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We are traveling in rural, southwest Costa Rica. We were walking down the road and began talking to two local guys in their 20s. They offered to give us surfing lessons, and eventually said "you can come over for dinner" ...

The invitation made us feel uneasy, but is this normal behavior?

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As you travel you'll find that many countries, it's perfectly fine for people to invite those they just met to their place, or to help them out (even going out of your own way). In some places it's almost impolite not to. A couple of examples:

A couple I'd met in Vianden, Luxembourg, knew I was taking the bus and train back to Luxembourg City in the morning. They suggested instead that I go see the castle, and then we meet again mid-morning. I stored my bags in their car, and then we drove back down to Luxembourg city, via a lookout and some of the small local towns. It was out of their way, but they were happy to show me around and to help out.

Uzbekistan - a guy I'd just met invited me to his town, and I stayed at his place which he shared with his brothers. They shared dinner with me, we looked at photos and they prepared an outdoor bedding/mattress for me - which was awesome, sleeping under the stars. And then the next day they helped me find the required banks and taxi ranks etc to get to the next town, and we even visited an art museum together, and went to their parents' place for breakfast who also welcomed me in. Very hospitable.

A French and English couple I met in Central Asia (they were cycling), are arriving in New Zealand next week. They've sent camping and sleeping gear by mail, and I'm receiving it for them as they had no postal address otherwise. Sure I could sell it on Ebay, but instead I'll get to catch up with them again and help them on their way around the country.

Sure, some might be dodgy. Some will want money, some will want ... other things. But overwhelmingly, people are friendly, and proud of their country, and pleased that visitors have come to see it. If they can help make it a better experience, they will.

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In Uzbekistan a guest has a place of honor –  Karlson Jan 25 '12 at 20:30

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