Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Living Pura Vida...For Just One Week and Now Forever




For those of you who follow my blog, I took a little time off a few weeks back due to a ski injury.  Then – poof – I disappeared again.  I just want to clear up any misconceptions that it has been the pesky hurt shoulder which caused my posts to slow down but, rather, I have been busy experiencing the “Pure Life.”

My family and I were lucky enough to receive an invitation to join two other families on a week-long sojourn to Costa Rica.  The “Rich Coast” is nestled between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America and flanked by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Our host family owns an amazing home in Punta Leona (near Jacó) on the Pacific Coast.  The modern home boasts ocean views from the roof top pool deck (duh) all the way down to the bottom-bedroom level.  The slider doors opened up the living area and beautiful kitchen as if we were preparing meals while floating above the ocean (a true delight for the moms), the two pools and Jacuzzi were super fun for the kids, and the mucho cervezas were a big hit for the dads.

However – as if the company of amazing friends and a beautiful property weren’t enough –the unexpected positive aura and immense beauty of this country had me hooked from the moment I stepped off the plane.

Having never been to Costa Rica, I didn’t know what to expect.  Mostly, I have heard this is the place to go if you surf and, if you don’t surf, there isn’t much for you to do.  This could not have been further from the truth.

Stunning white and black sand beaches with water as warm as the bath are of course a big draw; yet the lush rain forest, which is home to a menagerie of species from insects to birds to primates, is framed by the most beautiful flora and fauna in the world.  From our temporary home, Macaws and Toucans flew by as if on cue.

We soared through the canopy of the jungle on zip lines along with our feathered friends; and explored it from the ground at a sloths pace at the Manual Ortega National Preserve.

We dined with white-face and squirrel monkeys and we all swam in the ocean during a monsoon down pour.  The children dove like dolphins and slept in big puppy piles. 

Our three families made so many memories that it is hard to recount them here on these pages: I only know that there were only smiles, laughter and happiness.

And how could we not in the presence of such a positive culture.  The locals were so friendly and gracious; there was not a lick of animosity that I have experienced in some other Central American countries.  So it is no surprise that Costa Rica ranks first on the Happy Planet Index (an index of human well-being and environmental impact) and is the “greenest” country in the world …and that has nothing to do with the trees.

The sheer respect Costa Ricans have for their Eco-Culture blew me away.  Not only is it about preserving the forests, wild life and keeping their people uplifted and empowered; it is about a pride for even the most basic aspects of day-to-day life. Recycling is broken down by glass, aluminum, organic, and paper.  Public restrooms were clean and spotless.  Everyone treated one another with an optimistic demeanor. 

To me, the Costa Rican culture embodied a spirituality that linked nature with the people.

So, it is no surprise that the Costa Rican have a saying “Pura Vida,” which literally means Pura = pure and Vida = life, but “Pure Life” in Spanish would be “Vida Pura.”  So, the real meaning is closer to “plenty of life,” “full of live,” “this is living,” “going great,” “real living,” “Awesome,” and even “cool.”  The Pura Vida saying can be used as both a greeting and a farewell and is universally known throughout Costa Rica.

I can honestly say that my family – as well as our friends – certainly experienced the pure life while in Costa Rica and the memory of it will live in us forever. 




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