Costa Rica is known internationally for its beauty, abundance of natural wonders, for having peaceful democratic tradition and not having a military. The latter is quite an accomplishment when one looks at the chaotic world panorama. For example, we all know the U.S. Is in shambles with its recurring natural disasters, racial strife, drug epidemic, controversial president and threat of war with North Korea. The rest of the countries in the world are not a whole lot better. Is Costa Rica perfect? No, but better than most other places.
One of the factors that is overlooked when thinking of retirement or relocation to Costa Rica, is the country’s fantastic people. The name of the country when translated to English means “rich coast.” However, by far the real riches are its people.
The ticos as they call themselves are a unique lot. Many organizations repeatedly have deemed Costa Ricans as the world’s happiest people. The people here live with less but seem to be happier than their materialistic neighbors in North America. After residing here for almost 40 years I completely agree. The national motto “pura vida’ (pure life) reflects the country’s ambience and outlook of it’s people. In fact, most foreigners who move here soon adopt this contageous spirit of the country’s people. It seems that despite the daily struggles most Costa Ricans seem to always have a smile on their faces.
In general, Costa Ricans are fun loving and enjoy today rather than worry about tomorrow which is both good and bad. My Costa Rica son often remarks, “The reason nothing gets done here is that nobody takes anything seriously,” which is partially true. Things just tend to move at a slower place.
National Geographic once reported that, when asked why Costa Rica isn’t plagued by political instability and wars like its neighbors, a Costa Rican replied, in typical tico humor, “We are too busy making love and have no time for wars or revolutions.” Generally speaking, the people of Costa Rica love to have fun, to live with “gusto” and know how to enjoy themselves. One has only to go to any local dance hall on a weekend night to see ticos out having a good time, or observe entire families picnicking together on any given Sunday.
Soccer or fútbol is by far the most popular sport here. All of the locals have their favorite team. When there is an important game everything comes to a virtual standstill. The atmosphere is festive and beer flows freely. Things really heat up when the national soccer team (la sele) plays another country. The day of the game there is a sea of red white and blue soccer jerseys on the streets as the people show their support for the national team. If the national team wins the people party all through the night. They say there are three important things in a Costa Rican man’s life: soccer, beer and women — although not necessarily in that order.