I am writing now, because I love Costa Rica, and I am so upset at its decline. I hope the negative liberals do not feel compelled to respond because I am not criticizing, as much as I am sorry the country is taking the course it is taking.
We just returned from a 16-day stay in Costa Rica. We planned this trip because of our love for the country and to see friends we have there. We started to come to Costa Rica in 1993. We purchased a coffee finca there that we owned for 12 years, and we lived in Escazú for four years. If I can return to Central America, we have decided on Panamá. This is another story since most people know the reasons to go there versus Costa Rica.
When we arrived in Costa Rica, we had a marvelous experience with the rental car company. They were very friendly and efficient. We arrived in the evening and needed to find a place to eat after checking in with the B&B we had signed up for. We finally found a place near Multiplaza. They were very accommodating and a lovely place to eat. The problem was, we had two pasta plates and two glasses of wine and the bill was $72! We think this is very high.
Our B&B went to great extents to get all our credit card information and would not reserve the room without it. They gave us directions which we were familiar with but no address or signs on the house. Finally a guard told us where it was. It was a very nice place, and they knocked themselves out with amenities. When we were leaving in the morning, we were informed we needed to pay?? We said we just did that with our credit card, Sorry, that was just to reserve the room, they had to have cash!
We had booked our favorite hotel on the mountain because they gave us a great price. They told us in advance it would be cash only. We agreed. When we arrived, we noticed on their windows that they accepted virtually every credit card that existed!! So be it, but when we commented that the shower drain was stopped up and the shower head was like a faucet, they said there was nothing they could do about it. For the price, we lived with it.
We immediately noticed the traffic problems. Drivers completely ignored all stop lights, signs and total disrespect for the laws. This was no surprise having lived there, but the disregard for traffic laws was unbelievable. We found out the parking tickets in Multiplaza were enough to make one not go there. What a shame and talking to friends who live there, they all said they do not go there anymore. We have favorite places we liked to eat and tried out most of them. Prices are high, but I will not go into that. We did go to one we liked and looked at the menu and saw a pasta plate for $22. We left and later found out a friend went there and did not order drinks and his bill was $150 for two people.
I am sorry, but that is absurd and not the Costa Rica I knew. With good friends and destinations we went to, we did enjoy and I should elaborate on all the good as well as the bad, but it would be to no avail. What I am trying to point out is WHY tourism is not what it used to be and why.
As we leave, we pay the $29 per person exit fee that no other country has. Getting the ticket, I ask if people over 75 have to remove their shoes going through security since we do not do that in any other country. The ticket agent said she had never heard of that and at 75 they considered that young in Costa Rica. OK, we are well aware of the attitudes here. We went through security removing everything. I had to take my belt and watch off and my wife was never asked to remove her jewelry?? We proceed to the gate and wait our turn. When we presented our boarding pass, we are immediately subjected to a total baggage search upon entering the plane. This luggage has been searched and x-rayed before, but we are subjected to another manual search!!!
We spent a lot of money in Costa Rica since I had some cosmetic dental work. I am not complaining about the prices, but I noticed that everywhere we used our credit card, the colons charged was in excess of the bill. They talked about the conversion rate, but they charged on the rate to sell colons, not buy them. I ended up paying a couple hundred dollars more than the actual charge because of this exchange. Our credit card does not charge for foreign transactions, so this excess is only attributable to the Costa Rica system!!!
I only hope the new president can straighten out some of these problems, but I doubt it. Costa Rica is such a beautiful country and we truly love it, BUT it is losing out to other Central America countries that are progress oriented!!!! We will visit again, but only when we are flushed with cash and know we will pay way in excess of anywhere else in Central and North America.
*Mr. Simonson is from Leesburg, Florida.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Businesses that decline to take credit cards sometimes are defrauding the country by not remitting the sales tax.