Costa Rican Spanish
During your visit to Costa Rica, you will find that most people you encounter speak English. This is certainly true of everyone who works in tourism and is largely thanks to the fact that Costa Rican students are required to study a second language (either English or French) in order to receive their high school (colegio) diploma. We find that knowing a few words in Spanish is always appreciated by the locals (even if your pronunciation is a little off) so here are some words to help you get by, survival Spanish.
Buenos Días: Good Morning
Buenas Tardes: Good Afternoon
Buenas Noches: Good Night
¿Como esta?: How are you?
Muy bien, gracias. ¿Y usted?: Very well, thank you. And you?
¿Como se llama?: What's your name?
Mi llamo.....: My name is...
Mucho gusto: My pleasure/Pleased to Meet you. Costa Ricans do not use the phrase "de nada" to mean "you're welcome" as often as in other Spanish-speaking countries.
Gracias: Thank you
Por favor: Please. This is sometimes shortened to simply "porfa".
¿Cuanto cuesta?: How much is it?
No hablo español: I don't speak Spanish
Con permiso: Pardon me (used when you need to pass someone or to interrupt someone)
Lleno: full. This is especially useful at the bomba (gas station).
Pez Vela: sail fish
La naciente: natural springs
Bosque lluvioso: rain forest
Bienes Raices: real estate
Buen Provecho: bon appetit
On Street Signs
Ticos have a very colorful way of speaking. Here are some examples of idioms that they use to make life more interesting (and slightly more confusing for visitors).
Tico/a: Costa Rican
Pura Vida: Great, terrific. This is a totally appropriate way to answer the question "como esta".
Tiquisia: Costa Rica
Chepe: San José
Pulperia: mini market
Mala Nota: uncool
Buena Nota: cool
Gato:someone with light (blue or green) eyes. Literally translated means "cat" and refers to them having cat eyes.
Maria: taxi meter. This is a reference to the Virgin Mary and is supposed to reflect her honesty.
Son muertos: speed bumps. Literally translated means "they're dead".
Ella dio la luz: she gave birth. The literal translation of this is "she gave the light."
Mi media naranja: my other half. The literal translation of this is "my half orange."