10 Things to Do and See When Travelling to Costa Rica

travelling to Costa RicaTravelling to Costa Rica can be such an enriching experience for many reasons. Costa Rica is a gorgeous country nestled right in the middle of Central America with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Ocean, the country’s close proximity to water and the Equator has allowed for lush rainforests to cover the country with greenery. Because of Costa Rica’s exotic terrain, beautiful beaches, abundant animal life, and friendly community, it is a tourist destination for people all over the world.

There aren’t many countries where you can climb a volcano, relax on a remote sandy beach, and zip-line through the rainforest in just a few days. You can do all of this, and much more, when you visit Costa Rica. Whether you decide to travel during the wet season, or the dry season, the country will not disappoint. To ensure that you get the most out of your trip to Costa Rica, we’ve outlined ten things to do and see when travelling to Costa Rica.

5 Things to Do When Travelling to Costa Rica

1. Experience Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve

Whether you want to walk the forest floor or zipline through the forest canopy, experiencing Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve should be on your list of things to do when travelling to Costa Rica. Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve was named for the nearby town of Monteverde and consists of 26,000 acres of cloud forest – a subtropical forest known for having consistent cloud cover due to moisture. With over 850 species of flora and over 150 species of fauna in the forest, you are sure to see some interesting sights on your visit.

2. Enjoy Nightlife in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

The Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a popular destination for tourists visiting Costa Rica. At night, the city comes to life with bamboo bars, Reggae music, and vivacious nightlife. There is something for everyone in this town. Whether you want to adventure inland to the rainforest, enjoy surfing and drinks on the beach, or visit the black sand beach of Playa Negra for a more offbeat adventure, all can be done in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

3. Explore La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The La Paz Waterfall Gardens promise to wow even the most travelled explorer. The Gardens features five waterfalls that are all accessible by safe and easy hiking trails. If hiking is not your thing, you can check out the aviary that features a vast number of bird species. You can also see monkeys, jaguars, pumas, other large cats, frogs, and orchids in this one park. Established in 1998, the entirety of the Gardens opened to the public in 2000. Since then it has become a thriving tourist destination nestled on 70 acres of beautiful Costa Rican jungle.

4. Relax in Tabacón Hot Springs

On more than 900 acres of reserved tropical land, the Tabacón Hot Springs are a modern marvel. The water is heated by a stream of hot springs that run through marshes and grasslands from the Arenal Volcano. Thanks to one man’s adventurous attitude and ability to think outside of the box, the Tabacón Hot Springs Spa was established in the late 1980s. After a complete overhaul in 1991 that took over two years, these relaxing hot springs are now surrounded by acres and acres of Costa Rican native flora, a restaurant, and spa making this one of the most beautiful and relaxing tourist destinations in the country.

5. Take a Tour of a Coffee Plantation

A lesser known fact about Costa Rica is that coffee beans are a huge export and one of the country’s most profitable crops. Thanks to the country’s location and climate, coffee plantations are abundant which gives tourists multiple opportunities to take a tour. Most of the coffee plantations are in the Central Valley of Costa Rica and each plantation offers a different experience, so if you’re a true fan of coffee you may want to check out more than one.

5 Things to See When Travelling to Costa Rica

1. The Nicoya Peninsula

The Nicoya Peninsula, which juts out into the Pacific Ocean, is a well-known spot in Costa Rica for its beautiful beaches. While it is a popular tourist destination, and will be crowded, it is worth a visit. The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the world’s Blue Zones and there are numerous nature reserves and wildlife refuges to visit on the peninsula itself. During certain times of the year, you can even see Leatherback turtles come to nest and hatch at Playa Grande on the peninsula.

2. The Arenal Volcano

If you are in the Tabacón area visiting the hot springs we mentioned above, you will definitely see the Arenal Volcano in the distance. The volcano is a sightseer’s dream from its almost perfectly symmetrical shape to its frequent activity since the 1960s. The Arenal Volcano has been inactive since October 2010; however, it could turn active any time and erupt soon after due to its placement and the high amount of water in its magma. Regardless of its activity, if you are in the area then you will be able to see the Arenal Volcano from afar or take a closer look with a guided tour.

3. Corcovado National Park

Further south in Costa Rica lies the “crown jewel” of Costa Rica’s system of national parks — Corcovado National Park. Encompassing the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline, the park gives vegetation and local fauna a place to thrive. The waters in and around the parks also promote ecological diversity. Baleen whales, including humpbacks, winter, and breed in Drake Bay which is relatively close to Corcovado National Park.

4. Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

The Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is another area of Costa Rica that promotes the preservation of wildlife and local flora; however, the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge sits over wetlands unlike other national parks and reserves mentioned in this article. This makes it a unique site for migratory waterfowl. It also makes it a unique experience for travellers as you can only explore the area by boat. In addition to migratory waterfowl, this wildlife reserve is also home to large cats, monkeys, and many other native species.

5. Tortuguero National Park

People know about the Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica for a few reasons. For one, the park is extremely remote and is only accessible by airplane or boat. Regardless of how difficult it is to get to Tortuguero National Park, it is still the third most visited park in the country. With 11 different habitats within the park, it boasts a massive variety of biological diversity. When you visit Tortuguero National Park you can experience the rainforest, mangrove forest, swamps, beaches, and even lagoon environments in a single trip. While visiting Tortuguero National Park, try to observe the egg-laying of both green and leatherback sea turtles which occur in the park.

Traveling to Costa Rica can be an enriching experience thanks to the variety of environments available to explore. A Costa Rican vacation can be made even more wonderful by the friendliness of the Costa Rican people, called Ticos. With so much to do and see in one country, there is something for everyone. If you are looking for an exciting vacation that can be a learning experience and a relaxing getaway, make sure to visit Costa Rica.

At Number8, we have a nearshore development office in San Jose, Costa Rica. Our development team travels throughout Costa Rica, for both business and pleasure, to enrich their lives with the country’s endless beauwildlifelife, and conservation efforts. If you are interested in learning more about our company, and what we do in Costa Rica, give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

How Business Practices in Costa Rica Differ from Those in the United States

business practices in costa ricaBusiness, like language, varies from country to country across the world. From common practices to appropriate communication techniques, there are a lot of nuances to take into consideration when working with someone from another area. In some countries, like Japan, silence is valued over constant conversation. In others, like Germany, punctuality is preferred over flexibility. While some differences are vast, others are minor. When it comes to how business practices in Costa Rica differ from those in the United States, the differences are vast.

Costa Rica could not be much more different than the United State. From the landscape to the climate, there aren’t many similarities to be found between the two. However, both countries have growing populations with even faster-growing interests in web-based work and software development. Because of this mutual interest, Costa Rica is quickly becoming a go-to for U.S.-based companies needing nearshore development. Due to this growing interest centered around international business, it is important to understand business practices in Costa Rica and proper business etiquette.

7 Important Business Practices to Remember When Working with Costa Ricans

1. Appointments Are Always Flexible

Costa Ricans are not known for being the strictest of people when it comes to punctuality. Due to their more relaxed approach to time management, business appointments do not always start right on time. In fact, some websites who cover business practices in Costa Rica recommend bringing a book to your next meeting in case you have to wait for an extended amount of time. Due to this approach, business meetings often last longer than scheduled.

2. Consistent Reminders of Meetings Are Necessary

This differentiation between Costa Ricans and Americans stems from the Costa Rican pura vida lifestyle and their flexibility with time. Due to their busy lifestyles, Costa Rican business partners need constant reminders of pre-scheduled meetings. It is recommended to send appointment reminders a week before the meeting then two days prior to the meeting, with a final reminder going out the day of.

3. Put An Emphasis on Small Talk

Most differences between how business is done in the United States and Costa Rica stem from their pura vida lifestyle. While businesspeople in the United States often get straight to the point, Costa Ricans like to take their time. It’s important to emphasize small talk during business meetings with Costa Ricans. Speaking on topics like the weather, general news, or the latest sports scores are completely acceptable and welcome.

4. Networking is Highly Important

When compared to the United States, the population of Costa Rica is small. With only 5 million people in the country, networking plays a huge role in business growth. It’s important to get out there and discuss current business ventures and possible future business endeavors with the community. The small, tight-knit community can open up partnerships and opportunities with fellow businesspeople that may have gone unnoticed without networking. Due to the closeness of the Costa Rican community, and the importance of networking, it is crucial that you keep your comments respectful and your intentions honest.

5. Business Attire is Still Preferred in Professional Settings

Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches and lush jungles may lead you to think that casual attire is acceptable throughout the country; however, the opposite is true in a business setting. Despite their laid back lifestyles, Costa Ricans still hold looking professional to high regard. Men are often found in dress pants paired with long sleeve shirts. Most opt for a jacket over a tie, unlike businessmen in the United States. Women’s wardrobe choices vary from business suits to more fanciful dresses, with plenty of accessories, depending on the event.

6. Titles Are Very Important To Costa Ricans

Titles are very important to Costa Ricans, especially those that hold professional or political titles. While professional titles are important to businesspeople in the United States, too, the titles of Costa Ricans differ greatly. Costa Rican men use both their father’s and mother’s names in correspondence, but only use their father’s names when introducing themselves. While businesspeople in the United States often have one surname and are fine with being called by their first name, in Costa Rica one must be invited to refer to the other by their first name. It is even seen as rude to call a Costa Rican by their first name without being invited to do so.

7. Negotiations Will Take Time

Business decisions are expected to take longer in Costa Rica than they are in the United States. This is because business decisions are made between all involved parties within the business which means there is a lot of bureaucracy to navigate. Additionally, because of the close community of networkers, business decisions and negotiations are often made over dinner, in a more relaxed environment, which can stretch out the process.

While Costa Rica is not on the other side of the world, business culture in Costa Rica is quite different when compared to the United States. With the more relaxed approach to time management and decision making, Costa Ricans do business at a slower pace. The close-knit community throughout the country means that there is a personal level to the business whereas there is often a strict line between business and personal life in the United States. Despite the differences, partnerships between businesses in the United States and Costa Rica continue to thrive in web-based work and software development.

At Number8, we connect businesses in the United States looking for development work with nearshore developers based in Costa Rica. We focus on assisting companies with improving their internal IT processes to ensure smoother business for everyone. If you are interested in learning more about what we do at Number8, give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

5 Programming Languages for Beginners

There are so many programming languages in the tech industry, that for the average layman it can be overwhelming. Generally speaking, these languages are how we communicate tasks to a computer. They’re a tool to help computers quickly and efficiently process data no matter how large or complex it may be.

As technology evolves, so do it’s languages. Whether you’re looking for someone who can code or are interested in learning yourself, starting with a basic understanding of the languages used to code is important in order to stay up to date with most relevant methods of programming. 

For beginners, it’s best to focus on languages that inherently teach basic computer science concepts. Languages that are dynamic and don’t have any strict rules on how they have to be written tend to be the most suitable for those just beginning to dip their toes into the world of coding. 

Here to help you get started, are 5 programming languages we recommend for beginners:

1. HTML

While HTML is considered the most basic and commonly known language, everyone has to start somewhere. Used to create web pages, HTML is a markup language that defines the structure and layout of various electronic documents. For example, when formatting the content on a website or email, HTML is utilized to ensure that both the text and graphics are displayed correctly. 

2. Python

Perhaps the most popular introductory language, Python is object oriented and used to integrate systems or automate tasks. Known for it’s easy to learn syntax and flexible semantics, Python is a good beginners language because it focuses on readability. It’s a script language that reads like English. With Python, programming is often more manageable because fewer lines of coding are required. 

3. Ruby

Ruby is also an easy to read general purpose scripting language and therefore similar to Python. It features a web application framework called Ruby on Rails that provides some shortcuts. While Ruby is more flexible when compared to Python, it is also less direct and explicit in it’s approach. 

4. JavaScript

JavaScript is a fully compatible scripting language and as such is already built into most web browsers. It’s used to create dynamic and interactive web pages for a more user friendly experience by translating static elements into animations.  JavaScript code also helps load new content without having to reload the entire page and is run on only a browser.

5. Java

Java gets it’s syntax fro C and C++. (While these are more difficult to learn, they do impact most programming languages and as such are also a good way to place to start in order to grasp the basic concepts of multiple coding languages.) Java has it’s own platform and is known for it’s ability to run in any virtual machine or browser. It’s a standalone programming language, and is statically typed; meaning it has more structure than the others listed above and needs to be compiled before it can be executed.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

How To Design Your Office to Be More Productive

Where you work is just as important as what you do. Office designs have come a long way since the early 20th century and are still changing year to year. What makes for a productive office environment? There are plenty of details, both big and small, that can contribute to office productivity or create a distracting environment. From the lighting to the desk layout to the color of the walls, the environment you’re in is important for your success at work.

Open office space designs have received a recent uptick in popularity. The open design is thought to enable users to be more collaborative. It is also thought that open spaces prevent employees from slacking off due to the visual accountability they are held to. However, for some, open office spaces are seen as distracting and chaotic. There are plenty of companies out there who stick to the cubicle set-up or closed door offices and that method works for them. While it has been proven that office design affects employee productivity, the design of the space itself isn’t actually as important as the details within the design. There are certain aspects of the office environment higher ups should be paying attention to if they want to improve productivity.

Design Details That Influence Office Productivity

1. Lighting

Employees spend 8-10 hours a day in their office environment, so it is crucial that the office is adequately lit. Working in a well-lit area reduces eye strain, headaches, fatigue, and irritability. In a recent study, it was proven that productivity increases as much as 16% when employees are placed in a well-lit workspace.

2. Ventilation

Just like lighting, ventilation is another crucial detail to consider when designing a productive workspace. OSHA estimates that employers lose a total of $15 billion annually “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave” that is associated with low air quality. Installing air filters and incorporating fresh air will improve productivity, lower absences, and save the company money in the long run.

3. Color

Color is a huge part of office design and picking the right colors to incorporate can effect productivity levels. Blue is a color proven to increase productivity. Orange is another color that promotes energy, so it is often used on office walls. If blue and orange are not colors you prefer, a study from the University of Massachusetts shows that incorporating any color in office design promotes creativity and improves morale.

4. Office Furniture

Of course, it is important that the desks and chairs in your office look nice and appear professional. However, it is more important that your employee’s desk spaces fit their bodies correctly. There are a few quick checks you can do to make sure a desk space is ergonomic including:

  • Eyes are two to three feet from the computer screen.
  • The top of the monitor is at eye-level or slightly below it.
  • Feet are resting on the floor or a footrest.
  • A chair that can be adjusted for height and recline to relieve spinal pressure.

5. Temperature

It is a common misconception that a colder office is a more productive environment. Most offices are kept around 66 degrees for this reason. In all actuality, a warmer office environment can lead to increased productivity. A study from Cornell linked “warm offices to fewer typing errors and higher productivity”. The study also determined that an ideal office temperature is between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

These five design details are a great place to start for those looking to make their office spaces more productive. Regardless of where you work, consider lighting, air quality, your desk area, and how you’re physically feeling. If you are going through a phase of being less productive than normal a slight switch up may help.

Stressful Work Environment? 10 Fast & Easy Ways To Relieve Stress

Regardless of how much you love your job, it can be stressful at times. According to a survey from Everest College, 83% of workers in the US are stressed at work. There are many reasons that an employee can be stressed. For some, it is an unhealthy work environment. For others, stress at work can be a result of a lack of job security, a poor work/life balance, or feeling underpaid.

In the IT sector, quickly approaching deadlines or a high influx of clientele contribute to a stressful work environment. Data malfunctions, system crashes and miscommunication between team members are additional factors that can contribute to feeling stressed on the job. Since working in a stressful environment is unavoidable at times, it is important to know quick ways to relieve stress in the workplace. Below, we’ve outlined 10 fast and easy ways to relieve stress when you find yourself stressing out at work.

10 Ways to Relieve Stress at Work

  1. Build Positive Relationships with Co-Worker

    Co-workers who can commiserate with you on common stressors are blessings in disguise. Having friends in the office who you can vent to in confidence is a huge stress reliever. When you talk about stressors, you contextualize them and can often resolve the issues altogether. If you’re feeling stressed at work, find a friend and confidante then sit down and talk about what’s bothering you.

  2. Exercise

    Exercise has been proven time and time again to relieve stress. You don’t have to do a full-blown workout to incorporate exercise into your workday. Taking a short walk during lunch or a quick walk around the building when you’ve got 10 minutes can make all the difference. The point is that getting outside and getting your heart rate up hugely benefit stress relief. If you don’t have time to get away from your desk consider requesting a standing desk. An act as simple as standing when you’re used to sitting all day can hugely benefit the receptors in your brain that manage stress.

  3. Improve Your Diet

    Stress eating is real. While it may feel good to binge eat greasy pizza when you’re feeling down, it’s not helping you manage your stress. In fact, a healthy diet is going to benefit your stress levels much more than an unhealthy diet will. By eating foods high in carbohydrates, fat, and sugar, you’re more likely to feel lethargic and less likely to tackle difficult tasks. When you choose to eat complex carbs, high fiber fruits, and superfoods like kale and dark chocolate, you’re helping your body and powering your brain. A healthy diet will keep you from worrying about your weight on top of your job and will help keep you focused on the tasks ahead. In the end, you’ll be benefiting your body and your workload.

  4. Start Your Day Off in a Positive Way

    We’ve all heard the saying, “someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed” and while it’s an expression, it rings true. A huge factor that determines your stress levels is how you start your day. When you start your day late and find yourself rushing, you’re more likely to be stressed. Some ways to ensure you start your day off right include preparing your breakfast and lunch the night before, picking out your work attire in the evening, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep without that time cutting into your morning.

  5. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe

    Breathing is a great way to relieve stress and calm yourself down. By practicing deep breathing, you’re sending your brain a message that says, “calm down and relax”. Not only does deep breathing reduce stress, but it also relieves tension. There are a few different deep breathing techniques that can help with stress reductions. A study recently came out of the University of Michigan explains the different techniques, how to do them, and their benefits.

  6. Cut Down on Interruptions

    Interruptions surround us within the work environment. From meetings and email threads to extended lunch breaks and social media, there are distractions everywhere. While some interruptions are necessary, most of them are not and are contributing to your stress. Try cutting down on interruptions by setting aside specific times for meetings, addressing your inbox at a certain time, and limiting your social media usage.

  7. Tackle One Thing at a Time

    Prioritizing your day is another great way to eliminate stress. Making a to-do list of tasks to work through can help to put your day in a manageable perspective. By completing one task at a time, you will be able to focus entirely on said task. This will keep you from having to revisit it throughout the day. A helpful tip is to make an outline of how your ideal workday would pan out and then try to stick to that outline.

  8. Quit Self-Imposing Stress

    A lot of work-related stress is self-imposed. By setting unreasonable deadlines for yourself or avoiding certain items on your to-do list because they are hard to tackle, you’re creating stress that can easily be avoided. An easy way to avoid self-imposed stress is to apply other methods of stress management on this list to your work life.

  9. Be Comfortable

    Being uncomfortable can also contribute to stress in the workplace. Wearing clothes you feel uncomfortable in to uphold an image can contribute to your stress. Sitting in an uncomfortable chair can also cause stress in the workplace. Even something as minor as dealing with distracting office noise can make it hard to focus. Speaking up about office discomforts can benefit your day-to-day work life tremendously and cut down on stress.

  10. Kick Bad Habits

    Kicking bad habits that cause you to stress is a great way to reduce your stress at work and at home, too! Whether your bad habit is checking social media too often or finding yourself overwhelmed with topics unrelated to work while at the office, eliminating those causes can have great effects. BlockSite is a great Chrome extension that can help you cut back on visiting websites not related to your job and can help eliminate your stress in the workplace.

While stress in the workplace can’t be completely avoided, it can be managed. The number one step to managing your work-related stress is to identify the causes. Once you’ve discovered what is causing your stress, start taking steps to eliminate those causes. Eventually, your work-related stress will disappear and your life at work will improve drastically. If you feel that these tips will not help you with your stress, you may consider a new career path. Not all people are cut out for certain jobs and that is completely fine. In the end, personal wellbeing and mental health should be your highest priorities.

At Number 8, we promote a healthy and stress-free work environment. If you are an IT professional who is in search of a job, contact us today. You can give us a call at 502-890-7665 or check out our contact page!