• A. Denise Beltré

¡Pura Vida!: How I Experienced Costa Rica's Pure Life

¡Pura Vida! This phrase dominates Costa Rica. You'll see it on t-shirts in shop windows, mugs, keychains, and any other kitsch one might buy as souvenir while visiting the country. You'll hear the locals say it as a way to greet each other, or even say goodbye. It's also a way to tell someone how you're feeling that day. Literally translated, it means "pure life." But what does it really mean? If you're willing to slow down, you just might find the pure life for yourself.

I lived in Costa Rica for about 10 months . I was doing volunteer work, but generally had my weekends free. My fellow volunteers and I decided that we'd travel and explore the country. One of my favorite places to visit was Playa Manuel Antonio. Easy to access via bus from San José (the capital), the winding roads that lead up to the place are a thing of beauty. But it was in the experience of being there that you'll begin to feel a sense of the pure. The bright green foliage, the azure waters, the light sand, and calming sunshine all worked together to pull me closer to the nature that surrounded me. Just talking a walk along the beach could produce an exciting show of monkeys chasing each other through the trees. And then of course there was the food. I tasted amazing cuisine at family restaurants, and heard stories from the owners about their children, and enjoyed their chuckles when I asked why their gallo pinto was so amazing.

The pure life is taking time to slow down and experience the essence of life around you. Maybe that's why the phrase is so versatile. A greeting, a goodbye, a state of being. Admonishing your fellow person to experience the blessing of another day, to live it to the fullest, to recognize the pure life.


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