Costa Rica: Pura Vida Found

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When I was young, a favorite pastime was visiting the local pet store, where two macaws greeted customers from their cages near the entrance.

??We returned late last night from our most amazing Costa Rican adventure, during which I drove our three generations a total of about 530 miles (mostly in 2nd gear) in a quest for “Pura Vida”—the term used throughout Costa Rica meaning “pure life” and good living. We traveled by ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya (okay, those miles weren’t even on the trip meter!) out to a wild and remote Pacific beach, inland to the zone of volcanoes, through cloud forests, through rivers, and to a mountain region where it seemed more Ticos than not looked like northern Euorpeans. We drank phenomenal coffee brewed “in the sock,” ate gourmet chef-prepared cuisine and dined in modest roadside restaurants including one that doubles in the off season as a barn.

There are so many tips and highlights to share from our journey that it’s hard to know where to begin. But when I discovered this morning that it’s the 226th birthday of James Audubon, I thought this the perfect occasion to comment on one of the ways in which this visit to Costa Rica has changed me forever. We were so fortunate to see Costa Rica’s wildlife not just at the major attractions and animal sanctuaries we visited, but on numerous occasions in the wild. I will never forget:

  • Hearing a blue macaw screech at dawn, then raising my head to see him flit by my window and land atop a tree,
  • Happening upon iguanas time and again—then discovering there was actually a tree filled with them watching me as I stepped out from my kitchen, including an enormous red-crested fellow my children came to call “Grandpa Iguana,”
  • Getting buzzed by a wasp the size of two humming birds stuck together,
  • Discovering the odd designs in the sand as we walked down the beach were being actively created by crabs,
  • Watching a blue morpho butterfly flit in front of our car as I rambled down a rocky road,
  • Suddenly seeing a tapir cross the lawn of our hotel and then vanish into the brush,
  • Spotting a toucan in a tree while riding horses at a meadow’s edge,
  • Strolling to the beach to find a mango grove teeming with white-faced capuchin monkeys—who eventually moved on through the trees and were replaced by a tribe of howler monkeys….

The takeaway for me: “Pura Vida” does not—and should not—just apply to the people of Costa Rica. I will never look at a pet store, or even a zoo, in the same way again.

And now… to the suitcases and stack of mail. By way of a cup of Costa Rican coffee, of course.

Related posts and pages:
Photo Fave: From the road in Costa Rica
Traveler beware: Car seat laws in Costa Rica are more strict than in the U.S.
5 Best with Kids Under 5: Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula
5 things I wish I’d known before moving my kids to Costa Rica

Pura Vida,

Shelly Rivoli
Author of Travels with Baby and the new Take-Along Travels with Baby
https://travelswithbaby.com/   Travels with Baby on Facebook

All content of this blog (c) Shelly Rivoli

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