By Em Shanblatt
“Pura Vida” is a staple to every Costa Rican’s lexicon. Literally translating to “pure life,” it’s a phrase unique to their country and is proudly owned by all the locals and natives. They use the phrase ubiquitously in situations where westerners would say “that was awesome!” as well as “so it goes, shit happens.”
It describes this country well though. Pure life. My first impressions of Costa Rica happened on the 2 hour drive in from San Jose to Turrialba. Along the trecherous and windy roads (on which I later got car sick a puked up all my lunch) the surroudning mountains, valleys, and nearby roadside are covered in green life. Foliage and floura like nothing I’ve seen before; probably because I’ve never been to a tropical jungle.
The leaves on many of the trees are enormous. The radiating sun and and instant humidity remind me that if I was a leaf and had an endless supply of water and ATP producing energy, I too would make my leaves gigantic.
Every flower seems to display either a saturated or iridescent color from all across the spectrum.
A human’s life in Costa Rica feels pure as well. The simplicity of our little bodega, and open air feel reminds me that there is no need to seperate ourselves from the fresh warm air outside. The seemingly infinite supply of Vitamin D and oxygen draw me outside on a nearly uncontrolable level.
The first few days of kayaking here left me searching for adaquete words to explain what I was seeing. Canopies of vines dangling overhead, lush green bangs flowing into mountains in the background, a few gorges with towering vertical granite walls, countless waterfalls rushing into the rivers from every height imaginable, crystal blue water is if it had been trapped in glaciers for millions of years free of contamination or even human touch.
The big water here gives me that sense of focus and flow, while the pools between rapids give me a release from any concern I’ve ever felt impeded by.
Even the colors of buildings and houses in the town of Turrialba constantly distract me from where I’m walking, as I try to quiet the sensory overload I’m always battling. It’s an enjoyable distraction though, if I remember to slow down and observe.
They say here too that a town is defined by a church, a school, and a soccer field. I’ve watched lots of boys play around on the fields in anything from barefeet to cleats, in dirt or crabgrass, with nets or just a metal frame. I even saw a few guys kicking the ball around in the rain, each holding an umbrella overhead.
As we paddle down rivers, we’re always seeing families and children playing on the shore. For me, that image of a child swimming epitomizes freedom, relaxation, and simplicity. I hold on to that visual when old patterns of hurriedness, momentary stress, or frustration arise, and remind myself that this place, and my life here are truly amazing and a real gift. PURA VIDA!