In Costa Rica, they have a saying. Chances are, you've probably heard it by now...
Actually, it's even more than a saying. It's a way of life. It means letting go, living in the moment, and enjoying all life has to offer.
I'm not going to lie - before I left for the trip, I thought it was BS - a local saying that once had meaning, but that had become such a marketing shtick for the tourist industry that it no longer had relevance.
And there was certainly some of that. A few drunken American tourists and Disney-like tourist agents chiming it like mockingbirds mimicking speech, but having no understanding for the deeper meaning.
But after a few days there, I actually found myself saying it. And living it.
Let me explain:
We arrived in San Jose International Airport and immediately set off for Cahuita, which is a very small town on the Atlantic Coast. We arrived here, settled into our extremely charming hotel, and took a walk down to the beach. At this beach, and in this entire town, there were almost no tourists. And it's probably here that the first seeds were sown..
After spending a great day eating, drinking, and meeting the locals, we headed to Bocas del Toro in Panama. Which is an amazingly haunting place - boating between a small group of islands that make you feel like at the edge of the world. The beautiful beaches and luxurious ecolodge were in direct contrast to the poverty that was evident. There, I felt a deeper understanding of the concept of Pura Vida - while many people were living in extreme poverty, there was an appreciation of life in a way that materialism can obscure.
In the coming weeks, I found myself more and more in tune with this way of life. As we traveled through the rest of Costa Rica, I found myself unwinding a little more every day. Things move fast in the States - we're always looking for the next meal, or meeting, or party, or trip, that we seldom stop and enjoy the moment. It wasn't easy to let go and get down with Tico Time (which is vague and could mean anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 days), but the longer we stayed, the more I was able to accept it.
As I slowed down, kicked back, and relaxed - I noticed that the days felt longer, the sun was a little brighter, and it was all good.
Now it's been 3 weeks and I'm back in the States, back at work, and back at home.
And I find that I've brought Pura Vida home with me...