What We Learned About Costa Rica – High Level Impressions
We’d been here before, visiting a very limited corner of Costa Rica off a cruise ship. That day seemed magical, but would returning for two weeks change our view? Reading various blogs and posts about parts of the country had us wondering if it could be a location for our future expat life.
We came, we explored, and we love it! Here’s why.
- Costa Ricans (they call themselves Ticos) are outstandingly friendly. This does not just apply in the tourism sites, but across the board in this country of five million residents. As in any location that does not speak English as a primary language, knowing the courtesies (“las cortesias”) goes a long way towards building relationships. Using your language skills with respect, no matter how limited your vocabulary might be, and people appreciate it.
- Our language skills are nowhere close to fluent, and in fact, we label them ‘survival Spanish’. They improved dramatically over this trip. Confidence comes from usage, even when you mangle something. I asked every person we would be in contact with for more than a chance encounter to correct my pronunciation or challenge me with a question. Surprise – we know more than we think, we understand even more than that, and our pronunciation is intelligible.
- The country is beautiful, sometimes stunningly so. We visited rainforest so primitive, you’d swear a dinosaur would tramp out of the jungle, and beaches bare of people but big on views. If you like flowers, or birds, or butterflies, or cute animals, you’ll find something to love here. I can’t wait to download the thousand-plus photos I took (plus everything John grabbed) to find the precious gems in the groups and share them with you!
- It’s easy to get around because the country is small, roads are generally good (better in some places than others) and traffic not completely crazy once you get out of the big cities. It’s 170 miles from east to west and 280 miles north to south, though because of the national parks, you might be taking a circuitous route to get from point A to B.
Want to know more?
- If you rent a car and NEED it to be automatic, make sure to ask for that specifically in your reservation. The norm here is manual (stick or standard are other labels). Luckily, John felt confident enough in his tranny muscle memory to get behind the wheel.
- Taking a tour gets you to places you wouldn’t otherwise visit or even know about. We were on an Eco Adventure with Trafalgar for the first week, and they provided us with cultural and culinary insights that took our journey to an unsurpassed level. More on that in the coming posts!
- Visiting in the shoulder or low season means fewer tourists and a better chance to visit with locals. The weather might be more challenging (like deluges of rain we experienced) and some things might not be open for extended hours. Being flexible and adjusting to conditions and schedules is part of the adventure.
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What do you want to know about Costa Rica? Post your questions in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them!