Costa Rican people are so nice! Always helpful! No one gets annoyed to be asked about things! Ticos (Costa Ricans) are kind, patient etc…. Most of the articles that I have found on the web about Costa Rican culture make it clear that we are very hospitable people!

Costa Rican people rules of interactions:

As we mentioned in the previous blog, 7 things you must understand about Costa Rica Culture, Costa Rica fits perfectly with all those cultural patterns of high-context culture. Anthropologist Edward T. Hall first discussed in his 1976 book titled Beyond Culture.

Social interactions are really important for our culture. Investing time with each other makes people connect with personal topics really fast. This characteristic has fascinated and gotten the attention of many of our visitors.

The family is the first and most important consideration in Costa Rica. Group loyalty is very important for us. This means that we want people to feel like they are at home, like they are family as soon as we meet them. We feel an inner impulse to please people.

Examples of Costa Rican people and their hospitality:

The following list of examples has been experiences shared with us by foreigners, especially from the U.S and Germany (people who have visited the country or still are living here): 

  1. Looking for a guitar store: Our friend from Germany had few weeks of living in Costa Rica and he was looking for a guitar. He went downtown and saw a guy dressed very formally and his impression was that the man was very busy or rushing. Still, he asked the man if he knew where to find a guitar store. The gentleman told him rapidly where then went the extra mile and actually took him to the guitar store!!! He was amazed by this action that went beyond just giving the information to a tourist.
  2. Spanish students: We have met many Spanish students who say they feel that Costa Rican people have a lot of patience in their learning process. They mention that taxi drivers help them with addresses, people speak slowly to them so they can understand. Also, if a tourist is in trouble, someone nearby who speaks English will try to help.
  3. Customer Services Skills: Since Costa Rican people are naturally and culturally pleasers, we try our best to serve people the best way we can. It’s not a coincidence that many investors and big companies have chosen Costa Rica to outsource their customer service departments.
  4.  Home visits: Here is one of my favorites examples. After a home visit, visitors always tell me a list of things that they did in a short period of time. During our coffee time, families show their “be our guest” approach.      
Ligia and 2 others friends (Kathy from USA and Pamela from Argentina) at Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Be our guest

No, I am not talking about a hotel customer service program, or the song from Beauty and the Beast. “Be our guest” is the phrase that fits perfectly to describes the attitude of hospitality that you will find mostly in every person and house in Costa Rica.

I used to work in volunteer tourism, and part of my job was placing volunteers with families here in Costa Rica. When I introduce the guest to the family, the house mom will react very splendorous. After 15 minutes of interactions, you will see them all but rolling out the red carpet.

They will give you food, make sure that you are ok, and make conversation. Even when there’s a language barrier, they make a way to work out conversation with charades until they feel that you are comfortable.

Also, it’s easy to see how many Costa Rican people are very inclusive in interactions with tourists. They will try to speak English, always trying to help with an address. If you are staying for a longer period, people will invite you to family activities and to hang out with friends.

Another side of the coin

Most Costa Rican people are very friendly and hospitable. But an interesting fact I found doing this research is that sometimes Costa Rican people are not that welcoming to all foreigners.

Since the idea of this article is to get deeper into the culture, understanding that also includes parts of our culture that we are not that proud of.

The Tico Times, a famous online newspaper, did a survey that found interesting results about how Costa Ricans view foreigners.

It turns out there are some countries that are not so welcome in Costa Rica:

To try to explain the vast differences and sometimes contradictory opinions Ticos have about foreigners … Costa Ricans do not view foreigners negatively unless they feel their jobs or lifestyle are threatened. 

Negative opinions also are often associated with perceived links to crime and public insecurity, or when foreigners “come to impose.”

Also, another fact is that as a society people prefer to refer their ethnicity as European rather than other ethnic groups. However, this is part also of our idiosyncrasy but doesn’t apply to everybody.

In general, Costa Rican people are …

Just like all of humanity, Costa Rican people all love, laugh, cry, seek dignity and meaning in our lives. Writing this series of blogs has taught me a lot about my culture.

While researching, I have to process all the information in the most objective way that I can. The main idea is not to create stereotypes, because there will always be exceptions to the rule derivated of personalities, beliefs, worldviews, etc.

Finally, to create this series I have asked many people (local and tourist) for their perceptions of Costa Rican culture.

So I feel it’s fair to clarify that there is a common feeling about our culture. YES, we are in an agreement that Costa Rican people are for the most part a very welcoming culture!!!

Thanks for reading and taking the time to get to know our culture more. I hope you can come and visit us one day, even if not, you are always welcome to explore Costa Rica into this digital space.

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