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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

100 Things We have learned about Costa Rica

In celebration of my 100th post - I thought I would compile a 100 things we have learned list. Here it is:

  1. Costa Rica can be cold.

  2. It does rain a lot during the rainy season, even in suburbia.

  3. There is a windy season.

  4. There is also a hot season.

  5. It is not hot enough in Escazu to really make the pool comfortably warm.

  6. The kids swim anyway.

  7. Cas fruit juice is delicious and easy to make.

  8. The fresh bread is delicious.

  9. Typical coffee is cafe con leche (served with hot milk).

  10. You can still get a Starbucks type fancy coffee.

  11. It will be yummy.

  12. It will be cheaper than Starbucks.

  13. Ground coffee available in the grocery store is inexpensive and delicious.

  14. Food is expensive.

  15. Especially imported brands.

  16. BioLand makes everything.

  17. You can buy almost anything in a smaller, bagged version (rather than plastic bottles): i.e. mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, jelly, condensed milk, bleach, liquid soap, etc.

  18. The dish soap is not liquid, but a compressed powder that you rub a wet sponge/cloth in to suds up.

  19. Christmas time means tamales. These are different than the Mexican version, no spicy pepper and cooked in a banana leaf. Somehow they are less dry and I like 'em.

  20. If you give out Christmas cookies, be prepared for strange looks because they are not tamales.

  21. You should practice Offensive driving here.

  22. Someone flashing their lights mean they will let you through.

  23. There is a general give and take (at least where I live) to let people turn left or merge.

  24. No one ever looks in a hurry.

  25. Stop signs are optional.

  26. Motorcycles are crazy.

  27. You see 13 year old kids still holding Dad's hand in the Multiplaza.

  28. Moms are the same everywhere.

  29. Little girls are the same everywhere.

  30. It is easy to get sick if you eat out.

  31. The safest restaurants are those with a lot of people.

  32. The fried chicken is usually good and pretty safe (high frying temperature?)

  33. You can fried chicken almost anywhere.

  34. Traditional Costa Rican cooking seems to entail a lot of frying.

  35. You will get tired of fried food.

  36. The beef tastes different.

  37. Burgers here are terrible, even at McDonald's - they don't taste like meat.

  38. The cows you see along the road are skinny.

  39. Diet Coke tastes different.

  40. They don't know how to make butter.

  41. Three kids is not typical, more like one kid and later in life.

  42. It seems acceptable to stop your car and get out to pee.

  43. I have seen many people urinating in public, by the side of the road and along buildings, etc.

  44. I have even seen a few people defecating in public. Not a pretty sight.

  45. In the case of a traffic accident, you are not supposed to move the cars. Wait for the police.

  46. I have only seen the police stopping someone for speeding once.

  47. Many of the Gringos here are in real estate.

  48. Many of the U.S. expats here seem to be against the U.S. (at least right now).

  49. For hotels in tourist areas, the price quoted at walk up will likely be less expensive than on the website.

  50. CIMA is great.

  51. Children with broken arms bounce back really fast.

  52. It is possible to enjoy a movie in Spanish, even if you don't understand everything.

  53. I don't need to understand everything, sometimes it is ok to nod and smile politely, even though I have no idea what the other person just said.

  54. The school is teaching my 6-year old Mandarin.

  55. High school musical and Hannah Montanna rule the Costa Rican 6 year old girls too.

  56. I still am not sure it is age appropriate.

  57. When we do touristy things and meet other vacationers, it is weird to tell them we live here.

  58. My husband needs to get out of the house, at least occasionally.

  59. Bananas cost almost nothing.

  60. 2 out of 3 of my kids don't like bananas.

  61. The kid that does like bananas is frequently constipated.

  62. We make a lot of banana bread.

  63. Radio stations are a strange mix. Nothing really for an American my age. Or American country, which I think that Costa Ricans would love.

  64. Discovery kids is pre-school appropriate programming (in English or Spanish) 24 hours a day.

  65. This place is becoming more like the US all the time. At least here.

  66. Hot water heaters are not typical. Usually there is a heater attached to the shower head or a small instantaneous heater that you turn on when you want hot water. It seems to work pretty well.

  67. In Escazu it is not common to have heaters.

  68. In Escazu it is not common to have air conditioners.

  69. You really don't need them.

  70. We have acclimated and now when people make small talk with "boy, it's cold, hot, windy, rainy" I really agree.

  71. The eggs are not cold in the grocery store.

  72. We haven't gotten sick yet.

  73. We wash the dishes with tepid water.

  74. We haven't gotten sick yet.

  75. We have not needed the generator we brought with us.

  76. I wish we brought more stuff (hangers, garbage cans, dressers) with us, rather than getting rid of them before we moved.

  77. I am really glad we didn't buy a house here (at least yet).

  78. I really like our rental place (both the house and the location).

  79. Fedex and UPS delivery here, no problem.

  80. The address is really funny.

  81. Our address references the Chinese Embassy, which was the Taiwanese Embassy. Now that Costa Rica has stopped recognizing Taiwan and the big China is stepping in, it is for sale. Wonder what this will do to our address?

  82. Paying the utilities at the drugstore is kind of cool.

  83. The kids still love McDonalds.

  84. You can find almost anything (or a version of it) if you look hard enough.

  85. If you can't find it, you probably didn't need it anyway.

  86. Sometimes I wonder if too many choices makes people unhappy.

  87. It's not inexpensive to live here.

  88. At least not how we live.

  89. There are sometimes cows along the side of the road.

  90. Most rich people here own their own businesses.

  91. They usually don't have cows.

  92. But maybe roosters.

  93. People here take pride in appearance and you don't see locals out looking unkempt or in old/dirty clothes.

  94. Most of the ladies usually wear long jeans.

  95. With high heels.

  96. I think it is funny considering the condition of the roads that they walk on.

  97. The current style is to have the jeans about 6 inches too long and fold them up in one long piece.

  98. I think it is funny.

  99. We don't look Costa Rican.

  100. And mostly, people are pretty nice.


Mars said...

hello i was surprised that i bumped in your site. im a filipina. :)

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm stealing it all for my book. We are in the states... very interesting - some differences are glaring, be back in a couple of weeks. We'll talk... see you then!

jen poco loco said...

Hi Mars, thanks for stoppin by. Your daughter is still beautiful, but what was your mother thinking?

Sally - yes please. Hope things are progressing for you guys on the plata front. Been missing your presence (blog and the bump into name it).


boogienina said...


I have really enjoyed reading your blog. My family (husband and two kids) and I are planning a trip to CR later this year. We will all attend a Spanish language school. On the weekends we will travel the country. I home school my two kids (6&4) so this will be the best, and longest,field trip EVER!

We have a feeling that we might stay longer, after our schooling is over. We have read that it is difficult for North Americans to find work in CR. I was wondering if you would not mind telling me what your husband does for work out there. You seem to really be enjoying living there and it is very encouraging.

Hope to hear from you soon!


jen poco loco said...


How great to come to Costa Rica and do some Spanish immersion. You sound like an adventurous family.

Life in Costa Rica can be very different depending on where you are. We are in the suburbs of San Jose, the rich suburbs. So life here is pretty similiar to suburban US. To what we are used to. I haven't had to change that much of my lifestyle. Except everyone speaks Spanish. Where exactly are you headed?

As far as the other question, that is a little harder to answer. I will try to explain better in a future post.