We’re not in Kansas anymore…

…I mean Mississippi.

There were lots of things about Costa Rica that are different from what I’m used to, and only a week in the country isn’t nearly enough time to figure them all out.  I’ll have plenty of time for that later.  But for now, here are a few of the little things we picked up on that were unexpected…or just plain different!

  • Not many people speak English.  Shocking, I know.  Some people knew tiny bits here and there, but except for the people in the airports and touristy areas, I had a hard time talking to them.  They weren’t kidding…. I am going to have to become fluent in Spanish.  Oh goodness.
  • Even most of the writing was in Spanish... billboards, advertisements, product descriptions… a few things here and there were English, but not most.  Gotta learn Spanish.
  • The driving is crazy.  CRAZY.  And there aren’t street signs. Or street numbers. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING? I have no idea.
  • It wasn’t nearly as hot as I expected.  Emily and I were in the central valley the whole time, which is where San Jose is… it’s nice and breezy most of the time. Perfect weather.  The rest of the team, on the other hand, was NOT in the central valley, and experienced some good ol’ Latin heat.
  • Speaking of the valley, one of the perks is that you can see mountains EVERYWHERE, no matter where you look.  It’s breathtaking.
  • Costa Ricans are really, really nice.  I’d heard that Ticos have a super-friendly, welcoming, and genuine reputation. All true.  They were patient, funny, and very forgiving to a bunch of loud Americans who had no idea what we were doing.
  • The food was great.  I kind of expected it to be spicy, but it wasn’t.  Typical Costa Rican dishes include rice, beans, vegetables, and meat…seasoned but not spicy.  Since I hate spicy food, this worked out great for me!
  • You can drink the water… an least in San Jose.
  • But it’s hard to get hot water.  Considering the fact that I take scalding showers, this is going to take some getting used to.  Most places don’t have hot water heaters.  There are widow-makers above the shower or other types of hot-coil heating units, but when you’re using decent pressure, it never really got hot.   Especially not hot enough for a girl who prefers her water boiling.
  • Speaking of plumbing, the pipes are too small for toilet paper.  So you throw it in a basket beside the toilet.  That sounds grosser than it is, I promise.  It doesn’t take long to get used to as long as you can REMEMBER to do it…flushing your TP is much more of a habit than I ever thought!
  • Greetings are different – men greet with a handshake/bearhug combo thing.  Women greet with an air-kiss on the cheek.  So anyone who has issues with personal space needs to get it worked out before you come to visit me.
  • Speaking of personal space, Ticos stand awfully close.  And even when there’s a whole lot of space on a bench, they’ll come sit thisclose to you.  Because that’s how they do things.
  • People say hello to you on the street.  Actually, they say “adios” to you on the street.  But maybe they were just being nice because we were obviously Americans, I don’t know.  Either way, it reminded me of home and good southern charm.
  • They LOVE babies!  Or at least, they love Baby Matthew.  Everybody we met wanted to hold the baby and say “agoo, agoo!”   I’m guessing that’s Tico for baby talk.
  • They also love their own babies. Everybody wanted to show us pictures of their kids. Too bad I wasn’t carrying any printed pictures of my boys in my purse!

Another week in Costa Rica and I probably could double this list.  But then you might not read it (:

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