What to Expect

 February 20th, 2009 |    leavesandlizard


[u]What to Expect[/u]


1. You probably have some pre-conceptions about what your trip will be like. You may have seen documentaries, read books or articles on the flora and fauna of Costa Rica. Remember that those films and/or photographs were taken over a long period of time. The forest vegetation is thick and lush and it takes patience, a good guide and a keen eye to spot animals. We can not over emphasize the importance of a good guide to point out animals and plants in the forest.

2. Part of the fun and at times the difficulty, of traveling to new regions of the world is trying to adapt to various environments and situations. Try to look at it as a positive, interesting and exciting experience. Observe and appreciate how the people of Costa Rica have adapted to their particular environment.

3. The "Tico system" was inherited in part from their mother country, Spain, and as many "Ticos" will quickly tell you, it is even less efficient now. Try to understand and make the most of it.

4. Mother Nature may affect your travel plans. Be patient and calm, everything eventually works out just fine.

5. Part of the fun of traveling is trying to communicate with the local people. Whatever Spanish you know, use it! In any case smile, smiles are a major means of communicating everywhere in the world.

6. More people have to change their vacation plans because of sunburn than any other reason. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are direct and stronger in Costa Rica because of its close proximity to the Equator (10 degrees north). Please bring sun block and use it.

7. Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but not all are safe for swimming. Before you take the plunge ask a local!

8. Cars do not yield to other cars or pedestrians! Be careful crossing our streets.

9. Make every effort to have a minimal negative impact on the natural and human environment that you encounter and to conserve natural resources both during your stay in Costa Rica and when you return home.

10. Traveling in Costa Rica can be tiresome. Allow 3 hours to cover 100 miles (160km). Try to plan in an extra hour for road delays. ALWAYS plan to arrive at your destination before dark. Plan to arrive before 5pm at any destination. Become familiar with Spanish street signs. See the Leaves and Lizards website for more information about driving in Costa Rica.

11. Be a safe traveler. Statistically, you are probably safer from crime in Costa Rica than in your home country. On the other hand, tourists are better targets for petty theft than local citizens, in part because their attention often is focused on new sights and sounds rather than personal security.

 Leave your valuable jewelry at home.

 Wear your day pack on your chest when walking around San Jose.

 Don’t flash large amounts of cash.

 Make copies of your passport before leaving home, leave one copy at home, and take one copy with you. If possible scan your passport and email it to yourself, so you will always be able to access a copy on line in an emergency.

 Keep your passport in a safe place while traveling.

 Don’t leave any valuables in your gear in the car-ever.

 Do not accept any unsolicited help. Generally you will be fine if you are the one that asks for help. Costa Ricans are generous people always willing to assist a person in need.

 Beware of bargain guides or bargain tours. You get what you pay for. That bargain tour or guide can put you in an unsafe situation with poorly maintained equipment, unsafe, poorly cared for horses or even in the hands of a criminal.

 The Costa Rican government has a new police force specifically dedicated to tourism. They are there just to assist tourists and assure our tourists are safe and protected. Their presence in areas heavily traveled by tourists lets criminals know that crimes against tourists will not be tolerated by the Costa Rican government.

 Most of all just use common sense.

 Pubic phones take phone cards that you can purchase in many locations. Public phones are located all over the country.

12. Finally, one of the justifications for travel is that cultural exchange leads to understanding and brotherhood. Please remember that things that are different in Costa Rica, not necessarily better or worse than those in your country, they’re just different. There are ideas and attitudes in all societies that might be beneficially adopted by others. Look for them!!