1. We will tell you that we’ll arrive at a certain time, but it will mean Costa Rican time.
Although “Ticos” are not proud of this characteristic, we are usually slightly unpunctual. We can tell you we’ll arrive in 5 minutes, but a half hour later you may still be waiting. In fact, we have our own way of measuring time, “la hora tica”, which makes “hours” a relative concept. In spite of this, if a “Tico” says they’ll be there, we might be late, but we WILL arrive.
2. When you offer us something to drink, our first choice will be 100% natural juice.
For the “Tico”, a juice is made with real blackberry, pineapple, mango, watermelon or other fruits, fresh from the market. To our standards, the fruit must be peeled, squeezed or liquefied right before drinking the beverage. So forget about offering us bottled stuff, full of preservatives… you might offend us.
3. We will make you feel older than you are… or make you think your manners could be better.
Costa Ricans always say “please” and “thank you”. In Spanish, we address you using the more formal “usted” or “vos” regardless of your age, rather than the informal “tú” of most Latin American countries. We will also ask you for permission before entering your house… And you will start wondering if we were raised by English lords.
4. Your Costa Rican friends will talk to your other guests as if they were lifelong friends… even if they’ve never met before.
We “Ticos” are characterized by our friendliness, hospitality … and volubility. We talk to the bus driver, the baker, or the stranger that asked the for time on the street. We will always try to have a pleasant conversation, so we will be much better hosts than you yourself to your friends.
5. We will get into controversial topics… like soccer / football.
Saprissa, La Liga, Heredia, Cartago, the Barca or the Madrid: it doesn’t matter the country you are in, the “Ticos” will always know something about football and will enjoy discussing the topic. In Costa Rica, national derbies and national team matches are lived with passion. You shouldn’t be surprised if we invite you and your friends to play a “mejenga” (informal soccer match).
6. We won’t stop commenting how Costa Rica has no army and is the happiest country in the world.
Costa Rica can boast of being, since 1948, one of the few countries that don’t have any type of armed force. It makes sense too…. It doesn’t seem necessary in a country that topped the Happy Planet Index for two consecutive editions.
7. And if you start describing your recent travels… we will tell you that, in Costa Rica, it’s possible to go from the beach to the mountains, with a stop on a volcano, in only one weekend.
Costa Rica has a small territory, but great and diverse resources, thanks to its location and tropical climate. So, for a “Tico”, the idea of moving from his house to a paradisiac beach, going through a cloud forest or visiting one of the many volcanoes in his land, is not crazy and it doesn’t require much planning. In fact, that’s something you can do in relatively little time.
Río CelesteGuatuso, Costa RicaA hidden gem deep inside Costa Rica and my favourite place in this beautiful country: Río Celeste gets its aqua-blue water from 2 colourless rivers. One of the clear rivers gets minerals from a volcano. When the rivers meet and combine upstream, the color changes to aqua-blue. You can even trek to the spot where the 2 rivers meet. #unbelievable #hiking
8. Instead of “asking” for things, we might say “regálame” (Spanish for ‘give me a present’.)
When Costa Ricans buy something, we use a particular word, “regálame”, a term that could be translated to “give it to me as a present”. Of course we are planning on paying for it… It’s simply a way of speaking. Same if we want a simple object from you… we might say “regálame un vaso de agua”, Spanish for Can you gift me a glass of water?
9. We won’t be surprised with the “pretty” daisies in your backyard or how well your parakeet pits.
In Costa Rica, it’s possible to appreciate precious species of animals and plants in any of their 51,000 square kilometers. Seeing a beautiful flower in the garden or a colorful bird in your tree is not something unusual for Costa Ricans. It’s unlikely your perfectly trained parakeet will impress your tico friend.
10. Forget about getting your Costa Rican friends’ help to kill that strange bug living in the corner of your room.
Costa Ricans aren’t alarmed by the presence of any animal or insect. If a bumblebee enters your car or you are surrounded by wasps on the beach, we will tell you to ignore them, that “an insect does nothing”. We might also grab it directly with our hands and send it the other direction. Likewise, if we find a giant spider, instead of killing it, we will prefer to kindly accompany it to the exit of your house.
Kinkajou Night WalkProvincia de Guanacaste, Costa RicaOur guide showed us frogs, sloths, snakes, tarantulas, and more as we strolled through the dark misty jungle by flashlight and poncho. Awesome experience! #hiking #nature #wildlife
11. Before you take us to a party, you need to understand that ticos are “de patada larga”, we go “por el zarpe” and/or to “montarse en la carreta”.
The vocabulary of Costa Ricans is diverse, and totally different from the Spanish of other countries. When we tell you that we are “de patada larga”, it means that the party is going to be long. If we invite you to go “por el zarpe”, we expect you to go for one last drink. And if you hear us saying we are probably going to “montarnos en la carreta”, we are planning on getting wasted. With a tico, the party goes on and you’ll surely enjoy it.
12. If the party in your house lasts until the next day, the Costa Rican will wait for a good breakfast of “Gallo pinto” flavored with English sauce, and accompanied by a cup of “yodo”.
The “Gallo pinto” is a typical Costa Rican breakfast, that for you might feel is more than breakfast. The dish consists in rice and scrambled beans with English sauce, accompanied by egg, “natilla”, cheese, ripe banana and “yodo” (a cup of coffee). It’s the perfect beginning for a “Pura Vida” day.
Best Travel Credit Cards
Top offers from our partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
100,000 bonus points
The Platinum Card®
100,000 bonus points
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 bonus points