Thursday, December 31, 2009

Costa Rica Culture and Personal - Photography

Volume 1
Her are some images from Costa Rica. Russo Mutuc's Image Worx shares some of his photography.

When you come to Costa Rica, you will not only see the many breathtaking views of the cloud forest, volcanoes, hot springs, jungles, beaches, and many more. To truly experience a cultural immersion, get to know the local foods, music, art, dance, and the people. When students go abroad, to learn Spanish, they have the chance to be part of the local scene. Try and speak the language, and you will be surprised how you can discover the whole culture.

Russo Mutuc – “I spent a day doing a walking tour around town, and I got to know some of the vendors at an open-air market. Surprisingly enough, many of them are not camera shy. They were very friendly, and open to chatting about our different backgrounds. I also went around looking for locals willing to speak about their fashion style. I tried to capture, in video and pictures, urban styles.”

Some of the images shared are people in their element. We’ve posted Volume 1, more images to come in the near future. So make sure to come and check us out often.

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Taking Cabs (taxi) in San Jose, Costa Rica

How to Take a Cab in San Jose, Costa Rica
If you’re traveling to Costa Rica, and it’s your first time in Latin America, you might come across the cab (taxi) services they have. Taxis are a great way to get around in the city, and sometimes within the country. They are relatively in-expensive, if taken within the city.

For travelers coming in the country who are reluctant to take the transportation system, it can be intimidating, especially, if they do not speak the language. Communication can be an issue, but if proper precautions are taken, anyone can use these services with ease.

What to look for?

Airport Taxis - In the airport of San Jose, there are official taxis services that work specifically with passengers arriving and even departing the country. Taxi Unidos offers services almost anywhere in Costa Rica. All the drivers speak English, and are accustom to servicing foreigners.

Red colored taxis - Are the general taxi services within the country. When looking for official taxis, keep an eye out for cars; with red in color, and with yellow triangles on both passenger and driver doors. These yellow triangle signs are to signify they had registered their car, and they have specific numbers assigned. Most of the red cabs are associated with taxi companies, and are very reputable services, which a lot of travel services use. With big companies, reservations can be arranged via phone, and arrival times are very convenient. Plus their meter system is usually fair, and they tend to be a more honest in taking you to your destination, without having to go through extra mileage.

There are also other red taxis that have the same look, but work independently from the big companies. T
hese taxis tend to have a bad reputation, because they that tend to charge more than usual, or they never use the meter. But not all of them are like that, if the passenger knows what they are doing, they can find out respectable independent taxis. If a passenger decides to take one of these taxis, be prepared to negotiate a price prior to entering the cab. If you know your destination, and the normal price, you can ask that driver how much would it cost to get there? If the price sounds just about right, then, it’s a fair ride.
Generally when taking red cabs, off the streets, it’s a good idea to know a few phrases and questions prior to taking the ride. Normally passengers would ask;
• Maria? (locals call the meter Maria)
• Marca con Maria?
• Cobra con
• Usas con Maria?
If they say no, you can either negotiate a price, or move on to the next taxi.
Un-marked cars – in smaller towns of Costa Rica, they have taxi services that have un-marked cars. Independently run, these taxi services are usually negotiations only. They are not red in color, and often times, it’s a local who uses his or her personal car as a taxi.

What to prepare for?
It’s suggested when taking any taxi to get your directions pre-planned or ready. This way the passenger can get to the destination a lot faster and possibly save some money. If possible try and memorize your directions, especially in Costa Rica, they don’t use numbers on buildings and houses. Instead directions are b
ased on land marks.
Have enough money in your pocket or bag, to pay the taxi, in case you have to get out prior to your destination during heavy traffic. Plus having exact change will prevent showcasing bigger bills, which prevent theft.

For the new travelers coming in the country, know the Costa Rican money currency before you pay. Often times, people mistakenly paid more money, because the bill looked the same in color. If the driver is not honest, they might simply drive off without
giving you change.

This blog is for anyone traveling in the country, and for study abroad Costa Rica students.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Costa Rican Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto, a popular dish in Costa Rica. It’s considered one of the traditional foods of the country. The name Gallo Pinto resembles spotted rooster, hence, the dish is normally served during breakfast time. But it’s also common to eat at lunch and dinner.

In Costa Rica, the preparation is with cooked white rice, onions, peppers, and black beans. All mixed and fried together, to give it that spotted rooster look. When served for breakfast, it can come with combination of fried eggs, slide of bread, and in the side, are a glass of juice or cup of coffee.

Study Spanish abroad, and experience a taste of Costa Rican culture.

Let us know what you think?

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