One thing that I have learned during my short time in Costa Rica is that being a pedestrian makes life a little more interesting. Unlike many cities in the United States, pedestrians do not have the right of way here. On my third day in the country, the university held an orientation training on culture presented by two very smart and funny professors. One professor explained that to drivers, pedestrians are somewhat like a video game — the old lady crossing the street is worth 100 points, but a gringo (foreigner from the US) crossing the street is worth 150 points!
Luckily, he also took on the task of explaining the language of the “honk” in Costa Rica. Come to find out, there are many different meanings when a driver honks at you here, which occurs multiple times per day. According to the professor, the honks in Costa Rica run the gamut from the somewhat friendly “the light is about to turn green so get ready” honk, to the angry “get out of my way” honk, and to my favorite, the “hey, you’re blonde” honk.
After my hermanas ticas (housemates) and I learned this we took it upon ourselves to begin deciphering the honks when we were out and about. Mostly we receive “you’re blonde,” honks and “hurry up or I may hit you” honks, but one night as we were walking to dance class at the university, the best honk yet appeared!
It was during a Costa Rica fútbol match and as we were walking they scored, which led to hundreds of “GOOOOAAAAALLLLL!” honks. This is the most excited and unified version of the honk I have heard yet, but I’m sure I will learn more about the language of the honk as I spend more time walking around this amazing country.
By Jennifer Hall, Social Media Journalist