This is our seventh day in Costa Rica, and all is well. One of the differences we’ve noticed is a preoccupation with physical security. Businesses and homes have an ever-present air of watchfulness due to guards, walls (paredes), barred windows, doors (puertas), gates (portones), and locks.
Here is a picture of the facade of a nearby street showing the outside walls and gates.In addition to bars on all windows, many houses also have razor wire on top of the walls.The home where we are staying is a good example. Even while at home, doors are locked and the alarm system is on (the alarm is triggered if the door opens). To leave we have to:
- Deactivate the alarm system so that the door can be opened without setting off the alarm,
- Unlock the door,
- Unlock the first gate,
- Close the door from the inside (so you can set the alarm),
- Turn the alarm system on,
- Exit the house and close the door (within 60 seconds),
- Lock the metal door behind us,
- Lock the first gate behind us,
- Open, pass through, and then close the second gate, and
- Pass through the outside wall by unlocking, going through, and then relocking the third gate.
Entering the house requires substantially the same steps in reverse, except that only 30 seconds are allowed after opening the door before the alarm system goes off. Here are pictures of the outside locked gate and the gate and door to get into the house; note also the bars on the windows in the second photo:
If the alarm goes off, the security company follows a protocol to determine if the alarm is false or real. If they aren’t satisfied that the alarm is false, they dispatch armed guards to the house.