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Home / Preface
5 - Costa Rica in Brief
6 - Map of Costa Rica
8 - Symbols of Costa Rica
9 - Introduction
12 - Getting a Bird's Eye View
14 - Why Choose Costa Rica?
18 - Costa Rica Has Many Firsts to its Name
22 - A Place That Accepts All Races
30 - The Friendliness of the Costa Ricans
33 - Ticos are Individualistic
35 - Ticos Are Different and Procrastinators
38 - Why Others Have Gone Abroad
42 - Specific Reasons for Leaving Home
45 - Culture Shock
48 - Enjoy Your Retirement by Adjusting
49 - Ways to Adjust to Your New Life
56 - Making Your Stay More Satifying
58 - Cost of Living
67 - Addresses and Directions
69 - Your Car and Driving
71 - How Not to Be Obnoxious to Locals
74 - Adjusting to the Weather and Climate
76 - Choosing the Right Climate for You
77 - City Living versus Country Living
79 - Where to Live in Costa Rica
82 - Living in Your American Style
84 - Top Quality Health Services
87 - Medical Centers in San José
89 - Dying in Costa Rica
91 - Security and Safety in Costa Rica
94 - Personal Experiences of Petty Thievery
98 - Sex and Romance
101 - Going into Business Yourself
105 - Expatriates Production Enterprises
110 - Expatriates Service Businesses
114 - The Business Environment
120 - Helpful Tips for the Newcomer
125 - National Holidays and Festivities
128 - Religion, Churches & Support Groups
131 - The Optimism and Health Link
133 - The 8 Point Formula for Anti-Aging
134 - Obtaining Insurance
136 - Early Colonial History in Brief
139 - English Language & Tico Expressions
144 - Misdemeanors That Are Now Felonies
146 - Closing Words
148 - Bibliography
149 - For More Information and Contacts
151 - Appendix
155 - Index

Find Your Bearings Through Reference Points

Being a Catholic country, many towns in Costa Rica have saints names. San Rafael seems to be the winner since there are 235 villages and towns with that name. Things get complicated as in the case of the two San Rafaels in Desamparados, a district in southern San José. One is San Rafael Arriba and another right next to it is San Rafael Abajo. Newcomers don't know which is Arriba and which is Abajo since both are at apparently at the same topographic level. It's like saying uptown and downtown but no one knows where is which.

It will take you a few weeks to get accustomed to similar cases in other parts of the country. Two other very popular saints are San Miguel and San Pedro so you'll find many towns having those names. Each town and village named after a saint celebrates its feast day with festivities sometimes carried on during an entire week. The turno with its firecrackers, carrousel, chance games, dancing and open air-prepared dishes livens the festivities.

A millionaire coffee farmer, whom I knew in the 1960s, said that while on a trip to London he had cried because he missed the firecrackers and partying that were going on at the same time in his small home town's annual saint's day festivities.

Getting your bearings in the city of San José is not easy until you've lived there during sometime. Many streets have been given names by the government but hardly anyone knows what they are. Even I, who have lived in San José more than 50 years, only know a handful. People get around by using known reference points, but the trouble is that over the years some of these change.

The calles (streets) run north and south while the avenidas (avenues) run east and west. The centre of the city is the intersection where Avenida Central meets Calle Central. The latter is the street running north-south that passes in front of the cathedral. Streets to the east have odd numbers as 1,3,5,7 etc. and those to the west have even numbers as 2,4,6,8 etc. Avenidas to the south of Avenida Central have even numbers while those to the north are odd numbers.

A city block is supposedly 100 varas long which is a little less than a hundred yards. But the word vara and metro (meter) are used interchangeably as if they were the same length. Both are used in giving an address.

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All texts of How to Retire Happily in Peacefull Costa Rica are copyrighted © by Frank J. Thomas Gallardo and Editorial Texto Costa Rica. We recommend to buy a hard copy of How to Retire Happily in Peacefull Costa Rica.