Jennifer Simmons
Jul 23, 2023

This post is a contribution from guest blogger, Jennifer Simmons. We are keen to encourage more travel bloggers and individuals working in the tourism industry to reflect on their travel experiences while providing suggestions and tips for future GOOD travellers. If you'd like to share a travel reflection that you believe incorporates GOOD values and practices, please email us at info@good-travel.org. We look forward to sharing more guest posts like this one!

PURA VIDA! If you’ve been to Costa Rica you’ve heard this saying; probably many times. If you live here, you may have included it as a part of your daily salutations, and even if you've never visited the Rich Coast, I’m sure you’ve passed someone on the street who adorned a shirt reading, "Pura vida!"

The question is, what does it really mean?



 How are you?

 Are you well?

 I’m good.

 I’m so so.

 All is well.

 Pure Life....

And really...the list could go on. It’s quite fun to watch the number of ways that "Pura Vida" gets used by the locals. But after over 8 years of calling Costa Rica home, I’ve decided what it means to me, and hopefully this 'gringa', can one day embrace it.

Here's a question for you: do you know someone who attempts to have everything planned? Or, you may just be nodding your head, cringing your face, and raising your hand, as that person may be you! Well, you’re not alone. I'm the captain of the 'organized for what will happen today, tomorrow, and over the next few months' team.

However, in the rural beach community of Nosara, the locals have other thoughts.

Over the past 10 years, tourism has drastically changed this slow-paced, rural town into a bustling yoga and surf destination. Thus, many locals have had to adjust to the times and be a bit more organized and forward thinking, making sure they get to work on time or get the job done efficiently, so vacationers can enjoy their dose of Pura vida. However, I can almost guarantee if you talk to someone who grew up here, raised in the fields taking care of their crops and livestock, and tell them, “Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow at 11am”, they'll mostly definitely respond with, “nos vemos manana, si Dios quiere”. This is translated directly to, "We'll see each other tomorrow, if God wants”.

So how does this connect to Pura Vida, you’re asking? Well, here’s my analysis. Costa Ricans, or at least the many I've met here in Guanacaste (the northernmost peninsula that hosts stunning beaches, spectacular views and rich culture and tradition), are pros at not worrying about tomorrow.  They'd rather enjoy today, as tomorrow may, or may not, come. You see, long before the tourists arrived for sun and surf, and the private clinics showed up to take care of Montezuma’s revenge or a banged up head from a surfboard, locals had long distances to travel to get to a doctor, or they just used natural plants as medicine or went to the local healer instead. The local public hospital is still over an hour away these days, but there are many private clinics that have popped up, and a few docs that make themselves available on Sundays or for late night emergencies. But when these services weren’t available, you really did not want to get sick on a Sunday.

The Pura Vida way of life and mentality continues for many here, and I hope it is never lost. Costa Ricans really do have a lot to teach this world about living in the present, enjoying every moment, and not stressing about what may or may not come.

Eight years later, the essence of Costa Rica is slowly shifting me. I’ve started to slow down, all be it very slowly due to my ingrained and driven tendencies.  I try to take those wise words to heart daily, “Nos vemos manana, si Dios quiere”. Live in the moment, appreciate simplicity, enjoy life now, for tomorrow may not come… THIS is PURA VIDA to me and if you every get the chance to visit this special piece of paradise, I encourage you to sit down with a local over a cup of coffee and a tortilla with cheese and listen to their morsels of insight and life experience. I guarantee you will walk away a different person.

July 23, 2023
5 min read