The people of Costa Rico are called Ticos. We are meeting many friendly Ticos. Especially in the small town of Santo Domingo they are very hospitable. In the streets they all say “hola” or “buenas dias/tardes”. But… we have to get used to some of their specialties, for instance how they give directions, prepare coins carefully in the bus or walk carefully in the streets.
How Ticos give directions
Ticos seem not to have absolute addresses as we do. We may live in Spalenberg 77a in Basel. But a Tico would say: “I live 100ms west of the shoehouse Deiss across the bakery Gilgen.” Just a few weeks ago, Deiss has closed down. Now the address at Spalenberg 77a would change to “I live 100ms west of the old shoehouse Deiss…”
When I went to Costa Rica for the first time six years ago, I received the following directions to our homestay: Start at the Scotiabank, walk four blocks uphill, pass a car seller, walk up to the bridge and then turn left to follow a large paved road… But six years later, the Scotiabank building has disappeared, and people might have forgotten that it has ever been there. The road description has to be revised.
This time, our homestay is described as painted in yellow with a black gate across the old palace of justice and not far from the Colombo school. But the Palace of Justice has moved to the city center and the school has been renamed to Don Quijote. Our homestay still is described alng those lost landmarks. I am really happy that we had ordered a taxi from our school to pick us up at the airport. Non-local taxis are definitely lost with this system of addresses. Sometimes trees are used as reference points… and then they are cut down…
When I wanted to join one of the processions early in the morning of Good Friday, a friendly policeman told me to walk 100m south and 200m east. I was puzzled, but it was impossible to get another direction. Hence I went 100m south and 200m east… and arrived at the second large church of Santo Domingo. Aha! Yes, the procession has ended here, and the statue with Jesús in his green gown was inside this church, where a sermon was just about to start. Why could the friendly policeman not tell me to go to the Iglesia del Rosario? Then I would have known where to go… but that does not conform to a Tico’s mind.
Prepare your coins precisely in busses
When we drove to Heredia, I had prepared 950 Colones in coins. This was stupid, two tickets costed only 850 Colones. The busdriver mumbled something and gave me back all the coins. I started over again, giving him 500 Colones – and was about to add the rest. He throws the 500 back at me. I stop, think, prepare 850 Colones (which is the precise amount)… and now he takes my coins nodding. Why has he not just given me back 100 Colones in the first place?
And, when you have recieved directions, walk carefully…
Walk carefully, as the sidewalks end in small ditches…
… and Ticos are dynamic car drivers.