Rolo is numero uno

Back in elementary school when I learned that Costa Rica means “rich coast” en Español, I never dreamed I’d spend my 31st birthday there. Sam and I shared May 21st with our favorite tour guide in the whole world, Rolando, with whom we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy two full tours and several chance meetings in the between times.


We like Rolando because he makes the people on our tours happy and because he really knows his stuff. Between catching glimpses of the beautiful Poás Volcano nestled quietly in the midst of a cloud forest and visiting picturesque Sarchi with its colorful ox carts, Rolando shared with us why he is proud to be a Tico (an affectionate term Central Americans use to describe Costa Ricans).

  • Educationally speaking, Costa Rica is the crown jewel of Central America. Young people are required by law to attend school through grade 12, and they have four Costa Rican universities from which to choose if they would like to pursue higher education. Tour guides must attend four years of university, which is not a requirement for any other country we visit on our voyage.
  • 1/3 of the country is national park. Inside those national parks are hundreds and thousands of species of plants and animals. Costa Rica has .03% of the world’s land mass, but it contains 8% of the world’s species…that’s some serious biodiversity!
  • Costa Rica does not have an army. Instead, they put lots of government money into education and can be proud of their 95% literacy rate.
  • Rolando insists that Costa Rica does have an airforce, however: turkey vultures.
  • What Ticos lack in military strategy they make up for in ecological strategy. Costa Rica’s Green Revolution began in the 1950’s, and it’s the number one reason that the country’s lush flora and diverse fauna remain protected today.
  • The average life expectancy for a Costa Rican is a whopping 82 years old, even higher than that of the good ol’ Estados Unidos.

Thanks for all the great tours, Rolando. Here’s hoping we can catch up with you one more time in Puerto Limón on the way home! Pura Vida, mi amigo.


From left to right: Evans (the bus driver), Sam, Rolando, Shannon

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