This is what everyone in Costa Rica say as a greeting, as a farewell, as a reminder to live each day to its fullest. It means “pure life,” and feels a hundred times more meaningful than the American equivalent of “woo-hoo” or “yeahhh!” I am convinced that because the Costa Rica people have this phrase in their every day life that it has also made them more efficient, happy, and fun.
We arrived, fuming at Spirit Airlines for charging $50 per second carry-on bag. Instead of being FREE, like any other airline does. Many people were tricked. Moral of the story: always check airline standards.
The flight was also 40 minutes late.
We trekked to a coffee plantation, where our knowledgeable guide showed us the coffee beans to the difference between good coffee and bad coffee.
Sadly this was all lost on my family since none of us drink coffee. Nevertheless, we happily bought a few bags of coffee with the most amazing aroma, and a bag of coffee covered dark chocolate that we devoured very quickly.
Our next trek were to the volcanoes, but sadly the fog covered everything. Fortunately, we experienced some beautifully spooky trails. Despite the Costa Rica summer, these trees appeared only as witchlike branches that stretched over the trail, allowing only a small lattice of sunlight to shine through.
In the afternoon we visited La Paz Waterfall Lodge, touted for being a great honeymoon location. (Mother teased me a bit about this.) The butterfly garden was the richest I’ve ever seen, anywhere.
There were also tons of hummingbirds. Adorable little things.
The waterfall trail was also the most amazing one I’ve been to. The winding steps took us to the side, then the top, and finally to the bottom of the giant waterfall.
We went white water rafting. No more words.
The ride was 4 hours long, going through a stretch of river 18 miles long. My sister, despite being too young for the adventure, was able to go through a series of happy coincidences. The tour itself was amazing, our guide being on the Costa Rica national team for white water rafting! They built up the rapids quit well, starting from easy level I and II’s to finally level III and IVs.
We went ziplining. The drive was a harrowing 1.5-turned-3 hours away, but the experience itself was amazing. The afternoon was followed by a river tour where our guide spotted monkeys from 100 feet away.
Day 5, 2am:
At the airport. Flight is delayed 40 minutes, again. Return home, collapse, and every…gets the flu.
All in all, it was an amazing start to the new year. Besides the mindless fun, I was opened up to yet another set of experiences that made me realize how lucky I am to be part of my family with my particular circumstances. It’s how my parents can arrange vacation time around mine. It’s how my sister is (mostly) obedient and fun to travel with. But most profoundly (maybe because now I have a job, and need to budget for things), the fact that we could pay for the trip — flight, hotel, tours, unexpected $150 in baggage fees — really struck me as a set of extremely fortunate circumstances.
To my parents, who have worked so hard these years. Pura vida!
Note: My favorite example for the limits of language on culture is the Australian Aboriginal people the Guugu Yimithirr. They do not have words for left and right. To refer to directions, they use the cardinals directions of north, east, west, south. They will turn east when navigating, and leave their keys on the southwest corner of the table.