What we found in Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano

Costa Rica, land of Pura Vida; beautiful green rainforest, delicious food and coffee, and adventure made accessible. It was one week of mornings spent having coffee on the porch of our bungalow, days spent exploring the natural wonders of Arenal Volcano, and nights spent in town being mindfully present over dinner at a local soda.

The week leading up to our trip had been high stress and underwhelming in the unfortunately typical way that life tends to be for most of us when we are not on vacation. Hardly surprising when one considers that the most recent campaign of the official tourism board of Costa Rica is “Save the Americans” (seriously, go check it out). We were spending most of our hours each day at the office and any time that was not physically spent at the office was devoted to thinking about what did and might happen at the office. Or the mind might also go into overdrive about some other domain of life (grad school, whether that post on Facebook was misinterpreted, how one was possibly going to fit X, Y, and Z into my schedule, etc).We were sacrificing time and energy that could be spent with loved ones on the altar of things less worthy. And when we came back from Costa Rica, as soon as our phones were no longer in airplane mode, we found ourselves quickly losing all that we had soaked in on our vacation.

Pura Vida. It might sound a bit cliche to the average American, like “YOLO” or “Hakuna Matata”, but in many ways, it represents just what we found in Costa Rica. Pura Vida is an often-used Costa Rican phrase which literally translates to “pure life”. Our river guides on the Rio Balsa rafting trip had us yell it after every successful navigation of a rapid. Our caving guide said it a few times that any of us looked scared of the natural wonders of the cave. On our rainforest chocolate tour, our tour guide would say it to each of us as we were about to try some delicious cacao. It has a few different connotations, all positive, but to us, it seems to boil down to the enjoyment of life, uncomplicated by worry or fear or whatever else your modern over-worked brain might conjure up.

Here are some nice webpages that talk about Pura Vida and it’s uses in more detail:

What does Pura Vida Mean?

Wikipedia: Culture of Costa Rica

CostaRica.com: Pura Vida

This blog was born on the porch of a coffee shop in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Chris and I were reaching the end of our trip, day 6 of 7 in La Fortuna. As we sat slowly sipping our coffee and taking in the details of this place that we knew we would miss, we began talking about what was missing from our lives back home.

We found that we both had the same concern: we spend our energy on the wrong things. We give everything we have to things that don’t necessarily make us happy.

We began to recognize the things that are central to our happiness: spending time with family/friends, trying something new, creating something, exploring, being out in nature, pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone… The list goes on and on.

It’s time to put those things first. Through this blog we hope to motivate ourselves and our readers to make that list matter every single day. Carpe diem and pura vida!

Chris and Stephanie

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