The language of the car horn in Costa Rica is a rich one that may take years to master. Ticos don’t tend to “lean on their horns” like some Type A people back home, but they don’t ignore them either. Only long-term residents, however, can tell the difference between the “Get out of my way!” honk and the “What a pleasure to see you, my friend, on this same stretch of road where I see you every morning and evening!” honk.

There’s also the “Hey baby” honk, the “I’m a taxi and I’m available” honk, and perhaps most maddening, the “I’m here! Come out of your house and say hello!” honk, which can go on for a long time, especially if no one’s home.

After you’ve been in Costa Rica for a while, you’ll start to recognize even more varieties, maybe even inventing a few of your own. After all, what occasion–no matter how humble–is not enhanced by the sounding of a car’s horn?


Excerpted from Living Abroad in Costa Rica.