John Quam Editor in Chief Howler Magazine Costa Rica

November & December 2019 Howler Magazine Editorial: Lucky Being Here and Staying Safe. Welcome to our little gem in the tumultuous world. I want to take a moment and remind visitors or those living here how lucky you are. Snowbirds and tourists will soon arrive escaping the cold and to enjoy the warmth here. Resort areas are coming back to life after Costa Rica’s low season, preparing for the onslaught of tourists wanting to experience their heart’s desire in the way of nature, adventure and relaxation.

Cautionary reminders are important, even for those living here. Enjoy your experience and keep the following in mind. Your safety is important.

In the water

There is a big push by many foreign embassies and the Costa Rica Tourism Board to reduce the number of drowning incidents each year. Be aware of water safety as well as current water conditions. Know what to do if you get caught in a riptide. It may be easier said than done, but try not to panic as it hinders your ability to react and can worsen your danger.

Don’t go out in the water alone. Having a buddy while swimming, surfing or boating can save your life. Even the most skilled and experienced in these activities can be victims of drowning.

Road risks

Be aware of the risks driving in Costa Rica at any time of year. Daytime hazards include slow drivers, those failing to stop at intersections and spontaneous occurrences of people just stopping on the road to chat. Cowherds are a common cause of blocked traffic lanes. Be watchful of any kind of animal — dogs, livestock and wildlife creatures alike — suddenly crossing your path.

Night driving is dangerous, not just on unlit roads but because many motorists drive with no lights. Alcohol consumption is an added risk factor. Often, pedestrians and cyclists are wearing dark clothing with no reflectors. I have always thought a good safety slogan would be, “Wear White at Night.”


This applies to yourself and your personal possessions. It is not just a Costa Rica thing but happens everywhere in the world. Break-ins and thefts of homes and vehicles are rampant. Items left on the beach or in any unsecured places are easy prey. Carry only what you need and keep your passport and money safe. Don’t be a target.


Have fun without fear of getting hurt. Nothing ruins a vacation faster than an accident causing injury or worse. Even the most daring and experienced thrill-seekers need to be conscious of safety in unfamiliar surroundings.

The time to ask questions about safety is when you are booking your adventure. Then when the fun begins, listen carefully to your guides. They are there to make sure you not only enjoy the adventure but do not get hurt.

Stay hydrated. In a humid climate, you may not feel like you are becoming dehydrated. It can happen quickly, even during non-strenuous activity, and cause heat exhaustion or a more serious medical emergency.

Enjoy the wildlife but don’t touch or get too close. They bite!


It’s not unusual to be approached by someone selling drugs. This is as big a problem here as in other parts of the world. There may be no faster way to ruin a vacation than as a guest of a Costa Rican jail. You are not at home; be smart.

These are just some of the most common cautions for anyone having the lucky opportunity to visit or live in this wonderful, welcoming country. Be aware, be alert, and be safe, Enjoy the experience.