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10 Unusual Things I Love About Costa Rica

In our continued posts on what we love about Costa Rica, I want to include some of life’s different pleasures that I’ve come to appreciate during my seven years in the country.  Natural beauty and temperate weather aside, Costa Rica continues to amaze me with its social and cultural quirks, and every year I discover something new to love about my home. 

Ultra-Friendly Greetings

Whether I’m at the highway tollbooth or in a shop, I’m always greeted with the typical “reina” or “joven,” a joy to any woman over the age of 30. Being called queen or young just brightens your day and elicits a genuine smile.

Beverages in a Bag

Go to your local farmers’ market or neighborhood grocer and your coconut water or soda will likely be sold in small plastic bags with straws sticking out of the necks. A great way to drink up on the go.

6:00 p.m. Sunsets

Living so close to the equator means early sunrises and sunsets (5:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.), with little variation throughout the year. Like a farmer, I wake up early and am in bed by 9:30 p.m., making the most of each day.

Aggressive Driving Habits

Yes, you read correctly. In a country known for its kamikaze drivers, I have grown bolder and more aggressive, and ultimately a much better driver for all conditions. Constantly aware of my surroundings and other motorists, I can now drive anywhere in the world with confidence.

Backyard Foraging

Unless you live in downtown San Jose, you can walk out your front door, and within a few minutes find a tree laden with tropical fruit. In my backyard alone, we have banana, lime, papaya, mango and avocado trees. Running low on groceries? No problem – you’re just a quick stroll from a delicious snack, right off the tree.

Horse Culture

Costa Rica used to be one large farm country, and locals continue their love for horses with fancy parades throughout the year. Watch riders from all walks of life dress in their cowboy best and strut the streets on their handsome steeds with a beer in hand. In our small town, neighbors frequent the local cantina on horseback – a smart way to arrive home safely.

Full-Service Gas Stations

Sit back and relax as the attendant fills your tank, washes the windshield and checks your tires. It’s actually illegal for individuals to pump their own gas in Costa Rica! Though petrol prices are at an all-time high ($4.50/gallon), those pleasant attendants will check your oil and top off fluids free of charge.

Flip Flop Nation

I don’t remember the last time I put on “big people shoes,” since I practically live in flip flops. I own five pairs, some dressier than others. With temperatures hovering around 85 F year-round, it’s a challenge to consider other footwear in my Central Valley town.

The Chicken

Maybe they’re free-range, or just lead a less stressful lifestyle, but the chicken in Costa Rica is some of the tastiest I’ve sampled. It’s just more chickeny, for lack of a better term. Order a chicken casado from any traditional restaurant and you’re in for a monster portion of tender and flavorful meat. Nothing like the bland, hormone-fed birds in the States.

Terrible Subtitles

Watching English programs with Spanish subtitles is a great way to learn the language most of the time. As your skills improve, you’ll notice the hilarious errors that pop up on occasion, making the most serious dramas a laughing matter. In the film The King’s Speech, a particularly poor translation incorporated coconut pancakes into the dialogue.

10 Unusual Things I Love About Costa Rica in Pictures

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