What many Costa Rica visitors don't see, taste and smell
Many tourists travel around Costa Rica on pre-programmed tourist routes think the country has most of the makings of a First World country. But they often travel in Costa Rica in a sort of bubble, protected by their air-conditioned tour bus or rental car, eyes glued to the windows as it whizzes through the city and countryside, along pre-chosen attractive corridors displaying the country's most wonderful features. Costa Rica travel draws several pictures in their minds, European-style mountain living, pristine palm-lined beaches, hot springs flowing from volcanic mountains surrounded by the rich fertile soil that has been created, twisting mountain roads with magnificent views over the green Mesita Central or distant oceans, the hustle of a rural-thinking city trying to catch up to the modern world, and the handsome peace loving family-oriented Ticos who have successfully toiled the land for generations.
But to really know Costa Rica you need to break away from the programmed guided tour, and venture out on your own. Generally you will find a people who are genuinely happy, simple people who take the time to smell the flowers, and say a kind word. You can enjoy studying them at your own pace, draw from their homes, their behavior, their lightness and ease to smile and basic yet participating sense of humor, their strong family values, their, 'Wait til tomorrow to get that done' attitude, it is kind of nice, you'd never think they would ever have bad stomachs, but they do, with an unusual number having stomach cancer, go figure, too much coffee (not really), stress, certainly not, silent frustration with their no-where leading lives, maybe I'm starting to get warm. Why doesn't someone do a thesis on this?
Maybe its the drinking water. So many hotels and travel companies paint the picture that San Jose, Costa Rica tap water is safe to drink. Recent studies about the quality of San Jose water is that it won't make you sick, like the famous Montezuma's Revenge that you get everywhere in Mexico. When needed, the water is chlorinated to kill all coli and fecal-coli. But chlorine does not get rid of various chemicals (arsenic, strontium, strychnine and lead for example) still in the public water of San Jose at levels considered unsafe by US standards. Boiling won't help the problem either. If you consume any large amounts of water, I advise you to use bottled water. Outside of San Jose, it really depends upon the source of water, be it a pristine mountain spring, or from the water table of an old town. You weigh it out, but if in doubt, drink bottled water.