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Adventure Guide to Costa Rica

Just in Case

All hell broke loose. ~ Paradise Lost, Milton, 1667

. Credit Card Issues

VISA, the country’s most popular card, can be reached at .001- 800-847-2911 in the States, or try their local numbers: . 506/ 224-2631 or 506/224-2731. MasterCard and American Express local office is in Credomatic at . 506/257-4744, 506/257-0155. To get an English speaker, ask for their 24-hour servicio extranjero.

. Emergencies

Dial 911 and you should get an English-speaking operator. If you speak Spanish, it may be faster to call police, an ambulance or the fire department directly. Dial 128 for an ambulance. Crimes should be reported to the Judicial Investigative Police in San José, . 506/222-1365, or, if you’re in the country, ask for the nearest Guardia Rural. To complain about corruption or government abuse, phone the Ombudsman’s Office at . 800-296-4114.

In the event of a traffic accident, call your rental company first; most have 24-hour help numbers. Then in San José call the Policia de Transito at . 506/222-9330. Do not move your car until an officer arrives, even if you are blocking traffic. You probably also have to phone the National Insurance Institute, . 800/800-8000, if your rental company doesn’t do it for you.

To reach the Fire Department, dial 118.

In the event of a medical emergency, call the Red Cross Ambulance service by dialing 128. Private flight and ambulance service: . 506/286- 1818. This is a pay-per-use emergency service.



HOSPITALS

. San José

Mexico Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 506/232-0299
San Juan de Dios Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 506/257-6282
Calderon Guardia Hospital. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 506/257-7922

. Metropolitan Area

Max Peralta Hospital, Cartago. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 506/550-1911
San Rafael Hospital, Alajuela. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 506/440-1333
San Vicente de Paul Hospital, Heredia . . . . . . . 506/261-0091

. Private San José Hospitals & 24-Hour Pharmacies

Clínica Católica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 506/283-6616
Hospital CIMA San José. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 506/208-1000
(pharmacy). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 506/208-1080
Clínica Bíblica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 506/257-5252

. Costa Rica Tourist Board

The main office is at Av 4, Calle 5 & 7, .506/223-1733, fax 222- 1090. Another office is located at Plaza de Cultura, Calle 5 between Av Central & 2 (. 506/223-1733, ext 277, fax 223-5452).

. Embassies

EMBASSY LOCATIONS

United States
Located in Pavas, west of downtown, San José .506/220-3127

Canada

Oficentro Ejecutivo La Sabana, Edificio #5, Sabana Sur .506/296-4149

Great Britain

Paseo Colon between 38 and 40, San José .506/258-2025

France,

Near the Indoor Club, Carretera a Curridabat, .506/234-4167

Germany

Near Casa de Dr Oscar, Arias, Rohrmoser .506/381-7968

Holland

Oficentro Ejecutivo La Sabana, Edificio #3, Sabana Sur .506/296-1490

Israel

Edificio Centro Colon, 11th Floor, Paseo Colon, Calles 38 & 40, San José .506/221-6444

Italy

Calle 33, Avs 8 & 11, Los Yoses .506/234-2326

Spain Calle

32, Paseo Colon&Av 2, San José .506/222-1933

Switzerland

Edificio Centro Colon, 11th Floor, Paseo Colon, Calles 38 & 40, San José .506/381-6124

Handy Hints

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want to do and then advise them to do it. ~ Harry S. Truman, 33rd US President

This mishmash of advice should make your vacation easier and more fun. Also included are some idiosyncrasies of Ticos and gringos in Ticolandia.

. Many of the museums are closed on Mondays, so plan your visits accordingly.

. Ticos don’t use street numbers. Instead, they use directions such as “100 meters south of the Coca-Cola.” It doesn’t matter that the Coke plant closed decades ago and is now a bus station. Directions are getting a bit better, but there is still the occasional “20 meters west of where they burned the dead dog,” whenever that was.

. Instead of replying to gracias (thank you) with the more common expression in Latin America, de nada (for nothing), Ticos acknowledge that favors aren’t always worth so little; consequently they respond con gusto – with pleasure.

. Friends informally greet each other with maje (MA-hey), which pretty much means an affectionate, “hey, stupid."

. Without doorbells on most homes, a strange greeting to attract the house’s occupants has developed – one that is purely Costa Rican. “Upe, upe!” is called out near the front door by vendors or anyone else who doesn’t know the name of the occupant. It comes from the 1800s, when the first greeting was a religious Ave de Guadalupe, after the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico. In typical Tico slang it was quickly shortened to “Upe,” (OO-pay).

. The English-language weekly newspaper, Tico Times, comes out every Friday and is distributed to main tourism areas around the country. It’s updated weekly online at www.ticotimes.net. A great daily website for concise news is www.amcostarica.com. You can sign up for with them for daily e-mail bulletins.

. Spanish and English are spoken by most of the people who live on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.

. Ticos often drink beer with ice. The English really hate that.

. Although MasterCard is accepted most places, and American Express accepted in large hotels, VISA credit cards are preferred in Costa Rica.ATMsare a great way to get cash without waiting in line.

. Tiny restaurants or sandwich shops are called sodas.

. We don’t smoke, but plenty of people do. Cuban cigar smokers will love the plentiful selection here – and unlike in the US, they are legally imported. Buy from a reputable store with a humidor, but don’t try to take them into the US.

. Male Costa Ricans are Ticos, while females are Ticas.

. Atitle of respect (and in many cases, affection) used frequently in Costa Rica is don for men and doña for women, instead of señor or señorita.

. Latin music radio stations pound out salsa and merengue, which is often heard playing on buses and in taxis. But you’ll find an all-English station at 107.5 FM. Rock ’n roll, of course. Super Radio at 102.3 plays oldies with a daily Beatles hour at 4 pm. Top 40 hits from the 60s on up can be heard on 99.5, and 1960s and 70s rock is found at Punto Cinco, 103.5. Intellectual talk is hard to receive at 101.3. Classical stations include 96.7 and 97.1. Radio Nacional offers classical and eclectic soft music at 101.5 FM.

. Off-season is the rainy “green” season during the North American summer. Best deals for hotels or tours are during this time.We like it because the warm rains keep everything green and because we’re cheapskates at heart.

. Mus Anni is a country-wide chain of bakery/sandwich shop/ ice cream parlors that open early, close late, and are a great source of inexpensive and filling goodies.

. Pharmacies are a good source for medical advice or doctor referrals, and pharmacists are very helpful in suggesting medications. Prescription drugs are generally cheaper than in the States. Look for a green cross in the window or on the sign.


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