Microsoft word - misc costa rica stuff.doc

Meals in Costa Rica
Breakfast. Rice and beans are a staple diet for Costa Ricans, and this is true
even at breakfast. Most mornings will begin with gallo pinto, or rice and beans
cooked together with onions, garlic, and other spices. This will often be
accompanied by eggs, toast, fruit and coffee, juice or tea.
Lunch: Whatever we have for lunch, it will almost certainly be accompanied by rice and beans.
Dinner. (You guessed it, among other offerings, rice and beans!)
Passport and Visa Information
If you have not already obtained your passport, you should do so immediately! Your Passport
must be valid for 30 Days after your arrival In Costa Rica
In addition to airport and exit taxes (reserve $50.00), plan to have enough money for personal
expenses. Batteries(e.g., for flashlights) are expensive in Costa Rica, so you may want to bring
them with you. Souvenirs range from dirt cheap to very expensive…I would advise having
around $200-$250 available.
There are various options for accessing money in Costa Rica. Generally, debit cards and ATM
cards are the most convenient for obtaining cash. The most widely available ATM machines are
Cirus and Plus systems. Most of these will issue money only in colones, but some will also issue
dollars. Cash advances on credit cards can also be obtained in banks, though a service charge may
be imposed. Traveler’s checks can be difficult to change, with some banks accepting only
American Express and others accepting only VISA. You must have your original passport with
you in order to change traveler’s checks. It is a good idea to have at least some cash available
($50–$100) for immediate exchange at the hotel upon arrival
Medical Services
Costa Rica has excellent healthcare. That being said, we will visit some remote sites far from
emergency care. Before coming to Costa Rica, make sure you are up-to-date on all your regular
immunizations. In addition, you may wish to get additional immunizations for diseases particular
to the tropics. Check with professional travel health consultants for more information.
We will travel with an extensive first-aid kit. However, you must bring adequate
supplies of any prescription drugs that you need. If your doctor advises against taking a large
supply of medication with you, he/she should provide a diagnosis and the suggested prescription
to facilitate proper treatment by a Costa Rican physician. In addition, bring supplies of pain
relievers or medication that you normally use if you are prone to headaches, ear aches, allergies,
cramps, intestinal disorders, yeast infections, etc. Antifungal/athlete’s foot cream and
hydrocortisone cream (for itchy bug bites) are recommended. Although most drugs are available
in Costa Rica, do not count on finding your usual name brand. Traveler’s diarrhea is a very
common ailment. If you are susceptible to changes in “gut flora,” you should bring something to
combat diarrhea or relieve discomfort (e.g., Pepto Bismol). In addition, Costa Rica has lots of
curvy, mountainous roads. If you are susceptible to motion sickness you should bring appropriate
medication, such as Dramamine.
Well in advance of coming to Costa Rica, you must check with your personal physician, Student
Health Service, or a travel health consultant, for professional advice regarding immunizations.
Some immunizations can take 10 weeks to become effective.
In addition, you should check the
Centers for Disease Control’s Traveler’s Health website at
ml for the latest updates on disease and vaccinations in Costa Rica and Central America. The
following information may help orient you to some of the immunizations you might consider.
This is only an abbreviated list and cannot substitute for direct consultation with a qualified
travel health physician.
Booster Shots.
Make sure you are up-to-date on all of your regular immunizations, including the
Tetanus This is good for 10 years, but consider getting a booster shot if your last one wasmore than five years ago. The Td shot is a combined immunization that also covers diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), but travel clinics generally give straight tetanus-only vaccines.
Email and Internet:

Email and internet access will be spotty and intermittent, and will invariably be on a dial-up
connection…Don’t expect to be able to access email or the internet daily. Don’t bother bringing
your laptop, it will just make you a target for theft, and wireless networks are rare.
What to Bring:
As a general rule, travel as light as possible. It is hard to predict the optimal numbers and kinds
of bags you should bring, but here are several useful hints. Avoid bringing large, hard suitcases. It
is definitely better to bring a few smaller bags (with multiple uses) than one large suitcase that is
hard to haul around. A comfortable daypack for hiking is essential. Expect any bag you bring to
get dirty and wet.

For clothes, use light-weight fabrics such as cotton or cotton blends. Pants with Zip-off legs are a
great choice. Except for your town clothes, most of your clothing will get
muddy and receive rough treatment. Plan on keeping some clothes for relaxation, so you can
change into something comfortable and dry when you come in, sweaty and muddy, from the field.
Do not bring expensive watches or jewelry.

Check List #1:
Clothing and Personal Items
____ Valid Passport.
____ Money, ATM card, and/or credit card. ATM machines are accessible near most sites.
Traveler’s checks are often hard to change; the most widely accepted are American
Express and VISA. It is a good idea to have at least a little cash on hand when you arrive
in the country.
____ Daypack:
____ Shirts; 1 or 2 “town” shirts, 1 or 2 “field” shirts (long-sleeved are good for bugs; roll them
up when too hot; lightweight cotton shirts are best), and 5-7 T-shirts (tech T’s are great)
____ Pants: 1 town pants and 2 field pants. Although blue jeans are good for casual wear, or if
nice, for
the city, they do not make good field pants. Denim is hot, heavy, and very slow
drying. For the field, we recommend lightweight but sturdy pants.
____ Shorts. 2-3lightweight shorts (regular and athletic).
____ Swimsuit.
____ Big Brimmed Floppy Hat (the sun is hot and bright when it is out).
____ Underwear (cotton recommended):
____ Socks:
____ Sweater, sweatshirt, fleece, or a wool shirt (If you tend to be cold, bring several so that you
can “layer”): Don’t forget to pack some warm clothes; it’s cold in the mountains!
____ Rainwear: Bring a poncho or light breathable rain jacket. Rain pants are optional
____ Umbrella. (can be purchased on the street in Costa Rica)
____ Hiking boots: Fancy leather-hiking boots are not recommended. We suggest lightweight
and fast drying hiking boots, work boots, or “jungle boots.” Be aware that whatever boots
you bring may take a beating.
____ Sandals or flip-flops are great for lounging around.
____ Towels: Towels are available at most sites, but you should bring a camp towel or cheap
beach towel
____ Personal medical supplies: The program has a first-aid kit, but you should bring a small
supply of aspirin, antiseptic, hydrocortisone cream, moleskin, Band-Aids, and vitamins if
you use them. Bring a supply of Dramamine if you are prone to motion sickness. Women
who are subject to yeast or urinary tract infections should bring along proper medication.
____ Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses and prescription, in case yours get broken or lost: You
should also bring extra lens solution (expensive, and many brands unavailable in Costa
____ High-rated (15 or greater) sunscreen (tropical sun is dangerously intense).
____ Insect sting kit: If you are allergic to bee stings, bring an emergency adrenaline kit, such
as “Anakit,” available by prescription.
____ Personal toiletries: Most items are available in Costa Rica, but if you are attached to a
particular brand, you might want to bring a large supply. Tampons can be purchased incountry,
but women should bring a small supply for emergencies.
Check List #2:
Field Equipment
____ Flashlight and headlamp: A good light is an absolute must and a strong headlamp is best!
A headlamp is better than a flashlight because your hands are free. Headlamps are
available in some outdoor/camping stores. In addition to a headlamp, bring a small
flashlight to keep with you at all times.
____ Wristwatch: This should be inexpensive and water-resistant.
____ A daypack (e.g., small backpack) or large fanny pack (with water bottle holder) for daily
field use.
____ Insect repellent and good anti-itch cream. (Chiggers can make your life miserable. Be
sure your choice is effective against these.)
____ Water bottle/canteen, 1-liter size.
____ Batteries. If you use rechargeable batteries, bring several sets, along with your own
____ Camera:
____ Watertight plastic bags or storage container for things you want to keep dry
Not required, completely optional:
____ Field Guides:
____ Hand lens (10X): You should bring a good hand lens, as this is an important tool for plant
and insect taxonomy.


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