The following anecdotes depict some of the greatest sources of culture shock for me in Costa Rica. These are not meant to be judgmental, just observations of some of the cultural differences that unnerved me initially, but I have now accepted and even assimilated.
- At the Feria de Agricultor, the male vendors would call me “Princesa”, “Bella”, and “Mi Amor”. Some of them even kiss me! I totally freaked out the first time this happened! I thought that I must be so hot that these Tico men could not resist me…Until I realized they did the same for 65-year old grandmas. It is just part of the culture here.
- There are a ton of homeless pets. They clearly survive, and I am actually shocked we have never seen any of them dead on the road. But it was jarring when we first moved here.
- Punctuality is not common. At all. Deal with it or go crazy.
- Security at banks is tighter than Fort Knox. There are armed guards who will wand you before going in and one of them has a metal detector. This is because of a violent bank hold up that happened here about 10 years ago.
- You will see little kids (like 5 years old!) sitting behind the rider on motorcycles, fortunately with a helmet.
- If you want a Tico to enter your home, you will need to insist many times before he or she actually does.
- Tico children have a lot of freedom. I was pretty shocked the first time I saw children Tristan’s age walking into town alone. This is one aspect of the culture that my children have embraced and love.
Below are some movie scenes depicting culture shock. Watch and laugh.
“The Gods Must Be Crazy” is one of my favorite movies depicting a “clash of cultures” in a funny and uplifting way.
At least I did not react this way the first time someone called me a “gringa” in Costa Rica.
I vow to be a better “expat coach” than Pauly Shore. Link would have been better off had he retained my services.
Whenever you start to feel like you are at the lowest point of your expat experience, watch this poignant scene from “Lost in Translation”.