Rainy Season Survival Guide...

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Living in Costa Rica during the rainy season provides very specific challenges for those who are not prepared. This guide aims to provide some solutions to common problems faced by newcomers in their first rainy season in Costa Rica.

Here it is, mid-April and the Costa Rican Rainy Season is now upon us.  Rainy Season is aptly named due to the fact that (usually) from mid May through to the end of October, for the majority of days, it is very wet.  Transition from dry season to the rainy season is quite gradual and sneaks up on you... generally.  How ever this year, in just pounced on us in just one day.

Depending on where you live within the country can be a huge factor in determining just how happy and safe or miserable and precarious your life can be.  In isolated areas, where general infrastructure is not very high, extreme amounts of rain can cause some pretty serious issues. Landslides are frequent, bridges wash out with many big storms, and power outages are all too frequent. Dealing with all of this can be quite daunting, but there are a few things you can do to make sure that your survival is guaranteed.

 

DEALING WITH THE DAMPNESS

Dampness, bugs, mold, fungus and flooding are all things that you have to deal with living in the tropics during the rainy season. The Nicoya Peninsula (where we live) is subject to pretty extreme weather during the wet months, as is the rest of Costa Rica. The Central Valley is not free of problems during the wet months either, as we witnessed first hand during our first year in country.  Many mountain towns such as Heredia and San Jose de Montaña face massive flooding and rain water management issues.

  • Having a good (working) clothes dryer is a must, for there is not enough sun to properly dry your laundry.

  • Having medicated talcum powder to prevent foot fungus is key, as keeping your feet dry and healthy is one of the most important things you can do.

  • Having a large selection of Tupperware containers to keep important documents and electronics out of the extreme humidity is a good plan, as you never know what will happen.

  • Pack clothing away, not with mothballs, but with some antibacterial soap to preserve freshness and prevent mold and fungus. Scented soaps smell better than mothballs anyway, and you can always use the soap when you unpack your things.

Being able to deal with the extreme wetness at the beach is something that locals here have become very good at over the years. Having proper footwear will make your experiences during the rainy season in Costa Rice much better.

Ticos prefer knee high rubber boots, with long socks and liberal use of talcum powder to keep your feet dry and clean. The added bonus is that if you wear pants, you can tuck them into the boots to keep them dry as well.  Along with a good pair of boots, you should have a storm proof raincoat, something that is light, yet durable. You don’t need something that is designed for cold weather, but you do need something that can handle a serious amount of rain.

Some people even take an extra step in weather proofing their garments, and apply a liquid water seal, such as Thompson’s Water Seal, in a spray bottle. This makes your raincoat so waterproof that you could stand under a fire hose and not get wet.

Unless you are living in one of those gringo compounds is San Jose or Escazú, you may a few tools to help insure your overall comfort (and survival) during the rainy season.  For starters, a good machete can do amazing things. Any local “ferreterria” or hardware store will have lots of machetes of varying lengths. You want one that is around two feet long, as it can double as a shovel, and the shorter blade is stiffer, offering better digging capabilities. With a good machete you can cut down small trees, cut vines, cut barbed wire fencing, and even open a coconut after you work up a sweat.

A good multi tool such as the Leatherman Wave is a great thing to have in your survival kit as well, as this will get you through too many situations to even number. A roll of duct tape (the Tico repair tool of choice), a LED waterproof head lamp, and a few yards of strong military grade cord will round out your hardware list, and will ensure that no matter what you come across you are prepared.

A well-made mosquito net is something that should be in your bag no matter where you travel in the tropics, as dengue fever and malaria are common during the wet season. As far as medical supplies to always carry, there are a few necessities; you will always want a powdered antibiotic, as creams keep things moist, and in the rainy season you want to dry wounds out ASAP. You should carry a stitch kit, some good bandages, a few bottles of cortisone cream, some New Skin, a very practical liquid bandage, and hydrogen peroxide. These few items will allow you to patch yourself up and seek further medical attention if needed.

Remember 9-1-1 is here is NOT like it is back home!

Don’t be daunted by the challenges presented by living in the tropics during Rainy Season, the weather is not always bad. Between storms there are some amazing things to be seen; the rivers are flowing, there is no dust, there are more birds and animals around, it’s a very pleasant experience, provided you have what you need to be comfortable. More and more people are staying here throughout the year, and have come to love the rainy season, it’s unpredictable, but you can’t fight nature. You never know until you give it a try, so stick around and tough it out! That is what Costa Rica is all about.



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