Frequentry Asked Questions

Can’t I do all this stuff myself?

Sure you can, but why go through the hassles and confusion of trying to find the right doctor, school, home, licenses, etc., when you can have help from someone that’s has already done all this. Someone that can assist you with ALL of your needs, cut some of the corners and expedite those things that takes months to finish. We work as your mentor, directing you and helping you to make the right choices.

What is it with all this Kissing Stuff?

People greet one another by touching their right cheeks and kissing into the air. People seldom actually kiss one another on the cheek. Hint! Men do not kiss men. As a foreigner, you are forgiven for not doing this, but learning this and some of the other traditions will earn you respect.

Why to Costa Rica’s stand in the doorway and not enter until asked?

When entering a home, it is customary to stand at the door and wait to be invited in, even if the people are good friends. When at the doorway, you might say “Con Permiso” (With your permission). Your host will then normally reply, “Adelante” or Pase” which means come on in. This is a sign or respect and courtesy you are showing to your host.

What is expected when I am coming or going from a party/gathering?

When entering or leaving a party or gathering, greet or say goodbye to everyone in the room with the appropriate kiss. Of course, if it is a large party, that may not be possible or necessary.

Why does everyone have bars on the windows/doors?

There are bars on the windows of many homes, but this may not mean that the neighborhood is unsafe or poor. This comes from tradition and from a different sense of private property than Anglo North American countries. However, petty theft is rampant and growing and one must be exceedingly careful of one’s home and property.

Why don’t they just get to the point?

When doing business (not retail stores), it is considered good form to greet and “chat” with your customer or client before getting down to business. This can take the form of discussing the weather, the beach, an upcoming vacation or any other neutral subject.

Why is he standing behind my car?

When parking on the street there will almost always be someone who is guarding the cars. He is called a “watching man”. He or she is tipped about 200 colones (50 cents) for stays of more than half an hour. You can give less if it is a quick in-and-out trip.

What is Sssst, Ssst, Ssst, Macha! Macha!

It is customary for men to compliment women in public places. These cat calls are called piropos and are usually harmless and should not be considered offensive unless they are vulgar. Women are advised to ignore them. Acknowledgment, even with hostility, is often interpreted as an invitation for more of the same. Macha refers to someone with a light complexion.

However did she get into those pants?

Women wear much tighter and more revealing clothes in Latin America than in many parts of the USA or Canada. This does not mean that they are sexually promiscuous.

Why don’t they just say no if that is what they mean?

Costa Ricans have an indirect communication style that is often misunderstood by outsiders. For a Costa Rican, it sounds harsh to come right out and say no. They will use qualified speech such as, “it is complicated” or “it will be difficult” instead of saying no. Sometimes they will even say “yes” to acknowledge that they heard you, but “yes” doesn’t always mean an affirmative response.

Why do the locals insist on standing so close to me in line?

Costa Ricans have a smaller bubble of ‘personal space’ than Anglo North Americans and Western Europeans. They are quite comfortable standing close to one another and touching more often. It is quite common that while standing in line at the bank that the person behind you will stand so close that you can feel his body heat. On a bus, you may be the only passenger but when a Tico boards, he may sit next to you even when there is plenty of room elsewhere!

Contributed by Eric Liljenstolpe

Global Solutions Group Costa Rica

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