5 Costa Rican Misnomers
Words Mean Things (maybe just not what you think)
In my former working life, among many other things, I managed a sales team; over the years it was interesting how the title of the sales position changed…modifying it from Sales Guy to a word that had no correlation to the word “Sales” at all.
The title progression went something like; “salesman” to “sales representative” to “account manager”, then “account executive” and finally, about a year before I left, if asked what they did, the sales guy would say he was in, “Business Development”.
Each iteration distancing itself further from reality that they were sales people, there to sell you our service.
Since moving to Costa Rica I have seen the same clever use of words, used to hide the truth. They may be oxymoronic, misnomers or just terms used in order to put a little lipstick on the pig.
This term is both a misnomer as well as an oxymoron. Caja is the Spanish term meaning, among other things, cashier and Rápido is the Spanish term meaning quick or fast.
So, Caja + Rápida = The Fast Lane.
To be clear, nothing having to do with a cashier in Costa Rica is fast. There are many things that may slow you down: a suspicious colone, a barcode that is not in the system, a conversation the cashier is having or, especially in the case of the Caja Rápida line, a customer with about 200 items in their shopping cart.
In the States, the “Express Lane” almost always has a sign dictating the maximum number of items you can have in order to participate in the Expressness of the lane. There is no such precision for the Caja Rápida lane in Costa Rica.
The lane acts much as the Stop Sign in Costa Rica – a suggestion – a suggestion to limit the number of items in your cart; a suggestion that no one follows and a suggestion that makes the sign designating the registers quickness unnecessary. We are learning, not just at the grocery store, that things take time. It is ok. Slow down. Relax. Pura Vida.
No Hay Problema.
This name Solar Dryer is just a joke, really. Because of the high cost of electricity many people do not have, or use, an electric dryer for their clothes.
Instead they use a solar dryer, the sun, and lay their clothes on all manner of a clothesline: railings, bushes, roof overhangs, the sidewalk – really just about anywhere the sun might hit.
We purchased a stackable washer/dryer unit and we rarely use the dryer; when we do, we see it reflected in our electric bill.
I was unsure about using the Solar Dryer at first, but after seeing and feeling the result, I am happy with it.
No Hay Problema.
Green Season – a marketing way of saying, “Rainy Season”. In all fairness, the rainy season does make things green and lush and gorgeous.
However, I am thinking the term Green Season most likely originated with the Costa Rican Tourism Board. I have no proof, mind you, that this is the case.
I do, however know that tourism drops off mightily during the rainy season because tourists are afraid they might melt.
Rainy…ehr…The Green Season runs roughly from the end of April to mid November. We just endured our first Rainy Season, and by endured I mean we operated our lives exactly the same as if it were the Tourist Seas…. I mean the Dry Season.
Most mornings during the Rainy Season start out sunny, cool and beautiful. The rain then finds us mid-afternoon and stays for an hour or two, then the skies clear again. So, you bring an umbrella with you when you go out and occasionally you modify your plans a bit.
No Hay Problema.
Joyeria is the Spanish word for Jewelry Store.
There is no Joy found here.
Hot Water on Demand
As opposed to its much more notorious name – Suicide Shower – hot water on demand sounds pleasant, even customer service oriented. Hot Water on Demand is a very accurate term though.
The water is not hot until it hits the shower head. Once at the showerhead the water is heated electrically. That is right, oil and water might not mix but electricity and water, in Costa Rica, DO. Electrical wires run to the shower-head providing you with the luxury of the hot water you desperately desire.
Although an awful idea, the suicide shower is ubiquitous in Costa Rica and, actually safe***. I have used Hot Water on Demand devices several times without too much damage.
*** I am not an attorney, electrician, nor am I a plumber…Also, I have no money.
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In addition to writing on this blog, Greg has written for other online publications and has written two popular books about living in Costa Rica:
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