A couple weeks ago I listed out a few things that I fell in love with during our eight month stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. All those things are true and lovely, but as with all things life offers, a little bad always comes with the good.
While the things I fell in love with far outweighed the things that drove me crazy, this is real life here. It’s not always roses, rainbows, and mojitos on the beach. I will always love this country; it was my “first.” The first place I lived outside of the US. And like another type of “first,” it came with a little awkwardness, a little pain, but a whole lot of “I can’t believe I’ve waited my whole life for this!” 😉
Here is my list of 11 things that drove me absolutely crazy while living in Costa Rica:
Tranquilo was #1 on my love list too. It was one of the most beautiful lessons I learned. Be calm, be chilled, just rest in the now, don’t let life send you into a frenzy, be patient, etc.
But HOLY FRIGGIN TRANQUILO, BATMAN!
I never knew chilling out could make me so anxious! Sometimes everything in Costa Rica felt way too tranquilo. Everything would be ready “mañana” which really meant maybe it will be ready tomorrow, maybe 3.5 weeks from now. Waiting in line or waiting at the bank took about half your damn life.
If they just replaced 1/8 of their tranquilo with 1/8 of the U.S. frenzy – I would have been a happy lady.
Big swelling orbs of itchy pain in 20 spots all over your legs, feet, and arms. Need I say more?
Groceries were very expensive, much more pricey than we anticipated. Plus it was hard to find some quality items. We struggled to find berries of any kind, most avocados were as hard as rocks, and cheese was more often “cheese product.”
“Weed? Blow?” = The anthem of our neighborhood walks. Every. Single. Day.
“No, mi amigo – no weed hoy, no weed ayer, no weed mañana. No weed,” I’d reply.
Keep in mind, we settled in a touristy town. The locals knew that the tourists wanted to have the full experience, so they were probably just being hospitable in their constant offering of weed. And if nobody would take the weed, they would offer cocaine: hospitality at its finest.
In the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, rainy season stops about mid-November. Once the rain stops pouring, the dirt roads get quite dusty. To combat the billowing dust, Costa Ricans lay a thin coating of molasses over the entire road. Eventually it hardens into an asphalt-like substance. Until that time your shoes, feet, bike tires, and dogs if you have them are covered in the gooey sweetness.
The first whiff or two is pleasant and reminded me of gingerbread cookies, but after a couple hours of baking in the sun, it simply smells sickly sweet. Like the dying gingerbread man.
6. Fake Deals
In our experience, there is no such thing as a true combo deal in Costa Rica. Sure, you could order a #2 at the burger shack: burger, fries, and a coke. But when you’d add them altogether, it was the exact same price as buying them al a carte. This seemed to be true in the grocery stores too.
The driving rules in Costa Rica are more like guidelines. Good Lord Above. I had to drive through the capital city, San Jose, one night by myself. I thought I was going to die and bring a few locals with me in a fiery accident. And I grew up blazing down the highways of Las Vegas, NV. I’m no wimpy driver.
You can stop whenever you feel like it. Park wherever you’d like. Walk down the road whenever feels right. Speed. Swerve. Pass. It’s a free-for-all!
8. Lack of Road Signs/Addresses
Costa Rica does not have traditional addresses. It’s hard to imagine how an entire country survives without an address system, but it does. It also does well without road signs, though Kyle and I didn’t fare too well without them on a particular road trip.
Yes, many of you probably saw all my beautiful beach, sunset, and vegetation photos. But you missed this gorgeous sight. I think the trash people may be to busy tranquilo-ing.
10. Lack of Culture
I really missed culture. Theater, concerts, galleries, museums, readings, architecture, etc. To be fair, I never thought I could get these things when we moved, but I didn’t realize how much I miss cultural events once they were out of reach. At about 3 months in, I truly started craving a good rendition of Wicked.
I’m just gonna put it out there: there are a lot of smells in Costa Rica. Aside from the trash issue, there is a little bit of a waste problem. This little area was particularly nasty at times. Yes, it was mostly water, but it simply smelled like shit. Literal shit. And after nearly 8 months of living there, you honestly start think: God, I hope that’s not mine. Glamorous? Hell no. But you’re only going to find brutal honesty here, my friends.
Whatever you do – do not allow these 11 less-than-pleasant things keep you away from one of the most beautiful countries with such lovely people and amazing sights!