Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lessons Learned

Throughout your travels you always have to go through a period of trial and error. Adjusting and adapting to the culture is important for sustainable tourism. You can't just expect everyone to understand you and accept your quirks. It's like going to a new school. You slowly pick up on key words and different ways of doing things that helps you to fit in a little better.

Today was our first real day to get out and explore San Jose, the capitol of Costa Rica. And, let's just say, in one day we learned quite a bit. We took a simple walk to the downtown area (about 30 minutes) and wandered around to see what we could find. It was a great way to just aimlessly wander and enjoy the new scenery and architecture. By talking, or attempting to talk, to the different people, we were able to find our way to the Teatro Nacional, beautiful downtown churches, and the Museo Nacional where we were able to meet Sofia Ruiz, a Costa Rican artist about to open an art exhibit at the museum. It is truely amazing what can happen by simply asking a question.

The thing is, I've never been the type to just ask. I have always liked to stick to a plan and abide all the rules, but today I was able to just walk and see and meet incredible and fascinating sites and people. They really aren't lying when they say that the Costa Rican people are extremely welcoming and friendly. Yea, there are the guys who honk their horns every time they pass us "Gringas," but there are also the restaurant/bar owners who help you order and remember you the next night when you come in.

So, long story short, here are some of the things we learned today..

  • You don't have to tip your waiter/waitress. Gratuity is already included in your bill.
  • Some people will take advantage of the fact that you are foreign and charge more simply because you don't know any better (i.e. taxis, stores, restaurants, etc.).
  • Most places in the city accept US dollars, but they will give you change in colones so be prepared to do the math.
  • ALWAYS pack rain gear! NO EXCUSES! (We got soaked by the afternoon rain storm and had to take a cab home, hence the lesson above).
  • Pigeons are everywhere, and they try to get tourists to pay for food to take pictures with them... gross.
  • Potholes in the roads can be the size of bathtubs
  • It's best if you dress conservatively in the city. Otherwise, be prepared for lots of looks and constant honking.
  • Costa Rican beer is pretty darn good.
  • And finally, I really do need to learn more Spanish.
That's all for now.. I know posts are frequent so far, but its going to slow down when the real work begins and we are traveling more often. Hopefully I will be able to keep things updated. In the meantime, I added another page called Tweets! that I am trying to keep updated with my tweets while in CR (I haven't figured out if I can just link them or not..) but check it out anyway! It's kind of the random funny things that happen or lessons that are learned.. I try to be clever :). Also, pictures from San Jose will be posted very soon!

Thanks for sticking with me! Feel free to comment if you have any questions or travel suggestions!
Buenas noches!

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