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Cultural Quirks of Costa Rica

Ten interesting and unusual facts about life and living in Costa Rica.

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Which Way to San Jose?

It's true, the majority of Costa Rica really does function without street names and ample signage. Instead, landmarks are key in giving directions, which are frequently along the lines of: 200 meters west of the Pali supermarket; beige house opposite the primary school. 

Get Your Bearings

Feeling a little lost? Get a quick sense of direction by looking for the nearest Catholic church; nearly all face west in Costa Rica.

What's in a Name

Traditionally, Costa Rican women do not take their husband's last name after marriage. Instead, married women use their full maiden name for life. Children take their father's last name, which is followed by their mother's maiden name. 

Heavily Armed

In towns throughout the country, you'll see security guards stationed outside clothing and goods stores armed with shotguns or rifles. Banks I can understand, but a surf shop seems a little excessive. 

Heed the Dead Bodies

Watch out for those speed bumps, they're not all painted yellow! Locals call these speed-stoppers "muertos," which literally translates to dead people. An interesting take on the concept. 

Fast Food Nation

Chain restaurants like Burger King and McDonald's have incorporated Tico cuisine into their menus. You can order gallo pinto (rice and beans) for breakfast, or try a cheese pie in lieu of apple at McD's. To top it off, both offer speedy home delivery for a small fee!

Tica Style

Costa Rican women are notoriously proud of their figures, no matter what size or shape. You'll often see ladies of all socio-economic backgrounds dressed in tight, provocative clothing, paired with sassy stiletto heels. 

Orange Crush

A sweet play on words, Costa Ricans refer to their lover or significant other as their "media naranja," or other half of their orange. 

Sunshine Drying

Clothes dryers are the exception in most Costa Rican homes. Instead, locals prefer to dry their laundry in the sun -- an easy task during the dry season months of December-April. In addition to being better for the environment, you also save money on your electric bill. 

Family Rules

More than work, play or social outings, family dominates Costa Rican life. Many homes contain multi-generations, with elderly or other relatives in the household and other kin living close by. 

Cultural Quirks of Costa Rica in Pictures

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