Helpful Hints

1. Talking about doing something and actually doing it are different things.

Meaning, don’t take it for granted that somebody will do something just because they said they would.  The world of words and the world of actions don’t always connect; it’s not an intentional slight.  On that note, if you really need something to get done, do it yourself rather than getting upset while waiting for somebody to do it for you.  At the very least, have a plan B.

This also applies to big things.  They tried to build a church in Cartago, for example, but something kept going wrong to prevent it from being completed.  So they eventually decided that it wasn’t meant to be, stopped trying to build it, and left the unfinished “ruins” in the middle of town.  They are famous and not really viewed as a failure at all.  Half-finished was just they way it was supposed to be.  The ruins are even featured on one of the country’s bills.

2. When you leave the house, take everything with you that you might possibly need, because you can’t be sure where you will end up going (or what the weather will be like).

This kind of goes along with #1.  The plan when you leave the house, and where you actually end up going or what you end up doing might be different.  Also, when plans change, people don’t feel the need to announce it or even mention it at all.  There might be a text or “WhatsApp” message that causes the plans to change, and no discussion at all.

3. Feel free to enjoy letting the day develop and see what comes up

Because people here are comfortable with plans changing and don’t feel as bound by something they might have talked about doing earlier, if you can relax and go with the flow, you might end up doing or seeing interesting things that you never could have planned.

4. If you’re planning something, people will want to talk about it

Even though you might end up somewhere completely different than what you expected when out for an afternoon car ride, if you are planning to go somewhere a few days off, expect people to want to know every single detail of your plans: when you’re leaving, how you’re getting there (and how long it will take), what route you’re taking, where you’re staying, where you’re going to eat, and how much you are paying.

Every little detail will be open for discussion, and people will happily share their opinion about it.  For example, I am planning a trip to the Limón area next week.  Naturally, I got advice and suggestions from the people who live in the house here.  But, the family also made sure to check in with their son who lives up in Heredia and the neighbor from across the street.  Some people’s advice might contradict others’, for example, there are varying opinions on whether it’s easier or harder to drive a stick shift car on the roads around here.  But, that just makes for a more interesting discussion, right?

Of course, since the world of words and the world of actions don’t always connect, I can happily listen to the advice, chime in with questions, but then end up doing things differently, and that won’t be an issue.  They might roll their eyes if it seems like I’m not getting a good enough deal on something, though.  For example, I made a hotel reservation already, and the general opinion seems to be that I did sort of OK, but maybe could have done better.  But since it’s done, it’s done, so let’s talk about what time is absolutely best to leave in the morning to avoid fog in the hills on the road, whether it’s worth it to go through Limón on the way back just to see it, and whether tractor trailers on the road are friends or foes.

When I get back, everybody who had an opinion on my plans will also want to know how it actually went, and will be happy to share their opinion on whether I did things “right” or “wrong”!  But that’s just the world of words again, and certainly no offense is meant.  It’s just that you share those details of your life with those around you, and people talk pretty openly about each other and their opinions.

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