Written by Kinsey Colgan
Upon arriving at Siempre Verde Lodge, our home for the next six days and five nights, I found it interesting that I had to take off my tennis shoes to take my bag up a flight of stairs to where I would be sleeping. Little did I know that having to take off our shoes was going to be a common theme during the rest of our stay in Costa Rica. I did not think twice about removing my shoes once I was told to do so, but I did not expect to have to take our shoes off as much as we did. It seemed like a hassle to walk a short distance and have to take off our shoes again, such as walking the 50 feet from the lodge to the kitchen for breakfast.
Whenever friends and family visit my house in California, they are always told to take off their shoes when they enter the house, so that they do not track dirt into the house. They are allowed to enter the house with their shoes on, and take them off and place them inside the entrance of the house. In Costa Rica, we had to take off our shoes as soon as the dirt path turned into the concrete or tile floor, which was often a few feet away from the entrance of the house.
I understood why I had to take off my shoes when it came to entering a house or other enclosed structure because that is the same thing I would do back home, but I did not realize that this applied to open air structures as well. When I had the chance to experience how much it rained in Costa Rica and saw the dirt caked to all of the participant’s shoes all of the time, it began to make sense. Once our shoes dried it was difficult to get the mud off and I can only image what a hassle it would be to have to scrub the floor ever time it rained to get all of the mud that is tracked inside.
At all of the farms that we visited there were shoe racks for people to place their shoes and even fixtures for shoes to be placed upside down. These upside down shoe racks made sure that no bugs, spiders, or any other creepy crawlies found a safe place to sleep for the night. When our shoes were not placed on the rack, we were advised to shake out our shoes before placing them on our feet to knock out anything that might be hiding in there. This is not a problem that we have back home because our shoes are usually kept inside when we are not wearing them, where there is little chance for a creature to get access to hide in it.
Costa Ricans want to take care of their open aired structures as much as I value my house back home. No one wants to have to put in extra effort to clean if they do not have to. Doing something as simple as taking off one’s shoes is a sign that you respect that person and their belongings. As for now, sit back, relax and take your shoes off.