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Living in Costa Rica: Food & Lifestyle

I’ve been living on my own in a foreign country for two weeks now and already almost everything I thought I knew has been challenged. I’ve met so many people from so many different places with varying degrees of education and interest areas yet we somehow were all led here. I choose to believe things don’t just happen by chance.farmersmarket

But we’ll get to that. First:
You may think that living in Latin America would be cheap and easier to some extent. I suppose this could be true in some places, but my cost of living in Costa Rica hasn’t been much different than in the US and some things are even more expensive (and things like Almond milk and kale are not widely available).

One HUGE misconception I had was that because I’m living in a tropical setting there would be an abundance of fruit and vegetables. Boy was I bamboozled. I went to three different stores finding a decent assortment of fruit and little to no vegetables. No zucchini, no kale, not even green beans. I did manage to find some oddly shaped spinach.

IMG_3228What I didn’t know before spending close to $22 bucks in the grocery store on complete bull crap, was that the farmers market comes to town Friday and Saturday every week. I spent $16 at the farmers market and walked away with spinach, green beans, a huge bag of lemons, 3 mangos, tamarind, aloe, potatoes, mushrooms and an onion. Which I can say probably is a tiny bit cheaper than what I would’ve spent at my regular farmers market.

I will say that for $5 or 2500 colones you can eat pretty good almost anywhere if you order the traditional meal: casado.

I learned that “casado,” which translates to marriage, is called this because it literally means the meal that a man eats when he gets married. The meal includes a meat of your choice, black beans, rice, potatoes, salad, and plantains.

**Also, I don’t know why this was so surprising to me but they have a TON of Chinese restaurants and pizza places. Beer and tequila is pretty cheap too.

Easier way of life. Nah, I think not. Easy may not be the best term. I think the biggest difference in the way of life is truly our values. In the US, we are an extremely individualist society, to the point where some of us hardly see our family members and certainly don’t do business with them. The people here work hard, long hours in the heat, but seem very family oriented and happy. Even the bus drivers that work sun up to sundown driving the hill from Quepos to Manuel Antonio are genuine and kind (and working with gringo tourists all day that is surprising). They come off a lot happier than we seem to be in our dream jobs, fancy cars and elaborate homes. And don’t get me wrong these people are not living in complete squalor, in Quepos alone the houses are modest but are so full of character and life.

So no life isn’t easier, they just don’t seem to kill their happiness with expectations. The people live modestly and happily, not placing their value only in money and outward success.
(Disclaimer: This is my observation and opinion. I’ve talked with two Ticos consistently that basically told me they never want to leave Costa Rica, because of the things I mentioned above. Both were men in their mid-20s, who said they found their happiness in not stressing about material things. They have their families, they have simple jobs (surf trainer and working for family) and their needs are met. They explained to me that everything they do is oriented around the family and that they all take care of each other and each have roles. Of course, this does not mean that all people and families operate this way, but as an outsider it does seem like the majority of people do look out for each other.)
I plan to dive deeper into the culture and learn more while I am here. As I learn more, I will share more.

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Briana Myrie

Co-Founder & Content Editor Hippie at heart, lover of love.

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