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Enjoy the Thrills and Avoid the Spills in Costa Rica

Costa Rica – warm, Latin, welcoming and exotic. Welcome to a holiday you will remember. Whether you choose to stay on the Pacific coast or the Caribbean, you are sure to find glorious beaches, warm water and good company. There is even a naturist beach at Montezuma, on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, should you feel you want to bare all.

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It sounds like the stuff made of dreams and it can be just that, but don’t forget to safeguard yourself, not just for your journey to Costa Rica and home, by making sure that you have travel insurance which will cover you for any eventuality from cancelled flights or accommodation to illness or theft.

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Every seasoned traveler knows that any holiday destination will have its share of people who would like to help them spend their money – whether that is by recommending places to eat or stay, for which the friendly advisor will receive a commission from the owner of the establishment, or by less friendly or legitimate means. Travelling as a family or a group does allow for more safety. Travelling alone, particularly for the single male traveler in search of sun, fun and senoritas, being aware of some of the more common ways in which you might part company with more money than you would want to, will ensure that your holiday starts and finishes with a bang and not a whimper. It is sensible to book your hotel accommodation in advance, when you book your air travel. This saves both finding yourself without a room if the hotels are full in high season and ending up somewhere less than comfortable to stay. There are a number of top quality hotels to choose from, or you can get something a little more budget conscious if you don’t want to stretch your money quite so far.

Pitfalls to Look Out For

Overlong taxi rides:

Always use a licensed taxi and make sure you agree the price before you get in the car. Your friendly driver may want to take you the scenic route to increase the fare or otherwise, if he doesn’t have a meter in his car, he may try to charge you way over the going price for the trip. Make sure you have change or some smaller notes to pay the taxi driver when you get to your destination, to avoid the protestations of having no change for the large note you have just given him.

Timeshare:

Should anyone approach you in the street, offering you scratchcards or any other “guaranteed to win you the chance of a prize” offer, then don’t even look remotely interested. The local tabaquero will sell scratchcards if that is what turns you on. The lone person on the street is almost certainly trying to hook and reel in potential timeshare buyers. You almost certainly don’t want to spend the next half day being dragged off to some out of the way hotel meeting room to be subjected to a presentation telling you how incredibly lucky you are to have the chance to buy a week a year at an extortionate price for an apartment that hasn’t even been built yet. There are much better things to do – such as making the acquaintance of some of the local lovelies!

Accidental Bumps and Spills:

Beware the person who “isn’t looking where they are going” and bumps into you with vigour. They may just have someone with them who will help themselves to the contents of your pockets while the person you collided with is apologizing profusely for not having seen you and is busy patting you and making sure you aren’t shaken by the encounter. Similarly, an accidental spill with food or drink may be equally contrived – if something like this happens, then don’t forget to keep a good look around you to make sure no one else is in close proximity.

Scooter Hire:

Millions of people hire scooters for the day during their holiday and encounter no problem at all. There are a couple of scams to keep an eye open for though. One is the old trick of the hire people following you to your destination and then stealing the bike, using the spare key, while you are sightseeing or enjoying some private time somewhere secluded. Taking a lock with you and locking the bike when you leave it anywhere will help to avoid this one. The other favourite is the bike breaking down or suffering a slight accident; the bike owner will escort you and the bike to a local garage, where you will be charged an extortionate bill for putting the bike back to rights. Take a couple or so holiday “snaps” of the bike before you ride it away from the hire shop and you will have at least some proof that the bike was battered and scratched before you arrived on the scene.

Fake or Dishonest Police:

Not a common occurrence, but not entirely unknown either. You are in a hire car and are pulled over by someone who appears to be a police officer. They find a problem with the car that makes it illegal, or tell you they have pulled you over for a traffic offence. They ask to see your visa and passport and then deliberate over these before telling you they are not in order. They want to hand you an “on the spot” fine to avoid taking the matter any further. Should this happen, do not hand over any money to them, but offer to accompany them to the police station. Usually this will deter them from pursuing this line and they will make their excuses and leave.

The Extortionate Bar Bill:

Beware of getting caught by this one. You are chatting pleasantly to one or two local ladies and offer them a drink. They suggest a bar to go to, where you order drinks for them. They have their drinks and leave, after which you find yourself with a huge bill to pay. Check out some of the local bars, see which ones you feel comfortable in, and if you entertain a “chica” take her to one of these. Pay for drinks as you order instead of putting it on a tab, to avoid finding yourself with an oversize bill or not having enough cash on you to settle the bill. Stay in control of the situation rather than let someone else you don’t know decide where you are going.

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Too Good to be True Land Deals:

This says it all – if you are approached by anyone, including your new found friends, offering a once in a lifetime chance to buy a plot of land – it is too good to be true. For anyone who is genuinely interested in investing in land or property in Costa Rica, make sure you use a bona fide developer, that they have title to what they are selling and that the development has all relevant permissions. Do not hand any money over directly to anyone and always use a lawyer who is known to you to conduct the transaction for you.

Local Ladies:

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Remember that the local ladies who make themselves available to accompany you while you are on holiday are not doing this out of the kindness of their hearts. In many countries, including Costa Rica, it is a way of life – a means of earning a sometimes lucrative living in an economy which may not have much else to offer in the way of commerce or industry other than tourism. Do not get pulled in by the easy friendliness and intimacy offered to you and read too much into it. There is many a lady who keeps herself and her entire family in a far better lifestyle that you can perhaps afford - private schools for the children, designer clothes, good car - by playing on the sympathies of their clients. Should you want to make sure you can keep up with the itinerary you have set yourself by using a little medicinal assistance, you can safely buy Viagra from a number of different sources. It would be advisable though to do this before starting your holiday, to ensure that what you purchase is from a reputable concern. It would not be advisable to try to purchase medications, other than standard over the counter preparations such as aspirin or sun cream, while away.

Those warm, lazy nights, good food, sunshine, plentiful alcoholic drinks, from Costa Rican Imperial beer to the local guaro, are all guaranteed to make you feel good to be alive. Spending time with the lady you have met at your chosen holiday base just tops it all for you – puts the icing on the cake and the biggest smile on your face possible. There is something about being away from your own country, your own environment, having quality time that opens the escape hatch and lets out the you that doesn’t have time or opportunity at home. With all this on your side, it would be hardly surprising to find your enjoyment of your holiday, coupled with the, well, coupling, leaves you feeling very drawn to your holiday companion. You may well find yourself wondering about staying longer, coming back or even asking your lady friend to decamp and go back home with you to your world. The feel good factor is heightened even further by the way in which you are made to feel special by her. She makes you feel the centre of her world, wanted, adored and admired. These are all the ingredients of a sultry, summer romance. It is difficult to remember that it IS only a holiday and that it has to come to an end when you pack your case and take the taxi to the airport to catch that flight home. There is something about being in that kind of environment, rubbing elbows with other people who feel equally high on relaxation and happiness, that can lead to summer madness. This is not to say that a genuine relationship never forms from one of these holiday interludes. Occasionally two people do meet and forge something deep and lasting. This is very much the exception though and if you feel that your interlude is more than just a fling, then deal with this responsibly and rationally. Exchange contact details, but catch your flight home – alone. Keep in touch. If it starts feeling unreal within a few days of catching up with your home life and easing back into work, then it probably was unreal anyway. If both of you feel strongly enough for each other then you will find a way to make it work.

Have a wonderful holiday and don't forget to send your holiday postcards home to your friends and familly.

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