Costa Ricans way to be

An outstanding difference in the psyche of Costa Ricans and other Latinos is the way they view the world and their place in it. Because of a long tradition of democracy and equality, the country has developed an egalitarian society that reminds one of the United States and Canadian ideals of social equality. Unlike many other Latin American countries, the spread between Costa Rica's rich, poor, and middle classes is narrow. The middle class is large and relatively prosperous; the upper class is small and only moderately wealthy. People here do not bow to anyone, regardless of who they are. This is a country where you can see the country's president and his wife pushing a grocery cart in a supermarket. People look you in the eye and shake your hand, fully convinced that everyone is equal. Because Tico attitudes are so similar to North Americans, we feet perfectly comfortable when socializing with them. However, there are some subtle differences in the Tico psyche that need to be understood. First of all, it is considered ill mannered to be loud, brash, argumentative, and overly competitive, as Americans tend to be. (The exception of course, is when playing soccer or driving a car.) In fact, they hate confrontation so much that they'll do anything to avoid giving you bad news. When your contractor tells you that the transformer for your new home didn't arrive today hut is coming tomorrow, he may he avoiding the bad news that it might be a week or a month before you have electricity Costa Ricans want to tell you what you would like to hear if at all possible. If it's not possible, they avoid talking about it So that you won't feet bad. In tine with the hesitation to give bad news is a tendency to avoid saving "No" to a request or business proposal, if they think that saying "No" will make you feel bad. So when doing business, remember that you can only count on a "no" as being definitive-, a "yes" or "maybe" could mean anything. I've often heard that Ticos won't admit that they don't know something. For example, when asked directions they'll give any response, pointing whichever direction they think you might like. I've often wondered where that notion came from. I have never, in all my years of traveling in Latin America, had someone do that. (I ought to know, because without street signs, I have to ask directions frequently) If Ticos don't know the answer to a question, they simply say so, like anywhere else. They might even flag down a passing car to ask. Giving misleading directions would be the height of rudeness and a violation of Tico etiquette. Another interesting trait is reluctance to accept blame. When our maid drops a plate on the floor, she says, "Se quebro el plato" the plate broke itself (it's important to save face). I once tried to convince my electrician that he had installed my telephone wrong. (The problem was obvious he had shorted the wires by pounding a staple across the cable shroud.) He insisted that the problem was a temporary glitch at the telephone exchange. "Pretty soon they'll find their mistake and fix it." He installed a new cable at my insistence and according to my directions, after which, the phone worked. "You see?" he crowed in triumph, "While I was putting in the new cable, the telephone company found their mistake and fixed it!" I agreed with him. He had to save face. The welt known tomorrow attitude of Latin America is present in Costa Rica, but not nearly to the extent as in most other Latino countries at least in my experience. Our workers are usually always at the job on time and work hard while they are there. (They also quit exactly on time). The exceptions to this rule are Mondays after a local fiesta, when the entire village celebrates on Saturday and Sunday. Nobody expects all of their workers to show up on Monday or any to be really capable of work. Guests to your dinner party will be late anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour. Your auto mechanic will be an hour late changing your oil, but seldom a day late. In several ways, Ticos are very much like us, except that Ticos speak more softly and seem just a little more stoic about the world's problems than their Latin American counterparts. They laugh just as much as we do and share the same sense of humor. The best part of all: They really like North Americans, probably because our personalities mesh. Most of us who live in Costa Rica reciprocate this instant friendship, we like Ticos, too.

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