If you retire in Costa Rica understanding the people’s humor is an importing part of adapting to the culture. When I fist came here 33 years ago many ticos explained to me that everything in Costa Rica is “un gran vacilón” (a big joke). This term comes from the verb vacilar which means to have fun or enjoy oneself.Because of this the the locals seem to know how to really enjoy themselves much more than north Americans. Ticos seem to be more event oriented and enjoy the moment where as we are time oriented. Hopefully, some of this joie de vivre (enjoyment of life in French) will rub off on retirees who relocate here.
There is a possible bad side to this vacilón attitude. My Costa Rican son thinks the Ticos’s penchant for having a good time is why a lot of things do not get accomplished or delayed here because everyone too busy vacilando or having a good time to take things seriously.
Here is an example of Tico humor or vacilón attitude.
Laura Chinchilla Miranda is the current president of Costa Rica. Her disastrous presidential term ends with the election in 2014. She actually has had the lowest popularity rating of any Lain American president according to recent polls. There are several candidates who are the frontrunners to succeed Chinchilla at this time. Johnny Araya the long-time mayor of San José is the favorite. However, José María Villalta of the left-wing Chavezesque-like Frente Amplio appears to breathing down Araya’s neck.
Now I will explain the humorous title of this article.
Laura Chinchilla’s husband is 79 year-old Spanish lawyer José María Rico Cueto. Together they have a teenage son. Ironically José María Villata of the opposition Frente Amplio Party has a wife by the name of Laura Chinchilla who is expecting their second child. The Ticos are having a field day vacilando about the fact that the candidate’s wife has the same name as the president of Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica we call a person who has the same as another a tocayo (male) or tocaya (female).