An A.M. Costa Rica reprint
Aug. 19, 2010

Costa Rica: How many ways do we love thee
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Pessimism is a frequent failing of expats when they face the unusual or the frustrating. Still most stay here because Costa Rica has unique benefits.

Not the least of which is the weather: the perpetual spring of the Central Valley, the scorching and
humid beaches or the chill of the mountains. Expats take their pick and mix and match.

There are few experiences better than strolling or jogging through the eucalyptus in Parque la Sabana after an early morning rain. Or the full-body baking in a hot pool in the shadow of Volcán Arenal. Particularly if
Pavas feria
Pavas feria
one hand is holding a frothy rum drink with a little umbrella provided by the adjacent swim-up bar.

Then there is the encounter with nature, be it a hike through a rain forest or coming eyeball to eyeball with a tiny lizard in the kitchen. Or maybe the local monkeys dropped by for a snack.

The cheap variety of fruits and vegetables is a hallmark of the local feria, but one can't beat
Volcán Poás
Volcán Poás
munching on the banana or mango the backyard produced.

Where else does the Christmas season start in early September. And the locals get two weeks off to spend the holiday with the family. It's at least another week at Easter.

Even if one is not religious, there is something overwhelming about a Good Friday funeral procession for Jesus or 2 million of the faithful hiking to Cartago and the Virgen each August.

Many expats here are seniors, and the Costa Rican society has special treatment for the golden agers. But that is true, too, for the infirm, the pregnant and the young.

And who would want to miss the excitement and appreciation of El Día de la Madre here. The fuss, the gift-giving and the respect outweigh that of the same holiday in the United States or Canada.

The ferias are good, but the Mercado Central is great, a walk back into time with traditional eating places, leather shops, clothing, footwear, roasted coffee, and all kinds of produce and meats. And how about those giant shrimp and fish the size of an expat's leg.

For real time travel, all an expat or tourist has to do is walk south of Avenida 6 into the maze of older San José neighborhoods where mom and pop stores thrive and sausage hangs in loops from the rafters of tiny butcher shops. This is where expats can find the hard-working, helpful, friendly Costa Ricans.

Thanks to the great public transportation most of the Central Valley is accessible without a personal
car, and so are both coasts just a couple of hours away in each direction. The Caribbean and the Pacific maintain vastly different and interesting cultures and possibilities.

For the stay-at-homes there is a cosmopolitan mix of restaurants, including some authentic Chinese, Peruvian, Indian and Nicaraguan spots that won't be found in any guidebook.
On guard at musuem
On guard at museum

The museums house outstanding relics of the past. But there is a town in Guanacaste where they have been making ceramics for 3,000 years, long before there were Aztec customers from the Valley of México. They use some of the same molds.

When something is not quite right, it is good to know that several world-class hospitals are available
over and above the routine services provided by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

For self-indulgence few things beat a really good and cheap Puriscal cigar and a small glass of
Kids shop for Christmas
Kids shop at Christmas
guaro to provide passage to another dimension.

Soccer fever permeates the culture, and even watching a Sunday match on the television at the local bar can cure low blood pressure.

Then there is the realization that yes, it is possible to talk in another language, and, by gosh, they understand!
Copyrighted 2010 Consultantes Río Colorado S.A.