Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Secrets: 5 Things About Costa Rica

So this is a post I've been wanting to write for a while.  Five things about Costa Rica you WON'T find in a guide book.

1.  There are no legit video rental stores.  If you want to rent a movie in Costa Rica you will be picking up a pirated version.  But these are high quality versions.  So much so that one video we watched had a anti-pirate commercial on it.  Oscar says that Blockbuster once foolishly tried to open a chain in Costa Rica.  Evidently it failed in a few months time.

2.  Guaro is the liquor of choice in Costa Rica.  It is made from sugar cane and is sort of in between rum and vodka on the liquor chart.  You can't buy guaro anywhere else in the world.  The name of the company who makes the most guaro is Cacique, the two words can be interchanged.  "I want some Cacique"/"I want some guaro".  It is also used in the way that southerner's use the word "coke".  "I want a coke" = "I want a soda", "Vamos a tomar guaro" = "Vamos a tomar".  I've never been a big liquor drinker, but a guaro sour is freaking delicious!

3.  The slang here is rampant.  It is called "pachuco" and not only do the "pintas" (drug dealers) on the street use it, the newspapers and president do as well.  I'm becoming more accustomed to hearing it, though every once in a while I need something translated into regular Spanish to understand.  I firmly believe that someone whose first language is Spanish could come here and still not understand everything.  Here's some pachuco I remember off the top of my head.
-pinta: drug dealer
-mae: dude
-sele: the Costa Rica national soccer team
-majenga: a soccer game
-birra: beer
-una fria: beer
-cabro/a: boyfriend/girlfriend
-pintico: gallo pinto (rice and beans)
-un rojo: 1000 colones
-una teja: 100 colones
-guila: a girl

4.  WalMart has invaded!  Three years ago there was a WalMart-esque type store calle HiperMas that sold basically everything you can find in a WalMart.  About a year ago WalMart bought out HiperMas.  Oscar and I went to the WalMart to buy some appliances.  I hate WalMart with a passion, but I must say it was quite convenient to only have to go to one store for everything we needed.  Stores here are so specialized that a home decor store might only sell sheets and curtains and to get a lamp you'd have to go to another place.  That and everyone who worked there was so kind it sort of surprised me.  So although WalMart was convenient and the people nice, the prices are not amazing.  In fact most products are more expensive (all the ticos agree) in WalMart than in other stores.

5.  Money has recently changed.  The local currency in Costa Rica is colones.  About 500 c = $1.00.  Very recently, Costa Rica has introduced two new bills.  The new bills are the 1000c and 2000c.  Previously all bills were paper and the same size (like USD).  Now the 1000c and 2000c are different sizes (similar to the Euro) and make of plastic.  The plastic was something to get used to.  They don't fold very well and I can't imagine they will last very long.  With that being said, you can put them in your swim trunks pocket, go to a swim up bar and pay away.  I guess that's a pro!

The old bills, front and back.

The new bills.  Currently only 1000c and 2000c are out.