Welcome to Costa Rica

I thought I’d share my two weeks worth of cultural introduction to Costa Rica.  Some things are taking some getting used to.

For example, it is rude to blow your nose in public, it’s okay to wipe it discreetly.  It’s okay to sniff, but never ever blow it. 

It’s rude to slam taxis doors.

When hailing a taxis, never get the drivers attention with your palm up….always palm down.  A woman shouldn’t ride in the front seat of a taxis unless you have people to fill the back—because she would be making a proposition to the driver. 

It’s rude to point at people.  I wonder if I’ve offended anyone? 

Jake brakes are not illegal here……I cannot believe how loud they are.  I didn’t even know what the sound the trucks made was…..I now know.   If the next place I live is quieter, I  think I’ll feel like something is wrong if I don’t hear all the noise.(That has already happened to me once, when we moved from Philly to MD.)  

Bathrooms have little trashcans for the toilet paper, it doesn’t go down the potty here.  I still make mistakes with that every once in awhile. 

Soak veggies and fruit in a bleach and water solution for 20 minutes. 

When shopping in stores, you need to check book bags or any bag you have with you at the front of the store. 

It’s illegal for Costa Ricans to spank their kids.  (During orientation, when this was mentioned someone asked if he should make sure he doesn’t discipline his kids in public.  Stupid, stupid question.)

Always lock your gates…..there’s lots of theft.   All our doors to get into our place have double locks, meaning you keep turning the key in the keyhole…..it’s 2 1/2 turns—–until it’s locked.

Never keep sweet food(or really any food)  on your counters or you’ll have lots of little ants making a trail.  (I had that problem when I lived in North Beach.  I would much rather have the nuisance of ants, than the filth of cockroaches. I had those in Philly.  I really don’t want those here….I know they are here, but I haven’t seen one yet.)

Always take time to talk to your neighbors….or any tico/tica.  Relationships are extremely important to them.   (I had a little conversation tonight with abuela…..the older woman who lives in my building.  She’s so sweet.)

Always speak encouraging and affirming words to your teachers or maid or any of the workers at ILE(school).  This seems to be very cultural. 

Don’t expect stores (especially small businesses) or taxis drivers to have change at the beginning of the day.  They have to pay the bank to have coins.  That was such a helpful tidbit of info. 

My eyes are starting to drift to sleep as I type this.  That will be the extent of my list tonight.  It’s so amazing to get to know another culture, but difficult to continuously be aware of not offending them. 


7 thoughts on “Welcome to Costa Rica”

  1. Wow, that’s crazy about the toilet paper. In France, you are fortunate if the public restrooms have TP(you are also fortunate if you find a public restroom in Paris)! Is it hard to rinse the bleach totally off of the fruits and veggies before eating them? 

  2.   Very interesting stuff.  The good news is that most of those things are the same in Argentina…though spanking isn’t illegal, just frowned upon. And as far as I know blowing your nose in public isn’t too offensive.  At least, I hope not.    That’s really cool that you got to speak to the abuela a little.  You guys are going to learn so much there.

  3. I can totally see how you have to be conscious to not offend people, those are really interesting things to know.  I hope you don’t get ants, but totally am with you that they are more appealing than cockroaches.  The TP thing is also interesting.  I remember so many people doing that in Philly, it was what they always knew/did, but if you didn’t, it still flushed down the toilet=)   So many experiences you are having and learning.  I’m so excited for you guys and praying your weekend has had some relaxation.  Hope classes get off to a good start tomorrow=)

  4. Oh wow so much to keep straight. I love your observations about the culture and that’s just in the first two weeks! Thank you for the updates on the boys! Please give them big hugs and kisses from us.

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