Friday, April 16, 2010

Apple to expand into new product area

April 16, 8:30pm EST

Warning: It's the news!

Apple unveils new "iPhall" sex toy

Anonymous sources within Apple have confirmed that a surprising new offering is set to hit the shelves in early 2011: the iPhall, which is being toted as "the ultimate stress relief and relaxation experience." Seeking to capitalize on rabid fan loyalty and what they refer to as "the unfortunate consequences of constant social networking and iPhone app use on our beloved customers' intimate activities," the new device applies Apple's design philosophy of ease-of-use and sleek styling to a hitherto unexplored area for the company: so-called "personal massagers," or "vibrators" as most of their users describe them.

New vibrating dildo "cute, simple"

The device's controls are similar to those of the ubiquitous iPod: a circular button on the base of the device turns it on, while a touch-sensitive ring around it allows the user to adjust the intensity and even cycle through certain pre-set programs. A feature one NYU student describes as "F___ing amazing" is the option to connect the iPhall to your iPod using a special splitter cable that will then sync up the vibrations of the device to the music playing from the iPod while the user is able to listen to the music at the same time. Exam failure rates among test groups have skyrocketed due to near-constant use of the device in general and this feature in particular.

iPhall "highly customizable"

In a move that analysts are calling "ingenious," the iPhall is being offered in a range of colors and sizes from the get-go. The iPhall Classic features an "interactive surface" of what Apple refers to as average dimensions with another four inches for the handgrip, with the Stallion and Comfort models falling above and below the Classic's dimensions respectively. The device comes with a protective sleeve or "skin" that fits over the device's interactive surface and is fully machine washable, made of a hypoallergenic polymer Apple whose composition is closely guarded. The skin is available in a range of tones mimicking human flesh as well as the more familiar colors available for the iPod and iMac.

Critics say battery life, "unrealistic shape" represent issues

Rather than fully approximate an erect member, Apple has chosen to go for a more ''evenly-contoured" look that fits with the smooth curves that dominate Apple product aesthetics. Beta testers said the shape was "okay" but a number indicated a preference for a more human look. One tester went so far as to call the device a "freaky robot penis," but indicated she would still buy one. The iPhall also suffers from longevity issues, with the advertised four hours of constant use being something of an exaggeration. Apple assures is customers that they are working on it, however rumors suggest that an exclusivity deal with the company who produces iPhone batteries may leave them with limited options.

Bugs to be addressed via peripherals, Apple says

Rather than adjust the iPhall's shape in future versions, Apple is instead opting to produce skins with contours that will give users a "more realistic experience without impeding functionality." Questions about how they propose to extend the device's battery life went largely unanswered beyond muttering something to the effect of "who the hell uses a god____ dildo for more than two hours a day?" Presumably someone will figure out how to jury-rig a backup iPhone battery into providing additional operating life.

Not just for girls

While the iPhall might seem to be targeted at women (and young women in particular), Apple is confident that the massager will sell across gender lines. Our source was quoted as saying "We're believe that the stunning brand loyalty our customers have shown us over the years will allow the iPhall to make inroads into the largely untapped heterosexual male market in addition to its obvious appeal to women and men practicing alternative lifestyles. We've already received hundreds of thank-you letters from San Fransisco, Providence, Chicago, Boston and New York, and we haven't even started shipping yet!" When asked why the item isn't being released until 2011 when the iPhall appears to be ready for market, our contact responded that the device is still undergoing "extensive product testing," and that Steve Jobs himself was very actively engaged in beta testing to ensure the final product conforms exactly to Apple's philosophy and vision.

Microsoft "Not even going to bother"

Apple's chief rival has remained strangely silent in the wake of this bold product announcement. Repeated requests for a comment were, however, met with the following response from an unnamed R&D executive: "Listen, we're not even going to f___ing bother, okay? Apple's iSheep will buy anything that falls out of or gets shoved up (Steve) Jobs' butt, so it doesn't matter what they make. If it's got an i in front of it, some idiot in Williamsburg will pre-order twelve just so he can write about it on his blog. Next thing you know every hipster in the country's buying them so they can "ironically" masturbate with all Apple products for twelve hours a day. Us? We've got to actually compete in the market, and it's pretty damn vicious there. We got pre-emptive death threats from five manufacturers if we joined in not even two minutes after this thing hit the wires. So no thanks, Apple can have this one." As an afterthought, he added "I guess the good news is all those Apple fanboys will be happy to go f___ themselves."

The verdict?

Based upon conversations with beta testers and our own brief exploration, we predict that the iPhall will sell huge when it is finally released. Allegations that the device causes bizarre side-effects from prolonged use are being vigorously denied by Apple, though rumors of sterility among more enthusiastic product testers persist. The $599 price tag is viewed as a bit steep by some, however we believe that based upon previous products' results this will be no barrier to the iPhall's success. Look for it in Apple and adult stores in Q1 2011.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Una cervesa, por favor!

Warning: Incoherent Rambling

After the adventure in liver poisoning that St. Patrick's Day (and the following weekend) invariably represents, I thought it might be helpful to provide a bit of an explanation of how alcohol works down here because, like up north, it's pretty common for people to share a beer or five when out socializing. Odds are if you're reading thins you're not exactly a teetotaler (given the general makeup of my social circle), so I'm assuming this will be helpful to most of you.


To my right you'll see a bottle of Imperial, which is the most commonly-consumed beverage in the country from what I've seen. It's as ubiquitous as Budweiser but amazingly doesn't taste like it was poured down an incontinent donkey's backside just before bottling. In fact, the closest comparison in flavor would be a less bitter Amstel Light. It's a (very) blond lager, which works out pretty well given how bloody hot it gets down here. There's also a light version, which I haven't touched because I like my beer to have actual flavor, but either way this stuff is cheap and refreshing. The hotter it gets, the more you enjoy it.

Your next option is Pilsen. Made by the same company as Imperial (effectively the only brewery here), it has two flavors. Regular pilsen is generally a bit lighter and less flavorful than Imperial. It's usually the same price, so in general I'll take the latter. Pilsen 6.0 is a different animal though (it actually appears to have some hops in it!) and has its alcohol content in the name, but if you're looking for craft beer you're pretty much going to have to smuggle it. Not to say that it isn't tasty, and in fact if you're an IPA person you could do worse than Pilsen 6.0. There are better offerings to be found, but it'll do the trick.

The "high-end" beer they produce here is called Bavaria, which comes in three varieties: Light, Gold and Dark. Light is more or less the same piss-water you're used to from most light beers, and so I refuse to count it. Gold and Dark however bear mentioning because they're significantly better than Pilsen or Imperial (and more expensive as a result, but not by much). Bavaria Dark in particular is quite good, somehow managing to have the flavor and color of a dark beer without making you feel like you're drinking a side of beef. If you're a beer lover, make sure to try this one; you'll be pleasantly reminded of negra modelo. Gold isn't bad either, but with rare exceptions if you've had a blond before you have a pretty good idea what to expect.

Avoid Rock Ice. It is terrible, in the same way that rancid Wildcat is terrible. And under no circumstances should you drink its ugly sister, Rock Ice Limon. Unless you like your beer saltier than beef jerky that's had a salt shaker upended all over it. Get it for your unsuspecting friend if you want to be an ass, but nobody with functioning taste buds will be able to go past the first sip.

If you're craving something imported there's Heineken, but I won't be joining you. There are better domestic options that haven't been flown across 6 time zones to get here.

Beer bottom line: If you're looking to drink cheap get Imperial, if you're looking to get drunk get Pilsen 6.0, and if you actually like beer get Bavaria. All of them are drinkable even in the most fetid jungle hell Costa Rica has to offer, so don't limit yourself to the golden beers just cause you're all sweaty.


My experiences with wine have been limited here, since Costa Rica is a beer-drinking culture even more so than Canada, but I can say a few words about it. You can find some decent imported wines (one of my favorites is readily available), but in general wine is more expensive here than in North America.

If you're traveling on a penniless hitchhiker budget, however, you're probably familiar with box wine. Here the main option is Clos, which goes for just under $5 a litre and is heartily endorsed by pretty much all the German girls I've gone drinking with here. It's surprisingly not bad, though depending on how sophisticated your palate is you might need to start off with the white and chill it to nigh freezing. The Cabernet isn't exactly awful given the price, but odds are if you actually like wine you may need to repeat the price to yourself like a mantra until your taste buds give up.


The next time one of your drunken Johnny-Depp-wannabe friends shouts "Where's the rum gone?" you can safely respond "Costa Rica!" There's definitely a bias in favor of this sugar-cane-based drink as far as liquor goes. Smirnoff is readily available, and whiskey is certainly around, but you'll have a harder time finding the good stuff than you might like.

Rum, on the other hand, is plentiful. There's some pretty damn good Central American rum floating around (Ron Zacapa comes to mind), and honestly I think of rum as a warm-weather drink more so than vodka. Avoid "light" rum.

As far as domestic options go, I've tried Flor de Cana and Ron Centenario. They both come in several varieties, with quality scaling with price. The former you can find in four types, though I'm not bothering with the light rum they offer. The dark rum comes in 4, 5, and 6 year-old varieties, the cheapest being around 6000 Colones (bit less than $12) and scaling up to closer to $20. So not a bad deal. A decent bottle of Centenario will be somewhere around 8 or 9k.

I expect to become better acquainted with rum over the coming months, and will post my findings as I, er, find them.

That's it for now. Feel free to ask questions.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Como voy al bar?

Warning: Incoherent Rambling!

Okay, so I spent another weekend on the beach a couple weeks ago and will do so again next weekend. I'm not mentioning this to gloat (no really, I swear), but because thinking about how I'm going to get there reminded me that I wanted to talk a bit more about how travel works here in Costa Rica.

What do you mean there's no subway/metro/tube?!

Generally speaking buses are the way to go if you're not pressed for time and have a vague idea of where you're headed. There's no such thing as a subway here, and I haven't used the train once (in theory it goes from San Pedro out past Heredia, but since it doesn't run on Saturdays it's pretty much useless for my purposes). The bus, on the other hand, gets you to pretty much anywhere you need to go provided you're willing to figure out which bus or buses you need. It's also really cheap, which is the main draw. I commute by bus, a roughly half-hour affair that costs me less than 50 cents. A bus runs from San Jose (the capital city) to Manuel Antonio (goregous park/beach/general tourist destination that I visited previously), another can get you to Porto Viejo, airports, you name it. The cons are 1) knowing which bus or buses to take involves research and quite possibly San Jose's bus terminal, which is not on my "safest places in the country" list by any means, 2) They can take a while to get you where you want to go, and 3) They run on a schedule, which means so do you.

BTW: Pirata = taxi, not pirate

Taxis are another option. While still cheaper than, say, NYC, they're going to cost money and can only be reliably found in certain areas (though I was surprised to discover a taxi stand 5 mins from my house). Otherwise, you all know how they work. Get in the car, tell the dude where you want to go, pray he doesn't take the "scenic" route. Fares start at 510 Colones (just under a buck) and after a bit will escalate. Things to watch for: some less scrupulous cabbies have what is basically a "turbo" button that will make your fare spike. Keep an eye on the fare, and it it jumps suddenly start asking questions. Likewise, you may be offered a flat fee to pay (e.g. 4,000 to the UNA or something), while this is easy math-wise it's equally easy to get ripped off if you don't know what it would normally cost. If it's your only option, then so be it, and in the grand scheme of things you're probably not paying a huge amount of extra money, but be skeptical if you're being asked for 5,000 for a 10-minute cab ride.

Leavin' on a jet plane

For long distances (an hour's worth of travel and up) you're probably not taking a cab. Buses are still the method of choice for the frugal traveler, but if you've got more money than time you have a couple more options.

I haven't flown intra-country, but it's there for those for whom it makes sense. Both airports fly regional, but more depart from Tobias Bolanos than Juan Santamaria (the latter's probably where you arrive). If I do fly a puddle jumper down here, I'll let you know how that goes.

Don't buy a used rental car

Odds are if you're coming from North America or Europe and aren't on a shoestring budget you're going to wind up renting a car if you've got significant ground to cover. I've done it twice, and it worked out well in both cases. However, if you're going to drive in Costa Rica and aren't from around here (or haven't hired, bribed or blackmailed a local into helping you), there are a few things you ought to know that you would otherwise find out the hard way.

First, there are three kinds of roads in Costa Rica: paved, unpaved, and holy-fuck-where-did-that-giant-pothole-come-from?! Expect to encounter all three. Major cities and highways will have mostly paved roads, with the odd hole cropping up in the outskirts and poorer areas. Dirt roads show up where you'd expect: in rural areas where the government can't be bothered to pave. You definitely need to be careful, but you can get around in the dry season without a 4x4. Just don't run your AC too much; the dust clogged the one on our rental in a hurry (granted it was an '02 Elantra, but still). I don't know first hand whether you can drive a 2WD on dirt roads during the rainy season, but I'd bet against it. Resist the temptation to pretend you're a rally driver either way. Lastly, we have roads that look paved until it's full of 4-inch-deep potholes. These require arguably as much care as dirt roads, since an unnoticed pothole is a great way to ruin your suspension, blow out a tire, etc. Go around them if possible, and if not treat them like nasty-ass speed bumps.

Second, I recommend getting complete insurance, because odds are good that something will happen to the car. Rental companies are pretty anal when it comes to dings and such, and it's arguably better to bit the bullet and put down the deposit in exchange for being certain that you'll get it all back. We came back with dents on the body and a hood that looked like pelicans had used it in a re-enactment of the Battle of Britain yet didn't pay a dime over the rental cost. It was a relief.

Third, a GPS is not only functional but bloody useful. The lack of street signs isn't much of a barrier to an up-to-date satnav, and most rental companies offer to provide one or know a guy who rents them when they're out of stock. For $10-12 a day, it makes your life much easier. During my trip to Manuel Antonio we only had one direction mishap, where the GPS put our hotel on the wrong side of the street. Given the error rate I had in Boston, I'm not complaining.

Think that's it, will add more as I get more ideas.



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Este es Paraiso

Warning: Incoherent Rambling!

So about a week and a half ago I went out to the Manuel Antonio region of the country, spending about basically 3.5 days (after accounting for travel time) seeing what the area has to offer. There's quite a bit. It's also stunningly beautiful, as the below demonstrates to the best of my camera's ability:

For those of you who don't know, Manuel Antonio is one of the smaller yet more famous national parks here in Costa Rica. Originally an island, millions of years of sediment brought in by the tides eventually turned the thing into a peninsula. Good for tourists, bad for animals. For the most part. There seems to be a real commitment to preserving the area, and really there's a lot of the park you're not supposed to run around.

There's still enough to occupy you for a day or two, though. The beaches are gorgeous and were a lot less crowded than I was expecting (granted things didn't get all that busy till the end of our stay), and if you're willing to go "at your own risk" there are some steeper trails that lead to still more beaches that fewer people visit. On top of that there's a roughly 1-hour hike (longer if you're a camera fiend) that takes you through a bit more of the wood. I sadly didn't get a chance to do so, but will try and get back there before the rainy season kicks off. The water was like a bloody bathtub, and I found myself hanging out a few feet underwater as much as possible to take advantage of the cooler temperature.

I highly recommend either getting a guide or subtly poaching another group's. These guys are good, and will spot things that you most likely won't unless you're a trained naturalist. They also carry these handy low-power telescopes that allow you to take pictures through them if you're carrying a P.O.S. point-and-click like I am, which is nice. Be prepared for crowded trails if you go during the dry season, but the plus of that is that the increased number of guides will make it easier for you to see stuff if you're not up for spending the money. It also rains less.

Remeber to wear sunblock. I forgot to do my back and wound up with a hideous sunburn that took days to heal.

There are a number of other activities out in the area, many of which you can book through a hotel. In addition to the park I wound up doing a canopy tour and an ATV tour, which I'll briefly run through below.

The canopy tour was about a half-day trip with a bit of light walking uphill to reach the ziplines. They were great fun. I forget exactly how many lines there were, but I think around a dozen along with a tarzan swing and two bits of rappelling. The rappelling was really the trickiest bit but that doesn't say much. If you've been through a ropes course or canopy tour before you know all about the safety measures that keep you from falling to your squishy death, and if you haven't the short version is that you're tethered to something at all times in case you get a sudden urge to jump, stumble or otherwise leave the 100-plus-foot-high platform. The rappelling is more complicated only because it requires slightly more concentration to ensure you don't catch your shorts (or yourself, if you're silly enough to wear hot pants in the jungle) on fire from letting the rope feed through your hand and over your thigh (as opposed to away from it). And don't touch the ring the rope feeds through. Trust me.

It was really hot, and I can only imagine how lethal it must be with the humidity of the rainy season, but it was worth it. We got lunch at the end of it, which was nice, and the photographers that work with the company are also pretty solid (at $25 for a CD of 100-something photos, they'd better be). Also, they had a butterfly garden where I was able to get maybe 5 good shots due to my camera's technical limitations. It was, however, pretty, and blue morpho butterflies are every bit as impressive in real life as you might imagine. In fact it seems like the things are everywhere here, but seeing them up close (and not fleeing in terror) is pretty damn cool.

The ATV tour was probably my favorite part of the trip. We had to leave the hotel at 7:15am, which was slightly painful after I spent several hours drinking with a couple wedding parties who just happened to be in the hotel and a couple of whose members I'd met the other day on the canopy tour. I spent about 20mins discussing the finer points of beer and wine with some guy from Michigan, but if you know me (or you're a couchsurfer) you know this sort of thing really isn't out of the ordinary. Especially at a bar.

Anyways, getting back on topic. The ATV tour was out in a different part of the jungle from the canopy tour, though geographically they can't have been too far apart. We were given a 5-minute "how to ride ATV's for blithering idiots" crash course, which was a nice refresher since I don't think I've ridden one since before I hit puberty. It's simple enough though, and before too long we were off. Part of the tour took us through the palm plantation. I say the plantation because there's about 30000 acres of palm trees being cultivated for palm oil in a more or less contiguous block, taking up over a quarter of the country. I'll get back to this in a later post, but for now just keep it in mind to help set the scene: dusty, winding trails and irrigation ditches winding through seemingly endless rows of palm trees.

The plantation and the road leading to it were dusty as hell, and I was glad I'd chosen not to wear contacts for this little adventure. You could have planted a tree in the dirt that got on myself and my clothing. The ride itself was fun, though, and there were one or two funny parts. The one that sticks out in my mind is when one of us got held up by a small herd of oxen and their driver because one of the animals decided the middle of the road was a wonderful place to make a baby. Yes, I'm serious. I know I joke a lot, but this is one of those You Can't Make This Shit Up stories. So far as we know, the ox's attempts at siring were unsuccessful.

After we passed through the plantation (and a couple villages), we got to the second part of the tour; the rainforest hike. Whereas Manuel Antonio felt like a park, this felt much more like an honest-to-goodness trek through the jungle. It wasn't especially long or difficult, but that was because our guide took us through the easy trail. Not that I minded. I was too busy taking in the scenery (and ye gods was it pretty). My favorite part came at the end of the trail, where we got to rinse off in a small pond fed by a waterfall. The fall itself was back a ways, and required scaling a slippery-ass rock that likely wouldn't be doable at all in the rainy season, but the end result was breathtaking. It made me wish I'd brought a waterproof camera to get a shot, but at the same time I doubt I'm going to forget it any time soon.

In hindsight, a couple things made a huge difference in how much I enjoyed the ATV tour. First there was the guide, who was entertaining and knew enough about the area that we were able to learn some cool things. Second, and just as important, our group was small. Four of us in total, which makes a bigger difference than you might realize. I wouldn't say I believe I wouldn't have had fun even without those things, but it just made the whole experience that much better.

A couple other quick things: Most of the hotels around Manuel Antonio are pretty much built into the jungle, though there are a few condo-style developments that pretty much clear out the vegetation. I prefer the former. It looks a lot cooler, and it encourages the monkeys to show up.

And oh dear god are there monkeys. I don't know if it was just out hotel having palm trees that fed them, but every day around 4:30 we'd start seeing squirrel monkeys or what I can't help but think of as the "virus monkey" from the movie Outbreak. Other hotels had howler monkeys, which are bigger than the other two and whose howl you might mistake for a dog at first. Sadly there are also vultures, who typically started perching in some of the trees near the pool in the afternoon so they could wait for the monkeys to expose themselves.

Free wifi at the hotel was a huge plus, there's a bar with a plane in it that they insist was involved in gun-running to the Contras (again, dead serious), and there's a restaurant called the wagon with the slogan "Hot Dogs and Beer." If I hadn't been there with my mother, there's a good chance I would have had two or three meals a day there.

Overall it was an awesome trip. There's a reason everyone goes there, but try to avoid going during the week of Valentine's day. Everything's a lot more expensive.



Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gringo con Ticos

Warning: Incoherent Rambling!

Hi all,

Since this is the first post of what will hopefully become at least two over the coming months, I figured I'd start with background as to the what, why, and where this is going to be about. Odds are if you're reading this you already know I'm living in Costa Rica for at least a few months. Since I'm usually pretty horrible about staying in touch over long distances but don't want to lose touch completely, I figure a blog is a good way to let people know what I'm up to without clogging up inboxes. And, to be honest, it cuts down on the number of emails I'd have to write.

I'm also guessing that most of you have never been to Costa Rica, so I'll try to spend at least some time being genuinely informative about things down here. The rest of it will be about whatever I damn well please but I'll try to put a warning label up top with a general theme. Expect some combination of me telling tales of my adventures, reacting to things in the news, making jokes, and doing all of the above with tongue firmly in cheek.

So let's get this train wreck rolling with some of my first impressions, now that I've been here for a month.

The Good

1: The climate. The weather's been absolutely gorgeous the entire time I've been here. I'm told it will continue to be up until May or so, at which point the volume of rain will make London look like the Sahara. Also, the sun is up from roundabouts 6am-630pm every day. I'm told this will not change significantly.

2: The people. I've been able to build something of a social circle fairly quickly, thanks mainly to the active couchsurfing community down here (google it if you're unfamiliar). There's a good mix of expats and locals, which has the unfortunate side effect of making it a little too easy to use English in conversation. My landlady has been great, too, which helps.

3: The cost. There's simply no way to complain about paying ~$2 for a beer pretty consistently, and even the restaurants are cheaper than up north. Electronics are decidedly more expensive on the whole but getting new glasses (and having my old lenses ground down to fit the frames) for just under $30 was a nice surprise. Haven't explored groceries yet (since the landlady cooks as well), but they look to be pretty cheap as well.

The Bad

1: The roads. You really need a 4x4 here, because the roads are pretty poorly maintained by N.A. standards. The highway is generally better taken care of, but that's just it. It's THE highway, as in I don't think there's another one around here. Granted the entire country's population is less than the NYC metro area but the infrastructure is just one of those things that let you know you've left the "developed world."

2: Cell phones. There's only one cell phone company here, and it's a state-owned monopoly, so that ought to tell you something right there about its efficiency. Granted this isn't exactly Zimbabwe when it comes to the level of governance, so the network is (reasonably) reliable, but non-residents can't get cell phones (no prepaid lines either) and they're out of GSM lines. That's right, there's a minimum one-month wait list for a non-3G phone line. This would be fine except the cheapest 3G phone costs over $200. So I'm using skype and land lines whenever possible, and consoling myself with the knowledge that the money I'm saving on my U.S. phone by removing everything but the most basic features more than offsets the hideous roaming fees I'm charged when I am forced to use my cell.

The Ugly

1: International chains. It seems somehow wrong to walk past a Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and McDonalds all within 5 minutes of each-other outside the U.S. and Canada. It's not like they're lacking for food choices here either; despite a mild over-reliance on rice and beans Costa Rican cuisine ain't all that bad. Besides, there are plenty of decent foreign-style restaurants from Lebanese through Brazilian and beyond. Just a pet peeve I suppose. Oh yeah, and we have Wal-Mart here. Not literally, mind you, but their local subsidiary that offers Smirnoff for $7. I'm ashamed to admit I know this from firsthand experience.

How to Speak Costa Rican

Even if you speak the language, whenever you arrive in a new country you're going to get tripped up by the slang. Whether you're a New Yorker staggering drunkenly around London or a Berliner staggering drunkenly around Montreal, each country (and even city) has words and phrases you don't find anywhere else. As a public service, I'll try to translate some of the more common bits of slang you'll encounter down here once I learn whatever the hell they mean.

Tico/Tica: Adj, meaning Costa Rican. Given that the official word is Costarricense, I can understand why someone decided to shorten it.

Ex: Vamos a un restaurante tico por la cena esta noche (We're going to a Costa Rican restaurant for dinner tonight)

Pura Vida: Adv. Essentially means "fine" or "good," and is a common response to questions like "How is it going?"

Ex: Como va todo? Pura Vida, y vos? (How is everything? Good, and you? Oh yeah, that's another thing, certain parts of the country use vos instead of tu and use the vosotros conjugation. If you don't know what the bloody hell I'm talking about, don't worry about it. People usually understand tu as well.)

Mae: Noun, informal. Pronounced like eye with an M in front. Means "dude," "guy," "buddy," etc. Gender neutral, mostly used with guys though.

Ex: Tranquilo, mae! (Take it easy, dude!), No es un taxi verdad, es solo mae con carro (That's not a real taxi, it's just some guy with a car), Oye mae, donde esta el bar Cholo por favor? (Hey buddy, where's bar Cholo?)

Picha: Noun. Refers to male genitalia, not used in polite conversation.

Ex: Que picha, mae! (Dick move, guy; equiv. "what the fuck, dude!")

Also, there's a slightly different pronunciation of "Hijo de puta" (son of a bitch/whore) in that the d is effectively silent. May not seem like a big deal, but one of the locals spent a good while trying to teach a German girl the tico way because the Mexican pronunciation seemed to bother him. He may have been drunk.

I'll post more in future updates as I run across them. For now I think I've gone on longe enough.

Stay classy,