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.
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.
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.
Solo Bueno Everything is great!