Pre-departure I had been told certain things about Costa Rica and Ticos (Costa Ricans). Notably, that everyone in Costa Rica runs on Tico time, following the mañana approach to life. With this laid back outlook, I had expected some delays in meal times and departure times. However, when breakfast was served nearly two hours before the meeting time, I started to question the extent of people who followed this supposedly country-wide schedule. This punctuality was actually a result of a different expectation I had of Tico’s, which seems to hold true. Tico’s have a lot of pride in their country and a strong desire to make Costa Rica an attractive destination. Our host-mother was simply leaving ample time to show us unsafe areas to avoid, convenient bus stops, and when to cross the street.
The largest gap I have found between my expectations and the reality of Costa Rica is the language barrier. It was pretty naive of me to think of English as a universal language, but having never travelled to a place where most people couldn’t speak English, I had not imagined I’d have to speak in mostly gestures. This realization while inconvenient, has not held me back yet. If anything, it’s prompted me to look into understanding more basic Spanish and make more friends on the trip who know proficient Spanish.
When it comes to the overall appearance of Costa Rica, I expected to see a lot of diversity in plantlife as well as greater coverage of plants throughout the city, compared to Pittsburgh. While exploring the central parts of Heredia, I found this expectation to be fulfilled for the most part. Amongst many of the public benches, fountains, and statues, foliage of all with different appearances could be found with just a little searching. This finding has been one of the many pleasant things about this country so far, and beyond the beautiful greenery there are even more inviting Ticos waiting to share their country with us.