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Telephones & the Internet

Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you pick up?
~ caption in a New Yorker cartoon, James Thurber, 1894-1961

The telephone service in Costa Rica is very good. Even so, cell phones are ubiquitous. You’ll see them attached to the belts of men and women everywhere, probably because the phone company (ICE) takes such a long time to install land lines.

. Phone Calls

Early in your stay it is a good idea to get a phone card that will enable you to make calls from public telephones. You’ll find it especially handy in case of an emergency. Cards – called tarjetas telefonicas – are sold in units of 500, 1,000, or 3,000 colones at lots of little stores known as pulperías. There’s a computer chip inside them that keeps track of your monetary credit. In very rural areas, where there are no public phones, you can often phone within Costa Rica from a store or hotel and they’ll charge you (not a lot) by the connection time.

To reach the US or Canada directly, dial 001, then the area code and number. To charge with a calling card, dial: AT&T, . 0800/011-4114, MCI, . 0800/012/2222, or Sprint, . 0800/013-0123. For international collect calls, dial 175; local directory assistance, 113; or international directory assistance, 193.

If you plan to call home a lot, consider buying a “Servicio 199” card from the local telephone company office as it has lower international rates than your American phone service.With these you can dial home directly. To call Costa Rica from the US, dial 011, plus the 10-digit number (all Costa Rica numbers begin with 506). This is an international call.

. Getting On-Line

Internet connections are available (but often slow) at a fair number of San José area Internet cafés and in a few hotels. Outside of San José you’ll find cybercafé connections in tourist areas, college towns or larger cities. However, in every post office, large or small, there is always at least one computer hooked up to the Internet. Pay in advance for a card with a set amount of time from the postal counter and sign on using the code on the card. It’s a way many students in poorer rural areas are able to be a part of the cyberspace generation.

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