Addresses

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Addresses

In Costa Rica addresses are usually given in terms of how many meters the place is from a landmark. Street names and building numbers are not commonly used. Churches, stores, even large trees that no longer exist—almost anything can be a landmark, as long as everyone knows where it is, or where it used to be. A typical address in San José is 100 metros este y 100 metros sur del supermercado (100 meters east and 100 meters south from the supermarket). In Costa Rica, each block is assumed to be 100 meters, although some blocks may be much longer and some may be shorter.

Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves, are generally happy to help lost visitors, and they spend a lot of time describing where things are. But be warned—even if they don't know where something is, Ticos will often give uncertain or even wrong information rather than seem unhelpful. Ask at least two people in quick succession to avoid getting hopelessly lost. Key direction terms are lugar (place), calle (street), avenida (avenue), puente (bridge), piso (floor), edificio (building), cruce (intersection), semáforo (traffic light), rotonda (traffic circle), and cuadra (block).

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