Tico times

If you have not been to Costa Rica, let me tell you a few things.

One, it is not incorrect to say that many Ticos (what Costa Ricans call themselves) know English. However, for many of them, their English is about as good as the average American knows another language, which is to say not very well. Even more are just shy about their English. One of my collaboraters undergrads told me when I first got here that she didn’t really know English. Yet yesterday when she walked me through campus her English was quite good. If you know basic Spanish here, you’ll likely be like me, able to get your point across but unable to understand the response. Or look like an idiot when you stare quizzically at people.

Two, Tico drivers are NUTS. They put New York drivers to shame 10 times over. Double yellow lines, red lights, stop signs, speed limits, are all just mere suggestions. The private drivers are nuts. The taxi drivers are nuts. Hell, even my bus driver the other day was nuts cutting off other buses. And yet everyone here seems to jay walk. At least all the motorcycle riders wear helmets and reflective vests.

Three, there are no addresses in Costa Rica. At least not how we think about it in the US. Nothing has a true street address. Hell, the undergrad last night told me she doesn’t know the name of the street she lives on. The address of my hotel? 70 meters west of Taco Bell. Don’t know where the Taco Bell is? It’s near the University and Mall San Pedro. Yup, that’s the best you’ll get.

Four, this city is noisy unlike any city I’ve been in. Particularly since the hotel doesn’t have air conditioning, which means I can’t close my windows (the temp outside is fine), which means that I can hear the night time traffic, and the significant uptick it makes early in the morning (and then the whistle for the commuter train). I think I’d much rather be back at the Biological Station with all the odd night creature noises.

Five, do Ticos not believe in wash clothes? The first hotel I stayed at didn’t put any in the room. The Biological Station didn’t either. Nor does this hotel. Not sure n=3 is significant though.

Six, Ticos just elected their first female president and I believe the first female president in the region. They also have a goal to be carbon neutral by 20?? (sometime not too far in the future that I can’t remember right now). Costa Rica actually was carbon neutral a number of years ago, but fuels have put them back to spewing out more. Some places do a fabulous job with this. The biological station asks you to sort all of your trash (paper, plastic, organics {in the true sense of the word}, etc). Many places have little signs reminding you to save the world by turning off lights and using less water (I’ll have to get a picture of the one in the women’s room in the building I’m working in the University). This should probably be split into two things because I think their carbon neutral plan is absolutely awesome. In this regard, I think the US has a lot they could learn from Costa Rica.

There you have it. Six things I think you should know about Costa Rica.


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