Hola y buenos días a todos ustedes!!!
This is Senor Tico here (your favorite Costa Ricaadvice blogger). With the Christmas holiday quickly approaching, this week’s post will be about the classic traditions that the people of Costa Rica celebrate during the Christmas season. Like the time-honored tradition, Christmas in Costa Rica is a celebratory time of sharing and reflecting with family and loved ones.
Similar to how Americans celebrate the season (minus out all the hustle and bustle of retail shopping), public buildings are trimmed with lights and festive charm as well as private dwellings. Christmas tree are also used in Costa Rica, with families decorating them ornaments, lights, and family knickknacks. Families also make their own “portal” or nativity scene, often occupying a large space in a living room or on a patio. On Christmas Eve, the baby Jesus is had to the portal as the family head’s to midnight mass.
The celebration of Christmas starts on Christmas Eve or known as “Noche Bueno” as people visit family and friends and eat elaborate dinners such as roast pork leg, pastries, deserts, and tamales. Interestingly, tamales are a time-honored tradition in a Costa Rican Christmas, acting as a principal part of Christmas dinner. In case you didn’t know, tamales are made from corn flour and infused with many different ingredients, including vegetables, rice, onions, garlic, potato puree, and shredded meat (chicken, pork, or beef) that are wrapped in banana leaves and then tied with strings into squares before being boiled. Eggnog (also known as “rompope”), heavy with rum, is served while family member exchange presents before midnight. While most Costa Ricans are catholic, many go to their local churches for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. When Christmas day comes, mostly everyone spends the day relaxing with family, opening presents, and enjoying the holiday spirit. I hope this little knowledge into a Costa Rican Christmas is insightful for you (my readers). Who knows…maybe one day you’ll be down here in Costa Rica during the holiday season. Now that would be a treat. For now, though, I wish you all happy holidays from me (Senor Tico) and to my business family at Costa Rica Villa Concierge.
Adiós y feliz Navidad y un feliz año Nuevo!!!
SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE
Hola y buenas tardes!!!
This is Señor Tico, your friendly blogger guide to all things Costa Rica. Today I’m going to give some insight into the spoken language of Costa Rica.
Being a Latin American country, Spanish is the official (and prominent) language of Costa Rica. That being said, English is the next often spoken language in Costa Rica, which is frequently used at hotels, tourist agencies, souvenir shops, restaurants, rent-a-car companies, and airports. Additionally, you might run into people who speak Italian, French, or German has several European natives have taken up residency in Costa Rica.
Here are some common and useful catchphrases when traveling to Costa Rica.
Please: Por favor
Thank you: Gracias
You’re welcome: De Nada
Excuse me: Disculpe
Good Morning!: ¡Buenos días!
Good Afternoon!: ¡Buenas tardes!
Good night!: ¡Buenas noches!
Where are you from? ¿De dónde es usted?
I come from ... Soy de ...
How are you?: ¿Cómo estás?
Fine, thanks: Bien, gracias.
And you?: ¿Y usted?
Do you speak English?: ¿Hablas ingles?
I don't understand Spanish: No entiendo el español
Thanks very much!: ¡Muchas gracias!
Where are the restrooms?: ¿Dónde están los baños?
Liquor Store: Licorera
Supermarket: Super mercado
Do you have an English menu?: ¿: Tiene un menú en ingles?
I want…: Quiero…
I’m a vegetarian: Soy vegetariano
The check please: La cuenta por favor
I want to buy…: Quiero comprar …
I’m just looking!: Solo estoy viendo!
May I look at it?: ¿Puedo verlo?
How much is it?: ¿Cuánto cuesta?
I don’t like it: No me gusta
I’ll take it: Me lo llevo
Do you accept…?: ¿Aceptan…?
Credit cards: Tarjetas de crédito
Traveler checks: Cheques de viajero
I hope that these little essential “catchphrases” are useful for you when you travel to Costa Rica. I plan discuss more about the Spanish language in future blog post (and even some good book recommendations for learning Spanish). But for now, I’ll leave you with this.
This is Señor Tico saying: “Adiós mis amigos!!!”
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
Hola y saludos!!!
This is Señor Tico (Costa Rica Villa Concierge’s helpful blogger). Planning to head to Costa Rica, but don’t know when to travel? Let me help you make the right decision by offering some friendly tidbits on Costa Rica’s weather.
Costa Rica is a sun drenched tropical paradise, offering plenty of warmth and sun to locals and tourists alike. The climate for the country is considered to be “tropical”. But what does the mean? Well, Costa Rica is located 8 degree above the equator, thus its weather is always warm and is very “temperate” more so than North American locations. Moreover, while most of North America observes nature’s four seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter), Costa Rica observe only two (summer and winter), also known as the dry and rainy seasons. But its weather conditions during these two seasons are far from want many would expect.
The summer (or dry season) runs opposite from Europe and North America, running from December to April. Much like “snow birds” retreating south for the winter, many travelers come to Costa Rica during this time to escape winter’s blustery conditions of the northern hemisphere for a warmer climate and a few extra hours of daylight; given the tourist name “high” season. During this season, the climate, while still tropical in nature, is most dry, consisting of little to no rainfall, which causes most of nature’s foliage (trees, plants, and landscape) to appear dry or “dead”. The trade-off is that the weather is “mostly” pleasant and less humid than in its counterpart season and is a perfect time for surfing as storm swells from the Pacific Ocean create very strong and reliable waves to surf on.
The winter (or rainy season), often called the “green season” by tourists, runs from the other half of the year in Costa Rica, lasting from May to November. While the “rainy season” speaks for itself, it’s a lot less wet and rainy than many people would think. Travelers will still get plenty of sun, with much more humid conditions, but will receive frequent rainfall (mostly like during the morning or afternoon hours). With the rain constantly falling, the country’s foliage will grow and flourish, transforming much of the landscape to impressively lush and green (hence “green season”). While this all in general terms, there are some “pocket” areas in Costa Rica that will receive a significant amount of rainfall during this time (a result of the country having “microclimate” conditions). While the “high season” happens during the dry season, the rainy season is considered the “low” season by tourists.
Interestingly enough, despite the name, an increase number of travelers come to Costa Rica during this time, when crowds are sparse, prices are low, and the surrounding country is flushed with color.
Whatever you decide (wet or dry) season, Costa Rica’s weather will surely delight you with its abundances of sun, warmth, and tropical nuances during your stay.
Until next time...... this is Señor Tico
Adiós y hasta siempre!!!
We welcome you to Costa Rica Villa Concierge’s first blog post. As an introduction to this beautiful and tropical country, we would like to offer you a brief education of Costa Rica.
eographically speaking, Costa Rica is located in Central America, between the Latin American nations of Nicaragua and Panama. The country of Costa Rica, which is roughly the size of West Virginia, is divided up into seven regions: Alajuela, Cartgo Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, and San Jose (Costa Rica Villa Concierge is located in the Guanacaste region). In terms of topography, the country is diverse with a multitude of sandy coastline beaches, high elevation mountains, and dense forest jungles.
Despite the fact that people (Ticans) are living throughout the nation, Costa Rica’s ecosystem is left intact and preserves its naturalistic appeal. Hundreds of indigenous wildlife call this tropical country their home with a plethora of exotic birds, mammals, insects, and sea creatures.
Being so close to the Earth’s equator, Costa Rica’s climate is considered tropical year round with variances of microclimates conditions depending on elevation, topography, and geographical regions across the country. Costa Rica’s overall weather conditions are comprised of two climate periods, the dry season and rainy season. Naturally, the dry season, which lasts from December to April, has little or no rainfall during seasonal time period, while the rainy season, which last from May to November, and is more commonplace for higher humidity levels and more frequent rainfall.
Spanish is the official language for Costa Rica. However, due to the increase of international of tourism, there are a large number of its citizens that are moderately bilingual. English, of course, is the most common second language used in Costa Rica with popular tourist areas featuring signs in English and employees who speak it fluently. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that everyone speaks English there. It’s a good idea to travel with someone who knows Spanish or simply brush up on your Spanish (whether from a learning language books or recalling your high school Spanish classes). With life simpler and slower paced, you’ll find most Costa Rica citizens are very accommodating and patient with your Spanish, regardless how rudimentary it is.
Costa Rica’s national currency is the colón (pronounced Ka-lon-a) or known as the Costa Rican colón and abbreviated as CRC. With the growth in tourism, the U.S dollar and major credit cards are generally accepted in most towns and cities, more so in large hotels and established businesses (restaurants, stores, shops, etc). However, more secluded areas in the country or small family business / restaurants only use the colón. Costa Rican banks offer a good exchange rate if needed to convert dollars to colónes in your stay in Costa Rica.
Ever heard of the phrase “Pura Vida”? It’s a Costa Rican saying that literally means “Pure Life”. It may be used as greetings “Hellos”, farewells “Goodbyes” and to say that everything’s alright, but its meaning derives from the relaxing and slower pace life of Costa Rica. It may be a catchphrase, but for the people of Costa Rica, it’s a way of life.
We hope that this rudimentary insight into Costa Rica is helpful as we hope to see you soon in this magnificent country.