17 things I hate about Costa Rica

I don’t mean to have a longer “hate” list than I do a “love” list, but when you come to a new country, you have to expect a number of things to bug you. Sadly, I’ve ended up with a few more than I’d like. But that’s okay. It’s expected, and it’s part of adjustment to a new home. Still, they make me long for Canada, where I find these things don’t bug me as much.

(Though it might be fair to say that some of them would bug me pretty much anywhere.)

And just so you know, I’m not speaking out as a disgrunted ex-pat who wants to bitch about how this country isn’t conforming to me. I’m the one who needs to conform, and there are things I simply have to accept. Some of these things are purely my points of view, and are probably things that most Ticos don’t mind, and might even like.

Superstores / American Chain Stores

It seems impossible to go anywhere in this world and truly escape America. (So far, the only place I’ve been is Mongolia.) Even here, fast food chains are abundant (you already know about the KFC influence), which includes Taco Bell. Why on Earth anyone in Costa Rica would gladly choose Taco Bell over any number of local Tico restaurants is beyond me. And I don’t get the KFC thing, no matter how hard I try.

Beyond fast food, there are chain superstores here that are not only modelled from American stores, they are owned by them. Wal-Mart has a significant presence through its Más Por Menos (grocery), Hipermás (think Wal-Mart in Spanish), and EPA (think Home Depot) chains. Apparently, they own 70% of the market. At least in Canada (and the US) there is more competition. Here? Only Más por Menos has direct competition (Auto Mercado and Mega Super).

Yes, I do try to go to the smaller stores and to the markets … but sadly, there are times when you simply can’t avoid the bigger chains because — just like back home — they crush their competition out of existence.

Traffic

Take every traffic law you know, and throw it out the window. No, I’m not just talking about my incident with a u-turn. I’m talking about a place where the lines on the road, traffic lights and signs, and even common sense are basically ignored. Speed limits are not suggestions — they’re just decorations at the side of the road. Snarls are not common, they’re constant (when there is no snarl, you wonder what happened elsewhere to keep people away). You don’t just honk your horn at someone who did something stupid, but also for “hello”, “goodbye”, “passing on your left/right”, “look out”, “let me in”, “hey!”, and “what’s the special at the market today?”. It’s a whole conversation in a single sound.

You either drive agressively here, or you never get anywhere. You have to be fully aware of what’s going on around you at all times. It’s daunting, even scary. It doesn’t help when pedestrians also try to run in front of you. If nothing else, it does force me to be always aware, and not rely on the assumptions that others know how to drive — which is the danger in Canada, especially when people start driving like assholes.

And lest ye drive too aggressively, you might have an accident. Unlike most places in North America, where you pull yourself over to the side of the road (at least when it’s possible), the law states that you have to remain exactly where you accident occurred until the police and your insurance adjuster arrives. Yes, you are imagining correctly what traffic looks like when an accident blocks a lane (or an entire highway).

Motorcycles

I’m amazed that more of these putzes aren’t splattered all over the roads. In North America, most motorcyclists treat themselves as the equivalent of cars. Here, they weave in and out of traffic in patterns so erratic and unpredictable that I’ve nearly hit three of them. (Considering how little I drive, that’s significant.) They don’t wear helmets (they’ll wear them just on the top of their heads, which serves no purpose if they’re flung off, or they carry them in the crook of their arms!), they drive like maniacs, and I’ve seen more than a few of them ride with young children on the front of their bikes. I would love nothing more than to run some of these morons off the road and take them permanently out of my misery.

Corrupt Police

Again, not so much about the u-turn, as it is about police pulling gringos over and trying to scare them into paying money to the cop to make whatever trivial error they committed go away. I don’t care if this is something that evolved from centuries of Spanish rule. This is just a level of human depravity that bothers me a lot. You look to the police as a force to help keep the peace, protect the innocent, and maintain some form of order. With all the things I hear about crime, it makes me wonder if the police do anything to help at all.

The Roads

The odd road gets repaved every few years. Otherwise, it’s just a mess of potholes. And missing manhole covers. Lanes that end without warning (sometimes into ditches and/or telephone poles). Realigned one-way roads that really make no sense whatsoever. A complete and total lack of road signs, so it’s quite easy to get lost if you’re not paying attention (Mark got smart and bought a Costa Rican-programmed GPS).

And did I mention that some of them flood easily?

Add to that the issue of the Panamerican Highway — Route #1, the main road from one end of Costa Rica to the other, which goes (quite literally) though San José. This is a highway that around the capital area goes from 4 lanes to 2 lanes, as a result of narrowing at bridges. No, the bridges have not been expanded, and it causes binds.

For whatever reason, few roads are actually straight. In Canada, we’re used to roads going in a straight line for great distances — longer than the country of Costa Rica. It’s pretty quick to move about there due to all the flatness (generalisation, I know that BC is fairly hilly). Here, it’s rare to find a straight road, and going over the mountains here is a windy, hilly experience. Hence why going a mere 100 kms can take over three hours. At least like in Canada, they measure in time, not distance. But it’s for a different reason.

Pollution

Costa Rica advertises itself very well — it’s very green, very lush, and it’s an environmentalist’s paradise. The truth is much dirtier. Garbage is thrown out of car windows. Many of the lauded Blue Flag beaches have lost their blue flags due to fecal choliform. No recycling. Buses and trucks belch out enough exhaust to make Beijing look clean. I’ve yet to see a stream in this area that doesn’t look like it’s running with a million nasty chemicals or various forms of garbage.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love it here, but trust me when I say that things don’t look nearly as green when you look more closely. And no, I’m not holding up Canada as a shining example of clean — witness the oil sands to find out how bad things can get.

Everything Takes Longer

Things you expect to take a day take two; a week is a month. “Mañana” is heard often, and all it really means is “when it’s ready”. One of the nice things of Costa Rica is the laid-back attitude. The flip side is that things do not happen quickly, and that can be really frustrating. This is a cultural aspect of life here, and I’m fully aware of it. I don’t fight it (anymore) — you can’t. Trying to fight it is like trying to move a lake with a small stick. While I don’t fight it, it still drives me batty.

Higher-Than-Expected Cost Of Living

This isn’t directed so much at Costa Rica as it is at those who thought moving here would be a financial boon to me, that I would earn so much more money down here. Well, lemme tell you a few things:

  • My rent is USD$2,000 a month. And yes, I could find cheaper, but refer to my above statement about crime. With my baby, I’m not taking chances — we’re living in as secure a facility as we can get.
  • Gasoline costs between $1.40 and $1.50 per litre. It costs USD$80 to fill up our car. (For the record, I support higher gas prices, as they force the issue of less personal vehicles and better public transit.)
  • Gringo-ised areas. Where we live, there are a lot of gringos and gringo influence. Hence higher-than-usual prices. $5 coffee? No problem. $40 dinner? Easy. $10 hamburger? Without breaking a sweat.
  • Familiar foods, such as cereals or imported tastes do not come cheap. A small jug of maple syrup? USD$30. Yes, you read that right — thirty dollars.

That’s not to say that everything here is expensive. You can find cheaper prices, but you have to know where to find these things. And it’s a big trust factor for gringos to go into some places that most Ticos wouldn’t think twice of. It’s adjustment, I won’t deny that. But it’s a tough thing to handle.

That said, we’re not bad off right now. Alex is able to stay at home with Mi Pequeña Niña and we’re able to do things. But I don’t know if we’ll be able to have as much freedom as we’ve experienced in these first two months forever…

But still, please stop telling me that living here is great for my finances. It’s just not true.

Noisy Neighbours

We live in a fairly nice complex, but my downstairs neighbours have their sub-woofer turned up way too loud, going sometimes to 23:00 in the evening. And they’re not the only ones. I know this is part about living in a condo complex (it’s why I didn’t want to buy one in Canada; and living in a house is far too cost-prohibitive), but come on, people, it’s not a stretch to realise that if you think it’s loud, others will think the same, too.

I’m told that this is a cultural thing, too. Not so much the noise as the joie du vive that exists in most Spanish-speaking countries. People stay up late, well into the early hours. I don’t hate that part per se — I suppose I just dislike not being able to do it myself, and the lack of consideration for people who have their lights out at 22:00 every night.

The Beef

There’s no easy way to say this: Costa Rican beef sucks. I’ve eaten Canadian beef for almost my entire life, and Alberta produces some amazing beef. Down here, though, it’s stringy and tough. You need a sharp serrated knife to go through a steak down here, and about an hour to chew it. I think it’s the type of cattle that are used. But either way, unless it’s ground or you know a really good cook (which Javier does), the beef is hard to eat. I’ll be waiting until I get home for my next rib-eye.

Government Monopolies

Costa Rica is replete with monopolies, again due to the Spanish model of government set up hundreds of years ago. The worst is ICE, which is not just the electric company, they also handle the cell phones, television, and internet systems. Technically, there are other companies involved (RACSA and Amnet), but ultimately this all comes down to ICE. It’s why the cell phone network here sucks, why it’s hard to get your own phone number at home (Ingrid, who’s lived here most of her life, took a year to get a line at home), and why the internet goes up and down like a yo-yo.

Finding Low-Sugar Drinks

I don’ t know what it is, but Costa Rica is hooked on Splenda. It seems to be in everything that’s “low sugar”. When you try to go to fruit juice, some idiot adds sugar to it. (It’s APPLE JUICE, man, it does not need any sugar added!) And heaven forbid you buy something in a plastic bottle — chances are it’s from the US, which means it’s full of high-fructose corn syrup. Even many of the milk products here are like that.

Although one good side: Coca Cola (“Coke regular”) is made with cane sugar, which is the original recipe. I think Canada Dry Ginger Ale uses it, too. Both come in glass bottles, and taste a lot better here than they do in Canada.

Electrical Outages

I love the storms, but we’ve had 30 or so power outages since we arrived. (Note we’ve only been here about 60 days.) It’s so bad I’ve had to buy a small UPS for our networked storage so we don’t lose any more data (I think I lost some songs in our music library when one of the disks when out of sync from a power outage.) It’s particularly fun when the power goes out at the office and everyone loses their work.

Air Conditioning

Can someone please tell me why air conditioning needs to be turned up so high? It’s not as bad as Panama (that was extreme), but here it’s still insane. Two degrees cooler than the outside is a good rule of thumb, folks.

Lousy Public Transit

Despite the fact that most people here can’t afford cars and have to take the bus, the bus system sucks. I don’t know why, but that’s all I’ve heard. When you’re warned not to take the bus, that’s a sign that it’s bad. I might complain about Calgary Transit, but I’d still recommend it over driving. Here? I’d rent a car.

Poor State Of Sidewalks

The sidewalks mirror the roads: missing grates (complete with several-foot falls if you’re not careful), cracked, broken, ending abruptly, or altogether missing. Being a pedestrian here is sometimes risky, especially if you’re pushing a stroller. And where sidewalks don’t exist, people tend to run across roads and highways. There’s a reason why some places are marked with a heart and halo — a place where someone died.

Guys With Shotguns

I’ve never gotten used to this, and I never will. Again, due to the aforementioned crime, there are a lot of armed guards. Ever seen Armed and Dangerous? It’s not a comedy … it’s a documentary. Down here, there are guys I wouldn’t trust with a potato gun wielding something that could easily blow my head off. Someone tell me how this is supposed to instill a sense of security?

84 thoughts on “17 things I hate about Costa Rica

  1. When a country misrepresents itself the way CR does the world deserves to know about the tactics used to lure foreign investors here so more people don’t end up broken and desolate. Other than that I agree with you if you don’t like it leave which is what I plan to do when I am legally able to. However people should be able to change their minds about living here and be able to return to their home countries without losing everything. Unfortunately that rarely happens in CR. Also women who move here need to understand that they are not respected here and contrary to the claims made by officials womens right are not enforced. Especially if you are a foreigner up against a greedy Tica who had your husbands baby. So make sure you have your own lawyer who has some morals and a work ethic. Pura Vida…

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  2. Trust me, I WILL be as soon as I am granted a divorce…….marriage is not slavery anymore… well at least not in most countries….

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  3. I am confused as to why you people detest Costa Rica but come to visit our country despite your hatred of my country. Specially this woman Sarah Western who evidently shows hostility towards my people and my country. Myself am a lawyer in SJ and am appalled at your disrespect for our country and can say that in order for you to be restricted from leaving our country, you have done some thing bad enough for a court to do this to you. You say for Costarricense are irresponsibly yet you accuse every one but you for the trouble you have. In what area of Costa Rica are you staying Sarah as may be the laws are unique in that part.

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  4. @ Tatianna Valverde, Thank -you for your concern, although I have very good and respectable lawyers working with me and they are frustrated also. I will await my day in court if it ever comes. After close to 2 years I am starting to wonder???? The Costa Rican lawyer at the consulate told me that there are many people here that are restricted to leave or are awaiting a trial date that hasn’t been set yet in preventative prison. It is normal protocol. The court can judge me and no-one else. The consulate also informed me that the legal system here is ultimately effective but slow. I admit I should have done a lot more research and visited here more in depth before I moved here, I have learned my lesson.

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  5. To inform you correct I would have to tell you that what you have levied against you is called medida cautelar and these are not given to any person with out reason. I am having difficulty understanding your situation and I think your lawyer need to be honest by advicing you that if you have medida cautelar against you a judge has all but decided on your guilty. Where you from Sarah? I am positive you have medidas cautelares where you come from but in english it is injunction.

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  6. Luckily, my lawyers here are some of the most honest people I know and have proven so time and time again. These cases have been going on for years and also involves civil and family court cases as well. I am confident that when ALL the facts from both sides are presented with the evidence this will end quickly. I will let my lawyers know of your concerns.

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  7. That would be good for you to understand as that is very serious for you. I would normally wish you luck but that is difficult concidering I am Tica and you evidently do not like Costa Rica or my people.

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  8. I’ve closed comments on this article, as it’s turning far more into an argument than for any useful conversation.

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  9. I have wanted to visit Costa Rica for more than 10 years. I was very disappointed. I am still in shock at the expats who charge American prices, brag about living for 40% less than in the states, and also feel comfortable mentioning that they manage to “stay under the Costa Rican government’s radar” in terms of how they run their businesses. I have visited 29 countries, Iraq is 29 on the list and CR is 28. There is a huge gap up the list with many other countries standing side by side as favorites.

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  10. I have to say that not every country is perfect this is for 2008 and now its 2011 , i really hope that you went back home and not live in costa rica anymore … what a tragedy you have living in such a awful country like costa rica…
    I am 100 % costarican and i love costa rica even with the awful part.. but if i were you and hate where i live SO much i just pack my bags and go home …
    So i SERIOUSLY hope u are back home and not sucking up our beautiful wheather and costarican ´s money …

    Thanks

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    1. Hi Karol,

      Yes, I’ve since moved back to Canada. If you had read my other entries and comments, you’d also know that while I still stand by my original post, I’ve also come to terms with the realities of living in another country. For me to rant about “things I hate” is an extremely ignorant approach to trying to understand life in a new country. I have similar rants about Canada, for the record, and for every amount of what I considered “bizarre bureaucracy” in Costa Rica, there’s just as much “inane and self-serving politicians” up here.

      Thanks for your comment!

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  11. How entertaining. I just came across your “rant” for the first time and chuckled when I read that your frustration culminated in your hasty departure from the unbearable hell in which you found yourself.

    everything on your list can be ameliorated( could have been), even the beef. Did you try the imported beef from PriceMart? Perfectly adequate usda choice, quite delicious when aged properly. The rest of your list was covered by your other contributors

    I must say that you may have missed out on the best things about this country and the possibility for a privileged and delightful lifestyle unique to a place like Costa Rica.

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  12. Hey Geoff,

    Have to agree with most things. I spend a lot of time in cars. I’ve been here and found that you quickly adjust to the way traffic works here. Sorta like living in New York (traffic during rush hour).
    What I miss the most is the meat. I totally agree. However, during this semana santa ironically, my roommates found a spot in san jose that reminded me of eating steak back home. Man do i miss a thick T-Bone steak. This place came pretty close. When I have to time I will post it up again.
    I get more bothered with the fact that huge American chains don’t really help the locals here. There is no nutritional value with eating a fast food restaurants and just to look chique and say you are wearing American branded clothing people will go out to buy which leads to the next comment.
    If you know how to look you can find very good clothes for cheap. You just have to venture outside the norm. Some clothes store seem ugly but picking out a pair of pants or t-shirts that you liked in a cheap store over time accumulates to having a pretty cool wardrobe.
    Cops are corrupt just know that there is a way to make them know you know how the system works and they will get off your case. Hopefully the monopolies will soon be out of business as competition moves in with globalization and free trade commerce treaty during the Arias administration.
    Everything does take too long but if you live the Tico lifestyle you lose the anxiety you get in a large city like in Canada or United States. I came from Boston where everything moves quick only because people always have something going on. I see it as the difference between living to work and work to live. I definitely find life here more relaxing thus anything that takes too long… i just relax during the process. Its a state of mind.
    There are no street signs but you learn to get around without them. Buses are pretty easy. If it heading towards your neighborhood than the other way is heading towards San Jose. Easy as that. It is pretty efficient. I like the bus system here very much. I actually recommend it. I don’t know why you have people tell you otherwise. My recommendation for your bus stop however which would be near the coca cola in San Jose is just watch your back at night. The area is shady but there is always people around there. You should feel safe in numbers. Cops are everywhere. Aside from transit cops being corrupt (Not all) the fuerza publica I feel does their job pretty well. The OIJ is pretty effective. Unfortunately, delinquency prevails due to the lack of stronger laws that punish the perpetrators. My impression from the news is a lot of criminals get caught and arrested. It’s the judicial process that lets them off the hook for another day of mischief.
    I have lived in Costa Rica for two years, half of that time in a not so friendly neighborhood but have never been robbed or felt unsafe to a point where living there was unbearable. All have been in Tico neighborhoods. I have a longer lists of “likes” than “dislikes”. Enjoy the simple things in life and once that is your focus everything else becomes pleasant. Originally I was also disappointed with life here so I relate to every single thing you mention above and more. It certainly isn’t the case anymore.
    I would like to see a future post on how life has improved for you here. I miss home a lot and become very nostalgic but I can definitely see myself living here for the rest of my life and visiting every now and then Boston. Or maybe living there and here.
    Expectations should not be to find a place better than home nor to eventually decide you don’t want to leave but definitely to find a practical way to enjoy life here.

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  13. Canadians shouldn’t be allowed access to the internet – they’re basically like really nerdy Americans with no culture of their own, so they ape ours and criticize “box stores” and “high fructose corn syrup” like stuck-up hippies…and Canadian ex-pats??? at least the locals may not know how big a loser you are, but I do…

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  14. Wow…you really need to delete this last post from this really rude guy. I started off at the bottom and it wrecked the whole site for me. He’s just being needlessly mean and offensive…

    I was going to move to CR but have decided not to move to SJ after reading all of these posts. I’m having serious concerns about moving there, in general. I would not be pleased if my funds were taken or stolen or if I was subject of illegal police activity. If I do move to the area, I’ll be sure to keep my funds at a Canadian bank.

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    1. Hey Jo,

      There are some people — myself, included, when I first wrote this post — that look(ed) at Costa Rica VERY negatively. The problem, mostly, is North Americans who have moved there and expect Costa Rica to be like where they came from. This is the same issue that crops up with most places that aren’t like their home. It takes some getting used to, and some people never truly make the transition. Others do, and then can never go back because they can’t handle the uptight superiority complex common with most North Americans. Live abroad — you’ll either love it, or appreciate home that much more.

      As for San Jose, there’s lots of places around San Jose that are safe. Yes, the police are “crooked” by North American standards, but that’s largely due to the centuries-old Spanish patronage system (the government can appear similarly crooked for the same reason). There are definitely ways to combat that, as well. As a general rule, anytime you think you’re being extorted by a cop (which I was at one point), get your Tico friend (if you have one with you) to get you out of it, or ask to go to the police station to resolve the problem. Cops only try that on their own — they don’t like sharing. 😉 Oh, and don’t make u-turns. Trust me on that.

      Frankly, I’d say “go” anyway. If for no other reason than the experience. It’s totally worth it. And if you don’t like it — as some do — there’s always the option of going back.

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    2. Besides, I also refuse to be the Idiot Whisperer. So long as a comment isn’t outright abusive (taunting doesn’t even register on my radar), I’ll leave it. I just won’t acknowledge it as being in any way valuable to the conversation.

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  15. If you are moving to costa rica….there are some simple rules you should live by……1. keep your money in your pockets….you dont need a lawyer for alot of things use the internet…..2.have a bank account in the states or your home country with an atm, move to a place like santo domingo heredia. 3, dont pay thousands of dollars for rent…600.00 is almost to much…4.dont try to live like you did in your home country..5. dont go where trouble is….and dont be in the streets at night….6. the cost of food is high….make a budget…7. the meat does suck….eat anything but the beef….8. traffic…if you have a car make wise choices where and when you drive…..leave your car at home some of the time…9 want to buy things cheaper….catch a bus to a nearby country or miami……I get all my expensive items that way….its a good break and shop in panama…..10. you dont need a lawyer for residency……do it yourself……11. safety adt is here to….get some locks and make your home safe…12 get a dog..if your affraid….get a big one……13. if you dont bother the police……they wont bother you….14 if you drive on a trip….drive by the speed limit….or you will pay in some way….ticket or payoff….15. want to see the country…catch interbus….it safe,no problem with police and you will have a good time……16. sign a lease for only one year and dont pay the asking price,,,and keep looking.17. want a cheap vacation…go to another country….there are cheap flights to all nearby countries…I hope this helps alittle…..In closing, knock on wood…..I have lived here for over five years…yes its diffrent….but I dont play the game……then Im not so bitter….besides….I have lived in the US for over 50 years and have gotten screwed there enough also……good luck

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  16. If you have any questions…..I will be glad to help……one final thing….keep your money in your pockets………….leave or rings at home…….and you will be ok……the only problem i have had is being board…..but that happens in the US also……good luck everyone and peace

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  17. lived here for 25 years……costa rica is awesome, once you speak spanish fluently.

    LEARN THE LANGUAGE PEOPLE!

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  18. The comments here have turned nasty (I’ve deleted the last two to remove an unnecessary argument), so I’ve closed future items.

    In short, yes, I did have issues with adapting to Costa Rica. Everyone moving to a new country will. Period. This was merely commentary to friends and family back home to help them understand.

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  19. Geoff, please read this post very, very carefully and if you want to give me a response it would be appreciated. Keep in mind, I’m person with an odd and unusual mentality and perhaps you will misunderstand some of my ideas and you can even feel upset about something.

    I’ll start with a question. Why you, a Canadian, a person born and raised in a highly developed country and which is acclaimed to be one of the loveliest countries in the world would want to live in a third world and terrible country like this one? I don’t see the point. It’s like sitting in a table and having the opportunity to choose between a complete meal in one side and a chicken bone in the other and pick up the bone.

    Foreigners tend to be… “dazzled” (sure, let’s call it like that) by the pictures they find of Costa Rica’s nature. For them, that’s enough reason to move to this country, some for vacation and some with the idea of moving permanently, completely ignoring the current and deplorable situation of that country. Of course, after such an unpleasant experience it’s not surprising that some of them will end with a total hatred towards Costa Rica. So, the Costa Ricans have nothing to argue and defend if even they have suffered by multiple situations while living there. Amusing, Costa Ricans posting negative reviews about their own country.

    Think! Think for a second. All the things you posted as “14 Things I Love About Costa Rica” are in relation with nothing else that nature, period. And what did we have here, in the list of things you hate?

    Problems of transportation, security, an abysmal economic difference from those who’re wealth and those who live in complete misery (the first case leading sometimes to corruption and the second one to high percentages of delinquency) and a distressing globalization, which in any case have “attacked” all the countries nowadays. You showed the country where I born as what it really is, a little devil disguised as an innocent creature he’s not.

    That’s why people, you should read the post made by this clever man very carefully. He knows what he’s talking about, if he found those seventeen things as bothersome experiences, you probably will suffer them and some of them will annoy you very quickly. Nevertheless, don’t get the wrong idea that Costa Rica is like hell, because it’s not. Besides, there’s no perfect country in the world, right?

    I lived there until the age of sixteen and now I’m living in Norway (and I think I’ll do it for the rest of my live, this country is simply great). I love my natal country, I really do, but I can’t hide its problems and showing it as a perfect paradise when a person asks me if he/she should visit it.

    Now, Geoff, if you were so kind. What can you tell me about your country? I’ve always wanted to visit Canada since I find it very interesting and to be honest, I would rather live there than in USA. Thanks in advance.

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  20. I’ve lived in CR for the past 8 years. I’m a gringa from Manhattan, and now I live in a rural area where there are NO Americans in my immediate area.

    I agree, the beef sucks, the roads suck, the driver-especially motor cyclists are a hazard. My biggest pet peeves here are the way animals are treated. I have rescued a total of 20 dogs since I have been here. I found homes for many, but I have 9 CR dogs along with my American dog I brought with me. I feed and water daily 5 of my various neighbor’s dogs. I also feed and water my next door neighbors horse, who is in a tiny pasture with nothing to eat and no water source and the owners only come out to the property on the week ends to ride this poor guy. That’s number one on my list, the way animals are treated, both wild and domestic. I also hate the RTV that is mandatory each year for car inspection. Talk about a scam! I’d also like to why when I’m the third person in line at an ATM, I have to stand in that line for at least 1/2 hour. What the hell are people doing in there? It takes me less than 2 minutes to get in and out. Of course I’m not standing in there talking on a cell phone, or letting a 5 year old try to work the ATM. I get very frustrated with service people. I took my power washer in for fixing one year in June and was told it would take an hour if I wanted to wait. I told them I would be returning to the town a month later, and would pick it up then. July, August, September, October, finally I got angry and told them I was going to pick it up regardless of it’s condition. They then told me it was fixed, but of course it wasn’t. I do have an excellent vet (which is the most important thing for me). Racsa, ICE, Seguro, Sky t.v., I go through lawn guys and maids frequently because none of them work that well. I also find the more you do for your help, the less they work. Things are getting a little better with the help since I stopped driving them to the store, or paying for their kid’s braces, or taking them to somebodys funeral, etc. Where I’m living now, the Tico’s around here that do labor just have no ambition. My other big pet peeve is garbage. People liter- kids, adults, they all liter. Every morning I have plastic bottles, potato chip bags, once even a dirty diaper in my driveway.

    That said, I do love the weather, taking photos of the wild life around here, and there is lots of room to ride my horses. With the exception of the animal abuse, I have gotten a lot better about dealing with the way things are here. I’m the stranger here, so it’s up to me to conform or move on.

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  21. Costa Rica,, what a shame,,,first of course when we write we dont mean everyone…
    a more superficial culture and place couldnt possibly exist… by the way i got out….anybody writing anything nice about anything other than the weather must be trying to sell or promote something…i lived out in the mountains away from people on a back to nature kick.. i am very self sufficient … builder, mechanic, electrician plumber etc..and i was a single male who had lived all over the world and in some poorer places…if you enjoy getting drunk smoking cigarettes and living with nothing behind bars..or standing guard over your stuff 24/7 youll enjoy yourself….the pollution of food and ocean and rivers beneath all that beautiful green is horrible…the ticos are self-centered immature lazy people with no care of anything but whats momentarily available to them.. i swear they cant think 10 minutes into the future…the only effort put out is trying to figure out how to do something with the least effort … everything thing is so half assed its incredible…they only care about what people that they dont know think about them..or even worse they only care about what they think other people think about them…

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  22. a one room school house out where i lived where the young children went to school ages 6 to 9 from 7to 1 then the older kids went from 1 to 6.. well i found out all the kids were being stuffed in together from 7 to 1 and was shocked to find out why… because the light bulb went out… many of the childrens parents were wealthy farmers with cars and horses and major property….but no one who buy a lightbulb ..
    because that person who be the sucker to all the others who didnt… the thought of what was best for the children was not as important as what they thought others would think of them….the same goes for picking up trash or fixing a washed out section of road…i can give lots more stories that dont seem possible….one of my favorites is going into to the farmers market on thursday to buy supplies while driving along the road had a small stand and he had some nice big pineapples so i was going to entertain some friends the next night i thought i would hollow them out and make some nice big drinks.. i knew he would give me the gringo price and i could get one almost as nice at the farmers market for half the price but im not cheap i dont mind paying for something i want…so i bought my supplies in town and driving back i stopped to buy the pineapples ( he had eight of them) sure enuff he tells me over twice the normal price at the market and i dont care i think he wanted 600 colones and at market i could get them for 200-300 granted these were bigger ones.. so i give him 5000 colones 8 x 600 4800 and tell him 200 more for him and start loading the pineapples and he starts freaking out ..i dont understand whats going on figuring he was trying to get even more money out of me… another vendor near by came over who spoke some english and explained to me i could only buy 5..and was handing me back 2000 colones 5×600….but i had at least 10 people coming over i was already 2 short but i guessed a couple would be just beer drinkers so it would be alright….so i said i need all 8 and he said the man would only sell me 5 so i pulled out another 1000 and said here is a 1000 each for the last 3 the vendor was visibly shaken and upset and just keep saying no…so the other vendor explained to me that he couldnt sell me the pineapples because then he wouldnt have any to sell and it was only 11 am and he worked (sat) there till 5 …Costa Ricans consider thinking Effort they do the same thing the same way over and over…he sat there everyday from 7am to 5 pm and could not think about getting more pineapples or doing something else to better his life is some way….. i understand ignorance is bliss… But i should mention i have 2 children with my tica wife and got out of there as soon as the first dna test came back ..being raised by parents who wanted a better life for their children i knew i couldnt stay there.. i knew i couldnt do the whole home school Mosquito Coast thing…..i have to go down once a year now and have tico inlaws here in the states only a few hours away… so i watch and listen to them sit around the kitchen table or talk on the phone and repeat the same conversations say after day…beauty is only skin deep to the enth degree….being paranoid or complaining gives them the ability to just sit there….. I understand growing up surround by the uneducated that you dont see people put out more effort and get better … if you put out effort your just a sucker…. alcohol cigarettes gallo pinto and soccer and novelas….thats it for them they get there music and novelas from mexico or columbia…there is no costa rican culture ….you should see what they do with roundup and poison on their own property…forget about what they are sending of to be sold… they fish (for river shrimp crawdad type things) in streams using poison and sell them to restaurants….forget about the crime there is enough talk on that.. i can tell stories of being robbed and drugged….and like i said i have lived all over the world in worse places.. so i am street smart…the cowshit and poison and septic that runs into rivers and then the beaches is crazy…you cant trust a single person down there because they cant trust a single person around them….i would crawl miles over broken glass just to have an intelligent conversation with someone…go for a vacation to white water raft or the beaches down by Dominical Uvita area,,, hotsprings and Volcano near Arenal if your lucky to get a clear couple of hours to see it…be careful renting a vehicle (4×4 a must) .. if your thing about living there rent for at least a year and even then your crazy to buy anything…
    in costa rica unless your way out away from people then you have to live in a prison while criminals walk the street…. the best saying i ever heard is a bumper sticker that should be the countries slogan.. COSTA RICA WE MAKE EASY HARD…

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  23. Funny rant…oh I can relate. Things that are amazing like monkeys…at five am howling outside my window…not so great… Beautiful tropical storms fascinating, no power for 12 hours…not so much. Of course every cloud has its silver lining and obviously if you disliked Costa Rica you wouldn’t live there. Nothing wrong with venting frustrations in a clearly humorous way. I also have taken public transit, delays due to random holidays, trees in the road, or a flat tire have made short trips unbearable. Will I still use the bus system, why yes because it’s cheaper then renting a car. I enjoyed your post and also I have heard to buy Nicaraguan Beef. Cows are raised differently there of a higher standard. Worth a shot right. 🙂 -Daniella

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  24. Wow, I so agree with the comments ex expat posted. I have a love/hate relationship concerning CR. My husband immigrated to the US when he was in his late twenties and we met and married a few years later. The whole, “Costa Rica we make easy hard,” basically sums it up. The same conversations over and over and over again, crappy roads, and property over there is a pain in the rump. Glad to know I’m not the only one who loves and hates the place all at the same time. Sigh, but we are headed there again next month to see the progress on our house and listen to his huge family argue over who owes who money…hoorah, I’m looking forward to it already.

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  25. Okay, I’ve closed comments on this post.

    Why?

    Because it’s turned into a bitch fest.

    Hypocritical of me? A bit, yes. I can’t avoid that. But let me be a bit more explicit on my reasoning.

    First, yes, when I wrote this post I was still adjusting to life in Costa Rica. It was very different to what I was used to, and there were a lot of things that truly bugged me. (On a related note, I could very easily write a post with at least as many issues about Canada.)

    Second, I wrote this post mostly for people back in Canada to help them understand what life in Costa Rica was for an ex-pat. Everyone seemed to think I was living on a beach and doing nothing all day but drinking cervesa in the sun. Reality is usually quite a lot harsher.

    Thirdly, I was not trying — IN ANY WAY — to put down Costa Rica. It’s a wonderful country with wonderful people. I will gladly go back for a visit. I still have friends there. I will harbour fond memories for many years to come (especially now that the stuff that I didn’t like has faded out).

    News flash, folks: anyone moving to another country will have issues with it, because it’s NOT the home they remember. That’s humanity for you. And yes, I *do* actually think that I have an idea of what it’s like to live elsewhere, moreso than 99% of the North American population who’ve never left their home for more than two weeks of a sheltered and highly-pampered vacation. Did I succeed in a permanent move, no, but 18 months is no mere vacation, either.

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