My Costa Rican Adventure

January 14, 2010
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“Pura Vida” Means pure life. In Costa Rica that is the way of life for them. Two summers ago I went down to Costa Rica for four weeks on a tour with my family and six other families. For the next few weeks we would become our own “gringo” family.

I was once one of the biggest busy bodies you could ever meet. If it had to be done I had to do it ASAP. I was 15 and had wrinkles. I was always stressed out about something, and in my free time, if I even had any, I was planning out the next few weeks. I was always volunteering, doing something for someone or working on choir. I was your go-to-girl if you needed something. But with all that going on I usually ran out of time for myself. My parents and my older sister had planned to go to Costa Rica over the summer and were dragging me along. The last thing I wanted was three weeks with my sister and dad arguing, mom drinking, and me all alone. I mean as fun as that sounds, I would rather stick pins in my eyes, thank you very much. As much as I pleaded, I was forced to go. So without any other option I was off.

After the god awful seven hour flight, I swear the flight attendant was ready to jump out of the plane after dealing with my family, we were there. We met our tour group and started. The first place we went was a banana paper plant, it is where you took old banana peels and made paper out of them. That was where I really learned about green living. They had this whole section on comparing Costa Rica’s waste and the U.S.’s. The difference was astronomical; this power plant really opened my eyes to what we were doing to our planet. I was talking to one of the workers there; although my Spanish was weak we could carry on a conversation pretty well. I bumped into him as we were talking and I was like I’m very sorry, and that’s the first time I heard the saying Pura Vida. I asked him what it meant and he said, it means pure life, but has many different contexts. My group left so I said goodbye to Palo and I was off.

We then hit the hotel, and let me just say man I was so happy to see a bed. I fell asleep right away and it was only like six. So around ten I woke up just as all of my tour groupers were going to bed. So I grabbed some dinner from the small café across the street and began to explore. There were so many cart salesmen and women on the street and on every single cart there were at least three things for sale that said pura vida. I was beginning to be very intrigued with this saying. I asked one of the local ladies, who I swear spoke better English than me, what the whole Pura Vida thing was about. She said in Costa Rica it was not just a saying but a way of life. It meant to the locals, respect and love to all. You could use it in almost every single context you could think of except a negative way. We talked for about an hour then the clock said midnight and I realized I should really get to the hotel. So I thanked her for all the help with their customs and went back to my hotel.

That night I thought about what the woman on the street had said and realized that I really liked the way of Pura Vida. I thought about my life back home and how much of a busy body I really was, and how I wasn’t truly happy. I re-evaluated the way I had been living and how it wasn’t me, it was the way people wanted me to be, and that didn’t work for me. On that thought I fell asleep.
Just a few hours later I had to wake up to repack and get ready for the day. Luckily we had a five hour drive, in which I slept for the whole time. We reached our next destination which was a coffee plant, and our tour was just in the middle of coffee season, thank the lord! During some free time I talked some more to my tour guide about how Costa Ricans lived. Through the trip I learned more and more about their lifestyle, and adapted it to my own.

Three weeks flew by and when I came back I seemed to be a different person, I no longer had every part of my life mapped out, but went with the flow and was me not what society wanted me to be. I was so much happier, I learned that my family, although weird and disorderly changed too. My dad and sister stopped fighting, well actually no, but that would be nice if they did! But the amount they argued drastically reduced. My mom and I started talking more. Costa Rica changed us. Our family didn’t live happily ever after, but let’s be realistic who ever does? But the change of culture really helped us re-evaluate ours.

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