Puerto Viejo is an extremely interesting case study of the merger between Afro-Caribbian, Latin, and the indigenous Bri Bri culture that all call this area home. Originally, Puerto Viejo, whose name means Old Harbor in Spanish, was a battleground between the indigenous people and pirates! From here, the seaside city evolved to become the primary port of the Limon Province, and facilitated both national and international trade. Slowly, Puerto Viejo grew from a sleepy fishing village to a hub for trade, and ultimately to the tourist destination it is today. Though each of these periods is somewhat incongruous, Puerto Viejo has kept elements of each period of growth, and you can see distinct elements of each phase in its history.
Of course, Puerto Viejo still shares common Costa Rican culture, whose influence comes from the Caribbean, North and South America. The locals, who are endearingly called Ticos, are very proud of their heritage and enjoy conversing with foreigners about family, politics, education, peace and their homeland. Speaking of interaction between locals, when asked how you are doing, it’s common to state pura vida, which translates to full of life, in this particular instance. This word, used in many contexts, is as fluid as water. Ticos use it to answer ‘how are you?’, to reply to a ‘thanks’, and just to express joy.
You won’t have a hard time making friends with the Ticos, as they are friendly humans who take pride in their piece of paradise. When it comes to punctuality, you can expect lateness, as it is just a slice of the culture. In order to conserve the beautiful nature of ‘chill’ that exists in Costa Rica, the lack of awareness and recognition of time’s importance needs to be peacefully accepted. When traveling by bus, just make sure you are planning for a possible 2-hour delay.
If you plan to venture through the rainforests it’s best to bring bug spray, long pants and a hat. Creepy crawly bugs are not strangers to this area. For those who enjoy soaking up the rays in the beach zone, relaxed attire is very much welcome here.