. Many North Americans come down to Costa Rica for cosmetic
surgery and dental work, which costs about half as
much as it does in the US.
. Never leave valuables in your parked car, even in
your trunk, if you can help it. Don’t leave your purse
on the seat with the window down while driving, as
pickpockets have been known to run by and grab.
Thieves have been known to poke long sticks through windows
of ground-floor accommodations to hook valuables left in
sight. It’s a drag. Be aware.
. On a hike in the rainforest or just in nature, it’s important to
avoid snakebite. Ask your guide if he or she carries antivenom.
While in the woods, always walk with your head down
and eyes forward – especially at night. Stay on the path, wear
high leather or rubber boots, and go with a guide. No sandals
or canvas sneakers in the woods.
. To help keep unwelcome critters such as small scorpions at
bay, do not leave your clothes or knapsack on the floor, Also, be
sure to shake out your shoes before putting them on.
. Bring lots of one dollar bills to use for tips. Be generous to
guides and service workers, as they depend on tips for a living.
. Be cautious about strangers too eager to help you find a taxi, a
hotel, fix a flat tire, show you the way, or carry your bags, etc. If
you’re in a rental car and have just visited an ATM, be suspicious
if you get a flat tire. Thieves have been known to puncture
tires and, when they stop to help, rob you. Keep driving
until you get somewhere public, and ignore anyone who stops
to help (except the police).
. The expression, pura vida, which translates as “pure life,” is
Costa Rica’s unofficial motto. It is often used as a response to
“what’s up?” and other greetings, as a greeting of its own, and
as a farewell. You might yell it with exuberance after conquering
whitewater rapids or whisper it with wonder as you watch
a lumbering sea turtle come ashore to lay its eggs. If you stay
long enough, you may also hear it used sardonically as an adjective
to describe Tico tendencies to procrastinate. Or in response
to a governmental proclivity to say one thing and do
another, or to express frustration at slow progress or ignorant
thinking. Throw up your hands and say pura vida, and it
means, “That’s life in Costa Rica.”