Three months of las vacas (vacation) in Costa Rica! Probably any person´s dream come true, these few months led me to experience Ticolandia like two sides of a coin: Tico style and Tourist style.
Tico Style: For three months we rented a house nestled in back of a quinta and effectively lived as ticos. We cooked on a parrilla (tiny electric burner), washed our laundry by hand and hung it up outside to dry, kept our place clean (okay, our clean standards maybe aren´t the highest), and handwashed dishes. Our main priority in said lifestyle was economizing. We only paid $125 per month per person including utilities. Internet was a splurge at $10 per person per month.
Food was almost completely tico. Gallo pinto, plátanos maduros, and as many fresh vegetales as we could carry from the farmer´s market. We probably spent $50 per month per person on food. Our best deals included 5 mini pineapples for a dollar and 6 lbs of tomatoes for $2.
Without any traveling, we spent less than $200 per month per person. Living like a tico in Costa Rica is waaay cheaper than living like a gringo in the USA. That said, is is essential to point out that the standards of living here accommodate cheap living in a way that North American standards can´t or refuse to accommodate.
We did a very modest amount of traveling. Several trips were dedicated to exploring San José, one trip was hiking in Poás, and one day we enjoyed roller coaster rides in El Parque Diversiones. (Tico roller coasters, just like ticos themselves, are small and intense. Coincidence? I think not.) IFSA travel insurance did not cover us during the break and we decided not to buy separate insurance, so we played it safe and didn´t tempt fate by spending an excess amount of time outside of our casita, or little house.
Tourist Style Lucky gringa that I am, my parents flew down and rented a beach house just south of Jacó. 10 days we spent lazing on the beach, getting lost in our little rental car, wandering through souvenir shops, and being charmed by the vast array of wildlife. The casita had amenities I hadn´t used in months- air conditioning, a real mattress, television, a washing machine, and even an oven. Of course, the best part of the week was just spending time with my parents.
After living in Costa Rica for 6 months, it was strange to see it though the eyes of a tourist. Although I translated quite a bit for my parents, my skills were mostly unnecessary. The touristy towns of Jacó and Quepos are equipped to handle wide eyed gringos and their monolingual habits. Even more impressive is the menagerie of tours just waiting to take dólares. Even the ticos themselves seemed different. Perhaps resulting of dealing with gringos, ticos working in the tourist trade seem faster, grumpier, and more direct. Just as I have accustomed myself to living pura vida, it seems the tourist trade has had the opposite effect on the locals.
Here are some pictures of Jacó and around-