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Suicide Showers, Surfer Hotels, and Other Things to Avoid on Your First Trip to Costa Rica. Unless you want to go native and adapt to your new home country.
In this blog, I’m trying to cover things you may not hear or read before you visit Costa Rica for the first time. We have traveled plenty but have been to Costa Rica only once.
Some things struck us as unique or, at least, a bit unusual. The suicide shower is one of the most unusual ones.
You may find these at economy accommodations anywhere in the country, but mainly along the coasts.
But my realtor tells me all Tico-style homes also have them.
The Suicide Shower
The suicide shower, Ticos call it that, is an invention triggered by some engineer’s warped sense of practicality. Many, if not most, Tico homes do not have hot water. The native Costa Ricans generally see hot water in this warm clime as unnecessary and/or too expensive. This invention—an electrically heated shower head—is a way to provide hot water in the shower without having to invest in a water heater and hot water plumbing.
It works, but I speak from personal experience; it is not without risk. You will generally encounter it without a set of instructions. It can cause a pretty good shock if misused, wired haphazardly, or if turned on or adjusted in bare, wet feet. So do NOT touch any electrically live part of the apparatus while taking a shower.
Try to avoid accommodations that provide them and, if not, please use due to caution.
I bet that you can find suicide showers in use at virtually any surfer hotel. Unfortunately, few hostellers will have to call their establishment surfer hostels. If you see one advertised as such, and you are over 25 years of age, run away as fast as your little arthritic toes will carry you. It is my experience that the ocean view from your room in a surfer hotel offers no bargain.
We made the mistake of booking and pre-paying for one online.
The view from our window was nice, but my recommendation ends there. Even the suicide shower in our room did not work. The non-functionality was, upon reflection, was probably a blessing in disguise. The list of accommodation “must-haves” for surfers, besides a nearby ocean, must be concise.
Another thing to avoid is being without some form of communication while you are visiting. It’s a relatively small country. However, there are some remote sections of roads and sparsely populated areas where it would be good to summon assistance if you are lost or in a medical emergency.
Sorry, despite hearing that everyone speaks English here, it’s not always valid for operators and emergency personnel and a command of basic Spanish would be a plus.
Sometimes your hotel or a restaurant will also require calling ahead to confirm your reservation. One nice thing, Costa Rica has only one area code for the country, 506 (plus eight-digit phone numbers). So all calls within the country are “local calls.” It also has pretty good cell coverage over much of the country. (There are over 1.5 million cell phones spread all over a country of 4 million inhabitants, and they all want to be on the phone.)
Regrettably, your cell phone from North America is probably “locked” to your cell provider company. It’s locked because your company doesn’t provide service in Costa Rica. However, if you are not a resident, you are by law not supposed to be able to get a cell phone account. But you can get a pre-paid card almost everywhere.
Another thing to avoid with cell phones in Costa Rica is international cell phone calls. It is prohibitively expensive. Everyone in Costa Rica now uses WhatsApp, an app you should download before you arrive. As long as you have an internet connection you can make calls, send text messages, audios, and photos through WhatsApp.
If you need to communicate with your old home country, email is also a good option. Note: I have read that all” AOL.com” emails are blocked from leaving Costa Rica for some reason. If you plan to use an”AOL.com” email address during your visit.)
The author of this blog, Ticonuevo, is a US expat who moved to Costa Rica and used the services of GoDutch Realty to purchase a property in Costa Rica. In his blogs, Ticonuevo describes his own experiences of taking the step of moving to Costa Rica and getting a new life started.