Surprising facts about Costa Rica
I spent only 3 weeks in Costa Rica in May 2012 but truly every day was a blast. Pura vida and happiness must be contagious as already after the first day I felt the same. I always try to observe how the things work in the country, and also the culture, people, their habits and local dialect expressions.
Costa Rica, meaning ”rich coast” in Spanish is literally right as both coasts, the Pacific and the Caribbean have beautiful beaches. But people say that many other countries in the area have only one stunning coast. Twenty one days in the country were enough for me to see the things I did not know before.
All these details below are what for me were surprising facts about Costa Rica:
- The taximeter is called La María
- use of Usted even instead of tú which I was not used to hear from people who became my friends or were of the same age – in other countries it is very formal to call someone Usted, or used for older people than you so it made me feel a bit old.
- casado – meaning ”married” is the name of a traditional dish
- patacones are very popular – fried plantains
- fresh coconut is called pipa
- soda is name of a cheaper local restaurant
- on the Caribbean coast they speak some sort of Caribbean dialect, not Spanish
- I was surprised by the amount of rivers
- jungle – most part of the territory is covered by rainforests
- many beaches have rainforests starting straight where the sandy beach ends
- wildlife – howler monkeys, sloths, frogs, birds, snakes, crabs are even around the hotels and rental houses. I had all of those apart from snakes (at least I haven’t seen any) when I stayed in Congo Bongo rental house in Manzanillo, so cool to have my own ”ZOO” just outside of my porch!
- different kinds of butterflies and hummingbirds – I don’t think I have ever seen so many of them in one country
- being a relatively small country, Costa Rica has 28 national parks
- green nature everywhere around you
- more expensive than you might think
- use both US dollars and Costa Rican colones
- no trains, only buses (I experienced the same with transport in Mexico). Long distance buses are usually comfortable.
- to get from one coast to another is not that easy even though it is not so far – almost all the buses go through San José
- there are many bus stations in the capital so check out at your hotel to which bus station you should go
- cheap transport – for the same price of a lunch in a restaurant you could get a bus to the other part of the country
- many trucks crossing Costa Rica that slow down the traffic
- at San José Juan Santamaría airport you have to pay airport tax of $28 for every international flight (similar to the way it works in the Philippines or Bolivia)
- on the Caribbean coast you will see a lot of people of black skin, the rest of the country is mostly criollos or white people
- I got the feeling that Costa Rican men are nicer than women – at least they were to me
- I also found many sexy local men but not many good-looking women
- many foreigners live in Costa Rica and they do speak English
- many hotels are owned by foreigners
- fresh fruit juices are easy to get all over the country – but only mixed with water or milk, not 100% pure
- organic chocolate made here at cocoa farms is a bit expensive but way healthier than any other one sold in groceries all over the world
- Costa Rica is a banana country – many different kinds of bananas can be found around the country with the smallest bananas being the sweetest ones
- you won’t see many dogs at the streets, nor people walking dogs
- many beaches are good for surfing