In Costa Rica, when men meet each other, whether they are good friends or strangers, whether in the bank, the supermarket, or on the street... whether they just saw each other an hour ago, to say hello and again to say goodbye, they always shake hands. This is the custom. Lots of hand-shaking. Men, certainly the older generation, generally don't shake women's hands. It's considered polite to shake another man's hand, but considered a sign of respect not to shake a woman's hand. I'm not sure I quite believe that theory, as those men don't even acknowledge the women (how can that be a sign of respect?) but that's what we've been told (I think we were told that so I wouldn't be insulted). The younger generation are more apt to shake both the men and the women's hands. And there's a lot of hugs and kissing (well, kind of a slight cheek to cheek motion). I see Clara almost every day, and sometimes I see her in the morning at our farm, and again at the school and again later on... and every time, we hug. I don't actually know her that well, but I don't dare not reciprocate. I'm quite a naturally affectionate person to begin with, so it's not a huge stretch for me, but for people who are not the touchy-feely type, it could be a little awkward. Of course, if you don't shake hands or hug, life goes on and there's no backlash... but you make friends more easily if you give in to the Tico way.
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My husband, Kevin, and I are from Burlington, Ontario, Canada. We decided to leave the cold winters of the Great White North and the hustle and bustle of our busy lives to reinvent ourselves in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. The planning stage started in June 2011 and we embarked on our new adventure on August 23, 2012. Welcome to our journey... enjoy the ride.
Click here to pick up your copy of my book! It's all about our adventure: from leaving our middle-class suburban lifestyle in Canada to reinventing ourselves in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. Check it out and if you enjoy it, please spread the word! Thanks!