Costa Rica ‘Time’

Costa Rica is still considered a third world country, though locals call it a 2 ½ world country. This is not as obvious in the San José area, but will be in the countryside. Outside of our scheduled activities and departures, things happen on Tico time and unforeseen adventures can occur at any time. Being patient and flexible is a must. Tranquilo, “relax,” and you just might experience something that you would not have, otherwise.

Money Matters

The currency unit is the colon. Currently, one dollar is worth approximately 530 colones. A conversion chart will be provided to every group traveler. Dollars are widely accepted, with colones usually given as change in a transaction.

Our hotels and most businesses accept dollars and credit cards such as VISA, Master Card, and American Express. A bank will charge you a fee to take a cash advance, however using an ATM will incur the same types of charges as using a bank other than your own in the states. Some stores and restaurants charge an additional 6% to your transaction if you use a credit card. Although technically illegal, you may have no choice but to pay it or use other means of buying what you want. When making any significant purchase, ask if there is a discount for cash as some places include the ‘credit card premium’ in the price and will give you a discount if you use cash.

Travelers’ checks are safer to carry, but generally much less widely accepted. Buy larger denominations of these as the bank exchange fee is based on the number of checks, not the amount. For a lesser fee, banks are your best sites to cash them.

ATM’s are more available now, but not in many of the remote locations we travel to. We plan stops during our travels for those wanting to use an ATM. Please note that going into a bank to make a transaction can be a test of patience. Lines are long and it can easily take an hour. We will avoid these situations as a group.

Suggested Packing List for Pizotes  Adventure Tours

All clothes should dry quickly and not require ironing

  • A body pack: To hold your passport and credit card. Wear out of easy reach, against your body
  • Lightweight shirts: Short-sleeve and/or sleeveless and one long-sleeved shirt for use as a light jacket and mosquito protection.
  • Shorts: Lightweight, hiking and casual dress
  • Pants: Lightweight nylon, polyester, or cotton for evenings and activities (1-2 pairs)NO JEANS as they won’t dry out.
  • Skirt/Sundress: Lightweight and wrinkle resistant
  • Raincoat or Poncho: Lightweight with hood. A Must!
  • Bathing suit(s)
  • Underwear, Sleepwear
  • Hand towel
  • Shoes: Comfortable walking and/or hiking
  • Sandals: Strap-on type and for walking in town
  • Socks: For shoes and one pair of long socks for wearing rubber boots
  • Hat or sun visor
  • Sunglasses, eyeglasses/contacts, extra pair, eyewear retainer
  • Sunscreen: Minimum of 15 sunblock protection
  • Toiletries: Consider the current airline limitations for liquids, gels, lotions and aerosols
  • Mosquito repellent: Non-aerosol with Deet or other effective repellent. Bring 2 and carry one with you at all times (keeping in mind the size limit on toiletries containers).
  • Binoculars: Waterproof if available
  • Flashlight or head lamp: Small but bright
  • Camera, film, batteries: If using film, bring what you need as it is expensive here
  • Pocket calculator: Helpful when changing money or buying items
  • Travel alarm clock or watch with alarm
  • Travel notebook: Waterproof paper if possible
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for day tours
  • Medical prescription drugs
  • Photocopies of all documentation, passport, prescriptions, credit cards
  • Water bottle to refill
  • Small first-aid kit: pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medicine, anti-itch cream, lip protection, antihistamine, Small sewing kit
  • Ziploc Bags: Various sizes to hold binoculars, camera, medicines, books and anything else you wish to remain dry. These are very handy in the tropics!

Common Spanish Words and Phrases

Pura Vida!
A unique phrase to ‘Ticos’ (Costa Ricans) that literally means ‘pure life’. Widely used as a generic greeting and to bestow upon others the blessing of the ‘good life.’


¡Con mucho gusto!
Means ‘with much pleasure’. Used often by those serving or waiting on you in stores or restaurants. A wonderful expression that typifies the Tico’s desire to please you.


Buenos días Good morning
Buenas tardes Good afternoon
Buenas noches Good evening or good night

Por favor Please
Gracias Thank you
Muchísimas gracias Thank you VERY much


Qué, cual What
¿Qué hora es? What time is it?
Donde Where
¿Donde esta el baño? Where is the bathroom?
Como How
¿Como esta? How are you?
¿Como se llama? What is your name
(How do you call yourself?)

Cuanto How much
¿Cuanto cuesta? How much does it cost?
Por qué Why
Quien Who
Cuando When

Permiso Excuse me, pardon me (when you want to pass someone in an aisle)
Disculpas Apologies, forgive me

Me gusta I like, I want
No me gusta I don’t like, want
Me gustaría I would like
(eg. When ordering a meal from a menu)

Solo Bueno Everything is great!