Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
This tourist, having lived here before, should have known it is usually better to pay in cash rather than use a foreign credit card for several reasons. First, exchange rates favor the establishment. Second, most credit card companies have currency exchange fees. And third, whether you are in the States or in a Third World country, the more people having access to your credit card information, the more you expose yourself to theft or fraud.
I have found it prudent to look at the price on the menu before ordering food. In those rare instances where they don’t have the prices, I ask for a menu with them and have been accommodated. That way, if I don’t like the prices, I can just leave, as opposed to paying and then complaining.
As for the $29 exit fee that no other country charges, what about the U.S. transit visa, that costs $100? And many countries have various other fees and constraints for both entry and exit. Check out the processes for getting in and out of Panamá!
It sounds like this tourist had an unhappy experience that could have been better had he spent some time preparing for his trip beforehand.