Everyone in Costa Rica knows what upe is. Or uuuuupeeeeeee, when you yell it. If you don’t say upe loud enough, nobody will hear you and they won’t come to the door. Do you want to know what Upe in Costa Rica is?
Alf Giebler, in his book “A lo Tico”, says that is means “is someone there?” when you are at the door of a house or a business. Constantino Lazcariz, in his book “El Costarricense” says that is means “Ave María purísima, aquí le traigo de parte de nuestra señora la Virgen de Guadalupe“. Since it’s so long, over time the sentence was shortened to upe.
Upe is definitely much easier for those of us who don’t speak much or any Spanish.
So why do you need to know about upe? Because whenever you are going to visit someone, you’re going to need to yell uuuupeeeee so the people you visit will know you’re standing at the door.
Why don’t people just have a doorbell instead of all that yelling?
“And the doorbell?” you might say… Ah yes, the doorbell. Most everyone has a doorbell in Costa Rica. But we have a small problem. The doorbell either doesn’t work, because the wiring got wet in the rain so many times, they stopped fixing it or… you can’t get to it unless your arm is 15 feet long. Let me explain.
When we build a house in Costa Rica, we first take care of home security. So we build bars. Not the ones where you have your beer. We build security bars, everywhere. So we feel safe. Do we need them? Well, I don’t. That’s why I did a blog on it in 2012, I hope you read it so you understand where that is coming from. These security bars and security walls stop any visitor from getting to the front door of a house or even from putting a finger on the doorbell.
Most homes have a carport in front of the house, or they have a portal at the front door. Well, they always build a cage around it, just for home security. Nobody figures out that the doorbell was installed right next to the front door. So when, as a visitor, you’re standing in front of the cage, your arm will not be long enough to get to the doorbell, unless it is 15 feet long.
During a power outage, you can worry about your fridge not working and your beers getting warm. The one thing you don’t have to worry about is that your visitors will still be able to let you know they are at the gate when they’re yelling uuuupeeee…
The old days
Even in the old days, before we had a need for home security with security bars in the windows and around the carport, upe was used all the time. When visitors could still get to the front door to ring the bell, you could hear the upe echoing through the neighborhood. It was customary for salespeople to go walking through the neighborhoods with their merchandise. Upe was used by a variety of salespeople, who may be some of you recognize from when you were little:
- The milkman
- Those who sold brooms door to door
- Bible salesmen
- Tinsmiths who could repair your gutters
- Eggs salesman
- Pots and pans peddler
Go ahead; try it out on your neighbor. You’ll find that their ears are tuned to the upe or uuuuupeeeee, depending on the age of your neighbor. You might have to yell it a couple of times, but I promise you that it works.
The best part of all of this is that once you know how to use upe in Costa Rica, you are on your way of adapting to your new home country.
When you purchase a property in Costa Rica from A GoDutch Realty agent, we’ll always hold your hand throughout the purchase process, until the day you learn to say upe. If you have not purchased a property from us yet, contact us now.
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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Also, please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, we appreciate it.