Here is a list of fun stuff to know about Costa Rica:
“Pura vida” Your here it everywhere you go in Costa Rica. This is the national saying, a literal translations is “pure life,” It is used for many types of responses to a question or as a greeting, goodbye, or if someone asks how you are doing.
“Ticos” for men and “Ticas” for women are terms the Costa Rican people call themselves. It is not derogatory in any way; while foreigners are often called “Gringos” and “Gringas” basically referring to any person from North America.
If you see someone walking around with a machete, don’t panic, you’re not going to get attacked! Ticos use machetes for almost everything and often keep one on them. A machete is the Costa Rican equivalent of how Americans use duct tape. It is more common in the agricultural sectors than in the city.
Costa Rica is not a very big country it measures only 285 miles (460 km) from the north to the south boarders and at the narrowest, it is only 74 miles wide (120 km). It is smaller than Lake Michigan and about the size of the state of West Virginia. However Costa Rica features over 801 miles of coastline along the Pacifico Ocean and Caribbean Sea. From its highest point, Cerro Chirripó, with an elevation of 12,533 ft. you can see both oceans.
There are more than 121 volcanic formations in Costa Rica, and seven of them are active. Poas Volcano has the second widest crater in the world and Arenal is one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world.
Monkeys are one of the most common mammals in Costa Rica – next to bats. The four common species are the Howler, Spider, White-Faced and Squirrel.
If you have a phobia for bugs – look out! There are about 750,000 species of insects that live in Costa Rica, including about 20,000 different types of spiders! Also, more than 10% of the world’s butterflies live here.
Costa Rica claims a 96% literacy rate. In very poor and rural areas, where children can’t get to schools, they teach classes over a national radio station.
When a woman is pregnant they say she is “con luz,” or “with light.”
When a Tico/Tica is referring to their spouse or significant other or their other half, they are your “media naranja,” or the other half of your orange.
Names are confusing in Costa Rica. Children take their father’s name, but add their mother’s maiden name to their full name. So when you see a name on a business card like Carlos Jose Gomez Guzman, this person’s name is Carlos Gomez and the Guzman is his mom’s maiden name. Often this is abbreviated as an initial thus: Carlos Jose Gomez G. or even more commonly, Carlos Gomez G.
Costa Rican women do not take their husband’s last name. The woman uses her full maiden name for life. No changing of national ID cards, drivers licenses, etc. She also adds her mother’s maiden name.
Prostitution is legal but possession of pornography is illegal. They even have unions, membership cards, health benefits, and police protection.
You aren’t allowed to wear sunglasses or hats inside of the banks
They have bullfights but instead of the bull being harmed, it runs free around the ring and tries to harm the brave teens and men who jump in there for sport. Almost every little town has a festival with bullfights during the holidays.
In Costa Rica, nearly all Catholic churches face west.
In Costa Rica, speed bumps are called “muertos”, or dead persons. In some cases they are called “policia muerto” (dead policeman) because, like a policeman, seeing them makes you slow down.
There are usually no street names in Costa Rica so people get used to giving directions in relation to landmarks. In rural areas people will describe their official, legal address in ways such as “blue house just north of the big tree,” or even “150 meters south of where the cow is tied up.
At 7:00 a.m. every morning, all Costa Rican radio stations play the national anthem. Many also play it again at night.
Costa Ricans has a life expectancy is almost 77 years, one of the highest in the world.
Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is what’s called a “blue zone”- an area with an abnormally high amount of centenarians (100-year-olds). Five “blue zones” have been identified around the globe, but Costa Rica’s is the largest (the others are found in Japan, Greece, Italy, and Loma Linda, CA).
Need sunglasses or a phone charger? Just roll down your window at most intersections in town and someone will be there to sell you one!
So there you have it! A list of fun stuff to know about Costa Rica. Come spend some time in Costa Rica! You’ll have fun living here and learning new things every day!
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