Kartel’s “Bike Back” has Costa Rican dropping it to the floor and slow wining to the top while Chuck Fenda on the Passion Riddim has youth with pelo rasta (dreadlocks, or more literally, “rasta hair”) putting “lightas inna di air” on the DJ’s command.

Images of Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, and Haile Selassie adorn the walls of restaurants and barber shops.

During the two years I lived in Costa Rica, I spent as many nights dancing to reggae in city-style San Jose clubs until dawn as I did at wallless bars on tropical beaches.

Words and Photos by Sabia Mc Coy-Torres— When people think of Costa Rica, what usually comes to mind are exotic animals, lush jungle, and tropical beaches—a paradise waiting be indulged in.

Rarely would one consider gritty port city streets, dancehall blasting from passing cars, and gunshots busting out for celebratory reasons.

On a DJ Acon mixtape, Beenie Man affectionately refers to him as “DJ Acon, a real Costa Rican black Chinee.” He places the birth of contemporary reggae in Costa Rica around the mid ’80s.

Before the Internet, people transferred music the old school way… Being that Puerto Limón is a port city, cruise and cargo ships dock there, and workers on ships who went to Jamaica would bring back cassettes for their friends and family. DJs were able to set up reggae nights at various bars and clubs on the Caribbean coast.

Health Care Costs Don’t Concern You If you are healthy or covered by an affordable health care plan, moving to a country with socialized medicine won’t have an impact on your decision. Outside of San Jose, the hospitals and clinics can be lacking the most basic diagnostic tools. Probably aren’t going to get it unless you opt to pay for it out-of-pocket. You Are a Conspicuous Consumer If you drive a nice shiny late model car and your significant other drives a nice shiny late model car and you have a pickup truck too, it’s going to be difficult for you in Costa Rica. That means cars are very expensive – even used ones. If you need the latest version i Phone, it may not even be available in Costa Rica for a year after launch in the states.

It’s not free for expats, but access to the Costa Rica health care is very affordable, often less than 0 per month for complete coverage. You Have Lived in the Same Place Forever You won’t do well adapting to new people and their customs. Many Ticos speak English, especially those that make a living dealing with Gringos. You Enjoy Cooking and Fine Dining Gourmet cooks will be very frustrated upon moving to Costa Rica.Fine dining in a restaurant is limited to the resort areas catering to the tourist or San Jose. So if you’re thinking about retiring in Costa Rica and none of the above caveats apply to you, make the move. Just know that your life will be much simpler – or much more complicated – depending on what you want and need in retirement. Acon is talking about Costa Rica’s Afro-Caribbean population, the descendents of Jamaican laborers who came to Costa Rica beginning in 1871 to construct a railroad connecting the Caribbean coast to the Pacific.After the railroad was finished, they stayed on to work banana plantations, while more Jamaicans immigrated until the late 1940s, also to work in this industry.Heads ducking bullets was a commonplace occurrence, but rarely did the party ever stop.