Costa Rica – next door or the end of the earth?

“You live where?  Costa Rica?  That’s down by Florida isn’t it?”  Contrary to what some may think, Costa Rica is neither a mispronunciation of Puerto Rico nor an island.  (An aside: The correct pronunciation is coast-uh not cost-uh rica.) “It must take hours to get there!”  Whether you are geography-challenged or if Mexico is the only country south of the U.S. with which you have any familiarity, you may not realize that Costa Rica is closer to most of North America than Hawaii.  Compare these distances and flight times.
Miami to San José: 1,126 miles, 2:41 (hours:minutes)
  
Miami to Honolulu: 4,860 miles, 10:46
Houston to San José: 1,565 miles, 3:14
  
Houston to Honolulu: 3,903 miles, 8:41
Phoenix to San José: 2,406 miles, 4:51
  
Phoenix to Honolulu: 2,916, 6:33
Los Angeles to San José: 2,734 miles, 5:29
  
Los Angeles to Honolulu: 2,556 miles, 5:46
Newark to San José: 2,212 miles, 5:2
  
Newark to Honolulu: 4,960 miles, 10:59
Seattle to San José: 3,418 miles, 6:47
  
Seattle to Honolulu: 2,680 miles, 6:03
Minneapolis/St. Paul to San José: 2,479 miles, 4:59
  
Minneapolis/St. Paul to Honolulu: 3,971 miles, 8:50
Toronto to San José: 2,353 miles, 5:20 
  
Toronto to Honolulu: 4,647 miles, 10:18
In a matter of a few hours, you can leave work or snow behind and touch down on Costa Rica’s fertile soil.  Major airlines offer convenient flights in and out of San José every day.  What prevents some people from visiting Costa Rica?  Lack of interest in or information about the country?  The fact that the “natives” (ticos) speak something other than English?  Cultural differences?  Fear of the unknown?  Costa Rica can feel as familiar or as foreign as you want.  There are bustling shopping centers with English speaking clerks, fancy hotels, international restaurants, SUVs, modern hospitals and FLUSH toilets!  However, for those who prefer a little more out-of-the-ordinary adventure-filled vacation, there are wild jungles, rainforests, waterfalls, mountains and volcanoes to explore.  Costa Rica has it all.  To enjoy the uniqueness of our little country, you only need a passport (no immunizations!), an openness to be amazed by exotic plants and animals and a willingness to be captivated by the friendly “ticos.”  1.9 million foreign visitors found their way here in 2007.  Isn’t it your turn?  We’re really not that far away! (Maybe once you’re here, you’ll want to stay.  Here’s a great place to find that new home!)

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