Here’s what I learned from living in Costa Rica for a month:
1. Currency exchange is pretty easy.
To be honest, people made it sound a lot harder than what it actually. I even met people who were struggling to hit the bank each week at a certain time with all their documents in order just to get a few bucks out for the weekend. This was mostly due to a lack of information. Two weeks before my departure date I set out to research the most convenient way to exchange money for a long-term trip and NerdWallet gave me all the answers I needed.
With one call to my bank, I was set up to use my debit card at any ATM for easy withdrawals and the lowest currency exchange rate. How much easier could it be? Costa Rica may have just been easy, but I’d say Google your destination and/or call your bank to find out rather than accepting what others tell you.
2. Don’t flush the tissue!
So in Costa Rica every toilet has little trashcan next to it, which being a woman I thought this was pretty common in most of our bathrooms. But in CR, it’s there for that and more. Most places you go, you will be advised to throw your tissue in the trashcan and not the toilet…yea it took some getting used to.
3. It may not be that easy to “eat healthy”.
Like I told you in my Lifestyle & Food post, I was shocked to find that Costa Rica’s grocery stores were not stocked with the freshest variety of fruits and vegetables, but instead were abundant in processed junk. It was heartbreaking. While I still maintained a balanced diet it was not without great effort. Weekly trips to the once a week farmers market and lots of days just over-indulging in watermelon and mango.
4. Bring your own tampons!! Regular everyday items are a luxury!
While I didn’t expect to find African Black Soap or the Shea Moisture line, I did however, naively believe that tampons and pads would be available for an affordable price. TEN DOLLARS, yes, 10 FREAKING DOLLARS I spent on a box of EIGHT tampons. EIGHT. That wouldn’t even get me through 2 days. I was so extremely annoyed, because are these local women really spending that much money on tampons every month. So next time, I’ll have a least 5 boxes in my suitcase.
5. You could end up standing on a bus for 4+ hours.
I don’t know what was worse, being sold a bus ticket from Puerto Viejo to San Jose for standing room only. Or that after about 2 hours of sitting uncomfortably squished together on the metal floor, roaches sent everyone running from the back of the bus. OR being halted on the two lane road due to a car accident for an additional hour and a half. Either way if you’re traveling in Central America the buses are reliable, just be aware that some or all of these things can happen.
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