Land and Culture
One of the special pleasures of traveling and living in Costa Rica is that no matter where you go, you will meet ‘Ticos’ going about their lives in traditional ways. Therefore, it’s important that you know something about these people and that you respect their culture. The more you know, the easier this can be. Costa Ricans are accepting of the cultural transgressions of foreigners, but they are also very appreciative of attempts toward understanding and respect. They will not tell you that you have made a „faux pas“ – after all, you are a guest – but when a succession of gaffes occur, they may assume that it’s normal for foreigners to be rude and insensitive.
There are two general guidelines to help you in all situations. The first is simple, be observant and take your cues from the behavior of the locals around you. The second is more difficult for foreigners: „slow down“. We are constantly in a hurry and tend to get right to the point. This is not the Costa Rican way. For ‘Ticos’, interpersonal relationships, rapport, respect, and a smile are more important than the business at hand.
Always take things slowly, calmly, and in a friendly manner. Even major disagreements must be handled this way. It can be tough, but if you remember to watch the interactions around you and practice slowing down a little, and accepting their „reality“, you’ll get along better with your hosts, and you´ll enjoy yourself more.