Is Costa Rica Really “The Happiest Country In The World”?

Even if you've never been to Costa Rica, you may have heard it described as "The happiest country in the world." And if you have been here, it's almost certain you've heard that slogan, especially since there's now a sign that proclaims "Welcome to the happiest country in the world" or something very much like that as you ride the escalator to immigration at the San Jose airport. I've been hearing that phrase for almost 8 years now, and it's been on my mind a lot. In my class today we Read more [...]

Should You Be Born In Costa Rica?

If you're looking for a place to be born, Costa Rica might not be too shabby, internationally-speaking. Then again, if you're reading this, it's probably too late, and you'll have to resign yourself to being born where you were born. But why are we even talking about this? Last week we were using the iPads in one of my classes, and a student pointed out this article on the Tico Times' website. (The Tico Times is an English-language newspaper here in Costa Rica.) The article took information Read more [...]

Come On Feel The Ruido: Speaker Cars

"You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements." --Norman Douglas,South Wind I'm not sure how "deep" that quote is, but I like it. As we saw in a previous post about "shock and awe"-style advertising campaigns, if you want to sell something in Costa Rica, it's best not to be too subtle in your techniques. Grab a hold of that microphone, turn the volume up to 11, and go to town --just keep shouting until you force potential customers into submission (and into your store). But what if Read more [...]

Juan Santamaría: The Man, The Airport, The Legend

As I mentioned in my last post, last week was Easter break (called semana santa in Costa Rica), so we had the whole week free. That was pretty excellent, but it turns out that today is also a holiday: Juan Santamaría Day. The only downside is that it's not necessarily a free day at work for everyone, and we do have classes where I work because it's a private language school. Nevertheless, who was Juan Santamaría, and why is he considered Costa Rica's "national hero"? I'll admit that I didn't Read more [...]

“Holy Week”

Today is the first day of semana santa, or "holy week" in Costa Rica. Like most of Latin America, Costa Rica is Catholic, or at least ostensibly Catholic. In reality, whether a person is observant and goes to church really boils down to personal inclinations and familial traditions, but almost everyone is observant of one aspect semana santa: vacation! This week is possibly best described as a religious holiday tainted by a Spring Break ethos (or maybe even vice-versa). Most schools and public Read more [...]

How To Speak Costa Rican: Calendar Anomalies

If you ever make plans with someone in Costa Rica, there's obviously a good chance you'll have to talk about when you're going to meet. In English, if it's Monday, January 1st, and you want to meet up on Monday, January 8th, you can say something like "Let's meet next Monday," "Let's meet on the 8th," or "Let's meet a week from today." It's a bit different here. Instead of saying "a week from today" or "two weeks from today," people here say "de hoy en ocho" ("from today in eight [days]") or "de Read more [...]

Costa Rica Isn’t Puerto Rico!? (Plus Four Other Useful Tips)

If you're planning a trip to Costa Rica, or even if you're just curious about the country, there are a few things that you should know before you come here. Here's a crash course in the top five important things to know about Costa Rica that came to my mind as I wrote this: 1. Costa Rica is not Puerto Rico. This is a controversial point, but no matter how much you try to insist on this issue, you'll notice that the normally easygoing Costa Ricans won't budge on this matter. With this fact also Read more [...]

Costa Rica Outsider

Welcome to Costa Rica Outsider! My name is Ryan Sitzman, and I'm the main writer for this site. I want to quickly explain what this site is about. Costa Rica Outsider is about Costa Rica: its culture, its customs, its people, its food, its places, and its idiosyncrasies. I decided to start this website after noticing that there was something new and fascinating every time I turned my head in this small Central American country I have come to call home. Many things I've noticed here can be wonderful, Read more [...]