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Sunday, October 25, 2015

What Are "The Tropics"?

In Costa Rica, we are said to be living in the “tropics”. Maybe yes, maybe no. But, conditions in the “tropics” are not what many people imagine or, in some cases, would like to believe because we are here and they are not. Critics try to remind us of how hot and uncomfortable it must be, and they are sadly wrong.

Although we live near the equator (9 degrees north), our location is at an altitude (~ 2750 feet / 840 m.) where conditions are quite different from the combined heat and humidity which can be encountered at lower altitudes (beaches on both coasts for example). I have tried to say it on various occasions - we have not needed either air conditioning or heating to feel comfortable. And we come from the great white north (Canada) which many outside Canada falsely imagine to be a desolate snowy landscape year round.

Where we live in Costa Rica, and throughout the year, daytime temperatures are rarely stifling hot and humid as in the eastern U.S. and Canada during the summer. Overnight low temperatures are cool and sometimes require a sweater or jacket if you get up in the early morning. Extreme high dry heat as in the southwestern U.S. is unheard of.

The only caution is not to obliviously march around outdoors in the direct rays of the sun in Costa Rica. Carry an umbrella or wear a big hat not only to occasionally block the rain but also to block the sun (which is much more frequent than the rain). Don't forget your sunglasses and sun block.

The above is quite different from the conditions that you may encounter at touristy ports and resorts on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts in Costa Rica. If you are not acclimatized, and if air conditioning is not provided, then you may suffer dearly. You will be in what you have always imagined to be the “tropics”.

Atenas, higher elevation

At one of the Pacific beaches.

 

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