How to live like a local in Costa Rica
The motto of Costa Rica is Pura Vida: pure life. The philosophy of enjoying every day existence works its way through every part of life in this Central American domain, from their relaxed hosting, to their friendliness to strangers.
It's what makes the country one of the happiest in the world - though we're sure that its varied natural environments and excellent chocolate also help the cause.
When blending in with local life, travellers already have a head start if they're relaxed and stress-free: not a big ask seeing as the 11-hour flight is long enough to put visitors straight into holiday mode. The rest is a matter of detail.
But to really adopt their customs and live a very Pura Vida, here are the Flexicover top tips.
Take pleasure in the simple things
There's a reason Costa Rican restaurants aren't on every high street; molecular gastronomy and haute cuisine isn't high on their radar. Instead, they take pleasure in the simple things: fresh bread, moreish rice and beans for brekkie, and succulent meats. It's a different way of enjoying foreign cuisine, so leave TripAdvisor out of the decision making and go with what suits to make life easy. Whether that's a street-side cafe on your way to the beach or a hotel meal as you drop your bags, as long as the view is good and environs enjoyable, don't worry about the fanciness factor.
Don't run to a schedule
Going with the flow has rarely meant so much as in Costa Rica. UK city life couldn't be more different - to-do lists in Costa Rica are wishful thinking more than errands to run that day. While many aspects, like public transport and medical appointments, do need prompt arrivals most aspects of daily life run to the beat of its own tune. Rather than resist such anarchy, it's best to embrace it. If you don't get served in a shop promptly, or if a friendly local strikes up a conversation though you have plans, go with it rather than stress about it.
Any lost tourist will tell you that 'ticos' (Costa Ricans) don't put much stock into street names. That means to find your way to an attraction, you'll be given directions based on what you'll encounter on the way - as in, 'carry on straight until you get to the church, then turn right and take the left before the park'. This manner of giving directions at the same time as an idea of what you'll pass is more helpful advice, as long as language isn't a barrier. Thankfully English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas, so you may return thinking street names are a relic of the past.
Treat nature with respect
Along with the likes of Madagascar and the nearby Galápagos Islands, Costa Rica is a place which depends on the delicate balance of nature. Its cloud rainforests, broad range of species and picture perfect beaches rely on humans acting as guests of the planet rather than the owners of it. A recent Happy Planet survey, which combines residents' happiness levels with their environmental footprint, found the Costa Ricans to be the happiest and greenest in the world. So if you want to be a good temporary citizen of the country - or a good permanent citizen of Planet Earth - always be environmentally conscious.
Dress to impress
Tico’s take great pride in their appearance and even informal dress is fancier than you’d probably expect. For instance, men restrict wearing shorts to the beach, while for women donning figure-hugging outfits is a social norm. Also heels are embraced - you'll see more women wearing killer shoes in a casual setting than at home. So ladies, if you were wondering whether to take that racy outfit, the answer is a definite yes. And fellas, relying on a couple of pairs of shorts and a few t-shirts just won’t cut it here!
With its amazing culture, knock-out environs and myriad activities to choose from heading to Costa Rica is a must. But wherever you choose to holiday this year it’s good to know that Flexicover is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.