Costa Ricans, or "Ticos" as they are affectionately known, have some pretty unique slang that you will only hear in this part of the world. Don't bother trying to use these terms travelling in Spain or Mexico because they are as local as Gallo Pinto! While slang changes frequently and by country, if you really want to talk the talk and converse freely with the locals, sprinkle a little current slang into your repertoire!
1) Pura Vida
This is the most well-known of all Costa Rican slang and it's used constantly, all-day, and in a million scenarios. So what does it mean? Foreigners usually translate it literally to mean "Pure Life," but you'll notice that to locals it means so much more. It's really a lifestyle. Basically you can respond to many (positive) questions this way. For example:
"How are you doing | Como estas?" ........ "Pura Vida!"
"Thank you | Gracias" ........ "Pura Vida!"
"See you later | Hasta luego" ..... "Pura Vida!"
2) Tico / Tica
Costa Ricas affectionately go by Ticos (for men) and Ticas (for women). The story behind this one is that Costa Ricans frequently use diminutives and so they ended many words with tico or tica in the past. In most Latin American countries you'll hear words ending in 'ito' or 'ita' but in Costa Rica you often hear 'ico' or 'ica'. It's a small change, but unique to Costa Rica.
In our little beach-town of Dominical, Costa Rica you'll hear the surfer's (and surfistas!) and actually maybe everyone, using this frequently. It mean's "man" (or "dude" if you've ever spent time in California.) For best results, we suggest you pair this one with number one... Pura Vida, mae! Use it upon arrival and departure.
4) Gallo Pinto or 'Pinto'
If someone asked you if you wanted 'spotted rooster' for breakfast you might think they are joking. But don't worry, it's actually a rice and beans based dish and there's no rooster involved whatsoever. This is the name of the staple recipe you'll see at any traditional breakfast. It's a delicious mix of rice, beans, onions, chiles, cilantro and usually served along side of eggs and a freshly made juice of tropical fruits. You must experience this dish at the local restaurant for authenticity.. aka a "Soda".
We didn't want to leave you hanging on where to order your "Pinto", so seek out the local "Soda" which is the term for a small restaurant serving up traditional plates and fresh juices. It's probably impossible to find a Soda in Costa Rica that is NOT serving Gallo Pinto. Try it!