Not a day goes by that I don’t chuckle or marvel at some behavior or action I’m doing and compare it to my old life in The States. On the surface, Costa Rica doesn’t seem that different from North America, but successfully living here requires little adjustments and new skill sets. There are tons of things I have learned in Costa Rica that I never imagined I would ever need or want to know. So far I have learned:
1. The best methods for using water out of buckets and bottles for drinking, cleaning, and… bathing.
2. The busiest biting hours of sand fleas.
3. Tiny ants are everywhere.
4. Tiny ants don’t taste bad.
Actually, you ate like ten of them.
5. The exact length and width of my car, with and without the side mirrors folded in.
6. Best strategies for driving through wet and dry river beds in a 2WD or 4WD vehicle.
7. Tires can be glued back together. This service only costs $2.
8. Alternate ways to express the innocent and popular US saying: “I’m excited.”
(Hint: it’s not the direct translation “estoy excitado”)
9. How to lie my way out of saying “no” in order to be polite.
10. Hot sauce and guaro go really well together.
11. Fruit has seeds, some are quite tasty.
12. You don’t have to throw away the whole fruit just because a bug ate part of it.
13. Living in harmony with spiders inside the house is quite possible.
14. How NOT to prevent birds from attacking a house.
15. How to deter aggressive street dogs.
16. Things will fix themselves if you wait long enough.
Can you relate?
Let’s add to this list. Tell me, what new skills or knowledge from Costa Rica or Central America have you surprised yourself with?
What a beautifully unique post! I’m a blog junkie, and what you have done here is really very creative! Congrats on making me (and I’m sure many others) smile.
BTW, termites taste like wood. Who’da thought?
I haven’t knowingly chowed on termites, but I can tell you that tiny ants are kind of spicy … or maybe that is just them biting my tongue :/
Ha! The bug thing YES! I am in Belize…what have I learned…that I CAN eat rice and beans every day for months at a time.
ha oh yes me too!!
We are living in Costa Rica as well! We have learned that same list and I actually did a similar post. Some of the other things I have learned are…that you say Adios whenever you pass by somewhere or someone, landslides and washed out roads are real…I live in Nuevo Arenal and we just had a huge part of the road wash right away, also learned that there is nothing wrong with children under 1 sitting on the drivers lap…I guess they start teaching them early here and cicada’s or chicharas are so annoying and its pretty incredible that they live underground for their first 12-15 years before they come out for 2 weeks to mate and die! Those are only a few of the things we have learned living here over the last 11 months! Last but not least this is one of the most friendly cultures I have ever come in contact with and even with all the things we’re not use to we love it here and wouldn’t change a thing!!
Great additions! I grew up with cicadas in the southern US so I don’t even hear them. It’s amusing to imagine what it’s like to hear them for the first time lol. Send me a link to your post – I’d like to check it out!
There is another post just below that one labeled This and That
This post is great! Love the pictures and the captions too very creative 🙂 I learned how to ride bikes Guanacaste style, doesn’t matter if there are three people and only one bike, they’ll fit somehow haha!
Thanks! haha on the banana bikes right? awesome 🙂
I love your images/graphics Erin. I really appreciate the yum, yum, yum, yum one! Always a good time reading your stuff.
Thanks Kim! I had a lot of fun making it 🙂
Super Super post and yes we have learned all of the above about Costa Rica that’s what makes it fun
Thanks! It is a fun adventure 🙂
That is one HUGE pothole! Great post, Erin!
It got bigger! That was “el hueco.” I mean, they are all huecos, but that was EL hueco. It shut down the PanAmerican highway for a couple of weeks, they put a bailey bridge over it, then the bridge collapsed, and 6 months later they finally fixed it.
Love this! We just got back from another trip to Costa Rica and got to experience a few of these. Can’t wait ’til we move there!
I think y’all’s upcoming move is the most documented and anticipated ever. How much longer do you have now? I’ll have to check that out on your blog…
Hahahaa Funny!!! I’ve met people who say “ants are good for your eyes” and continue eating! I I wonder if its true…an ant a day keeps glasses/contacts at bay??
What?! I’ve never heard that. Maybe I should eat more, my eyes are terrible…
The The Triangle is Safety: I understand the exponentialness of the Richter scale in an intimate way and I know how to find a triangle of safety quickly.
ah the Richter scale – great addition!
The triangles of safety – how do they really determine where they should be? I worked at a school last year that had the safety zone next to an extremely steep hill with giant boulders the sizes of cars. My students and I felt so unsafe and were wondering if the big parking lot that was not next to the hill was safer or if maybe they deemed it likely to crumble into the river? I just hope there is some science involved in determining those spots!
I just sit down on the floor with my back next to a piece of furniture: a bed, a kitchen countertop, the dining table. The theory is that when the ceiling comes down, it’ll hit the furniture before it hits you. And if the furniture collapses, it’ll still leave a space for your head. At least that was the theory last year. Each time the rescuers search the rubble after a big quake, the theories change. We’ve been so lucky here in CR with so little damage and injury after our recent movements. And maybe we’re good now for 50-75 years.
That’s kind of my strategy – get under furniture… except when there isn’t any… then I ride it out in the bed. meh. pura vida.
I once saw a refrigerator in an extremely large pothole in Tibas. I always wondered who had an extra refrigerator…
Best filled pothole story ever!! A refrigerator? That’s hilarious!
I love the exact largo and ancho of my car…how true!
Hillarious! Love the graphics Erin 🙂
Thanks Roy! Good to hear from you! 🙂
So, I just heard a fun fact about ants while we’re on the subject. Apparently, the weight of all the ants in the world is comparable to the weight of all the humans! I have no reference for this but I want to believe!
Boy that would be cray cray if that were true and then one day all the ants realized this and decided to form together into human shapes. And each human shape was modeled after a real human and the ants would make their human shape mimic each human that it was modeled after. …At first I got creeped out by that thought until I realized maybe I could finally get an intern.
Ha ha! And I would send the ant-version-of-me to my work while I have fun with my fam in CR!
Oh yeah, my thoughts exactly! And that intern would have all the best physical features along with the power to communicate directly to your brain. No need for small talk.
Great list! The quantity of tiny ants that appear out of nowhere just about everywhere is one of the first things I noticed on my first trip to Costa Rica. I still find myself sort of fascinated by them now that I live here! I saw that same fridge in Tibas! One of the main things I have learned is how to avoid potholes and gently drive over speed bumps of all sizes without even thinking about it. I’m still working on maintaining a Zen-like attitude while driving…
I’m still fascinated, too. It’s amazing to see how quickly they come and go. Sometimes I will leave a drop of something on the counter just to see how long it takes for them to clean it up.
Funny that you mention speedbumps – my friend and I were just driving home from the pool hall and commenting on how we didn’t have to slow down for all but 2 of the speedbumps in our town anymore because they had worn down.
To achieve a Zen-like attitude, it really helped me to get super pissed and attempt to yell at other drivers. THey would mistake my aggressive hand gestures for kindness and smile and wave and ask me to please pass in front of them, which really broke down my anger. So maybe hit bottom first? 🙂
Fixing broken water pipes that always occur on Sunday when the hardware store is closed. I keep various sizes of pipes, fitting, sandpaper and glue on hand.
always on Sunday haha, well at least you are prepared!
ARMY ANTS!!! Get the hell out of the way and let them do there thing. It’s pretty scary when a two foot wide patch on them invade your home,but they eat all the other bugs. Don’t try and stop them cause they bite!!!
wow! I don’t have that problem up in the trees. Where do you live? Do you have photos of that?!
One more thing …they will always answer “yes” but then, they won’t pick up the telephone, or answer your email or simply arrive at the apointment. They are amazing, you have to learn it or you will get angry every single minute in this country
You are so right, I actually dedicated a whole entire post to that: 3 Ways to Say No in Costa Rica Without Actually Saying “No”
And for me, even after I learned that, I still have days when I just want a straight answer!
The ANTS. They are ubiquitous in any unpaved surface.
shoot, my ants love tile. And wood. I guess those are unpaved surfaces, though. Interesting…
lol these are all soo true! had about 12 ants with breakfast today.. and sliced off the bug eaten part of a mango and ate it haha
love your pics!
Really fun post — love the graphics on the photos! Man, that’s one huge pothole!
Thanks! Believe it or not, that hole got a lot bigger. It shut down the Pan American highway for weeks. It’s affectionately known as “hueco #1” because we now have a hueco #2 on another highway o.O
I just loved this post. I am Costa Rican and I was very amused to discover that the little things that are **so unnoticed** for us are so new for the expats living here. The only thing I hate from your list is “El Hueco”… well, I hate all huecos.
On the other side of the coin, in my first visit to USA I was deeply suprised that a friend of mine in San Diego, CA was so worried because in the super market I took some fruits with my hand, gave them a gentle squeeze to check consistency and smelled them to choose the best ones. He was like “Noooooo!!! here we don’t do that!!!”… and I was like “Ehmmmm so…. how do you select your fruits here?” and he replied back that they didn’t selected them, they just buy them. Huh.. my mom would be dissapointed if she knew that all my tropical knowledge about fruit selection that she taught me was useless in an “all preselected” market.
Hey Carlos! Thank you so much for the comment. I hate all huecos, too.
I’m surprised your friend said to not touch or smell the fruit – maybe they do things differently in San Diego. On the East Coast, and in San Francisco, it’s OK to touch the fruit. I even found some good papaya in a market in San Jose, California and I tested it by sticking my thumbnail into it – just like my Costa Rican “mom” taught me to do 🙂
At the Bay Area farmer’s markets (ferias) you are even allowed to test the food by eating it!
I did have a funny experience once with a Tico visiting me in South Carolina. We went to a Best Buy and he started to open some packages to test the product before he bought it. In that case, it was totally not acceptable. You can’t open things in the store! You have to buy, then test, then return it if it doesn’t work. He thought our US method didn’t make any sense at all. I guess it depends on your perspective because I don’t want to buy a package that has already been opened! haha 🙂
oh no no no…. opening things before buying them is very bad mannered for the vast majority of us. I have seen that practice, but fortunately it is not common to see.
I will keep in mind the Bay Area markets next time I visit San Francisco.
This is so cute! It definitely made me smile 🙂 remember that you can live in peace with other animals as well, like cockroaches, lizards, and bats!
8. Alternate ways to express the innocent and popular US saying: “I’m excited.” hahahah
Haha, I love your post! My husband and I recently moved to Costa Rica and I can definitely relate. Our ant issue played with my head for the first couple weeks. Now I’m pretty used to them. I’m also used to “sharing” my food. LoL. It took me a little while to get over culture shock (read by blog) but after a couple months of being here I’m starting to adapt and have fun. =)
What kind of fruit is that on point number 11?
Grenadilla! A type of passion fruit. So yummy!
OMG #8 so happened to me when I studied abroad in Heredia 10 years ago. I barely spoke Spanish and was from North Carolina so had a country accent at the time. The professor was sitting down with each student on our first day to assess if we should be in spanish 1 or spanish 2 class. Please note he was also recording the session. He asked me how I felt about being in CR and I assumed most spanish words were like english words and said “OH SOY MUY EXCITADO!!” He immediately stopped the recording and said “ayyy nooo chica” and explained to me what I had actually said. I was mortified and it became a running joke. Anyways I came across your blog as I am 31 and planning to get out of the rat race and all the traffic in Southern California and move back to CR to focus on my last year of grad school (I currently am trying to balance full time grad school and full time job at a startup) and it’s too much stress. The happiest I’ve been was when I was in CR. I’d love to pick your brain sometime (your last blog about about why you’ve been quiet) really resonated with me. My goal is to be there by October of this year 🙂 chat soon. x
hahahaha I think we all make that mistake at some point. 😀
When were you in Costa Rica? It’s changed a lot in the last 5 years.
I came back to visit a couple years ago..I was expecting it to be totally different (i.e. big high rises at the beaches, tons of tourists), but surprisingly it wasn’t that different. We started off in San Jose and went back to I think it’s called El Pueblo? The area with all the bars that I use to party at when in college 🙂 Then we went to Nosara and I fell in love all over again. Because of the dirt roads it still seemed like the old costa rica that I remembered. Although on the way there narcotic cops with machine guns stopped us, made us get out of the car, give them our passports and searched our cars. I was freaking out a little inside,,but then they gave us back our stuff and let us go..don’t remember that happening when I lived there..then our last stop was monteverde and it didn’t seem to change much – went on the same zipline that I had done 10 years ago. I am sure some of the popular towns such as tamarindo, manuel antonio,etc have become way more touristy. I just read your post about leaving..bummer! But it sounds like we are in a way switching lives…I am moving there from Southern California and you are moving back to Southern California. I’d be interested to hear why others are leaving CR as well..if you have any other advice..I’d love to know..thanks for the response!!