Some more trivia about Costa Rica

6 March, 2011

Here are a few more interesting things about Costa Rica.

Matapalo
When I read about this tree in “Costa Rica: Traveler’s Literary Companion”. it intrigued me immediately. Its name, Matapalo, is not coincidental and means “killer tree” or “strangler tree”. The seeds of this tree  of Ficus family are diseminated in the birds feces on other trees. They start to  germinate on other trees branches, growing slowly on top of an existing tree and completely  shutting it off from light.  Despite the brutal way in which those trees start their life, they are beautiful and look like a light-green umbrella. Ever since reading about them I wanted badly to see one. And we happened to spot a few of them along the way to beach.

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Ditches
They are everwhere, even the capital. It is a system for light sewage (running water). After a couple of days you can get used to the sight of them. A side effect of ditches is that drivers cannot park cars just anywhere and need to drive carefull not to fall into one.

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Addresses
In Costa Rica, as in other Central American countries, there are no addressess as we know them with a street name, number, zip code etc. So how to reach a place? An address is given in the form of directions in reference to a well know place. For example our address is the following:

de la iglesia 100 mts. noreste
25 mts. sur
Playas Del Coco, Guanacaste,

i.e. 100 mts north-east from the church, then 25 mts south
Sometimes, instead of east and west, you can find the word ariba (up, which is where the sun goes up) or abajo (down). The distance in cities is also given in the number of blocks (cuadras). So the logical question is “what about mail delivery?”. Well, the main option is having a mailbox.

Women voting rights
The women in Costa Rica can be elected into Parliament yet they cannot vote themselves. What is interesting is a constitutionally guaranteed parity between women and men representation in the Parliament (50%-50%). In addition, the President of Costa Rica is a woman. According to my source, the owner’s wife, a Costa Rican and politically active, women are fine with such an arrangement.

PS We just reached Nicaragua.

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