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A recent article pointed out a possible cultural difference between North Americans and Costaricans that I would like to get some feedback on since it is important to understand so you can adapt. I think it would be good to avoid, "I have a Tico friend who is like this or or not like this since those are point observations. I am wondering in general across the entire population if this is a point of view new commers need to be aware of or does the author have it entirely wrong.

 

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"One of the biggest things I have noticed is that 90% of Costa Ricans have a hidden agenda in pretty much everything they do.I look back and realize that in almost every interaction I have had with a Costa Rican, if they are not getting something out of it they will not be involved. Now I know this exists around the world but in Costa Rica it is taken to the extreme."

 

http://www.costaricantimes.com/costa-rica-living-the-hidden-agenda/10392?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=costa-rica-living-the-hidden-agenda

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Ticos are no different than people anywhere else in the world: some are good folks, some are less so, and some are baddies. And while everyone does have some kind of agenda I cannot agree that 90% are out to get someone else. That's a rather broad brush-stroke to be painting ticos (or anyone else) with!

 

And we must remember that people from different cultures are not the same as each another in the ways that they think; that's a given. But it borders on the paranoid to insist that 90% of those in other cultures are out to get us gringoes, although IMHO there are plenty of 'ugly gringos' that I've observed who well may deserve being taken advantage of based upon their attitude towards ticos (or towards other cultures, for that matter).

 

I fear that there are many of us gringos who are much too parochial in our attutudes toward cultures other than our own, and maybe this should be factored into why some of us are badly thought of by (for instance) ticos.

 

It would be interesting to compare figures between how many gringos who've been taken advantage of by ticos have no spanish skills vs those who've been taken advantage of who do have some degree of spanish fluency. Now THAT would be illuminating to know.

 

Regards,

 

Paul M.

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Paul, I don't see the article as negative ... I think it might point out a different point of view the author has experienced ... for example, in many places of the world, North American's resistance to haggle over prices is considered rude because it is considered social interaction ... here haggling is considered rude ..... When I work in China what North American's consider a final agreement is just a starting position and one need to be ready for continuous negotiations even with a final signed contract ... in Japan you are considered guilty until you prove your innocence .... one that confuses me in Costa Ricians is the acceptance and promotion of prostitution in a family grounded / Catholic nation or that CR is a center for human trafficking yet strives to be peaceful ... it is hard to reconcile all these .... people are different and many times North Americans approach the world through NA glasses ...

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Paul M, I read the following a few months ago, that was written by a Costa Rican and so 'saved' it:

 

"From my experience in dealing with newcomers another tip is to understand that not ALL Costa Ricans are the same, there is lower income class, a middle class an upper middle class and high income class, each one has different ways of seeing the world, different goals, and different ambitions. It's common for certain Americans to develop acquaintances especially with the lower income classes as they are generally more open to casual encounters and that develops relationships with people with different values and an even bigger gap, it's important to note those differences to avoid generalizations, as it's obvious CR is a developing country, I suggest to gradually immerse yourself in local culture, first mingle with people with higher education which can guide you better into bridging the gap and then once you understand how are culture works then you will ready to become a real Tico!!!

 

I have found this be be very true, in that those with 'more' are less likely to approach you with invitations or invite you into 'their' space but are more willing to meet you on 'public turf' such as in a restaurant. I have been told that this is how they keep 'outsiders' ...both other Ticos and 'extranjeros' from seeing what 'they' have.

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.... people are different and many times North Americans approach the world through NA glasses ...

 

Hi NCD,

 

Well, that was largely the point of my earlier reply.

 

I have spoken to a number of gringos who are planning to move to CR and somehow seem to feel that it is some sort of 'USA-South', which of course it is not.

 

I don't understand where they get this feeling about moving to CR and it just being a kind of extension of the US. Very curious, that perception

 

Regards,

 

Paul M.

==

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Paul M, I read the following a few months ago, that was written by a Costa Rican and so 'saved' it:

 

"From my experience in dealing with newcomers another tip is to understand that not ALL Costa Ricans are the same, there is lower income class, a middle class an upper middle class and high income class, each one has different ways of seeing the world, different goals, and different ambitions. It's common for certain Americans to develop acquaintances especially with the lower income classes as they are generally more open to casual encounters and that develops relationships with people with different values and an even bigger gap, it's important to note those differences to avoid generalizations, as it's obvious CR is a developing country, I suggest to gradually immerse yourself in local culture, first mingle with people with higher education which can guide you better into bridging the gap and then once you understand how are culture works then you will ready to become a real Tico!!!

 

I have found this be be very true, in that those with 'more' are less likely to approach you with invitations or invite you into 'their' space but are more willing to meet you on 'public turf' such as in a restaurant. I have been told that this is how they keep 'outsiders' ...both other Ticos and 'extranjeros' from seeing what 'they' have.

 

I recall reading that somewhere, too, CRF and tend to agree with it and you.

 

What it was saying essentially is, 'don't tip your hand'. If what one has is 'out of sight', it's also 'out of mind' and therefore protected, after a fact.

 

It has also been said that many ticos actually like gringos. I think that having a gringo as a friend or acquaintance can, for some ticos, serve as a status symbol for them. And that is not necessarily a bad thing for those gringos looking to assimilate into tico culture.

 

Later,

 

Paul M.

==

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Paul, it is not that they like 'Gringos' but that many Ticos ... hopefully ... like 'you' as a 'person or an 'individual' and not just part of the 'Gringo group.'.

Edited by costaricafinca

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Paul M, I read the following a few months ago, that was written by a Costa Rican and so 'saved' it:

 

"From my experience in dealing with newcomers another tip is to understand that not ALL Costa Ricans are the same, there is lower income class, a middle class an upper middle class and high income class, each one has different ways of seeing the world, different goals, and different ambitions.

 

I hear that from my wealthy Mexican business associates who are disappointed that American's view of Mexico is all formed from their interaction with poor uneducated Mexicans who cross the border. Most Americans do not know or would believe that Mexico has a large thriving middle class.

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Paul, it is not that they like 'Gringos' but that many Ticos ... hopefully ... like 'you' as a 'person or an 'individual' and not just part of the 'Gringo group.'.

 

Well that is true too, and to be hoped for. (At least I do...)

 

PM

==

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I can't count how many times I have seen a look of surprise on a tico/tica's face when I say Hola! walking by them on the street, or when I have stopped to ask them in my horrible Spanish how are they and introduce myself, talk about how beautiful the day is, etc.. I suspect they assumed I would just walk on by and not interact with them. So, that is one of the many reasons I love CR. It's an opportunity to remember how to be friendly, embark on new adventures, and not be that typical gringo. To your point about expats thinking CR will be an extension of the US, Paul - I think a fair amount of expats move to CR just for the cost of living savings/views/climate, and aren't really looking for a different culture/place to call home. Those are the folks that will never get on a bus and talk to the person sitting next to them....

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This is an interesting topic and one that most expats grapple with during their adjustment to living in CR. Speaking for myself I can say that my first few years here were an up and down ride on the cultural learning curve and though I don't profess to have any conclusive answers to the " hidden agenda " idea I've arrived after many years at my own plausible theory . On many occassions during my learning experiences here I was stunned by the outcomes of what appeared to be hidden agendas. I most often got the " short end of the stick ". My moral compass and social mores were spinning with indignation and offense. Many years later I've realized that if I'm going to function and maintain sanity here I have to accept the fact that it's wise to assume that interactions here are often fraught with the burdonsome agenda factor and I should navigate accordingly. I give myself the benefit of doubt.

Observing the Tico culture as a whole in its developing nation context I've realized that scarcity of vital and nonvital goods and services as compared to the plenty of 1st World nations often compels people to be selfserving , to be opportunists. If they want or need something they must be alert to every opportunity to procure the object of their desire because chances are that their chances are otherwise slim. And I've observed that many foreign residents after time become cognizant of scarcity as well and by necessity resort to advancing their agendas. Foreign residents often operate in a different style , somewhat more sophisticated and culturally palatable , but scarcity and the uncertainty of meeting one's needs in a developing country drive agendas on a perpetual basis here. Though the means of procuring one's ends may hide beneath the surface the fact is that having an agenda is no secret if you live here.

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We all have an "agenda". And we are all "looking for something" from someone else. It might be something reciprocal: I give you some lemons in exchange for your papaya. I might be a business arrangement: You clean my house and I pay you. It might be a friend-type thing: Your husband drove me to the hospital when my arm was broken and I couldn't drive and when you opened your restaurant, I would come in two days a week and wash dishes for free. And foreigners living here on small incomes can certainly do as the poor Costa Ricans do: take every advantage possible of every situation.

 

More than a Costa Rican cultural or developing country kind of thing, I believe it is a human nature kind of thing. You will find it in every country: there are kind people who are kind for the sake of being kind; there are kind people who are looking for something; there are crafty people who are only trying to figure out how they can get something; there are thieves.

 

No, we don't understand the culture to any real depth because we weren't brought up here. There is so much knowledge about a culture that people "absorb" while growing up, that it's impossible to duplicate. I think the closest foreigners can ever come is to either marry a Costa Rican or interact regularly with Costa Ricans only, eventually becoming "part" of the whole culture.

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No, we don't understand the culture to any real depth because we weren't brought up here. There is so much knowledge about a culture that people "absorb" while growing up, that it's impossible to duplicate. I think the closest foreigners can ever come is to either marry a Costa Rican or interact regularly with Costa Ricans only, eventually becoming "part" of the whole culture.

 

Agreed. Being married to a Costa Rican, if anything it's exposed me to the culture, the way of seeing and doing things just enough to really comprehend how much I don't know, and to understand clearly that there is a good deal that I will probably never truly understand. We constantly have to keep our "cultural filters" in mind, constantly be aware that the other's reaction to something or view about something may have a lot to do with the culture. (and/or the language!) So yes, I think you can come a lot closer through marriage, but ... I'll never be Costa Rican, even if/when I get my citizenship, not in the way that my husband is, and I will always have to purposefully check myself for how my cultural filters are skewing my view of his culture, and vice versa for him.

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Maybe it is just dumb luck, but we have found where we live to be wonderful. We know everybody up and down the street. They wave and stop by every once in awhile. The women come by and get my wife to go on long walks with them(they speak no English she no Spanish. Christmas day we had 8 adults and 6 kids over for dinner outside. We fried chicken and cornbread dressing and they brought everything else. They are poor in the way a lot of us were poor as kids---we enjoyed life because we didn't know we were poor. I get taken sometime, but mostly I'm too blame when this happens. I hand the person the wrong colons and he does not tell me or give me change This has only happened at the beach and with a cab driver or two. As a whole, I have found most Ticos are very honest, hard working people. If you want to get taken try Memphis Tn.

We settled here Sept.5,2012 and I can't think of living anywhere else. Pura Vida

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