Enhancing your Costa Rica vacation

As you probably know, the official language in Costa Rica is Spanish. However, those working in the Tourist Industry are generally fluent in English and often also in other languages spoken by our frequent visitors. Like in many parts of the world, the language in Costa Rica is rich in words and phrases that are unique to this country and which you would not encounter when you travel to other Spanish speaking countries. To help you more fully enjoy your vacation in Costa Rica, today we are going to let you in on the local “Tico Talk.”

 
The first word you will need to learn is the word TICO which is a short endearment term for Costa Rican. TICO is used for men and for many things and TICA for women. So when we say “Tico Talk” we mean words and phrases used exclusively by the people of Costa Rica and by those visitors who want to join in the fun. Some basic tips to figure the proper pronunciation: you will find in parenthesis the way the word would need to be written in English to come up with the appropriate sound of the word in Spanish. To know which part of the word needs to have more emphasis, it will be underlined. So TICO is pronounced (teeco)

 
Here are some more.
Definitely the most innately TICO expression is the term “PURA VIDA” (poorah veedah). Literally translated it means Pure Life but it stands for the soul of Costa Rican culture. This is a very versatile expression which can be used in a variety of contexts. It’s always a very positive term and the context will help you grasp the intended meaning for each situation.

 

The best way to teach you when to use it is to show you the most common times when it’s appropriate and usual to say it.
-when someone asks how are you doing? ¡PURA VIDA!
-how are you enjoying your vacation in Costa Rica? ¡Pura Vida!
-when friends meet, sometimes as a way to greet each other they will say ¡PURA VIDA Diego! When they part, they may also say ¡PURA VIDA!
-when someone asks how was your tour to one of the Costa Rica National Parks or how you enjoyed fishing in Costa Rica, or about the Costa Rica night life, you answer ¡PURA VIDA! If you want to emphasize it, because you really enjoyed it a lot, linger on the first syllable and say ¡PUURA VIDA!
-when asked to do something instead of answering “sure, of course” or something similar, just respond ¡PURA VIDA!
-how is dinner? ¡PURA VIDA!
-how are they treating you? ¡PURA VIDA!
-how do like your Costa Rica Star Villa? ¡PUURA VIDA!
-are you having fun in your vacation in Costa Rica? ¡PUURA VIDA!

 
Ok, you get the drift. Fun isn’t it? You can convey so much with just these two words!
A similar word is TUANIS (too ah nees) This is much like PURA VIDA in that it also conveys a positive response. Similar to the American slang “cool”. Go back to the examples used for the term PURA VIDA, you can substitute PURA VIDA with TUANIS. The difference is mainly that PURA VIDA is accepted as proper in practically all occasions while TUANIS is more colloquial in the same way that “cool” is more slang, less mainstream.

 
Another colloquial word used only when talking to people who are your close friends is the word MAJE (mah heh) sometimes shortened to MAE (mah eh) You never use this term to address a person that should be addressed with respect, a lady, your boss, your teacher, etc. Used mostly among young guys.

 
If your friend asks you Hola, como estas?( Ohlah, como ehstahs) Hi, how are you doing? Answer ¡PURA VIDA MAE! or ¡TUANIS MAE!

 
If you have enjoyed this little arsenal of TICO TALK, remember to keep checking this blog several times a month for more fun and interesting tidbits to make your vacation in Costa Rica more interesting, fun and interactive by learning more about the culture and lifestyle of your new Tico friends!

Wellness in Costa Rica: Our Own Blue Zone

Today I want to tell you about another important topic that makes Costa Rica very special. Let’s start by explaining what the Blue Zones are. From Wikipedia: Blue Zones is a concept used to identify a demographic and/or geographic area of the world where people live measurable longer lives. There are 5 areas in the entire world identified this way and one of them is- guess where? Right here in our own Nicoya Peninsula in the Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica!

This is the complete list of the Blue Zones of the World in alphabetical order:
1. Icaria, a Greek island
2. Loma Linda, California in the United States
3. Nicoya, a Peninsula located in the Northwest of Costa Rica
4. Okinawa, a Japanese Island
5. Sardinia, in Italy

A very important characteristic of the Blue Zones, in addition to the longevity of its people is the fact that they maintain their mobility, vigor, clarity of mind, general wellness and zest for life to the end of their lives.
The question that comes to mind immediately, of course, is- What makes the difference? The difference is in the LIFE STYLE.

For the 75,000 or so residents of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, life continues much as it has for hundreds of years. They make their living as small farmers, laborers or “sabaneros”- cowboys who work the area’s huge cattle ranches. From the dusty villages where neighbors visit each other on porches or from the rural homes where women still cook on ancient wood-burning stoves, you would never guess that this is the place with the longest life expectancy in the Americas.

Scientists generally agree that less than 25% of how long a person lives is linked to genetics (to what ages their parents and grandparents lived) and the other 75% comes from lifestyle (daily routine over a lifetime)

Costa Ricans stay fit in Nicoya by maintaining moderate but regular activity throughout their lives including to advanced age. This is done by walking places regularly, tending gardens or animals, helping raise the children, continuing with their housework chores such as cooking often without the aid of many of the modern conveniences like electric or gas stoves, vacuum cleaners or dishwashers. I have seen old men chopping wood, mending fences, and clearing brush with machetes. They maintain an active routine that includes plenty sleep (early to bed and early to rise), living a life that has purpose, eating in moderation a diet that includes non-processed food, fresh fruit and vegetables often from their own garden, fish, little meat, moderate alcohol intake (moderate is the key) but also very important is the support of their extended family and the social network of friends and community. They live in communities where family relationships are pivotal and the extended family is simply called the family often with several generations living in the same household. The elderly are respected by both the family and the community at large, cherished for their wisdom and never ridiculed or abused. They are not an imposition in the family but the center of the family. They stay engaged in daily chores until the end and are a central element of family and society. Religion is another key element, it helps ground them and by trusting in a Higher Power, they go through life with considerably less stress than most of us have in our lives. Still another factor is that festivities do not exclude the elderly and they enjoy a dance as much as their great grandchildren do (dances include everyone in the community regardless of how old or how young). This too of course, is a fabulous form to stay fit, much more fun than walking on a treadmill. They ride bicycles as transportation rather than stationary bikes for exercise and do all this in the fresh air rather than in the artificial climate-controlled indoors. The same length of each day of the year and the abundant sunshine in Costa Rica due to proximity to the Equator prevents seasonal affective disease which causes depression. Those are all ingredients of the recipe for wellness in Costa Rica.

The Nicoya Blue Zone has the lowest cancer rate of all Costa Rica which may be attributed to a nutrient rich diet of fresh fruits, beans, fish, rice and corn. There is little or no consumption of processed foods or refined sugar in their diet. Another key aspect of their routine is their physically active lifestyle and their mineral rich water – the water is naturally filtered through limestone adding calcium and magnesium which are sure to be a factor in maintaining strong bones that are less prone to fractures.

Something also very significant about this community is that it has been statistically proven that a man who reaches the age of 60 here is twice as likely as a man in the United States to make it to the age of 90. And 7 times as likely as a Japanese man to become a centenarian according to a study conducted at the UCR, the University of Costa Rica. According to National Geographic, men in Nicoya live to their 100th birthday 4 times as often as men in the United States- even though their medical care costs only about 7% as much.

The body of happy people is flooded with hormones and chemicals associated with happiness and health. Stress releases cortisol which is harmful long term, causing high blood pressure and generally increasing the onset and severity of heart diseases. Life is both about quantity and quality and the long living Nicoyans are still enjoying the richness of life. In Costa Rica this is called “the Pura Vida” or the essence of life.
Living a long and healthy life, except for uncontrollable circumstances such as accidents, is a Life Choice based on a lifestyle conducive to it. It requires consistency and positive enrichment of body and mind as part of our daily routine. The way to do this is to elect to surround yourself with others who share your interest in living a full life that is low in stress, happy and meaningful and includes plenty of sleep and lots of laughter.

Some other relevant statistics to consider are:
-In a study conducted in the United States by the Alzheimer Association published under the title “2012 Alzheimer Disease Facts and Figures”, 45% to 46% of the US population has Alzheimer by the age of 85
-People who are lonely live an average of 8 years less than people who are connected. Everyone needs to have, and feel they have, others who “have their back” and make them feel loved and appreciated.
If you don’t live in one of the Blue Zones you can still improve your life span and quality of life by adopting a lifestyle consistent with that of the Blue Zones. Here are some examples of successfully embracing this lifestyle concept.
-In the town of Albert Lee, Minnesota it raised life expectancy by 3 years and bought health care costs down by 40%
-In the town of Spencer, Iowa, City employees adopted a blue zone lifestyle and diet and within 1 year their health cost dropped by 25%

Adopting a Blue Zone lifestyle for this purpose means adopting their food guidelines, social networks concept and a clear vision of one’s purpose in life. If this won’t fit into your work circumstances, adopt it in your personal life such as in your home life or even in your extracurricular activities or by volunteering.

Important consideration- where you live, statistically speaking, is the biggest non-genetic influence on your health. Remember that a life where you get plenty of sunshine gives you the vitamin D that you need for strong bones and keeps your circadian rhythm tuned to happiness. The year round sunshine is another factor for health in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Weather in the Green Season

My favorite season in Guanacaste, the Northwest Province of Costa Rica, is the Green Season when Nature renews itself.  We call it so because Costa Rica weather during the rainy season regales the land with rains that nourish the moisture starved countryside following the long dry summer, causing an explosion of a previously unseen variety of brilliant shades of green. It lasts from May to November with a couple of dry weeks in June, called the Veranillo de San Juan or ST. John’s Little Summer, because it happens around the time of the Feast of St. John on June 25th.

It’s not only the plants that welcome the rains, all Costa Rican wild life rejoice at their arrival. The howler monkeys or “Congos”, as they are called locally, frolic on the trees that are now completely covered with a thick canopy and new growth, the mainstay of their diet. The extensive variety of birds of Costa Rica bathe and play in the little pools of water and build their nest on the trees that now offer a dense foliage which shield and protect them. The mountains, largely bare of vegetation during the Costa Rica summer months, now show off a thick, green carpet. Nature in Costa Rica is beautiful in all seasons but never quite as exuberant as this time of the year!

The afternoon daily rains are usually over by Happy Hour. Some people enjoy watching the rain sitting on the veranda at their villa or at one of the local watering holes while others consider this the perfect siesta time.  Generally, you still have opportunity for activities both before and after the rains so you could schedule tours in the morning and town activities in the evening.  Your Costa Rica Star Villas concierge will be happy to assist you in planning the activities that interest you.

After the cooling rains, it’s time for an awesome treat from Mother Nature: the outstanding sunsets this time of the year are much more beautiful than any ever produced by an artist’s palette. It’s Nature’s reward for the refreshing, nurturing rain.  Some people gather for cocktails on the deck at their villa to watch the spectacle while others prefer to join local townspeople, resident expats and other tourists on the beach to watch this amazing spectacle, an exquisite display of colors about to happen…My personal favorite place for this time is the beachfront park in Playas del Coco where there is always a group of spectators with cameras on hand.

Sunsets at the beach are always special but never as much as they are following a tropical rain. The raindrops create humidity in the atmosphere that act as a prism breaking down the rays of the setting sun into an outstanding kaleidoscope of colors. The hues change by the moment. Within a few minutes you witness a variety of blues, yellows and pinks on a canvas designed in heaven for our enjoyment.  After the lighter colors come the brightest variations of oranges, blues and yellows followed by deeper, fiery shades of reds, deep blues, and brilliant yellows giving way finally to shades of purples and darker blues…By this time everyone’s eyes are riveted on the sky much as when watching a firework display.  The ambiance is one of awed silence, people are transfixed sharing in this immensely beautiful experience. If you blink, the scene changes. You almost hold your breath not wanting to miss a second of wonder. It takes a while to go through all the stages until, suddenly, the sun seems to accelerate its descent on the horizon…dips into the sea and it’s gone…

Absolute silence follows momentarily.  Sometimes people spontaneously break into applause, exhale not having realized they had been holding their breath…and after a moment of awe, life resumes. But something has changed in you. You have been touched by a spiritual experience that you can store deep inside your soul and revisit in your mind any time you want when you go back home.  You will be taking with you and indelible part of Costa Rica that will be forever yours alone to share or savor privately whenever you feel the need or desire to recharge your soul. And this performance replays every night of your Costa Rican vacation though the performance will be unique every time, no two sunsets are ever identical.  Be sure to have your camera ready, if you can take time lapse photography I recommend you do so. Then you have it to share with your friends too.  I bet it will make them also want to take a vacation in Costa Rica!

Costa Rica, the unanimous choice of Jet Blue passengers

When total strangers sharing a random flight are given the surprise of their life by Jet Blue, everyone could be a winner or all could be losers. All they had to do to win was agree on one single destination for all.  Consensus among people who don’t even know each other…could they do it?  Could they find ONE destination so compelling, so enticing that everyone would agree on that choice?

Click here to see all the possible choices they had to decide from…. a lot! Both within the US and internationally.

http://www.jetblue.com/wherewejet/

Well, watch the video to see what single place on earth all 150 passengers on that flight picked to go.

http://www.simplemost.com/jetblue-offered-its-passengers-on-a-flight-a-free-trip-if-they-could-all-agree-on-the-destination/

This is an amazing independent validation of what we at Costa Rica Star Villas are so proud of.  By the grace of God, we live in this little paradise.  Come enjoy a Costa Rica vacation with us and share in the beauty of its sights, its people, a place where Nature poured so much beauty that you will never forget its sunsets, beaches, volcanoes, jungle, surfing, wildlife and more…Like us on Facebook and follow this blog to get to know more about a vacation in Costa Rica and all the fun you can enjoy in this amazing place.

In a prior blog we listed all the airlines that presently fly into the Liberia, Costa Rica “Daniel Oduber Quiros” International Airport, code sign LIR. Jet Blue flies to both LIR and SJO which is code for the “Juan Santamaria International Airport” in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. If you are coming to the beautiful province of Guanacaste where most of our Star Villas are located, choose LIR for a destination.

See you in the next blog or better yet, in Costa Rica!

Flights to Costa Rica

At Costa Rica Star Villas we are excited that you are considering or even better, planning a Costa Rica vacation with Star Villas.

To facilitate the planning of your vacation in Costa Rica we have put together some helpful information about flights to Costa Rica from different international destinations.  Specifically, to the airport that would be most convenient for you to fly when enjoying a vacation in one of our luxury villas with the breathtaking views that characterizes our properties.  That would be the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, commonly known as the Liberia airport for the city where it’s located.   The call sign for this airport is LIR and knowing this will be very helpful in your search.

This is a modern facility with all the expected conveniences of an international airport. At this time there are 126 international flights arriving weekly to LIR. Of those, 106 originate in different parts of the US, 16 come from 3 airports in Canada, 1 from Europe originating in London, England and there are 3 flights from El Salvador, Central America.

The following is a breakdown by city, airport name and code, airline and number of flights per week. As you will notice, if you don’t live in proximity to any of these cities, you should be able to find convenient connecting flights to them.  It’s important to note that this is current as of the writing of this blog however airlines do change frequency of flights and new airlines and routes continue to be added to accommodate worldwide demand for flights to this Costa Rica airport. So before making your final plans, run a check for the most current information.

 

UNITED STATES

 

CityAirport

Code

Airport NameAirlineFlights per week
     
AtlantaATLHartsfield Jackson Int’lDelta22
New York CityJFKJohn F Kennedy Int’lDelta                Jet Blue1             7
Los AngelesLAXLos Angeles InternationalDelta         Alaska1          4
HoustonIAHGeorge Bush IntercontinentalUnited Southwest28         7
NewarkEWRNewark Liberty Int’lUnited4

 

MiamiMIAMiami InternationalAmerican21
DallasDFWDallas-Fort Worth Int’lAmerican7

 

Baltimore

 

 

BWIBaltimore/Washington InternationalSouthwest1
Minneapolis-St. PaulMSPMinneapolis-St Paul Int’lSun Country   Delta3                        1
BostonBOSBoston –Logan Int’lJet Blue1
CharlotteCLTCharlotte-Douglas Int’lUS Airways2

 

ChicagoORDChicago O’Hare Int’lFrontier

United

1            2

 

CANADA

CityAirport

Code

Airport NameAirline

 

Flights per

week

TorontoYYZToronto Pierson Int’lAir Transat

Air Canada

West Jet

Sun Wing

1

4

3

4

MontrealYULPierre Elliott Trudeau Int’lAir Transat

Air Canada

Sun Wing

1

1

1

EdmontonYEGEdmonton InternationalSun Wing1

 

 

EUROPE

 

CityAirport

Code

Airport NameAirline

 

Flights per

week

LondonLGWLondon Gatwick Int’lThomson1

 

 

CENTRAL AMERICA

CityAirport

Code

Airport NameAirline

 

Flights per

week

San SalvadorSALSan Salvador Int’lAvianca3

Your vacation in Costa Rica can be…anything you want it to be!

For those who have already experienced vacations in Costa Rica it often means one or more of these things:  home-away-from-home, adventure sports, great weather, lively night life, wellness, wildlife and breathtaking nature, sport fishing, surfing, zip lining and more. For others the leisure of just hanging out at the beach or by the pool and being pampered in your villa by a professional staff and spa services in Costa Rican luxury style is what it’s about. Whatever your taste, Costa Rica Star Villas will meet your expectations.

A vacation here can be what YOU want it to be.  Talk to our knowledgeable and eager to please concierge and allow her to assist you in customizing your stay to fit your dreams.  Let her know if your preference is adventure tours, wellness activities and fitness such as yoga and nature hikes, exploring the national parks, going out in the town for an evening of fun and cocktails under the stars or any of the many tours we can help you with.  Costa Rica also boasts of a respected international “medical tourism” niche. If you need dental work done, for example, or elective surgery including those for aesthetic purposes, for what it will cost you to have it done at home you may be able to pay qualified dental or medical professionals for services comparable to those performed in countries such as the US, Canada or European nations while having enough funds left in the budget to afford the dream vacation in a seaside villa or one on a mountain overlooking the ocean.

We are doing a series on what you can expect from a vacation in Costa Rica and in future blogs we’ll be taking up more specifically the individual aspects and options as well as explaining some the culture and teaching you some basic and fun phrases to know in Spanish. Although the key staff of Star Villas is bilingual, you might want to demonstrate your language skills just for the fun of it.

If you like this exciting way of planning your vacation, follow us on Facebook atStar Villas Costa Rica and share your impressions with us. We would love to hear how your planning went and after your vacation, how much you enjoyed it.

Getting to know Costa Rica

We at Star Villas thought that visitors or those thinking of visiting might like to know more about this enchanted land the original settlers called Costa Rica.  So we are starting a series of articles highlighting some of the many things that make this small country such a unique place and a major destination for travelers from all over the world.

Let’s start with the name.  Costa Rica translates literally as Rich Coast.  And we would like to explain what those riches are.  It’s not that the roads are lined with gold or that on a hike you might find precious gems on the ground. The riches of this country are the generosity of Nature’s bounty in its flora, its fauna, its people and its beauty.

The official language of the country is Spanish but you will find that many locals- particularly in the areas tourists are likely to visit- are also fluent in English and sometimes in French or other languages. A cool thing is going to the bank or the supermarket, for instance, in Playas del Coco (originally a fishing village which has become a lively international magnet) and overhearing other customers speaking English, German, French, Danish or other languages.  These people might be tourists come for a vacation, seasonal residents fleeing the frigid weather back home, or expats who have retired or come to open a business in this mini international community.  You find people from all walks of life and backgrounds at any of the local watering holes- but that would be for another edition of this blog.  Other themes you can look forward to are the local culture, traditions, festivals, elemental but practical Spanish lessons of useful phrases, the incredible fauna and flora, attractions to visit, the tours we offer and more.

If you find this of interest, please leave us a message so we know we are going in the right direction. We also welcome suggestions for any specific topics you might want us to cover.

Costa Rica Tours: Sport Fishing

Sports fishing is the favorite for many people to enjoy a day off, or many days during your vacations. In Costa Rica, you’ll find plenty of ways to fish, and also, you’ll create memorable days with entertaining fish tales for family and friends; and who knows, maybe they’ll want to catch up. Here you can look on two of the main kinds of sport fishing and some tips.

Costa Rica’s Shoreline Sport Fish

If you choose to stick near the shoreline, you’ll find plenty of snapper, who usually stay at the rocky-once-volcanic areas. The snapper can weigh upward of 60 pounds and are caught all year long. Snook are another fish found near the coasts; these fish feed on smaller fish and crustaceans near the reefs. The roosterfish is the most famous of the Costa Rican fish, as well as one of the most highly-prized catches. These fish are known as fighters, making them a thrilling catch for new and experienced people, and they surely will make the trip a nice deal, closing with a bit of excitement in a relaxed fishing day.

sport fishing costa rica

Costa Rica’s Deep Water Sport Fish

If you choose to venture out into deeper waters off the coast, you’ll discover a whole new world of fishing just 30 minutes from the shore. Blue and black marlin and sailfish are among the largest and most desirable of Costa Rica’s deepwater sport fish, ranging from 150 to 500 pounds. Yellowfin tuna are another potentially large catch, growing as large as 200 pounds and well known as some of the strongest fish in the sea. Hooking a sailfish is a unique and exhilarating experience, these fish often take the fight out of the water, testing your angling skills as they jump and twist on your line. An adult sailfish can be as long as ten feet and weigh up to 100 pounds or more, offering a dramatic prize at any time of the year.

Sport Fishing Tips

-Bring medication along with you to ensure comfort if the water gets choppy.

-Dressing in layers is often advised, as sea breezes or clouds can make even a warm day seem chilly when out on the water.

-Fishing different types of lures and baits can help you to catch a wider variety of sport fish

-Don’t forget your camera to capture all of your memorable catches

Mira Vista