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A lo Tico – Learn Spanish the Tico way

A lo Tico – Learn Spanish the Tico wayA lo Tico is a Spanish dictionary with words used in Costa Rica.

A week or so ago, in another blog, I asked you to learn Spanish and told you how the Ticos will respect you if you make an effort to learn their language. Today, I’ll make it even more interesting for you. You can learn Tico Spanish and I can assure you that you won’t be able to do anything wrong with the locals anymore.

A lo Tico means doing things the Tico way.

Learning the ways of your new home country will allow you to adapt so much faster. And do things a lo Tico can be part of it if you wish so. I know quite a few foreigners who have learned without going native. Learning a lo Tico will make living in Costa Rica a lot easier.

Like every language, Tico Spanish has its own slang. My dear friend and client Alf Giebler has written a book about it, “A lo Tico”.

Alf Giebler, though his name betrays his German ancestry, is as Tico as they come. Alf wrote this amazing book about Ticoisms and other stuff “Costarriqueñismos y otras vainas”. The book is now published in the 5th edition. Unfortunately, you need to be quite fluent in Spanish to enjoy the humor Alf was able to insert.

A lo Tico – Learn Spanish the Tico way

Pura Vida

A lo Tico explains some VERY Tico words like Pura Vida, Ydiay, Diay, Maje or Mae, Tuanis and Chunche. I found some great explanations about typical ways of saying things as well as the use of verbs that are not in any ordinary dictionary but that you will find in the day to day use of Tico.


If you really have a hard time learning Tico, do not despair. Alf found quite some words in English that have been turned into Tico in a quite simple way. The pronunciation should not be too difficult for you.

Baucher = voucher                                                                     Oquei = okay
Cofimeiquer – coffeemaker                                                          Greifrut = grapefruit
Fiús – Fuse                                                                               Overol = overall or coverall
Imail = email (in Spanish the I is pronounced like and e)                Sángüiche – sandwich
Blúmer = bloomer                                                                      Yaquet = jacket
Bistec = beefsteak                                                                     Yins = jeans
Mol = mall                                                                                 Sueta = sweater
Overjol = overhaul                                                                       Suich = switch
Cloch = clutch                                                                           Bluyín = blue jeans
Tunap = tune-up

Buy Alf Gieblers book: A lo Tico and learn the Tico ways.

A Tico dictionary

The last 111 pages of the book is a Tico – Spanish dictionary. It helps you understand their slang a lot better. If you have a hard time learning these Spanglish words, you can always do what a gringo client has used for years. Because he is too lazy to learn Spanish, he just puts an “o” or an “a” at the end of each word. Try it and then pray you didn’t say anything that might turn into a surprise.

A lo Tico – Learn Spanish the Tico way

Alf, aunque ya casi jala para Alemania, lo queremos un pichazo y le agradezco el libro en paleta. Are you curious about my message to Alf? Then read his book A lo Tico and soon you’ll understand what it means.

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Finally, I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, we appreciate it.

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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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