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CR Stereotypes for Gringos & Ticos

Stereotypes are everywhere, and unfortunately many of them are based on truths! Some of them, however, are ridiculous and I wonder where they even come from. Costa Rican people are nice and typically polite but the country is not exempt from developing stereotypes. 

They have some general views about people from the States that are not true of the culture as a whole; there are also some ignorant views about Costa Ricans.

costa rica stereotypesCosta Ricans think that all American’s are stuck up and think they are better than everyone else. They believe that it is offensive to use the term “American” for someone from the States because Costa Ricans are also Americans. I agree that “American” can be used in a wider way; however there simply is no other word in English to use for this. The Spanish “estadounidense” has no translation in English. A Costa Rican can say “I’m Costa Rican” but an American cannot say “I am United States of American.” It doesn’t sound right in English. Basically, it’s a problem with English and not with the attitude of Americans. The U.S. government is generally hated by Costa Ricans. I wish they would start sentences with “The American government…” instead of “Americans…” because usually the people are very different from the government in most countries. People are people, no matter what government they have been born to.

Costa Ricans also think of Americans as rich-just look at the actions of girls in bars for an example! A Costa Rican might picture an American as an old fat man ignoring his family and smoking and drinking all day. Or they may picture a young girl with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Guys if you are not a sex tourist you most likely be labeled as one and have an uphill battle to try to date a good Costa Rican woman.  Many times a Costa Rican woman will avoid dating a gringo as well because they might be seen as a “puta”.

Stereotypes are generalizations which thankfully do not apply to all of us, but they are an uphill battle in which many times you will have to prove you are different by your actions not just your words.

The American’s stereotypes of Costa Rican’s may be even worse or more hurtful. American’s have been overheard talking about the island of Costa Rica as a third world country full of Indians.

First of all, Costa Rica is neither an island nor part of an island.

Secondly, there are indigenous people here but the majority of people are not indigenous and are just like Americans- they have electricity, laptops, and cell phones. They wear Hollister clothes! As for indigenous people, they are stereotyped as swinging from vines like Tarzan and making their clothes from leaves. They may live in huts but they make quality clothes and artwork.  They are not wild like animals. They have governments, rich traditions, and good hygiene.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could see people individually instead of grouping them together with these crazy stereotypes? But that is not how this world works.

By Kerry La

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