler climates here there are significantly less bugs.
  28. In the countryside there are a lot of folks carrying machetes (really long, sharp knives which are usually used to cut foliage in the jungle). Here almost everyone has one for day to day gardening and construction purposes.
  29. Notice that outside banks and high end stores have guards that are very heavily armed.
  30. Chinese food is different here and usually served with French fries. Chinese food anywhere is different- it is just adapted to the countries likes and dislikes.
  31. In general meat is something one will have to spend a little more on if a decent cut is desired.  There are specialty stores with great meat and also good restaurants.
  32. Pedestrians must be very careful, because they do not have the right of way. No one will stop, so do not risk it, and always look everyway to be sure. Especially be careful of the speedy motorcycles.
  33. At 7 AM every morning, most, if not all, Costa Rica radio stations broadcast the exact same program. It begins with the Costa Rican National Anthem and provides the government and other authorized entities a way to send messages or information nation wide.
  34. The meter in a taxicab is known as the Maria. There are bunches of dishonest cabbies trying to rip of foreigners so stay on guard and be educated.
  35. Costa Rican’s call speed bumps “muertos” which translates into dead people.
  36. There are lots of street vendors selling items and beggars who you can give away things. These people are on buses with causes, recovering drug addicts, or small children with notes. Don’t be surprised if a beggar refuses a food donation, because sometimes they get offended.
  37. All but a handful of Catholic Churches in Costa Rica face to the west. This is a big help for giving directions.
  38. The big yellow hearts with halos painted in the streets are painted there when someone has lost their life in an accident. The government department MOPT does this to remind people to be cautious and slow down in these places.
  39. Ticos are obsessed with soccer aka "futbol". If there is a game on, everyone will be watching, especially if it is the national team, La Sele. These are usually the best times to run errands since no one is in the streets.
  40. When going to the gas station, one will notice that individuals do not pump the gas, because there are specialized gas station employees for that. They are usually nice enough to clean your windshield, check the air in your tires, and check the oil. There is no obligation to give them anything for this service, but they sure do appreciate it.
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