A Healthy Country

In many third-world countries you play a game of Russian roulette when choosing a restaurant. A dining room can look wonderful, with white tablecloths, gleaming silverware and tuxedo-attired waiters, but the kitchen can be a virtual cesspool. Not so in Costa Rica. If a restaurant looks good, then its kitchen will be just as nice. I've found very few places where I would hesitate to eat, and I've never been served bad food. I can't say that about some United States restaurants.
The level of cleanliness of Costa Rican restaurants is remarkable. This is partly due to government regulation, but more because the Ticos have a natural inclination toward neatness and order.
Another factor in restaurant safety is the relative scarcity of houseflies in Costa Rica. Since this is the tropics, you might expect to see more insects than you would in the more temperate zones of North America, and you do, but-in balance. Yet, you'll see remarkab­ly few houseflies, the true villains in spreading disease. In San Jose and other towns on the Central Valley you can eat outside at a sidewalk cafe without sharing your lunch with flies. This seems strange to visitors from North America's Midwest, where the fly population blooms in the summer to a plague. Yes, an occasional fly might drift past, curious as to what you are having for lunch and hoping to join you, but nothing like you expect back home in the summer. The same thing goes for mosquitoes; in the dry season, they areas scarce as houseflies, and even in the wet season they aren't so plentiful as to require screens on the windows in many areas. Still, mosquito repellent is essential, for the little critters can carry Dengue fever, a flutelike illness.

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