Lessons Learned from Costa Rica
On living in Costa Rica.
One of the things a North American needs to learn in the Central Americas if you decide to travel or live here, is that first and foremost they are a guest of the country and subject to its rules. With this in mind, and as Napoleonic Justice seems to regulate the activity of all residents, you would think that rules apply universally……far from accurate. The appearance of a light skin seems to set off a feeding frenzy with the local business people trying to capitalize on the dollars the tourist brings to Central America. And, as such, two pricing levels apply…one to the resident, a reasonable amount allowing a decent profit for overhead and basic cost….and one for the tourist, a completely unjustified attempt to play on the ignorance of the person who obviously (in the locals mind) must have access to unlimited funds.
Case in point…the exclusivity of transport at a hotel makes any attempt by the visitor to obtain a better price for transport an exercise in futility……a taxi from outside the ranks of the hotel taxis is simply not to be permitted, although no discussion of this “rule” is ever attempted with the guest, and it is certainly not a hotel policy…..just expected.
I find this “understanding” an attack on my intelligence, and as such I won’t comply. I will walk a block and use the long lines of available taxis to get to my destination…..and the hotel gets a complaint from the van operator that his “right” to hotel visitors is not being enforced….the hotel cannot win. This attitude extends to restaurants and tourist sites….pick any country in Central America…and the tourist/visitor/prospective resident becomes just a little more hardened and less naïve over time. You must learn the rules of the game when you choose to travel or live in Central America.
The solution is simple, be assertive in your dealings with any service provider, wherever possible use the recommendations of previous and current fellow visitors and tourists when they suggest a “decent” place or price, and stand your ground on price…try an offer, after all that’s what Uncle Jack always did, whether a new car or a suit from Sears. But tourists and new residents have to be wary of Costa Rican ripoffs and tourist scams.
I am happy to live in Costa Rica, the lack of snow, permanent sun and warm temperatures are very therapeutic, not to mention the lack of a commute on the Don Valley Parkway. Bored?…not really, still lots to do as I haven’t officially retired yet.
I will continue to observe and learn from mistakes made by those who leave this country with a bad taste about the insensitivity of the residents of Costa Rica towards them….what thin skins we Norte Americanos have.