I'm sure there will be countless editions of this, and many things I will not even realize I have picked up until months later. For now, this is a running count of things I've learned from my time in Costa Rica that I thought were worth sharing. 

  • If at all possible avoid flying with a cold. It is SO painful. However if there is no getting around it, I found that Mucinex and 3 Advil a half hour before takeoff seemed to help.
  • When in doubt just ask for help. So far the people we’ve met have been pretty nice, and if we wouldn’t have asked we would have missed our bus to Bejuco.
  • Get what you need done in the morning. The afternoon heat is torturous in this region of Costa Rica.
  • Learn at least a little bit of the language. 1 in every 9 people in Costa Rica speak English. Vince thought he’d be ok since a lot of people do speak it, however we’ve come to learn that a little goes a long way and you get better deals if you can speak in Spanish.
  • Always have bug spray with you. The mosquitoes are horrible. We went through 2 cans easily before we left. And, on that note, BUY IT AT HOME! We paid $12 for it here and I about collapsed, but it is such an essential item that we had to do it.
  • If there is an important item you will be using on your trip- do not buy a bargain brand! I repeat- spend the money you need for the essential stuff! My brand new, never before used, suitcase broke on the second day I was here. My flip-flops broke the second week I was here (and they were a brand new pair from Target).  I also bought 3 different types of compression bags. 2 were an off brand, and the last was a reputable brand. So far we have zero left of the first kind, the second kind only stay “compressed” for about 5 minutes before filling with air again, and only the most expensive brand held up. I guess this just reinforces the “you get what you pay for” saying. There are some things you can go cheap with, but if it’s essential for your trip- don’t go the cheap route!
  • You can’t live life waiting for the rain. You can never listen to the forecast because it is always wrong, even more so than it is at home. So you play it by ear. There were so many times we didn’t go to the beach or do our laundry because it looked like it was going to rain, but then it never did. We finally learned to just do what we wanted to do and deal with it if we got rained on. I guess this is a good life lesson as well. We learned to just enjoy the day and not waste our time being scared about what’s to come.
  • Always, always, always, bring a backup credit/debit card with you. If you read one of my earlier posts you know that I had issues with my Charles Schwab account even though I put a travel notice on my card. That is not the only trouble we ran into. There were times when I was in one country, trying to purchase plane tickets on a website that was based in a different country, and none of my purchases would go through. This is where PayPal came in handy! All in all I have 2 credit cards, 2 debit cards, 2 different banks, and a PayPal account. I never carry all of these things together incase one gets stolen, I still have access to my money in my other accounts.
  • Wifi calling is a thing. Get it set up. It’s awesome. I prefer to Facetime but when I had to call my bank or my Facetime didn’t have great connection it was so nice to have!
  • Overall the biggest thing I’ve learned since I’ve been here is how great we have it in the US. I see people here that live with next to nothing in terms of possessions, and have what we would call a “low quality of life” based on what their house looks like, how much income they live off of, or what amenities they do or don’t have. However, they do not see it this way at all. They are so content with their lives. They sit outside with their family and greet whoever walks by. They are happy to help someone in need. They don’t care about riding 2 hours on a crowded bus to work- they are happy they have a job. They don’t care that they don’t have AC, they sit outside and enjoy family time in the evening. They don’t complain when the power goes out, it is just something that happens. Coming out of this I am so much more grateful for all that I have, all that I’ve been given, and all the opportunities I’ve had. You really never know how great you have it until you experience what life would be like without all those things.