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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.