10 Worst Things About Costa Rica
What might surprise you is that many of the worst things are also the funniest and most endearing things about Costa Rica!
You can’t imagine the worst things about Costa Rica are until you get here experiencing them for yourself!
Some of the worst things about Costa Rica are terrifying, driving for example. Others are more annoying than an itch in the middle of your back, the lines. Some will make you sick to your stomach: the excessive use of vegetable oil. And, some will surprise you, like the prices.
So, if you’re going to vacation in “the Switzerland of Central America,” you’d better know what the worse things about the place are.
The following is a simple guide outlining the scariest, most annoying, frustrating, ridiculous (Tico time), worst things about Costa Rica. It will save you from surprise, so you won’t be shocked at how nuts the following 10 peccadilloes of will drive.
In a Nutshell, the 10 Worst Things About Costa Rica Are…
1. The Drivers.
2. Tico Time.
3. The Lines
4. The Invasion of Personal Space
5. The Loudness
6. Vegetable Oil.
7. The Flooring.
8. The Prices.
9. The Spanish.
10. The Ants.
The #1 Worst Thing About Costa Rica, Tico Drivers
There is no country in the world with worse drivers than Costa Rica. They are the worst at everything driver related.
The infrastructure in Costa Rica is far from third-world. For the most part, the roads excellent all over the country. And, the roads are littered with late-model foreign cars and pickups. They aren’t the worse drivers because they’re in smoking jalopies.
Ticos are the worst drivers in the world because they do everything bass-ackwards opposite of legal and rational.
In the first place, Costa Ricans are simply terrible drivers. They’re always distracted. Their heads are either in the clouds or up their… And for two, they drive terribly and distracted way too fast.
Stop Signs are a Waste of Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) Resources
Ride with a Tico and you’ll get car-sick between stop signs.
And “Stop” signs in a misnomer in Costa Rica. They don’t even consider stopping for most of them. It’s far more common in Costa Rica for a driver to blow through a stoplight during rush hour while texting with earbuds in singing “Welcome to the Jungle” in Spanglish than it is for one to drive with a shred of concern for others. Driving like shit is a way of life in Costa Rica.
Stop at a stop sign and look both ways before proceeding and the Costa Ricans behind you will start getting out of their cars assuming there has been an accident.
No Pedestrian Right-of-Way in Costa Rica
Never, ever think about stepping into the street in Costa Rica. If you must, look both ways a dozen times before you step off the curb. There is no pedestrian right-of-way in Costa Rica. Costa Rican drivers will make roadkill out of a pedestrian faster than a hill billy will swerve into a barditch to hit a cat.
And in Costa Rica, you get double the points if you hit a Gringo.
Bumper to Bumper on Trafficless Roads
Don’t even consider enjoying the view as you drive over a gorgeous mountain pass in Costa Rica.
You’d better have an autobahn grip on the wheel and fast-and-furious lead in your pedal foot or the line of Tico drivers starting six inches behind you will start passing you on blind curves three cars at a time.
But, don’t worry about road rage. They won’t honk at you for driving too slow. No, God forbid they warn you before swinging out to your left over a double-yellow in the middle of the night.
No, horns aren’t for warning someone in Costa Rica. Horns are only for saying “Hola!” And Ticos say hello! to everyone: their friends, strangers, dogs,
horses and especially beautiful women. Even the beautiful women honk at beautiful women.
On your worse day, you couldn’t do something egregious enough to get a Tico driver to use their horn in anger. It doesn’t matter what you do, your driving isn’t going to offend anyone in Costa Rica. Down here, even the 90-year-olds drive their farm trucks like a teenagers with a Camero.
2. Correction, “Tico Time” is the Most Annoying Thing About Costa Rica
More annoying than the fact that Costa Ricans are late for everything is the fact that they are so damn proud of it. They call it “Tico Time.”
Ticos think fashionably-late is fashionable on every occasion. They’re dumbfounded, truly, as to why anyone would ever be annoyed with tardiness. And, that’s just the men. Costa Rican women are far, far, FAR less concerned about timeliness than their 100% dependably late counterparts.
Ticas seem to figure an event doesn’t really start until they get there. So, “what’s the rush?” is their attitude. In the mind of a tica, “the funeral is at 1:00,” translates to, “start showering at a quarter to 2:00.”
Tico Time invades every facet of Costa Rica.
You either deal with it or you can’t. Fair warning though, fighting Tico time is swimming upstream. Costa Ricans will give up eating rice and beans before they will give up their Tico Time.
3. Actually, the Lines Can be Worst Thing About Costa Rica
Grocery store lines, lines at the bank, lines to get into the doctor’s office, lines into public service buildings, lines at the barber shop, lines at the bakery, lines at the butcher, lines at the beautician, lines, lines, line…
If you want to do anything in Costa Rica, you’d better plan on standing in a DMV-pace line.
You can start and finish the Winds of War in the time it takes to place your order at McDonald’s.
And why? Because of Ticos’ passion for pure, unadulterated, uncensored, thick, meaty, gossip. The only thing ticos like more than their coffee is their chisme.
Pardon me, there is one other thing ticos like more than juicy gossip, cutting in line. Cutting in line is a
sport in Costa Rica, the country’s number one past time. They love doing it. They do it with a smile. Ticos will look you right in the eyes and cut in front of you with a giant shit-eating grin. And, grandmas are the worse.
A Costa Rican granny’ll cut you in line with a smile and pump you for gossip while waving all her chirping little purple-haired friends up from the back of the line while listening to you complain about how Juan Pacheco’s cow, “Toro,” wandered into your yard and ate all your flowers.
There is zero respect for an organized, orderly line in Costa Rica and they are miserably long. But if you ever get used to them, they’re hilarious.
You’ll learn more about Tico culture standing in line in Costa Rica than you will touring the country for a week.
4. No Personal Space nor No Privacy is the Most Shocking Thing About Costa Rica
Get annoyed when your buddy turns into a close-talker after he has had a few pops? All the countrywomen and men in Costa Rica are close-talkers, whether they’ve been drinking or not. And they ask personal questions. And they’re all certain your business is theirs.
Ticos’ lack of appreciation for personal space and privacy takes some serious getting used to.
Standing in line to pay your water bill?
You’ll be in bumper to bumper pedestrian traffic. Bend over to tie your laces, and there will be a pileup behind you a mile long after you smash your grill into grandma’s caboose.
Comparing prices of canned tuna with your nose six inches from the shelf?
Someone is going to walk in front of you anyway.
Are you a little self-conscious about standing on the scale at the gym?
Half the town will be looking over your shoulder.
5. Karaoke is the Worst Thing About Costa Rica
Everything is loud in Costa Rica. The ocean is louder than you would expect. The jungle is even louder. And the Ticos are the loudest thing in the
country. But, it is the streets on a Friday or Saturday night that are deafening.
Walk down any street in Costa Rica on the weekend and you will hear shrill screaching and lung bellowing and deathbed moans and giving birth screams and what sounds like belches and farts being fed through a loudspeaker.
It’s karaoke night.
Every weekend night is karaoke night and every sports bar, club, casino, and restaurant with a stage has a karaoke machine.
And, Ticos love singing American music on karaoke night.
And, they must know you love listening to them sing, because they will stay on stage all night.
6. The Ladles of Vegetable Oil in Every Dish is the Grossest Thing About Costa Rica
Virtually everything on the menu in Costa Rica is fried in vegetable oil. Everything.
The gallo pinto — rice and beans — Ticos are so proud of is saturated in vegetable oil. The tuna is canned in vegetable oil instead of water. Order an egg sunnyside up or over easy, they practically poach it in vegetable oil. Steaks are cooked in a pan with vegetable oil. Fried plantain, vegetable oil.
If you think food fried in vegetable oil tastes like Pennzoil, you have two options: 1) Cook yourself. 2) Find a place that serves Gringo or European food.
Costa Rica is all about the biofuel.
7. The Single Most Uncomfortable Thing in Costa Rica is the Flooring
Because of the humidity and the mold, it’s virtually impossible to keep a carpet clean in Costa Rica.
So, most people use ceramic tiles for their floors. There is no carpet in homes, hotels, doctors’ offices, or schools. For people used to carpeted floors, ceramic and wood floors can be extremely uncomfortable. They are cold and hand on your back.
But, it is what it is and there is no way around it!
8. The high Prices in Costa Rica the Most Disheartening Thing About the Country
It is a mistake to think vacationing in Costa Rica is inexpensive.
Costa Rica is the most expensive country to visit in Central America. Everything is expensive. The cost of gasoline is double the U.S. and Canadian price. That means transportation is expensive. Quality hotels and lodging are the same prices they are in North America. Electronics are expensive. And, the price of fast food is ridiculous. Plan on sacrificing your first born if you want a footlong or some cheese in your Pizza Hut crust.
To make matters worse, there is a “Gringo price” for everything.
All foreigners pay Gringo prices. They’re typically between 25 to 1,000% higher than Tico prices. Go zip lining, you pay more than a Costa Rican. Enter a national park, there are two prices. Rafting, two prices.
Like traveling in any country, there are ways to do it on the cheap. But, in relation to other Latin American Countries, traveling or living cheap in Costa Rica is much more difficult.
9. All the Spanish is the Worst Part About Costa Rica
While a majority of the people in Costa Rica speak a little English, getting around in Costa Rica without Spanish is a chore.
To make matters worse, Ticos don’t give directions, they give locations and references. “Go to the bakery and go up (straight) until you get to the RECOPE (who knows) and go down (could be right or left, depending on the situation) to the “cake” (nope, not the bakery) and ask Jose (like there is only one in the country) for directions.”
10. The Ants
In the states, there are black ants and red ants.
In Costa Rica, there are big black ants that are harmless. There are big, red leaf-cutter ants as well as little, brown sugar-ants. Costa Rica has army ants that invade your home once a year and clean it spotless within an hour and leave as quickly as they arrive. And, there are carnivore ants that eat road kill and there are ants that…
But, the worse thing about Costa Rica is the are almost-invisibly-small black ants that hurt like hell when they bite.
*11. The Snakes
The snakes are the only truly terrifying thing about Costa Rica.
You never see them, but you know they are there.