Living la Pura Vida in Costa Rica: A Solo Traveller’s Adventure

by | Dec 2, 2019

La pura vida Costa Rica
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Last updated on November 19th, 2023

What does pura vida mean to you?

by Andrea MacEachern, Guest writer 

It’s a hot morning in Montezuma, Costa Rica and the walk down the hill to the village is agony. I am only halfway down the hill when a young man on a motorbike stops.

“Senorita, I take you to bottom of hill if you like.”

He is wearing a nice shirt and khaki shorts which give him an air of coolness and confidence – like he often picks up strange women walking down that hill. I see no harm and a few minutes later, he drops me off at the beach.

The meaning of ‘pura vida’ 

A storm had passed near Montezuma the previous night and the water is extremely rough. The smell of Ceviche and Empanadas in the restaurant a few meters away fills the air. I find some shade under a tree and the sounds of palm trees rustling in the breeze and waves crashing onshore gently lulls me to sleep.

By late morning, the heat is getting to me. I am craving a refreshing fruit smoothie, so off I go in search of one. At the end of the street, I notice an outdoor smoothie bar. A friendly, young man is eager to take on the challenge of making me something refreshing but not-too-sweet. It takes a while for him to make it as he carefully thinks out each ingredient and makes sure it is mixed to perfection. He places his finished masterpiece before me. For the price of three Canadian dollars, I receive a delicious, green-colored smoothie in a massive glass…and a lesson in life that I would not soon forget.

“So, are you from around here?” I ask him.

“Yes, born and raised in Costa Rica,” he says proudly.

He asks if I know what ‘Pura Vida’ means.

To me “Pura Vida” means The Pure Life. Natural, untouched, simple and pure. He goes on to explain it in more depth for me.

“That is how most people interpret it,” he says. “You see, ‘Pura Vida’ can be a greeting, a state of mind, a way of life. You meet someone walking down the street, you say ‘Pura Vida’. You catch the perfect wave while surfing, you say ‘Pura Vida’. You have a wonderful day, instead of saying goodnight, you say ‘Pura Vida’. You find a great smoothie bar while walking the streets of Montezuma, you say ‘Pura Vida’. It can mean anything, but always something good. Anytime something good happens, ‘Pura Vida’ is the appropriate thing to say.”

Gratitude for Costa Rica 

Makes sense to me. How can you not be living the ‘Pura Vida’ in Costa Rica, a country that is considered to be one of the happiest in the world? I feel so lucky to be able to say that I experienced Pura Vida first-hand and have been able to apply it to my daily life at home.

I’ve since embraced minimalism, positivity and a slower pace. Every time I find myself getting overworked, overwhelmed or just plain stressed out, I close my eyes and replay that conversation with the lively young man with the dreadlocks and penchant for making the best fruit smoothie ever. I imagine I’m lying on that sandy beach in Costa Rica falling asleep to the sound of leaves rustling in the wind and waves crashing onshore – and everything is good again.

Andrea MacEachern grew up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, lived in Newfoundland for over 10 years and recently returned to her hometown. She loves to travel and write about it and recently, she found love for another art form – photography. Andrea loves being outdoors, traveling to new places and keeping her life as interesting as possible!

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