Random Notes on Costa Rica

Not to bore you all with more Costa Rica blathering. But I took copious notes while I was in Costa Rica, in fact I think I took 10 pages of notes in 5 days. (I like to take notes, can you tell?) So I’m going to share some random tidbits from my notes with you:

  • In San Jose, Costa Rica there are driving restrictions to cut air pollution. Cars with license plates that end in certain numbers can’t be driven on certain days within the city. We rented our car on Tuesday night and drove to San Jose for the night. But our car could not be driven in San Jose on Wednesday!! So come Wednesday we had to sneak out of the city without being seen by the cops (we made it).
  • The car we rented was a 3-cylinder Suzuki. It wasn’t powerful, but it got great gas mileage, even in the mountains on those crazy windy roads. The only problem with it was this it wouldn’t go uphill when we picked up those hitchhikers…we had to only go down.
  • Driving around San Jose the first night, looking for our hotel, we almost hit the same indigent crazy, half-naked woman twice. And once when we stopped for directions we saw her a third time, and she asked for money.
  • Our hotel in San Jose had a Casino across the street. Casinos are common there. Our hotel also had a homeless woman camped across the street, near the casino.
  • Just like in Mexico lots of people ride motorcycles and scooters in Costa Rica; unlike Mexico they nearly ALL wear proper motorcycle helmets (the kind that can save your life if you have a wreck).
  • Most homes have metal roofs, even middle and high class homes. In Mexico metal roofs are usually seen only on lower class homes.
  • Outside of San Jose we saw an old white-haired man holding two big bags of groceries and hitchhiking. We saw him get a ride too.
  • While we were there the average temperature was 77°F (25°C). It rained each afternoon and was sunny the rest of the time. It was perfect.
  • We saw lots and lots of wood, people used it in construction and they used it nicely. The quality of the workmanship was high.
  • Over and over we told each other “Costa Rica feels like Hawai’i.”
  • It was often hard to take a photo in a public area without getting a garbage can or recycling bin in the background.
  • We couldn’t find any dust. There wasn’t dust anywhere in any of our hotel rooms, not in the closets, not on the louvered windows or doors. We don’t know if the cleaners are that good of if there’s really no dust there.
  • We saw lots of U.S. restaurant chains, Denny’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Church’s Chicken and others. But didn’t see Starbucks, which is the only big one I actually ever set foot into.
  • We drank the tap water. We went 5 whole days without buying or drinking bottled water. We stuck our glasses under the tap and we drank that water. After 6 years of drinking only bottled water it was GREAT!
  • One day we followed a little sign at our hotel that said Catarata (waterfall). Turned out the trail was more like a mud-slide. It was serious class 5 down-climbing on mud and wet leaves. We were surprised by how hard it was but did it anyway, me in my flip-flops no less. Never did find that waterfall, though we did get to the Arenal River and had a great workout.
  • From what we could see in road cuts and such, the top soil in Costa Rica must be at least 50 feet deep! Compare that to Cancun where top soil is measured in inches when it exists.
  • We saw lots and lots and lots of people mowing lawns. We saw no one cutting grass with a machete (the way they do here in Cancun).
  • The paved roads we were on were in good shape. One day I decided to count potholes. We drove for over 4 hours that day, my count was 4, and all were in the town of Naranjo.
  • Metal window protections (bars) are common as are metal gates over driveways. People have the culture of protecting against break-ins. Not sure how much crime there is there.
  • Once we came around a corner only to find that half the road (one whole lane) had slid down the road in a landslide. There were no signs, you just had to notice in time to swerve.
  • On the main highway we saw buses stop to pick up passengers. They did not have a pull-off area, they just stopped in the right lane. They must get rear-ended all the time.
  • Every single bathroom I saw in Costa Rica was spotless, from the Burger King emergency pit stop we made, to the airport, to random restaurants, to our hotels. The first thing I did when I got to Mexico was to visit the bathroom at the Cancun airport…eww!
  • The only garbage we saw regularly in Costa Rica was flower petals on the ground…

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5 Responses to “Random Notes on Costa Rica”

  1. Scott Bulger Photography
    September 25th, 2008 11:19

    This was a great series of articles on Costa Rica Kim, thank you. I’ve been looking at retiring to Mexico in a few years, and lately, I’ve been getting more and more leery of the whole idea. Costa Rica and Belize have become real options for me, so it was great to read what you had to say about Costa Rice. I know you write it how you see it.

  2. RiverGirl
    September 25th, 2008 11:40

    Scott – I hear you on that. We were keen to retire in CR when we were there. But we were on vacation, not out to set up a home. I have no idea how difficult or easy life is there, really. But it sure is a clean beautiful country with great weather!

  3. glenn
    September 26th, 2008 10:30

    people that want good info before coming to Costa Rica should check out http://www.top10costarica.com This site covers everything

  4. Lisa
    September 26th, 2008 19:33

    Lucky hooch … Costa Rica looked really tempting. And free tickets, my oh my. Well I spent some time catching up on your blog and your daughter’s writing is exceptional. I really hope she keeps it up.

    Oh and the negative emails, etc. I think people watch and wait for us to be a lil inactive so they can be crude. I know you don’t mind ’em though 🙂


  5. Islaholictrixie
    September 28th, 2008 06:27

    Great Reports on CR. Thanks for sharing them.

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