Let me make myself clear: I love living in Costa Rica. I love being a legal resident here. I have been here over 30 years, and while known (mainly by my Tica wife) to groan or swear when confronted with certain idiosyncrasies of Costa Rica, a classic whining, “why don’t they do things like where I come from” gringo, I am not. But yes, there are small things, minor things that I am likely never going to get used to.
6 Small Things I Can’t Get Used To
1. Promoting your business by putting large speakers at the entrance, and blasting
merengue music at Metallica-live-in-concert volume.
What is the point of that? In what business textbook is it written that this will bring in more business? If I am looking to buy a new flat screen, I will cross the street before I even reach the business blasting the music, and go down a block to the place where I don’t need to know sign language in order to complete the purchase.
2. The complicated buying process at the local department stores
You have the flat screen you want. You are ready to pay. Not so fast! You must go to the rear where the accounting department is and wait to be called. Then there is an always complicated procedure before you are given a stamped receipt to take to the front of the store.
Once you find the person who attended you in the first place, you hand them the receipt, and they take you to your purchase, where it will be plugged in to test before being reboxed. Now you can go. Gracias.
3 . Lottery ticket salespeople everywhere
Is the sale of lottery tickets the number one employer in Costa Rica? Is it really a job anyone would grow up wanting to have?
On every corner in every downtown of every place in Costa Rica, from the Rio San Juan to Paso Canoas, from San Jose to San Josecito de la Virgen de Los Angeles de Guadalupe, a lottery ticket salesperson awaits you. (And you almost always pay a bit more per number played then the listed face value).
4. Lucky lottery Numbers
In the Costa Rican lottery there are two numbers: a 2-digit number called the numero and a 3-digit number called the serie. The only number that matters to the Tico players is the 2-digit one.
But the only way to win the big prize with each drawing is to match the 2-digit one with the 3.digit one. If just the 2-digit number hits you win squat. But when people are asked their lucky number for the lotto they only say the 2-digit one. I call it the low expectations lottery.
5. Futbol, futbol, futbol 24/7/365
The average Costa Rican sports fan follows one sport. Saprissa, La Liga, Herediano, La Sele, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man City, all welcome here. Cycling might be the second most popular sport, as there have been a few Tico riders who have ridden in the major tours.
Elsewhere, there are pockets of Tico sports fans who follow basketball, baseball, even American football, but their numbers are miniscule compared to the multitudes who are happy and satisfied with the never ending futbol season.
6. The Early Morning Symphony
I live in a nicer hood, but even here there is a mish mash of noises throughout the morning. It starts with the rumbling of the first interurban bus, followed by all the dogs in the neighborhood playing call and response with their barking. Then come the mobile vendors with loudspeakers selling, pan, huevos, piñas, or offering to collect any chatarra you may have lying around. On the mountain highway a kilometer away, tractor trailers pound their jake brakes for the entire valley to hear.
A bit later someone will be playing loud music, and there will be another round of barking dogs and more buses and trucks passing nearby. Happily, most days this tails off by late morning.
I am sure I could add more of the same, but in the scheme of things, my complaints are minor. Reviewing this list lets me know how good I have it here. Pura Vida