Getting into the country was less of a hassle, compared to any of the CA4 countries. The process is straight forward, just make sure you have enough cash (dollars are the universal currency at any border so far) for the obligatory car insurance. De-fumigation and TIP were at no cost. Nevertheless crossing the border took about 3 hours. It is just because of all the paperwork, despite the use of computers. We did not know yet that “Pura Vida” was the answer to a lot of things, here in costa Rica. After we gained this knowledge, it got easier.
Costa Rica is clearly much more expensive. There are much more advertisements along the road, there is more tourism, more (US) Americans. I guess in Europe it’s equivalent could be Spain.
The country, as is the case for all the Central Americas, seems to be mostly in possession of private persons and companies. Not much of the land appears to be state owned, or it must be the national parks. The terms “natural reserve” “eco”(logical) and related terms are used liberally and do not hold the same value as we are used to, coming from an European background.
The housing, whether it is a single house, an estate or closed community, is usually fiercely protected with walls, topped with razor sharp barb wire rolls, cameras, guarded gates, and of course the “private property” signs. It just doesn’t feel warm or welcoming, although most people are friendly. Parking lots of supermarkets and commercial centres are usually guarded with live ammo – just to make sure you can safely load your groceries in the car. Speaking about cars, it is very common to have almost black windows in the cars. Apparently it is allowed, but it cannot be a good thing for road safety.
Gasoline and diesel are easily available. LPG or GLP are available too in Costa Rica, just not at every fuel station.