Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
It is stated that one must speak the language to be comfortable here in Pura Vida. Well not necessarily. Following are a couple ways I found around it, i.e., a Tica wife, each of us with a cell phone and sign language!
I have been asked time and time again since we retired here “You don’t speak Spanish, how on earth are you able to communicate!”
I explained that my principal decoder is my Tica wife. We married in San Francisco back in 1964. We are still married!! She speaks better English than I do. Then you may be surprise at how many of the people here speak at least some English! In addition I have learned some basic sign language which helps paint pictures when a selfie just won’t do.
However in addition to my sign language skills, I also speak a few words (very few) in Spanish. For example when I was building a guest house on the double lot of the house we bought in Santo Domingo, Heredia, I needed some asphalt paper also called slaters felt, or tar paper. I went to the local like Home Depot and described the asphalt paper as negro papel and showed in sign language unrolling a rolled material.
The facial expression sparkled of the lady behind the counter who was helping me, and she said Oh, sí. Sólo un minuto and went to the back of the warehouse. She returned a few minutes later with a toilet paper dispenser! I didn’t need one but bought it anyway.
This is an example of a not so good translation, but, thank goodness, most have happy endings!