As I absorb these past three weeks in Costa Rica, something I must talk about is the cuisine. Traditionally, a Tico breakfast consists of a dish called “Gallo Pinto” which encompasses a special mix of rice and beans with scrambled eggs on the side. With most meals, Tico’s will have a bowl of fruit on the side and/or a smoothie. In summary, a Costa Rican diet consists of rice, beans, fruit, plantains, and coffee. Of course, there are a variety of other dishes in this culture, however Gallo Pinto is its richest facet.
While the food here is very natural and rich in its flavors, the portions are half the size than what they are in the United States. I find myself eating a meal and being hungry a measly five minutes later because I’m just not used to the portion sizes here! Buying snacks has definitely saved me. Also, this might seem weird to say, but Costa Rica has the best pizza ever! Granted, the fast food options like Pizza Hut and Papa Johns are still the same, but as for the small family-owned shops on the streets of downtown San Jose, the pizza is to die for, especially if you go to an artisanal shop.
A favorite hangout place here for my classmates and I has been CASAMANGA. It’s a small restaurant with an open bar and although it does not hold traditional Costa Rican dishes, it gives a taste of Asian cuisine in a Latin American country. They have THE BEST smoothies–because it is anime themed, each smoothie comes with a little anime character toy which I presume is the Costa Rican version of a happy meal. If you are ever in San Jose, you have to come by here! Everything is named after various Pokémon (I recommend trying the Chikorita).
Pricing here is pretty fair as well. In class, we learned that Costa Rica is the fourth most expensive Latin American country; therefore, it is extremely important to budget before you travel. If you make the mistake of not planning ahead and setting limits for yourself in areas like transportation, food, and souvenirs, you’ll find yourself struggling on where to put your penny in your last days here. Nevertheless, my favorite thing to spend money on here is the food. Be sure to bring stomach medicine though, because nearly every person in our study abroad group caught some sort of bug.
There is no doubt that you will get addicted to some aspect of Costa Rican culture—whether that’s the language, the culture, the food, the sweet people, or all of the above, you will become attached. Let yourself fall in love with all things PURA VIDA!