Approximate Read Time: 3 minutes
Costa Rica is not the first stamp in my passport...
...but I have to say it is the most significant, so far. I have stamps from various Caribbean islands and from Canada and while wonderful experiences they were, I never really felt like I was in another country. English was still the first language. There was still this feeling of being tethered to the United States, somehow… by either ownership or proximity. I have difficulty counting those trips as “going abroad.”
Costa Rica was different. The moment I stepped off the plane and having to instantly switch my brain from English to Spanish in order to know where to go was a clear indicator that I was finally “abroad.” Leaving the airport and the surrounding urban landscape and entering the rural foothills of the Arenal Volcano was a clear indicator that I had untethered from everything.
Costa Rica makes untethering soooooo easy to do. Like I didn't even have to try. She just welcomes you in and removes your burdens from you like a gracious host taking your coat. She shows you around her green, lush home that even in dense fog and pouring rain is absolutely gorgeous. The beauty consumes you. With your first breath, you inhale peace and exhale worry, pain, and stress. Each subsequent breath fills your soul with bliss. And that’s just your introduction to "Pura Vida."
“Pura Vida” is Costa Rica’s adopted motto or country slogan. Literally translated it is “pure life” or (some say) “good life” but means so much more to the citizens and to anyone who has been blessed to touch this soil. Pura Vida can mean hello, goodbye, have a nice day, have a nice life, hakuna matata, take it easy, don’t worry be happy, bless you, everything is going to be okay… it all depends on how and when you say it. And everybody says it. And they don’t say it as “something to say” because it has become a staple of their tourism marketing plan for the last half-century. Everybody says it because they believe it. They live it. There are no worries here. And you feel it immediately.
Pura Vida is living “present” in it’s purest form. It is advanced authentic living. It is being at peace with who you are and where you are in this very moment and being grateful for it. It’s knowing that things could be worse, but they’re not… so, chill out and enjoy everything you have right now. Life is good… if you allow yourself to see it that way.
This was the best place for me to begin this journey. I needed to go abroad… to be untethered. I needed to go to a place that showed me everyone… no matter who you are, what you do, how much money or how many children you do or don’t have… deserves a “pure life.” It’s not that I will never have worries or problems… just that I can still “live” with them.
I’m not gonna lie… re-entry back into the states and regular life was rough. My first week back I kept thinking to myself: “Why do we make things so hard here? It really doesn’t have to be this hard!” But then I remembered what I learned… It’s only hard if I let it be. Pura Vida made it through customs… I carried it in my soul.
Now… let’s put it into practice, shall we?