Andres Guadamuz

Click image for source.

Welcome Neutral / Spanish / English supporter (delete as appropriate). So you would like to support Costa Rica for the rest of the World Cup? Good choice! But in case you haven’t made up your mind…

Why support Costa Rica?

  • Everybody loves an underdog, and we are the underdog’s underdog. Costa Rica were favourites to finish bottom of Group D before the World Cup started, and were 499/1 against to reach the final.
  • We are friendly, happy people.
  • We do not have an army, it was abolished in 1949 by the winner of a civil war that was declared to defeat an electoral fraud. We are living evidence that you can spend on health and education instead of weapons.
  • More than 25% of the country is either a national park or protected area.
  • You can claim that you supported Costa Rica before it was cool.

So that’s settled then, we are worthy of support. In order to enhance your experience as an honorary Tico, here is a list of things that you should know about the country and its people.

Basic language and culture

Even if you speak Spanish fluently, there are key words that you need to learn. These words are so embedded in our culture that you cannot possibly understand Costa Rica without knowing them, and their deep cultural meaning.

  • Tica / Tico: Costa Rican person, comes from a tendency to use a diminutive to describe things: chiquitica (very small), pobrecitico (very poor).
  • Pura Vida. Literally “pure life”, it’s not just a phrase, it’s a way of looking at the world. Life is to be enjoyed to the maximum, happiness is what really matters. It is a statement of courteous intent, it is used as a greeting and a parting salute. It is used in agreement and assent. It means that you are happy with the world, and the world acts accordingly.
  • Mae. This word cannot be translated, the closest approximation would be “man”, or “dude”, but those words fail to convey the cultural depth of “mae”. Everyone in Costa Rica is a mae (except your mother of course). The girl next door is a mae. The president is a mae. Your boss is a mae. If the Queen was Costa Rican, she would also be a mae. Costa Rica is fiercely egalitarian, we are all supposed to be the same and nobody should rise above the rest. Because we are all maes, you have to respect the person next to you as an equal. This can have disadvantages, as it can be used to bring down people and to spread mediocrity as a national mindset.
  • Chunche. The most useful word in the Costa Rican dictionary, “chunche” means everything. The car is “el chunche”, the chair is “el chunche” where you sit, the computer is that chunche that you use to connect to Facebook (known as “el Feis”), the phone is “el chunche” that you use to talk to people.
  • Tuanis. Legend has it that it comes from “too nice”, and it means exactly that. “Que tuanis esa chemise, mae!” means “I really like your shirt!”. Edited: It seems like the word comes from Malespín.
  • Pobrecito / Pobrecitica. Poor person (can be used as the equivalent of “awwww”). In Costa Rica it is used mostly to give someone some leeway: “Pobrecito! Let’s give him another chance”. It has permeated into the national culture, and it is now seen as a negative feature of being Costa Rican, we just don’t like giving people a hard time, which means that we are always under-achievers. I believe that Jorge Luis Pinto has managed to eradicate the pobrecito culture from the national team.
Dr Andres Guadamuz

This is El Chunche. It’s complicated.

If you master those words, you will be able to have a decent conversation with any Costa Rica: “Mae, pass me the chunche, pura vida!” “That is a tuanis chunche you have there”.

Food and drink

  • Gallo Pinto. The best breakfast in the world, consists of rice and beans with cilantro, onion, sweet pepper and Salsa Lizano. A full gallo pinto breakfast will also have tortilla, eggs and natilla (sour cream).
  • Ceviche. Perhaps not as famous as the Peruvian variety, it is very tasty (and healthy, sort of). There are variants depending on the type of fish used, with the ultimate ceviche being the Vuelve A La Vida (come back to life).
  • Guaro. The national drink, it’s a bit like cachaca and aguardiente, and goes really well with sour ingredients (check out the Guaro Sour). The term is also used as a generic word to describe all alcohol.
  • Tapis. Used to describe a cocktail or mixed drink (“me voy a echar un tapis”). It is also used to describe a drunk person (“ese mae es un tapis”).
  • Birra. Beer. And there is only one beer: Imperial, which you can have with ice, lemon and salt michelada style.
  • Goma. After too much birra and guaro, you get a goma (“Ay mae, que goma me ando!”).

Football chants

  • Oeeee oeeee oeeee oeeee, Ticos, Ticos!
  • Vamos, vamos los Ticos, que esta (tarde/noche) tenemos que ganar!
  • Viva Heredia por media calle… ok, that is just me.


We are a nice bunch, but from time to time you really need to send a good insult when supporting a football team. You can find a full list elsewhere, but these ones should get you going:

  • Burro – a dumb person
  • Cabeza hueca – no brians (a hollow head)
  • Chiflado – nuts (crazy)
  • Don nadie – a nobody
  • Vayase a freir espárragos churros – Go to hell! A nicer way of saying it.
  • Chapa – a clumsy person.
  • Jetón – a liar
  • Limpio – a person with no money
  • Maje – dumb or stupid (not to be confused with mae)
  • Sorompo – idiot

“Arbitro sorompo” is a favourite of mine.

National heroes

  • Juan Santamaría. In 1856, a group of US mercenary soldiers took over Nicaragua, and were on their way to invade Costa Rica. They were stopped during a battle in Santa Rosa Rivas, where Juan Santamaría set fire to a house where the gringos had placed their fortification, dying in the process. Some say that he is made-up and never existed. Says it all really.
  • José Figueres Ferrer. 3-times president, Don Pepe abolished the army and set the country in a social-democratic path that increased health and education rates to levels only seen in developed countries.
  • Franklin Chang Diaz. Astronaut.
  • Claudia Poll. Gold medallist swimmer.
  • Paulo Wanchope. He scored that amazing goal for Derby County.
  • Joel Campbell. Hero in the making.

Other useful words

Tome chichí! In your face.

Plata (Silver). Money.

Güevos. Eggs, balls, cojones. Costa Rica played with güevos against Italy.

Harina (flour). Money. The fact that we have such diverse words to describe money says a lot about our psyche.

Desmadre. Disorganisation, chaos, but can be used to imply something is hilarious.

Despiche. Lots of fun, but can also be used to state that you hurt yourself (“Me caí y me despiché la madre”).

La Platina. A piece of metal covering the eponymous bridge. A national shame.

Edited to add:

Vara: Thing. See Chunche.

Chinamo. Small, dingy bar. Another source of national shame.

Combate. The First Rule of Combate is that we DO NOT talk about Combate.


This is a desmadre

This is a desmadre

There you go. Vamos los ticos, pura vida maes.

Categories: Off-topic



Javier · June 21, 2014 at 6:23 am

Viva Saprissa! You forgot that one…


    Andres · June 21, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Morado ni aunque me paguen 🙂


      Javier · June 21, 2014 at 6:36 am

      Díay mae…… por lo menos ponga también a Silvia Poll .. 🙂


Rocio pazos · June 21, 2014 at 7:41 am

The battle 1856 where Juan Santamaria died was in Rivas. April 11 1856, the battle of Santa Rosa was ón March 20, same year. Bueno! Nos d escribiste bien


    Andres · June 21, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Uy Rocio, que pena, ya lo arreglo!


      Javier · June 21, 2014 at 8:00 am

      Mae …suspenso en historia. .. 🙂


        Javier · June 21, 2014 at 8:02 am

        Muy buen artículo. ….. en verdad. ..saludos de otro tico en la diaspora. …


Gloriana · June 21, 2014 at 8:06 am

Muy fino, amigo. Olvidaste “diay’ con todos sus significados y que siempre se toma los vacíos.


    Andres · June 21, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Diay si 😀


      Marito Mortadela · June 21, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      Haha… hilarious 😉


mike · June 21, 2014 at 8:35 am

Falto, en Costa Rica se esta desarrollando el motor de plasma que se va ha utilizar para ir a Marte.


Nikolai · June 21, 2014 at 8:59 am

Tuanis viene de una clave militar llamada Malespín. La palabra debería ser “tuani” como la usan en Nicaragua por ejemplo, significa, literalmente, “bueno”. En Costa Rica le hemos agregado una “s” al final. Otras palabras que vienen del Malespín son “brete” “detroi” , etc.


    Andres · June 21, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Mil gracias, no lo sabia! Al parecer pelis tambien viene de ese argot. Que pelis mae.


    Carlitos Way · June 22, 2014 at 8:28 am

    (ve vos. A mí me parecía que nuestros hermanos del norte se comen la S cuando dicen “tuani”, como cuando dicen “la’ once”


Angélica León · June 21, 2014 at 9:38 am

El “Viva Heredia” fue la cereza en el pastel de absoluta perfección y grandeza que fue esta lectura. Mae, sos un grande.


Blanca Ramirez · June 21, 2014 at 9:56 am

Me rei MUCHO, bien hecho Andres! Mejor “vete a freir churros….que esparragos!!..esta buenisimo ! 😉


    carolina soto · June 21, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Mejor…”andá a freir churros” ….digo yo, por el asunto del “vos” aunque ya eso es complicado de explicar a un extrangero…jeje


Pablo Salazar · June 21, 2014 at 10:09 am

Mae, muy bueno. Faltó decir que el miércoles cumplió 95 años la casa del Chunche, la Liga.
Saludos desde San José. Muy bueno el blog.


Alejandra Sura · June 21, 2014 at 10:12 am

Pretty funny, but work on those insults… half of them I’ve never used or heard in real life…


Ginger · June 21, 2014 at 10:49 am

Very convincing, will definitely give it a thought once Chile and Germany are out 😉


Marissia · June 21, 2014 at 11:35 am

hahahahaha funny, funny


    Edward Campos · June 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Falta montarse en la carreta. En éstos acontecimientos es una frase muy importante


Mau Solorzano · June 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

la palabra “TUANIS” no viene de “TOO NICE” TUANIS viene de un juego de palabras que usaron soldados durante una guerra que hubo… la usaban para decir que estan bien, en clave….


    sergio · June 21, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Ano diay….si …no !


ToucanEstate Realty (@RealtyJcfrancis) · June 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Está excelente, un gran esfuerzo por describir bien sintetizado a una cultura tan “pacho” como la nuestra. Pero sí, lo de los insultos no sé, y “vete” nada que ver, sería “andate a freír churros CP!” Jajaja… pura vida, bien hecho!


Alejandra Bolaños Chaverri · June 21, 2014 at 3:04 pm

jejeje Genial!! de las canciones de la selle hay que agregar “Agarrense de las manos unos a otros conmigo (…) la selección nacional, estamos en el mundial!! 😉


Arelis Fonseca Nuñez · June 21, 2014 at 4:03 pm

maeeee quien putas dice “cabeza hueca” “chiflado” o “don nadie”? que son esos insultos tan salidos de fabula mal traducida???


Arelis Fonseca Nuñez · June 21, 2014 at 4:08 pm

ahhh y me parece que a ese diccionario le falta la muy util y común palabra CHINCHORRO!!


Luis · June 21, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Que bonito ser manudo!!!! Y falto por su puesto… farafarachin


Ed · June 21, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Mae, lo de “vete a freir churros ” no está bueno, ¡acá no tuteamos!


Laura Infante Cervantes · June 21, 2014 at 5:16 pm



eduardo · June 21, 2014 at 5:41 pm

I love my litte country , visit Costa Rica


kenneth · June 21, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Tuanis no viene de too nice ni esas varas, es parte de un código que se usaba en la guerra civil, se cambiaban letras, entonces se cambiaba la b por la t, la e por a y o por i, esas son solo unos cambios, hay más, por eso “buenos” es “tuanis”


Rolo · June 21, 2014 at 6:29 pm

buenisimo! VIVA EL TEAM!


fernando · June 21, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Wait, no, Chinamo is a Kiosk, Chinchorro is the small dingy dive bar.

And it’s “Vaya fría churros!!!!”, we use “vos”, not “tu”. And we don’t say “cabeza hueca”. We do call people “camote” when they’re crazy.


Lina · June 21, 2014 at 6:38 pm

my favorite insult for the referee in the games it’s “árbitro vendido”


Marco París · June 21, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Hilarious but absolutely true. In fact that is exactly it maes. PURA VIDA. And don’t Forget Maria del Milagro París. ¡Viva La Sele!


Tiqa · June 21, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Chinchorro is a bar, chinamo is a store


Teleceno · June 21, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Falto la palabra “furris” que significa que la cosa está fea o peluda y viene “furry”


KLD · June 21, 2014 at 8:50 pm

You can get insulted just by using any of those “insults” listed


monica · June 21, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Como ya lo dijeron Toucan y fernando, la expresión correcta es “vaya/váyase o andá/andate a freír churros”. Los ticos no hablamos de tú. ¡Gracias, Andrés!


    Esteban R · June 21, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Me parece más común oir “jálese a freir churros”…


monica · June 21, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Otro insulto: que un tico le hable de tú a otro tico 🙂


Tati Bogantes · June 21, 2014 at 9:55 pm

jajajajaja lo amé, asé cuando me pregunten como somos en mi país, podré usar esto para describir 😛


Josefina Barrantes · June 21, 2014 at 10:19 pm

¿Quién dice aquí, vete a freír churros? Decimos…andá a freír churros.


Katharine Bartlett Herrera · June 21, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Faltón Bryan Ruiz en la lista de National Heroes!!!


Andres Ortiz Castro · June 21, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Mae muy tuaniz ( y lo de tuaniz no se sabe a ciencia cierta de donde viene si de too nace o lo del malespin así que esta bien que expliques los dos)


Daniela Ramos Arias · June 22, 2014 at 12:19 am

Muy bueno, pero importante: En Costa Rica no se habla de “tú”. Se habla de “usted” o de “voz”. Así que en la parte de insultos “vete a freír…”, porfa, corrijalo! Es como un shock electrónico!
Todo lo demás, genial. Me encantó 🙂


Andres · June 22, 2014 at 1:00 am

Ok, I cleaned the insults… I took them from the linked site


Madelein · June 22, 2014 at 1:14 am

You missed the typical “Diay?” used as greeting, or to ask “what happened?” very very costarican… great article!


    Andres · June 22, 2014 at 1:18 am

    Diay si 🙂


Arturo · June 22, 2014 at 2:20 am

Mae y el chifrijo??????


Anna Lanigan · June 22, 2014 at 2:38 am

Thanks …brilliant site sent to me in Melbourne, Australia from my dear friends in Costa Rica!!!! 🙂


Rocío · June 22, 2014 at 3:47 am

Jaja está muy bueno. Pero definitivamente faltó el “diay” 🙂


Sheilyn · June 22, 2014 at 5:20 am

Buenísimo! Se lo mando a mis amigos aquí en Noruega… Pura vida!


María Gutiérrez · June 22, 2014 at 5:56 am

De la mejor descripción de CRC q he leído para un extranjero. Felicidades!


    Clara Isabel Polini Salas · June 22, 2014 at 7:17 am

    El vos tiene un origen historico muy interesante q tiene q ver con una respuesta contestataria de los criollos ticos y ademas con nuestra idiosincracia nacional. Se habla ademas en Argentina y parte de Venezuela. Para mas detalles contactarme o preguntar a personas q recopilan esta historia cultural y valiosa como el Sr. Dionisio Cabal de “Cantares” y ademas escritor de temas como este. Muy interesante trabajo por lo demas. Y “a freir churros” si es un modismo nacional. Feliciddes


Xiomara Córdoba Valverde · June 22, 2014 at 7:20 am

Está excelente!!! Solo faltó qué chiva/chuzo! Jaja y diay! Pero que genialidad!


Anais Chavarria · June 22, 2014 at 7:22 am

Diay si ,muy bueno !!


Enrique · June 22, 2014 at 8:50 am

La cabra= la novia….la teja= el colón( plata)…el chanche está chueco….


    Andres · June 22, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Si me faltaron un montón… tal vez tengo que hacer segunda edición 🙂


      Enrique · June 22, 2014 at 9:35 am

      Deberíamos para dar a conocer todas nuestros costarriqueñismos…pero vos hicistes un buen trabajo, no todos nos acordamos de todas las burradas con las que crecimos…..y quise decir chunche.


Pablo Romero · June 22, 2014 at 8:51 am

La palabra despiche es mi favorita y por mucho. Cuando me muera quiero que en mi epitafio diga. “A Pablito le encantaba el despiche”


Jose m gutierrez · June 22, 2014 at 9:15 am

Camino a ser declarado benemerito de la patria.


Amandine B · June 22, 2014 at 10:08 am

Buenisimo! Ya varios amigos van camino a convertirse a la Sele 🙂


Gera garcia · June 22, 2014 at 10:21 am

Buenisimo… Podes agregar “colgó las tennis” que ya viajo pa siempre

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