Nice Article – Costa Rica Culture

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    Lois I am going to go out on a limb and suppose you “actually” know what you’re talking about! Thank you for taking the time to write what appears to be an objective article on Ticos. (Seen at < >)

    The forum members also provide colorful insights, but it’s more like some Thanksgiving day dinners when I was a kid and uncle Lou was facing off with Grandpa about President Carter, then from across the table Aunt Betty(the!) chimes in about Castro etc…more entertainment value than reliable objective information! Lol…


    Cognitive dissonance leads us to FULLY disregard the opinions and experiences of others that are inconsistent with our own views and beliefs without considering the portions of reality that they are sharing not only because we believe the facts are being skewed, but also because it just plain makes us uncomfortable—the worst part is when that also leads us to make attributions about people’s characters and intentions without really knowing them or their true motivations and this goes for even the most truly enlightened and knowledgeable of us in the forum and in the article. It’s one of the hardest things to keep in check, but I would hope we all try…

    Lois, I had forgotten just how amazed I was to see people years ago when in the humblest of homes the women waxed their floors everyday and how much pride they took in its cleanliness and in the neatness of their children’s uniforms…Looking at my unmade bed and books laying about in spite of having people help me with chores, made me nostalgic thinking about those days in CR when it seemed there was time for everything, including the appearance of your home, thanks for reminding me:)…unfortunately, I rush off to school…


    This was a wonderful article, and I found it very helpful. Now, perhaps someone can help me with a dilema I have! We will be arriving in Costa Rica Saturday, and have been invited to our Tico friends house for dinner that evening. Of course I have purchased gifts to take for the family, in the meantime (yesterday) I was asked if I could do a favour for them! Naturally, I said yes. Do I take the money offered, or do I say “no” its a gift. This favor cost me about $40, which I have no problem with, however, I don’t want to offend them by taking the money or refusing the money. What would be the correct procedure here?


    hey happygirl,most Ticos asking this favor would definitely expect to pay, and most Ticos doing this favor for another Tico would definitely ask to be paid. It is totally at your discretion. If you need to be reimbursed, you should get reimbursed, and no need to apologize for doing so. If you want to be generous, fine, but you’re under no obligation. Kind of like the article says, I guess, just be real. Happy travels!


    thanks for your advice pallin. I will probably end up saying not to worry about it!


    Can’t see the forest for the trees.

    (This is a long one – if you do not have the time skip to No. 4)

    From your response – based on assumption of my prerogatives – I might say – I think you can’t see the forest for the tress.

    No 1 – the appearance thing is contradictory.

    Look good so people can judge you by it – because outside looks are not superficial????

    “Appearance is important, very important, not as in the frosting-on-the-cake important, but rather as in the pan-that-determines-what-cake-is-made important. “

    One doesn’t see the pan – one sees the icing and that is what appearance is – icing/exterior – so this metaphor/dicho (if it is one) doesn’t hold water.

    “It is a central axis around which much of Costa Rican society revolves. Decorum, courtesy, good manners, personal hygiene, clothing-reacquaint yourself with the iron, it is an institution here-the cleanliness of your car, the neatness of your house, these things matter to Costa Ricans and will be used by them to try to discern precisely who you are.”

    These things are important, but they are pure icing – hardly the cake! Try honesty, courtesy, self definition, punctuality (which is the courtesy of Kings) and because being late – as you later indicate – is disrespect for the time of others – or – acting like your time is more important than the time of others – if you want some cake.


    “The appearance principle is why the main vehicle for retribution is passive rather than active.”

    Passive aggression is a very feminine type of aggression. Nicas don’t like it and sometime say Ticos are feminine because they won’t speak to foreigners sincerely and are quick to talk about you behind your back.

    No 2. Tico time – is disrespectful. Hey – I learned to live with it, but you don’t catch me disrespecting other people’s time. Bad for biz and bad for feelings.

    No 3. Money – “It’s serious, but like most serious endeavors in Costa Rica, at the same time it’s a gamble, a lark.”

    Just like I said “kids (lark) playing grown-up games (serious).

    No 4 Get a Grip Gringo

    “Get a grip, gringo! In its self-aggrandizing condescension-don the mantle of burden, dispense alms to the peons-such an attitude is far more an impediment than an aid to mutual understanding (outside the halls of academia, that is). In the Costa Rican context, such an attitude is not only silly, it also marks you as a willing ninny-abuse me, I deserve it-and is likely to leave Ticos either baffled or with a lowered opinion of you. Plus it displays an appalling LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF COSTA RICANS’ PERCEPTION OF THEIR PLACE IN THE WORLD.”

    Actually I think your thoughts as described by your words (because you are so intimately involver in Tico life) illustrate an intimate perception of what Ticos think “is there place in the world” – through their overblown sense of self-importance. If you know any Nicaraguans – then you know what I mean. They have no such “self-importance” issues.

    To me those who consistently need to feel or act important – do so because they feel unimportant.

    Highlight – “Costa Ricans rightly consider themselves to be equal to anyone that might come here from away, and perhaps even a tad superior to some, PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO HAVEN’T HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO HAVE BEEN BORN COSTA RICAN.”

    This is the gist of why I made that observation/remark – you sum it up nicely. Thanks for making my point which is:

    “You are the invading Gringo from the North” which means – “You are not a Tico!” This Costa Rican self-righteous mind-set is prevalent and made obvious by the authors words (above). Obviously you consider yourself Tica. Get a grip Tica – you and your country mates are hardly superior

    Later :

    “Costa Ricans have a proud, self-directed history of long-standing democratic traditions largely unmarred by foreign dominance or intervention.”

    This kind of false pride is due to the fact that they are wholly dependant on Uncle Sam protections. This lack of appreciation of US protection – and the Tons of Money I personally pay in taxes to support the military that grants Ticos such protection – bothers me.

    The US government should be sending Costa Rica a bill for maintaining a functioning peace under which many nation (especially Costa Rica) have not had to invest tremendous sums of money into their military (Japan, Germany, Korea etc etc etc).

    I don’t see what was such a must read about the article in general – hang on I am going to re-read it. I did, and, No – its full of contradictions.

    “Beginning on an equal footing is more likely to lead to more genuine relationships, open communication, and authenticity over posturing.”

    BTW- It’s hard to be on an equal footing with Ticos because they are such ethnocentric people.

    I think the truth offends you and you think the ethnocentric culture you married into is superior – that’s OK – believe what you want – and parts are superior – but the inferior parts that I exposed have obviously insulted you. You article exposes your and your adopted cultures ethnocentricity.

    I can live with it; many cultures are ethnocentric – Balinese etc etc etc. But please let’s call a vaca – a vaca. But of course you being a nationalized citizen and embracing the Superior parts of Tico culture – you would never call a cow a cow – of course it must be called an Oxen! Whatever.

    Before people start to write about my remarks, let me put it this way – I like Ticos and overall enjoy their company more than living in the expensive beach neighborhood where I maintain a home in the US – if I didn’t I would not spend so much time here.

    However – they are hardly perfect. I think they error on the culturally superficial side – where North Americans error on the materialistic superficial side. Ticos have a nice raw culture that provides lots of cushion for error. Are they leaders in personal development? – Hardly so – and by US standard they could hardly be seen as progressive,

    But, I am not there for US standards – I am there to enjoy the land, the people and all their quite charming contradictions (Like thinking they are so important – when they are not). Like a Tica I was dating once said, “If you are going to get along here you need to know that “pura vida” can also be “pura mientida.” Works for me! I can play within the unwritten rules – it just seem that when I try to expose them – some take it personally.


    Great article, Lois. I’m the Canadian who submitted the “getting along well with Ticos” inquiry. And I particularly appreciate the entries from rebaragon and Lotus. It seems that Ticos are a lot like Canadians (who are quite unlike Americans in a lot of ways) so I don’t think I should have a problem adapting. Getting used to the lack of punctuality might be a bit of an adjustment, but I think if I maintain the attitude that I’m in someone else’s home that should help in a lot of ways. I also agree that when you show people respect and humour wherever you meet them, that this is one of the surest ways of making new friends. As far as the need to be authentic goes, Diego, well, maybe it doesn’t hurt to give others a gentle introduction so that they don’t feel gobsmacked. Even if surface kindness seems dishonest, I find in my own experience that when I’m courteous towards people even if their behaviour offends me that this also keeps my own negative reactions in check, often helps defuse things for them, and increases the likelihood that we could actually get to like each other.


    Hi Aaronbz, you’re very wise about just how effective some respect can go to diffuse difficult situations on all sides. It seems you have a lot in common with an American named Benjamin Franklin…. When Ben was in the House, there was a new member that didn’t like Mr. Franklin, but Ben didn’t attack him and/or choose to be servile to him either, he actually thought about it and then chose to instead treat him with respect and one day also respectfully asked him for a favor. Ben requested that this new member lend him a very valuable book and once the new member had lent him the book out of the courtesy, he was thrown into a state of dissonance…On the one hand he didn’t like Ben Franklin, but on the other hand he had just lent him a very expensive and rare book–his behavior didn’t agree with his automatic dislike for Mr. Franklin, but since he couldn’t change a fact (the lending of the book) he then started to change his opinion of Mr. Franklin by rationalizing that Ben was known to be an honest man and that he wouldn’t have lent anyone one of this prized book if that person wasn’t somewhat decent. This thinking reduced the difficult man’s dissonance and later Ben Franklin states that they became “great friends.” Ben reminded those he was retelling this story of the maxim, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

    Respect which goes beyond tolerance, the willingness to genuinely help and also accept help from others which gives others certain power over you in some way takes a fair share of humility and creates an amazing foundation for the interactions between peoples of every culture and every walk in life…I have no doubt you will have a wonderful time in Costa Rica…


    Like I said

    “Passive aggression is a very feminine type of aggression. Nicas don’t like it and sometime say Ticos are feminine because they won’t speak to foreigners sincerely and are quick to talk about you behind your back.”



    Passive aggressive behavior is expressed to dodge unpleasant chores people feel forced to accomplish while avoiding confrontation and is only pathological when it’s part of a pervasively pessimistic attitude and since everyone on this Forum is here of their own free will and most don’t seem to suffer from this type of pessimism, then the label doesn’t seem to match very well.

    Also, this type of resistant behavior is followed by expressing authoritarian demands as a defense mechanism and is sometimes expressed with snide remarks, sarcasm or barbed humor. Well, now I can understand the resemblance, but rude and annoying remarks are not necessarily exclusive of pathological passive aggressive behavior and we are all (including me) prone to using them when feeling attacked–obviously some of us more than others and I would hope we would all choose an alternate route. Again, not a match.

    Lois’ article had incredibly valid points to make and why should she or her total article be disavowed just because you might disagree with some of it or even all of it? I think there’s been a real case plaguing this thread of let’s just throw out the baby with the bathwater and doing it while poking other forum members straight in the eye (nothing real passive about that). I can’t imagine how this will help anyone see another point of view, it’s just serving to make everyone’s eyes hurt and may end up making all of us blind. As much as I dislike the CR “serrucho de piso” business, it’s starting to look endearing in comparison to the indiscriminate disqualifications and character assassinations that have been attempted on this forum from one member to another.

    EVERYONE balances their individual identity and benefits with the collective benefits and identity of their social groups. Some cultures are more individualistic so they tend to express themselves in more “self-enhancing” ways while other cultures are more collectively oriented so they tend to “enhance the collective” more and their roles in that collective. On the whole, people from even the most individualistic of societies tend to yield to the collective gain freely because we are most definitely social creatures and need one another to live and truly be well. Latinos, Asians and African cultures tend to be more collective in their thinking and underlying philosophies, but that will never mean that they have totally wiped out their individual identities nor the need to obtain the most out of a situation for themselves—it’s a balancing act that tends to lean one way or another depending on your situation and your culture. Costa Rica and its culture is not perfect–I don’t think that’s a news flash for anyone since we are all well aware that human perfection can only be an illusion and beauty is certainly subjective, but I happen to appreciate the sense of community and belonging that I experience when I’m in CR. I know that I will always find people to be accessible and helpful (not servile) wherever I go (which hasn’t failed me in 25 years) and I really enjoy not being poked in the eye when expressing a view in a respectful manner. We could all learn from them and I’m sure this is not only a particular or unusual view of mine–I really do wish we would all give it a whirl…


    What did the dentist say to the assistant when the patient jumped out of the chair?

    “Guess I hit a nerve.”

    Some emotional bullies like to patronize others to get their way and then slap them to sleep and then slap them for sleeping – to all of those – and I think you know who you are – take another shot of venom and ask yourself who made you sheriff. And also mind your manners by remembering how you would talk to someone face to face instead of how you would speak to them when hiding behind a keyboard.

    Some people get their knickers in a twist when you point out what they do not whish to see – its called “shoot the messenger syndrome” so for all of you that are thinned skinned or do not whish to see (none so blind as …..) please feel free not to respond to my posts – I and most here certainly do not need pseudo intellectual triads disguised to make others behave as others see proper They are boring and thinly veiled control dramas – the last one that appeared in my life was escorted out the door accompanied by a swift kick in the a– to the shrew that delivered it.



    Hey Diego and rebaragon.: Maybe when I’m in Alajuela this coming April we can meet and have coffee together. I will be staying at Jardin Tropical Bed and breakfast, where I’ll also be working on some paintings for this good establishment. Thanks again for all your advice.
    all good things


    All three together? – well what do you think about that?


    Now, that made me smile…Thanks Aaronbz 🙂


    And you three were just gonna leave me out, eh?

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