Since Costa Rica is located in Latin America, it is considered by many people – especially for women – as particularly dangerous. But how dramatic is the situation really and is it a high risk to travel there?
Own experiences: no high risk
My best friend and me were traveling for a total of four weeks – three weeks in Costa Rica, one week in Nicaragua. We only traveled by bus and so we got regularly in contact with the locals. What you should mention in advance: We completely avoided the darkness and were therefore never on the streets after sunset, but always to ‘Christian times’ in our accommodation. In addition, we were neither party nor Remmidemmi off, and getting to know new people was not our goal. We were true to the motto “We do not trust anyone but us” on our way. And so we really could not get into stupid situations.
However, we noticed relatively fast, that the Ticos are machos and that they seem to like European – and especially blond women –pretty much. Honking cars or sentences like “Hola Guapa” were not uncommon. One could confidently ignore everything and the men did not react insulted to our ignorance, nor did they become intrusive. Also the “No, gracias” was always accepted. All in all, we always felt totally safe in Costa Rica and were treated with respect and courtesy. In Nicaragua, on the other hand, it looked a bit different: There, we were ogled much more and you had the feeling that Nicas would consider women more than sex objects. In the end we did not have any problems or unwanted situations there – but as we said, we always followed the rules of the game!
Different situation in neighboring countries
However, it looks quite different in other Latin American countries and the Caribbean: according to the UN, the northern countries of Central America are considered to be extremely dangerous in terms of violence against women. Sexual offenses against women seem to have reached a devastating level in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. The so-called ‘Northern Triangle’ has always been known as the most dangerous region in the world – with the exception of war zones. Femicide and organized crime are tragically on the agenda here. Crime in these countries is also compounded by countless criminal gangs and drug cartels. And even in the Caribbean, human rights are strictly disregarded: Three of the ten countries with the highest rate of rape are in the Caribbean.
The German newspaper ‘Spiegel’ writes: “24 of 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries have laws against domestic violence, the UN report states. But only nine countries have enacted laws that address other forms of violence against women in public or in private life.” The reality is sad and one can only hope that something will change in the foreseeable future and that women get support, help and ultimately a fearless life.
Common sense helps – even in Costa Rica
In my opinion, a trip to Costa Rica is possible for women without much thought. However, as already mentioned, one has to behave reasonably and one should never forget that the cultural values and the image of the woman are not the same as in Western European countries. One should not be blind and blue-eyed, because in Costa Rica there are regular violence and danger. For example, crime is widespread in San José, which strongly discourages hanging around in the streets of the capital at night. In our hotel Costa Rica you can definitely feel save.
For this reason an internship in Costa Rica is a good idea.
More news at our blog Costa Rica.