Costa Rica Observations

What’s Different?   The most significant differences for me thus far have been:

  • Plumbing:  It doesn’t matter what you do to try to adjust in the shower – it’s going to be COLD!
  • Plumbing 2:  Because of issues with the sewage system, one does not place dirty toilet paper in the toilet – it goes into the waste bin next to the toilet.  And don’t expect ANY toilet paper in public restrooms – BYO!
  • People live with the “open air” concept at least here in Heredia where the climate is temperate.  The windows are open all the time and there are no screens.  The occasional bug that comes by is not an issue – especially in my house where there is a very vigilant kitty!
  • Public transportation is plentiful and very inexpensive.
  • Beans are eaten frequently and are the main source of protein for many families
  • Driving:  Narrow bumpy streets with lead foot drivers passing on curves in residential areas in the midst of foot and bicycle traffic.  Stop/yield signs routinely ignored.  However, I’ve seen no mishaps thus far (maybe because I try not to look)
  • All of the houses have bars on the windows and across the front of the courtyard.
  • It seems to be common for households within the city to have chickens, roosters, parrots, and there is an even a peacock across the street.
  • When one dines out, the gratuity is already included in the bill (10%).  If service is exceptional, an additional amount may be added.
What is similar:
  • At least in the house where I am staying, all of the modern conveniences (except for plumbing – see above) are in abundance.  Telephone, internet with WIFI, security system, automobiles, household appliances, etc.  I’m thinking though, that I may be in a more exceptional situation that is the “norm”.
  • The CPI school is also very modern and well-constructed.  The employees there are educated  professionals.
  • ATM’s are plentiful (at least in Heredia) and easy to use AND they give the correct exchange rate.
  • Many places accept American dollars – the exchange rate is not quite so exact though.
What is sad:  In the United States there is an obesity epidemic with many co-mobidities, Type 2 diabetes being a major player.  In Costa Rica, as the work force transitions from manual labor to more sedentary positions, these issues are also becoming prevalent here.  All of the American Fast Food restaurants are here!  (And Wal-Mart!). Fast-Food, + Sweetened beverages (of which there are MANY) +  less exercise is a perfect recipe for diabetes.  And Hispanic populations have a higher risk of diabetes to begin with.  I see this as a major issue for the government to tackle.

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