LIVING ON TICO TIME
Similar to the Scandinavian philosophy of lagom, Costa Ricans have their own way of practicing the art of slow living and it is based on the concept of never being on time
Words: Tracy Hines
Photography: Ralph Ravi Kayden
30 April 2022
Tico Time is the magical hour when a planned event occurs in Costa Rica. It is the casual way of arranging an activity and it often means that the activity will take place much later than planned. If an event is scheduled for eight am, then the person who oversees the festivities will arrive sometime before nine thirty. By ten o'clock things will typically begin and eventually the whole event will come to an end. This rule also applies to personal meeting times and the opening and closing of businesses etc. Many central American countries embrace the principles of Tico Time.
Being on time or early is an aspect of North American culture. This is something that applies to the lifestyle of locals in Costa Rica. The best way to enjoy the atmosphere in the country is to embrace the principle of Tico Time. Much like the Scandi movement of slow living, Tico time is an aspect of central American culture that encourages people to lead a more balanced and wholesome life. The philosophy revolves around the idea that things will eventually be done and events will occur and form in their own time. We become trained to stuff a weeks’ worth of activity into two hours before and after our set daily life engagements. Life success becomes defined by how much we can pack into each day. People often live an entire lifetime and forget to enjoy the moment. Experiencing a culture where everything starts off slowly and without the pressure of being punctual can be a difficult thing for a traveller to get used to.
The beauty of the mindset in Central America lies in people’s ability to appreciate things for what they are rather than what they could have been. Tico Time seems to eventually just happen, and, in the process, one learns to look around to notice the details of daily life that are often missed or overlooked. It is all about the simple things in life like enjoying the sunset or taking the extra moment to sit and just gaze out onto the ocean; taking the time to look at a rare bird or noticing the way the trees change with the evolution of the seasons. These are the aspects of life that are often missed when the thing that drives us is to hurry to always be on time for appointments and meetings. Tico Time is a lifestyle rather than a schedule. In order to truly embrace this ideology, one must leave their watch at home. The real magic happens when we focus on details of the world that surrounds us and learn to see the unique beauty of a place.
Nature is an aspect that defines Tico Time as it allows people to connect to the idea of slow living. Nations are at nature’s mercy when it comes to what they can achieve when it comes to certain tasks. There are seasons to fish and the right time of the day to do so in order to accumulate the biggest catch of the day. There are times when the tide and winds create the perfect opportunity to grab a surfboard and head into the sea to catch the waves. Over time people have learned to read the signs of nature. The little details make all the difference. In Costa Rica the locals have learned to submit to the time of mother nature instead of the wristwatch and by doing so they just might have found the secret to a healthier and happier life.