Sunday, August 23, 2009


If we start to feel like the family from “The Mosquito Coast” dealing with the bugs, snakes, and scorpions, a quick jaunt to San José provides the creature comforts of North America. There might not be any Tim Hortons but staples like McDonald’s and Subway can easily be found. It is always interesting to see what kind of twist these international megachains have to cater to the local population. For example…

When we lived in London, England, we got a kick out of the fact that McDonald’s had a McCurry sandwich to cater to the British love for Indian food. In Costa Rica, Gallo pinto is the prototypical traditional dish of pre-cooked rice and beans so add McDonald’s to the mix and you get a “McPinto”.

Even though Canada uses the metric system, one still orders either a 6” or 12” Subway sandwich. In Costa Rica, you order either a 15 cm or 30 cm sandwich. (I won’t tell Léah that her 15 cm sandwich was really only 5.9 inches.)


On the topic of megachains, Wal-Mart cannot be left out. However, Costa Rica doesn’t have Wal-Mart but rather Hipermás. Wal-Mart owns a big chunk of Hipermás and when you enter the store, it is pretty much the same store but swap the happy face logo for a whale.

Spending a few hours in air-conditioned restaurants and shopping malls was a big change for the kids. Best line from our 4-year-old around midday in reaction to her feeling a bit like a fish out of water today, “it feels like we are on an adventure”.