This issue came up last night, and it's a common issue here in Costa Rica.

The typical Tico attitude regarding many things is "That's Good Enough."

I run into this issue particularly regarding Spanish-to-English translation, specifically by Gringo-oriented tourism businesses. When you look at their websites or read their brochures, it's glaringly obvious that the translation was done by a non-native English speaker. Whenever I point this out to the business owner or manager, the response, invariably, is "Well... It's Good Enough."

They're right... Nobody is going to misinterpret or misunderstand the message due to a sloppy translation, but it demonstrates a "Carelessness" which scares away what I call "Discerning" customers. By "Discerning", I don't just mean the rich, VIP customers (although they are certainly a part of that group). I also mean many of the first-time visitors to Costa Rica, young single females traveling alone, families traveling with young children, etc. These customers are greatly influenced by first impressions, and are naturally cautious. Just for example...

Suppose you want to go on a Zip-Line tour. We can all openly agree that Zip-Lining involves some degree of inherent risk. Now... Check out the text from these two websites...

Site #1, "Costa Rica Experts": Ever wondered what it is a monkey finds so fascinating about the forest canopy? Costa Rica is a pioneer in canopy exploration, where thick branches serve as platforms for the adventurous traveler, more than 100 feet above the jungle floor. Don’t be put off by Costa Rica zip line, however! For the non-adrenaline junkie, the aerial tram can take you through the rainforest in comfort and safety. Prefer to linger? Hanging bridges offer panoramic views for acres, and an experienced guide will be happy to point out a variety of birds and animals.

Site #2, "Anywhere Costa Rica": Zip-lines above the canopy are in many ways synonymous with Costa Rica. Originally introduced during the 1970s, zip-lines have developed into one of the country’s most popular and widespread activities. Composed of steel cables and platforms strung at various heights between trees, they offer travelers a unique means of accessing beautiful and remote natural areas. And although they undoubtedly boost the adrenalin (sic) of each and every participant, zip-lines also educate their riders on ecology, botany, and reforestation practices. You can find zip-lines all over Costa Rica, but some of the best are in Monteverde, Arenal, and Manuel Antonio.


I can tell, instantly, that Site #1's text was not translated or written by a native English-speaker. If you're a native English-speaker, you probably noticed that instantly, as well. On the other hand, the text of Site #2 was obviously written by a native English-speaker, or at least a very well-trained translator (there is one spelling error, which does not affect the conclusion). The text for Site #1 is "Forced", and has no natural "Flow". No native English-speaker would talk to you that way.

Now... Are you going to trust your life, on a zip-lining tour, to a business owner who won't even pony up $10 or $20 to get a proper English translation for the text on his website? You shouldn't.

The real issue is not even the $10 or $20. The business owner would probably spend the $10 or $20 for the translation... But the truth is that he just doesn't give a shit that he has a half-ass English translation on his website. It's "Good Enough."

I don't know about you, but that would scare the Living Shit out of me. I'm not going anywhere with a zip-line tour operator who doesn't care enough about his own marketing and first impression to have it done properly.


In a way, that's an unfair assessment. When it comes to serious issues like conducting a safe zip-line tour, Ticos are usually very safe and cautious. But how would a first-time visitor know that? The first impression is a deal-maker or a deal-breaker, and the business owner should know that.