Pura Vida

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She felt extremely renewed. This vacation had sprung itself upon her and at first she hadn’t been excited to go, but now she came back to her room feeling totally changed. Refreshed was the correct word- this vacation had all the elements that she had needed to reboot herself and prepare for the next interval of her life. One season had passed and this week labeled “spring break” had been the perfect transition into the next one.

She recalled certain moments on this trip. The first one that had struck a chord in her heart was driving up the hills to the volcano. She had sat in the back of the bus, sticking her face out the window like a dog, letting the wind whip her hair around her face and slap her skin, enlivening all the pores and senses. The sun had been warm that day and chosen to hug her so that she felt comfortable even with the strong wind. The hills were beautiful, with little villages pocketed in the crevices, and speckled cattle and horses dotted the horizon. The villages all had bright colored peeling paint on all the square houses, and rich colored tan people with strong defined cheekbones and foreheads stared at the bus with amused interest. She smiled the whole entire ride, receiving warm smiles back from almost all of the beautiful people, and she secretly thanked them for granting her eyes the right to absorb such a wondrous sight. The valleys were breathtaking, and as the bus crawled up the paved roads, there were moments when they all felt the bus might not make it up the slope. She got an adrenaline rush when the bus curved around the mountain so close to the edge, and she dared to look down very often. The looking down was so worth it though, because the jungle that divided up each hill and mountain was breathtaking in its magnitude. There was a sense of isolation in all of the villages in these mountains, but they had a peace that was difficult to find. The people lived with simplicity, and she almost wished she could live here in such serenity, and wake up every morning to the sweet sunrise and smell of fresh fruit, and feel the breeze of the hills move her every day like it had today.

Then of course, there was the walking through the city of San Jose. This had always been a favorite part of every vacation- for she loved to engage herself in the language and the people. Especially in a country like Costa Rica, where everyone made you feel so warm and welcome and every citizen seemed to have a look of amusement hidden in their smirk they gave to her, a foreigner, she felt the urge to maximize her time walking the streets. First they went to some sort of a town square, where she felt heat rushing to her face as her group posed for pictures, and everyone stared. She clutched her bag defensively as she walked by, receiving smiles from the men and interested looks from all the women. The sun again was present here, comforting her and only uplifting her mood. The city itself was that of a developing nation, many of the shops were all variations of each other, competing, but all a bit run down. People hung around outside each store, wishing you to come in. She enjoyed seeing the people here, but she was looking for something else- something less commercial and a little more local. Finally she found it, in a small strip, there were about 50 merchants selling hand crafted Costa Rican goods, probably targeted to tourists like her. She saw embroidered on all of the textiles “Pura Vida,” the colloquial Costa Rican phrase for “life is good.” She loved the bazaar, the woven work was beautiful on the backpacks and bags, the embroidery on the Costa Rican shirts and wraps and ponchos was intricately unique and what she was looking for, and the vivid colors of coral and turquoise on all the jewelry appealed to her jewel toned taste. Using the little Spanish she knew, she was delighted to have a chance to interact with the people here, and again secretly in her head, she thanked the beautiful people for being so willing and open to share their culture, even if they were just looking to make money.

Driving to Punta Leona had the same adrenaline rush as the volcano day, except this time it peaked when she finally saw the sea. It was varying shades of blues and greens with the perfect whitest sand absorbing all the sunlight that also permeated through the resort. Driving on the hills into the resort, she saw the jungle next to her, but then over and out of the hills, the sea welcomed a place of open air down on the beach.

Once she was actually on the beach, she wasn’t disappointed. The water itself had been warm, and totally clear, and it was refreshing to feel weightless on her back when the waves carried her. She let her head tilt back while she floated and stared up, challenging the power of the sunlight, squinting but never giving in and closing her eyes. Below her, she knew there were the tiny clear fish that traveled in schools, fearing her every move, but yet she felt their presence as friendly, inviting her to share their realm. This sea was giving, and she was thrilled to be able to take from it for her short stay there. The beach had a nurturing experience for her, and its effect healed her wounds from silly petty everyday injuries due to the school year, and instead seeing a world that was greater than hers humbled her.

Suddenly she saw that she was her own person, and those petty injuries couldn’t touch her. She had always known that, but this trip had reminded her that the only way to be happy was through herself- she was the key to her own satisfaction. She had lived this vacation with arms wide open, embracing every second of it, never once having any regrets or moments of complaint, and she wanted to carry this attitude through to her real life. Nothing had been perfect on this vacation, yet that was normality…because nothing went perfectly. Through it all, she never once had any regrets and she still fell in love with every second of the trip and every inch of the country she lay her foot on, and on every person she set her eyes on. She didn’t need any friends or family to keep her occupied, or busy, or distracted. She, alone, had made every moment of this trip what it was. She wanted to be this independent every day- she wanted to have this attitude towards people in her life everyday, and live high like that always. Now she felt as if the vacation had shown her that the beauty she sought in the world was right in front of her, and it was in the eye of the beholder. She promised herself to continue this next season with this refreshed attitude and there was no reason she couldn’t make every day a “Pura Vida” day.





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