Here's some common sense advise on how to get the most from your experience in Costa Rica. We hope this helps, and look forward to hosting you in this wonderful country.
1. You probably have some pre-conceptions about what your trip will be like. You may have seen documentaries or 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. Don't be disappointed if you don't see a Quetzal or Jaguar in your first 15 minutes in the Cloud or rain forest. The vegetation is thick and lush and the animals for the most part are small and shy so it takes patience and a keen eye to spot them.
You may also expect Costa Rica to be more like your own country than it really is. We suggest that you leave all your pre-conceptions at home and accept Costa Rica for what it is - not for what you expect it to be. If this is your attitude right from the start, we're sure that Costa Rica will live up to and probably exceed your expectations.
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 (hotel, food, transportation, climate) Try to look at it as a positive, interesting and exciting experience. Try to observe and appreciate how the people of Costa Rica have adapted to their particular environment - don't focus solely on the plants and animals.
3. The "Tico system" was inherited in part from our mother country, Spain, and as many "ticos" will quickly tell you, we made it even less efficient. Try to understand and make the most of it. We will do our best to make things run more efficiently for you than they usually do here. On the other hand, if we could achieve an industrialized world pace, you would lose an important part of the experience of being in Costa Rica.
4. We are all at the mercy of Mother Nature and varying weather conditions will affect roads, rivers, flights, etc. - not to mention the human factor. Be patient and calm, you'll find help with whatever problems or difficulties you might encounter.
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, because 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 much more direct and stronger in Costa Rica because of its' close proximity to the Equator (10 degrees north). Please bring sun block (minimum protection 15) and use it. Wide brim hats, and sunglasses are highly recommended.
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. 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 flashy jewelry at home, wear your day pack on your chest when walking around San Jose, and don't flash large amounts of cash. Make a copy of your passport before leaving home so you can take that around with you rather than the original. Don't leave your gear in the car, especially if it's visible.
10. Please 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.
11. 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 aren't 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!!