Language

Spanish is spoken almost exclusively in San Gerardo de Rivas. Many of the hotels now offer service in English, but you will enjoy your stay much more if you have a basic Spanish vocabulary for greetings, questions and simple exchanges. Any attempts to speak in Spanish will be warmly received – so give it a try!

Simple phrases:

Buenos dias or Hola – Good day, hello
Ciao or Adios – Goodbye
¿Como esta (usted)? – How are you?
Con permiso – Excuse me
(No) hablo espanol – I (don’t) speak Spanish
(No) entiendo –I (don’t) understand
Me llamo… My name is…
Quiero…I want
¿Sabe…? Do you know…?
¿Tiene…? Do you have…?
¿Cuanto es? How much is…?

For more useful expressions see: Fodor’s


The Climate

Costa Rica enjoys two significant seasons: wet and dry. The temperature does not fluctuate as much as the rainfall, so this will help you in deciding when to visit. Because of the topography there are many ‘micro-climates’, so what is true of San Gerardo will not be true of other parts of the country.

In addition, because of its mountain location, the temperature can be cooler than at the coast – a refreshing difference as air conditioning is unnecessary and nights are cool enough to allow for easy sleep.

Generally speaking, the dry season is from late November – May, and the wet season the opposite, October being the rainiest month. The dry season is marked by uninterrupted days of warm, sunny weather, and the wet season has daily rainfall – usually in the afternoon, that can be very heavy.

Temperatures and Rainfall in the Highlands:

FEBRUARY – Max: 28ºC Min: 21ºC, Rainfall: 61mm
MAY – Max: 31º Min: 24º, Rainfall: 109mm
AUGUST – Max: 31º Min: 24º, Rainfall: 170mm
NOVEMBER – Max: 28º Min: 20º, Rainfall: 226mm


Currency

The Costa Rican currency (dinero or plata) is called colones. It is a simple metric system so it is easy to use the bills and coins you will receive. Since finding colones outside Costa Rica can be difficult it is wiser to exchange your currency once you arrive in the country.

US dollars are also acceptable in most places, however, in San Gerardo, you will need colones to buy smaller items or use services in many establishments.

NOTE: due to the introduction of many fraudulent US$100 bills these are generally not accepted in Costa Rica.

Travellers cheques or other currencies can be exchanged in the banks in San Isidro (nearest town). Have your passport with you to verify your identity. ATM machines are also easily accessible in San Isidro – not all machines accept all bank cards, so be prepared to try more than one.

At time of posting there are no ATM machines in San Gerardo. You can exchange some US dollars at the pulperia (general store) in the plaza.

Approximate exchange rate:

Canadian dollar = 500 colones
US dollar = 510 colones
Euro = 710 colones
UK pound = 800 colones
Australian dollar = 500 colones

Check the latest exchange rates with XE Currency Converter.


Annual Events

Dancers compressed

February: generally 3rd Saturday
Carrera Chirripó – 4 day fiesta to celebrate the annual international race up Mt Chirripó

June: 3rd Sunday in the month
Father’s Day: celebration by schoolchildren in the School

August 2 – Patrona de Costa Rica – virgen de los Ángeles

August 15 – Día de las Madres
Celebration by schoolchildren in the School

August 19 – Aniversario Chirripó
Fiesta and exposition by MINAE (Parks Commission) and the Asociacion de Arierros y Porteadores featuring conservation and outdoors activities

September 9 – Dia del Niño
Celebration by schoolchildren in the School

September 15 – Independance Day
Celebrated everywhere but especially with the Desfile de Faroles – a candlelit parade of crafted houses held aloft by singing children.

October 16, 17, 18: Día de Patrona San Gerardo
Fiesta hosted by the Catholic Church including soccer tournament, bingo, karaoke, typical Costa Rican food.

December 3, 4, 5: Fiestas del Pueblo para Navidad
Christmas celebrations organized by the Church for the community.