LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||17/MAR/2010 1:21 PM|
|Assunto:||100 m south of big fig tree|
Costa Rica does not use street addresses. Neither does Nicaragua. Two years I had to go to the Panamanian Embassy. It is located "100 meters south of the big fig tree, 25 meters to the east". In CR, "100 meters" means "one block", regardless of how long or short the block is. "25 meters" means "near the corner" and "50 meters" means "somewhere in the middle of the block". As for "the big fig tree", "el higuerón", as it is called in Spanish, was cut down around 1980. It is still used by everyone as a point of reference. Did I have trouble finding the Embassy? No. not at all. Another common reference point is "the Coca Cola". No, stupid, not the new Coca Cola plant! The old one that was last used around 1960.
Costa Ricans are very comfortable with this system although it means there is no door-to-door delivery of mail, taxis get lost trying to find houses, etc. If I ever start a pizzeria here, I will use in my advertising "Your pizza is free if we cannot find your house within three days." When you discuss addresses with Costa Ricans, they often express complete surprise that such a thing exists elsewhere. You mean....streets have names and houses have numbers? What a concept! They often add, however, that addresses are for tourists. No true Costa Rican needs an address to find anything....
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