After eighteen “fun-filled” years of living in Costa Rica, I’ve had an opportunity to witness many differing social norms in Tico Society, from that of my native Canadian Society. I’ve commented on many of these differences in my many previous blogs on this website, with my characteristic lack of political correctness and sometimes, with a slightly irreverent tone, as the circumstance may dictate.

One of the most consistent societal differences that I’ve witnessed, is the general lack of will power (fuerza de voluntad) by those in authority, to enforce regulatory offences, Municipal By-laws and minor traffic offences being good examples. Generally, enforcement varies between lax to non-existent. Enforcement of traffic offences tends to pick-up around Christmas time, as it presents an opportunity for the Transit Police to supplement their annual “Aguinaldo” (Christmas bonus) payment that they are entitled to receive by law.

However, Sundays and Statutory Holidays present a unique opportunity to carry-out illegal acts, particularly as they relate to the infringement of Municipal By-laws, with virtually no chance of facing any regulatory sanction.

On such days, you will see roadways being dug-up by ordinary citizens to make unpermitted water connections to a new house, or other building under construction. Likewise, it is possible to witness ordinary Ticos, with, or without electrical, or other technical knowledge, climbing-up utility poles and on roof-tops, engaged in making illegal electricity, telephone, cable TV, and internet service connections to their residence, or otherwise. Albeit, these activities do tend to take place more in the poorer rather than the more affluent neighbourhoods and sometimes such activities end with disastrous consequences to those involved.

Another common infringement of Municipal By-laws carried-out on such days is burning to clear land, when it is otherwise prohibited.

This happens frequently throughout the Country, but probably more so in the Province of Guanacaste. In Guanacaste, these purposely lit land clearing fires often burn out-of-control, causing many unintended and expensive consequences in the form of damage to neighbouring properties.

These, of course, are all well established practices in Costa Rica, with the Authorities seemingly quite willing to “turn a blind eye” with respect to instituting any practical forms of sanctioning to prevent their continuation.

On the “flip-side”, I’m not going to complain too loudly about these practices, as it is all part of a general Tico Societal attitude, that allows us all to live a more free and relaxed life-style than in our native over-regulated and enforced societies, such as the U.S. and Canada.

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Richard Philps
Attorney Richard (Rick) Philps is a Canadian citizen, naturalized as a citizen of Costa Rica. Rick practiced law in Victoria, B.C., Canada as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, for fourteen years, prior to moving to Costa Rica in 1998. Rick then earned his Bachelor of Laws and Licensing Degrees (Civil Law), with Honours, and a Post-Graduate Degree in Notary and Registry Law, from the Metropolitana Castro Carazo and Escuela Libre de Derecho Universities, in San Jose. Rick is a member of the Costa Rica College of Lawyers, and practices law in Costa Rica in the areas of real estate and development, corporate, commercial, contract, immigration, and banking with the Law Firm of Petersen & Philps, located in Escazu, a western suburb of San Jose. To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney, please use the following information: Lic. Rick Philps - Attorney at Law, Petersen & Philps, San Jose, Costa Rica Tel: 506-2288-4381, Ext. 102; Email: Website: