Rico’s TICO BULL – What is considered normal in Costa Rica and other countries in Central and South America, but not accepted as normal by may Americans and Canadians?

The following list is a generalization, though, so obviously doesn’t apply to all Americans and Canadians.

  • Not being able to pay a bill by mail (send in a cheque). In the past, you had to go to a particular business to pay a bill, now it can be paid online or at the supermarket, but no check in the mail.
  • Not being able to receive mail at your home, six days a week.
  • Not being able to send mail from your home, six days a week.
  • Not having Amazon Prime.
  • Knowing that even if you order something online, there is a good chance that someone in customs will decide they want it and confiscate it.
  • Having to pay very high import taxes on any package that gets through, including items confiscated out of it.
  • High priced cars.
  • Towns and villages that have either dirt or gravel roads.
  • The necessity to have very good home security, either through iron bars at the windows, high walls, dogs, security guards, or all of the above. Americans and Canadians typically don’t wall their properties; dogs are pets; and enjoy large, plate glass windows with no need for security bars over them.
  • The need for women to hold their purses at all times, never putting them on a bench or a chair beside you or it might get stolen.
  • The assumption that if a repairman comes to your home, he will speak to the man of the house, rather than the lady of the house—even if she knows more about what needs to be repaired than her husband.
  • The extreme caution one must take before letting someone (repairman, employee, new acquaintance) into your home because he/she might come back and steal from you later.
  • If something is accidentally left somewhere, you can know that someone else took it. There is no going to lost and found to see if the item was turned in.

Each culture is different. American and Canadian culture has a few things that other cultures view negatively. But there are always reasons behind cultural differences.

As an Italian, for example, we are loud, especially among a group of friends. Americans and Canadians love their large personal space. Costa Ricans and most Latin Americans can’t understand stand. Nor Europeans for that matter.

In addition, the majority of Americans, Canadians and Europeans have a level of personal honesty and integrity not always seen in Costa Rica, despite Ticos adopting much of North American and European cultures. An example of that is eating at a mall food court, but ladies won’t hang their purse or he his backpack on the back of the chair.

Residence of Life, “Casa de Casey”….

Living in a home with huge windows with no bars is unheard of, unless living in a gated community, but even then it won’t be surprising that someone will put up bars. For example, as I write this, I am looking out of my big glass window onto my yard, about 30 meters from the street. The window has bars, but I refuse to put up razor wire on the metal fence. I have dogs.

In closing, generalizations can be helpful, but they need to be understood for their limitations. Each culture has beauty if you’ll take the time to look, adapt and adopt the “pura vida”.


What has been your experience living in Costa Rica (and other parts of Central and South America)? Post your comments below or to our official Facebook page.