Blowin’ Through Costa Rica Like the Wind

During my recent three-country Central American drift, I passed through Costa Rica rather quickly.

Due to the overabundance of tourism causing many locals to seem completely desensitized by the sight of foreigners, and prices seeming really high after coming from Nicaragua, I decided to limit my time in Costa Rica.

I needed to make a pit stop for sanity in San José, but otherwise, a day in Tamarindo  and bus travel would be it.

In Costa Rica, the Switzerland of Central America, tourist activities have become upscale and overpriced.  However, if you stick to dorm rooms for $13 or less, markets and grocery store shopping, hostel cooking, and local transportation, then you can still get by cheaply in Costa Rica.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was charged almost $2 for a piece of delicious $1 Pan de Maiz (cornbread).  When I asked the cashier to give me the difference back, she pleasantly returned the proper change with a smile.  A taxi driver in San José tried to charge me $8 for what I thought to be about a very short $2 fare.  This is what happens when a land becomes over touristy.

People must think: Because travelers have the disposable income to travel, they must be wealthy.  Depending on one’s perception, this may be true.

Costa Rica is now a middle-income country.  That means that they’re still developing and wages are generally low compared to a developed land.  Most Ticos (Costa Ricans) still can’t afford to visit lands outside of Central America.  So, when they see ‘wealthy’ tourists, natural envy may exist.  People who often deal with tourists might try to take advantage if the opportunity arises.

With the land’s economic growth, costs in Costa Rica have risen in recent years.  It’s expensive compared to its neighbors.

It’s safe to say that the cost of living in Costa Rica is at least double or triple that of Nicaragua. The general consensus is that Panama falls between the two and I tend to agree.

Tourism in Costa Rica seems geared towards people who don’t tend to venture to other Central American lands.  They somehow have the misconception that Costa Rica is the only safe land in the region.   Heavily targeted now is the upscale tourist who’s willing to drop the same coin or more than they would back home for a resort style vacation. Costa Rica is also nice for the tourist who might treat this land as if it were an extra US state.   English education seems to be very good in Costa Rica, especially in the touristy areas.

I’m not saying:  Don’t go to Costa Rica.  It’s peaceful and the nature is lush and even stunning.  The people are generally nice.  I’m only saying that I think it’s very possible to have a more authentic experience in a neighboring land like Nicaragua or Panama. Hurry up though because these countries are well on their way to becoming the next über-touristy Costa Rica.


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