Costa Rica is a tropical country
by guest blogger Ticonuevo
You may have already guessed, I’m from the West Coast—a second-generation native Californian, in fact. Both sides of my family lived there for about a century. So, there are some things about Costa Rica that are pretty new to me.
If you are from other parts of North America, a few of my observations may not be so different from what you have and do experience daily. My blog on the Costa Rica weather covers what we have experienced to date and is mostly about the Central Valley where we reside.
About the weather
Costa Rica is a tropical country—well, duh! What I am trying to say is, it can (depending greatly on where you are located and the elevation) be very humid in the rainy season or if you are on either of the Costarican coasts, the Pacific or Atlantic, humid anytime of the year. The rain here is often, but not always, of the tropical variety, which means to me: it rains harder than I’ve ever seen. The rain can also be very gentle, calming and quite pleasant. I’m not experienced enough here yet to be able to tell if, how much or when it will rain by looking at the sky.
However on any given day, if you see more than half of the Ticos on foot carrying an umbrella, there’s a pretty good chance that there will be a noticeable amount of rain in your near future. In the rainy season, it can rain anytime, but usually rains in the afternoon or early evening maybe once or twice for about fifteen minutes. A tropical-type downpour can easily drop about 2.5 centimeters (half an inch) with each rain burst. The downpours are often accompanied by lightning and thunder, but except for the infrequent loss of electricity, it’s very exciting to watch the power of Mother Nature and hardly a bother anymore.
Annual rainfall in the Central Valley of Costa Rica has averaged 387 centimeters (77 inches)—with most of it falling during the rainy season (called “green season” here). However, worldwide climate appears to be changing, and it seems that Costa Rica is no exception. Last year, Costa Rica experienced a drought and there was even water rationing in some areas of the Central Valley, with water trucked into a few barrios for a period during the dry season of 2012-13. For being considered a third-world country, Costa Rica does a pretty decent job of handling the water it receives from the almost-daily rainfall during the green season. It is helped by the dense, beautiful tropical landscape Mother Nature has provided in most places, which seems to drink in much of the downpours.
The mornings in Costa Rica are drop-dead beautiful most every day all year round. They are clear, calm, quiet and sunny. Sitting on your terrace with a cup of coffee and a plate of fresh fruit watching the day brighten just cannot be described. Although occasionally in the morning during the green season, there are small gangs of low clouds attached to the hillsides or hunkered down in the ravines and lowlands—making it another level of serene and beautiful. And then there are the evening sunsets, which can be quite spectacular—blue skies and usually with clouds covered in reds and oranges. These evening moments go best with a glass of wine or a rum fruit drink.
The higher you are located, typically the cooler and less humid the climate. The tradeoff: the more rain you’re likely to receive. The basin of the Central Valley is between 750 and 1,000 meters (3,000 ft.) elevation, but there are folks in the foothills at 1,500 meters living above the Central Valley where the weather can be quite different with fog, low clouds, frequent mist, cool days—very much resembling the cloud forests for which Costa Rica is renowned.
Daylight hours and sunlight
Costa Rica is close to the equator, which means sunrise and sunset each vary only by about twenty minutes all year. Sunrise is around 5:30 AM and sunset is around 6:00 PM. We’ve already gotten used to starting the day earlier and barbequing in the dark. There is no Daylight Saving Time here. This makes perfect sense in a country greatly dependent on agriculture and agricultural export as it’s easier on the farmers to work in as much daylight as they can. There are basically two seasons here: the green season, which runs from about April through October and the remainder of the year, the dry season, when it rains very, very little—allowing us to make way for the tourists. Since we don’t change time with the seasons, we’re part of the Central Time during North America’s Standard Time and the Mountain Time Zone during Daylight Saving Time.
The sun is very bright in Costa Rica all year around. Combine this with the fact that we’re close to the equator (and therefore closer to the sun) and that the height where the Central Valley rests, the air is thinner. It is very easy to get over-exposed and suffer sunburn, which can be quite severe. However, it’s not much different than going to the beach or the lake during the summer. Just “slather” up and enjoy the day. The same precaution is required for the sun on either of our coasts year round.
Some other basic geographical facts
By checking a global map, you’ll see that Costa Rica runs as much east to west as it does north to south. I was pretty good with my north, south, east and west in the States, but this juxtaposition still has me turned around. Costa Rica is longitudinally farther east than many might assume. It is a much shorter distance from San Jose, Costa Rica to Portland, Maine than to Portland, Oregon. And, there is even a part of Southern Costa Rica that is farther south than the northern-most point of South America.
The author of this blog, Ticonuevo, is a US expat who moved to Costa Rica and used the services of GoDutch Realty to purchase a property in Costa Rica. In his blogs, Ticonuevo describes his own experiences of taking the step of moving to Costa Rica and getting a new life started.
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