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Almost like the village in New York !!

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. ~ 1965 musical

WHEN TO VISIT:
The high season in Costa Rica, December through April, is the dry season. The rainy season, which lasts from May to November, usually sees sunny mornings, with rain showers in late afternoon and evening. Secondary roads can become rutted during those months, and four-wheeldrive vehicles are strongly recommended. Overall, the climate is tropical, with an average temperature of 72°F (22°C). It can be much hotter along the coastal areas of the country, and much cooler in the mountains.

MONEY:
Costa Rican currency is the colon (co-LOAN). It floats daily against the dollar and can be exchanged at banks and change booths. American dollars and major credit cards are acceptable almost everywhere, except in small business establishments or hotels and restaurants in remote locations. Travelers’ checks are not exchanged as favorably as cash. If you pay by credit card, a small surcharge is sometimes added. ATMs are available in most cities and towns with bank offices.

PEOPLE:
The population of Costa Rica was 3,622,171 as of January 2000, which includes 40,000 native people who belong to eight different cultural groups. The official language is Spanish, but many of the people speak some English, a required course in all schools. Costa Ricans are affectionately known as Ticos (TEA-coes) – and you would be hard pressed to find a more friendly and welcoming culture.

EDUCATION:
Costa Rica’s constitution requires 6% of its Gross Domestic Product be dedicated to education – and as a result it has a higher literacy rate (95%) than the United States. All post offices have computers for general use, and Internet connections are also available there. Costa Rica also imports students from overseas who come to the Spanish-language schools that abound throughout the country.

RELIGION:
Catholicism is the dominant religion, as it is in most of Latin America. Consequently, nearly all major holidays are religious in nature. The government and popular culture is secular, though still conservative.

MAJOR CITIES:
San José, population one million, is the capital and cultural heart of Costa Rica. Other major cities (by population) are: Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Liberia, Limón and Puntarenas. Costa Rica At A Glance . 5 Introduction

WEATHER:
Costa Rica is a tropical country with two seasons – dry and wet. Temperature in the Central Valley is spring-like all year long. It’s colder at higher altitudes in the mountains and hotter in the lowlands and along the shore.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:
Canadians and North Americans are not required to have a visa and may visit Costa Rica for a maximum of 90 days without one. To enter the country you must have a valid passport, or a photo ID (like a driver’s license) and a copy of your birth certificate.We strongly recommend having a passport. All Europeans need a valid passport.

ELECTRICITY:
The voltage throughout the country is 110, the same as in North America. However, three-prong outlets are scarce, so bring along an adapter if you need one. Travelers with appliances set for 220 will need an adapter that changes the voltage and allows for use of a different plug.

TIME ZONES:
Costa Rica is on Central Standard Time, six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time and one hour behind EST in the States. It does not currently use daylight saving time, although the idea has been considered.

HEALTH:
No shots are required, but we always suggest having a Hepatitis Ashot as a precaution. The water in the major cities of Costa Rica is safe and most hotels and restaurants offer purified tap water. You might prefer to drink bottled water (agua purificada) or seltzer (agua mineral) to be sure. Costa Rica has excellent, low-cost medical care and well-qualified practitioners. Many North Americans come to Costa Rica for cosmetic surgery or dental work.

SAFETY AND CRIME:
Costa Rica is a safe destination for 99% of its tourists, but it’s always a good idea to exercise caution whenever one travels. In general, the country has a low crime rate, but in recent years there have been increasing instances of tourists and expatriates being robbed, as well as several murders. Additionally, most eco-adventures involve some sort of danger, so be sure to use less testosterone and more common sense when deciding on your level of participation in these activities.

THINGS TO BUY:
Choose from coffee and coffee-related products, reproduction pre-Columbian jewelry, craftily carved wooden boxes, attractive Chorotegan pottery, leather goods, hand-painted art (on bird feathers), guitars and other musical instruments or painted oxcarts. There’s also an abundant selection of clothes and crafts imported from Panama, Ecuador and Guatemala available.

DRIVING OR RENTING A CAR:
Rental cars are expensive, but a good way to see Costa Rica outside of San José. You should buy all the insurance offered – and then some. Drivers in Costa Rica are maniacs – worse than Bostonians – and, for a non-confrontational people, very aggressive behind the wheel. Combine that with unpredictable road conditions and there can be “awkward” moments. Drive very cautiously. In rainy season, make sure that you rent a four-wheel-drive auto. Think mass transit – buses are a good alternative and very reasonably priced, or ADOBE RENT A CAR rents cars with a chauffeur.


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