1. They don’t have addresses.
Seriously. They don’t have street names or numbers on buildings; it’s just not part of the culture here. My current “address” is:
From the Plaza Roosevelt, 175 metres west, 50 metres north, the house with the grey door.
Mail is apparently not really a thing either. Our landlord explained to us that the reason there are no addresses is because Costa Ricans are ‘mountain people’ and they never needed them before. But whatever, as long as the Pizza Hut delivery guy can find it, I’m cool.
2. Some things are really expensive and some are really cheap.
Gas is expensive, yet taxis and buses are cheap. (Greyhound-like buses across the country cost about 2-3 dollars. It’s unreal)
Groceries are expensive, yet restaurants are cheap.
I don’t even know how this makes sense…
3. They have cleaning people during the day.
Back in Canada, most offices are cleaned after everyone has cleared out for the day. Not in Costa Rica. Here, the cleaning lady comes around and cleans for the 8 hours that people are still in the office and making it messy.
Once a day, usually around 10 am, Rosa the cleaning lady comes with her cloth and I have to get up from my desk while she wipes it down and bangs the crumbs out of my keyboard. Even though we all know I’m going to be munching on some chips over that bad boy as soon as I sit back down.
Which brings me to my next point. Cleaning ladies aren’t the only ones working 8 hour days. Everyone is.
4. Everyone works 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, Monday to Friday.
Not just office workers, but most stores and services (that aren’t restaurants or grocery stores). So my question is, WHO IS YOUR CLIENTELE? Who comes to your store if you are only open when everyone is working?
This makes it impossible to go to the bank, the post office, the doctor, the dentist, and basically anything else useful.
5. The money is ridiculous.
10,000 colones is equivalent to about $20. They have bills in denominations of 10, 000 ($20), 5,000 ($10), 2,000 ($4), and 1,000 ($2). Ok, that makes enough sense.
But then they have a gazillion little coins. 500 ($1), 100 (20 cents), 50 (10 cents), 25 (5 cents), 10 (2.5 cents), 5 (1.25 cents). They used to have a 1 colon coin, but thank goodness they got rid of it. Some ATMs even distribute 20,000 colones bills. This is essentially a $40 bill, which is useful to no one ever. You can barely get your 10,000 bill exchanged, never mind a 20,000 bill. Lauren tried to pay for something with one and received the most attitude. Why do they exist then??
Also, I think it’s just a conspiracy so the foreigners have a harder time understanding prices when you say these huge numbers in Spanish! You would think that stores would round up or down, but no way. They are going to charge you 2,355 and you better have those 55 colones in exact change.
Their bills have super cool animals like sloths and sharks on them though, so that pretty much makes up for their ridiculous money system.